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little rock schools grapple with change , competition and building closures By Benjamin Hardy



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Quote of the week

“I cannot accept this result.” — State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) vociferously protesting on his Facebook page a committee’s choice of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville for the 2019 Arkansas Governor’s School instead of Hendrix College in Conway, which has sponsored the program for rising seniors since its inception 38 years ago. Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key appointed a 13-member site selection committee to evaluate proposals from Hendrix, Tech and the University of Central Arkansas. Hendrix received the highest number of points from the committee, but was not ranked as the first choice of the majority of members. The state Board of Education is expected to consider the recommendation at its Sept. 13 meeting.

Sen. Hutchinson indicted

State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock) has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly using tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions for his own personal benefit and concealing the scheme by falsifying campaign finance reports and income tax filings. The senator, who is the nephew of Governor Hutchinson, disputes the allegations, but nonetheless resigned from office. Among the misuses of campaign funds listed in the indictment were tickets and accommodation expenses for a Caribbean cruise and a vacation to New Orleans, as well as shopping sprees at jewelry, clothing and other retail stores. The government also alleges that he used campaign funds for more everyday expenses: groceries and gas charges, gym membership fees and Netflix fees. Hutchinson is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris on Sept. 18. The cha rges brought aga inst Hutchinson are distinct from allegations of bribery that emerged in the guilty plea of former lobbyist Rusty Cranford. A source familiar with the investigation tells the Arkansas Times that the indictment is not a signal that authorities have dropped the investigation of legal fees paid to Hutchinson in what has been characterized as payments for favorable legislative actions. Those investigations continue. Hutchinson’s at torneys, Tim Dudley and Stephen Larson, called the allegations in the indictment factually inaccurate.

Multiple inmate deaths

Illicit drugs were the suspected cause of death of five inmates who died at the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Varner Unit last week. 4



Three deaths were reported at Varner on Monday, Aug. 27: Marlon Miles, 41, serving 12 years on a range of charges including sexual assault, theft and weapons charges; Edward Morris, 34, serving five years for theft and sexual solicitation of a minor from Ashley County; and Stephen Kantzer, 37, serving 20 years on a variety of drug charges from Pulaski County. Two more died Wednesday morning: Donovan Cobbs, 26, serving a 10-year sentence for robbery from Sebastian County; and Joe Harris, 55, serving a life sentence from Pulaski County for robbery and other charges. The State Police was notified to investigate the deaths. Department of Correction lawyer Jim DePriest also said about a dozen inmates received medical attention Saturday and Sunday. “It’s fair to say we suspect these were drug-related sicknesses,” he said. DePriest acknowledged the prison’s long struggle to restrict access and use of K2, a dangerous and hard-to-detect form of synthetic marijuana. It has installed new body scanners for visitors and staff, restricted outside mail because small amounts of the drug can be dissolved in liquid and soaked in paper, and posted warnings about the dangers of the drug and promise of arrest if it is found. A state legislative subcommittee on

correctional institutions was scheduled to question prison officials Tuesday. Last year, the Arkansas Times reported that K2 was believed to be linked to multiple deaths in Arkansas prisons, according to former prison employees, inmates and internal communications obtained by the Times.

Suit over epithets settled

Mediation has settled one of two lawsuits against the city of Little Rock over the firing of police recruits for racial remarks on social media. A mediator reported a settlement to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox in the case of Brandon Schiefelbein and Katina Jones. Sepa rate suits were f iled by Schiefelbein and Brandon Gurley. Schiefelbein, who is white, had put a photo on Facebook of a sleeping black soldier with whom he served and a line of a song lyric that included the n-word. Gurley, a black recruit who complained about the Facebook post, then was fired when it was found he’d used the same word in a 2010 Facebook post. His case is pending in Judge Mary McGowan’s court. Robert Newcomb, attorney for Schiefelbein, later added Katina Jones, who is black, as another defendant. She also was fired over the discovery of the

use of the word in a song lyric in a social media post. Their suit argued some officers who used the same word were not fired. Under the terms of the settlement, Schiefelbein’s and Jones’ records will reflect they resigned rather than were terminated. A total of $50,000 was paid to them for potential damages, attorneys’ fees or costs. Newcomb said he’d asked Police Chief Kenton Buckner in a deposition if he’d ever used the n-word since he had been police chief. “Yes,” Buckner responded. As a result, Newcomb said he had asked City Manager Bruce Moore in his deposition to investigate. He said he got a commitment from Moore to provide the results of that investigation, even if it didn’t result in a termination or suspension. But Newcomb said discipline was in order if Buckner did use the word, given the firings of recruits for use of the word in song lyrics, in some cases years before they became members of the police department. He differentiated his clients’ from the Brandon Gurley’s case, because Gurley is also accused of lying. “He should at least get 30 days off, if not fired,” Newcomb said of Buckner. “If not, the city manager and city board are a bunch of hypocrites.”


Armed teachers

Bottom line, where DeVos’ department counselors? has been talking about 240 schools with Consider this from the Post: at least one “gun incident” in 2015-16 and “Nationally, schools reported more than some with multiple incidents, a rigorous 27,000 sworn law enforcement officers he Arkansas School Safety Com- Sense in America analysis found only 11 reported incidents compared with just 23,000 social workers. mission heard belatedly last week brought their mesin the nation’s 96,000 public schools. “More than 36 million students were about ideas to make schools safer sage about stronger Eleven gun incidents in 96,000 schools enrolled in 55,000 schools that did not meet that don’t put more guns at the top of the gun safety laws (safe and Arkansas’s answer is to arm teachers the American School Counselors Assolist of solutions. storage laws would in every school. ciation’s recommended 250:1 student-toThe meeting coincided with relevant be particularly valuThe ACLU sees the gun rush as part of counselor ratio. national news. Betsy DeVos’ federal able given the car- MAX a push to “militarize” schools. Meanwhile, “Nationally, there was a student-toBRANTLEY Department of Education is promoting nage from accidental we ignore the growing inequality gap in counselor ratio of 444:1, suggesting that false information about gun violence in shootings in homes). education, coincidentally occurring as the counselors are seriously overworked with a schools. A state Department of Health doctor also public schools of American have become student caseload that is 78 percent greater The school safety commission, loaded talked of the need for early help for chil- majority black and brown. Coincidental, than what is recommended by professionby Governor Hutchinson to produce his dren from poor and broken homes who are too, are cuts in federal school spending, als.” desired more-guns approach to safety, has living with mental illness, substance abuse, reductions that disproportionately burden The statistics show that serious behavalready formally declared that the aim of domestic violence and other “toxic” stress. already-impoverished and unequal schools. ioral incidents in schools rarely involve the state should be to have armed officers in The messages were politely received, Does a minority white school popula- weapons. A bloody fistfight is no small thing. every school. Failing that, the idea is to put but no more. tion explain why Republicans are talking But they are not a new feature of adolesguns in the hands of “trained” staff memThat same day I came across reporting more about putting more guns in school cent behavior. Might it be that they seem bers, notwithstanding research that shows from The Washington Post, which noted rather than addressing the disproportion- more serious depending on the color of even trained, full-time law enforcement that NPR has uncovered the Education ate suspension rate of students of color? the combatants? officers aren’t wholly reliable in armed Department’s exaggeration of, and refusal About disproportionate punishment of Guns or counselors? Guns or early childconflicts. to correct, numbers on gun incidents in disabled students? About greater spend- hood intervention? Taking bets on which To this state forum, Moms Demand Gun schools. ing on cops than on social workers and the Arkansas legislature will prefer.


An apology


hat you do with the lowest point in your life is probably going to define you for the rest of your days. So it was with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose funeral Saturday will be the iconic religious spectacle of our time, though probably not the great national awakening he hoped it would be. As everyone knows, McCain’s plane was shot down over Hanoi on his 23rd bombing mission. Though permanently maimed by injuries from the crash, he was captured and tortured off and on for five and a half years, but because men who had been prisoners longer than him were not released first, he refused an offer of early release, which was supposed to please his father, the naval commander in the Pacific. His treatment worsened. But captivity and torture or even his signed confession were not the low point of his life. That, according to McCain’s own confession, was his involvement in the Keating savings-and-loan scandal in the 1980s and his punishment for the ethical lapses that he committed for Keating as a freshman senator from Arizona. It was a moment he shared, bitterly, with Sen. David Pryor of Arkansas, who was one of the six senators who sat in judgment upon him. To help savings and loan banks that

were struggling to profit from mortgage lending in an ERNEST DUMAS inflationary climate, the Reagan administration turned them loose in 1981 to invest where they could make the big money. They did and nearly the entire industry crashed. A few operators, like the smallest fish in the thrift pond, Jim McDougal of Arkansas, were targeted and went to prison for his reckless investments. McDougal had made the (political) mistake, long before starting his little S&L, of investing in some remote Ozark acreage with newlyweds Bill and Hillary Clinton. Charles Keating, an anti-pornography crusader who ran the big Lincoln Savings and Loan and its parent company, made friends in 1981 with the former Navy hero John McCain, who was starting his political career in Phoenix. Keating helped bankroll McCain’s races for U.S. representative and senator and flew McCain and his wife to vacations at his lavish estate in Cat Cay, Bahamas. When the company was tanking and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board closed in, Keating needed help staving them off. He went to McCain and four other senators, all Democrats, whom he had given $1.3 million in campaign cash. Although he was already having misgivings about Keating, who called him a wimp behind his back, McCain arranged

the first meeting where the five senators his chair cleaning out his desk when he leaned on the head of the FHLBB. The spied McCain lurching toward him across agency backed off a while to give Lincoln the empty House floor. In his oral hisa chance to regroup from its recklessness. tory in 2000, Pryor recalled half-jokingly Taxpayers eventually ponied up $3.4 bil- that he wondered whether McCain might lion to cover Keating’s losses and he spent finally just sock him. Instead, McCain four and a half years in prison. grabbed Pryor by the shoulders, pulled McCain and the other four senators him up and hugged him while sobbing, were hauled before the Senate Ethics “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I hope you’ll Committee, where they sat stone-faced in forgive me.” front of the TV cameras while their deeds It was a thoughtful little gesture, but on behalf of Keating were recounted. McCain did something else that defined That, McCain would recall, was the low- him. Although he was never very candid est point in his life. about the Keating affair, he said he had Pryor was one of the six reluctant eth- been wrong and he devoted himself for ics judges, three Democrats and three the rest of his career to reversing the corRepublicans. He had a massive heart rupting influence of money on politics attack during the proceedings and was and thus on all the work of government, replaced for a spell. When Pryor emerged including right here in Arkansas. from the hospital, his replacement He fought and finally succeeded modinsisted on quitting and Pryor returned estly in regulating the flow of big money for the judgment in 1991. All five got a slap into political campaigns. McCain thought on the wrist, but McCain and John Glenn, his deeds for Keating had proved to be also a member, were spared with only a trivial but he realized that his own weakrebuke that they had used bad judgment. ness hinted at democracy’s gravest crisis: McCain was humiliated but also furi- the purchase of influence by moneyed ous with the committee. For the next five people and groups. years, he never spoke to the perpetually McCain and Russ Feingold’s campaign gregarious Pryor. On the elevator, in the reform bill passed in 2002 over the objeccloakroom, in the corridors or on the floor tions of his party and its leader in the he never acknowledged Pryor’s existence. Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Pryor thought it was at least preferable who joined forces in the next dozen years to the legendary profanity-laced tongue- with his party’s Supreme Court majority lashings McCain was noted for. to eviscerate the law and make the corPryor did not run again in 1996. On his ruption a thousand times worse. last day, after a few enconiums for departTears might have been shed Saturday ing senators like him, Pryor was sitting in for that regret, too.. Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog SEPTEMBER 6, 2018





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No moralizing


obody wants to see criminals on the sidelines or in big league dugouts. They beat up women or rob banks? Be gone with them. But am I the only one who’s worn out with excessive moralizing on the sports page? If you’re shocked to learn that some of the roughly three dozen professional athletes from a half dozen countries in a major league baseball dugout may not hold the same enlightened political and social views as, say, your friendly neighborhood English Department, here’s my advice: Deal with it or avert your eyes. The rest of us just want to watch a ballgame. Shocking, I know. I am moved to these observations by a recent kerfuffle over the Chicago Cubs’ new second baseman, Daniel Murphy. A legendary “Cubs killer,” Murphy led the New York Mets to the 2015 World Series by hitting an astonishing seven home runs during the National League playoffs. Then he helped deliver the Kansas City Royals to the World Series championship with two catastrophically bad fielding plays in the 8th inning of a decisive Game 4 —“the other part of the Daniel Murphy experience,” one sportswriter quipped. Among major league second basemen, Murphy ranked dead last in fielding statistics. By a lot. Why they haven’t put him in left field, I have no idea. Maybe he can’t track fly balls either. But the man’s a career .300 hitter with serious power, and a history of coming up big at big times. A gamer. Also, alas, with a history of running his mouth at the wrong times. After the Mets invited former big league player Billy Bean to spring training as MLB’s official Ambassador for Inclusion in 2014, Murphy sounded off. “I disagree with his lifestyle,” he said. “I do disagree with the fact he is homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. … Maybe as a Christian, we haven’t been articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree with the lifestyle.” A real groaner, no doubt. As if people had a choice about being gay. This “lifestyle” business is a cheesy way of dressing up bigotry as holy. It’s also a view shared by millions of baseball fans. A disclaimer: Like everybody else, I experience sexual desire as I do gravity. Conveniently for me, those desires are conventional — although the day I describe myself with dreadful cant like “cisgendered” will never come. Also like most people of my generation,

