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ARKANSAS LITERARY FESTIVAL | 2019 ACADEMIC ALL-STARS | SWEET WILLIE WINE'S WALK

ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019

‘The Purple People’ A CULT ESCAPEE RECOUNTS A LIFE OF ABUSE AND ISOLATION IN MARION COUNTY. By JACQUELINE FROELICH


2 APRIL 2019

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APRIL 2019 3


APRIL 2019

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9 FEATURES

22 BEHIND THE PURPLE VEIL

A survivor of cult abuse tells her story. By Jacqueline Froelich

31 ACADEMIC ALL-STARS

Our 25th team of super high school students.

9 THE FRONT

Q&A: Crystal C. Mercer The Inconsequential News Quiz: Hide your jewelry, the legislature is in town edition. The Big Picture: Men of beards Orval: Rapert’s Bible

17 NEWS & POLITICS Today’s Republicans look like the regressive Southern Democrats of the past.

ARKANSAS TIMES

Twelve hours at Hurts Donuts. By Micah Fields

85 HISTORY

Sweet Willie Wine’s walk against fear.

88 CANNABIZ

BOLD Team brings new crop to Cotton Plant: medical marijuana.

By Ernest Dumas

By Leslie Newell Peacock

55 CULTURE

94 CROSSWORD

By Stephanie Smittle, Julia Thomas and Leslie Newell Peacock

98 THE OBSERVER

66 THE TO-DO LIST

4 APRIL 2019

72 FOOD & DRINK

By John A. Kirk

Another chapter in the Arkansas Literary Festival.

ON THE COVER: Cult leader Rev. K.B. Kedem and child, dressed in the color Kedem thought divine.

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Monster Jam, Travelers vs. Drillers, “Sister Act: The Musical,” Derby Day, Ben Dickey, Ozark Foothills FilmFest, Beethoven and Blue Jeans, and more.

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PUBLISHER Alan Leveritt EDITOR Lindsey Millar CREATIVE DIRECTOR Mandy Keener SENIOR EDITOR Max Brantley MANAGING EDITOR Leslie Newell Peacock ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR Stephanie Smittle ASSOCIATE EDITOR Rebekah Hall CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Benjamin Hardy, Mara Leveritt PHOTOGRAPHER Brian Chilson DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL STRATEGY Jordan Little ADVERTISING ART DIRECTOR Mike Spain GRAPHIC DESIGNER Katie Hassell DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING Phyllis A. Britton ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Brooke Wallace, Lee Major, Nathan Stamp, Terrell Jacob ADVERTISING ASSISTANT Hannah Peacock ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER Roland R. Gladden IT DIRECTOR Robert Curfman CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Anitra Hickman CONTROLLER Weldon Wilson BILLING/COLLECTIONS Linda Phillips PRODUCTION MANAGER Ira Hocut (1954-2009)

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VOLUME 45 ISSUE 20 ARKANSAS TIMES (ISSN 0164-6273) is published each month by Arkansas Times Limited Partnership, 201 East Markham Street, Suite 200, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201, phone (501) 375-2985. Periodical postage paid at Little Rock, Arkansas, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ARKANSAS TIMES, 201 EAST MARKHAM STREET, SUITE 200, Little Rock, AR, 72201. Subscription prices are $60 for one year. For subscriber service call (501) 375-2985. Current single-copy price is $5, free in Pulaski County. Single issues are available by mail at $5.00 each, postage paid. Payment must accompany all orders. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents without the written consent of the publishers is prohibited. Manuscripts and artwork will not be returned or acknowledged unless sufficient return postage and a self-addressed stamped envelope are included. All materials are handled with due care; however, the publisher assumes no responsibility for care and safe return of unsolicited materials. All letters sent to ARKANSAS TIMES will be treated as intended for publication and are subject to ARKANSAS TIMES’ unrestricted right to edit or to comment editorially. ©2019 ARKANSAS TIMES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

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THE FRONT Q&A

Crystal C. Mercer’s Activism Bleeds Into Promoting Arkansas Businesses As a Clinton School of Public Service student, you recently spent seven months in Ghana working on your international public service project. How did it feel to arrive there? It was a true return. … We survived the Middle Passage. We survived the inhumanity and injustice of slavery and Jim Crow. We are surviving to this very day, that undercurrent of racism, where you have to explain your existence in a world where you should just be. And I just got to be myself. It was so freeing. I usually feel like someone is choking me, because America is stressful and I’m angry most of the time. I’m angry that people aren’t angry about what’s happening. A week into living in Ghana, it felt like fingers were lifting from my throat, and I could breathe. I felt like I could speak freely. And when I walked into a room, I wasn’t the only black person in the room. Or if I walked into a space, nobody questioned why I was there.

through here … they want to go to the River Market, or hang out in the Delta and go to the Delta Cultural Center [in Helena-West Helena] and sit in those huge rocking chairs and watch the river flow. They want to float the Buffalo. Things that are signature to our state, that are chill and peaceful. What projects are you excited about for Local First? Well, No. 1, including businesses of color. That’s going to be a big push for me because I’m a woman of color, and just because I’m black doesn’t mean that everything I have to do is all black, but black people will be a part of the conversation. And my team knows that, because I want to free black people, so the work that I do as an artist and an activist bleeds over into every aspect. Some really good advice that my friend Chauncey Holloman gave at the Black Women in Business panel was, “Bring all of the ‘yous’ to the table. Bring the you that you think people don’t want because that may be the one thing that saves a business or changes the conversation.”

Has the cultural shift to being back in the States been difficult for you? Yes. Ghana was deliciously black. … We have a parallel story, as in Little Rock and Ghana, because of the Central High desegregation crisis of 1957. My late father, attorney Christopher C. Mercer, was the field secretary for the NAACP that year. Central desegregated in ’57, Ghana gained her independence in ’57, so I felt like instantly I was at home. What are your responsibilities as the new executive director of Local First Arkansas, a nonprofit dedicated to creating and supporting an alliance of locally owned, independent businesses? I have a lot to do, and I have a lot that I want to do. … With my creative background, [I’m] creating signature programming. I want to introduce some merchandise that will help brand us better, and things that we can give as a gift to our membership, but [also] for other people to know who we are and what we do to build this sustainable community of local business owners. Whenever you go to a city or a town, that’s what gives it its flavor. If you go to New Orleans, you know you’re gonna eat some gumbo, have some beignets, listen to some jazz. If you go to Memphis, it’s gonna be barbeque and blues. So when you go to a place, what does that place say to you? What is that place’s signature? … Local First Arkansas serves the whole state of Arkansas, so when I think about Arkansas, The Natural State, I think about lakes and rivers and historical markers and mom and pop shops and long dirt roads. That poetic, Southern charm, wanting to preserve that essence. People come

Name: Crystal C. Mercer Birthplace: Little Rock Age: 35 Job: Executive director of Local First Arkansas, lead merchant and designer of Mercer Textile Mercantile, Clinton School of Public Service student Volunteer jobs: Speaking at various organizations in the community, volunteering with Our House and the Little Rock School District Hobbies: “Reading, cooking, gymming, staying hydrated and staying woke.”

What impact do you hope to make on the state? I want to continue to make people feel at home and to know that Arkansas, even though she entered the Union as a slave state, this ain’t no slave state. It’s The Natural State. It’s a beautiful state. And that’s the state I want to be in, in my natural state. That’s what I’m most excited about. I think who I am as a person is just going to add a lot of spunk and vigor to the organization, and my travels around the state and around the world will just inform more of what we can do to sustainably build our communities up. Does it feel strange to be back in your hometown after all your travels? No, because I know that I can leave. Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine, taught me [something] a long time ago. She said, “You don’t have to hate a place to go. You can just go.” She freed me. … It feels good to be back because I love home. I left in love and I came back with that same love in my heart for Arkansas. I feel like I still will visit places and educate myself. I feel like in order to change the world, you have to see the world. For those who will never leave and continue to build this up from the ground level, you need some foot soldiers who will go out in the world and go get it. … I will leave, and I can leave, because you don’t have to hate a place to go. — Rebekah Hall ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 9


THE FRONT

INCONSEQUENTIAL NEWS QUIZ

HIDE YOUR JEWELRY, THE LEGISLATURE IS IN TOWN EDITION

PLAY AT HOME, WHILE GUARDING YOUR STUFF FROM STICKY-FINGERED DHS EMPLOYEES! 1) State Sen. Jim Hendren (R-Sulphur Springs) and other legislators recently announced a plan for a $100 million income tax cut for low- and middle-income taxpayers. How do they plan to offset the revenue loss from the tax cut? A) By selling the children of low- and middleincome taxpayers into slavery. B) A 70 percent tax on smug self-satisfaction, which is projected to raise over $40 million from members of the Arkansas State Legislature alone. C) Sales of a new mixtape by Sen. Kim “DJ Olfartz” Hammer (R-Benton). D) By significantly increasing taxes on tobacco products and vaping supplies. 2) If it becomes law, Senate Bill 341 by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) would require doctors to tell women seeking the two-dose RU-486 “abortion pill” regimen in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy that it is possible to “reverse [the] intended effect” of the medication if a hormone pill is taken instead of the second RU-486 dose. What, according to experts who spoke against the measure, is concerning about this bill? A) There’s no medical evidence that taking a hormone pill is any more effective at “stopping an abortion” than simply not taking the second RU-486 pill. B) It would require doctors to give their patients information that they know to be completely false. C) The bill would also require doctors to inform their patients that if they wish to continue a pregnancy after taking the first dose of RU-486, they can “locate immediate help by searching the term ‘abortion pill reversal’ on the internet,” effectively forcing doctors to sanction the always ill-advised “medicine by Google.” D) All of the above. 3) One of the bills that has roiled the Arkansas General Assembly in recent weeks is a proposal that would change the symbolism of the uppermost star on the Arkansas state flag to make it represent the United States. What does the star on the flag symbolize right now? A) Abject hatred of Texas. B) A rough approximation of Territorial Gov. George Izard’s “netherhole.” C) Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert’s status as Jesus Christ’s B.F.F. D) The state’s participation in the Confederate States of America. 4) Walmart stirred controversy in February by announcing a plan to phase out a certain position. Which Wally World job seems to be going the way of the Dodo? A) Shoplifter Finger Breaker. B) The guy who beats the big drum to make sure everybody rows when they should.

C) Toy Section Feral Child Trapper. D) The Walmart Greeter, a position that employs hundreds of elderly and disabled Americans. 5) A plan to place a statue of singer Johnny Cash as one of two depicting Arkansas-born luminaries in the U.S. Capitol hit a snag in the legislature. What was the problem? A) During a critical vote on the statue, someone referred to “The Man in Black,” which caused many evangelical Christian legislators to speedily retreat to their Satan-proof saferoom. B) Sculptors at the foundry discovered that so much badassery cannot be cast without shattering the bronze. C) U.S. Capitol rules state that none of its statues are allowed to give visitors the finger. D) Some Republican legislators favored honoring Walmart founder Sam Walton, with Rep. Doug House (R-North Little Rock) complaining: “Mr. Cash is a great musician ... but the drugs, the alcohol, the women, that kind of thing ... no, I can’t hold him up to my children as a model.”

tz r a f l DJ O

6) Contrary to what you might think, it’s not all bad news. Which of the following is a real feelgood story that broke in recent weeks? A) You can now legally buy beer in Randolph County for the first time in 70 years. B) Brandon Qualls, a senior at Caddo Hills High School in Norman (Montgomery County), recently made national news after he worked odd jobs for two years to save up enough money to buy his disabled friend, Tanner Wilson, a motorized wheelchair. C) Dawn and Jodi Geiber, both workers in downtown Little Rock, befriended a man named James who had been homeless for 15 years. On their own time and dime, the couple not only helped James reconnect with his family in Illinois, but personally drove him over 600 miles to reunite with his loved ones. Until then, James’ family thought he was dead. D) All of the above. 7) In February, Beverly Kindle announced she was closing Beverly’s Snack Shop, a small lunch spot that opened last August inside the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ central office in downtown Little Rock. Why did Kindle say she was closing the shop? A) Get ready for this ... B) Because it’s gonna … C) Finish off whatever respect you have for humanity. D) Kindle, who is blind, said DHS employees stole so much from the shop that she couldn’t make a profit, saying many simply shoplifted while others used fake money to “buy” items or lied about the denomination of the bills they handed her. ANSWERS: D, D, D, D, D, D, D

10 APRIL 2019

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APRIL 2019 11


THE FRONT

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THE FRONT THE BIG PICTURE

BEST BEARDS MUSTACHES, TOO. On March 2, dozens of hirsute men (and several women sporting creatively crafted "beards") gathered for The Root Cafe's 7th annual "Beard and Mustache Contest" in Little Rock's Bernice Garden. (The Arkansas Times was a sponsor.) The celebrity judges were George Anderson, last year's mustache champion; Rusty Mathis of Ben E. Keith Foods; Sally Mengel of Loblolly Creamery; Cheyenne Matthews of Southern Blonde and Co.; and Cody Mayes of Handle Barbershop. Photographer extraordinaire and friend of the Times Rett Peek once again took portraits of the participants. See the complete field at his Facebook page, facebook.com/rettpeek.

