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D N A L Y D N A C . n o i t na . e h t n n o i i t e o t ra low-m g n i rib sis in s c s e r p ri c d i n o i o op ddicti t s e gh d an a oon i h d 2n nts, an David K e h t s By ie a t h a p s sa perate n a k r A es d , n i Pa



TO SEE ‘SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER’ AT CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART In the 1960s, America was consumed by the civil rights and black power movements, turbulent times that inspired African-America artists to speak out through their art forms. Now, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art brings from London’s Tate Modern this exhibition of paintings, murals, photographs, fabric art and sculpture by such artists as Romare Bearden, Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, Sam Gilliam, Alma Thomas, Barkley L. Hendricks, Benny Andrews. In all, “Soul of a Nation” features work by 60 of American’s greatest African-American artists.

Art expertise: Garbo Hearne of Hearne Fine Art, who’s exhibited works by many of these artists in her Little Rock gallery, will lead the tour.



per person

As always, the Arkansas Times Art Bus breakfast, coffee and box lunch provided by Boulevard Bread and drink. We will depart at 9am.

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Admission into Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is free. Like our Bus Trips page for details, updates and other perks! 2

FEBRUARY 8, 2018




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From the web

In response to “Locked away and forgotten,” the Feb. 14 cover story on the conditions in two South Arkansas juvenile facilities: Thank you for this article. There have been far more serious offenses perpetrated by adult staff against juvenile resident than what was detailed here ... regardless, these facilities and programs should have never been allowed to degrade to these conditions in the first place. The $58.1 million budget is inadequate to provide these children (yes, they are still children) effective treatment or to hire qualified personnel for this type of work. Many of the residents do not even get the medications they need in a timely manner and often do not even receive them at all. Arkansas has a deeply flawed history with juvenile and adult corrections. Artificial Intelligence

figured out they were a bunch of ignorant, misogynistic (Bazzel et al. will have to look that one up) Bubbas long ago. Other wannabe jocks grew up long ago, but this crew is still counting their farts for entertainment. PVNasby “The Buzz” folks apparently know that they cannot defend themselves and have chosen to remove themselves from the debate rather than making an attempt to support their business model by countering the criticism. How mature . Vanessa

Wonder if The Buzz and their arrested development crew would sponsor a Local Potbelly Contest for themselves and those like them? They’re a bunch of babies who refuse to grow up. Sound Policy In response to “AEDC director adds first-class travel costs to ethics forms”: WWDD (What would Donald do?)? Why, he would say (lie) he was going to release the information (tax returns) to the public, and then would do no such

Well, I’m sure the governor’s tax cut will help the situation tremendously. And the extra $40 million for the new IT contractor at DHS. Libertarian In response to Autumn Tolbert’s Feb. 8 column, “The other”: The GOP has truly created a fearfilled monster in the Christian Right. The thing is, living in this neck of the woods means that we have these folks in our own families. They are Trump fans who are convinced liberals, gays, brown people and Muslims are engaged in efforts to, at the least, relegate them to a subservient position, and at the most, eradicate them entirely. These are not stupid people, and they’re capable of great individual acts of kindness toward others, but they are genuinely convinced their way of life is being threatened. Richard Hutson




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In response to “#Morethanababe Hear them roar about how to judge women” on the Twitter hashtag responding to the annual “Babe Bracket” competition by KABZ-FM, 103.7 “The Buzz,” where female Arkansas TV journalists are ranked, mostly by men:

thing. Preston seems like a perfect fit in the @DraftDodgerDonaldTrump administration. Special perks for special people. Sound Policy I’m shocked at the expenses he charged the agency, not counting the upgrades. Having traveled to Europe (multi-countries) numerous times, I have NEVER spent what he spent on air fair. Spending $7,000 on coach class tickets is robbery to the tax payers of AR. Unless he booked tickets the day he left, these fares are impossibly ridiculous. Especially once you get to Europe. There are numerous airlines who charge next to nothing to city-hop Europe. Something is fishy about these bills, even excluding the non-,reporting. Of course, with the topnotch ethics regulations, it doesn’t matter if he didn’t report. They are always allowed 30 days to make amendments to reports once they are discovered. David Smith The state should contract with an outside firm to manage its travel. Full accountability instead of letting each department make their own arrangements. Corporations use outside vendors that are incented to secure the lowest fare possible and are not reporting to any department head. It sure works to keep costs down. Tim Hill In response to “Eddie Cooper, former legislator, pleads guilty to kickback conspiracy”: “Cooper is the fourth state legislator accused of taking kickbacks from General Improvement Fund money.” Don’t you know their mothers and daddies are proud? And their spouses and offspring embarrassed beyond words? Greed knows no bounds. Durango Don’t care what party they come from. Hoping maybe if there is a good cleansing of the crooked individuals in our government we might get better quality candidates on both sides. wannabee conservative

Do pageants deserve the same criticism? I know they have Q&A and talent sections, but also swimsuit and evening gown. And, the most talented women, without the sought-after look, don’t seem to be in the field. dowhat

Darn, I wish I listened to “The Buzz” so I could now boycott them. But alas, I 4

FEBRUARY 22, 2018


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I am shocked, shocked to learn a Dem was involved in accepting GIF kickbacks, shocked. Actually more shocked to see it reported by the Arkansas Times without calling him a DINO. Inquiring minds want to know if any more former Dem legislators in these latitudes are under investigation. Shocked. Razorblade






















FEBRUARY 22, 2018





Quote of the week

“I would ask you to keep the community of Parkland, Florida, in your prayers as they reconcile the evil perpetrated against their community. The loss of 17 innocent lives at Stoneman Douglas High School is a heartbreak that no community should have to endure. As a parent of a high school and college student, Martha and I praise the first responders who took action and we remain prayerful at this time.” — U.S. Rep. French Hill’s statement in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. That Hill avoided mentioning “shooting” or any words related to a gun might owe to the fact that he has received $1.09 million over the course of two elections from the NRA, which makes him the top recipient of NRA money in the House.

Special session coming

Governor Hutchinson said he would call a special session of the Arkansas legislature to convene after the ongoing fiscal session. At issue will be the low reimbursement rates provided to pharmacies by pharmacy benef it ma nagers, middlema n companies that work on contract for insurance providers. Pharmacists

have complained particularly about the losses they have suffered under CVS Caremark, the managers used by the state’s largest insurance carrier, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The issue has been compounded by the fact that Blue Cross carries most of the 285,000 beneficiaries of Arkansas Works, the state’s unique version of Medicaid expansion, through which low-income adults use Medicaid funds to buy private insurance. The governor said he supported putting PBMs under Insurance Department regulation. Some legislators had talked about blocking the governor’s budget in the fiscal session if a special session to deal with the PBM issue wasn’t called. Hutchinson also said the special session would include consideration of a measure to preserve use of $12 million in categorical federal highway funding for general use.




FEBRUARY 22, 2018


Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has dismissed Monsanto’s lawsuit challenging a state Plant Board restriction on the use of the herbicide dicamba, citing the recent state Supreme Court ruling that seems to say the state may not be made a defendant in its courts.

The Plant Board voted to ban use of the weed killer between April 16 and Oct. 31. Monsanto wanted an injunction against the ban. Farmers have complained of damage from dicamba drift. Piazza said he didn’t see how the suit could go forward under the decision, rewriting decades of precedent that said the legislature could not waive a constitutional prohibition against lawsuits against the state. The decision ha s law yers scratching their heads about its meaning. For one thing, does the so-called “sovereign immunity” provision override other constitutional protections in the state Constitution? Monsanto could make a claim for damages to the state Claims Commission for inability to sell its chemical for use during the banned months. It could attempt to craft a claim in federal court as well. “It’s obvious that Arkansas is going to have to come up with a constitutional amendment to change this to make it where we can operate again as a court should,” Piazza said, according to the Associated Press. “I really think the [state Supreme Court case] prevents us from hearing this case at this moment.” An effort is underway to get an

amendment on the ballot, but Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected the first proposed ballot title to amend the sovereign immunity provision, saying voters wouldn’t understand that phrase.

State on the hook for $70,000 for fighting to preserve discrimination

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox has awarded $71,214 in legal fees to Cheryl Maples, the lawyer for plaintiffs who successfully challenged the state’s unconstitutional treatment of samesex parents in issuing birth certificates. Based on discrimination and not biology, the state gave presumptive parenthood in issuance of birth certificates to fathers in oppositesex marriages, but not to married women with a newborn. The U.S. Supreme Court thought so little of the state’s defense of the practice that it summarily reversed the state Supreme Court’s split decision in favor of this discrimination. The legal bill could have been even higher for taxpayers. Fox said that if Maples had followed the rules of court procedure, she could have qualified for as much as $220,000 in fees.


Meanwhile, back in Arkansas


rkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin got some glowing coverage in Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for arranging an award from the national association of secretaries of state for the Little Rock Nine and their brave desegregation of Central High School 60 years ago. They were deserving, including when President Clinton gave them congressional medals back in 1999. But the present-day irony was rich. Martin, thankfully term-limited, basked in the Nine’s reflected glory on a junket to Washington during the same week the Center for American Progress gave Arkansas’s election security a grade between F and D, one of the five worst states in the country for protecting ballot integrity. Martin’s office’s biggest

duty, apart from cutting the grass at the Capitol, MAX i s o v e r s e e i n g BRANTLEY elections. The center ’s report said, first of all, that Arkansas allows the use of voting machines that do not provide a paper record and fails to mandate post-election audits, which is intended to confirm that ballots are cast and counted as the voter intended. There were many other points, some ticky, some not. The biggest problem seemed to be that Mark Martin refused to talk with those doing the survey, allowing him now to say they got it all wrong. Martin also joined the Nine a couple of days before a report that says his office had failed to catch a minor goof,

Russian trump


ead the Russian indictments. It is a civic duty. Likewise, Donald Trump’s tweets on the matter. They are all over the internet and accessible in seconds — collections of the president’s tweets on the Russian investigation going way back and Robert Mueller’s crisp 37-page summary of the acts that persuaded a grand jury to indict 13 Russians and a quasi-government organization with a workforce of some 300 Russians for trying to undermine the United States by sowing discord and trying to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming president. While finally acknowledging that the Russians meddled, Trump says the whole Russian inquiry by the independent counsel and Trump’s own intelligence agencies is still a giant hoax by Democrats. He refuses to take steps to punish Russia, as a law passed by a bipartisan Congress that he grudgingly signed requires him to do. He refuses to veer even slightly from years of warm praise of Vladimir Putin, the autocrat whom Trump’s own men acknowledge directed the subversion. That is where we are. The most engrossing riddle of our times is: Why is he doing this? We must assume that he never colluded with the Russians himself or told his friends, family or staff to do it, because there is no convincing evidence, yet, that he did. So why does he invite

so much suspicion by his rages and by transmitting threats to shut down the investigation, ERNEST which is run by DUMAS Republicans? Let’s come back to that. The indictments — their specificity, their range and the internal evidence supporting them — ended all doubt that the Russians meddled. Not even Trump will deny it again. It is clear that the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others were tapping into the Russian espionage long ago, as we have assumed they were doing, for defensive and offensive purposes. The Russians are not alone in meddling in foreign governments, including elections. We have been doing it in a big way since the CIA’s creation in 1946. We have overthrown democratically elected governments. The difference is that we claim to be doing it for a noble reason, to give people in those countries — Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, wherever — better governance. Putin can argue that Hillary Clinton had meddled over there by accusing the Kremlin of manipulating Russian elections and by encouraging his enemies, like the Russian women’s punk group Pussy Riot.

misapplication of state special election rules in hours of early voting for a state representative election in Searcy County. It’s possible our system is better than the report indicates. But Martin is a haughty and irresponsible secretary of state. He doesn’t talk with the media. What’s more concerning is his friendship with Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who’s made a career of alleging voter fraud without evidence and coming up with vote suppression schemes. Martin played along with a badly flawed crosscheck system of Kobach’s that illustrated conclusively, for example, that people named Joe Smith were registered in multiple states. What it DID NOT conclusively prove was that they were the same Joe Smiths or that anyone had voted illegally. (This system did illustrate — tee hee — that Republican Leslie Rutledge, then a candidate for attorney general, was registered to vote in two different jurisdictions.) When Donald Trump put Kobach in charge of a national vote integrity commission, it was another Laurel and

Hardy misadventure. But it was funny only if you don’t think the sanctity of the vote is important. Kobach intended to use a vast data gathering operation to be put to use in his campaign to purge voter rolls of people he finds unacceptable. Even Republican election officials rose up against Kobach in outrage. Not Martin. He was the first to send the entire data file on Arkansas voters to Kobach. Others refused a resistance that ultimately shut the operation down. The Kobach and Martin work on voter fraud is part of the larger Republican Party effort to purge voter rolls through dubious “caging” practices and to require cumbersome photo IDs as a means of tamping down voting by poor people, who disproportionately happen to be black. Fine as honors for the Little Rock Nine from anyone might be, I cringed at the sight of those good people posing for a grip-and-grin photo with Mark Martin. Neither his office nor his party has done much to advance the cause for which they put their young lives on the line.

The indictments detail many contacts of Russian operatives with American political activists, whom it describes as largely unwitting, to arrange rallies for Trump and against Clinton and to promote discord and clashes between white nationalists and Muslim groups. They made facile use of social media to reach millions of Americans with their message, including fabricating Clinton messages cheering Muslims and Sharia law. They paid millions of dollars to people to arrange events and even actresses to play Clinton behind bars. The Russians documented their successes, counting the hundreds of thousands who passed on their messages. According to Trump and his aides, the critical point was that it didn’t throw the election to Trump. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million but won the Electoral College by less than 80,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. It is true that the indictments do not conclude that meddling decided the election, nor does it say they didn’t. Without getting into the minds of voters, it is impossible to say what wins any election. Educated conjecture is another matter. Facebook alone counted 126 million people who got messages through secret agents. The indictments pinpoint the Russian strategy, guided by unwitting Trump supporters, of concentrating on tossup states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan and

Wisconsin. Russians posing as Americans used social media to push the idea in those states that blacks, immigrants and Bernie Sanders supporters should vote for Jill Stein, the liberal Green Party candidate, or the Libertarian Gary Johnson instead of Clinton. Add the numbers. Stein’s votes alone cost Clinton Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the presidency. It is not proof of the Russians’ success, but troublesome. So why does the heathen president rage, but not about Putin? Does Putin have something on Trump — perhaps the video of the hotel-room romp during the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow? Such sexual traps were Putin’s stock in trade with the KGB, which caused the grateful Boris Yeltsin to bring him into the Kremlin. But let’s don’t go there. Money is the more likely explanation. Trump says he never had financial dealings in Russia, although his son Donald Jr. said in 2010 that Russian profits accounted for much of the Trump organization’s bottom line. The president made it clear last year that the one thing that he would not tolerate is Mueller’s getting into his finances, like tax returns. He had promised during his campaign to release a tax return or two but has since said he would never do so. If Mueller subpoenas tax returns from the IRS, that will be the day he’s fired and anyone above him who interferes. That is the day of reckoning we must all dread.

Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog FEBRUARY 22, 2018


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FEBRUARY 22, 2018




mid the shock and horror ac- the Russians DON’T have a compromiscompanying yet another mass ing video of Trump cavorting with Mosshooting of schoolchildren in cow prostitutes? He’s made a show of Florida, an anonymous White House of- being too worldly-wise to jump into such ficial exhibited the sheer moral squalor a trap, but what if a “top oligarch” told of Trumpism. him the women were a gift from Putin? “For everyone, [the massacre] was a disBingo! Flattery gets you everywhere traction or a reprieve,” the official said. “A with Trump. Everybody knows that. lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve Something’s got to explain Trump’s from seven or eight days of just getting obsequious fawnpummeled.” ing over Putin Getting pummeled, that is, about beside his dictaWhite House aide Rob Porter’s keeping tor-envy. his job for almost a year after FBI invesAlas, the United tigators warned that wife-beating made States has no vetGENE him vulnerable to blackmail, thus a secu- ting process for LYONS rity risk. Not to mention Chief of Staff political leaders. John Kelly getting caught in yet another None of the above barefaced lie. facts about the man’s character is in seriSeventeen dead students and teach- ous dispute, although listing them is cerers. A reprieve, the man said. (Although tain to infuriate some of this column’s there are certainly women in this White more excitable email correspondents. House capable of saying that.) So anyway, there he is: the President Anyway, let’s try a little thought exer- of the United States, a certifiable lowcise. Let’s pretend that Donald J. Trump life who couldn’t pass muster as a White himself needed to be vetted for a security House security guard. If Trump had any clearance by the FBI. Any chance he’d sense he’d resign the presidency in the pass muster? None whatsoever. wake of Robert Mueller’s indictment Let’s put aside Trump’s suspect entan- of 13 Russians for conspiring to disrupt glement with Russian strongman Vladi- the 2016 election — possibly saving the mir Putin for a moment. What investiga- Republican Party and sparing himself and tors look for in deciding if somebody can the country the melodramatic confrontabe trusted with top secret intelligence is tion that looms ahead. evidence of bad character and/or signifiTruthfully, the man should never have cant vulnerabilities. run in the first place. Indeed, Trump Trump’s half-dozen bankruptcies appears to have envisioned the presialone might disqualify him. Settling a dency as the ultimate reality-TV show, $25 million fraud lawsuit, as the president mistaking the national news media for the did in the Trump University case, would celebrity tabloids he so easily manipulated also ruin his chances. Not to mention a back when he’d brag about his sexual conlong list of business partners, contractors quests with radio host Howard Stern and and customers who’d say he refused to telephone gossip columnists raving about pay legitimate debts, violated contracts the wild immorality of Russian women. or simply walked away. He’s been sued Confronting an independent news literally thousands of times. media and the limitations of the U.S. Three wives could be an issue, and a Constitution, however, has driven Trump well-publicized history of multiple adul- clear around the bend. In a bizarre series teries. First wife Ivana filed a divorce peti- of tweets over the weekend, the presition alleging assault and rape, although it dent claimed he’d never described Ruswas later withdrawn. The list of women sian interference in the 2016 election as a publicly accusing Trump of sexual assault “hoax” — although everybody but the most has reached 20. Paying hush money to far-gone adepts of the Trump personality porn stars and Playboy playmates dem- cult remembers him doing so countless onstrates vulnerability to blackmail — an times. Also as a “witch hunt.” immediate disqualifier. Furthermore, here’s the thing: MuelNever mind Russia; the tabloid news- ler’s Russian indictments are clearly predpaper National Enquirer appears to have icate to more damning evidence to come: Trump in its pocket. hacked Democratic emails, WikiLeaks So no, on moral grounds alone Trump and Donald Jr.’s already-documented dalwould never be entrusted with the liance with Russian operatives. Heavy nation’s secrets. shoes appear sure to drop. Furthermore, at the risk of getting Even Trump himself must know it. ahead of myself, what are the odds that That’s why he’s in such a panic. .



n March 24, 1998, I listened to an answering machine message from my sister that simply said, “Mom is OK. Turn on CNN.” I ran to the television and immediately knew my mom was fine because it was her voice coming out of the speaker. There had been a school shooting in Arkansas. In my hometown. And my mom was on television because she was the administrative assistant who answered the main telephone line at Westside School District. Over the next day, I would learn what happened from the news and from constant phone calls to my dad and sister. Our family friend Shannon Wright died after being shot while protecting her students. She was a young teacher and mother and was as kind and good as they come. Four little girls, Natalie Brooks, Paige Ann Herring, Stephanie Johnson and Brittany Varner, were killed as they walked outside with their friends and classmates after one of the shooters pulled the fire alarm. Others, including my beloved social studies teacher, had been shot and were recovering in the hospital. I went home from Fayetteville to Bono to attend Shannon’s funeral. I will never forget the looks of shock and of unimaginable grief. The effects of that shooting still radiate out from Westside Middle School. Those are not my stories to tell, but what I can tell you is that for many years, my mom, who still works at the school district, received calls from the media every time another school shooting happened. I don’t know if those calls still continue. I try not to ask her because, even as a 40-year-old woman, it is hard for me to see my mother, my protector, cry. Selfishly, I try to avoid the topic, as it is almost too hard to bear the thought of what happened that day to those our little girls and their brave teacher. This March we will mark 20 years since the Westside shooting. Twenty years later, we live in a country consumed by a love of guns. Assault rifles and handguns are given places of honor in our homes, on social media and in our politics. The same is not true for other items that represent freedoms given in the Bill of Rights. How come we never see photo after photo of pens and pencils? I’ve never seen a politician pose for a campaign glamour shot with a copy of the Miranda warnings to signify support of the Fifth Amendment. Why not? Where are all of the Second Amendment purists when Congress or the Supreme Court votes to limit Fourth Amendment privacy in the name of safety by expand-

ing the power of police to search without a warrant? Despite what the NRA wants you to believe, most of us who are calling for more gun control, the repeal of the Dickey Amendment or even a national dialogue about gun control are not antigun. My family owns guns. I’m not against guns. What I am against is refusing to acknowledge we have a problem. A problem of elevating guns above all else that prevents us from even havAUTUMN ing a discussion TOLBERT about how to keep our children from being massacred at school. While Congress refuses to act or even have the debate, elementary school students perform mass shooter drills. Politicians run for office beholden not to the American people, but to the NRA. We have a candidate for governor who wears a gun brooch on her lapel. Tell me we don’t have a problem. Tell me more about those thoughts and prayers. Earlier this month, I registered my daughter for kindergarten. A good friend of mine suggested I buy an L.L. Bean or Lands’ End backpack for her because they are so durable. Instead, I’m wondering if I should buy one of the bulletproof backpacks I have seen advertised, so my little girl will have something to hide behind if the shooting starts. I do not want her becoming used to metal detectors and fences and searches. Schools should be full of books and art and learning, not police and guns and fear. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last week, have joined the chorus of those who have had enough. Enough of politicians and the NRA who have a vested interest in fear and discord. Enough of the same hands folded in prayer that are otherwise outstretched to collect campaign contributions from the NRA and gun lobby. It’s time for us as a country to figure out how to balance our Second Amendment freedoms with the safety of our children and family. It’s time to repeal the Dickey Amendment and end its chilling effect on gun violence research. It’s time to put our children’s right to life and liberty over that of owning a gun that can mow down hundreds in less than a minute. It’s time to do something so that no community has to bear the unimaginable grief for their lost children and their lost innocence. It’s time.

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FINALS Friday, March « 9th at the Rev room collecting for the van! All things Mens XL and Larger, Boots & Shoes, Wool Blankets and/or Full Bedding Sets and WARM SOCKS!


COLD HARD CASH • In Studio Showcase at Capitol View Studio • Live Spot at Arkansas State Fair Bud Light Pavilion • Live Spot at Music Fest El Dorado • Live Spot at Valley of the Vapors Gift Certificates from Trios Restaurant • A Thursday Night Live Series Performance at Griffin Restaurant in El Dorado • 8 Hours of Artist Development at The Hive Studio •Live Spot at Patio in Park Hill Festival• Afternoon Spot between 2:00-4:00 during Riverfest • Sunrise Guitars is giving us a PRS SE 245 Standard 22 electric guitar and MUCH MORE... 10

FEBRUARY 22, 2018


Playing for seed


aradoxically, the Arkansas bas- this year. C.J. Jones came off the bench ketball team has cratered at the and, true to form, didn’t hesitate to let worst possible time and seemingly it fly, netting 13 points on a respectable is peaking at the perfect time. Nonsensi- 5-for-7 shooting exhibition. Jones’ discal? Permit me to explain. appearance in conAfter the Razorbacks beat Tennessee ference play after a in a thrilling league opener and posi- highly encouraging tioned themselves in the national Top run on the back end 25 for a hiccup, they promptly gagged of 2017 had been one six of their next nine league games, with of the more frustratthe three victories coming by a whop- ing occurrences to BEAU ping nine total points and four of the six envelop the team WILCOX defeats being by double digits. The team once it began SEC spent a month or so winning ugly and los- play; this was merely his second douing uglier, and that effectively negated the ble-digit scoring effort in 14 conference strong RPI they had amassed early in the games after he rang up seven games of year; as a result, those preliminary pro- 10-plus in the first 11 of the season. jections of the team as a reasonably high Freshman wing Gabe Osabuohien has seed in the NCAA Tournament started to sprung into action lately as a nice sparksink and that was purported to imperil plug, logging six points on nifty drives to this team’s long-term postseason plans. the basket against the Aggies while doing Of course, Arkansas has recovered in many useful things otherwise. Like fellow much the same way it did a season ago freshman Darious Hall, he’s agile and just to reel off four straight wins in a piv- a little bit unhinged out there, which is a otal stretch. The Razorbacks followed a good thing. There’s enough senior comcouple of uneven but authoritative wins posure on the court at any given time that over South Carolina and Vanderbilt with the Hogs can afford a sort of loose cannon a nice road victory against a depleted Ole that penetrates for baskets and chases Miss team whose longtime head coach after loose balls with reckless abandon. had just announced his resignation, then Hall and Osabuohien are great assets at on Saturday rewarded the fans’ patience this time of year — strong and lean athby delivering a withering 94-75 blow to letes that might offer little scoring help Texas A&M’s own tourney position in most nights but are always capable of front of a sellout crowd at Bud Walton making two or three defensive stops and Arena. It was, without equivocation, the facilitate the offense’s movement. best performance of the season for the It was a stagnant offense, as much team, given the stakes at hand and con- as a slow-reacting defense, that had the sidering that the Aggies had surged back Hogs on life support two short weeks to prominence after their bizarre string ago. But now there’s energy there and of five losses to open conference play. it isn’t entirely coming from Macon and Beating Texas A&M soundly at home Barford, which is a blessing. Freshman effectively negated the Aggies’ rather center Daniel Gafford put together his comfortable win over the Hogs in Col- best consecutive games of the season in lege Station, but more importantly it the wins over Ole Miss and A&M, conficemented Arkansas’s own recovery from dently stroking free throws and making a midseason lull. Of course, these brack- good use of his body in backing down etology wizards vacillate from impressed defenders. He’s fouling less frequently in to nonplussed on bizarre whims: They the early stages of games, and as a result seemed so impressed with A&M’s resur- he stays in the flow of the action longer. gence after a long skid that the Aggies The rangy freshman averages a healthy went from the outside looking in to being 22 minutes per contest but also commits in the Top 25 poll and a top six or seven 3.5 fouls per game, which means at any seed, while the Hogs, once beaten on the given critical juncture, his coaches may road at Starkville and then at Auburn, have him sidelined to preserve him for fell so far out of the rankings that they the final minutes. If Gafford can continue could do precious little else to author a to rein in his contact, he’s going to be an return there. even bigger force than what he already While the Jaylen Barford-Daryl represents. Macon duo continues to shine as far as There’s still sufficient opportunity for pure scoring is concerned, the A&M game this team to play its way into a better highlighted a few other components that seed, or to conversely drop down the have sputtered or run too quietly at times pecking order.


Tia wins


ia Booth emerged from a limousine and into our lives on this year’s season of the popular reality show “The Bachelor” to give wife-hunter Arie Luyendyk a little Wiener. You see, Tia’s from Weiner (Poinsett County). And she said to Arie, “I have a little gift. It’s right here. It’s actually a little Wiener. … Please tell me you don’t already have a little Wiener.” So, he laughed and said he didn’t have a little Wiener. They hugged. We laughed. Good times had by all. If only it had lasted. Tia’s now been booted off of this season’s “The Bachelor.” She’d made it into the final four before falling without much explanation, garnering sympathy. Which means that, basically, she won. As Amanda Hess wrote, recapping a long-ago episode of “The Bachelorette” from last season: “In many respects, the real winner is the contestant who manages to fail upward, getting tragically dumped on the show and then picked to serve as the series’ next eligible Bachelor.” (Or, in this case, Bachelorette.) “If you’re in it for self-promotion, you get to graduate from the supporting cast to star in your own season. And if you’re actually in it to fall in love, you get 30 potential partners to choose from instead of just one.” Congrats Tia, the Weiner! We mean, the winner! She’s now the loser we love — the loser who should’ve won Arie’s love but has gained the world’s. This Observer thinks she’ll be the next Bachelorette. Proof is in, as they say, the P.U.D.D.I.N.G. (Posts Under Dumping Declaration Inside interNet Group). That was way too hard; just, ya know, go look at Twitter. She posted a photo of herself there and said (making sure to tag Arie’s Twitter account and “The Bachelor’s” Twitter account): “What an experience. I’m forever grateful for @BachelorABC for this opportunity to learn so much about myself and grow as a person. I’m thankful for @ariejr for showing me it is ok to fall in love, even if it results in heartbreak. What a beautiful chapter of life.” The Observer can’t include it but, at the end, she put in a black heart emoji. Responders told her they were sad, but

she should be next Bachelorette. Bingo. The Observer hopes dearly, to God above, that the next Bachelorette is Tia and, thus, Arkansasfocused. Why? Because then we could be the next Bachelorette winner. See there’s been much talk of late — or tweets — about our “reality show presidency” and our “reality show life.” And there’s been a bit of talk, mostly in polemical terms, of that erosion on our democracy, health, emotional state, love life, sex life, etc. It has sounded like this: “Reality television over the recent decade has shown a United States of people selling one another, in the form of a vast trade in junk, the last remains of our patrimony.” That’s Mark Greif in Harper’s. Or, from The New York Times: “[Trump’s] understanding of the presidency is more informed by the values and folkways of show business (specifically, reality-based entertainment, from ‘The Apprentice’ to professional wrestling) than by any larger sense of duty or dignity. And no show lasts forever.” All of that’s almost certainly true. Except maybe the last part — “no show lasts forever.” “The Bachelor” has lasted, and will last, forever. And The Observer is pretty sure our current social media hellscape will also last forever. So, let’s just go for it and try, as an entire state, to win this sucker (by losing and then getting our own show). We can do it and already did it a bit. As a member of the concluding quartet, Tia got a hometown visit in her final episode. Arie came to little ol’ Weiner to visit the family. Tia’s dad, in a very meme-able and quotable and gifable and tweet-able fashion, said to him: “If you hurt her, I can find you on Google.” Next season, you can help us find a rural broadband plan that actually works. We’ll go on steamy dates with it. What about our school system? Oh yeah, we can see that charter schools — while looking good — are actually back-stabbing and manipulative when they do interviews with the camera. Oh, hello there, medical marijuana policies; a little rough around the edges but maybe Arkansas isn’t who we thought we were. We’re just these lovable losers — and we want you to help us.