I used to feel pretty much like Daniel Murphy about it. Except without the love. I had a lot to learn. GENE A n y w a y, I LYONS thought Bean — not to be confused with the Billy Beane of “Moneyball” fame — said something profound about Murphy’s remarks. He called the second baseman’s honesty “brave,” and spoke of mutual respect between them. “It took me 32 years to fully accept my sexual orientation,” he added, “so it would be hypocritical of me to not be patient with others.” Anybody curious about Bean’s career as a closeted big leaguer should read Robert Lipsyte’s terrific 1999 New York Times profile. A marginal talent in the “hypermasculinized” world of professional jocks, Bean told Lipsyte how hard he worked to fit in: ‘’I went to Hooters, laughed at the jokes, lied about dates because I loved baseball. I still do. I’d go back in a minute. I only wish I hadn’t felt so alone.” Ultimately, the strain became too great. Anybody who ever loved the game of baseball can identify. People only quit when they must. Murphy’s trade to Chicago stirred the controversy all over again and the garmentrending began. Although Cubs part owner Laura Rickerts, openly gay, tweeted she had no problem with Murphy, lifelong Cubs fan Parker Malloy felt differently. She wrote an agonized column in The Guardian stating that as a gay woman, “Murphy’s addition to the team just felt like a punch to the gut.” She vowed to shun Wrigley Field until Murphy recanted and apologized. I expect she’ll be missed at the Cubby Bear Lounge. The man’s a second-baseman, not a theologian. He was foolish to say anything to begin with. Malloy’s column prompted a lengthy screed by New York Magazine’s Will Leitch, “It Might Be Impossible to Be an Ethical Sports Fan.” Leitch argued that “[b]eing a sports fan means signing up for shady capitalist practices, engaging in ugly tribalism, and very often, cheering for many human beings who stand for the opposite of what you believe in every possible way.” To quote my favorite moral philosopher, “Settle down, Bevis.” It doesn’t seem to occur to these busy Puritans that many of us seek out ballgames precisely as a refuge: Three or four blessed hours off duty, during which words like “Brett Kavanaugh” or “bipartisanship” won’t be heard. If that’s escapism, so be it..

Attack fail


f you did not follow the drama sur- enough to manage rounding last week’s attempt by the to take a short ride Republican Party of Texas to embar- on a supporter’s rass Sen. Ted Cruz’s opponent, U.S. Rep. board in a parkBeto O’Rourke, you may have missed ing lot. Are we still one of the biggest political blunders of having to argue AUTUMN this election season. O’Rourke, running that skateboardTOLBERT against one of the most awkward can- ing is not a crime? didates in politics, is guilty, according Anyone remember when Cruz referred to the Texas GOP, of having been in a to a basketball hoop as a “basketball ring” band in college, remaining physically a few years ago? Now there’s a crime. fit enough to still ride a skateboard, and What the Texas GOP and other GOP completing a diversion program after be- politicians and party directors don’t ing charged with a DWI 20 years ago. Oh, understand is what offends many miland all that talk about a burglary arrest? lennials and Gen Xers is exactly what That, according to reliable reports, was Cruz represents: out of touch politicians a misdemeanor charge stemming from who ignore the realities of overwhelmO’Rourke jumping a fence at a college in ing student loan debt, rising costs of his hometown and was never prosecuted. health care and childcare, and stagnant After a series of tweets posting pho- wages. O’Rourke hosts monthly town tographic evidence of these “crimes,” halls. He supports single-payer health including a decades-old mugshot, a care, a position popular with younger band press photo and a screenshot of voters. He supports decriminalization O’Rourke’s viral skateboard ride in a of marijuana and bail reform. Cruz is Whataburger parking lot, the response known for kowtowing to Donald Trump was not what was intended. The photos after Trump, during the 2016 primary, of O’Rourke were shared widely with insulted Cruz’s wife and accused his mostly positive comments pointing out father of taking part in the assassinathat O’Rourke was more like his voters tion of President John F. Kennedy. How than the stiff and out-of-touch Cruz. can voters expect Cruz to stand up for I’m not sure what the person running them when he can’t even stand up for the Texas GOP social media account his own family? thought would happen. Was the fact It nearly defies logic to think that the that O’Rourke was in a band supposed to Texas GOP expects to hit a nerve with turn off baby boomers? The same people voters by promoting O’Rourke’s old DWI who went bonkers over Elvis “The Pelvis” arrest while supporting a president who Presley despite the censors only allowing has been implicated by his own attorney him to be filmed from the waist up dur- in a federal crime, scammed hardworking an early television appearance? The ing people out of money with his bogus same people who, depending on their real estate university, and has a history politics, either cheered on President of not paying his bills. But I guess no Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on one ever claimed anything in politics “The Arsenio Hall Show” or Gov. Mike makes sense. History shows too many Huckabee playing bass on “The Tonight voters are swayed by a good misinforShow”? mation campaign. We learned that the Or is it that O’Rourke appears to be hard way with the swift-boating of John wearing a dress in the band photo? Is this Kerry, the idea that Hillary Clinton was a further effort by the GOP to fuel trans- a conniving murderess who did away phobia? Maybe some older voters will with her political opponents, and the take the bait, but most members of Gen- ridiculous birther conspiracy against eration X who grew up with the androg- Barack Obama that ended up paving the yny of David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and way for Trump. For heaven’s sake, right Prince won’t blink an eye at O’Rourke’s now we have people buying in to Vice musical-era fashion choices. Anyone President Mike Pence’s ridiculous remiwho attended a liberal arts college in niscing about living in a “more respectthe 1990s, watched MTV or actually ful time” as he props up a president who got the point of “Fight Club” is probably respects no one save himself. Maybe not going to be offended by a musician the person running the O’Rourke smear in a dress. campaign for the Texas GOP is smarter And I can’t even begin to imagine than we think. I hope not. The logical who should be outraged at O’Rourke thing for Texans, come November, is to for skateboarding. At age 45, the father do the rest of the country a favor by votof three proved he is still physically fit ing for O’Rourke. SEPTEMBER 6, 2018














Easy win


rkansas was predicted in this The encouragspace to dispatch Eastern Il- ing thing? The Hogs linois by a routine 38-point amassed 55 points margin a few weeks ago, and the Hogs without looking dutifully and nearly exacted that spread all that imposing with a 55-20 win to open the 2018 cam- offensively. The BEAU WILCOX paign. The Panthers weren’t hapless, defense played a boasting a fine receiver named Alexan- huge role in that with the fumble recovder Hollins, who was responsible for all eries and returns, with Briston Guidry three touchdowns, and they according- falling on a loose ball in the end zone ly had a good overall day throwing the for the Hogs’ first TD, and Bumper Pool ball against a fairly vanilla coverage de- later returning a fumble 60 yards inside ployed by defensive coordinator John the 5 to set up another score. Opponent Chavis. As predicted, the Chief didn’t caliber notwithstanding, ringing up a get too exotic in his Razorback debut, plus-5 turnover ratio was big, and it was knowing a base 4-3 defense would be a function of the Hogs’ defense swarma source of adaptation enough for a ing to the ball and ruthlessly snatching squad that disastrously flirted with a it away from ball carriers. 3-4 scheme a year ago That’s the kind of under Paul Rhoads. effort and discipline that W h a t A r k a n s a s What Arkansas weren’t evident the last lacked in pizzazz, it couple of years. Arkanmade up for with clean lacked in pizzazz, it sas struggled to force play generally. The turnovers and capitalHogs had only four made up for with ize on the ones they penalties and no turndid extract, so this was overs, compared to five clean play generally. a good sign going into lost fumbles for EIU, the road trip to Coloand they converted a rado Springs, where a healthy seven of 15 tries beleaguered and already on third down. Quarterback Ty Sto- 0-2 Colorado State team awaits. Mike rey was pretty brilliant off the bench Bobo, the former Georgia quarterback early to give a somewhat listless offense turned playcaller, hasn’t distinguished some spark, but Cole Kelley came back himself in three seasons (21-20, three on the field late to close out a reason- bowl losses) after taking over for Jim ably accurate and productive — if short McElwain, who flamed out at Florida. — outing in his own right. The postgame And the Rams got absolutely pasted by consensus among Hog fans was that in-state rival Colorado last week, though Storey wildly outperformed expecta- they do get the benefit of playing in tions and that Kelley’s days as a starter high-altitude conditions to which they, were numbered, but I didn’t see things and not the Hogs, are accustomed. that way. Then again, Arkansas just won its Kelley made a few nice tosses, but opener against a possible FCS playprimarily in the early going he was off team with ease despite playing clearly not being asked to do much in temps that hovered beyond the downfield work. One of his incomple- 130-degree mark at kickoff, at least tions, for instance, was a curl route as far as “turf conditions” are conbefore the Hogs’ opening field goal cerned. Conditioning will be an issue that looked like it was a surefire inter- as the Hogs go to an unfamiliar state ception for the Panthers, but the real- to take on a team they have not seen ity is that Kelley threw the ball well since 1990, and against which they are and his receiver did him no favors by unbeaten (3-0) all-time. The Rams got failing to come back to the ball with torched by the Buffs a week after losassertiveness. Storey benefited from ing a close one to Hawaii, but CSU has a few higher-risk throws paying off, surrendered 88 points in two games but realistically, the running game and has turnover issues and a porous was the albatross for the Hog offense. secondary. This should be a good recWith only 80 aggregate yards on the ipe for the Hogs to thrive, but the presground and barely over 2 yards per sure is squarely on Chad Morris to carry, it wasn’t an effective means of make his first road trip as Head Hog game management for the offense all a winning one. Leaving the state has day, and that meant Storey and Kelley bedeviled the last three Hog coaches needed to fling it some. in their first true road games.

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eptember is here at long last, the water meets the shore. doldrums of summer moving toIt’s been a good summer, all in all. Not ward an end. This is the time of quite one for the memoir and inevitable the year when we begin counting the biopic starring the chunky dude from seconds before we get to take our jacket “Lost” in his breakout silver-screen role, down from the back of the door in the but close. We got to Washington, D.C., mornings. Knowing Arkansas, there’s a this summer, which has been a standing fair chance that day won’t arrive until goal for years, walking with Junior and mid-November. Spouse past the Hope Diamond and CapIt’s Labor Day as we write this, The tain Kangaroo’s jacket, the First Folio and Observer and Spouse just back from down the Wright Flyer. We stood in the long near Hot Springs, where we parked our shadow of the Washington Memorial and lawn chairs and little ice chest on the long, read the Gettysburg Address from the curving beach at Caddo Bend on DeGray wall of the Lincoln Memorial, a place that Lake. That’s where we go to pretend we’re — though swarmed by tourists — simultaon the real beach on the Redneck Riv- neously had the strange, still reverence iera, smelling the salt and listening to the of a church. waves that were crashing there the day we We also got Junior a driver’s license were born and will be crashing there the this summer, a full two and a half years day we die. We hear a good bit of Florida is after he turned 16 and following a year choked with The Algae of the Red Death, of butt-puckering moments teaching so hitting the almost-beach instead of the him to drive. His Old Man was standing real thing is probably for the best, even with his nose pressed against the glass if there weren’t a 10-hour haul one way of the driver’s testing office the morning between here and there. we turned 16, but Junior just didn’t see The water was low enough at Caddo the need until we harangued him into it. Bend that the beach had grown wide as a These kids today. football field, the swimming area within And, of course, we got Junior off to the floating orange buoys and rope line college, a process we have talked about shrunk to no bigger than a Hillcrest back- in these pages ad nauseum. We won’t yard, but The Observer didn’t mind. Yours belabor the point much more here, other Truly is not much fond of swimming any- than to say: The kids oughta be rioting in more and even less fond of cramming our the streets over the cost of textbooks these bulk into a pair of swim trunks. We rarely days (we coughed up 276 bucks for one get in the water when we head to the lake, damn Spanish book!). And, you have no preferring instead to camp in the dappled idea how quiet a house can be until the shade in the Hefty Boy Folding Chair child who had filled those rooms and we bought at Academy Sports and Out- hallways has flown. doors (“Supports up to 450 pounds!” the The Observer contemplated all this as tag trumpeted, a challenge The Observer, we sat looking at the lake, where Spouse thankfully, has not accepted), nursing a bobbed in the water. Her Loving Man is cold one from our little cooler while we dating her again, both of us figuring this watch Spouse bob in the water, the love empty nest shit out as we go, both learnof our life back-and-forthing it to the lake ing to be something other than someone’s every time her swimsuit gets dry. Her man, nurse and bottlewasher, alarm clock and meanwhile, alternates between reading a shrink and housekeeper. That’s a mighty paperback and watching the boats far out fine place to be as Lady Summer packs on the lake. Children dash to the water, away her greenery and goes to bed for their bare feet seemingly impervious to another year. The clock ticks. The pages the rocks that make us wince. The clouds drift down from the calendar. Across the mound on the horizon and then spill over, wide beach, Spouse sees us look up from and Spouse says: “I think I’m going to our book and waves, and we wave back. go get back in the water for a bit” and And, for a moment, the world is whole and heads off toward the place where the perfect, here at summer’s end.