14 APRIL 2019

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Stop by the Smithwork’s Vodka Lounge to enjoy a sample of Blake Shelton’s signature cocktail, the Smithworks Lemonade.

16 APRIL 2019

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ArkansasMadeArkansasProudMarket


NEWS & POLITICS THE NEW REPUBLICAN: Sen. Bob Ballinger introduced a bill to roll back the minimum wage hike Arkansas voters passed by a landslide. That's not something Republicans of the past would have done.

The Worst Legislature Ever ANTI-WOMEN. ANTI-POOR. ANTI-BLACK. ANTI-PEOPLE. ANTI-OLD-STYLE REPUBLICANS. By ERNEST DUMAS

Y

ielding to the enduring impulse of legislature watchers, one is moved to declare the 2019 Arkansas General Assembly one of the worst, if not the worst, of modern times, owing to the simple volume of conspicuously unconstitutional, discriminatory, punitive and regressive bills flowing through both legislative bodies. History may offer a better perspective, because the governor seems to have a subtler eye for appearances than his soldiers in the legislature and may restrain some of their baser instincts. Democrats, as everyone knows, are now powerless in a government that, root and branch, is solidly Republican. But we can make this judgment without reservation: The great political realignment, begun in the South in the 1960s, is now complete in Arkansas, as it is in the nation. For most of the last century, both parties were divided by their progressive and conservative wings, Democrats holding the largest and most virulently conservative component — the Solid South — and Republicans being the leading champions of expanding the rights of women and minorities, progressive taxa-

tion, public education and, yes, even good wages for the sons of toil. All of that has flipped, as the legislature reminds us every day. Let’s take the last one, the minimum wage, an idea originally propounded by the great Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt. The great Arkansas Republican Winthrop Rockefeller, fathered the Arkansas minimum wage by shaming Democratic legislators into voting for his bill. Since then, legislators have been averse to flouting the chamber of commerce and raising the wage by law, leaving that to the voters. Every time voters have raised the wage, Arkansas actually added jobs and unemployment went down, which follows the national pattern. Over the opposition of the governor and nearly every Republican politician, Arkansans — by a landslide — voted in November to raise it to something still short of a living wage. Sen. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), who thinks he is paid to take care of special interests, introduced a bill to gut the wage law, and other Republicans joined in to refine it — that is, until Governor Hutchinson decided that humiliating voters so shamelessly

might not be the best medicine for the party. Especially since the party also is raising taxes right and left on working people to pay for a $150 million tax cut for people with high incomes. Although Arkansas already has high sales, cigarette and motor-fuels taxes, all will be raised to keep the treasury flush after the big tax cut for the well-to-do. People with marginal incomes may get a little tax cut, too, but the smokers among them will counter those savings with higher excise taxes. It is worth noting that the biggest tax champions in Arkansas history were Republicans, Winthrop Rockefeller and Mike Huckabee; the former tried to raise them but couldn’t, and Huckabee did in abundance. Rockefeller sought to raise the top marginal rate on millionaires to 12 percent. Women are the biggest victims of the turnaround. Republicans flooded the legislature this winter with bills (10 at last count) that violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a woman’s right to end an unwanted pregnancy on health or mental grounds. Just as Republicans were the leading proponents of giving women the right to vote (and SouthARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 17


WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION

GOV. WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER: An old-style Republican, progressive on wages, education, health care and civil rights.

ern Democrats the leading opponents), Republicans on the Supreme Court were largely the ones who said the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment gave women — not the government — control of their bodies and health decisions. Roe v. Wade was written by a Republican, who was joined by four other justices appointed by Republican presidents and then, in subsequent decisions, by a fifth and a sixth appointed by Reagan and Bush I. That was before the party figured out that its salvation lay in fighting abortion; advancing ownership of weaponry; oppressing gays, other sexual minorities, immigrants and the indolent poor; and honoring the cause of the Confederacy. All of those were at one time or another the domains of Arkansas Democrats, enacted into law in spasms from post-Reconstruction to the Ku Klux Klan revival in the 1920s, the battle to preserve segregation in the 1950s and beyond. Democrats made homosexuality a crime in the 1980s before the Arkansas and U.S. Supreme Courts struck down such laws — opinions delivered at the U.S. court by a Republican friend of Reagan. Republicans are trying again this legislative session to protect discrimination against sexual minorities. Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock), an African-American legislator, introduced a bill last month altering a law passed during the KKK revival that honored the period when Arkansas joined the war against the United States to save slavery (a move opposed alone by patriotic Republicans from the Ozarks). The legislator simply wanted to change the language from the old KKK law to say the star in the Arkansas flag didn’t honor the Confederacy but an Indian tribe that made Arkansas home before the European settlers drove them out. Republicans wouldn’t vote for his bill, but the governor, who was courting African Americans, sent word that he wouldn’t mind if they sent him the flag bill. This is the first legislative session in recent 18 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

years where Republicans have not sought to shrink voting by African Americans, the poor, the aged and the disabled — groups that are believed to be more likely to vote for Democrats. They had finally accomplished that with a constitutional amendment that was ratified by voters in November. Election officials — now Republicans — are empowered to say in many instances whose votes will be counted. The Voting Rights Act, which precluded voting restraints like the Republicans now impose, passed in 1965 only because Republican senators voted for it 30 to 2 and Republican congressmen 112 to 23. None of the six Arkansas Democrats in Congress voted for it. But the job of denying access to medical care for shiftless poor people, a new Republican priority, is unfinished. The legislature and the governor will soon have ended health coverage under Medicaid to upward of 50,000 poor people, although the law clearly says it is illegal to do that. A federal court was expected to say at the end of March that Arkansas is violating the law, in which case the legislature will have to decide whether to live with it or kick another 200,000 off the insurance rolls. You may recognize the irony: The two fiercest proponents of government health coverage for the poor were Republicans Rockefeller and Huckabee. Bygone days. Public education for everyone, black and white, rich and poor, was an idea of the Republican carpetbaggers — enshrined in the Arkansas Constitution as the single mandate of the government — and a cause notably advanced by Rockefeller and Huckabee, who tried mightily to raise taxes for public schools. The legislature and executive branch now are cutting away at that support and diverting tax support from the public schools to private, religious and entrepreneurial schools. This is the new ordinary, but, before you despair, remember that we have been there before, under Democratic auspices.


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our patients begin the healing process. Our team works to make sure we provide individual case management and an aftercare plan. We also have contact with the family to ensure that they know what is occurring during treatment and how to better support them once they are back home fulltime. Taking the first step is often challenging but it is imperative to get help and get help early. Dealing with anxiety and depression through

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Lea rn more about these events and more at delta a rts. Org! See you at the Schoettle! 20 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


KEEP ARKANSAS BEAUTIFUL

ENCOURAGES VOLUNTEERISM DURING SPRING T

he Great American Cleanup in Arkansas kicked off in full swing this March with 110 cleanup events registered in 52 counties, and Keep Arkansas Beautiful (KAB) is encouraging Arkansans to volunteer by organizing their own cleanup or finding a local one to volunteer in. ORGANIZING A CLEANUP IS EASY WITH THESE EIGHT STEPS: • Define the cleanup event by deciding the location, duration of the event, date, a back-up rain date and estimate how many volunteers you will need. • Form a green team by engaging friends and family. Contact the local waste district to find out how waste can be disposed of after volunteers collect it. Reach out to local government and businesses for sponsors and supporters. • Inform KAB about the event by registering it online at http://bit.ly/KABClean and request supplies such as trash bags, gloves

and safety vests. Send fliers and photos to KAB to help get the word out about the cleanup event. • Recruit volunteers from local groups including scouts, church groups, neighbors, businesses, local government and the school district. Promote the event via social media, online and print community calendars, and local media. • Prepare volunteers by having sign in sheets, reminders of what clothing to wear and what specialized tools they may want to bring, and provide water, snacks and first aid kits. • During the cleanup, assign tasks and areas. Take photos of volunteers hard at work and keep track of collection results. • After litter has been removed, complete an event wrap-up report and submit to KAB within 10 days of the event. Include photos

DO YOUR PART. GET INVOLVED! JOIN THE GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP! Message Approved by Otto the Otter

It’s cleanup time! Make a difference this spring by volunteering during the Great American Cleanup. Learn more by visiting our Cleanups page at KeepArkansasBeautiful.com. KeepArkansasBeautiful.com Report Littering. 1-866-811-1222

Text VOLUNTEER to 484848 to get news and updates from Keep Arkansas Beautiful. SPECIAL ADVERTISING CONTENT TO ARKANSAS TIMES

so KAB can promote the cleanup’s success via social media. • Don’t forget to say thank you. Thank volunteers, sponsors and supports for their hard work and encourage them to participate in other cleanup efforts. During the 2018 Great American Cleanup in Arkansas, more than 7,000 volunteers in 67 counties helped keep Arkansas beautiful by removing nearly 134,000 pounds of litter and more than 5.5 million pounds of bulky waste. Interested in volunteering at a local event? Check out KAB’s calendar of events at http:// bit.ly/KABevnt to find a cleanup near you. For more information, visit KeepArkansasBeautiful.com to stay in the know and follow Keep Arkansas Beautiful on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and by texting VOLUNTEER to 484848.


REFUGEES FROM AN OZARKS CULT DETAIL ABUSE. MEREDITH MASHBURN

By JACQUELINE FROELICH

SHE ESCAPED: In 2010, Shakeenah Kedem-Fentis took a commune Jeep and just kept driving from the Nahzirah Monastic Community. She took with her three of her children; two of her other children who'd been banished soon joined her.

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A

pot of curried lentils simmered on the kitchen stove, steam rattling the lid. Shakeenah Kedem tossed salt into the stew and stirred, humming to herself. Her reverie was broken when two of her teenage children burst through the screen door carrying wild greens harvested from the nearby woods. “We found salad!” her daughter, N’horaw, shouted, tossing the basket onto the counter. She ran back outside with her brother Alephtahb, their dirt-stained purple monastery robes flying behind them. Shakeenah observed her children experiencing freedom for the first time in their lives. It was the autumn of 2010, and Shakeenah and her five children, ages 18 to 25, had taken refuge in the home of an acquaintance in Eureka Springs. For the past 12 years, they had lived on a 100-acre wilderness compound 36 miles southwest of Yellville, down a long, remote dirt road. They were part of an eight-member religious order called The Nazir Order of the Purple Veil, and lived in what they called the Nahziryah Monastic Community. Because they were required to wear purple head to toe, locals referred to them simply as “the Purple People.” Two weeks earlier, Shakeenah Kedem had packed up a few possessions into a commune Jeep and, along with two sons, Niraj and Alephtahb, and daughter, N’horaw, set out to retrieve her two missing sons, Rawm and Quadish. Their father, who called himself the Rev. Baba Nazirmoreh Kadmeeayl Ben Kedem, had sent the two young men out of state to stay with another community member for being defiant. Shakeenah was forced to turn around when she realized the few hundred dollars of cash she carried wouldn’t support a long journey. She decided to go to Eureka Springs, rather than return to the compound. There, David Roll, a local carpenter, opened his home to the family. He’d previously met the “Purple People” selling merchandise in Eureka. Rawm and Quadish soon joined their mother and siblings. “And that’s how we came back into the world,” Shakeenah said in a recent interview. “We were like refugees in our own country.” ____________________ Eight years later, Shakeenah, who is 56 and living in Fort Smith, is sharing the story of the harrowing life she and her family endured under the Nazir Order of the Purple Veil for more than 28 years. And though almost a decade has passed since she fled the compound, the trauma continues. Just last year, Quadish “Ary” Kedem and Alephtahb “Amrita Mukti” Kedem took their own lives. “People look at us and have no clue what we’ve been through,” Shakeenah said. She detailed her experience in five hours of recorded interviews and hundreds of texts and emails over the past year. The Bronx, N.Y., native first learned about the commune in 1981 at age 18, when she encountered a handsome young Nazir man

proselytizing outside Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. She fell in love, abandoned a budding career as a vegan baker, performance artist and fashion illustrator, and followed him to a backwoods Mississippi trailer camp near the town of De Kalb. There she met the group’s charismatic founder, Rev. K.B. Kedem, along with a dozen followers, mostly women and children. Kedem established the Nazir Order of the Purple Veil in the early 1960s, according to a website maintained by the group. Gaunt, with large, brown eyes and long, black dreadlocks, Kedem was a Black Hebrew Israelite, a name given to various small African-American religious groups who believe themselves to be the descendants of a lost tribe of Israel. Black Hebrew Israelite beliefs and practices vary widely, but some adopt Hebrew names, practice polygamy, reject birth control and keep strict vegan diets. Kedem, however, forged his own spiritual path. He preached an asceticism derived from the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect. Later, he mixed in an amalgam of Eastern contemplative mysticism. “It was beautiful at first,” Shakeenah said, remembering her early days as an initiate at the spiritual commune, “meditating and preparing vegan meals together, gardening and harvesting wild foods, washing our clothes in the creek, playing music and chanting, making crafts to sell.” She smiled faintly, adjusting a purple scarf around her neck, a remnant of her former spiritual regalia. Things changed in 1982, after her fiancé was killed in a car wreck along with Kedem’s second wife, Ema-Gadola Kedem, and two of their sons. Shakeenah stayed on with the commune to help raise the reverend’s four remaining children, then ages 8 to 17. “There was an attraction,” she acknowledged. “He was strict, but he could also be loving and playful.” Two years later, the reverend sealed their relationship with spiritual vows, but insisted she remain his disciple, and he, her master. She agreed. She had just turned 21. He was 46. Over the next several years, five babies followed. Shakeenah was forbidden to mother them, she said. Children born into the group were communally raised by women who were with the group off and on and who were rigidly controlled by Kedem. In 1985, the commune relocated to New Orleans, where Kedem opened a bookstore and gift shop called the “Veil of Truth Center for Metaphysical and Esoteric Learning” on Ponce De Leon Street. Shakeenah, her five children, several of Ema-Gadola’s children and others lived in close quarters inside a small apartment in the back of the shop. The women and older children spent their days in silence making crafts to sell in the store and on the streets. In the late 1990s, Kedem’s paranoia over an impending “Y2K” apocalypse drove him to move the order one more time. He purchased 80 acres in Marion County in 1999. His family and occasional visitors dug gardens; planted