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Retracing Charles Portis’s

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FEBRUARY 22, 2018



Hemp hurdles Q

uestions raised by Governor According to Dial, the questions conHutchinson about whether cern whether the regulations conflict regulations for industrial hemp with federal law and would concern research conflict with federal law and the DEA; what the estimated economic other queries have apparently slowed impact in Arkansas would be; how that progress toward the implementation impact would be affected if the hemp of the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act. were not allowed to be grown commerThe Industrial Hemp Committee, cially; and what was the latest date the which is under the state Plant Board, seeds could be planted for a viable crop approved draft regulations in Janu- this year. The questions are posted on ary. Plant Board Director Terry Walker the association’s Facebook page in a met with Hutchinson afterward to go request for answers. over the rules. On Monday, Feb. 12, an The Hemp Act, which creates a agent from the federal Drug Enforce- 10-year research program through culment Agency visited the Plant Board. tivation, passed the state House with A spokeswoman for the board said she only one nay vote, from Republican Rep. could not discuss specifics of the meet- Andy Mayberry. (Republican Sen. Bryan ing, and the DEA did not return a call King of Green Forest was present but did from the Arkansas Times. J.R. Davis, the not cast a vote.) Hemp, which contains governor’s spokesless than .3 percent man, said the gover- ‘I was not satisfied with THC, the psychonor did not request the the level of information active ingredient DEA to make the visit. I received.’ in marijuana, can T h e A r k a n s a s — Governor Hutchinson be used for a numHemp Association, ber of products, an advocacy group including cosmetfor hemp growers, reported the Plant ics, fibers and building materials. The Board’s visit from the DEA on its Face- U.S. Farm Bill of 2014 allows the growing book page and that Hutchinson had of hemp as research. Hemp grown for asked the board whether the drafted research can also be marketed. regulations would “interfere with the Dial said the Plant Board was told DEA regulations.” The association is the state needed to “get registered with concerned that delay of the implemen- the DEA as an importer.” Despite its low tation of the regulations will also hinder THC content, industrial hemp is considgrowers from making a crop this year. ered a Schedule 1 controlled substance, “Unless Governor Hutchinson is con- subject to regulation by the DEA. vinced that the DEA does not have the As in the medical cannabis program, authority to interfere with our indus- questions have been raised about how trial hemp research pilot program, the to grow a previously illegal plant. Seeds rules will not be signed off on and the may not be brought across state lines. program will not get started this year,” But Jason Martin, CEO of Tree of the association said in the post. Life, an Arkansas-based hemp seed Hutchinson issued a state- seller operating in six states and hopment confirming that he met with ing to sell seeds in Arkansas, told Walker but said he was simply doing the hemp committee that the seeds due diligence on a new program. will be “just showing up, too; like the “I met with Director Walker to discuss this ‘hand of God,’ that’s the technical term.” issue, and I was not satisfied with the level Martin said he believed Hutchinson’s of information I received, and that is why questions were a delay tactic, since I requested additional facts,” Hutchinson the seed issue has already been raised said. “This is about having answers to with medical marijuana and it appears valid questions before moving forward that the Medical Marijuana Commiswith any decision on hemp regulations. sion will simply turn a blind eye to Davis declined to provide specif- the source. ics on the meeting, saying the govTree of Life is hosting a seminar, ernor “doesn’t go into detail on con- “Growing Industrial Hemp in Arkanversations with his agency directors.” sas: Plant. Profit. Repeat,” from 6:30 Nicholas Dial, of the Hemp Association p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at the and one of the co-authors of the Indus- Comfort Inn & Suites Presidential, 707 trial Hemp Act, said he learned about the Interstate 30. Martin said Walker, who meeting when Walker sought his help was going to speak at the seminar, will in answering the governor’s questions. not attend.

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Arkansas Reporter


Righting Governor’s School

AT GOVERNOR’S SCHOOL: Students gather in Hendrix College’s Greene Chapel.

of the Department of Education, is to lead students to “explore cutting-edge theories in the arts and sciences and to develop a greater understanding of how art, culture, and knowledge change with time,” and to challenge them to “develop the rigorous creative and intellectual skills that will be critical to their leading the ideal ‘life well lived’ and for making positive Summer program at Hendrix targeted once more. contributions to their communities and BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK to society at large,” its website says. That Cox would assume he was hen Jerry Cox, the president on several occasions the school be shut rejected as a faculty member because of the ultraconservative down for “brainwashing” students of his Christian beliefs despite his Family Council organization, against religion. qualifications is yet another example suggested on Facebook that his Hendrix College, a private four-year that many on the right are unhappy application to teach at Arkansas liberal arts school that is affiliated with the with the manner of teaching at the AGS. Governor’s School this summer was United Methodist Church, does not does However, standards for hiring at AGS rejected because he was a Christian, not hire faculty; hiring and curriculum are high: Half of those hired to teach in state Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) are the “responsibility” of the Arkansas academic areas have doctoral degrees. responded, a ssuring him t hat Department of Education, Hendrix Cox, according to his two-page application, “significant change is coming. I have Provost Terri Bonebright said. AGS has has a B.S. in education, social science and been working on this for months and included clergy among its teachers and library science, but did not complete a will have more to say about this soon.” has scheduled speakers with all points of master’s degree program. His other Governor’s School, which has been view, including former Republican state listed credentials are 11 years’ “classroom held in summer at Hendrix College since Rep. Dan Greenburg and national figures teaching experience”; his involvement its founding in 1980, has periodically come like Phyllis Schlafly. in the pro-life movement and his work under attack as an incubator of left-wing The mission of Governor’s School, to “uphold traditional marriage.” His ideas. The censors of the American Family which is funded through the Gifted & hobbies are photography, fishing and Association of Arkansas have demanded Talented and Advanced Placement office collecting antiques. He was competing



FEBRUARY 22, 2018


against applicants with advanced degrees, specifics on where they’ve taught, including at the college level; what special teaching certificates they have; books and journal articles published; and scholarly presentations. Rep. Lowery has been unhappy with Hendrix’ selection at least since last summer, emails released under the state Freedom of Information Act indicate. In August 2017, Lowery contacted ADE Commissioner Johnny Key with his “concerns about the lack of competition for site selection” for the Governor’s School, adding, “but I have become more concerned about the amount of authority ceded the host site over staffing, policy, etc.” Lowery did not return a call from the Arkansas Times for comment. Lowery said he wanted to talk to Key because Hendrix’s contract as the AGS site — a three-year contract — ends after this summer, allowing for changes in the department’s Request for Proposals to potential host colleges. It has also been assumed in some quarters that the ADE’s rules for site selection were tailored to Hendrix College. Mary Stein, who has headed the state’s office of gifted and talented for several years, wrote to ADE Assistant Commissioner Stacy Smith on Aug. 14, 2017, that the complaint about Hendrix’s apparent lock on the program “often surfaces.” But, Stein explained, the state has interpreted its rules to mean that host campuses can’t schedule other activities simultaneous with AGS. “Having only AGS going on without other campus distractions is very important. The rules for site selection mirror the original North Carolina model for Governor’s Schools and weren’t written just for Hendrix. Hendrix is the only institution willing to give up the revenue from other summer programs that could generate funds for the college.” Governor’s School site selection Rule 13.01 requires applicants to submit a written plan providing “specific details guaranteeing no other campus activity or its participants will interfere with any Governor’s School activity or student including the requirements listed in 13.02 through 13.06.” (The latter rules apply to dining facilities, dorms, library access and classrooms, labs, studios and other facilities.)

Tune in to our “Week In Review” podcast each Friday. Available on iTunes &

Smith told the Times last week, just before the site application deadline, that there were “internal discussions” within the ADE this year on how to interpret the rule, and that the ADE will no longer take it to mean that campuses cannot host other activities while the school is in session. However, those activities must still not “interfere” with the Governor’s School. It appears from the emails that Lowery or the governor wanted to encourage an application from Harding University in Searcy, which describes itself as a “Christian institution.” Harding was apparently informed of the new interpretation. Dean and Professor of Education Clara Carroll contacted Commissioner Key on Feb. 7, writing, “Harding hosts many summer activities and this seems to be a barrier in the application process. If you could help us overcome this obstacle, I’d greatly appreciate it.” That same day, Key emailed Governor Hutchinson’s education liaison Leslie Fisken asking that she let the governor know “that Harding is submitting.” The new site selection Request for Proposals for the 2019-21 AGS contract summarizes rule 13.01, dropping the words “participants,” “any” and “student.” But Smith said the summary refers to rule 13.01 and that “the rules trump everything.” As it turns out, Harding did not make an application to host the school. But after years of being the sole applicant for the school, this year Hendrix faces competition from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. The RFP for the 2019-21 contract adds a computer science component; Tech proposes to “provide students with a contemporary, technology-based curriculum,” infusing the theme of Technology: Past, Present and Future into all areas of the curriculum. UCA touts its “cyber range for simulating computer network technology.” Hendrix cites Governor Hutchinson’s “state wide endeavors to increase the understanding of computing and coding in the public schools” and says course work will “provide opportunities for students to expand their ability to code” and “understanding advances in computing theory.” It will be up to a committee selected by Key to award the contract for the AGS for the 2019-21 contract. Key has not yet named the committee members, Smith said.


Inconsequential News Quiz:

BIG Dickey Do Wrong PICTURE


Play at home, while using federal funds to study the issue of gun violence. 1) The Center for American Progress recently released a “report card” on a crucial issue, with Arkansas scoring an F. What were they scoring? A) The steps — or lack thereof, in this case — Arkansas had taken to ensure election security from outside tampering. B) Efforts to combat the ongoing threat posed to Arkansas by the invasive Portuguese Toilet Spider. C) Fundamentical edjumacation of the studentry. D) The Arkansas legislature’s grasp of basic ethics and morality. 2) A piece of legislation called The Dickey Amendment, named for its sponsor, the late U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey of Pine Bluff, is in the news again, with some in Congress now saying they’d like to see the measure repealed. What did Dickey do? A) Forbids “the attempted extraction, by any means, whether mechanical or hydraulic, of the cranium of any Republican political figure from his or her anal cavity.” B) Funded the creation of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton in a top-secret lab outside Heber Springs. C) Prohibits federally funded research into gun violence, a prohibition that Dickey himself later said he regretted sponsoring while in Congress. D) Authorized the NSA to build the time machine that Dickey used to go back to 1955, where he managed to screw up the future enough that a deranged former game show host was elected president of the United States in 2016. 3) U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock is currently tops in a category he might not want to admit right now. What is French No. 1 at? A) Being a real No. 2. B) Overall Frenchiness. C) Total donations from the NRA in the U.S. House of Representatives, raking in $1.09 million in his career (U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton blows him away with $1.96 million in blood-splattered NRA contributions, but barely managed to break the top 10 in the U.S. Senate!). D) Most pounds of Monsanto lobbyist-purchased steak eaten in one sitting (ribeye category). 4) A hashtag recently trended on Twitter in response to a longstanding annual event by Little Rock radio station KABZ-FM, 103.7 “The Buzz,” called the “Babe Bracket,” in which female journalists are ranked based on their physical appearance. What was the hashtag that trended? A) #OnlyRuthBaderGinsburgCanJudgeMe. B) #DicksMadeForRadio. C) #MoreThanABabe, with female journalists all over America listing the strengths they possess other than their looks. D) #DavidBazzelsSoVainHeProbablyThinksThisTweetIsAboutHim. 5) In response to recent criticism of the “Babe Bracket” contest by Arkansas Blog Editor Max Brantley, The Buzz has decided to make a change. What was the change? A) Started a “Bro Bracket” that ranked local male radio personalities by their physical appearance, but had to cancel the contest after the judging panel experienced nausea, vomiting and chills. B) Informed the that the station would no longer be doing business with it. C) Removed testosterone patches and Rogaine from the station’s vending machine. D) Immediately ended the “Babe Bracket” contest. Just kidding! What? You thought this was, like, 2018 or something?

Answers: A, C, C, C, B



By David Koon


FEBRUARY 22, 2018




his mother, Darla Huie, never knew her Lane was making one last, desper- younger Looney progressed from snort- ing of being trapped between the devil son as a fully functional adult. She could ate attempt to wean himself off opioids ing crushed pills to injecting heroin when and the deep blue sea: He wants Zach to see his potential, of course, as every par- cold turkey, Huie said, when he died. She he was a junior in high school. be free, but knows that once he’s released, ent can see the potential in their child. believes he may have had a seizure behind “It just led to the destruction of his teen- he may return to his addiction. A wave But from the time he was 17 years old, the the wheel, brought on by withdrawal. She age years,” his father said. “Everything of recent overdoses and deaths by heroin man he might have been otherwise was uses a metaphor about the last 15 years he lived for was just for getting high. … users in Little Rock is constantly on Looalways distorted by a crippling, seemingly of her life that would be heartbreakingly He stole firearms, chainsaws, window ney’s mind. unbreakable addiction to opioids. beautiful if it wasn’t so tragic: that it was air-conditioning units, debit cards, any“Really early, before I go to work, is When he was 17, Lane hurt his hand as if she spent a decade crawling along thing that wasn’t nailed down.” At one when the black dog wakes me up and I playing football, a fracture that would in the dust behind her son, begging him point, Looney said, his son blew through start thinking about things,” he said. “It’s take, at most, a month or two to heal for to get well, and has spent the five years a $2,500 college fund in a single week. always in the back of my mind: the recidia boy his age. He left the doctor’s office since she lost him trying to stand. Finally, in 2015, after losing his job and vism rates that I’ve read about. … I’ve with a prescription for the opioid pain “You can’t sleep,” she said. “You don’t unable to find money to feed his habit, always said, ‘If you love an addict, you’ll reliever hydrocodone. Within a week, have healthy relationships. I would liter- he committed a robbery in the parking get to a point where it’s about self-preserhis mother said, she saw a change in him, ally have friends wanting me to do things, lot of Little Rock’s White Water Tavern. vation, so they don’t take you down with from a happy-go-lucky boy to a person she and the whole time I was thinking, ‘What Arrested, convicted and sentenced to five them.’ They will. You can give up on trust. almost didn’t recognize. Within a month, about Lane? Is Lane OK? What’s wrong years of probation, he landed in prison There’s no way I’d ever trust him again, she said, he was hopelessly addicted. with him? last year unless it’s after years of being clean. But “We didn’t have the skill set to deal with Asking for after vio- the two emotions you can’t give up on are it,” Huie said. “We didn’t know what we help. Trying lating the love and hope. That’s about all you’ve got were looking at, and didn’t understand to help him. terms of left for them. You always love them. You the physiology of the drug. Because we’d G o i n g t o his pro- always hope they’ll get better.” never been exposed to it, we didn’t know. counseling. bation. Stories like these are the tip of a loomLane was a happy kid who traveled and Sending him W i t h ing iceberg the state and nation are only had a good time, a very friendly person, to rehab.’ ” his son starting to comprehend. America conexcited and exuberant about every day. R.J. Loos c h e d - sumes over 80 percent of the global outHe went from that to angry and screaming. n e y a l s o uled to be put of prescription opioids, and 99 percent We had no clue what happened.” k n o w s released of the world’s hydrocodone. According to He would remain an addict for the rest what it is to at the end the Centers for Disease Control and Preof his life, in and out of rehab and in trou- fear for an of April, vention, Arkansas has the second highble with the law as he tried to keep pace a d d i c t e d L o o n e y est legal opioid prescription rate in the with his habit. Eventually, he turned to loved one. k n o w s nation: 114.6 prescriptions for every 100 heroin. His son, the feel- people in the state. Only doctors in AlaOnce, after he finished yet another Z a c h a r y , rehab, Huie said she came into his room now 29, has to find him loading a shotgun to kill him- been in prison self. She wrestled the gun away. “He was since 2016 on like, ‘Mom, I can’t,’ ” Huie recalled. “ ‘I theft charges, can’t fight this. I don’t know who I am. which Looney I’ve fucked up my life. Nobody in our said Zachary family has ever been to jail. What am I committed to doing? I don’t know how to handle this. support an My brain, I fight it all day. I’ll get up and opioid addicI’ll say, I’m not doing this. I’m not going tion. After to do it … . I tell myself, I’m going to have b e c o m i n g a good day, a great day. I’m going to make addicted to them proud. By 3 o’clock, you know how opioids puryou get a song stuck in your head? It starts chased on playing, Just do it. You did good. Just do the street it. Do it again. Put yourself out of your when he was misery and go to sleep. ’ ” about 14, the

BETTER DAYS: Lane Huie (left) with friend Aimee Stockton. Darla Huie (below) stands in front of a mural in tribute to Lane. FEBRUARY 22, 2018



FILED SUIT: Chris Villines (left) and Colin Jorgensen with the Association of Arkansas Counties.

bama prescribe more opioids. Greene County in Northeast Arkansas has the highest prescription rate in the state, with 122 prescriptions per 100 people. In counties on the other end of the spectrum, the rates are half that. Troublingly, nobody — not addiction specialists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, nor the state Department of Health, nor the state drug director — can definitively say why there is a difference in prescription rates from county to county. What is known, according to the health department’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, is that doctors and pharmacists in Arkansas legally prescribed and distributed a staggering 235.9 million opioid pills in 2016 alone. Forty-six percent of Arkansans over the age of 18 filled at least one prescription for an opioid drug that year. With all those pills floating around, opioid theft for illicit use — what police and policymakers call “diversion” — is rampant. The CDC ranks Arkansas first in the nation when it comes to children aged 12 to 17 who have misused opioids. While opioid-related deaths seem to be edging downward since the introduction of prescription monitoring, opioid overdoses in Arkansas have tripled since 2000. Meanwhile, a study released last March 18