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THE COMING STORM Proposed changes for the LRSD could leave the district unsettled. BY BENJAMIN HARDY


ore than a year has passed since

Franklin and Wilson elementary schools were closed by the Little

Rock School District, but bad feelings linger for parents, including Ebony Adams.

Adams, a mother of two LRSD students ages 11 and 6, was formerly

the PTA president at Franklin. Even after she moved her family to West Little Rock, she kept her older daughter, Z’Mya, enrolled at the Fair Park neighborhood school. It was worth the transportation hassle to Adams because Franklin was home for Z’Mya, who had developed close connections with school staff and benefited from an after-school tutoring program through St. Mark Baptist Church. Like many parents, Adams opposed Superintendent Michael Poore’s decision to close Franklin at the end of the 2016-17 school year and shift its approximately 270 students to nearby Stephens Elementary. In January 2017, she delivered those objections firsthand at a community meeting Poore held in the Franklin cafeteria. Why, Adams asked the superintendent, was the school at the top of the district’s closure list when it had strong community partnerships and support from parents? Poore told her it was a matter of fiscal necessity. The district zone in which Franklin was located saw a 14 percent drop in its student population from 2000 to 2015. Enrollment at Franklin itself dropped by a fifth over the previous three years. Meanwhile, the LRSD’s budget was shrinking because of a loss of special desegregation payments from the state and other pressures, and a school with 10



slack capacity costs more per student to operate. The district simply had too many buildings with too many empty classroom seats and not enough money — all at a time when other facilities were crying out for repair and LRSD employees had already endured recent staff reductions and benefits cuts. Eighteen months later, Adams remains unsatisfied with that answer. Meanwhile, the LRSD is facing the possibility of more school closures as enrollment continues to shrink. On the 10th day of the 2018-19 school year, overall enrollment was 22,644 — a drop of about 1,100 students from the same point in 2017-18. “All the things that we feared happening happened when they closed Franklin,” Adams said in a recent interview. The rest of that spring 2017 semester was “horrible,” she said: “The whole spirit of the school was down. The children were depressed, the staff was depressed, and it was just like everybody had kind of checked out. It was tough.” After Franklin closed, Z’Mya spent her final year of elementary school at McDermott, the school for which the family’s current address is zoned. Z’Mya struggled that first semester of fifth grade, Adams said. “It wasn’t because of the work; it was just because it was different. She was having to read-

‘I STLL FEEL SLIGHTED’: Ebony Adams, Zoe (above) and Z’Mya (right) attended a community meeting at Franklin Elementary in January 2017 to plead for the school’s survival.

just to people,” she said. “A new place, learning a new environment, all while getting what she needed to get academically.” In the end, McDermott proved to be a fine school, Adams said; by last spring Z’Mya had bounced back and was participating in activities such as cheerleading. This fall, she’s a sixth-grader at Henderson Middle School, while her younger sister, Zoe, attends kindergarten at McDermott. Nonetheless, Adams

questions why her family and hundreds of others had to undergo such dislocation to begin with. “I still feel slighted,” she said. “My biggest question would be, what are we doing with all of these savings that we’re supposed to be having now that we’ve shut down all of these schools? … We’re cutting costs somewhere, definitely, so where are we seeing those savings going to? I haven’t seen anything beneficial for the children yet.”

THE BIG PICTURE The Franklin and Wilson closures were just the beginning. Larger changes are coming to LRSD facilities in the years ahead, as Poore outlined in a draft “blueprint” of a five-year plan he presented to the public Aug. 27. The draft, he said, should “evolve” in the coming weeks as the district holds a series of community meetings to solicit input. This much is sure: In 2020, two of the district’s high schools, McClellan and J.A. Fair, will be replaced by a new $55 million campus being built in Southwest Little Rock. The new high school will also absorb around 300 students from Hall High, which will have its attendance zone boundaries redrawn. Sometime after that, Cloverdale Middle School will move to a new building slated to replace the old McClellan building, though financing has yet to be identified for the project. Other changes are less certain. Some middle schools might consolidate with one or more elementaries to become K-8 campuses. A small-scale high school may be installed in far West Little Rock adjacent to Pinnacle View Middle School. The district might offer more pre-K options in various locations and it may redraw other attendance zones. And, more elementary schools — especially on the east side of the city — may be closed due to a shortage of students.

In addition to losing the state desegregation funding, the Little Rock School District is shrinking overall. Based on 10thday enrollment counts, the Springdale School District has this year outpaced the LRSD to become the largest in the state (though Little Rock is still a larger city). Because districts are funded by the state on a per-pupil basis, losing kids means losing dollars, and Poore was forced earlier this year to trim about $5.5 million from the budget. Increased competition from charter schools is likely responsible for much of the enrollment decrease, though it’s difficult to say exactly what proportion. (Other competitors also play a role, such as private schools and neighboring districts.) It’s against this backdrop that the LRSD is contemplating its future building needs. Poore said the planning process had three targets: “First and foremost … we have to have learning environments that are conducive for all students throughout our entire community,” he said. “Second, we need to provide choices to parents.” The third goal, once again, concerns costs. Poore tied the proposed facilities overhaul to a need to improve teacher pay, especially for new hires. If the district runs more efficiently, the savings it generates could be applied toward salary increases. In theory, at least, closing schools with

slack capacity would help free up more resources for personnel. “Our staff has not received any kind of salary percent increase for a number of years,” he said. “They’ve had their health insurance go up, and even had the contributions by the district go down. … We rank between 95th and 100th [in the state] in our starting teacher salary, right at $33,000. The competitors we have in this region … far exceed that amount.” When a reporter mentioned the upcoming community meetings, Ebony Adams was not impressed. “Oh — like the fake ones they had when they shut down our school?” she asked, with a bitter laugh. “They’re placating us. Yeah, OK.” Adams isn’t the only one to feel skeptical. At Poore’s August announcement, state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) asked similar questions. Elliott, a former high school teacher whose district includes Franklin and who lives in the Fair Park neighborhood, spoke out against closing the school in spring 2017. “Last time we had a round of school closings, we had community meetings and people showed up and stated their opinions, and it made not one whit of difference, except for maybe Carver [Elementary],” she said. Carver, an under-capacity magnet school in East Little Rock, was initially on the 2017 likely closure list but was later

The Little Rock School District will hold a series of five community meetings in September to solicit input on the draft facilities plan. Each will begin at 5:30 p.m. Community members can also submit input via an online survey at Site



McClellan High School

9417 Geyer Springs

Tuesday, Sept. 4

J.A. Fair High School

13420 David O. Dodd

Monday, Sept. 10

Pinnacle View Middle School

5701 Ranch Drive

Monday, Sept. 17

Bale Elementary School

6501 W. 32nd Street

Thursday, Sept. 20

Dunbar Middle School

1100 Wright Avenue

Monday, Sept. 24 SEPTEMBER 6, 2018





spared, in part due to an outcry from parents. “Why should the community believe that it matters if they come to these sessions?” she asked. Poore told the senator he disagreed. “I believe it did matter,” he said. “I believe there were changes beyond Carver … other things we did that modified the plan as it was initially generated.” He said the community meetings also helped generate public awareness of the district’s facility and other needs, which may have contributed to a recent increase in volunteerism in the schools. “It’s good you believe that, but that’s not reality,” Elliott replied. She pointed out to Poore that the proposed changes laid out in the draft facilities plan seem to be concentrated south of Interstate 630 — that is, the predominately African-American and Latino neighborhoods of Little Rock. “Once again we’re asking folks south of 630 to bear all the brunt of any changes that take place,” Elliott said. “Nothing happens to anybody north of 630. … Why is it always the case that it’s the same families’ kids … who are the displaced people?” Poore said the district has recently made investments in schools south of

I-630, noting the Southwest Little Rock high school — the largest capital project undertaken by the LRSD in decades — as well as recent improvements to facilities at Cloverdale Middle School and McClellan. “I’m very proud of the work that we have done to invest in the Southwest community,” he said. Finally, Elliott asked Poore whether the final decision for the facilities overhaul would rest with state Education Commissioner Johnny Key, as it did with the Franklin and Wilson closures. “That is correct. He still acts as our board,” Poore said. Typically, a facilities plan would be approved by a locally elected school board. But in 2015, the LRSD was taken over by a vote of the state Board of Education, ostensibly because a handful of schools were designated “academically distressed,” with low test scores. As long as the district remains under state takeover, Key, the head of the state Education Department, makes all decisions that the board would normally make. That also means he has the ability to hire and fire the district superintendent. Asked whether the district should wait to impose such a sweeping facilities plan until after local control is returned

and a new school board is elected, Poore said the district couldn’t afford to wait. “We’ve got to tackle issues now … there’s no way that you just wait for two years and say, ‘Well, let’s see how a board does this.’ The board’s going to have plenty to do when they arrive,” he said. It’s easier for a superintendent to make painful decisions — such as closing schools — when the politics that come with an elected board are removed from the equation. But decisions made without democratic governance also may undermine their legitimacy in the eyes of the public. That dynamic emerged in the spring of 2017, when Poore asked district voters to approve the refinancing of debt on an existing bond that would have raised up to $200 million to construct the Southwest High School and pay for improvements to district facilities. The measure was soundly defeated, likely in part because of discontent over state control and the recent closures of Franklin and Wilson. (Poore turned instead to an alternative financing measure to raise the capital necessary to build the Southwest school and fund a more modest list of other improvements.) The state can keep a district in

takeover for a maximum of five years, though it can release it earlier. One question is unresolved: When exactly does the five-year deadline arrive for Little Rock? If the LRSD must be returned to voters by January 2020, board elections would have to be held next year. Asked by email what date the takeover must end, Key said the question was being examined by Education Department attorneys. “This topic is being reviewed by ADE Legal, as a state board member requested that we address it at the September board meeting. Until Legal has concluded the review, it would be premature to answer these questions,” he wrote. Key also expressed confidence in the superintendent’s approach to facilities. “Mike Poore has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the quality of educational facilities in this district,” the commissioner wrote. “In the face of doubt and criticism, he has carried out solid plans for facility improvements throughout the district, not just in isolated areas. When you consider the new Southwest High School, Pinnacle View Middle School, air conditioning in older gyms, improved cafeteria facilities, and other significant projects, no reasonable observer can deny the positive investment that has occurred over the last three years. I trust Mike to work with the community and develop a solid plan that outlines the next steps to meeting the long-term facilities needs of LRSD.”