orchards; erected cabins, a main lodge and workshop; and painted everything purple — their signature color, one Kedem believed promoted enlightenment. But, by then, communal life had become hopelessly bleak, Shakeenah said. It started back in New Orleans, where Kedem began to force members to physically worship him and prostrate themselves at every encounter, foreheads pressed to ground — or suffer severe consequences. “He would strike, in the face, especially around the eyes,” she said, pointing to a dark permanent scar on the white of her left eye. “He strangled us. Not only me, but the children. And he would often do this,” she gestured, placing her hand over her mouth and nose, “almost suffocating them.” In the last year, a half-dozen other former members of Nahziryah Monastic Community have come forward on the record, describing life under the purple veil. They have said they were forbidden to speak, even amongst themselves. When addressed by Kedem, they had to respond in “Sahgole,” a Hebrew-based language he had invented. Meals were limited to lunch and supper, the children given only a protein drink for breakfast. Everyone, including the young members, had to meditate for an hour at dawn, noon and dusk. If the children fell asleep or stole food, they would be punished, Shakeenah said. “The violence would be described as extreme,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. “He would lay the children out on the ground, and beat their backs with boards,” she said. Retaliating only made things much worse for everyone, Shakeenah said. Leaving, with no resources, seemed impossible. Barred from seeking conventional medical care, she tended to her children’s fractures and wounds using splints and natural remedies. Family members who spoke on the record revealed scars on their heads, arms, backs and faces. “This was my home, since I was a teenager,” Shakeenah said when asked why she stayed. “This was all I knew. I had taken lifetime vows under the Nazir veil to be a renunciate.” To cope with the pain, she would pretend the abuse was a form of severe training a disciple might receive from a strict Eastern master. Even when she left the compound in 2010, ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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AT THE COMPOUND: Purple is the color for the main dwelling (above) and of robes formerly worn by Shakeenah Kedem and children (top right, from left): Alephtahb "Amrita Mukti" Kedem, N'horaw "Aleen" Kedem, Quadish "Ary" Kedem, Shakeenah, Nazir "Niraj" Kedem and Rawm Kedem, circa 2009. Rev. Kedem is shown in the picture at right at the Mississippi commune in 1984.

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PHOTOS COURTESY SHAKEENAH KEDEM-FENTIS

IN 1987: The Rev. K.B. Kedem is flanked by Seraph Kedem (left) and Shakeenah Kedem (right).


she believed at first it would be a short leave of absence. At Nahziryah Monastic Community, everyone worked seven days a week cleaning, cooking, growing food and chopping firewood. The older children and women manufactured spiritual merchandise and crafts to support Kedem. They crocheted clothing and hats and fabricated incense burners and jewelry, which the women silently sold at festivals, farmers markets and online for income. The children, however, weren’t allowed to leave the compound and grew up with no contact with the outside world. Janja Lalich is a professor emerita of sociology at California State University-Chico who operates the Cult Research & Information Center. Once a cult member herself, she’s written several popular books on the subject. “Members [of cults] don’t fight back,” she said, “because of the intensity of the indoctrination.” “Essentially no one joins a cult,” Lalich said. “They will get drawn in by the message or leader. More than two-thirds get recruited by friends, family or co-workers. [They are] slowly brought in until they are convinced by messages of enlightenment, financial success and physical improvement.” Multiple phone calls and emails to Kedem seeking comment about the abuse allegations were not returned. He did mail a packet of spiritual paraphernalia, including bumper stickers, CDs and a written response in purple text on white paper: “Peace be to Jacqueline Froelich.” Family members said that on at least three occasions they secretly contacted authorities for help both in New Orleans and Marion County, but that Kedem managed to convince investigators who came by that all was well. Searches of Arkansas court and criminal records and calls to the Marion County prosecuting attorney revealed no complaints or arrests. Child protective services agencies in Arkansas and Mississippi said they could not comment on specific investigations due to confidentiality rules preventing public disclosure of records. Queries to the New Orleans Police Department and the FBI yielded no records, either. ____________________ Lalich said religious leaders in particular can get away with terrible abuse. “As a society, and because of the First Amendment, we have a reluctance to hold religious organizations accountable,” she said. “Look how long it took for the Catholic Church to be held accountable for its abuses.” Cults that are sequestered from society, she said, are only exposed by ex-members brave enough to come forward or media willing to investigate. “A cult is a group or social movement that’s led by an authoritarian, extremely domineering, narcissistic, charismatic leader who sets up a structure with systems of control and influence in order to keep the members obe-

dient and loyal,” Lalich said. “And followers over time give over their decision-making power and sense of self to this person’s ideology and will pretty much do whatever that person says.” Kedem today is nearing 80. Family photographs reveal a frail, emaciated elder with graying dreadlocks poking out from beneath his purple hooded robe. Until recently, he advertised Nahziryah Monastic Community as a spiritual retreat on a website, thepurplepeople.org, and had a listing on an intentional communities directory. As of this March, the website and the listings were no longer online. Kedem continued to sell essential oils, jewelry, accessories and other merchandise on an Etsy store and a separate website. One longtime follower, Seraph Kedem, remains with the reverend on the compound. She joined the commune in Mississippi and now serves as the reverend’s caregiver — despite, according to Shakeenah, also enduring years of physical abuse. Kedem teaches that he is “beyond time” and omniscient. Anyone in his presence, including visitors, is required to address him in the third person and to abstain from using any personal pronouns. Public records, however, reveal that he is not eternal. Born Duval Mitchell, according to his eldest daughter, in 1940, he was raised Catholic in Chicago. He converted as a young man to the Black Hebrew Israelite faith and cultivated a small following before moving south to Mississippi, leaving behind his family of origin. Shakeenah said he also tried to leave behind his identity as an African American. “He rejected his racial identity,” she said, in what Shakeenah now believes was the result of internalized racism. Notoriously, the Ozarks of north-central Arkansas are home to a number of white nationalist groups that could also be considered cults, including the Knights Party of the Ku Klux Klan, Christian Identity and the League of the South. But aside from minor vandalism to the commune’s purple mailbox by rowdy teenagers, the commune was never harassed, according to members and queries to law enforcement. Arkansas black history scholar Guy Lancaster, the editor of the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, offered a theory as to why. “Because they [the Purple People] readily assert and maintain their own difference, their own separateness, from the wider predominately white society,” Lancaster wrote in an email. “Because they are not attempting to integrate white social spaces, but instead keep to their own, they do not consti-

tute much of a threat. In fact, their obvious strangeness, as denoted by their clothing and behavior, has probably helped to keep them safe, for it increases their social distance from the mainstream even more.” “Nobody in the area trusted them at first,” said Roland Pangle, a retired union electrician from Marion County who was on a firstname basis with Kedem. “The rumor was they all carried machine guns under their ankle-length purple garments.” “Nazirmoreh questioned if I was CIA, FBI or law enforcement,” he said during a phone interview, laughing. Pangle helped out with electrical repairs at the commune in exchange for browsing the commune’s library, which was filled with religious and spiritual texts. While there, he had the rare opportunity to observe the community in action. “All of the members had to prostrate themselves to Nazirmoreh every time he showed his face, and the children had to disappear,” he said. “They were not to be around.” Pangle, however, said he was unaware that Rev. Kedem had a violent streak. Since learning about the alleged abuse, Pangle said he no longer associates with him. David Roll, the Eureka Springs carpenter who opened his home to Shakeenah and her children after they fled the compound in 2010, had first encountered the “Purple People” several years earlier selling merchandise

in Eureka. “They turned my house into an ashram,” he said, recalling the family’s initial emergence in a telephone interview last year. “They pushed the couches back, laying out their blankets and beds, meditated, cooked vats of curry and served wild foods harvested by the kids from the hollow behind my house.” After decades of living in silence and seclusion, the youths went wild, Roll said. They stared at the television, rummaged through his house and workshop and ran through the neighborhood, all the while chattering to each other in broken English. “Purple clothes were torn,” Roll said, smiling. “They had no more boundaries.” The children also had no Social Security numbers, school or medical records — inARKANSASTIMES.COM

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cluding vaccinations — or street clothes. Roll had to call on friends for help. “We had some meetings to discuss, ‘What are we going to do with this family?’ ” he said. Thousands of dollars in cash donations appeared, along with five offers of temporary housing. The youths were enrolled in English literacy and GED classes, and eventually took jobs at a poultry processing factory in nearby Berryville. One son was able to purchase a vehicle and start a private taxi service. Their mom made crafts and practiced natural healing arts for income. “You know, there was an incredible innocence about all of them,” Roll said. “I’ve traveled a lot of the world. I’ve never seen this situation. I’ve never experienced anything that innocent. This purity. But it was also slowly being revealed that it was a complicated purity and that there were some things going on here.”   ____________________ Several other former members of the community corroborated Shakeenah’s account that Kedem physically abused his followers. Atawraw Kedem Sislo, 46, was among the six children born to Kedem’s second wife, Ema-Gadola, who was killed along with two of the children and Shakeenah’s fiancé in the 1982 car crash. Atawraw was born in Chicago

but grew up on the Mississippi commune and relocated with her family to New Orleans. She left the cult in the summer of 1991 at age 18, emancipating herself from the community. “I didn’t want to be a prisoner in my own house,” Atawraw said in an interview early this year. “He had beaten me one too many times. Once he forced me to lay face down on the ground, and hit me with a board up and down my back. If I screamed, he would hit me harder, so I covered my mouth with my hand.” She said the beatings felt like near-death experiences. “There was a lot of head trauma. I had a cracked skull,” she said, showing an indentation on her scalp. “In Mississippi, he would make us kids sleep out in the woods as punishment, or stand, arms outstretched holding heavy books,” Atawraw said. The abuse 26 APRIL 2019

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caused her to break out in hives, she said. “In New Orleans he once picked up my little half-brother, Niraj, and slammed him against the wall, breaking his leg,” she said. Family were forbidden to seek conventional medical care, so the child’s leg, she said, was splinted with duct tape and boards by another member of the commune. Atawraw said their father would even punish Shakeenah’s babies for crying. “And if that didn’t work, he would put a pillow over their face. They had no choice but to stop crying because they were gasping for air,” Atawraw said. Atawraw said she and her siblings grew up terrorized, watching her father physically assault Shakeenah and other women in the cult. “When Shakeenah was pregnant, he would punch her in the stomach,” Atawraw said. “Or push her down the stairs. But if we voiced opposition? That was a punishable offense.” Shakeenah confirmed Atawraw’s account. Atawraw and her siblings were homeschooled in Mississippi, but the schooling stopped by the time they moved to New Orleans, she said. There, the older youths were forced to make and sell merchandise in flea markets along Canal Street. “If I didn’t fulfill my daily crocheting or jewelry quota, there would be no lunch,” she said. “And if the authorities came by, we

would have to hide.” ____________________ Quadish “Ary” Kedem, Shakeenah Kedem’s youngest son, said in a January 2018 interview that his early life was rough and scary. “I was choked, smothered, beaten in the crib,” he said, softly crying. “Thrown up against the wall.” Ary was 5 years old when the community moved to the Ozarks — a means, he said, for his father to further isolate them. “He spanked us with 2-by-4 lumber, brooms, shovels, rakes and picks,” he said, his voice breaking. Ary also said Kedem would deprive the children of food and water for punishment. “He would put us on a three-day dry fast,

which means no eating or drinking whatsoever. And, because of that, I be waking up while everyone else was asleep to get into the fridge to get something to eat, ’cause I’m so hungry.” As he grew older, Ary said, he tried to stop the violence. “Once, I heard my mom screaming, and saw her being drug by her hair down the stairs, helpless. I screamed at my father to let her go. He pounced on me.” He said the few visitors who came for retreats were completely unaware of their brutal circumstances. In a separate interview conducted by text message, Shakeenah’s eldest son, Rawm Kedem, said he, too, was assaulted by his father. “When I was about 2 or 3 years old, my dad picked me up and held me as high to the ceiling as he could and threw me on the floor with force,” he wrote. “He would drag us from the top bunk bed and let us fall on the floor.” Rawm said his father would also burn him with lit matches, beat him with boards and starve him as punishment. “He beat one of my brothers with a 2-by-4 with nails, as well as a shovel,” he wrote. “He stomped one of my brothers’ head on a rock all because he did not bow down before his feet.” When asked about the abuse in a January 2018 interview, Ary’s sibling, Alephtahb “Amrita Mukti,” who had transitioned to female, silently pulled up her sleeve, revealing a deformed arm. It was broken by her father, she said, when she attempted to get food from the kitchen. Amrita Mukti came out several years ago as a trans woman. The 28-year-old was months away from undergoing gender confirmation surgery when her body was discovered May 7, 2018, in her Fayetteville apartment by a landlord. Police records indicate she had been struggling with depression. Her death was ruled a suicide. Her brother Ary’s body was discovered by a passerby, two months later, at dawn, hanging from a tree in a local park. Police confirmed his death a suicide. Separate memorial services were held for both Amrita Mukti and Ary Kedem at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. The services were attended by hundreds of supporters, friends and family. Their father did not attend. Shakeenah said Kedem’s belief system prohibits members from going near dead bodies. At Ary’s memorial Shakeenah sang, “Let It Be.” “They are free now,” she said, six months later. “Free from pain.” ____________________ Shakeenah Kedem is now married to digital artist Kedar Fentis. Today, she goes by Shakeenah Kedem-Fentis. They make their home in Fort Smith, where she works as an artists’ agent and healing arts practitioner. She’s also earned a following on Facebook, where she discusses her journey. Shakeenah’s mother, Joyce Jones, lives