FEBRUARY 22, 2018


of 1.2 million UAMS patient records collected between 2006 and 2015 found that the likelihood of becoming dependent on opioids long term increases by leaps and bounds with every day beyond three that a patient takes the drugs for pain. The study found that patients who were prescribed an 11-day supply of opioid drugs had a 1 in 4 chance of still being on opioids a year later. In short, it’s clear we have a problem that isn’t going to be resolved with thoughts and prayers. Just how to go about solving it, how it got so bad in the first place, and how to pay for a fix is still being debated, but things are moving quickly now. Recent months have seen the Arkansas State Medical Board working on new guidelines to try to rein in prescription rates and problem prescribers, the Attorney General’s office announcing it intends to investigate drug manufacturers and bring charges if warranted, and the Association of Arkansas Counties filing a federal lawsuit — and planning to soon file a series of further suits in state courts — against some of the nation’s most prominent drug companies and distributors. Meanwhile, many chronic pain patients with debilitating injuries are terrified that a crackdown will take away the painkill-

ers they say allow them to lead something approaching a normal life. While efforts such as the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program have led to an overall decrease in the amount of “doctor shopping” — hopping from one doctor to another while trying to get opioid prescriptions — and a historic drop in the number of opioid overdoses in the state, state Drug Director Kirk Lane and others the Times spoke with say they believe the worst days of the epidemic are still ahead, as regulatory efforts and stricter prescription guidelines make pharmaceutical drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone harder to get from doctors and more expensive when diverted to the streets and as prescription opioid abusers turn to much cheaper heroin — some of it laced with the brutally potent synthetic opioid fentanyl. Whether those efforts succeed in moving the ball on opioids in a positive direction or not long term, it’s clear that the issue is much more complicated than old-fashioned pill mills. A PLAGUE IN A BOTTLE Though doctors have known the addictive and often deadly consequences of using opioid drugs since the days when snake oil containing opium and heroin

was readily available on drugstore shelves, the last two decades of the 20th century saw a wholesale rethinking of opioids and their addictive properties in the medical community, including the idea that the powerful drugs could be safely prescribed for temporary “acute” pain and chronic pain without fear of addiction. As seen in a number of lawsuits filed across the country over the last 10 years, including the one filed in late 2017 by the counties association, a case can and has been made that much of that rethinking by physicians, and the attendant explosion in opioid prescription rates, corresponds with a decades-long, multimillion-dollar marketing push by pharmaceutical companies beginning in the 1990s, the goal of which appears to have been to convince physicians that no patient need ever be in pain, that opioid painkillers are neither as dangerous or addictive as previous generations believed, and that those drugs could therefore be safely prescribed for pain other than that experienced by latestage cancer or hospice patients. The counties association filed suit last December in federal court against several of the biggest makers and distributors of opioid painkillers, including Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, McKesson Corp. and others. The lawsuit

calls the effort to sell physicians on the idea that opioid medications were safe and nonaddictive a “marketing scheme designed to persuade doctors and patients that opioids can and should be used for chronic pain.” It reads like the bleak color commentary on a slow-motion train wreck, laying out the history of how opioids came to be so widely prescribed in Arkansas and America, including claims that drug companies spent millions to downplay the risks of opioid addiction and dependency by using paid “opinion leaders,” employing “front groups” masquerading as impartial patient advocates, spending tens of millions of dollars to advertise in medical journals and using drug reps to make the case for shaky concepts such as “pseudoaddiction,” the idea that if patients taking opioids were found to be engaging in behaviors indicating addiction, that meant their pain was not well managed and their dosage should be increased. Citing what she called “staggering” statistics, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Jan. 24 that her office would bring in extra legal help to investigate several yet-to-be-named opioid manufacturers and will potentially bring lawsuits or charges against those firms if warranted. The counties association lawsuit points out several of what seem to be damning facts: The named defendants spent over $14 million to advertise their products in medical journals in 2011, triple what they’d spent in 2001, and spent $168 million in 2014 alone to market opioid drugs to doctors through “detailers” — friendly drug company sales reps who visit physicians in their offices — double what they’d spent on opioid detailing in 2000. “Manufacturer defendants also identified doctors to serve, for payment, on their speakers’ bureaus,” the lawsuit goes on to say, “and to attend programs with speakers and meals paid for by Manufacturer defendants.” Among other damages, the lawsuit calls for funds specifically to pay for opioid addiction treatment costs in Arkansas in coming years. Colin Jorgensen is litigation counsel for the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Services. He said there are obvious parallels between the lawsuits filed against opioid manufacturers and those filed in the past against Big Tobacco, but also significant differences. “The parallels are mostly in the legal theory and the misrepresentation in the marketing by the companies,” Jorgensen said. “That’s what’s similar between

tobacco and the opioids — the deliberate deceit about the addictive nature of these products, knowing full well the truth. The damages are not exactly the same. We’ve got a lot more local-level impact this time with the opioid epidemic than with tobacco. … We need education, prevention and treatment, and all three of those things are extremely expensive, and they’re best deployed at the local level.” The price tag for that intervention could easily run into the billions of dollars nationwide, Jorgensen said. Jorgensen said he believes physicians have been duped about opioids just like

patients, but are quickly working to turn things around. “The awareness in the medical profession is shifting dramatically,” he said. “I think you’re probably going to see a pretty substantial drop-off in the prescription rates and things moving forward. The doctors are in a tough position because they don’t necessarily have effective alternative treatment, but they’re learning now that [opioid] treatment is ineffective, too.” Association of Arkansas Counties Executive Director Chris Villines said the financial and social impact on counties and cities in the state is shaping up to

be much more costly than that posed by tobacco addiction in the past. “We didn’t fill our jails with people using tobacco,” he said. “We didn’t have to go out and police the street for tobacco users. [Tobacco] really had more of a direct impact on health care than anything. This plague has had an impact all over: the court system, the county hospital, the county jail, policing, law enforcement, coroners, everybody.” Villines noted that while there is a clear need to curb the prescription opioid rate in the state, slowing the supply does nothing to stop the demand from


CounselIng And MedICATIon

Work TogeTher To Help pATIenTs

In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from opioids … Hidden behind the terrible epidemic of opioid overdose deaths looms the fact that many of these are far from accidental. They are suicides. Dr. Maria Oquendo, President of the American Psychiatric Association Dr. Oquendo wrote these sobering words in an April blog post for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She also cited a study in the “Journal of Psychiatric Research,” in which researchers found that prescription opioid misuse was associated with a 40 to 60 percent increased risk for thoughts of suicide in the general population. With such staggering statistics, it’s easy to understand why opioid abuse and misuse has been termed an epidemic. Stockton Medical Group is on the front lines of this epidemic, treating patients to help them overcome opioid addiction. “Most often, patients have experienced trauma, which is at the root of their addiction,” said Michael Casillas, LCSW, director of operations for Stockton Medical Group. “Their drug use is a way to mask the pain. The addiction is symptomatic of that trauma— there is quite often a direct correlation.” Thus, Stockton Medical Group employs a two-prong solution to opioid addiction: therapy and medication. While it’s true, some become addicted to opioids as a result of abusing prescriptions given to alleviate physical pain, Casillas said, often patients are fighting depression or have experienced a precipitating event. He added, “And as they use the drug more and more, they become dependent upon it and it becomes a physiological issue.” He explained the mechanics of opioid addiction. “Opioids occur naturally in the human body. They’re unique in that they are necessary for the body to function. The opioid receptors are

located in the same part of the brain that is tied to survival. When a person is abusing drugs, their brain tries to compensate to the new flood of opioids. When the new receptors are under utilized, the individual experiences withdrawal. The symptoms of which can be life threatening. This is why many individuals who try to quit without assistance, relapse. They may, as a result, experience a loss of hope.” Along with administering medication in a controlled, guided manner, the staff at Stockton Medical Group also provides on-site counseling to teach patients to how to deal with stress, especially the stresses they may be experiencing as a result of their addiction, such as financial strain, relationship issues and more. They offer individual, group, family and couples counseling. “Without a positive support system, recovery is difficult, if not impossible,” Casillas said. “Our counselors help our patients with treatment plans to help them problem solve. Our program is half pharmacological: our patients are stabilized with the medication to address the dependence, so that the counseling can address the addiction. We help them address the issues, such as past trauma, with life skills and coping skills to help them recover.” This is especially important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “suicide and opioid misuse and abuse risk factors, such as pain, other addictions, mental disorders and disruptions in social support, can overlap.” Casillas said the administration of medication helps patients return to work and to caring for their families, and counseling gives them the emotional support needed for a successful recovery. Stockton has fulltime, licensed counselors who see patients on a regular basis. When patients begin the program, they can participate in therapy every day, if they choose to. Eventually, patients enter a maintenance phase during which they receive counseling and medication monthly on a longterm basis, just as someone who is diabetic would receive insulin.

“We work with our patients to work toward a level of freedom and independence that they feel comfortable with, however, it’s mandated, and we require every patient to come in at least once per month, though we often encourage them to come more often.” The staff at Stockton Medical Group has specialized in addiction treatment for opioid use disorder since 1994, and Casillas said they have some patients who’ve been with them for more than 10 years. “Addiction impacts everyone, people from various economic backgrounds, people of all ages and all situations, people who have experienced serious trauma, people who have PTSD … we treat people from all walks of life. We also work with a number of behavioral health agencies and develop individual treatment plans to ensure success,” he added. The goal is to help patients enjoy a healthy, happy life. “No one should have to suffer through recovery. We are here to help. Our focus is to help patients recover, to make recovery work, and to make it last.” Stockton Medical Group operates five outpatient facilities in Arkansas. For more information, log on to FEBRUARY 22, 2018


those addicted to opioids. Like several the Times talked to, Villines fears that attempting to restrict the number of legal prescriptions without a corresponding increase in funding for drug treatment — money that is going to be very hard to find in a cash-strapped state like Arkansas — may well result in a new scourge. “Between 2005 and 2009, Mexican heroin [production] increased from 8 metric tons to 50 metric tons,” he said. “Almost all of that increase is going straight to those who are getting off of opioids. So if we talk about the solution being, ‘Let’s cut back the flow of opioids,’ we’re not

helping. We’re actually driving addicts more quickly into illegal heroin than we would be if we had a good plan in place to help get them off of opioids.” Jorgensen said the association plans to file lawsuits somewhat similar to its federal action in state courts this spring. He said the fact that the vast majority of the counties in Arkansas — 70 out of 75 as of this writing — quickly signed on to the forthcoming state lawsuits shows the extent of the problem in both cities and rural areas, and officials’ frustration with the issue. The association will also be partnering with the Arkansas Municipal

League on the state lawsuits; the municipal league has signed up over 100 cities across the state, including the largest cities, Jorgensen said. He and Villines said that in talking to groups around the state, they’re seeing that police and leaders understand that it’s impossible to arrest their way out of the opioid crisis, and are willing to view opioid addicts as victims of a scheme rather than criminals. Though Jorgensen said it’s his belief, based on the available evidence, that drug companies set out to get people hooked on dangerous opioid painkillers, he said

the lawsuit need only prove the companies knew their drugs were dangerous and addictive and deceptively marketed to prevail. The lawsuit is not about trying to tell doctors how to practice medicine, he said. “Ending the deceptive marketing scheme and hopefully enjoining and compelling the companies that produce these pills and the companies that distribute these pills to market them truthfully, that may change the culture among doctors,” he said.

THE CANDYMAN Retired for the past three years, Benton physician Dr. Sam Taggart has long been something of a Paul Revere on the subject of opioids. Both a medical historian (he’ll soon publish his second book on the history of the profession in Arkansas) and an early proponent of the idea of “wellness” — the idea that if you eat right, get exercise, stay near an ideal weight, don’t smoke and follow other healthy guidelines, the body doesn’t need much medicine — he said that the idea of “a pill for everything” has been pushed by the Detox & Acute Psychiatric Care pharmaceutical industry since the turn of Inpatient Hospitalization for Adults and Children the 20th century, starting with vitamins. • No Cost Confidential Assessments The result, he said, is that America is a • 24 Hour Emergency Admissions drug culture that has been training its • Psychiatric Evaluation & Physician Supervised Stabilization population to look for health in pill form • Substance Abuse Detox Program for over 100 years. The problem with that, according to Taggart, is that the pharma• Counseling & Education ceutical industry is in the market to create • 4 Group Sessions per Day customers, not to produce cures. • On Site AA/NA Support Since the opioid boom, Taggart believes, • Friend & Family Visitation the result of that century-long training of • Discharge Planning American consumers has come home to roost in nearly every Arkansas city and town. “A lot of towns have a candyman,” Partial Hospitalization & Recovery 2 Week Day Program for he said. “They have a guy that everyAdults (Insurance/Private Pay) body in town knows: If you need some• Monday-Friday 9am-2pm thing, you go to this guy. I honestly didn’t • 5 Hours Therapy In Day Treatment want to be that person under any circum• Medication Management by Team Psychiatrist stances. So I began very early thinking • Lunch & Refreshments included about those kinds of issues and saying, • Recreational Activities ‘How do you keep that from happening?’ ” • Guided Journaling While it was starting to change by the time he left his practice, thanks in part to • Life Skills Seminar the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring • Individual Case Management & Aftercare Plan Program and other efforts, Taggart said • Transportation Available to Neighboring Cities the local “candyman” would often persist • Referrals for Follow Up Support for years because those physicians flirt with the edges of the law and Medical Board regulations. “I don’t want you to misunderstand me, and please don’t misrepresent this: I’m not being judgmental Confidential Assessments of my fellow physicians, except to say available 24/7 at no charge that, in every community, and I believe this is still true ... if you go into the drug1-800-264seeking community, there is a network www.rivendellofarka and they know who prescribes drugs,” The Joint Commission Top Performer Taggart said. “They know who will do on Key Quality Measures 2013 Most insurances accepted inc it, they know where they Tricare, can get it,UBH, they BCBS, Ambetter an Fax: 501-672-7379 - 100 Rivendell Dr. - Benton, AR 72019

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know how much they can get.” early 1980s, that changed. “They’d send say. I’d rather get my information from Part of being the change he hoped to out pretty young girls, pretty young guys, a reasonably objective source.” see in the world was insisting on some- and they’ll send them out with a study Denise Robertson has served as adminthing that has grown much more com- that might have six people in it, which istrator of the health department’s Premon among doctors in recent years: that is no study at all,” Taggart said. “They scription Drug Monitoring Program since chronic pain patients in his care be eval- have direct access. They come right into it started in 2012. The job has given her a uated by a chronic pain management the doctor’s office. They bring food for daily view of the flowering of the opioid specialist. “If it looked like they had a the whole office staff. They’re salesmen. crisis in Arkansas. Established by Act 304 problem,” Taggart said, “something like a severe back problem and there was nothing that could be done, or a severe hip or leg problem and nothing could be done about it, what I would do is start warning them after about three weeks, ‘This is not long term. We’re not going to do this long term.’ I wouldn’t write big, long-term prescriptions. I’d say, ‘If we decide that this is what you’re going to need, I’m going to send you to a chronic pain management specialist,’ but with a caveat: ‘OK, we’ll let them evaluate you. It’s sales, is all it is.” The sales pitch often of 2011, the program collects daily reports If they think you need this medicine, I’ll worked, Taggart said, because doctors are from pharmacies, allowing doctors and continue writing the prescription.’ ” just suceptable to a friendly face offering pharmacists to see with just a few keyDuring his years in practice, Taggart direct marketing as anyone else. strokes whether a patient is engaging in refused to hear the pharmaceutical com“For a long time, they provided all kinds “doctor-shopping” behavior to get more panies’ sales pitch on opioids. As early of freebies,” Taggart said. “They would pills from multiple physicians. as 1983, Taggart said, he stopped seeing hire physicians to be speakers at meetings: Act 820, passed in the last legislative “detailers” who asked to come to his office ‘We want you to be part of our staff.’ That session, made it mandatory for doctors to market drugs. Once, Taggart said, most part was ultimately outlawed, I think. I to consult the drug-monitoring program drug company sales reps were former was never part of that. I was never inter- before writing opioid prescriptions, and pharmacists who were informed about ested in it. I had way too much to do and for pharmacists to update the registry medicine and patient care. But during the I wasn’t interested in what they had to whenever they fill a prescription. The

change from voluntary to mandatory has been controversial, Robertson said, but it is helping to slow the spiraling opioid prescription rate in Arkansas. She noted that since the program was instituted, there has been a 20 percent decrease in prescription opioid overdose deaths in the state. That’s the fourth largest decrease