TOUGH QUESTIONS: State Sen.Joyce Elliott confronted Poore at his Aug. 27 presentation of the draft facilities plan. SEPTEMBER 6, 2018


THE SPECIFICS Tentative though the details may be, Poore’s presentation Aug. 27 laid out a proposal that could affect thousands of students district-wide over the next five years. The new Southwest High School is on track to open in fall 2020. It will absorb all students from McClellan (currently 750) and Fair (currently 846), along with 300 students from Hall. Hall houses a specialty program for non-native English speakers, many of whom live in Southwest Little Rock. “Those 300 students are Englishlanguage learners, primarily, and they would go back down to their home area where they live. And that’s a positive thing, because those kids right now ride a bus that’s 30 to 45 minutes long,” Poore said. Under Poore’s outline, the old, flawed McClellan building would be razed (except for the gym, which is newer) and the land would be used to build a new K-8 school replacing Cloverdale, a facility that has had chronic structural problems. One option for the Cloverdale building, he said, would be to tear it down and turn it into soccer fields. Because Cloverdale is a grade 6-8 middle school, creating a K-8 would likely require closing one or more elementaries in the area — Poore listed Wakefield, Watson, Baseline and Meadowcliff as possibilities — to join with the new K-8. Poore noted the district doesn’t have the capital to do that new construction at the moment. “It would cost $45 to $50 million to do what we’re talking about” he said in a later interview. Poore said the J.A. Fair building, unlike the McClellan building, is in good shape. It, too, could become a K-8 under his proposal. If that occurred, the K-8 would replace Henderson Middle School, perhaps supplemented by adding in Romine or Dodd elementaries. The Fair building is a “much better facility” than the current Henderson




campus, Poore said. As for the Henderson building, he suggested that the property could be sold, given that it’s in a growing part of the city. Alternatively, it may be eligible to become a disaster recovery center with the help of a federal grant. Poore said 2nd District U.S. Rep. French Hill has expressed interest in helping with that process. (Hill was in attendance for the announcement.) In addition to losing 300 students, Hall High would become subject to an adjustment to its attendance zone boundaries. Depending on what other facilities decisions are made, other boundaries in the district could shift as well. “We also, as a recommendation, will be trying to promote the idea that Hall can have a greater tie to Forest Heights STEM … and be a career development center,” Poore said. Forest Heights is the district’s only K-8 campus today. Then there’s Pinnacle View, the LRSD’s new middle school in far West Little Rock. In 2016-17, the first year of the school’s existence, it was temporarily housed in a former office building while a larger building on the same property was being renovated. Today, the school has moved to the larger building, leaving the office space unoccupied. That creates a potential problem for the district. Under a state law passed in 2017, a charter school operator can force a public school district to sell unused or underutilized property. Poore said he’s been informed by the state Education Department that a charter wants to obtain the old office building adjacent to Pinnacle View. “There’s a challenge coming from the state, from the community — an entity — to say they’d like to take that property over,” he said. “I want this clearly heard — the commissioner and Mike Poore want to repurpose ... that office space, so that we use that facility for our own district kids.” His draft plan

NAVIGATING CHANGE: Stephens Elementary Principal Phillip Carlock shows off a card used by students in the school’s point-based positive behavior system.

listed several options for the building, including turning it into a “small high school w/ blended, project learning.” A charter operator is also investigating a now-vacant building that once housed Hamilton Learning Academy. That property is adjacent to Bale Elementary, a K-5 campus that Poore said is underutilized. “Again, the commissioner and I are firm to say we’d rather repurpose [Hamilton] to have it for Little Rock students,” Poore said. He suggested turning Bale into a pre-K-2 campus and Hamilton into a 3-8 school, perhaps divided by gender. The Central Arkansas Library System has expressed interest in a partnership at the facility, he said, as has UA Little Rock. Asked whether he is opposed to selling Hamilton or the building adjacent to Pinnacle View to a charter operator, Key declined to respond. “As a member of the Commission on Public School Academic Facilities, which by statute may be called on to make decisions regarding unused facilities … it would be improper for me to respond to your question as posed,” he wrote in an email. “Mr. Poore’s statement

simply means what it says. I want Mr. Poore and the district to have a reasonable opportunity to develop utilization plans for those facilities for the students of LRSD.” Finally, Poore returned to the topic of under-populated elementary schools in the eastern part of Little Rock, which has several buildings operating under capacity. One recommendation is to turn Rockefeller Elementary — which today includes a robust early pre-K program, along with a K-5 elementary — into a “birth-to-Pre-K” center. Elementary students would shift to nearby Washington Elementary. Poore said other schools in East Little Rock might also face changes, though. “We need additional solutions for that particular area because there [are many] seats available … and we need to use our resources as effectively as we possibly can,” he said.

THE VIEW FROM STEPHENS Shuttering a school can create downstream changes that upend routines at other campuses. When Franklin closed at the end of the spring 2017 semester, most of its students and staff were shifted that fall to Stephens Elementary, located a little over a mile to the east in a building much newer than Franklin’s. Last year, Stephens Principal Phillip Carlock saw firsthand how tough the transition can be for both kids and adults. “The fifth-graders, the older kids, they had a difficult time from the beginning,” Carlock said recently. “There were a lot of ‘whys’ that still weren’t answered. … ‘Why did my school close? What did we do?’ You know, it was a self-blaming thing. … I’d say, ‘What’s wrong, you don’t like [Stephens]?’ They’d say, ‘We like the school, but we miss our old school.’ ”

Carlock reached out to Franklin’s former principal, Lori Brown, to speak to the older students. “That was a big deal for them. … She came in just fully supportive of what we’re doing over here, and she said, ‘You were Team Franklin, but I need you to be Team Stephens. I need you to give it your best.’ It helped smooth things over.” The changes were perhaps harder for adults, he said. Despite news coverage of the closure, some Franklin parents apparently didn’t realize their school was closing. “So, it was just — big surprise. Our first day of school last year, we had about 100 parents at the door registering students,” he said. A reporter who spoke recently to about eight parents dropping off their students at Stephens one morning

found two who had been displaced by the 2017 closures. Jessica Chun, 27, said she’d had a smooth experience switching from Franklin to Stephens. Her two children, Trinity and Treshun, are in first and third grade respectively. “It was a little bit sad, but, you know, things happen in life,” Chun said. “They had a little thing where the kids came and saw the school and stuff before they came. … That was good.” Carlock and his staff, along with the district, arranged for incoming students to tour the Stephens building during their final semester at Franklin, which he said helped with the transition for many kids. For Danielle Clay, Stephens is her third school in as many years. Her daughter started at Wilson as a kindergartner in 2016-17, and moved to Bale Elementary after Wilson was closed. This year, she’s just starting at Stephens as a second-grader. Clay said she “hated Bale with a passion” because of various problems; she said her daughter, a first-grader at the time, was once allowed to walk home from school with another child. She’s reserving judgment about Stephens for now. “I mean, so far it’s OK,

but I just really wish they would’ve kept Wilson open,” she said, since it was right around the corner from her house at the time. The closure was “horrible,” Clay said. “It was too many kids they had to put other places.” Carlock said the transition was also tough for former Franklin teachers. “They were forced to be in a place they didn’t necessarily choose. And when anybody’s forced, I don’t care how good it is — it’s going to be difficult,” the principal said. Some struggled to learn Stephens’ rules and routines, such as the school’s positive-behavior-reward system. So far, the beginning of the 2018-19 school year has been much smoother, Carlock said. “I’m really impressed. I just thank God first of all, but I also thank my staff for being committed and doing what needs to be done.” Last year, class sizes at Stephens were “maxed out,” Carlock added. State standards allow for up to 20 kids per kindergarten class, up to 25 for grades 1-3 and up to 28 for grades 4 and 5. Having large classes was especially hard on teachers coming from Franklin, he said, because classes at Franklin were generally smaller. After all, that’s why Poore made SEPTEMBER 6, 2018


the decision to close Franklin — if there are fewer kids in a building, the LRSD must spend more per child. From the district’s perspective, keeping class sizes at or near the maximum allows it to operate more efficiently and conserve its limited resources. Yet research shows that reductions in class size — especially in early grades — can improve academic outcomes. For a district struggling to make do with fewer dollars, class size can feel like a catch-22. “As a principal, I’m biased,” Carlock said. “I would love to keep low class sizes, but I know the district has to look at money to support the teachers and their benefits and all of those other things, so there’s some other dynamics.” The vast majority of students at Stephens are from low-income homes, and state data from last year show about 90 percent are African American. In 2017-18, Carlock said, the school included 74 students classified as homeless — out of about 700 total homeless students district-wide. But along with its challenges, the school has unique assets. When Franklin closed, its in-school clinic moved to Stephens and expanded.

Today, the school-based health center provides immunizations, physical exams and counseling to students and their siblings. Stephens also partners with First Security Bank to provide bank accounts for students and incentivize them to save, a program of Carlock’s invention. Stephens students receive points for good behavior, which they can then spend on any number of treats — a haircut, a snack, a visit to a game arcade. The dilemmas faced today by the LRSD and its superintendent were decades in the making, Carlock argues. “The person to be mad at probably isn’t the person that’s here now. It’s the person, or group of people, way back there,” he said. “This is the effect of something that was caused many years ago. … You see the storm coming, but you never prepare for it. And then when it comes, it’s just devastating, and that’s where we are now. “The hurricane is over us, and … things are going to get swept away. And ultimately the kids are kind of in the middle, being juggled around. So I hate that part of it, and I hate that money is that factor — but money is a real thing.”

STEERING THE SHIP: Budget realities will likely force Poore to close more schools in the months and years ahead.





When Sociology Becomes Biology



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When Sociology Becomes Biology A

rkansas has the highest percentage of children (56%) who have experienced at least one category of adversity. As many as one in seven Arkansas children have experienced three or more, according to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health. Without intervention by caring adults and communities, these adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) will have a profound effect on their bodies and minds, even at the genetic level. ACEs – having an incarcerated parent, witnessing domestic violence, suffering abuse and neglect – can literally get under their skin and cause toxic stress. The body and mind are in a perpetual fight-or-flight response. Under normal conditions, when our fight-or-flight response is activated, it helps prepare us to get out of danger, such as meeting a bear in the woods. The flood of stress hormones isn’t meant to stay in the body for long periods of time. When those hormones are always at high levels, it creates toxic stress. “Toxic stress in the developing bodies and brains of children sets them

up for a whole host of challenges,” Chad Rodgers, MD, FAAP, a Little Rock pediatrician and chief medical officer of AFMC, said. “Stressed brains can’t learn or focus on the future – they’re too absorbed with surviving the day.” Toxic stress changes the brain’s structure. The part of the brain that controls fight-or-flight gets bigger, while the area that controls emotions gets smaller. The result

can be impulsivity, hypervigilance, an inability to focus. These unconscious survival strategies don’t do well in the classroom. Stress hormones can also change the chemical process of how genes are turned on and off, which can impact health well into adulthood. But history is not destiny. “Children who have support systems in place – a trusted, stable and supportive adult in their lives; access to mental health treatment; schools that are trauma-informed – can build resilience and weather adversity without developing toxic stress,” said Dr. Rogers.“Now is the time to come together to build resilient families and communities.”

To find out more about ACEs, toxic stress and how to help children affected by adversity, attend a free special education session for parents and teachers from 5:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church. Child care and a meal are provided. For more information and to register, visit

. l a . e E R L s i B I e S l S g O g P u s i r Y t The S OVER C d E n a R In Arkansas, mental health issues are affecting people of all ages and the suicide rate across all ages is at an all-time high. But there is hope. The BridgeWay provides a continuum of care that is safe, secure and serene. Just as each patient is different, so too are our programs. The BridgeWay is the only psychiatric hospital in Arkansas with distinct programs for seniors 55 and older, adults 18 and older, adolescents, ages 13-17, and children, ages 4-12. Whether it is for mood, thought or substance abuse disorders, we provide separate units for each population.

21 BridgeWay Road, North Little Rock, AR 72113 1-800-BRIDGEWAY | 6, 2018 ARKANSAS TIMES 18SEPTEMBER • ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES 2018 •



Help at every step along the way Q

uapaw House, Inc. offers a continuum of care with treatment and support for every stage of recovery. We have been assisting individuals with quality care, compassion, and treatments for over 30 years. We offer a variety of programs, services and resources to address substance abuse, recovery, mental health and wellness. Quapaw House specializes in behavioral health; including mental health and substance use disorder programs with medial and counseling therapy professionals.

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• The Quapaw Wellness Clinic provides primary care medical services to the community and all clients within the Quapaw House system. • Medical & Observational Detoxification utilizes physician-approved and monitored medications and assessments. • Adolescent & Adult Outpatient Services; including partial day treatment. • Adolescent & Adult Residential Services; including mental health and substance use treatment. • Specialized women’s services for pregnant or parenting women. This program assists women on parenting and becoming self-confident women in recovery. • Childcare Services are open to the public and clients of Quapaw House. The Little Dreamers program is licensed for 80 children. It is a Better Beginnings certified program and accepts DHS vouchers. • Promises program is a residential recovery treatment that offers private & semi-private rooms, personalized treatment plans; individual clinical & case management services and recovery meetings, therapeutic group activities and weekend family visitation passes.




At Rivendell, we are changing lives through compassionate healing! S

ince 1985, Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas has been committed to providing the best psychiatric and behavioral healthcare, with the goal of supporting the whole family. Located in Benton, Ark., which is a 20 minute drive southwest of Little Rock, Ark., Rivendell offers a healing environment that is reassuring to an individual’s sense of security and confidentiality. Our hospital offers psychiatric and substance abuse services for adults, teens and children. Dedicated to excellence,

Rivendell is accredited by The Joint Commission, as a licensed, 80-bed psychiatric hospital. Inpatient care is provided on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week. Partial hospitalization services for youth are provided on a seven-day per week basis, days and evenings according to the need of the patient. For adults seeking partial hospitalization, Rivendell offers a twoweek program, Monday through Friday, from the hours of 8:30am to 3:00pm.