PHOTOS COURTESY SHAKEENAH KEDEM-FENTIS

FAMILY: Joyce Jones (above left) was advised by a cult deprogrammer not to intervene in the decision by her daughter, Shakeenah Kedem-Fentis (above right), to join the commune. Shakeenah's sons Ary and Alephtahb (who transitioned to female and took the name Amrita Mukti) both committed suicide; they are memorialized with pictures and a candle (top right). Atawraw Kedem Sislow (right) lives in Bentonville and is a solar energy consultant and a driver for Uber and Lyft. She left the cult at age 18.

nearby, as does her daughter N’horaw “Aleen” Kedem, who is raising a child. Rawm, who lives in Carroll County, recently obtained his industrial truck driving license and is traveling the continent, his dream job. Middle son Niraj is an artist and farmer who also resides in Carroll County. Niraj and Aleen declined to be interviewed for this story. Atawraw lives in Bentonville with her young son and is working as a solar energy consultant. She also drives for Uber and Lyft and is a food-service worker in Bentonville Public Schools. Joyce Jones said she consulted a cult deprogrammer in the 1980s after her daughter first went missing, but was advised to not push for contact or intervene. Kedem did finally consent to a visit, one time, to the New Orleans commune in 1989. “It was beautiful,” Jones said about the commune’s living quarters. “Clean and spacious. It relieved my angst.” She was completely unaware, however, that her daughter and grandchildren were being assaulted on a regular basis.

Chicago artist Makeba Kedem-Dubose, Kedem’s eldest daughter, was raised outside the cult by her maternal grandmother. For years, growing up, she held her birth father in high esteem. Then she visited him at the New Orleans commune. “I saw things I didn’t want to see,” she said. “I saw my father hit a baby with a stick.” After that, she said, she had limited contact with her siblings, until they contacted her for help. “They wanted to confront our father, but were really afraid,” she said by phone. “So, I came to Arkansas and traveled with them to Marion County to see him. Our father denied everything. He tried to make it seem like my siblings were lying.” Makeba Kedem-Dubose says she’s recently learned from her family that her paternal grandfather also inflicted violence on his family. She believes her father suffers with mental illness. “Some sort of God complex,” she said. In a recent text, Shakeenah wrote that looking back she realizes that her once-beloved

teacher kept impregnating her to “build a following” while making her forsake motherhood and her family roots to focus completely on him. In their last remaining days in the community, she wrote, her sons and daughter grew bravely defiant, finding ways to intercede when they heard “the Teacher” — their father — beating their mother. “I think it was actually through me observing all of my children, and my own reactions or nonaction, that I began to realize that this man had a way of striking fear — and getting away with it,” she wrote. As a young woman she never learned how to establish personal boundaries, she said. Still, she said, some of the contemplative spiritual practices she absorbed over the decades continue to resonate with her. “I hold onto certain values I gained through the journey,” Shakeenah said. “Gems found within the rubble. The essence of a path should not be diminished because the messenger had a deranged mind and distorted teachings to his own benefit.” ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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UNLIMITED

PATHWAYS close to home

ualr.edu

Caleah Virgil with her dad, Robert Virgil Conway, Ark. Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology major


2019

S T N E D U T S STANDOUT Meet this year’s Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.

All-Star Felipe Morales Osorio

T

he 2019 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team, the 25th team the Times has honored, is made up of coders, musicians, scientists and championship athletes. There’s rarely a B on the transcripts of these students in not just this, their senior year, but in any year of their high school careers. Back in 1995, the Times created the Academic All-Star Team to spotlight what we then called “the silent majority — the kids who go to school, do their homework (most of it, anyway), graduate and go on to be contributing members of society.” Too often, we argued then, all Arkansans heard about young people was how poorly they were faring. Or, when students did get positive atten-

tion, it came for athletic achievement. As you read profiles of this year’s AllStars, it should be abundantly clear that good things are happening in Arkansas schools and there are many academic achievers who deserve to be celebrated. You should get a good idea, too, of how these stellar students are busy outside school, with extracurricular activities, volunteer work, mission activities and more. They’ll be honored April 26 at a ceremony at UA Little Rock’s new River Market campus with plaques and cash awards. Many college plans listed here are not set in stone, as students await information on scholarships and acceptances.

ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU

MOHAMMED ABUELEM Age: 16 Hometown: Little Rock High School: Pulaski Academy Parents: Tarek Abuelem and Shireen Khalaf College plans: Harvard University

RAISED MONEY FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES

What accomplishments can a 16-year-old lay claim to? Mohammed Abuelem has earned prizes in competitions in science, essay writing, History Day projects, Spanish, math. He’s studied DNA sequencing at Harvard; researched the effect of radiation on soybeans; aced all his classes at Pulaski Academy. But this teenager, two years younger than his classmates and fluent in Arabic, can also point to work with Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan for two summers running. After his sophomore year, Mohammed volunteered at the Zaatari refugee camp in the northern part of Jordan, where 60,000 people have taken refuge. There, he interviewed families and visited the medical clinics. He listened “to their stories and how their life is at the camp. … I got the chance to see how medicine is practiced toward people who are part of a diaspora.” He returned to Jordan after his junior year and distributed food and supplies to Syrian refugee families in the capital, Amman. “So many of the refugees are relocated toward urban areas, and don’t get as many benefits” as those in the camps, Mohammed said. Mohammed decided to bring the lessons of the crisis home: “I wanted to involve local people here.” So, he organized a benefit piano recital where he and others played (he performed a piece by the Greek composer Yanni) and raised $5,000 from the audience. Half the sum went to the Syrian Emergency Task Force and the other half to his Boy Scout Eagle project, building first-aid and hygiene kits for Syrian refugees. Because the Middle East is his passion, his senior thesis (in an elective class at Pulaski Academy) is on the Arab Spring and, because he is fluent, he was able to use primary sources in Arabic. As he heads to college, Mohammed is unsure of exactly where he’ll put his considerable brain power to work. Though keen on many subjects, Mohammed’s favorite is biology. His father, a neurosurgeon at CHI St. Vincent Infirmary, “has emphasized that he wants me to choose the right path for me,” rather than mirror his father’s career, Mohammed said.

CHLOE BOWEN Age: 18 Hometown: Fayetteville High School: Springdale High School Parents: Yancey and Ginger Bowen College plans: University of Arkansas at Fayetteville or University of Alabama

FUTURE ENGINEER

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The last thing most high school students want to do just a few weeks before the start of their senior year is switch schools. For Chloe Bowen, though, the decision to transfer from Fayetteville High School, where she’d gone since ninth grade, to Springdale High School for her final year wasn’t particularly difficult. Many of her friends had already graduated, and Chloe’s burgeoning interest in engineering drew her to Springdale High’s Engineering and Architecture Academy. “I was ready for a change — [a] new challenge,” she said. She’s certainly found it. Chloe signed up for four engineering classes, one of which has her working with a group of engineering students from the University of Arkansas to design a device that will allow one of Chloe’s classmates, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, to walk across the stage at graduation. “Getting to collaborate with them has been a really great experience,” she said. Chloe traces her interest in engineering to a human geography class she took in ninth grade, where she learned about urban development and city planning. She’s not sure what type of engineering she’ll settle on — for now, it’s all about exploration and learning about a career that will draw on both her math-loving analytical side and her artistic interests. Chloe has flourished in Springdale’s engineering and architecture academy. She’s a National Merit Finalist, ranked first in her class with a 4.27 GPA, and she’s developed a tight-knit group of new friends who share her interests. She recently helped run a STEM day for younger students and has represented the engineering and architecture academy at area junior highs. Chloe is also active in her church youth group and has a part-time job working in another church’s nursery. That doesn’t leave much time for other hobbies. “I used to play volleyball, but I don’t anymore,” she said. “I’ve been pretty busy with homework and projects lately.”


Congratulations, Adam!

JORDAN ERICKSON

Age: 18 Hometown: Hot Springs High School: Lake Hamilton High School Parent: Mandy Farmer College plans: Baylor University Jordan Erickson is the big man on Lake Hamilton High School’s campus. He’s the class president, the valedictorian and a National Merit Semifinalist. He’s also 6-foot-10 and was the captain of the basketball team, which went 25-3 and won its conference. “It meant a lot [to be captain] because I’d been playing basketball with these guys since fifth grade,” Jordan said. While this season marks the end of his basketball career, look for him in pickup games at Baylor University, where he’ll be a University Scholar, a competitive program that generally accepts fewer than 2 percent of incoming Baylor students. The Scholars program will allow him to pursue an individualized course of study. Jordan is planning on studying one area in science, likely biology, and one in the humanities, likely Spanish. He plans to be a doctor and figures that knowing Spanish could be beneficial. He doesn’t know what sort of doctor he wants to be, but has gotten some experience working with seniors with neurodegenerative diseases as a volunteer with The Caring Place, a day center for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. “The people there were just absolutely loving and caring, the staff as well as the patients,” he said. “It was heartwarming and heartbreaking as well.” Jordan’s mom, Mandy Farmer, is a nurse practitioner. He resisted following in her footsteps for years, he said, but as he’s gotten older he’s realized what an inspiration she’s been. She instilled in him a motto that he’s obviously applied: “There is no penalty for overachievement.”

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KATE FREYALDENHOVEN Age: 18 Hometown: Conway High School: Conway High School Parents: Tim and Mary Ann Freyaldenhoven College plans: Rhodes College in Memphis

TENACIOUS ON THE TRACK, IN THE CLASSROOM

Kate Freyaldenhoven is competitive. Ranked second in her class at Conway High School, she said she was driven to “achieve the highest grades” in all her courses by the same ambition that earned her spots on the school’s varsity cross-country and track teams. She has a 4.42 grade point average, and she said it’s this “kind of tenacity” that earned her the perfect score of a 36 on the ACT. After two attempts that earned her a 33 and a 34, Kate said, “I pushed myself to do the best that I can do, and I’m very glad that I took it again.” She’s taking this tenacity to Rhodes College in Memphis, where she recently signed to run on its cross-country and track and field team. Kate said she decided on Rhodes because she knew she wanted to run in college, but her education was most important, and she wanted to go to a school that “was great with balancing academics and athletics.” She said Rhodes felt like a “great fit” for her, and she’ll be able to grow “not only as a student, but as an athlete.” Another crucial part of her decision to attend Rhodes is the “plethora” of community service organizations the school offers. Kate said that as a kid, her mother took her along when doing service work for nonprofits, and since then, volunteering has been “a really big part of my life.” Two summers ago, Kate also participated in the Community Health Applied in Medical Public Service program at Conway Regional Hospital, where she “witnessed firsthand different aspects of working in the medical field.” She said she’s interested in pursuing a medical career, perhaps as a physician, so she can use her “passion for science and math to contribute something beneficial.” Kate said she’s looking forward to research and internship opportunities in Memphis and to the “close-knit community” she said she felt on Rhodes’ campus.

MARY JIA Age: 17 Hometown: Stuttgart High School: Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts Parents: Melissa and Yulin Jia College plans: Undecided

A PASSION FOR RICE AND RESEARCH

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Mary Jia knows what she wants to do, and what she wants to do is study rice. “Rice is so amazing!” she said, with an enthusiasm so genuine she’ll make you excited about rice, too. She said it’s a model genome to study in plant science, and she’s particularly interested in the “biological sciences and the numerology behind rice.” Mary has applied to 16 different schools, but her top choice is the California Institute of Technology, where her favorite physicist, Sean M. Carroll, works as a professor. She said she plans on studying rice by pursuing an M.D.-Ph.D., a combined doctorate of medicine and philosophy, which can take between seven and nine years to complete. “With an M.D., you learn a little bit of everything, which is basically my goal in life,” Mary said. “And a Ph.D. is more specific.” Mary’s research at the Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center earned her a semifinalist spot in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. She’s the only finalist from Arkansas. Her project studied the blast disease resistance of three strains of rice, a process through which Mary said she hopes to find “resistance genes” to help keep farmers from having to use fungicides on their rice crops. During a recent trip to visit family in China, Mary was able to appreciate the opportunities she’s had to study her passion. “I really want my family to one day be able to enjoy the same things that I do, to go out in the world and realize they can be whatever they want,” she said. Ranked No. 1 in her class at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, Mary is also a member of the school’s Grandma Club, which teaches “relaxing” skills such as knitting — Mary’s specialty — and origami to the “future grandmas of America.”