“A LOT OF TOWNS HAVE A CANDYMAN. THEY HAVE A GUY THAT EVERYBODY IN TOWN KNOWS: IF YOU NEED SOMETHING, YOU GO TO THIS GUY. I HONESTLY DIDN’T WANT TO BE THAT PERSON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. SO I BEGAN VERY EARLY THINKING ABOUT THOSE KINDS OF ISSUES AND SAYING, ‘HOW DO YOU KEEP THAT FROM HAPPENING?’ ” nationwide, according to the CDC. Robertson said one issue that drives opioid abuse in Arkansas is the fact that Missouri is the only state in the nation without some form of prescription drug monitoring system. The Missouri legislature has made attempts to establishing a system for tracking opioids in their last three sessions, but has failed each time (lacking guidance from the state, St. Louis County and bordering counties finally started their own system, which

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ON THE FRONT LINES: State Drug Director Kirk Lane (left) and Dr Rick Smith of UAMS.

has helped). Looking at Arkansas county- nets, stealing or other criminal activity to in the state yet to my knowledge, is 100 state has collected and destroyed 131 tons by-county maps of overdose rates, Robert- raise the money and feed the substance times more potent than fentanyl.” Carfen- of prescription drugs — enough to fully son said, you can actually see the deadly abuse disorder. Eventually, you move to tanil, which has popped up in some opioid load over three tractor trailer rigs. About results of addicts hopping the border into heroin because it’s cheaper. The supply hotspots around the country, is normally a third of the surrendered drugs, Lane Missouri to doctor shop. “You’ll see a of heroin is coming into the state very used by veterinarians as a surgical anes- said, have been opioids. lot of that concentrated up there on the rapidly now.” thetic for very large animals, including Lane couldn’t give a definitive answer border of Missouri,” she said. “We have Because smugglers have upped supply elephants. as to why the prescribing rates are so high no idea, really, what’s going on across to meet demand, an amount of injectThe risk of addicts turning to heroin, in certain counties. The issue of prescripthat border.” able heroin to satisfy an opioid habit that the danger of fentanyl and the attendant tion rates, he said, is multifaceted and the Drug Director Lane agrees that Mis- would cost thousands of dollars a day overdose deaths and needle-related reasons may vary from county to county. souri’s lack of a drug-monitoring program goes for about $10 in Arkansas, Lane said. diseases that will result, are why Lane “Some Arkansas counties have a lot of is contributing to the problem in ArkanMuch of the heroin seized in Arkansas believes the worst days of the crisis in retired folks who move here from other sas. He said the impact of prescription in recent years, he said, tests positive for Arkansas are still ahead. It’s part of the states,” he said. “Older people have more monitoring can be seen in the two states’ fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s 50 to reason he helped lead the state’s effort to medical problems than younger people opioid overdose death rates. “Before we 100 times more potent than morphine and make the lifesaving drug Narcan, which and because of that, they have more medistarted our program, we ranged about 12 that — unlike heroin — can be absorbed can temporarily reverse an opioid over- cations than younger people. So that may deaths for every 100,000 people,” he said. through the skin. The drug, normally only dose and give first responders time to rush be part of the issue on the prescribing “Missouri tracked right along with us. We used in patch form by late-stage cancer a patient to the hospital, available over the rates. Some of it could be the physicians were side by side, Missouri and Arkan- patients, is now being synthesized in car- counter in the state. First responders have themselves. … Some of the problem [may sas. We kicked into our PDMP, and our tel labs in Mexico and smuggled into the used Narcan to save over 30 overdose vic- be due to] the older prescribers, who are death rate remains the same today. Based U.S. in tonnage quantities, sold either tims in Little Rock alone so far this year, set in their ways and were trained that on the current figures, we have around alone or mixed into heroin. Because of including a 17-year-old who overdosed in opioids were OK in the past. Basically, try12.5 people per 100,000. Missouri is at 20 fentanyl’s potency, the fact that it looks a bathroom at Little Rock Central High ing to retrain them and reprogram them [deaths per 100,000] now. So they have identical to heroin and has the ability to School. Lane said the state has received to the latest techniques to deal with the grown. We’ve maintained.” pass through the skin, Lane said, the drug $3.5 million in grants to provide Narcan to opioid epidemic is a big push, not only in Formerly the chief of police in Ben- has been linked to overdoses across the first responders in the state over the next Arkansas, but in the U.S.” ton, Lane has seen firsthand the impact nation in not only opioid users, but cops, five years. The state’s drug takeback proOne issue as the state moves forward, of the opioid crisis in the state. He said drug dogs and family members who stum- gram — online at — has 194 Lane said, is that Arkansas is in the bottom that prescription opioids go for about bled upon a loved ones’ stash. secure boxes in the state where patients 10 percent in the nation when it comes a dollar per milligram on the street. “If “Where heroin will be fatal slowly by can dispose of their unused narcotic drugs to the availability of drug treatment, a you have a 10- to 15-pill-a-day habit, you slowly depressing the respiratory system,” 24 hours a day. Lane said that between problem especially acute in rural areas. can add up the money there,” he said. “It Lane said, “fentanyl acts very quickly. the boxes and statewide takeback events “Good medically assisted treatment comes from taking from medicine cabi- And carfentanil, which we haven’t seen — the next one is Saturday, April 28 — the isn’t just giving somebody Suboxone or 22

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methadone [drugs that mimic opioids as director of the hospital’s Psychiatric but don’t cause a high] and letting him Research Center. He works with patients walk out the door with a prescription,” he to break the cycle of opioid addiction said. “Good medical-assisted treatment every day. “You’ve got a situation where is the constant monitoring of somebody, there are a lot of pills out there. A huge urinalysis, and also a piece with peer number. Too many pills are out there recovery — not only getting that person that are not taken,” he said. “There’s clean but maintaining that sobriety and this diversion phenomena, so the adogiving them tools.” There is also, Lane lescents and young adults get hold of said, the issue of breaking the stigma of them, and then they end up graduating addiction so people can come for help from pharmaceutical grade opioids to without shame. For a lot of opioid addicts, heroin. There used to not be a market in he said, using is not about getting high; it’s Arkansas for heroin. Heroin would pass just about feeling normal and not getting through Arkansas on the way to Chicago sick. While that drive can cause addicts and other cities up north, but there wasn’t to engage in criminal behavior, Lane said enough market to stop here. Now there’s that people who have been punished plenty of market to stop here because need to have a way back to the commu- [addicts] can’t afford the prescriptionnity and a sense of worth. grade opioids.” “We as a society have to understand that While it’s impossible to determine who and give these people a second chance,” will become addicted to opioids and who Lane said. “It’s kind of hard for a longtime won’t, Smith said there is clearly a genetic cop to say that, but it’s a realization of the susceptibility to opioids in some people problem we have and what pushes people linked to their body’s activation of opioid into these behaviors. It really takes all of receptors in the brain — the golf-tee-like us working together to understand the sockets that opioid molecules plug into. problem. We created the problem. We Educating or reeducating doctors can fix it. … You can’t turn addiction off about the danger of the drugs is key, like a light switch. You just can’t do it. Smith said. In the past, doctors were It takes hard work and support, and it often misinformed about opioids during takes a community to solve the problem.” their initial training. “The pharmaceutiDr. Rick Smith chairs the UAMS cal reps were saying: These drugs aren’t Department of Psychiatry and serves dangerous and folks aren’t going to get

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addicted to it if they’re having post-surgery or post trauma [pain], which is just not true,” Smith said. “I was taught that in my fellowship. I did my fellowship in 1981, and we were taught that if somebody was given a pain medicine after surgery or after trauma, they would almost never get addicted to it.” Smith said there is a common euphemism for the four categories of doctors who prescribe too many painkillers: those who are dated in their knowledge, those who are duped by their patients into overprescribing, those who are disabled by an addiction to medication themselves,


and, the last category, which Smith said in Arkansas is treatment with Suboxone,” this a moral flaw? That’s the stigma. No is much more rare — doctors who are dis- he said. “That can be done in a primary it’s not. This is physiological. This is brain honest and overprescribing for personal care physician’s office. They have to have physiology — brain and body physiology.” gain. “The Prescription Drug Monitor- counseling as well as this drug in tapering ing Program helps sort those out, espe- doses, tapered over a number of weeks. THE FALL cially the last group,” Smith said, “which If they’re on really high doses of opioids, The state Medical Board met Feb. 1 to is really the responsibility of the DEA and you have to lower the doses of opioids hear comments on a proposed regulation the Medical Board. Reports are sent from first, and then get them on Suboxone.” that would give the board the power to the PDMP to the board.” Asked whether prescribing medical revoke or suspend the medical license Helping patients get off long-term opi- cannabis instead of opioids for pain might of any doctor found to have prescribed oids must be done slowly and carefully, help in solving the opioid crisis in the “excessive amounts of controlled subSmith said. The approach that works best state, Smith said he doesn’t believe so. stances to a patient, including the writing right now is what’s called medication- “We know from research that it’s a gate- of an excessive number of prescriptions assisted treatment. “The one that we’re way drug,” he said. “Adolescents espe- for an addicting or potentially harmful hoping works and gets widespread use cially will start with marijuana because drug.” As defined in the proposed rule, our society believes that marijuana is “excessive” wouldn’t include medications harmless or even helpful. So they start given to patients in hospice, being treated using marijuana and they oftentimes for active cancer, emergency inpatient graduate to other drugs. It’s not always, care or end-of-life care. For the treatment but it’s statistically significant.” of acute, temporary pain from surgery or Smith believes the state is moving in an injury, the regulation would define the right direction to combat the opi- “excessive” as any pain medication prescription written for more than seven “I PRAY EVERY NIGHT TO days “without detailed, documented medical justification.” The board will hold DIE. MY HUSBAND ACTUALLY another public comment session on the proposed regulation in April. TOOK THE GUNS OUT OF THE As the audience for the meeting filed into the chamber in the Victory Building HOUSE BECAUSE HE WAS in downtown Little Rock, it was easy to see which people were there to speak TIRED OF LISTENING TO ME against the proposal — the half-dozen or so, many of them older, who hobbled in THREATEN TO DO IT. … I’M on walkers or canes. One man was girdled with an extensive black back brace. One ON SCRAPS OF MEDICINE. I woman in a surgical mask groaned as she lowered herself gingerly into a chair. CAN’T LIVE MY LIFE LIKE THIS. Along with Drug Director Lane — who, citing the UAMS study of addiction rates, THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND, advocated for the board to go further and limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to BECAUSE UNLESS YOU HAVE five days — and Smith and other experts, several patients spoke before the board, CHRONIC PAIN, YOU WILL NOT saying that opioids had curbed their pain enough that they were able to live fuller UNDERSTAND WHAT PEOPLE lives following a crippling injury. Nearly every patient who spoke said their docWITH CHRONIC PAIN ARE tors, fearing repercussions from the Medical Board, had cut back on the amount TALKING ABOUT.” of opioid medication they would prescribe. Some said they had been cut back oid crisis, taking very aggressive action to a point where they could no longer DESPERATE: Chronic pain sufferer Kelly Jones, who says her medication has been tapered and instituting programs, like the PDMP, function. One patient, on opioids for a of by her skittish doctor. which help stem the tide. “The health back injury for over 20 years, related that department has taken a strong lead, the without the drugs, he feared he would Arkansas State Medical Board is, the have to go on permanent disability, close Medical Society is,” he said. “Everybody his small business and put his employis concerned about the problem, and I ees out of work. Board members, saydon’t see anybody really holding back. ing they wouldn’t revoke the license of a It’s just a very complex problem. We doctor prescribing long-term opioids for shouldn’t and can’t blame this on the legitimate chronic pain cases, repeatedly patients. The patients are suffering. We encouraged patients who spoke of skithave to put the patients’ best interest first. tish physicians to have their doctors call We can’t just ban the drugs. When I had the board for reassurance and education a leg injury, I needed the medicine for about the regulations concerning opioid a day or two … There’s a battle about: Is prescriptions for chronic pain. CONTINUED ON PAGE 38


FEBRUARY 22, 2018



The mission of The BridgeWay is to provide healthcare services that patients recommend to families and friends, physicians prefer for their patients, purchasers select for their clients, employees are proud of, and investors seek for long-term results. Phone: 1-800-245-0011 21 BridgeWay Road North Little Rock, AR 72113

Stockton Medical Group is an outpatient, office-based Medication Assisted Treatment program specializing in the treatment of opioid use disorder utilizing Buprenorphine products (Suboxone, Zubsolv and Bunavail) in conjunction with counseling. Our goals are to provide personalized, compassionate care with the necessary balance of flexibility and accountability, providing our patients with the tools to overcome the physical and psychological barriers of their addiction. Stockton Medical Group NLR Phone: 501-916-9129 Stockton Medical Group HS Phone: 501-319-7963 Stockton Medical Group NWA, Fayetteville Phone: 479-282-2992

It is the mission of Oasis Renewal Center to enable individuals to live free from the abuse of alcohol and/ or other drugs by providing treatment programming and other professional services within an atmosphere of dignity and respect. Phone: 501-376-2747

Quapaw House Inc., is dedicated to compassionately providing comprehensive behavioral health prevention, treatment, and education services to persons served, families and communities we serve. We are committed to providing high-quality affordable programs that utilize a therapeutic and holistic approach that enriches their lives and quality of life they live. Hot Springs, AR 844-881-3603

Rivendell Behavioral Health provides a continuum of care to change lives. Adults and teens suffering from psychiatric illness or a combination of mental illness and substance abuse issues are treated with acute care services and group therapies focusing on a range of behavioral issues. Inpatient detox and diagnostic treatment centers are available, including medication evaluation and management and a four-to-six week relapse prevention program in outpatient care. Learn more or request a confidential assessment: Phone: 501-316-1255 100 Rivendell Drive Benton

Stockton Medical Group, Jonesboro Phone: 870-520-6313 It is the mission of Recovery Centers of Arkansas to enable individuals to live free from the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs by providing treatment programming and other professional services within an atmos phere of dignity and respect. Phone: 501-372-4611

New Vision is a hospital-based medical stabilization/detox service. The inpatient stay typically lasts 3-5 days, and helps patients to medically manage their withdrawal. Adults 18 & older in active or pending withdrawal from alcohol, prescription painkillers, heroin, and certain other drugs are accepted if deemed appropriate by the physician. Medicaid, Medicare, and most Private Insurance plans accepted. After Care Coordination available for appropriate discharge planning. New Vision at Unity Health White County Medical Center, Searcy Office: 501-380-1390 New Vision at Sparks Medical Center Van Buren Office: 479-471-4600

• Is developmentally Appropriate for Ages 13-24 • Addresses Co-Occurring Problems • Offers Cultural Sensitivity • Is Evidence Based To succeed in working with youth, The Seven Challenges® places a special emphasis on creating a climate of mutual respect within which individuals can talk openly and honestly about themselves. We engage young people in actively thinking about their use of alcohol or other drugs, and its effect upon their lives. Working through The Seven Challenges® helps them understand what needs they are meeting by using drugs, what harm they are causing, what risks they are taking, and what it entails to make changes. We raise consciousness, inspire hope, and motivate informed, internally driven, sincere decisions to change. Once such decisions are made, we teach the tools and provide the support that ensures success. Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas 501-954-7470 10 Corporate Hill Drive, Suite 330, Little Rock

New Vision at Mena Regional Health System Office: 479-243-2280

Wolfe Street Foundation is Arkansas’ largest non-profit resource dedicated to recovery from alcoholism and addiction. Since 1982, we have provided outreach facilities for people and their families who are looking for a way out of the alcoholism and addiction cycle. Wolfe Street Foundation owns and operates Wolfe Street Center, a 12,000 plus square foot facility located in downtown Little Rock that offers 240 meetings each month, two meals each week, and hosts a variety of workshops and educational events in the community. Need to talk to someone about recovery? Phone: 501-372-5662 Little Rock FEBRUARY 22, 2018