RIVENDELL BEHAVIORAL HEALTH OFFERS THE FOLLOWING LEVELS OF TREATMENT AND SERVICES: • Acute Inpatient Hospitalization • Dialectical Behavior Therapy • Partial Hospitalization • Mobile Assessment • Adult Psychiatric Services • Adult Dual Diagnosis Services • Adolescent Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services •Child Psychiatric Services


Good Mental Health Begins in Infancy A

lex is a busy two-and-a-half year old who has attended child care for about a year. His caregiver, Laura, notices he has begun to cry more when he is dropped off and he is more difficult to soothe. He has also started biting others and having tantrums that seem to last longer than usual. In talking with his mom, Laura learns that Alex’s dad has been deployed overseas and she is feeling anxious and overwhelmed by her additional responsibilities.

‘INFANT MENTAL HEALTH’ describes the positive social and emotional development that occurs when infants and toddlers are supported by nurturing relationships. Social development involves learning skills like communicating needs, getting along with others and making friends. Emotional development involves skills like recognizing feelings and expressing them appropriately, and beginning to understand that others have feelings too. When children experience healthy social and emotional development, they are able form positive relationships with others, play, communicate, learn and face challenges successfully. These are crucial skills children need to succeed in school and life. A dependable relationship with a nurturing, responsive caregiver is the key ingredient for healthy social and emotional development. Early experiences provided by caregivers lay the foundation for life-long physical and 20


emotional well-being. Children’s well-being is at risk when they experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Examples include when their caregiver is overwhelmed by mental health or substance abuse needs, they experience other difficult events such as abuse, neglect, chronic poverty, domestic violence or other hardships, or when their relationship with primary caregivers is otherwise disrupted. Mental health concerns in young children are not rare. In fact, one in every five to ten infants and toddlers experience significant difficulties with emotions or behavior. Mental health problems can be temporary for some children, but without intervention, about 50% of young children with problems will continue to have serious difficulties in later childhood, adolescence, and beyond. The good news is that best practices have been identified to promote healthy outcomes and support children and their families in overcoming early challenges. Research says that early interventions are much more cost effective and efficient than waiting until later in the child’s life. Most effective interventions focus on enhancing children’s relationships with their caregivers (including parents, foster parents, teachers or other caregivers). Examples include home visitation programs, parenting education and mental health interventions for the parent and child. Participation in high-quality early care and education


(ECE) programs also supports infant mental health. In fact, studies of children enrolled in high quality ECE settings reveal they are more likely to graduate from high school, become employed and earn more money, and less likely to have become incarcerated or receive welfare services. Laura and Mom decide to visit with the mental health consultant at the child care center. She helps them think about ways to support Alex with a comforting routine for drop-off time, teaching him words for his big feelings, and using family pictures to help Alex feel connected. They brainstorm ways that Mom can get support from family and friends during this difficult period. In just a few weeks Alex is his busy, happy self again.

You’re invited to this FREE event!

EVERY CLASSROOM, EVERY HOME: A SPECIAL LEARNING SESSION FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS 2018 Arkansas Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience Summit


5:30 – 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25


Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church 4823 Woodlawn Drive, Little Rock


Developed especially for: • Early childhood classroom teachers and staff • Foster/adoptive parents • Parents of children with disabilities What you’ll learn: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, prevention, selfcare, strategies to help address children’s social-emotional needs and how to build resilience

Reserve your seat by registering at: For more information, contact: 501-212-8644 Free childcare and meal provided. You’ll have a chance to win door prizes and gift cards. Professional development and continuing education hours available.

Arkansas Children’s Trust Fund/ DHS Division of Children and Family Services


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Treating the Whole Person, the Whole Family F

or almost 120 years, Methodist Family Health has helped rebuild the lives of Arkansas children and their families. The organization can trace its roots back to 1899 with the founding of the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage in Little Rock. Today, Methodist Family Health has grown and expanded to more than 20 inpatient, residential and outpatient care locations in Arkansas to serve thousands of children and families with a wide range of comprehensive psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual health care services. Our mission, to give the best possible care to those who need it and treat the whole

person– behaviorally, emotionally and spiritually, extends throughout every program, service and resource we use. In addition, all programs use the Teaching-Family Model,

an evidence-based model of care, extensively researched for effective ways to emphasize the positive teaching of functional skills and behaviors.

For more information about Methodist Family Health, visit MethodistFamily. org or connect with us on Facebook (www. methodistfamilyhealth/), Twitter (@ MethodistFamily) or Instagram (@ MethodistFamilyHealth). For emergency care, call 866-813-3388, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Suicide Prevention at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System E

very day, 20 American military Veterans take their own lives. They are sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors and family…they are someone you may know. Congress passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veteran Act three years ago to bolster the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Pro-

22 • 22




grams. The funding empowered VA’s robust response in streamlining access to mental health services for Veterans, establishing transition services, increasing collaborative efforts with outside community organizations and launching so Veterans and their loved ones have 24/7 access to suicide prevention resources. This past June, the VA released results from a 10-year study comparing nonVeteran and Veteran population suicide rates. In Arkansas, rates were noted as “significantly higher than the national Veteran suicide rate”, with 90 percent being males, and 41.3 percent being between the ages 55 to 74. The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS), thanks to funding from the Clay Hunt Act, has increased staffing and resources to connect Arkansas Veterans in crisis, and their families and friends, with


the vital suicide prevention resources they need. CAVHS Suicide Prevention Coordinators work with mental health care teams and family members to monitor and support Veterans at high risk for suicide. Together, Veterans, their families, and care teams develop safety plans to help Veterans learn coping strategies, identify support systems, and recognize situations that may trigger suicidal thoughts. Contact CAVHS’ Suicide Prevention Program 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday at (501)-257-2004. If you or someone you know is in crisis struggling with thoughts of suicide or exhibiting warning signs, immediately call the Veterans Crisis Line.

VETERANS OR THEIR LOVED ONES CAN ENGAGE WITH CRISIS LINE RESPONDERS VIA CALL (1-800-273-8255, PRESS 1), TEXT 838255, OR CHAT THRU VETERANSCRISISLINE.NET. The Veterans Crisis Line is open 24/7 for Veterans or concerned families and friends to reach out for help. On average, the Veterans Crisis Line receives 950 calls per day from Veterans and 200 calls from family or friends of Veterans in crisis. All support is confidential and provided by caring, qualified individuals, many whom are Veterans themselves.


Our Mission: To advocate for children left behind by incarceration or loss of a parent for any reason and to provide mentoring, services and supports for the children, their caregivers, and incarcerated parents, with the goal of strengthening and empowering the family unit.

Vision a world with: • Justice, compassion and equal opportunities for children with incarcerated parents or returning parents

• Support for kinship

Looking out for the little ones left behind A

rkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind offers services, training and advocacy to families and children separated by incarceration. More children from birth to 5 years are affected by incarceration in Arkansas than average nationally. A mother who is sent to prison when her baby is very young will be unable to breastfeed, and that may have an effect on attachment and bonding between her and her child. Arkansas Voices advocates for more time for mothers in the hospital after birth and for breast pumps to be provided to new mothers in prison so that they may continue to provide nutrition for their babies. The organization also advocates for nurseries in prisons whenever that service is possible. Women in prisons are more likely to have high-risk pregnancies than women who are not incarcerated. Arkansas Voices staffers have led prenatal and postpartum classes

for female inmates who are pregnant or who have recently given birth, in an effort to help women be healthy mentally and physically, and has advocated for a ban on the shackling or handcuffing of women in labor. Over time, Arkansas Voices has developed evidence-based interventions and holistic services to help children heal after the trauma of separation from their parents; mold kinship caregivers and the children in their care into strong, stable families; and intervene in the cycle of intergenerational family problems associated with parental incarceration. All services are tailored to the limitations, strengths and assets of grandparents, whose involvement in focus groups and participant evaluations have shaped our view of how best to help these vulnerable families and which services and service delivery produce the best outcomes.

For more informations on Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind call Dee Ann Newell at 501-626-0331.

caregivers and recognition of the sacrifices they make to raise the children of relatives

• Restorative Justice opportunities and community support for returning parents who want to build a new, productive life

• Equity for families of all races and cultural backgrounds impacted by incarceration, with equal access to health care, education, employment, housing, and public benefits.

For more information, call 501-626-0331, Dee Ann Newell












• 23 23 SEPTEMBER 6, 2018


Helping Heal ACEs for 60 Years C

ommunity Service, Inc. (CSI) celebrates 60 years of helping youth and families with adverse childhood experiences. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Just like a physical illness a mental illness progresses and gets worse if left untreated. According to the US Surgeon General only one out of five children with a mental illness will receive treatment. At CSI, we see firsthand the effects of children having not receiving professional care for their illnesses. Untreated mental illness can lead to violence, substance abuse and in some cases suicide. We encourage Arkansans to break the stigma of having a mental illness. Every year almost 20 percent of the US population will suffer from a mental illness. According to Mental Health America’s 2018 State of Mental Health in America Report almost one out of 10 youth suffer from severe depression. That’s enough youth to fill every major league baseball

stadium on the east coast twice. If you see any of the following types of behaviors in your child or teen it is a good idea to seek help: frequent arguing or poor attitude, fighting or aggressive behavior, poor focus or attention, getting in trouble at school frequently, mood swings or poor self-esteem or any other behavior problems that are serious enough to cause problems in daily life. CSI is proud to never ask for out of pocket payment from families seeking help. We feel strongly that the last thing a family should worry about is whether to pay for groceries or lifesaving support from a licensed clinical therapist for their child.

Give us a call today o begin your child’s healing 1-800-379-0553 or visit us online at





505 W. Grand Avenue Hot Springs, AR 71901


SEP 14




300 East Third St. • 501-375-3333

bella vita jewelry • 523 S. Louisiana

Hands-on activities on the grounds plus live music, #ArkansasMade beer, a gallery tour and a booksigning

2nd Friday Art Night has great things planned for Sept. 14

The FREE TROLLEY will be serving samples from CORE BREWERY

Stop By these pop-up Artists!

200 E. Third Street • 501-324-9351 •

Main Street between 6th and Capitol Ave (west side of street)

Chris Walker Painting

Sully Gomez 


Monica Colvard Jewelry



Jeannette Darley COME SEE: WITH THE GRAIN, FINE WOODWORK 108 W 6th St., Suite A (501) 725-8508Â

Nature Inspired Art

Cheri McKelvey

3 Statehouse Plaza 501-906-4000


Katie McBride


Handmade Purses

Anthony West Sketches

Robert Hinojosa Art Prints

Christopher Swasta Ceramics


512 Main Street • 944.9295

Locations are close enough to walk or hop on the trolley!

Dietra Blackwell Jewelry

Sabriella Jewelry SEPTEMBER 6, 2018


Arts Entertainment AND



elf-promotion being the necessary evil that it is in the film and television industry, you’d think comedian Matt Besser’s biography might lead with some of his entertainment bona fides — founding member of beloved comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, perhaps, or co-creator of Comedy Central’s cannabis-centric “This Show Will Get You High,” or film actor in gems like “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” It doesn’t. The opening line — “Raised a proud Razorback in Little Rock, Arkansas” — is typical of the way Besser wears his Arkansas roots on his sleeve. Comedic characters, like the redneck he played in a stand-up special called “Besser Breaks the Record,” were mined from life in Arkansas. “I do carry a sense of pride for the South and Arkansas in particular,” Besser told us in a 2016 interview, “almost like a chip on my shoulder.” Maybe that’s why an accomplished comedian who hasn’t lived here for years took up a political cause on his old Central Arkansas stomping grounds, pairing a comedy set with punk-rock-scene catalysts Trusty in the name of voter registration and mobilization. We talked with Besser ahead of two events — called #votethemout — at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at Vino’s and 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Kings Live Music in Conway, the proceeds of which benefit the Faulkner County Democratic Party.





Stand-up and punk rock as a pair; it’s not so far-fetched. Do you feel like venues (and audiences) have become more open or less open to the idea of mixedmedium bills like this? Yes. But I didn’t even really think about it as a mixed bill. Trusty is made up of my best friends from childhood — James Brady, Paul Bowling, Bircho [Michael Birch], Bobby Matthews — so I’m going to make them stay on stage with me when I’m doing my act. I’m visualizing this as more of a collaboration. I always wanted to be in a punk band, so doing comedy next to one is as close as I’m going to get to that.