Congratulations to the Catholic High School Class of 2019 (Our 89th Graduating Class)

“Remember the Lord in all that you do, and He will show you the right way.” Proverbs 3:6

s

CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL FOR BOYS

6300 Father Tribou St., Little Rock, Arkansas 72205

(501) 664-3939 www.lrchs.org ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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'THAT LIBERAL' IN JONESBORO

ISABELLE FLORENCE JONES Age: 18 Hometown: Jonesboro High School: The Academies at Jonesboro High School Parents: Robert and Mary Kay Jones College plans: Boston College Isabelle Jones has been called “Dizzy Izzy” since she was a little girl, thanks to the energy she displayed in trying to keep up with her two big sisters. But Izzy, as she likes to be called, could also be called “Busy Izzy” because of the many school leadership positions she holds — student council president, National Honor Society treasurer, Spanish Honor Society president, to name a few — and other academic honors. She’s No. 1 in her class. She swims, she runs cross-country. She volunteers at St. Bernards Hospital and the Hispanic Center. She’s known, she said, as “that liberal person” at school because of her progressive views on gun control. Izzy said the most significant achievement of her high school career was organizing, as head of the local Students Demand Action chapter, the March for Our Lives last year. Calling “Show me what democracy looks like!” into her bullhorn, Izzy and other organizers led 200 people from Jonesboro High to the courthouse. The speakers included a survivor of Jonesboro’s Westside Middle School shooting in 1998, in which two boys shot and killed five people and injured 10 others. Izzy spoke, too, about those who would shift the conversation away from guns and onto mental illness. “I spoke to the fact that someone who suffers from mental illness is more likely to be a victim” of gun violence than to cause it, she said. “People use it as a scapegoat.” Because the Students Demand Action members were too young to get a permit for the march, the local Moms Demand Action helped out. “The Moms were so amazing; they let us take control of what we wanted to say,” Izzy said. If you are an activist in a “big city,” Izzy said, you can “talk to your elected officials and not get the door shut in your face. Here, to talk about gun control, it’s a nonstarter, because people think it means you’re going to take their guns away.” So, Izzy’s group focuses on having a community presence, participating in fairs and writing letters. Izzy is ready for big-city life and wants to pursue studies in global health, which is why she applied early decision to Boston College, which plans to offer a major in the field. Boston College has offered Izzy a Gabelli Presidential Scholars scholarship, which is a full-tuition award and goes to only 15 incoming freshmen every year. After college, the plan is med school and, someday, travel to help people in need of medical care with Doctors Without Borders. 34 APRIL 2019

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JEREMIA LO Age: 18 Hometown: Fayetteville High School: Fayetteville High School Parents: Hsiaowen Cho and Wenjuo Lo College plans: Undecided Jeremia Lo found her high school niche with Connotations, Fayetteville High School’s annual literary magazine, where she serves as design director. When she joined the staff as a junior, she discovered a community of people who enjoy writing, art and photography as much as she does. Digital art has been a passion ever since her dad installed Adobe Photoshop on the family’s computer when she was 10 years old. “Years of practice — setting aside time on the weekends to do photostudies and learn color theory — eventually turned jagged lines and irregular proportions into realistic portrayals of faces and creatures,” Jeremia wrote in her Academic All-Stars essay. “Via the versatility of digital art — a medium that easily allows me to dabble in design, animation and drawing — I’ve been able to practice my communication skills by analyzing how details and the big picture work together to convey meaning to viewers.” In the short run, thanks to those skills, she’s made some spending money doing commissioned portraits and seen the designs for clubs and classes that show up all over the school. Longer term, she’s considering a career in UI/UX (user interface/experience) design. To that end, she’s planning on majoring in cognitive science or psychology to help her think about how people process design. But art isn’t her only passion. While maintaining a 4.37 GPA and a No. 1 rank in her senior class of more than 500 students, she also found time to serve as publicist for the World Language Club and to co-found the Fayetteville High School History Club, realizing “that there are many important events in history that are often overlooked in our curriculum.” She grew up in a Mandarin-speaking family, has taken five years of German and is studying Japanese on her own. Spanish, French and Korean are on her to-learn list.

SHE HAS DESIGNS ON COGNITIVE SCIENCE


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2019

DENTS STANDOUT STU

KENDON MOLINE

TYLER MERREIGHN Age: 17 Hometown: Greenwood High school: Greenwood High School Parents: Ty and Josie Merreighn College plans: Undecided

HIS GOAL IS TO HELP OTHERS

When Tyler Merreighn auditioned for “Jeopardy!” last summer, he was coming in with over seven years of trivia experience: He’s been on a Quiz Bowl team since he was in third grade. He’s now captain of Greenwood High School’s team, and in 2018 he led it to a second-place finish at the 6A Arkansas Governor’s Quiz Bowl Association. While he didn’t make the final cut for the game show, he said he would definitely try out again, and next time he’ll be “a little more prepared.” He’ll have to find time to do that while majoring in biomedical engineering on a pre-med path. He hopes to attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he’s applied for the prestigious Bodenhamer Fellowship, which awards a select group of students $70,000 scholarships over the course of their education. During an educational trip to Peru with his high school in the summer of 2017, Tyler said he visited a community in Cusco and loved “seeing [the children’s] faces light up when you could do something so simple for them,” like playing a game of soccer. This experience helped him realize that “whatever I do, I definitely want to be able to help people.” Last summer he attended the two-week Medical Applications for Science and Health program at Baptist Health in Fort Smith. MASH requires participants to complete 40 hours a week of shadowing in a hospital. Tyler said the experience affirmed his desire to become a physician, as he “really loved the atmosphere of the hospital.” He took the ACT seven times in order to get a perfect score because “I just felt like I could do it, and if I didn’t get [a perfect score], then I just felt like I was letting myself down.”

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Age: 17 Hometown: Conway High School: Conway High School Parents: Rebekkah and Corey Moline College plans: Brigham Young University Kendon Moline said he has always liked learning how things are built, and as a child, he once spent an entire afternoon watching his neighbors get a new roof installed. A self-described “musician, math nerd, bowler and engineer,” he’s now third in his class at Conway High School and plans to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in the fall to study civil engineering. He’s particularly interested in transportation planning, so civil engineering “falls right in line” with that passion. Kendon is so interested in engineering that he received the top possible score on his AP Physics C exam — a class his high school doesn’t even offer. While he said he’s “not the best at studying,” he put in “a lot of effort” for the test because “if it’s something you’re passionate about, you’ll commit to it.” Kendon is also committed to his faith, as he’ll only be attending BYU for a semester before he leaves to take part in his two-year mission as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’s looking forward to his mission, during which he’ll be able to “share my beliefs, the Gospel, to help others and to grow.” While many young men begin their missions immediately after high school, his parents encouraged him to do a semester of school first in order to “get out of the house and be more independent,” so he’s not “too shocked” when he does venture out on his own. He said he plans on returning to school after his mission. Kendon also plays the trombone in his school’s marching band, bowls for the school team and is working toward earning his Eagle Scout badge.

WILL SHARE THE GOSPEL AS MORMON MISSIONARY


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APRIL 2019 37


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Parkview Arts & Science Magnet High School would like to congratulate

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FELIPE MORALES OSORIO On being recognized as a 2019 Academic All-Star

2501 BARROW RD • LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS 72204 • (501) 447-2300

ANNA OPPENHEIM Age: 18 Hometown: Jonesboro High School: Bay High School Parents: Tim and Lisa Oppenheim College plans: Columbia University

Congratulations IZZY JONES for your outstanding academic achievement but most importantly for your steadfast commitment to kindness and community. Mary, Charlott, Florence, Kathy, Trish & Philip

38 APRIL 2019

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A conscientious leader, Anna Oppenheim uses her voice to make fellow Bay High School students heard. Her community-driven work ethic has come through in her service as student council president and senior class president. She’s also used her voice as editor of the school newspaper to connect students and tell their unique stories, such as the feature she wrote about an eighth-grade boy who rescued his family — including his young siblings and stepmother, who had a broken leg — from their burning house. As a learner, Anna has always been interested in taking things apart and reassembling them. As a child, she was fascinated with the human skeleton and memorized every bone. “I know that sounds weird,” she said. But her natural aptitude for science and medicine blossomed at an orthopedic surgery program through the Perry Initiative for women in medicine, where she performed a mock orthopedic surgery. After being handed a bone model, a bone saw and a few screws and rods, she was told to break the bone model, then figure out how to put it back together. Anna credits her success in that orthopedic exercise to her background in art, explaining that her artistic disposition helped her creatively place the rods and screws into the bones. Anna hopes to become a doctor, but said art will always be a part of her life. “Throughout my life, art has been a unifying thread, and I never want that passion to die,” she said. She’s auctioned her artwork to benefit various charities, like the Northeast Humane Society, the American Heart Association and the St. Bernards Health and Wellness Institute.

KNOWING THE ART OF MEDICINE


FELIPE MORALES OSORIO Age: 18 Hometown: Little Rock High School: Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School Parents: Felipe and Norma Morales College plans: Undecided Felipe Morales Osorio has a knack for learning on his own. He taught himself pre-calculus, so he could skip straight to calculus. When his world history teacher became ill and had to leave the class mid-year, he worked on the subject independently to earn a 4 (out of 5) on the World History AP exam, meaning he’s likely to receive college credit for the course. He’s made a habit of turning to Khan Academy, the online collection of free academic courses, to augment or supplement his studies, and it shows: He has a 4.42 GPA and is No. 1 in his class at Parkview. Perhaps his proudest learning achievement came during a Central Arkansas Library System JavaScript coding class he took when he was 12, considerably younger than most of his classmates. He struggled, but studied hard and by the end of the summer he’d created a small version of the original Nintendo “Legend of Zelda” game. He’s done grander coding projects since then, but the flash drive that stores that game sits on his bedside table as a reminder of what dedication and perseverance can mean. Felipe is considering computer science as a career path, but he’s been leaning toward becoming a research mathematician. “I think math is very beautiful,” he said. “There’s math everywhere around us. It’s in the weather. It’s in the seashells. It’s in almost everything. It’s useful in a wide variety of fields. Science is always changing. But in math, it’s more concrete and more absolute. When you prove something, like a theorem, you’re proving it using logical arguments. Once you prove it, it’s absolute. That really appeals to me, that it has a solid foundation.”

'MATH IS BEAUTIFUL'

Congratulations Mohammed Abuelem

2019 Academic All-Star

SILVER SPONSOR

Congratulations Tyler Merreighn

GREENWOOD HIGH SCHOOL www.greenwoodk12.com

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JACKSON PARKER Age: 18 Hometown: Paragould High School: Paragould High School Parents: Melanie Parker and Jonathan Lane College plans: University of Arkansas at Fayetteville or Yale University, undecided

RENAISSANCE MAN

Jackson Parker speaks in a measured and self-assured tone that usually only comes with older age. He’s good under pressure, evidenced by his many performance-based academic accolades, including scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT, winning the Arkansas State Spelling Bee in 2015, and earning Most Valuable Player in the Arkansas State Quiz Bowl in 2016. Concentrating for long stretches of time will serve him well as a heart surgeon, which he hopes to become one day. “I like the hands-on approach of surgery,” he explained. It’s an approach Parker has taken to further many of his interests, including his favorite subject, chemistry (he’s an alumnus of the summer health program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences); music (he plays flute in the high school band and is a student of music theory), fine art (he draws inspiration from 19th century American landscape painter Thomas Cole) and architecture (American Gothic is his favorite style). “I want to apply myself toward everything I care about like a true Renaissance man,” Parker said, adding a personal philosophical view that the arts and sciences, when paired, are fundamental to “understanding the greater physics of the universe.” He is a burgeoning Renaissance humanist: While many high school students would rather follow the norm, at least socially and politically, Parker doesn’t hesitate to sit at the empty table. Inspired by his grandmother, he’s been active with the Greene County Democratic Party, which is so small, Parker said, “it can be hard to feel like you’re making a difference.” He continues to volunteer with the party because “it’s important to start somewhere. You need to have the other side of the moral compass present.” In fact, Parker expects to have a career in politics in some way, although he’s not sure how. He just knows that “politics affect our lives daily, and if we want our problems to be solved, we have to play an active role.”