Arts Entertainment AND


efore returning to Hendrix College as the Murphy Visiting Theatre Director, Ashlie Atkinson wanted limitations. As the Little Rock-born actress explained during a recent talk in Conway, if she could pick any play from anytime from anywhere to direct with undergraduates, it would become a “huge thing that’s impossible to pare down.” Dr. Rosemary Henneberg, a former professor and mentor, had stressed this to Atkinson years ago. She’d told the student Atkinson that limitations allow for freedom. Henneberg’s advice had been successful so far. It had also been Henneberg who’d suggested Atkinson move to New York City after graduating from Hendrix in 2001 to join the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. “We’ve taught you all these things, now go and break all of those rules,” is how Atkinson remembers the push. Now, after a career ranging from sitcoms to Spike Lee films to theatrical performances to being lauded by The New York Times as “just a wonderful actress,” Atkinson wanted to bring something back that spoke to all of that — something with New York-weird to it, something about love, something that would connect. With so much in mind, she needed restrictions. So, Atkinson mandated: seven characters or less, fewer than 200 light cues, ensemble cast, queer themes, strong female leads. It took a while, but after reading 20-plus or so scripts, Atkinson came upon “Wet, or Isabella the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitudes,” a play (written in verse) about the survivors of a pirate-ship wreck. The play is about identity, kind of. It’s about love, too. And it’s about how we make assumptions about our identity, even though we don’t realize it, and how we have to abandon those assumptions to find a truer version of ourselves. You talked about limitations with the play. How does that work in your art? How can specificity and limitations, things that might not seem good, actually be helpful? I mean, as an actor, it is incredibly helpful. I never have to apologize for the individual that I am. I’m never too 26

FEBRUARY 22, 2018



with Ashlie Atkinson

savvy. I think college kids are a lot “older” than I was as a college kid. On ‘Black Klansman,’ calling the Hogs and the It’s less about “know who you are” ‘Jon Lovitz principle.’ and more about saying “you are the BY JACOB ROSENBERG only you there is. So: take up space, make your voice louder, plant your feet, don’t apologize with your body for being here.” A lot of it is physical adjustments for them. You’ve worked with Spike Lee a few times now, most recently in his new film “Black Klansman.” What’s he like? Uh, the best. I love that guy. He’s very funny; he has a really great sense of humor. He can be intense, too, but has such a clear view of what he wants. And it’s really nice the level of contextualization he gives, which happens every time. Like, when we did “Inside Man,” he gave us this mini film festival on heist flicks. … For “Black Klansman,” which takes place in 1972 in Colorado Springs, he had a woman — a very smart lady — from the Southern Poverty Law Center come in and talk to us about hate groups in America: where they’re at now and what they have in common and how now this altright white supremacy is potentially a more virulent strain than maybe in the past. I mean, I know growing up here in Arkansas, the Klan just seemed SHIPWRECKED: A new production at Hendrix College goes up under the direction of like idiots. This is from my position Little Rock native Ashlie Atkinson, who appears in Spike Lee’s “Black Klansman.” of privilege; everything I say is from my position of privilege. But I never fat or too low-voiced to play myself. person that he asked him if he was an thought of them as anyone to actually When you go into a casting, you’re actor, gave him a card and told him to be afraid of in the ’80s. They didn’t like: “Well, this is me.” And yes, I’m show up for a thing. seem to have any power. They certainly prepared and I did the work before. So, I feel like if you’re yourself long didn’t have any political agency, it I know what I’m doing when I go in. enough, then someone’s going to need didn’t seem at least. That’s changing, But, either they want a “me” or they a “you.” Once they need a “you,” if you quite rapidly. And it was great for Spike don’t want a “me.” It’s not personal. show up — and you’re professional, and to arrange for someone to come in to They’re not judging. you’re fun to be with (like you’re fun to talk to us about the impact of what we I have a thing that I call the “Jon work with and you make it an enjoyable were doing. It was also really helpful Lovitz principle.” Jon Lovitz got put experience for everybody) — well, then, because I play the wife of a Klansman. on “Saturday Night Live” because representation and visibility begets So it was useful to talk about social he was standing in front of Lorne representation and visibility. I think dynamics. Who are these people? Michaels in line for a movie. In that you can take a couple of those, like “Oh What positions do they occupy in their very Jon Lovitz-y voice of his, he was she’s the person that we need and we communities? complaining. (And I hope this isn’t didn’t know that we needed,” and, in Is there a common Arkansasapocryphal, I hope this is true.) [Lovitz] New York at least, you can move that based conversation you have outside was complaining about everything into a career. of the state? about the movie they were about to How have you talked to the Spike Lee makes me call the Hogs see: who was in it, who directed it, who students about being themselves? every now and again. Like literally a wrote it, why he wasn’t in it. And Lorne A lot of it is about claiming your “Woo Pig Sooie.” Michaels was just so captivated by this space. Because these students are CONTINUED ON PAGE 38

ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog

Find great events and buy tickets at

A&E NEWS “VARIETY IS, ONCE AGAIN, the watchword at The Rep,” Producing Artistic Director John Miller-Stephany said of the ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE’S 2018-19 season. That exercise in variety includes the following plays: Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” Sept. 5-23, with Miller-Stephany directing; Todd Kriedler’s stage adaptation of the William Rose screenplay for “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, Oct. 24-Nov. 11, with Cliff Fannin Baker directing; a stage version of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” Dec. 5-30, directed by Miller-Stephany; Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” Feb. 6-24, directed by Giovanna Sardelli; “Million Dollar Quartet,” inspired by the lives of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, March 27-April 21, directed by Hunter Foster; and Wendy McLeod’s “Women in Jeopardy,” June 5-23, directed by Miller-Stephany. Visit for details and ticket information. THE STUDIO GANG ARCHITECTURAL firm of Chicago will reveal its concept for the renovation and expansion of the ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the Arts Center’s lecture hall; champagne will be served first at 6 p.m. Jeanne Gang and Arts Center Director Todd Herman will preside. The reveal was first set for October 2017, but was canceled when it was decided that the original $46 million budget given the architects wasn’t quite enough to come up with an Arts Center the public — which is giving up $37.5 million in tourism taxes to bond the project — would necessarily embrace. Herman said in January that he was “cautiously optimistic” that fundraising would meet the needs of an increased budget, though he declined to say how much more money would need to be raised. Presumably, that will be revealed along with the new concept next Tuesday. The new Arts Center is slated to open in 2021. THE VOLUNTEER-RUN five-day VALLEY OF THE VAPORS INDEPENDENT MUSIC FESTIVAL in Hot Springs, a project of Low Key Arts, announced its lineup this week, including sets from locals Or and Landrest, as well as Larkin Poe, Vodi, Birdcloud, Oneida, Bambara, Juiceboxx, Zuli, Us, Today, Roar!, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Fenster, Moaning, Mauno and Suburban Living. For a full lineup and passes, see

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Various times. Arts & Science Center of Southeast Arkansas, Pine Bluff

This three-day festival of music, dance, film and living history in Quapaw Chief Heckaton’s stomping grounds celebrates the confluence of Pine Bluff’s multicultural history stemming from the region’s French, Quapaw and African-American roots. Kicking things off Thursday is a screening of the film “First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music in South Louisiana” by Arkansas State University Heritage Studies professors (and sisters) Moriah Istre and Elista Istre; they head a panel discussion after the screening (6:30-8:30 p.m.). On Friday, the Brian Austin Band, Detroit Johnny and Milt Jackson & friends will perform as the festival pays tribute to musicians with ties to Jefferson County “Big Bill” Broonzy, Sippie Wallace, Miles Davis and Bobby Rush (6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.). The Quapaw, who lived briefly in historic Pine Bluff before being shoved west by land-greedy white folk, enter the picture Saturday with demonstrations of dance, traditional crafts and foodways (10 a.m. to noon). Then, the living history group “Voices in the Past” will act as prominent African-American artists, musicians and business people of Jefferson County; the program draws from WPA slave narratives as well (1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday). (Educators can earn credit; register online through the Arkansas Education Services Cooperative or at ASC by calling Leonor Colbert at 870-536-3375.) LNP

A JEFFERSON COUNTY HOMAGE: A screening of “First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music of South Louisiana” is part of the programming for this weekend’s “Crossroad Festival” in Pine Bluff.



‘HOME: TRUE STORIES OF IMMIGRATION’ 7 p.m. New Deal Salon. $10-$15.

Though it seems like a lot of the folks who voted for Trump want to forget or deny it, America has always been a nation of immigrants, taking in all dreamers with the courage to surge over the deserts, wastes or waves to find their way through the great golden door of opportunity and safety this country has represented for millions since soon after its founding. Storytelling collective The Yarn will celebrate that immigrant

heritage this week with “Home: True Stories of Immigration.” The show will feature storytellers relating personal tales of immigration from Mexico, Colombia, Ethiopia, Italy, Panama and Puerto Rico. It’s sure to be a moving night of storytelling, and especially poignant given the current occupant of the White House and his racist, anti-immigrant minions. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets ($10) can be purchased online at DK



7:30 p.m. Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive. $15.

In 1935, composer William Grant Still — the man we now call the “Dean of African-American composers” — took a train trip through Kentucky. By this time, Still had earned a Guggenheim Fellowship and was composing music for film in Los Angeles, with his famously bluesy “Afro-American Symphony” five years in the rearview mirror and his rearing in Little Rock and Mississippi even further behind that. So, it’s no wonder a train ride through The Bluegrass State sparked Still’s imagination, and the notes he took on that train ride became 28

FEBRUARY 22, 2018


“Kaintuck,” a mysterious tone poem for piano and orchestra that slides around between verdant and icy over its 11-minute play time. “Kaintuck” is to be played here by the Little Rock Wind Symphony with Linda Holzer at the piano. The program is, partly, an homage to Little Rock composers, and therefore probably worth hearing on scholarly merit alone, but Still’s concerto — along with pieces from Little Rock composer Steven Bryant (b. 1972) and pieces from non-Little Rockers Tchaikovsky (“Capriccio Italien”) and Floyd Werle (“Ellington Portrait”) are likely to be lent a warmth in the concert hall by the LRWS and the third conductor in the ensemble’s quarter-century history, Israel Getzov. SS

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7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun., The Weekend Theater. $12-$16.

In 1925, a Tennessee teacher was convicted for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution, and thanks to the drama “Inherit the Wind,” John T. Scopes’ name has come to represent all efforts to deny science in favor of a Bible-thumping insistence that God created Adam and Eve, no questions asked. In Arkansas, we had our own monkey trial 43 years later, when in 1982 a law signed by Gov. Frank White that required schools to give equal weight to Genesis as evolution science was successfully challenged in federal court. Testimony at the trial was a source of much hilarity, but the fact that there are still efforts in the U.S. to halt scientific study — which, as the subtext of “Inherit the Wind” indicates, is really more about politics than religion — is no laughing matter. State Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) introduced a bill in the waning days of the 2017 that would have allowed public school teachers to teach creationism and “intelligent design.” Byron Taylor directs. LNP


THURSDAY 2/22 The fourth semifinal round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase welcomes back some favorites from 2017: Recognizer, The Inner Party, Mortalus and DeFrance, 8 p.m., Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, $5. Songwriter, storyteller and co-founder of the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival Steve Azar plays Delta music as part of the Potluck & Poison Ivy series at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse, 7:30 p.m., $35. Artist Danny Broadway gives a “Lunch and Learn” talk at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, noon, free. Greg Warren takes his stand-up routine to The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. UA Little Rock’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance takes on “An Octoroon,” a new play by 2014 Obie winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun., Haislip Theatre in the Center for Performing Arts, 5900 University Drive, $10. Brian Ramsey plays for happy hour at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, LLC takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. Ten Penny Gypsy pairs its sweet sounds with Buddy Case at The Big Chill in Hot Springs, 8 p.m.



9 p.m., South on Main. $10.

Bonnie Montgomery pulls off a heist on her new album “Forever.” It’s done covertly, playing out over the four title tracks — “Forever (Intro),” “Forever (Interlude),” “Forever (Instrumental)” and “Forever” — on the 11-track record. By the point of “Forever (Instrumental),” you’ve settled into these country songs sung unusually well. Maybe you’ve read about Montgomery; the Searcy-born singer’s operatic training and her famous opera about Bill Clinton get play in the first line of most articles about her. So when the instrumental begins with a slow running of the hand down an acoustic guitar, you wonder: “What is that sound? Where do I know that from? Is it Italian?” You’re close. These songs have had Italian inspiration. In the words of our own

Stephanie Smittle, Montgomery has throughout taken the “strange bedfellows” of bel canto and honky-tonk beyond holy matrimony into “complete, chemical fusion” on the album. But that instrumental, that strum down the guitar, at the start of a desert ballad — what is that noise from? It’s not operatic. I played it five times in a row to figure. It was not until I closed my eyes … and then, on the sixth time playing “Forever (Instrumental)” I saw it: The sheriff walking into town, gun at his side, the sand, the horses, Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone. Bonnie Montgomery stole back the spaghetti Western. This cultural jousting gives “Forever” a narrative flow as an album — a tense battle throughout. So, I hope during the show she plays the album right through. Because when she finally gets to the last “Forever” it’s like a quick draw at high noon. JR



‘FOREVER’ FRIDAY: Bonnie Montgomery celebrates the release of her new album at South on Main.

“A Tribute to True Soul Records” pays homage to Lee Anthony and Little Rock soul, 7 p.m., CALS Ron Robinson Theater, free. Black Stone Cherry takes its fifth record, “Kentucky,” to the Rev Room, with Iron Tongue, 8 p.m., $20. Fans of The Specials or Reel Big Fish: check out The Big News at Four Quarter Bar, with solid rock ’n’ roll from Fiscal Spliff, 10 p.m., $7. Songwriters John Paul Keith and Mark Edgar Stuart share a bill at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m., $7. Katmandu performs at Thirst N’ Howl Bar and Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. The Phlegms, Helen Kelter Skelter and Mouton perform at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, 9 p.m., $5. Baba Fly, OT Rza and DJ Swift share the stage at Vino’s, 8:30 p.m., $7. Brian Nahlen and Nick Devlin duet at Cajun’s Wharf for happy hour, 5:30 p.m., free; later, catch Rustenhaven, 9 p.m., $5. Arkansauce takes its string mix to Kings Live Music in Conway, with an opening set from Jamie Patrick, 8:30 p.m., $5. Mister Lucky performs at Oaklawn’s Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., or go earlier and catch the Pink Piano Show in the casino’s Pop’s Lounge, 5 p.m. Fri-Sat.

SATURDAY 2/24 The same U.K. town that brought us the Beatles also begat Conan, a British doom metal band that lands at the White Water Tavern this weekend, with The Ditch and The Delta and Tempus Terra, 9 p.m., $12. Club Sway hosts “Lola’s Latin Night: Divas of the Night,” 9 p.m. Deep Sequence takes its Zappa-esque mix to the stage at Four CONTINUED ON PAGE 31

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies FEBRUARY 22, 2018








UA Breckenridge Stadium 12. $35 pass.

Ever since they expanded the number of Academy Award Best Picture nominees a few years back, it’s been a little hard — both in terms of time and on the pocketbook — to get around to seeing all the films up for filmmaking’s biggest annual prize. Never fear, however, as Regal Cinemas and Breckenridge Stadium 12 theater have you covered with a weeklong minifestival featuring all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees for one money. Only $35 scores you a festival pass to see them all, from creepy Caucasians in “Get Out” to fishy fornication in “The Shape of Water,” from Nazi-fighters in “Dunkirk” to Nixon-fighters in “The Post.” That’s just $3.88 per film! You’re not going to get a better deal than that, movie fans. Four films will be shown every day from Friday, Feb. 23, to Saturday, March 3, and two on Oscar night, March 4. Hit the festival website at for tickets and show times. DK

2018 OSCARS, CRAM SESSION: Catch “The Shape of Water,” along with all eight other Academy Award Best Picture nominees, as part of the Regal Cinemas Best Picture Film Festival.