These events, stand-up and punk rock bills from two Little Rock scene pioneers — is called #votethemout. And you’re doing this in what most would agree is an era of completely unprecedented chaos and corruption in the White House administration. What was the impetus for putting this together? Was there a moment in which you and the folks in Trusty were in conversation and just said, “OK, now we’ve gotta say/ do something”? If you share the opinion that Trump’s world is a disaster, then I believe you need to be doing something beyond just going to the polls and preaching to the converted on your social media. The way to really make things happen in the midterms is to engage with people, human to human. If you live in a blue spot, then you need to go to a purple spot and help flip it. I don’t just mean entertainers. People need to talk to other people and get them active. To, at the very least, take the first step of getting


Matt Besser comes home to raise some hell — and, he hopes, voter registration numbers.

My mind didn’t get totally blown, though, until I saw a documentary called “Meth Storm,” which is the saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time. It focuses on some people in Faulkner County whose lives have been ruined by the meth epidemic. Then I realized, “Wait, Faulkner County is in Rapert’s district! The guy spending his time in the House changing airport names and trying to put granite religious idols on the Capitol lawn is the so-called leader of the county starring in ‘Meth Storm!’ ” This has to stop. Vote him out. His opponent is Maureen Skinner, who is a politician with her priorities straight. Vote her in.

BESSER’S BACK: And he’s sharing a bill with punk rockers Trusty in the name of voting out Sen. Jason Rapert.

registered to vote. It was a goal of mine to target a district in my home state, and District 35’s Sen. Jason Rapert needs to be voted out ASAP. It’s probably a terrible idea to ask a question to which I already know the answer, but I’ll do it anyway. Why the focus on Rapert? I believe I first read about Rapert when he was trying to get the Clintons’ name taken off the airport, and I thought to myself at the time, “Wow, what a stupid priority for a legislator to have. Boy, I bet his constituents are pissed he is wast-

ing his time on their dime.” Then I read about his bill to get the Ten Commandments [monument] placed on the Capitol grounds. Separation of church and state is kind of an obsession of mine. The last time I performed in Little Rock my whole show was about separation of church and state — probably to a fault! So, when I read the ultimate test of the separation of church and state was being instigated by Rapert in MY HOME TOWN, I knew that I had to help vote this guy out. What an utter waste of time this guy is spending on what appears to be stunts to advertise his church more than progress for his district.

Even now, even when so many people’s lives are potentially affected by policy (and the whims/financial ties of the politicians who make it), there are plenty of folks —some of them, no doubt, in the comedy industry — who insist that they’re “not political.” That they’re tired of “all the negativity” or “all the political fighting” on their social media feeds. What do you say to that sentiment? First off, I promise that my comedy act at the show won’t be all preachy and political. I’ve got at least an hour just on the topic of pot, and I’d like to think I can bust out at least one Neil Young impression. In regards to the negativity online, I’m on the fence because I think people need and want to get active to change things, but one’s own social media is usually just an echo chamber that often just gives me a headache. The worst is when people get so fed up that they give up. You can’t give up. Vote them out, and encourage others to do so, or nothing will change.

ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog

A&E NEWS Arkansas Repertory Theatre founder Cliff Fannin Baker collapsed Aug. 27 at a workshop in New York and has been hospitalized with an intercranial brain hemorrhage, a news release issued Monday by The Rep’s board chair, Ruth Shepherd, said. Baker underwent surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center West. Guy Couch, Baker’s husband, is with him. The news release said the family has asked for privacy. We spoke Tuesday afternoon with The Rep’s interim general manager, Bill Rector, who told us that while Baker hadn’t yet regained consciousness, he had “begun to look like Cliff again.” Baker founded The Rep in 1976 and was its director until 1998 and has since acted as guest director. Following The Rep’s announcement in April that it would suspend operations, Baker has also acted as advisor to the company about its reopening for a 2019 season. In other Rep-related news, the theater company’s education branch — one of the few operations that continued after mainstage productions were suspended — will hold an Education Cabaret featuring 65 students from the year-round program at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, in the 377-seat theater. “The passion of the students and families involved in our Education Department has been critical during this time of transition at The Rep,” Director of Education Anna Kimmell said in a press release. “The ability to complete our summer program created the momentum to move forward this fall with our year-round classes and outreach for youth and adults. The enthusiasm for theater in Little Rock is palpable, largely due to the energy of the next generation.” The 27th annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, to take place Oct. 19-27, will open with Ashley York and Sally Rubin’s “Hillbilly,” organizers announced in a press release. The film examines the role of media in the creation of the “hillbilly” stereotype and the impact that stereotype has had on America. “This year’s slate includes some of the most provocative films we’ve seen during HSDFF’s 27 years,” HSDFF Executive Director Jennifer Gerber said. “ ‘Hillbilly’ sets the tone for the complex, but necessary, conversations we hope our screenings will inspire.” Also on the fest’s schedule: “Gospel of Eureka” and “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Stories of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.” See hsdfi. org for details.


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4 p.m. UA Little Rock Sequoyah National Research Center, 5820 Asher Ave., Suite 500. Free.

A HISTORY OF SERVICE: A new exhibit at UA Little Rock’s Sequoyah National Research Center includes this photograph of (from left) Staff Sgt. Virgil Brown of the Pima Tribe, 1st Sgt. Virgil F. Howell of the Pawnee Tribe, Staff Sgt. Alvin J. Vilcan of the Chitimacha Tribe and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as well as Sgt. Byron L. Tsingine and Sgt. Larry Dekin of the Diné Navajo.


The Sequoyah National Research Center, part of the Collections and Archives division at UA Little Rock, “strives to ensure that the discussion of Native America accounts for the perspectives of the peoples themselves,” its website says. And to the extent that the collective discussion has de-emphasized (or omitted altogether) a long history of military service on the part of native people, this exhibition from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian serves as counterpoint. Supplemented by materials from SNRC’s collections from World War I veterans, the exhibit is on display 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 30, and opens with a reception and gallery talk at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6. For details, call 5698336 or visit SS




9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

8:30 p.m. Rev Room. $18-$20.

If chances to hear the Amy Garland Band are scarce, maybe it’s because the Louisiana native spends so much of her time elevating (and collaborating with) her peers in the Central Arkansas music scene by way of her Friday afternoon show, on KABF-FM, 88.3; her spot in projects like The Wildflower Revue; and her time fashioning gorgeous handmade guitar straps with a new venture, Stone County Strap Co. Garland and her band — Nick Devlin, Mike Nelson, Bart Angel and Jeff Coleman — take that affable folk sound to the White Water this Friday, bringing a touch of Louisiana Hayride to a beloved neighborhood bar. SS

Bob Schneider, writer, painter and perennial sweeper of the Austin Music Awards, isn’t much for letting the ink dry; if there’s one songwriter in the Austin scene who’s embraced Voltaire’s motto “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” it’s Schneider. And that’s by Schneider’s own design, as he told ANCHR Magazine last month: “The creative part of your brain is like a little kid that wants to play and have fun. If you can get the critical part of your brain to leave that part of your brain alone, you’ll never have any problem writing and creating. You can always go back afterwards and figure out if the thing that you made is good or not, but that shouldn’t be part of the creative process.” With a monthly residency at Austin’s Saxon Pub that’s lasted almost two decades and a fierce devotion to offering every live show he does on a Bandcamp site he calls “Frunk,” Schneider’s documented that creative process with astonishing consistency and transparency, pulling weekend set lists of sugary hooks and cuddly, philosophical ruminations from a catalogue of hundreds of songs. His shows are famously schizophrenic, with loop experiments and metaphysical monologues filling the between-songs gap in lieu of aloof patter, but count on hearing at least a couple from “Blood and Bones,” Schneider’s 2018 release that stares down mortality itself (“Snowmen”) as unblinkingly as it does Schneider’s love for his wife and baby daughter. The Rios open the show. SS


‘ON MY MIND: THE NATURAL STATE’ 6-8 p.m. reception. Cantrell Gallery, 8208 Cantrell Road. Free.


Landscape artist Barry Lindley of Washington, D.C., will be on hand Friday and Saturday at Cantrell Gallery for the opening of his exhibition, “On My Mind: The Natural State.” He was once a resident of the Natural State and apparently he’s missing us. He’s traveled the Arkansas countryside to paint flatlands, swamps, forests and waterfalls, even Nuclear One (on his webpage, not necessarily in the show here). His travels have also taken him to far-flung places such as Alaska and Vietnam, and the show includes those foreign landscapes. Lindley’s exhibited worldwide; his last exhibition was at The Art League Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Va. The artist will give a gallery talk about the work at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. The show runs through Oct. 27. LNP

FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE TAVERN: Amy Garland & The Allstars take the stage at White Water. 28


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8 p.m. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $33-$34.

A 38-year-old native of Mountain Pine (Garland County) is now the youngest inductee to the National Radio Hall of Fame. Bobby Bones, the Wayfarer-wearing Henderson State University grad who identifies as too pop for country radio and too country for pop radio but has hosted shows on both formats, has made a career with a silver tongue, a penchant for hyperbole and an ear for discovering upand-coming artists. He’s also made headlines for stunts both on and off the air: A nonemergency airing of the emergency broadcast tone cost his platform iHeartMedia a $1 million fine, and a hoax in which he commissioned “Go Away Bobby Bones” billboards in Nashville with $13,000 of his own money cost him, some would argue, an ounce or two of credibility. Whatever you think of him, Bones has a knack for getting country stars to speak candidly about their own experiences with the prejudices of the Nashville establishment, and he’ll work those charms on the fans at Robinson Center Performance Hall as part of his “Red Hoodie Comedy Tour,” so named because the sales of souvenir red hoodies at the tour merch table benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. SS

ON HIS MIND: Barry Lindley’s watercolors go on exhibit Friday at Cantrell Gallery in a show called “On My Mind: The Natural State.”

Reckless Kelly returns to the Rev Room with its country/rock sensibility and an opening set from the Brooks Hubbard Band, 8:30 p.m., $20. Amy McBryde & The Active Ingredient take the stage at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Bill “Bluesboy Jag” Jagitsch plays a solo set at Nexus Coffee & Creative, 6 p.m., free. The 13th Annual Hot Springs Motorcycle Rally kicks off in the Spa City, see for schedule and details. Sketch comedy set “T-Sketch: The Third One” goes up at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse, 8 p.m., $8. Brian Ramsey plays a happy hour set at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, or come later and catch Rustenhaven, 9 p.m., $5. Hypnotist Doug T mesmerizes at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. The Arkansas Travelers take on the Tulsa Drillers in the second game of the Texas League playoffs’ first round, 6:10 p.m., $7-$13. Arkansas House of Prayer and sister organization the Interfaith Center present the seventh annual “Love Thy Neighbor: Together as One” festival at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 6 p.m., free. Lee Street Lyrical performs at CALS’ Maumelle Library branch as part of the “Sounds in the Stacks” series, 6:30 p.m., free.



The Zoo's biggest and best craft beer fest! Join us to taste hundreds of beers, listen to 3 live music acts, be up close with live animals or to win the bear pong competition!


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6 - 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20

TICKETS $30 in advance $35 at the gate

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presented by

All proceeds benefit the Arkansas Zoological Foundation - a non-profit investing in the growth & development of the Little Rock Zoo. Must be at least 21 years of age to attend. Please bring ID.

FRIDAY 9/7 R&B singer Avant takes the stage at Empire, 9 p.m., $25-$40. Matthew Lopez’ “The Legend of Georgia McBride” kicks off at The Studio Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun. through Sept. 16, $17-$22. Author and ESPN journalist Howard Bryant gives a talk at the Clinton School of Public Service on “The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism,” noon, free. The Main Thing kicks off its fall comedy show, “The Lighter Side of the Apocalypse,” at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse, 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. through Nov. 17, $24. Isaac Helgestad brings a jazz fusion set to 17111 Chenal Parkway as part of The Promenade at Chenal Courtyard Concert Series, 6:30 p.m., free. The Big Dam Horns blast the big dam hits at Four Quarter Bar in Argenta, 10 p.m., $7. Bassist/vocalist Heather Crosse takes the stage at Markham Street Grill and Pub, 8:30 p.m. Boom Kinetic returns to Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 10 p.m., $10. Lamar Porter Athletic Field is next up for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s “Sandwiching in History” series, noon, free. Turtle Rush, The Wall Chargers and Caleb Ryan Martin share a bill at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, 9 p.m. Anna Marie entertains for happy hour at Cajun’s, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, Donna Massey takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. The Norman Jackson Band performs at Kings Live Music in Conway, 8:30

CONTINUED ON PAGE 29 Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies SEPTEMBER 6, 2018








5-8 p.m. reception. Matt McLeod Fine Art, 106 W. Sixth St. Free.