NOAH BLAKE RABY Age: 18 Hometown: Newport High School: Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts Parents: Jennifer Raby, Angela Lawson and the late Jerry Raby College plans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

THINKING COMPUTER SCIENCE IN MANDARIN

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Last summer, Noah Raby spent six weeks in Chengdu, China, as part of a National Security Language Initiative for Youth program. He’d decided to take Mandarin at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts because, of all the foreign language options, it was the one he “was most uncomfortable with.” That willingness to throw himself into the unfamiliar served him well while living with his host family and being served rabbit skull, with its brain, tongue and tendons that hold the jaw to the rest of skull still intact. “Despite how disgusting that might sound, it was actually pretty good,” Noah said. Still, eating in the famously piquant Sichuan province wasn’t a picnic for Noah, who describes himself as “not really a man of spiciness.” Noah plans on minoring in Mandarin at M.I.T. while he’s majoring in computer science. The combo could allow him to score a computer-engineering job with a Chinese company down the line. He got his love for computers from his late father, Jerry Raby, a longtime cable installer for Suddenlink who died of cancer just before Noah enrolled in the ASMSA. Noah remembers spending weekends with his dad working on tech projects: fixing a broken Xbox, making flammable thermite from material they bought on eBay, and doing various computer science projects. Noah built his first computer at age 11. His computer-related innovations have made an impact on ASMSA. His science fair project on texturizing ceramic additive manufacturing inspired the school to buy its own ceramic 3D printer.


2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU

ADAM SIWIEC Age: 17 Hometown: Rogers High School: Rogers Heritage High School Parents: Ashley and Tomek Siwiec College plans: Stanford University or University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

A CODER WHO WRITES POETRY

Adam Siwiec knows there’s power in language. When he sits at a computer, coding language lets him create websites, software testing metrics and a laundry list of other things most of us have never heard of. When he sits at his typewriter, though, the language of poetry lets him explore a whole other world — where nature, consciousness and inner reflection dominate the landscape. Adam has pursued both languages with an ambitious determination. He’s a National Merit Semifinalist, ranked first in his class, is the All-State Programming Champion, placed second at the University of Arkansas Hackathon and founded his school’s computer science club. He’s also self-published two books of poetry, the most recent through Amazon’s publishing service. “That was a really big deal for me,” he said. “I got a box of a hundred books with my name on it sent to my door, and I didn’t know what to do with them. So I started handing them out, then selling them. That was fun, adding in the business side of it, too.” After he read an article about internet censorship in China, he combined his two interests to create a website that pulled in the poems he had published on Instagram so that people in China, who are not allowed access to the social media site, could read his poetry. Adam plans to study computer science in college and minor in creative writing. He already has some professional coding experience under his belt from spending last summer in Poland working with his uncle’s digital services agency. “I think that being a writer, it’s really hard to succeed if you’re not a New York Times bestseller,” he said. “I really want to work for a large company like Google or Apple and do poetry as a hobby.”

CLAUDIA SMITH Age: 18 Hometown: Little Rock High School: eStem Public Charter School Parents: Will and Sara Smith College plans: University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

ADVOCATE FOR LGBTQ RIGHTS

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Finding a balance between academic priorities and sports can be tricky, but Claudia Smith manages to do this and advocate for her fellow students at eStem Public Charter School. In addition to competing on the school’s soccer and cross-country teams, Claudia and a friend started the Gender and Sexuality Alliance during their junior year at eStem. She did so because she wanted to “have a place for people to meet and feel like they had friends that are facing the same kinds of problems” as they are. The Alliance also works to help the community: It recently finished raising $400 for Lucie’s Place, a nonprofit that provides resources and housing for homeless LGBTQ youth. No. 1 in her graduating class, Claudia is heading to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville this fall, where she plans to study engineering. While she’s “really into math” and it’s her favorite subject in school, she said the engineering program will allow her to do more “hands-on” work. Because eStem is a small school, she’s looking forward to being on the UA’s large campus with “a wider variety of people and opportunities to pursue [that] will give me more to get involved in.” Claudia said she recently took a tour of the campus and was told that the school has several noncompetitive running groups, which she plans to join to keep her cross-country skills up to speed. She said her interest in politics will travel with her to Fayetteville, and she looks forward to getting involved with social justice organizations on campus.


GO WHERE BIG DREAMS ARE MORE ACCESSIBLE.

T

he University of Central Arkansas makes an exceptional education surprisingly affordable. Even more surprising? The hands-on learning opportunities that add incredible value to your college experience. Learn more at gouca.com today. • Research • Internships • Study abroad

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APRIL 2019 43


2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU

A ROLE MODEL FOR GIRLS IN STEM EDUCATION

ETHAN STRAUSS

Age: 17 Hometown: Little Rock High School: Episcopal Collegiate School Parents: Noel and Joan Strauss College plans: Dartmouth College

CHASE MARIE SWINTON

Age: 17 Hometown: Sherwood High School: Sylvan Hills High School Parents: Rick and Germaine Swinton College plans: Considering Vanderbilt University Chase Swinton, who plans on studying neuroscience in college, has gotten just about as much hands-on experience in the field possible for a high school student. She learned about neurodegeneration in a project-based learning summer class at Washington University in St. Louis during the summer after her sophomore year. Last summer, she interned with Dr. Antiño Allen at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, working on NASA-funded research concerning “oxygen space radiation affecting hippocampal-dependent memory and cognitive function,” as she described it in her All-Stars essay. In October, she was accepted to attend the Harvard Science Research Conference, where she learned about “computational advances in axon and neuron imaging.” She’s usually been the only African-American girl in such groups. That can be “difficult and lonely and isolating,” she said, but as co-chair of the Principal’s Council, a group that mentors middle school students, Sylvan Hills’ valedictorian has gotten the chance to be an example for younger black female students. “One of my favorite sayings is ‘representation begets representation.’ If I’m a model for you, you’ll be a model for someone else, and they’ll be a model for someone else. That’s really important in the black community, especially in STEM and for girls,” she said. Chase’s commitment to seeing things through shows in her soccer career. She was named all-conference as a freshman, but then sprained a ligament in her knee her sophomore year and suffered other knee injuries her junior year. Because of her UAMS internship, she couldn’t have surgery to repair the knee over the summer, so she had to miss playing her senior year. But she’s still the manager. “I didn’t want to abandon the team,” she explained.

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Last summer, Ethan Strauss got a rare opportunity for a high school student. He interned at Forest Hill Capital, a small Little Rock investment firm, and he didn’t spend his time there getting coffee and filing documents. Tasked with modeling the financial growth of a construction materials company to determine its investment potential, Ethan “read through five years of the company’s quarterly reports and synthesized its income and cash flow statements and balance sheets,” he wrote in his All-Stars essay, and then “linked the spreadsheets and used linear regressions to approximate future share prices.” He may continue down that path by majoring in economics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., but he’s also considering international relations. He’s been interested in geography since he was a child. He loves learning about different cultures. He’s drawn to “the complexity of it all and being able to understand how other people think.” He’s particularly fascinated by unrecognized countries, areas that are self-proclaimed independent nations “and how it would be to live” in one. Pursuing a career in infrastructure investment could be a way for him to combine investments and international relations. He’s sure to maintain a healthy dose of pursuits outside of his studies and work: A tennis ace, he’s been half of a doubles team that’s won the 3A state championship for four years in a row. He’s also passionate about pingpong. His Episcopal counselor, Tricia Morgan, said he blushes when school staffers tell him pingpong “could be his Olympic sport.” He’s also working to share the sport with others. With the profits from a business he started reselling hard-to-find sneakers, he founded Paddle Together, a program that provides pingpong tables to homeless shelters and community centers.

A PLAYER IN ECONOMIC COMPLEXITY AND PINGPONG


Mary Katherine Freyaldenhoven Congratulations

Kate!

We are so proud of you!

1330 East Oak Street Conway, AR 72032 501-358-6989

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2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU

SHAKIAH WILLIAMS Age: 17 Hometown: Blytheville High school: Blytheville High School Parents: Sharon Harris and Africa Wells College plans: Vanderbilt University Mississippi County’s entire population is less than that of the city of Conway. Shakiah (pronounced “Sha-kai-ah”) Williams was born and raised there, in Blytheville. Some would say it’s a sleepy town. Williams’ high school years, however, have been quite the opposite. After school, she’d report to one of her two major extracurricular commitments: practice for the Blytheville High School cheerleading squad, or to practice and conditioning sessions as part of her membership on the Blytheville Chickasaw GymChicks gymnastics team. Add to that her membership in the school’s French Club, FBLA, student council and Student Ambassadors; her time volunteering for the local chapters of both the Special Olympics and National Cancer Society; and her work with the annual Blytheville Christmas celebration “Lights of the Delta.” “Honestly, this year it became stressful because of all the work I’ve had to get done, alongside the sports,” Williams said. Part of that work, of course, was preparing to leave the high school nest. “College has always been a stressful subject for me,” she wrote in her Academic All-Stars essay. “At one point in time I didn’t even have the confidence to apply. I just didn’t think I would make it.” Her transcript shows how unfounded her fears were: Williams has a 4.22 grade point average. Her ACT score is a composite 30. Her language teacher, Lena Pierce, took her to Nashville to visit her dream school, Vanderbilt University. Williams was subsequently accepted, with just “a few thousand [dollars] a year to get covered,” she wrote. “This achievement has helped me take some of the stress off of my mom. She is a single parent and having college paid for is just another weight off of her shoulders.”

A LIGHT OF THE DELTA 46 APRIL 2019

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MICHELLE XU Age: 16 Hometown: College Station, Texas High School: Little Rock Central High School Parents: Joshua Xu and Alice Li College plans: University of Pennsylvania When Michelle Xu found out she’d been accepted into the University of Pennsylvania, she said it was the happiest day of her life. Last summer she attended the university’s Leadership in the Business World program, an intensive four-week curriculum of Wharton School of Business classes, during which Michelle’s team created a startup business plan and presented it to their classmates. Michelle said she’s “liked being a leader” since she was a child, and the LBW program helped her “[connect] the dots on how as a leader you lead by putting aside your ego.” She said she aspires to be a “good leader in the business world,” She’s the first high school member of the Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses. She’s also captain of Central High School’s varsity Quiz Bowl team; president of its Future Business Leaders of America chapter, president of the Beta Club; vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, the school’s math club; and president and founder of the school’s Economics and Finance Club. Michelle said she founded the new club so students could learn about economics, rather than the “pure business” focus of the FBLA club. As valedictorian of her class, Michelle said she uses “a lot of time management” to balance her academic workload with her extracurriculars, and has had to make some sacrifices — she danced competitively until her sophomore year and played piano until her junior year, but quit both in order to focus on her classes and leadership roles. Michelle visits her family in China every three or four years, and she said a recent trip to her parents’ hometowns helped her realize that “if my parents worked this hard to get to America, I need to work this hard to show them that I will continue their work.”

SHE'S ALL BUSINESS, AND A LEADER, TOO ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 47


2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU

RAMY YOUSEF Age: 17 Hometown: Little Rock High School: Little Rock Central High School Parents: Ziad Yousef and Muntaha Yousef College plans: Hendrix College or the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

WILL TAKE A SHOT AT DEVELOPING VACCINES

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One glance at Ramy Yousef’s transcript makes it clear that he has good study skills. He’s ranked seventh in his class of 550 at Central High School, with a GPA of 4.43 in classes as diverse as art, debate and pretty much every AP class ever taught. But it’s a question about attending Arkansas Governor’s School last summer that really gets him talking about what he loves about education. “You get to learn in an environment where you don’t get grades,” he said. “Making friends and just waking up and going to learn every day — it was a fun experience.” Ramy’s motivation to do well in high school has been, he said, simply to get into a good college and pay as little as possible for it. He’s got a loftier goal for when he gets there, though: to study chemistry and eventually put that knowledge to work developing new vaccines. Science is a family pursuit. Ramy’s dad is an entrepreneur, but his mother is a scientist, one sibling is in medical school and the other is in college studying biomedical engineering. Ramy does science even in his downtime, watching astronomy videos on YouTube. That interest took him to a first-place finish in astronomy at the 2017 Arkansas Science Olympiad. What’s so cool about astronomy? “Just the possibility that life can exist on another planet,” he said.


2019

DENTS STANDOUT STU 2019 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Finalists They made the final round. These students made the final round of judging for the 2019 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.

MARIANNA KERSEY RICHEY Beebe High School

SHAKIAH WILLIAMS Blytheville High School

BEE BRANCH ANDREA DE TOUR Arkansas Virtual Academy High School

BONNERDALE HANNAH DIGGS Centerpoint High School

BENTON JULIANNA DEMI SORVILLO Bauxite High School

BOONEVILLE JUSTIN RONGEY Magazine High School

KAYLA M. TREASITTI Glen Rose High School

BRINKLEY KEVON MALOID DILLWORTH Brinkley High School

CAROLINE BLANSCET Little Rock Christian

THOMAS IAN HOLLIS Hot Springs Lakeside High School

JULIA KATHLEEN BRIXEY Greenwood High School GENRIETTA CHURBANOVA Pulaski Academy

CELIA KRETH Episcopal Collegiate School IOAN BROWN SANDERS North Little Rock High School

ALISHA AJAY CHATLANI Rogers High School

SPENCER LEE WALKER Fayetteville High School

JESSICA YIN Bentonville West High School

SULLIVAN WALTER FITZ Catholic High School for Boys

LUKE WEINER Little Rock Christian Academy

BERRYVILLE ALEX RUBEN MALDONADO-LOPEZ Berryville High School

2019 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Nominees

Here are the students nominated to be Academic All-Stars. They are listed by their hometowns as indicated by mailing addresses. ALMA EMILY FOWLER Mulberry High School

GARRETT MCWHORTER Bearden High School

BAY JACOB HARLEY OSTER Bay High School

BEEBE TAYLOR DWAYNE BOYCE Beebe High School

BEARDEN CASSIDY CLEMENS Bearden High School

JOLEY MARIE MITCHELL Rose Bud High School

BENTONVILLE KENDRA RISENER Haas Hall Academy ANGEL SOTERO Bentonville West High School

AMBER NICOLE VEACH Berryville High School BISMARCK LAUREN ELIZABETH CORLEY Bismarck High School BLACK ROCK PAIGE LEANN PENN Hillcrest High School BLYTHEVILLE CHANDLER SPROUSE Gosnell High School

EMILY ANN TAYLOR Brinkley High School BRUNO LANE BOGLE Valley Springs High School BRYANT SYDNEY ELAINE BOWMAN Bryant High School HARRISON BENNETT DOWNS Bryant High School CABOT ZHENG HUI ZHANG Cabot High School CAVE CITY KENDALL TOWNSLEY Cave City High School CENTER RIDGE SOPHIA FRANCESCA ISELY Nemo Vista High School CLARKSVILLE BRADLEY SCOTT BUCK Johnson County Westside High School

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APRIL 2019 49


U O Y K N A H T The Arkansas Times would like to thank these sponsors for their support of the 2019 Academic All-star Team and its scholarship fund.