7 p.m., UA Pulaski Technical College, Center for Humanities and Arts. Free, reservation required.

My favorite piece of Pharoah Sanders folklore is that as a teenager — after having recently switched to the saxophone after dropping his church clarinet — Sanders wore dark shades and a fake, drawn-on mustache to worm his way into Little Rock nightclubs. That, on its face, is very funny. You can see the young man, yes? It’s even better in context. Because after band director Jimmy Cannon (Sander’s mentor) left his job at Scipio A. Jones High School in North Little Rock, the school district asked Sanders to fill in. Imagine: the young Sanders, a teenager, band director by day and jazz man by night. It was the 1950s. Within 20 years he’d helped redefine jazz. It’s the perfect prologue for a legend — that young man in the nightclub. And legend is the right word. Sanders played with Sun Ra and Coltrane and may be the greatest tenor saxophone player of all time, or at least one of the most influential. He’s of mythical proportions. Encyclopedia. com calls him magical: “A master of multi-phonics, or split tones, Sanders could play multiple notes simultaneously,” it says. “He was famous for his circular breathing, whereby he filled his sax with air and removed his mouth while the instrument continued to play on its own.” Play on its own! Two notes at once! All hail! Yet, as Will Stephenson wrote for the Arkansas Times in 2014, Sanders’ relationship with his hometown has been complicated. Though he went by the nickname “Little Rock” for years in Oakland, Calif., no one much calls him a “Little Rock legend.” He’s been honored here often — even though some still say, “Really? He’s from Arkansas?” — and will be again this Saturday. It’s a free performance, but you need to reserve seats. Getting in may be tricky; if you can’t get past the bouncer, maybe try the glasses and mustache trick. JR


FEBRUARY 22, 2018


MASTER OF MULTI-PHONICS: Legendary tenor saxophonist and Little Rock native Pharoah Sanders performs at UA Pulaski Technical College’s Center for Humanities and Arts on Saturday evening.

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9 p.m., Maxine’s Live in Hot Springs, $12-$15.

For people of a certain vintage, it’s still a little surreal to think that the 1990s — the decade that brought you Grunge, Generation X and Bill Clinton as the world’s most famous fellatee — ended almost 20 years ago. If you’re a refugee of that bygone age and a fan of burlesque, however, there’s good news, in the form of Hot Springs burlesque troupe Foul Play Cabaret’s salute to the 1990s. As you might expect, the show will feature the talented ladies of FBC showing ever-more-tantalizing skin, stripping out of costumes inspired by the era while accompanied by some of the biggest hits of the ’90s, hits that we hope don’t include “Achy Breaky Heart,” Hanson’s “Mmmbop” or anything by Limp Bizkit. Some things are better left in the past, even when there’s nearly nekkid people to take your mind off of them. The troupe will be joined by drag performer Karma Kouture. Doors open at 8 p.m. Space is limited and the Foul Play shows often sell out by the night of show, so call Maxine’s at 501-321-0909 to reserve a table. DK



7:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $17-$67.


SUNDAY 2/25 At WordsWorth Books & Co., Grif Stockley signs copies of his 2017 book, “Black Boys Burning: The 1959 Fire at the Arkansas Negro Boys Industrial School” and Encyclopedia of Arkansas editor Guy Lancaster signs copies of his 2017 compilation “Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950,” 1:30 p.m. ArkansasStaged presents a reading of Sarah Ruhl’s “Dear Elizabeth,” 7 p.m., 21c Museum Hotel, $5 suggested donation. Parkview Arts and Science Magnet students will perform “Take a Stand,” protest songs of the 20th century, Clinton Presidential Center Great Hall, 3 p.m.




KA N SAS pre sen ts


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In an interview with science reporter Loren Grush just before the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy earlier this month, science advocate and TV dignitary Bill Nye said this: “There are questions, Loren, that we’ve all asked. ‘Where do we come from? How’d we all get here?’ and ‘Are we alone in the universe?’ And if you want to answer those two questions, you have to explore space.” Though they didn’t have a floating Tesla to fuel the imagination, it was undoubtedly those same questions that prompted postminimalist darling John Adams to pen the relentlessly tense “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” in 1986, Richard Strauss to write “Also sprach Zarathustra” — the musical moment that cemented Kubrick’s 1968 “2001: A Space Odyssey” into clear memory — or Gustav Holst to slide full-on into an astrology phase, during which he wrote the now-iconic “Mars, The Bringer of War” (“Star Wars” fans, you’ll find the roots of John Williams’ “The Imperial March” here), “Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity” and the rest of “The Planets” suite. All of those dazzling pieces go up on stage, with images from NASA’s archive projected on a high-definition screen behind Conductor Philip Mann and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. If that pairing doesn’t leave you planning a massive party for the 2024 eclipse, or stupefied that there is a Tesla in space that has exceeded its 36,000-mile warranty 700-plus times over, I’m not sure what will. SS



Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. DeFrance rocks at the Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse, 1637 E. 15th St., 7 p.m., $5. Beale Street soul lands at Stickyz with a show from Southern Avenue, 9 p.m., $10. Trey Johnson performs for happy hour at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, Rock Candy takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. DJ Kecia and stage performer Axel Andrews make it a prime night for landing at Discovery Nightclub, 9 p.m. A Dueling Piano Show at Kings Live Music in Conway features Matt Sammons and TK Cowboy, 8:30 p.m., $5.



Open to the Public!

Stephanie Vanderslice signs copies of her book, “The Geek’s Guide to the Writing Life,” 5 p.m., WordsWorth Books & Co.

TUESDAY 2/27 The Quapaw String Quartet and the Rockefeller String Quartet join other Arkansas Symphony Orchestra musicians for “Parlor Music,” a program of Rachmaninoff, Cras and Mozart, 7 p.m., Clinton Presidential Center, Great Hall, $23. CALS Ron Robinson screens a 1997 addition to the cult movie canon, “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” 6 p.m., $2. City Mouse, The Plurals and Attagirl share a show at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. The UCA Jazz Ensemble performs at South on Main, 7 p.m., free. The Clinton Center hosts “A Conversation with AfricanAmerican Leaders in the Clinton Administration,” with Terry Edmonds, Ben Johnson, Janis Kearney and Bob Nash, noon. Author and TV personality Jenna Bush Hager speaks at the Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas, 7:30 p.m., $15.

The Crossroad Festival is a three-day event exploring Jefferson County and Southeast Arkansas’s French, Quapaw Indian, and African American cultural heritage from its historic roots to contemporary iterations through the interpretive lens of film, music, dance, and living history. Visit WWW.ASC701.ORG for details.

870.536.3375 701 South Main Street Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601

WEDNESDAY 2/28 Ameripolitan rocker Dale Watson performs at the White Water Tavern with Bonnie Montgomery, 9 p.m., $12. Trey Johnson ends his month of musical picks for South on Main’s “Sessions” Series with a show from The Natural Disasters, 8 p.m., $10.

This advertising was paid with a combination of State Funds & Arkansas’ Land of Legends Travel Association Funds

Major Community Sponsors

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies

The festival supported in part by a Major Grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council & National Endowment for the Humanities. FEBRUARY 22, 2018



THE DEPARTMENT OF ARKANSAS HERITAGE will dish up the 2018 members of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 6, at the Ron Robinson Theater. Paul Austin, Stacy Hurst, Tim Nutt, Evette Brady, Montine McNulty, Kat Robinson, Chip Culpepper, Tim Morton, Christina Shutt, Cindy Grisham, Rex Nelson and Swannee Bennett made the selections from among 450 submissions from 40 counties. The 12 finalists for the Food Hall of Fame are Franke’s Cafeteria, Feltner’s Whatta-Burger (Russellville), Doe’s Eat Place, Dixie Pig (Blytheville), Bruno’s Little Italy, the White House Cafe (Camden), McClard’s Bar-B-Q (Hot Springs), Kreme Kastle Drive-in (Blytheville), Ed Walker’s Drive-in (Fort Smith), Neal’s Cafe (Springdale), DeVito’s (Eureka Springs) and the Venesian Inn (Tontitown). Finalists for Proprietor of the Year are Matthew McClure (The Hive, Bentonville); Mary Beth Ringgold (Cajun’s Wharf, Capers, Copper Grill), Capi Peck (Trio’s Restaurant) and Scott McGehee (Yellow Rocket Concepts). Finalists for FoodThemed Event are the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival (Warren), the Hope Watermelon Festival, the International Greek Food Festival, the Gillett Coon Supper and the World Championship Duck Gumbo Cookoff (Stuttgart). Finalists in the Gone But Not Forgotten category are Jacques and Suzanne, Klappenbach Bakery (Fordyce), Coy’s Steaks and Seafood (Hot Springs) and Cotham’s Mercantile (Scott). The People’s Choice category winner will be announced at the induction ceremony, which starts with a reception at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony will be at 6:15 p.m. Liz Williams, director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum of New Orleans, will speak and hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served. Tickets are $20, and may be bought at the door. RSVP to Shelby.brewer@arkansas. gov or 501-324-9349. If McClure isn’t named Proprietor of the Year, he can take comfort in his nomination as a semifinalist for the 2018 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. McClure is executive chef at The Hive at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville. THE ROOT CAFE at 1500 Main St. is applying for a liquor license so it can add a “simple bar program” at dinner, owner Jack Sundell said. The Root uses locally sourced ingredients in its menu; it will also go with locally sourced spirits from Rocktown Distillery, which is moving its production from the East Village to 1201 Main St. With the license in hand, The Root will expand its dinner hours from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday to 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sundell is hoping for an April 1 rollout. 32

FEBRUARY 22, 2018


SEEN ON HWY. 65: Hoots, a great eatery in McGehee with barbecue, catfish, steaks, frog legs ... and Ms. Hoot, house dog.

Head to Hoots F

When traveling through Southeast Arkansas. or years, if we were headed down U.S. Highway 65 on the way to New Orleans or the Redneck Riviera, there were two spots we’d consider stopping for a meal: Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village, for some of those deservedly famous tamales, pecan pie and other home cookin’ delights, or The Dock a little farther down the road in Lake Providence, La., for a better than average po’ boy on a dock overlooking the lake. But we recently discovered that we had been skipping over another gem: Hoots BBQ in McGehee. We obviously haven’t been paying attention. Since it opened in 2012, the place has reportedly been steadily packed. Named for the McGehee High School mascot, the Owl, the restaurant’s slogan is “Eat Drink Have a Hoot.” On a recent Monday at lunch, half of Desha County appeared to be up for that plan, as the massive parking lot was crammed full of pickup trucks. Maybe there’s not

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a ton of competition in Southeast Arkansas, but Hoots comes close to being everything to everyone. It looks sizable from the road, but it really spreads out inside. As you enter, there’s a bakery counter with all sorts of boxed desserts for sale and, to the right, a separate bar room, chock-full of TVs and, on our recent visit, a lot of men in camo who looked like they’d been up all night. The decor, everywhere, is country roadhouse bric-a-brac with corrugated metal siding accent walls scattered throughout. The menu at Hoots is massive, but when you’re eating at a restaurant with BBQ in the name, we always feel obligated to try the barbecue. Hoots smokes its pork butts and briskets 12 to 14 hours overnight and its St. Louisstyle ribs and whole chickens twice a day. You’ll catch the smoky goodness on the highway if you’re driving with your windows down. In Arkansas, the mark of a good purveyor


Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas

Hoots BBQ

2008 U.S. Hwy. 65 N McGehee 870-222-1234

Seafood Boils and Catering! Book your event today!

Quick bite

On social media and in the restaurant, Hoots tells customers that because its barbecue is smoked fresh daily, when it runs out, it runs out. So we’re guessing that’s happened a time or two. But with a menu so large and appealing, we suspect you can find something to cure your hunger.

1619 REBSAMEN PARK RD. 501.838.3888

serving better than bar food all night long



11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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of ’cue is its pulled pork. Hoots offers its as a sandwich with chips ($6.99) or as a plate ($9.99), which comes with two sides and a piece of bread. Getting the meat on a bun will cost you an extra 50 cents. That’s the route we took, and we were mighty pleased with it. The sandwich was massive. The pork was smoky and tender and had a number of almost crunchy burnt ends that we always hunt out when we’re pigging out on pig. Hoots offered two sauce options — a slightly spicy traditional ketchupbased barbecue and a mustardy one with a kick of vinegar. Both worked nicely for us. We were tempted by the onion rings, but dissuaded when the woman working the register told us it counted as two sides (we eyed them on someone else’s plate later, and they appeared to be of hand-battered variety and quite possibly worth using up all your side options). So instead we did the standard beans and french fries. Neither were anything to write home about, but both outdid standard fare. The pinto beans were well spiced with pork bits here and there, and the fries were somewhere between thick-cut home fries and standard thin ones.

March Our companions tried other reliable options: the chopped brisket ($10.99) plate-as-sandwich and the three-piece catfish basket ($10.99). Both pronounced them excellent versions of those classics. In smaller letters on the Hoots BBQ sign out front is “& steaks,” but judging from the menu and the steaks we glimpsed on our visit, it’s no afterthought on the menu. Hoots appears to take its inspiration from Doe’s, with massive, 22-ounce ribeyes ($32.99) available, along with some smaller varieties and a 10-ounce ($34.99) and 12-ounce ($38.99) filet. The dinner menu also includes chicken fried steak with gravy ($10.99), a dozen frog legs ($12.99) and an 8-ounce grilled salmon fillet ($19.99). On the barbecue side of the menu, there’s also a smoked chicken half ($9.99), a half-rack of thick-cut ribs ($15.99), a BBQ-loaded baked potato ($7.99) and a pig pie ($8.99), which is made up of Fritos, beans, cheese, slaw and your pick of chicken, brisket or pork. Watch out for specials, too. Hoots’ Facebook page touts the likes of shrimp and grits, red snapper and Asian BBQ pork belly.

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HAVE YOU BEEN THE VICTIM OF A HATE CRIME? The Arkansas Times has joined the nonprofit news organization ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, a collaboration with newsrooms across the country to track hate incidents that might otherwise go unreported. The project aims to create a comprehensive database of where hate crimes are happening and what groups are being targeted. If you have an incident to report, submit it at arktimes. com/dochate. Information provided will not be shared with law enforcement or to anyone outside the group working on the project.


FEBRUARY 22, 2018


Wakanda for the win ‘Black Panther’ is thoroughly, joyously, unabashedly black. BY SAM EIFLING


yan Coogler has made the best Marvel movie, and let’s not damn it with faint praise. “Black Panther” transcends genre to become a flat-out kickass piece of pop culture. Nothing so quickly has given lie to the idea that black cinema is some sort of niche, any more than black music is. No so-called superhero movie has so committed to a lived-in universe that feels more subversive and dynamic (in this case, an African utopia that seamlessly blends afro-futurism with comic-book sci-fi mysticism). It’s funny, the action resonates, the performances are aces across the board and absolutely not one bit of it apologizes for being thoroughly, joyously, unabashedly black. It had the fifth-best opening weekend of any movie in history, and outside of some sea change in a “Star Wars” franchise,

nothing’s likely to do more to re-center the popular idea of the popcorn movie. The soundtrack debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts by essentially turning the whole record over to a Kendrick Lamar mixtape. Seriously, stream the explicit version now and you’ll be gobsmacked that a Disney property got this dank or this dark and it’s great. So, yeah, go see “Black Panther,” if you haven’t already. Go even if you have. I saw it in a packed theater about 48 hours after it came out, and on the way out rode the escalator with a guy who’d already seen it twice and was planning to see it again soon. What happened to turn this into a new “Titanic,” in which fans are scheduling repeat viewings on the way out of the current one? The simplistic answer would be some reading of racial

OPERA ON THE ROCKS IX Friday, March 9th, 6:30 p.m.