OPENING: Russell Denette’s furniture and objects by other woodworkers go on exhibition at Matt McLeod Fine Art this week.

Jill Kyong’s works have symbolic aspects, incorporating rocks. Lucas Strack makes distinctive, imaginative furniture and housewares. Kent Bryant harkens to country life with his new Adirondack chair and cutting boards. John Bruhl is both designer and furniture maker. Russell Denette is a fourth-generation woodworker. All will be exhibiting their way with wood in this show at McLeod that opens Friday with a reception. The work, most of it functional, will be paired with sculpture, paintings and drawings as it would in a home. The show runs through Oct. 20. LNP



4-9 p.m. Walmart AMP, Rogers. $45-$90.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a few beers, I like to talk to my friends, listen to music and play videogames. The Walton Arts Center’s annual fundraiser for its arts education program checks all those boxes. Dozens of breweries, including biggies like Lagunitas and Goose Island, and local favorites, such as Flyway, Lost Forty and Black Apple Crossing, will be offering samples. There’ll be two stages of live music, featuring the last two winners of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, Dazz & Brie and Jamie Lou & the Hullabaloo. And you’ll have a chance to play with all sorts of techy stuff, too: There’ll be stations featuring PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, Cox Immersive Sports VR, a Samsung 360-degree photobooth and an immersive VR bike experience, also from Samsung. LM



1:30 p.m. Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library. $8.

For the Buddha-curious, or maybe for those still fired up about the criminal justice system after Arkansas Cinema Society’s August screening of “Survivor’s Guide to Prison,” here’s a salve of sorts, and a way to localize that conversation. From the Buddhist nonprofit Tzu Chi Foundation and Little Rock-based prison outreach program Compassion Works for All comes this short film tour on socially engaged Buddhism. First up are three short documentaries from Director Ida Eva Zielinska: “Finding Liberation in Trauma,” which follows Rikers Island Staff Chaplain Justin von Bujdoss through his day’s work with correctional officers; “Second Chances,” the story of how Buddhist priest/ former Missouri Department of Corrections Chaplain Rev. Karlene Kalen McAllister started a bakery to help recently released inmates find work; and “Ripples From Compassionate Hearts,” a spotlight on Little Rock’s own Anna Cox and how her vision of “freedom from real and imagined prisons through compassion” fuels Compassion Works For All, Arkansas’s only Buddhist prison outreach program. A panel discussion follows that block of films, with civil rights advocate and interfaith proponent Anika Whitfield; Kaleem Nazeem, a Muslim leader recently released from prison; Cliff Plegge, a prison and jail volunteer; Buddhist chaplain Kalen McAllister; and Morgan Leyenberger, executive director of a prison outreach organization and leader in the decARcerate campaign against mass incarceration in Arkansas. Dr. Jay McDaniel, religious studies professor at Hendrix College, moderates. To cap things off, organizers will screen Daniel Ferrara’s “The Peace Inside,” a narrative drama about a Chinese inmate’s experience in an American prison after being connected with a Tzu Chi USA volunteer. A Q&A and reception follow. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit Compassion Works for All. SS



Regulars at the dormant and much-pined-for Afterthought already know vocalist/educator Tawanna Campbell’s work well. Whether it’s Mary J. Blige barnburners, vaudeville standards like “Deed I Do” or the Jill Scott and classic jazz pieces she’ll sing this Wednesday night, Campbell performs with her whole body. She’s got breath control for miles and a seamless ease to her phrasing. What’s more, her collegial style on stage and energy for her collaborators (Corey Harris, Dre Franklin and Marlon Davis, for this concert) means she’s not only a welcome counterargument to a list of unflattering stereotypes about singers, but a natural fit for a jazz-leaning set, where listening is paramount. If you’ve yet to hear her sing, let us be the first to commend picking out a riverside flagstone under the golden hour’s light for this free concert. Organizers say lawnchairs, blankets, kids and pets are welcome, but not coolers; bring some cash along for beer, wine or soda. The Wednesday night series, sponsored by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau and Art Porter Music Education Inc., continues with Dizzy 7 on Sept. 19 and The Rodney Block Collective Sept. 26. SS




6 p.m. History Pavilion, Riverfront Park. Free.

JAZZ IN THE PARK: Tawanna Campbell gives a free concert at the History Pavilion with Corey Harris, Dre Franklin and Marlon Davis as part of the Wednesday night series.

Follow us on Instagram: ArkTimes


Saturday, September 15 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

p.m., $5. Mister Lucky takes the stage at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming’s Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., free.



7:30 p.m. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $49-$125.

“Things take time,” Johnny Mathis said in a Billboard interview with Gary Graff in 2016. “People are stubborn about what they perceive to be the right thing or the wrong thing, and it takes a long time to filter this human condition. There’s a waiting period until people catch up. But if you have patience — which it takes when someone thinks differently from you — everybody always catches up.” Mathis was speaking, with trademark statesmanship and reticence, about his 1982 interview with Us Weekly in which he came out as gay, but I wonder if the same waiting period might have applied to Mathis’ legacy itself. How much precious energy has been spent either idolizing or villainizing Frank Sinatra — pitted against Mathis in a memorable debate from the film “Diner” — when all the while, The Chairman of the Board’s courtly, elusive counterpart was breathing life into Bacharach and lending his golden vibrato to the civil rights movement, singing at a Salute to Freedom concert in Birmingham, Ala., to galvanize momentum for the March on Washington. The balladeer is 82 now and, perhaps because of a steady early morning gym routine, is still crooning. Mathis appears at Robinson Center Performance Hall with country musician/ comedian Gary Mule Deer. SS



10 p.m. Rev Room. $15-$25.

On the heels of a memorial that reminded the world why Aretha Franklin was multitudes more than the sum of her hit songs, a hometown show goes up in the Queen of Soul’s honor. And, a chance to pay homage to a certified earth-shaker attracted a powerful group of soul vocalists: Tawanna Campbell, Genine LaTrice Perez, LaSheena Gordon, Dee Dee Jones, Nikky Parrish and more. They’ll be joined by bass player Ivan Yarborough and string/brass players from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. See for tickets. SS

SATURDAY 9/8 SeanFresh & the NastyFresh Crew, Osyrus Bolly, Alexis Ray Parker, Kyle Hubbard and DJ Nick Hud join forces for “All Black Everything” at South on Main, 10 p.m., $15. Cherry Red takes the stage at Four Quarter Bar, with an opening set from Trey Johnson & Jason Willmon, 10 p.m., $7. The Plantation Agricultural Museum in Scott hosts the 26th Annual Tractor and Engine Show, 9 a.m., free. Hairy Kate-Olsen hosts “Meat” at Club Sway, with beats by DJ Porterhouse and performances from Envy S. Hart, Puss Powerbottom, Jason Cessor, Chris Davis, Madison Dixon and Dylan Dugger, 9 p.m. Bad Habit brings classic rock hits to Stickyz, 9:30 p.m., $5. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art continues its Forest Concert Series with a set from Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings and The Bergamot, 7 p.m., $10. KDJE-FM, 100.3, “The Edge,” brings Badflower to the Clear Channel Metroplex, 8 p.m., $8-$10. Fire & Brimstone fire up an early set at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, Strange Brew takes the stage, 9 p.m. At Kings Live Music, Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs take the stage, with Jacob Pledger, 8:30 p.m., $5. Arkansas Comic Con congregates cosplayers, voice actors and comic book creators, 9 a.m., Statehouse Convention Center, $15-$25, see

SUNDAY 9/9 Arkansongs hosts “Is You Is: A Louis Jordan Movie Night,” with screenings of the 1945 short film “Caldonia” (1945) and the 2008 documentary “Is You Is: A Louis Jordan Story” at White Water, 6:30 p.m., $5. Friends of KLRE/ KUAR host the KUAR Pub Quiz at American Pie Pizza in North Little Rock, 2 p.m.

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AN EVENING OF JAZZ GUITAR Monday, September 17, 2018 7:30PM - 10:00PM @The Joint

TUESDAY 9/11 Rapper, model, designer and provocateur Lil Debbie lands at the Rev Room, with Whitney Peyton, 8:30 p.m., $15.

WEDNESDAY 9/12 J. Cole takes the stage at Verizon Arena, with Young Thug, Earthgang, Jaden Smith and Kill Edward, 7:30 p.m., $25-$100. At the Starlite Club in Hot Springs, Low Key Arts hosts a show from Crooks on Tape (a project of former Brainiac guitarist John Schmersal) and Funeral Cars, 9 p.m., $5. At George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Shooter Jennings takes the stage, 9 p.m., $20-$25.

Enjoy an evening of jazz guitar featuring Peter Bernstein, Ted Ludwig and special guests in the intimate setting of The Joint in North Little Rock. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door.

Theater and Coffeehouse

301 Main St, NLR • 501-372-0210

Get tickets at

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies SEPTEMBER 6, 2018



It’s super crowded, it’s fun and it will fill you up: The eighth annual Main Street Food Truck Festival will bring more than 60 food trucks to several blocks of Main and Capitol Avenue from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. There will be beer, dozens of craft vendors, buskers and, of course, eats of every variety, all for free. (Let’s hope there’s food enough for 40,000, because that’s the number of people who came last year, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership says.) Main will be closed to traffic from Fourth Street to Ninth, and Capitol from Main to Spring. There will be four beer tents, five eating areas, a block of arts and crafts and yard games at the Heifer Village area between Fourth and Fifth on Main. The DLRP organizes; Centennial Bank presents. A 10-foot chainsaw-carved bear will welcome customers at the Black Bear Diner chain that’s coming to the Lakewood Village Shopping Center this fall. The Redding, Calif., based chain features meals for folks who are hungry as bears: Hearty breakfasts; burgers (including the 10-ounce Bob’s Big Bear Burger), sandwiches and salads at lunch; and comfort food (Bigfoot Chicken Fried Steak, meatloaf, pot roast, steaks and more) at dinner. There is a menu for cubs as well. The diner will occupy the former Dixie Cafe building and seat 166. The foodways of Chinese immigrants in Arkansas will be the focus of the Arkansas State Archives’ fifth annual Foodways Symposium, is set for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at UA Pulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute at 13000 Interstate 30. “From China’s Farmlands to Arkansas’s Delta: A History of Arkansas’s Chinese Immigrants” will feature speakers Jeu Foon, who’ll talk about his family’s Foon’s Grocery in Forrest City, which his father opened in 1946 and was destroyed by a tornado in 1974; Marilyn Fong Joe, whose parents operated three grocery stores in East Arkansas, including Jimmy’s in Blytheville; and Kevin Kim, who is working on a doctorate in American studies and the politics of food at the University of Maryland. A Pulaski Tech chef will give a cooking demonstration to wrap up the event, which is free to the public. Register at by Monday, Sept. 10. 32



FILLING UP AT GRANDMA’S: The Winslow meat and three, or four, or five, is comfort food on the edge of an Ozarks bluff.