Donated $2,000 Cash

Sylvan Hills High School

Pulaski Academy

BAY HIGH SCHOOL CHARLOTT JONES ROBERT AND MARY KAY JONES FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 50 APRIL 2019

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GREENWOOD HIGH SCHOOL PARKVIEW ARTS AND SCIENC MAGNET HIGH SCHOOL ROGERS HERITAGE HIGH SCHOOL


2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU CLINTON JACOB ALLEN BURROUGHS South Side High School

FAYETTEVILLE CHLOE AUGUST BOWEN Springdale High School

HAZEN ROSS TIMOTHY HARPER Hazen High School

CONWAY MARY KATHERINE FREYALDENHOVEN Conway High School

SOPHIE FERNANDO Haas Hall Academy JEREMIA LO Fayetteville High School

HICKORY PLAINS JEREMIAH DESHONE WILLIAMS Des Arc High School

KENDON CRAIG MOLINE Conway High School CORNING CAROLINE GOODMAN Corning High School

HIGDEN NATHANIEL WYATT SMITH West Side High School

HAMAAD MEHAL Haas Hall Academy SPENCER LEE WALKER Fayetteville High School

CROSSETT DAILEY MARIE CHAVIS Crossett High School

FISHER ANNA CHAPLAIN Harrisburg College and Career Prep

BRYCE RICHARD MOON Crossett High School

FORT SMITH JOHN TYLER FREENY Southside High School

DAMASCUS CLAIRE ELIZABETH DREWRY South Side High School

HORATIO GRACE ELIZABETH HARRIS Horatio High School HOT SPRINGS RHETT BARRETT Cutter Morning Star High School FAITH ELIZABETH CARNIE Lake Hamilton High School

ANNA ELISE OPPENHEIM Bay High School NIKKOLETTE AMANDA PERKINS Brookland High School SEAN A. ROADES Valley View High School KALLEN SMITH Brookland High School TRACY N. TANNER Valley View High School LEACHVILLE HALLIE ELIZABETH BROWN Buffalo Island Central High School KYLE BRADLEY THRASHER Buffalo Island Central High School

MADISON ISABELLA RENEE MARSH Southside High School

JORDAN C. ERICKSON Lake Hamilton High School

LITTLE ROCK MOHAMMED ABUELEM Pulaski Academy

DES ARC LINDSEY NICOLE REIDHAR Des Arc High School

GOSNELL KAYLEE JO MILLER Gosnell High School

EMMA KIRSTEN FERGUSON Lakeside High School

MILLER CLARK BACON eStem High School

DEWITT RACHEL DANIELS DeWitt High School

GREENBRIER MADELYN RENEE JAMESON Greenbrier High School

THOMAS IAN HOLLIS Lakeside High School

NATHAN THOMAS BARBER The Academies at Jonesboro High School

ZONTRAY KENDALL DeWitt High School

CALEB WADE TAPLEY Greenbrier High School

ANTHONY ALEXANDER REITER Hot Springs High School

CAROLINE BLANSCET Little Rock Christian Academy

DONALDSON DYLAN JASHUN CLAYTON Bismarck High School

GREENWOOD JULIA KATHLEEN BRIXEY Greenwood High School

MICAH TRAVIS Mountain Pine High School

ANA ABARCA CHAVEZ Hall High School

DOVER ETHAN SETH OWEN JACOBS Dover High School

TYLER LAWRENCE MERREIGHN Greenwood High School

HUTTIG NASTAJAE ALIYAH ALDERSON Strong High School

REBECCA SUSAN DIXON Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School

JACKSONVILLE BASIA YVONNE BROWN Jacksonville High School

SARAH J. DOUGLASS Joe T. Robinson High School

EUREKA SPRINGS KAYDEN ECKMAN Eureka Springs High School EVANSVILLE JESSICA ANN GOLDMAN Lincoln High School FARMINGTON NICHOLAS JAMES ERICKSON Farmington High School REAGAN SIERRA WHITE Farmington High School

GREERS FERRY FAITH MARIE BIRMINGHAM West Side High School

GERALD ANTONIO DONOHUE Jacksonville High School

HAMBURG NIGEL LEWIS Hamburg High School

JONESBORO OPHIE COPELIN Nettleton High School

BRENDA FAITH O’FALLON Hamburg High School

JETT JACKSON Harrisburg College and Career Prep

HARRISON GRACE ESTELLE BRANDT Harrison High School

ISABELLE FLORENCE JONES The Academies at Jonesboro High School

BLAKE JOHN WILLIAM WHITMER Harrison High School

JOSHUA MILNES Nettleton High School

SULLIVAN WALTER FITZ Catholic High School for Boys CELIA KRETH Episcopal Collegiate School FELIPE MORALES OSORIO Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School CLAUDIA CATHERINE SMITH eStem High School ETHAN STRAUSS Episcopal Collegiate School

Congratulations

to Columbia University for accepting

ANNA OPPENHEIM the best of the best of Bay School District.

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APRIL 2019 51


2019

ENTS

D STANDOUT STU LUKE WEINER Little Rock Christian Academy

CHAD BOYD Maumelle Charter High School

CARRE’LLA SADLER North Little Rock High School

MICHELLE XU Little Rock Central High School

GENRIETTA CHURBANOVA Pulaski Academy

IOAN BROWN SANDERS North Little Rock High School

RAMY YOUSEF Little Rock Central High School

LINCOLN MOSES Maumelle Charter High School

MCCRORY CHRISTIAN LITTLE McCrory High School

VICTORIA ORTEGA Maumelle High School

OZARK AUTUMN PAIGE FLAHERTY Johnson County Westside High School

MABELVALE HALEY AMBER STANTON LISA Academy West High School MAGAZINE EMILY STATON Magazine High School

PARAGOULD EMMA FARMER Marmaduke High School

MAYFLOWER HAYDYN HUDNALL Mayflower High School

MICHALA ANN MCPHINK Paragould High School

MULBERRY JARRET CHAMBERS Mulberry High School

JACKSON CHANDLER PARKER Paragould High School

MAMMOTH SPRING DEVON CRAY Mammoth Spring High School

NEWPORT NOAH BLAKE RABY Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

MARION WESLEY JAMES BARRETT Marion High School

NORTH LITTLE ROCK SOPHIA LYNN CHIER Mount St. Mary Academy

MORGAN BRADFORD WHITED Marion High School

CHASECHRISTIANMOHR-MCELROY North Little Rock Center of Excellence Charter

MAUMELLE GARRETT MICHAEL BAKANOVIC Maumelle High School

KATHERINE RAMIREZ North Little Rock High School

MADISON SHEA ROBINSON Greene County Tech High School PARON JOHN MATTHEW HOWARD Joe T. Robinson High School PEA RIDGE HALLEY LASTER Pea Ridge High School ALEC ANDREW MEREDITH Pea Ridge High School

PINE BLUFF MORGAN EDWARDS Watson Chapel High School A’DARIUS LEE Watson Chapel High School PINEVILLE KENLEE KAY KILLIAN Calico Rock High School PLUMERVILLE GARRETT R. HENDRIX Morrilton High School POWHATAN CREEDEN JAMES RICHEY Hillcrest High School RAVENDEN SPRINGS EMILY CHEYENNE LUFFMAN Sloan-Hendrix High School REYNO CHANDLER CONYERS Corning High School RISON JUSTIN JACOBS Rison High School MACY RATLIFF Rison High School

Easter Sunrise Service

Join us for the 31st Annual Community Easter Sunrise Service April 21 - 7 am First Security Amphitheater Easter services will be broadcast on KATV Channel 7 at 7:00 am & 10:30 am

52 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


LAUREN ELIZABETH BROWN Searcy High School

ROGERS ALISHA AJAY CHATLANI Rogers High School MORGAN DIBASILIO Rogers Heritage High School

SHERIDAN LAINEY FAITH HILL Sheridan High School

SIDRA NADEEM Rogers New Technology High School

LOGAN JAMES INGRAM Sheridan High School

NATHAN POWELL SKINNER Rogers High School

SHERWOOD TIMOTHY NATHANIEL ESPEJO Sylvan Hills High School

ADAM RYSZARD SIWIEC Rogers Heritage High School ROSE BUD CARSON DAVID LUCENA Rose Bud High School ROYAL ANASTACIA GLASCO Mountain Pine High School

CHASE MARIE SWINTON Sylvan Hills High School SILOAM SPRINGS CHRISTINE NICOLE HONN Siloam Springs High School

SPRINGDALE EDUARDO AGUILAR Springdale High School

WYNNE KYRA LIANE DOBSON Wynne High School

SPRINGFIELD CAROLYN HOPE HOPKINS Morrilton High School

JACKSON CHARLES GEORGE Wynne High School

STUTTGART MARY SALLAH JIA Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts TRUMANN ZACHARY DAVID BURCHFIELD Trumann High School WALNUT RIDGE DEVIN FOSTER SMITH Greene County Tech High School

OLIVER MONROE REID Siloam Springs High School

WARD JESSICA DAWN VAUGHN Cabot High School

RUSSELLVILLE KAYLEE FREEMAN Hector High School

SMACKOVER ROBERT THOMAS DIXON Smackover High School

SEARCY JACKSON TANNER BENIGHT Searcy High School

KAYLEIGH AMANDA YEAGER Smackover High School

WHITE HALL JUSTIN ROBERT DADY White Hall High School WINSLOW JOSEPH ANDREW TAYLOR Lincoln High School

CELEBRATE with PULASKI HEIGHTS

Easter

UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Maundy Thursday Service

April 18, 6:30 pm, St. Luke Campus - 6401 W. 32nd St., Little Rock 72204

Good Friday Services

April 19, 12 Noon & 6 pm, PHUMC Sanctuary

Easter Sunday Services

April 21, 8:30, 9:45 & 11 am, Sanctuary & New Heights Services St. Luke Campus, 9:30 am Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church 4823 Woodlawn ΠLittle Rock, AR 72205 Π(501) 664-3600 Πwww.phumc.com St. Luke Campus Π6401 W. 32nd St ΠLittle Rock, AR 72204

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APRIL 2019 53


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tickets - $200 tables of ten - $2,000 For information, please call 501-347-4399 or email cjafund@swbell.net 54 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

1900 N. Grant, Little Rock, AR 501 663 8999 • fantasticchinarestaurant.com


CULTURE

PLAN TO CHECK OUT THE 2019 ARKANSAS LITERARY FESTIVAL. By STEPHANIE SMITTLE

W

hether you’re reading these words on the page or by the pixel, chances are you already know that books are not ends unto themselves. It’s not so much the quarter-hours clocked with one’s nose in a book, after all, that makes reading so unassailably good as it is the power of a book to recast what happens once we close its cover and set it aside. Books can stir deep discontent, poking at our imaginations and urging us to make the world around us a touch more equitable. They can make us more empathetic, capable of understanding the motivations of people who wake up every day on the other side of the equator, or who voted differently in the last presidential election. They can give us a detailed tour of the interior of a ballistic missile submarine, or methodical guidance to a better loaf of brioche.

At this year’s Arkansas Literary Festival (April 25-28), that power is as visible as ever, with visits from a five-time James Beard Award winner who burned down her mother’s kitchen at age 12 (Dorie Greenspan); a satirist who imagines a world in which African-American people can undergo “demelanization” surgery to become legally “American White” (Maurice Carlos Ruffin); an Azerbaijan-born art instructor who uncovers the ways in which the “overdrawn brains” of humans can find peace and ease by practicing the art of doing nothing at all (Roman Muradov). Here, we talk with two authors visiting Little Rock as guests of the Arkansas Literary Festival — novelist Esmé Weijun Wang and graphic novelist Liana Finck — as well as Little Rock native Rhett Brinkley, who presents his debut essay collection as part of this year’s schedule of events. See the full schedule at arkansasliteraryfestival.org, and a list of our picks on page 63.

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SOOPHIE KIDS

RHETT BRINKLEY’S FIRST BOOK TACKLES ASPIRATION, INERTIA AND AGING OUT OF RANDOM MAKEOUT SESSIONS.