Junior League of Little Rock Ballroom FOOD & DRINK

Genral Admission $75 Table of 8 $525


Tickets & Info


870-219-4635 Proceeds from the event benefit Opera In The Rock which is a 501(c)(3) organization whose goal is to produce main stage professional opera in Central Arkansas. ‘THE WISE BUILD BRIDGES’: Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” has fans planning repeat viewings before they even leave the theater.

pride: As in, holy cats, it’s about time a knack for being cast as icons) will someone threw $200 million toward ascend to the Wakandan throne and a movie that’s at least as black as most must grapple with the country’s very Hollywood movies have been white identity: Does it remain isolated, rich for eons. Black people buy fully one and safe? Or can Wakanda survive of every seven movie tickets sold in if it reveals itself to the world? the U.S./Canadian market, and yet Two villains are going to press the movies that showcase black stars, issue. Andy Serkis is an arms dealer and are helmed by black directors, who happens to be missing one arm of are ridiculously scarce. Fictional it his own; he joins a mercenary named may be, the central African nation Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in of Wakanda, where “Black Panther” a vibranium heist that metastasizes. largely takes place, comprises Angela Bassett plays T’Challa’s mom; perhaps the longest stretch of any Forest Whitaker is his mentor; Letitia movie of this budget spent in Africa. Wright his Tony Stark-esque gadgetThat’s ridiculous, but it speaks to how genius sister; and Lupita Nyong’o is blinkered and provincial American his rad spy ex-girlfriend. Up and studios’ tastes are, even when they’re down, the cast is solid as can be, and serving up tales of intergalactic travel Coogler, the co-writer and director, and alien worlds. gets the most out of them. Moments It took provenance from space that could sag with portentousness to make Wakanda happen. In the instead soar with real emotion; telling, a giant vibranium meteorite scenes of exposition still crackle landed eons ago and became the basis with humor. The visual styling, for a hidden utopia that uses tech the raw imagination and mashup derived from the quasi-magical metal of traditional styles and weapons to cloak itself as an impoverished with a futuristic tech mean a scene land of goatherds and rainforest. An as potentially rote as a car chase assassination in a previous Marvel can have at least a half-dozen quiet flick now means T’Challa, aka Black innovations at play. Panther (Chadwick Boseman, having People go see movies for a lot of played Jackie Robinson, James reasons. “Black Panther” nails pretty Brown and Thurgood Marshall, has much every last one of them.


fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” trial, which resulted in John T. Scopes conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class contrary to a Tennessee state law.


Please arrive promptly. There will be no late admission. The House opens 30 minutes prior to curtain. Box office opens one hour before curtain time. For more information contact us at 501.374.3761 or OUR 25TH SEASON IS SPONSORED BY PIANO KRAFT to purchase tickets and flex passes.

1001 W. 7th St. • Little Rock, AR 72201 • 501-374-3761 FEBRUARY 22, 2018



march 2018 in Hot Springs For a complete calendar of events, visit SPONSORED BY OAKLAWN

MAR 8 “THE LUCK OF SCIENCE” AT MID-AMERICA SCIENCE MUSEUM Mid-America Science Museum Science Society presents “The Luck of Science.” This event will feature fun hands-on science for adults and, of course, adult refreshments courtesy of Tri-Lakes Liquor and food provided by LongHorn Steakhouse. Only $5 for admission, ages 21 and older only. For more information, call 501.767.3461.

The festival will feature over 45 acts from all over the US and Canada over the course of five nights. The festival has built a reputation for bringing cutting-edge up-and-coming artists to Hot Springs and this year’s festival will be sure not to disappoint. For more information and to purchase passes, visit

MAR 16


5:00 p.m. O’KELLEY’S WORLD’S LARGEST INFLATABLE POP-UP PUB OPENS! With live music from the Akeem Kemp Blues Band! At the corner of Convention & Malvern. 7:15 p.m. ARKANSAS SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR ADAM FAUCETT performs on the Bridge Street Stage 8:00 p.m. GRAND FUNK RAILROAD play a FREE concert on the Bridge Street Stage! Food and beverages will be on sale.

Sub Pop recording artists Low return to Low Key Arts! $20 tickets available at

MAR 17

MAR 10 FIVE STAR DINNER THEATRE PRESENTS “PATSY CLINE PLAYS TRIBUTE” This production stars Sarah Haman as Patsy as she puts on a superb show, sharing personal tributes to Patsy Cline as well as songs by other country artists. Dinner and show is $40, show only is $25. Tickets at www.thefivestartheatre. com/box-office.

MAR 16-20 14TH ANNUAL VALLEY OF THE VAPORS INDEPENDENT MUSIC FESTIVAL The Valley of the Vapors kicks off March 16 in Hot Springs!

5:30 p.m. ARKANSAS BLARNEY STONE KISSING CONTEST 6:30 p.m. FESTIVITIES KICK OFF with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and hula hooper, Katie Sunshine at Bridge Street 7:30 p.m. FIRST EVER Larkin Poe 15TH ANNUAL WORLD’S Oneida SHORTEST ST. PATRICK’S Ed Schrader’s Music Beat Fenster DAY PARADE Moaning The 15th anniversary will Grandchildren surely be the biggest, funnest, Frigs wildest and most memoJuiceboxxx Season to Risk Mauno Advance Base Bambara

1209 Malvern Avenue • Hot Springs • (501) 624-6262 FEBRUARY 22, 2018 FEBRUARY 22, 2018


STARTING MAR 17 INFIELD DAYS Spend your springtime Saturdays in Oaklawn’s Infield watching the Thoroughbreds and the beautiful parklike setting. There’s something for the entire family from a craft beer garden to live music to a Kids Zone. The Kids Zone features inflatables, a petting zoo and much more! Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets. No coolers allowed. The infield is open during the races on the last five Saturdays and the last Friday of the racing season.



36 36

rable St Patrick’s Day Parade in history! Plus, after years of trying to get them, the First Ever 15th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade has landed the famous Budweiser Clydesdales for this year’s event! For schedules and information, visit 9: 00 p.m. MORRIS DAY AND HIS BAND, THE TIME, will provide post-parade free entertainment at the Bridge Street Stage.

Vodi Roar! Birdcloud Look Vibrant Living Hour Suburban Living Beams White Mystery Sie Lieben Machinen Devata Daun c.Kostra Jack Topht

DAWN AT OAKLAWN, SATURDAYS Get up close and personal to your favorite horses, jockeys and horsemen with the popular Dawn at Oaklawn presented by Westrock Coffee. Join host Nancy Holthus every Saturday. Dawn at Oaklawn takes place on the South Apron, in front of the racetrack. Park in the south lot (use the same entrance off Central Ave. as gaming and the track kitchen) and follow the signs. 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Barn Tours: 7:30, 8, 9 and 9:30 a.m.

Greg Jamie Zuli Crush Diamond Dip Lung Us, Today Landrest Or White Mansion Lanana Baby and Shylow


MAR 7-11 “CELTIC SPRING” Irish Harp, Flute, Piano, Song & Dance… enjoy any of these culturally satisfying and uplifting shows! For show times and tickets, visit

hot springs Live Music Calendar MARCH MARC MA RCH RC H 1 (T (THU (THURSDAY) HURS HU RSDA RS DAY) DA Y)




Dave Almond @ the Big Chill Live Team Trivia @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Jeff Hartzell @ Rolando’s

Trey Hawkins Band @ the Big Chill John Calvin Brewer Band @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn J. Lewis @ Taco Mama Aaron Balentine @ Rolando’s

Mister Lucky @ the Big Chill Mayday by Midnight @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Aaron Balentine @ Rolando’s

Doc & Maggie’s Battle of the Bands @ the Big Chill


Doc & Maggie’s Battle of the Bands @ the Big Chill Stardust Big Band @ Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa

MARCH 2 (FRIDAY) Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothin’ @ the Big Chill Ghost Bones, Bonus, & Swear Tapes @ Maxine’s Big Dam Horns @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn J. Lewis @ Taco Mama Jeff Hartzell @ Rolando’s

MARCH 3 (SATURDAY) Shari Bales & Mike Taber Band @ the Big Chill Big Dam Horns @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Christine Demeo @ Rolando’s

MARCH 4 (SUNDAY) Doc & Maggie’s Battle of the Bands @ the Big Chill



Wes Jeans @ the Big Chill John Calvin Brewer Band @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Rick Mckean @ Rolando’s

MARCH 20 (TUESDAY) Brian Bearden and Trey Hawkins Band @ the Big Chill





Steve Malec @ the Big Chill Live Team Trivia @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Aaron Balentine @ Rolando’s

Humpday Karaoke @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn


Brian Bearden @ the Big Chill


MARCH 7 (WEDNESDAY) Steve Malec @ the Big Chill Humpday Karaoke @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn

MARCH 8 (THURSDAY) Live Team Trivia @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Jeff Hartzell @ Rolando’s

MARCH 16 (FRIDAY) Mister Lucky @ the Big Chill Mayday by Midnight @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn J. Lewis @ Taco Mama Jeff Hartzell @ Rolando’s

MARCH 29 (THURSDAY) Chuck n Glen @ the Big Chill Live Team Trivia @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Rick Mckean @ Rolando’s



Mike Mayberry and the Slow Hands @ the Big Chill Highway 124 @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn J. Lewis @ Taco Mama Rick Mckean @ Rolando’s

J.P. Soars @ the Big Chill Live Team Trivia @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Christine Demeo @ Rolando’s

Brian Bearden @ the Big Chill

MARCH 28 (WEDNESDAY) Humpday Karaoke @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn

Akeem Kemp Band @ the Big Chill Mister Lucky @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn J. Lewis @ Taco Mama Jeff Hartzell @ Rolando’s

Dave Almond @ the Big Chill Humpday Karaoke @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn

Doc & Maggie’s Battle of the Bands @ the Big Chill

MARCH 27 (TUESDAY) Brian Bearden @ the Big Chill

Akeem Kemp Band @ the Big Chill Mister Lucky @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Aaron Balentine @ Rolando’s

MARCH 24 (SATURDAY) Mike Mayberry and the Slow Hands @ the Big Chill Highway 124 @ Silks Bar & Grill, Oaklawn The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse @ Pop’s Lounge, Oaklawn Christine Demeo @ Rolando’s

Mayday By Midnight

MAR 17-18 HOT SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL The Hot Springs Arts & Film Institute presents this celebration of women filmmakers and artists by providing a venue and networking forum in Hot Springs. Categories include short film, feature film, documentary short and others! For more information or to submit your film, visit

MAR 18 STARDUST BIG BAND The Stardust Big Band is scheduled to attract the best dancers around so come

dance at the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa Crystal Ballroom, starting at 3pm. Dancers from Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma,Texas and Missouri continue to attend the Stardust Sunday events to practice their dance steps and to enjoy the magical sounds of the big band era. Admission is $10. No admission for students K through 12. A cash bar is provided in the lobby from which you may bring your beverage to the ballroom. Water is provided at each table. Check out www.stardustband. net for scheduling information.




Aaron Balentine

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The “Arkansas Made, Arkansas Proud” People




FEBRUARY 22, 2018


Spike Lee makes you do “Woo then talks about how they were driving Pig Sooie”? through Kingsland one time and her I mean he doesn’t make me. He tells mom, my grandmother, wanted to stop me to. I’ve haven’t been like: “Nooo.” and see if Mrs. Cash was around. So they I’m like: “Yeah! OK! WOOOOOO —” went to the house. And this is just, to every time. Which is funny, because me, the most essentially Southern thing that was when Adam Driver was on ever. My mom says, “So we pulled up and set and he was like “Oh! My dad! He there’s a young man — a good looking lives in North Little Rock!” And so we young man — sitting on the front porch had this whole conversation about it. strumming a guitar and singing.” And It’s great. You call the Hogs and all [my grandmother] says, “If you think the closet Arkansans start coming out. Johnny Cash could sing — you should Pretty amazing. hear his cousin.” Which is amazing, My biggest Arkansas bragging right? Because it’s a name drop and some point, which is true, you guys, is shade. It’s that thing of, “Oh, I know him, that my grandma changed Johnny but he ain’t all that.” It’s so good. And Cash’s diapers. about Johnny Cash of all people. Really? My grandparents, before my mom was born, used to live next door to the Performances of “Wet, or Isabella Cashes in Kingsland. My Aunt Mickie the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latiwas a peer of Johnny Cash’s. When tudes,” directed by Ashlie Atkinson and they were babies, Mrs. Cash and my written by Lizzy Duffy Adams, are at grandmother would trade off taking 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, care of the kids. So my grandma changed Feb. 21-23, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, Johnny Cash’s diaper — like, a lot. at the Cabe Theatre of Hendrix College And my mom — [laughs] — I love in Conway. Reservations are recommy Mom. When she talks about it she mended; call 501-329-6811..

COVER STORY, CONT. Kelly Jones sat and listened as long trol what other people do with their medas she could bear it, then left the room icines. But because they can’t control in tears, saying that the board would do themselves, I’m paying for it. I can’t sit nothing for a person like her. In the hall- in there any longer. I kept asking them, way, she leaned on a walker and cried as ‘Can I please talk? I have to go home and she related her story of living two decades go to bed.’ They keep bringing up people in constant pain. In 1998, while hiding from the governor’s office to talk. They her children’s Christmas presents, Jones won’t let people talk.” said, she fell 10 feet from an attic to a conShe knows through being in pain mancrete carport, rupturing nine disks in her agement, she said, that she will never be back and neck and crushing an ankle so pain free, but opioids allow her to at least badly it had to be pieced back together control her pain. She prays for cancer, with screws. Since then, bounced from Jones said, so that at least she can get surgeon to specialist, she has been in her medicine and be pain-free again for constant pain that turns to agony with- a little while before she dies. She said out high doses of opioid medication. the members of the Medical Board will Bent and wan, an oxygen hose threaded never understand pain like that. around her head to her nose, Jones said “I pray to die,” she said. “I pray every she spends most of her life in bed, the night to die. My husband actually took windows of her room heavily curtained the guns out of the house because he was because squinting in sunlight gives her tired of listening to me threaten to do it. headaches, thanks to the neck injury. … I’m on scraps of medicine. I can’t live Like several who spoke, Jones said her my life like this. They don’t understand, doctor has recently cut back her opioid because unless you have chronic pain, medications, fearing his medical license you will not understand what people might be in jeopardy if he continued to with chronic pain are talking about. I prescribe high doses. Dabbing her eyes can’t talk anymore. I have to go.” with a tissue, Jones said she and other At that, Jones turned and hobbled chronic pain patients are being punished away, shuffling, pushing her walker for the crimes of others. along the carpeted hallway until she “It’s like I’m paying for the sins of what rounded the corner and disappeared other people have done with their medi- from view, back to her darkened bedcines,” she said. “I can’t be there to con- room somewhere in Arkansas.



Statehouse Convention Center Easterseals Arkansas Fashion Event FEB

23-24 MAR

2-4 8-10 MAR





8-11 15-18 MAR





10 MAR


Weekend Theater Inherit the Wind

Bollywood Night 2018


Wolfe Street Red Carpet 2018 Robinson Center



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The Studio Theatre Hand to God

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54th Annual Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Homes Preview Party Opera On The Rocks Junior League of Little Rock Ballroom Arkansas Times Bus Trips Soul of a Nation Bus Tour Four Quarter Bar Green Jello @ Four Quarter Bar

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LOCAL TICKETS, ONE PLACE • 501-681-5855 FEBRUARY 22, 2018



_______ for Racing Action? _______ Just like the weather, the excitement is heating up at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs National Park! Come in for more games, more good times and now, the thrills and excitement of live racing. Be sure to join us for a fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day weekend. You won’t want to miss seeing the country’s best 3-year-old compete in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes March 17 in preparation for the Arkansas and Kentucky Derbys. Enjoy a full day of racing and then stick around for all the fun our newly remodeled game room has to offer, including live music every Friday and Saturday. Get your group together and get to Oaklawn for the time of your life – closer to home. Are you in?

Friday & Saturday | 10 p.m.–2 a.m.

2-3 9-10 16-17 23-24 30-31

Big Dam Horns John Calvin Brewer Band Mayday by Midnight Highway 124 Mister Lucky

POP’S LOUNGE Every Saturday | 5-9 p.m.

The Pink Piano Show with Susan Erwin Prowse










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FEBRUARY 22, 2018



Gambling problem? Call 1-800-522-4700.


Arkansas Times - February 22, 2018  
Arkansas Times - February 22, 2018