Boston Mountain pearl Grandma’s House is comfort food, no posturing.


hen your actual grandma co-signs on a place called Grandma’s House Cafe, the path over the river and through the woods becomes abundantly enticing. That is to say, to Grandma’s House you go. The woods, in this case, are the Ozark National Forest in southernmost Washington County, in that vast expanse of hardwoods north of Alma and south of Fayetteville. Thus far, that stretch of Interstate 49 remains largely unlittered by flashing billboards, and because of its lush, unfettered mountain views, it can be hard to find a reason to trade the convenience of a speedy interstate for tedious hairpin curves; in this case, the fastest route is, marvelously and uncharacteristically, also a stunning one! This lunch spot, though, my grandparents assured, would be worth veering off I-49 onto Scenic U.S. Highway 71, if only for a quarter hour or two. There,

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my grandmother promised — just beyond arm’s reach of the fast-casual meccas in Northwest Arkansas — were yeast rolls worth the drive, and meringue pies capable of quelling any budding late-summer impatience for Thanksgiving. Everything was homemade, she said, a point duly noted, coming from a source whose yeast rolls could stop wars mid-bullet. Granny didn’t say a word about the cafe’s wholesomeness, but something about her enthusiastic endorsement strongly implied to me that this would be true destination dining and also the sort of place where asking for a beer menu might be grounds for a swift, curt negatory from your server — one which, if challenged, could elicit a studied reference to Ephesians 5:18. We pulled up to Grandma’s House — which, by the way, could be mistaken for an actual house with ample parking save for the “OPEN” sign in the front window — promptly at 11 a.m. on a Friday morn-

ing. On our heels was a fully occupied white Starcraft shuttle bus with the words “Goddard United Methodist, Fort Smith, AR” printed on the side, as was a pair of Corvettes out for a midday joyride. The sprawling parking lot overlooks a deep valley carpeted in green (sure, it’s mostly kudzu, but haven’t we long succumbed to our trifoliate overlords?), the view arguably more Instagrammable than any of its state Department of Transportationdesignated Boston Mountains peers. Inside, the reason for the opening-bell clamor became clear. An unassuming duet of short buffet bars greeted us inside the neat, trim building. They bore no signage or explanation of items therein, only an assault of heavenly, buttery smells casting its olfactory spell. Evidently the only ones new to the routine, we sheepishly laid claim to one of many lace-laden wooden tables beyond the buffet in a labyrinth of quaint, doily-bedecked rooms. There


Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas

we remained, stilled by the window box views and the crowd pouring in until a young woman in nurse scrubs — the unofficial uniform of all Grandma’s House Cafe employees — took our drink order and assured us that serving ourselves at the buffet was indeed the order of operations. (We need not have felt bashful; in the Da Vinci across the room, Jesus and the Twelve Apostles were already several courses ahead of us.) And for us? Sliced potatoes scalded to a caramelized crisp in the style of home fries, then scooped up and loaded into an enormous hotel pan. Half-round slices of sweet honeyed ham. Pulled pork shredded and bathed in a sweet barbecue sauce. Okra that, if frozen, is at least putting on airs as if it’s hand-battered in house. Cabbage just the way I like it, steamed and still firm, sugar and salt co-existing in some golden ratio. House-breaded chickenfried steak, with the ground beef (not minute steak, upon inspection) patties suspended in a light, crispy shell of fried flour, decadent enough to make the gravy alongside it seem like an afterthought. Grids of squat, glistening yeast rolls to which additional pats of cold butter would be an affront. Presumably delectable cornbread we never even got to. Perfunctory and inoffensive steamed broccoli, yellow kernel corn and uniform green peas. There’s an equally perfunctory salad bar — which I can only assume is there on principle, so that people can’t get on Yelp and complain about there not being a salad bar? It was as if the forefather of the Cracker Barrel chain had once visited, beheld the contents of that modest front room and said to himself, “From this, I can build an empire.” Here at Grandma’s, though, in lieu of vintage farm implements and metal Grapette signs, there are mirrors and eggshell-white satin lampshades with gold tassel trim everywhere, chandeliers, porcelain tea sets, needlepoint Bible verses and French doors leading to a deckside mountainscape. And there, in the middle of it all, was a pan with several quarts of chicken and dumplings — the premier class of chicken and dumplings from which a Willy Wonka-fied square-inch cube of dried chicken boullion does not come. The drop-style dumplings were fat and doughy, dotted with browned bits of so-called “Jewish penicillin,” the stewy,

Grandma’s House

21588 U.S. Highway 71 Winslow 479-634-2128

Quick bite

Grandma’s reportedly does breakfast comfort food right, too, and packs the house for its famed Sunday supper hours. For weekday lunch, the pies, potatoes and proteins are the thing; if you want greens or other vegetables, even like the ones grandma prepared, look elsewhere.

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speckled broth that results when a whole chicken is cooked slowly and methodically. Having vowed to split the cafe’s repertoire lest our appetites give way before most everything was tasted, the one of us who happened to have dished up the chicken and dumplings was, dare we say, blessed. The other highlight was, as foretold, the row of homemade pies. Perched on a table above cornflower blue and ivory toile fabric curtains and delicately cut into tiny slices to allow for maximum sampling, the cafe offered a generous array: banana cream, peanut butter cream, chocolate cream, no-sugar-added apple pie, coconut cream, cherry cream and pineapple cream. The coconut was bookended with slivers of its namesake, adorning the custardy filling and dotting the meringue’s surface. Thick banana slices were used in the banana cream with nary a worry about their browning; the pie won’t last long enough for that to be an issue. Bonus for getting there at lunch’s beginning: I gasped audibly when I bit into the chocolate pie and it was still warm. By the time of our exit, I was certain we’d consumed at least a half-pound of butter between the two of us, about which we were definitely feeling copasetic. Also: We overheard a couple from the Methodist bus echoing the same lament we’d made moments earlier, when realizing that a promising tray of peach cobbler was on the warming table, a few yards too far away from the row of meringue clouds to get noticed.


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APPOINTMENT ONLY! • Call or text 501-952-5735 or email

Please join us for an exciting evening as Community Health Centers of Arkansas recognizes honorees Senator John Boozman, Muskie Harris, Delta Dental of Arkansas and Forevercare, at our inaugural masked ball. Proceeds from this benefit formal will help support the Franklin Community Health Complex. Tickets may be purchased thru Eventbrite. Event details to follow.



DoubleTree bV Hilton Hotel-downtown 424 west Markham Street. little Rock. Arkansas For more information please contact Mia Stark at 501-374-2148 or email SEPTEMBER 6, 2018



The Steve’n’Seagulls // The Restless Leg String Band

@ Four Quarter Bar

Sunday, September 16 • 8PM

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Open until 2am every night!

415 Main St North Little Rock • (501) 313-4704 •


ew Orleans, 1836. Following an era of French colonial rule and relative racial acceptance, Louisiana’s “free people of color” are prospering. Beatrice has become one of the city’s wealthiest women through her relationship with a rich white man. Society is changing, racial divides are growing, and as the household turns on one another in their fight for survival, it could cost them everything.


$16 ADULTS • $12 FOR STUDENTS/SENIORS/MILITARY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT CURTAIN TIME IS 7:30 PM. SUNDAY AFTERNOON CURTAIN TIME IS 2:30 PM. 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 to purchase tickets and flex passes.

1001 W. 7th St. • Little Rock, AR 72201 • 501-374-3761 34



ALT HENSON: “Happytime Murders” channels its forefather Jim Henson’s blue streak.

Puppets gone bad ‘The Happytime Murders’ is gleeful, glossy trash. BY SAM EIFLING


he Happytime Murders” believing he wanted to cast an all-pupis the first film by Hen- pet X-rated flick called “Animal Farm” son Alternative, a branch — admit it, your imagination just went of the Jim Henson Co. berserk — and in the mid-’70s submitthat specializes in muppety, puppety ted a “Muppet Show” pilot to ABC titled stuff kids maybe shouldn’t watch. (That “Sex and Violence.” is, unless you’re the type of kid who Welp, “The Happytime Murders” is gets a laugh out of a giant puppet octo- sex and violence. It turned off critics pus projectile-milking a puppet cow and audiences who might have a tough on the set of a gnarly puppet porno, in time watching puppets, say, shoot one which case, knock yourself out.) Hen- another in the face with shotguns, or son’s kids Brian and Jane run the Jim get their faces torn apart piece by piece, Henson Co. (one of them, Brian Henson, or offer sex in exchange for drugs (well, directs “Happytime”), and for all the technically, for sugar, which puppets sheltered kiddie memories you associ- abuse like cocaine). And it turned off ate with “Sesame Street,” the maestro people who might have wanted their himself always harbored a blue streak. hard-boiled detective story to have a He once pranked a British producer into few more twists across 90 swift, vul-

Fall Brewers Dinner Thursday, September 20, 2018 • 6:30PM - 8:00PM We’re going to kick off this Fall with a bang! Come excite your taste buds as we select and pair great fall brews with our delicious guest favorite menu items! Limited amount of room available. Call for more info.

1010 Main Street, Conway • 501-329-6262 • Get tickets at

gar minutes. Ignore these people. “The Happytime Murders” may indeed be trash, but it’s gleeful, hilarious trash that has been shined to a high gloss by actual Hensons. Picture a Raymond Chandler novel decked in blue fuzz and googly eyes, and you’re on the right track. Phil is a puppet ex-cop turned private eye working in a Los Angeles where puppets live among people as second-class citizens: Think shades of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” He gets a job from a slinky puppet named Sandra, who’s afraid of being blackmailed for her various sexcapades. During that investigation, he notices that someone is killing the puppet stars of a classic TV show, “The Happytime Gang,” who all stand to make bank now that they’re in syndication. (His brother is among them, ravaged like a cheap toy by a pack of dogs. If the sight of fresh stuffing makes you squeamish, this may not be the film for you.) The cops take notice. Connie, our man’s former partner, arrives on the

scene, still nursing some bad blood from a bad bust that left them both with scars. She’s played by Melissa McCarthy, who’s a dervish even when she’s not getting paid, like, $10 million to snort piles of glittery-purple streetgrade puppet sugar. Suffice it to say McCarthy’s mode here is not one of overabundant restraint. If you’ve seen a funnier performance this year than McCarthy, hopped up on sugar, trying to answer her boss’s questions without giving away how high she is, then you’ve definitely been watching more movies than I have. You also get Maya Rudolph as Phil’s secretary, and Elizabeth Banks as a stripper Phil crushes on. At a certain point, you’re surely wondering: Do jokes about puppet humping, puppet dismemberment and puppet drug abuse get tiresome? The answer is no, actually: You’ve been waiting for this mayhem since you first realized you’d like to throw a Tickle Me Elmo under a moving train. Jim Henson, that old salt, would’ve busted a gut. SEPTEMBER 6, 2018


September! GIFT GUIDE

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It’s time to show your love for the Hogs! There’s a huge range of adorable gifts for football season at Stifft Station Gifts, so drop by soon!

Tito’s Handmade Vodka regular $31.99 sale $28.99 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir $14.99 at Warehouse Liquor.

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Laurence Juber Thursday September 20 7:30 p.m. The Joint 301 Main Street North Little Rock

Tickets $25

Grammy winner and former guitarist for Paul McCartney’s band Wings, Juber brings amazing clarity and virtuosity to the acoustic guitar.

This month’s show is in partnership with the ACANSA Arts Festival. Tickets available at

Sunday Afternoon October 7, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

On 4th Street Between Main and Maple In Argenta








All the Ribs, Butts and Sides You Can Eat from the finest barbecue teams in Arkansas | TICKETS: $15 Online at and $20 at the Door. WE ARE STILL ACCEPTING BARBECUE TEAM APPLICATIONS. THE MORE THE MERRIER! For more information contact Phyllis Britton at or call 501-492-3994

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SEPTEMBER 6 - 16 #TSTGeorgiaMcBride @studiotheatrelr







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BOARD VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT The Little Rock Housing Authority, doing business as, Metropolitan Housing Alliance, will have vacant positions on the Board of Commissioners September 30, 2018. This is a volunteer position, no compensation is provided. Term of Office is 5 years. Regular and Special meetings are held alternately during midday and evenings. QUALIFICATIONS: • Ability to contribute to the Alliance to achieve the mission & goals • Ability to carry out duties as Commissioner, if appointed INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS MUST: • Submit a letter addressed to the Board of Commissioners expressing a desire to be considered. • Submit a resume, limited to 3 pages. Your letter of interest and resume are to be mailed to: Metropolitan Housing Alliance 100 South Arch Street Little Rock, AR 72201 or emailed to: DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS: September 19, 2018 For additional information about MHA log onto or contact Rodney Forte, Executive Director, at 501-340-4821.

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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR SUMNER COUNTY, TENNESSEE AT GALLATIN VICTOR WILLIAM ESQUILLA and, JESSICA JEAN ESQUILLA, Petitioners, Docket No: 83CC12018-CV-387. Notice of Entry Requested PAUL EDWARD DAUGHERTY, Defendant. TO ADOPT: GRACIE MAE CREEKMORE (DOB: 03/26/2014) A Child Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age. ORDER FOR PUBLICATION. This cause came on to be heard on this the 20th day of June, 2018, before the Honorable Joe H. Thompson, Judge of the Circuit Court for Sumner County, Tennessee upon the Motion for Publication filed by the Petitioners, and after review of the entire record, it appears that said Motion is well taken and that publication should run in the Arkansas Times for four (4) consecutive weeks. ENTERED this 8th day of August, 2018. JUDGE JOE H. THOMPSON. APPROVED FOR ENTRY: McCLELLAN, POWERS, EHMLING & ROGERS, P.C. M. ALLEN EHMLING, TSCRN: 9429 Attorney for Petitioners 116 Public Square, Gallatin, Tennessee 615-452-5872






Let’s collaborate on the future of our schools. Please join us for a series of design sessions about the Little Rock School District buildings. We need your input, ideas, and help to remodel, repurpose and rebuild. Let’s work together to make the changes that matter to you and our community.

Remaining Meeting Dates: J.A. Fair

Monday, September 10, 5:30pm-8pm

Pinnacle View

Monday, September 17, 5:30pm-8pm


Thursday, September 20, 5:30pm-8pm


Monday, September 24, 5:30pm-8pm

If you cannot attend, please fill out the survey at 40



Arkansas Times - September 6, 2018  
Arkansas Times - September 6, 2018