E

By STEPHANIE SMITTLE

One thing I really love about the book — and this is evident from the beginning, in your table of contents — is your knack for wordplay. “Potion control.” “It’s just a face I’m going through.” “Dancing with my selfies.” And my personal favorite, “Gluten for punishment.” When do you think of your best puns/wordplay? Just at random. Driving my car or walking around. Unfortunately, I feel like the switch isn’t always turned on for me. I wish I could channel it more. I can go months without thinking of anything clever. The book has lots of what people would call “Easter eggs” — little recognizable truths — about how Little Rock residents behave in adverse weather, for example. Real places — Midtown Billiards, White Water Tavern, The Fountain in Hillcrest, the E-Z Mart on Markham. And there are also a lot of names — real names of people who live here. Are the names all real? Can you talk about that choice? Did anybody really, really want to be in the book? Or desperately not want to be in the book? I used real names in the situations that I didn’t fictionalize. I think because I really cherished those moments and it felt better to make it as real as possible. All of the recurring characters are based on real people, and I changed their names because I make up so much of the dialogue. Honestly, the main cast of characters seem pretty ambivalent about being in it. One of my main 56 APRIL 2019

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muses hasn’t read the book yet. He’s flipped through it and read a few stories, though.

said, “Thank you.” So I do see those things, all the time. It can be a rewarding job, too.

This other theme — or maybe it’s more like the lens of the book — is through your eyes as a waiter. And anyone who’s worked in a restaurant will understand this: Servers occupy a sort of weird

But those things probably aren’t as much fun to write about as, say, the phrase “a thing of ranch.” Right. It probably took me, like, three years to realize that was a common restaurant colloquialism. I hope I don’t offend anybody by saying that. I think it’s just funny.

spot when it comes to power dynamics between them and their customers. Like, so often servers will see people at their worst, their most inconsiderate. Do you have encounters when you’re serving that make you feel the opposite way? Like ones that make you feel like, “Yeah, I just saw a glimpse of something tender, or something remarkable?” That’s a great question. Yes. All the time. I was getting a root beer refill for a kid recently. He was probably 8 years old, and he was sitting there playing some game on a gaming device and he had Beats headphones on. Sometimes refills go completely unacknowledged, and that’s fine. I set the drink down and he took the headphones off one ear and

You also describe with a lot of skill the feeling of being stuck in Little Rock, but like, stuck sort of by your own choice, which is sort of symbolized perfectly by this Mulehead album cover — a sign with an arrow pointing to Little Rock and an arrow pointing the opposite way to an actual town in Clay County called “Success.” It’s this weird sort of, like, comfortable, inertia, but still inertia. The back of your book says you still live in Little Rock now, and I wonder: What has kept you here? A lot of things. My friends. I like living in Little Rock. It might not show through in the book. I kind of hope it does. One of my fears before I finished wrapping [the book] up was that people would think I don’t like Little Rock. Which is not the case at all. It’s more the feeling of “Man, I’m really not doing that much,” when you look at the years and how much is just noticeably unchanged about my life. That’s what I was trying to say, I guess. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I also love this element of fascination

ILLUSTRATION BY SULAC/PHOTO RHETT BRINKLEY

ven in its most vexed, eyeroll-emoji moments, Rhett Brinkley’s “I Want to Stare at My Phone with You” is a love letter to Little Rock. Or to a piece of it, anyway. The book’s 171 pages, which breeze past in a sitting as if they were half that, traverse vividly familiar ground: Cumberland Street. The KABF-FM, 88.3, control room. The Starbucks at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. The stretch of Markham Street between Pizza D’Action (RIP) and the E-Z Mart. Despite the specificity of that terrain, Brinkley manages to capture something that reaches well beyond the city limits, peering at human ambition through the taciturn lens of a restaurant server surrounded by artists, night owls and people generally grappling with the existential notion that, as Brinkley’s character Counsel puts it, “being in a band, or making movies, or making things out of clay isn’t going to support a family one day.” In its telling, Brinkley finds civility, grime and absurdity in punk rock life and unearths some truly abominable human behavior in the brunch-worshipping, purportedly civilized worlds of the business class. I talked with Brinkley ahead of his appearance at the Arkansas Literary Festival, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant, 311 Main St.


with bodies and the sort of slovenly/ punk-rock aspects of cheap, hard, young living: a flea infestation, quasi-public applications of foot powder, having a few moments every year where you wake up and have to retrace your steps to remember where your car is. Do you think people try to grow out of that too fast? Maybe. I loved it in my early 20s. For me, those years were important. There were things going on, tough things, in mine and my friends’ lives that almost made it easier for us to stick together a little bit longer. It seemed like we were living in squalor, but there were some good moments. But the older you get, the harder it is to accept. The hangovers are worse, the shame is more severe and the patience is dwindling. In the last essay, there’s this thread of conversation about, sort of, nostalgia for how alive the music scene was in the ’90s and early 2000s. If you were to put together a soundtrack of Arkansas music for that essay — or maybe for the whole book — are there bands that spring to mind that would definitely have to be included? Yeah, for sure. Soophie Nun Squad, Sugar in the Raw and American Princes, to name three. But there’s so many. I recommend the Towncraft comp[ilation]. Do you worry that this book is too insider Little Rock? Yeah. One of the early criticisms from friends just reading these stories were like, “Is anybody gonna find this interesting if they don’t know these people? Like, are they gonna like it as much as we do?” So there was that. Somebody else was like, “You threw in something there about ‘Soophie kids.’ Nobody’s gonna know what you’re talking about.’ ” I just went with it, anyway. Yeah. I’d argue that the things you’re talking about transcend the minutiae of the references. And when we fall in love with a book, we’re falling in love with very specific stuff, anyway. We don’t have to know the meaning of absolutely everything to love it. Yeah. And I listen to people when they give me suggestions or edits, and agonize over them. But I like it because it’s a Little Rock book. It feels like a Little Rock book.

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APRIL 2019 57


ESMÉ WEIJUN WANG NAVIGATES MENTAL ILLNESS IN ‘THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS.’ By JULIA THOMAS

E

smé Weijun Wang’s debut book of nonfiction, “The Collected Schizophrenias,” forms a layered web of research, reporting and personal experience to expansively challenge stigmas around mental illness. The book, a winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, is transformative in its attention to the schizophrenias, winding through Wang’s own diagnoses of schizoaffective disorder and late-stage Lyme disease to dig into topics in orbit around each other, including the language surrounding diagnoses, the experience of involuntary hospitalization and spiritual frameworks from which to view mental illness. Of the collection of 13 essays, M. Milks of The Seattle Times wrote that “though its volume is relatively slim at just over 200 pages, ‘The Collected Schizophrenias’ is, in its achievements, a big book.” As Wang writes in the book’s first essay, “The Collected Schizophrenias” is the uncovering of an origin story and the evolving sets of question marks, the gray areas, the complexities and the vast contradictions that swirl around wider experiences of mental illness: “Some people dislike diagnoses, disagreeably calling them labels and boxes, but I’ve always found comfort in pre-existing conditions. I like to know that I’m not pioneering an inexplicable experience.” Wang’s first book was a novel, “The Bor58 APRIL 2019

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der of Paradise” (2016), and she was the winner of the 2018 Whiting Award. Ahead of the Arkansas Literary Festival, we sat down to speak about her research and writing process, navigating between fiction and nonfiction, and creative sources. This book weaves through so many themes, starting with defining diagnoses, laying out language and debunking the stigmas around what society tells us schizophrenia is. Could you speak a little bit about your thinking behind the chronology of the book and writing process? I want to start out by saying that I never intended for this to be a memoir. I have nothing against memoirs, but I just did not want to write one. This was always meant to be an essay collection. When I approached Gray Wolf for the Gray Wolf Nonfiction Prize, I had about 100 pages of essays about schizophrenia. So then, I was working with Steve Woodward, my editor. Our big task was to create a book with 100 pages as a jumping-off point, to create a book that wasn’t just a bunch of essays about roughly the same topic thrown into one book. That was, above all, what we most wanted to avoid. So even though I still have a lot of trouble actually expressing what that thread or arc is, I do feel that there is

quite a strong narrative arc or semantic arc in the book. ... It’s actually quite neat for me to hear or read interviewers or reviewers discover these arcs and describe them to me. One of the fun things of putting out a book and having it become something other than oneself, it becomes part of the world and part of the reader’s experience and interpretation. You said in an interview on the podcast “Call Your Girlfriend” that you view healing as a spiral. You keep coming back to the same spot, but you’re a little bit further out on the spiral. How do you see your book reflecting that idea? Yeah, exactly. I love that spiral image and I think that the way the book reflects that is so much rooted in the idea of “no cure.” It would be one thing if the schizophrenias were something that was curable, if it were, say, like a broken leg where you just put on a cast and have some physical therapy. That would not look so much like a spiral. But the schizophrenias are not, as far as we know, curable. My former psychiatrist described it as going through oscillations. Right now I am currently stable but it’s something that I can never take for granted, because I never know what will set off an episode, so I can always get back to finding myself on a different part of that spiral again,

PHOTO: KRISTIN COFER

ON THE SPIRAL


a part of that spiral that is perhaps not a part that I want to be on particularly. Some parts of the book are about the more high-functioning aspects of my life and putting on a good face, whether through makeup or behavior, but there’s also a lot about being low-functioning and going to ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] consults and such. Were there any parts of the research process that unearthed new ways of approaching this body of work? I have this process for nonfiction writing where I write pieces of information or quotes from interviews on a index card. I have this massive metal box filled with index cards that are divided by these markers, so while I was working on structuring these essays, I would put the index cards on the wall or on the floor in front of me and just arrange them in a way that I thought would make sense structurally. It was really great because then I would see what was missing in those essays. So then, that would mean that I would often have index cards with research that I had gleaned from psychology papers or newspaper articles, these kind of dry facts, but they would butt up against these phrases or sentences that I had jotted down from my own experience or quotes from interviews I’d done with people about different things, and that was where the fun was happening. ... I think it was very akin to the kind of joy that happens in writing fiction where the characters kind of run away with you and you don’t know what they’re doing almost, they kind of take over. In those moments in nonfiction, it’s just so beautiful, when things just link together and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I love this, the way these things are coming together. I couldn’t make this up.” It’s just working. It always feels so satisfying. Your first book, “The Border of Paradise,” is a novel that seems to touch on some of your family’s history and experiences. What was it like for you to move between writing fiction and creative nonfiction? I do have to say that “The Border of Paradise” is so different from my real life. There are shadows or imprints from my own experience, but the parts that are most true of my own experience in “The Border of Paradise” are the emotional truths, which I think is almost always true of my fiction. My fiction tends to be very unhooked to my own life, but very closely hooked to my emotional experience. When I was writing “The Border of Paradise,” I never thought I would write nonfiction, so I threw in as much stuff about the visceral experience of psychosis as I could because I wanted to be able to write something that could convey that experience in a way that I hadn’t seen in literature before.

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APRIL 2019 59


LIANA FINCK

AN ARTIST, HER SHADOW, CREATE A MEMOIR. By LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK

A

cartoon in a recent New Yorker magazine showed Romeo at Juliet’s window. She’s looking out from above; he’s on his cellphone saying, “I’m here.” It was perfect New Yorker humor, an ironic reflection of contemporary life, and it was drawn by Liana Finck, who’ll be in Little Rock for the Arkansas Literary Festival. Finck’s erstwhile editor at the New Yorker was none other than Bob Mankoff (His “How about never? Is never good enough for you?” is among such celestial New Yorker captions as “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”). Working with Mankoff (now retired) and rubbing elbows with such famous, wry wits as Roz Chast is a “dream job,” Finck said in an interview. But it is Finck’s memoir, “Passing for Human,” that is putting her in the superlunary realm of graphic novelists. Finck said she finds it difficult to talk about “Passing for Human.” “I think I didn’t resolve it.” But then, neither is Finck, who is only 33, resolved. It is a story with many beginnings, and though a memoir it includes what came before and during the narrator’s life: the creation of the world by a fairy queen, her mother’s story, her father’s story, stories of failed love affairs. Each chapter in the nonlinear narrative is Chapter 1, because the stories are equally necessary to telling us who the author is. Finck (who identifies herself as Leola in the book) draws in simple, yet expressive, lines: Her abused mother devolves into a tangle of

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lines on the floor; her anxiety about the book — told within the book — takes the form of rodent-like blobs gnawing at her shoulders. Crucial to the story is the author’s shadow, a thing lost and found, like memories that are forgotten or purposely shaken off. Thinking about the shadow’s role — Can you cast a shadow if you’re not whole? If your shadow talks, is it passing for human? — is one of the most challenging (and satisfying) elements of the book. Finck’s only explanation is that the shadow’s job is to “push you to be yourself.” The native New Yorker says she’s “channeling my mom in this book. She turns everything into a story.” Telling a story in words only “gets in the way of seeing things as they really are,” she said. Like the way one writes in a diary? A reporter asked. Yes. But drawings, unlike words, have their own truth. “To me, a drawing is its own thing. I find inanimate things are very much alive. … A drawing has its own personality that is more vivid than even that of a person, because it has its own essence.” That Finck finds life in the inanimate is a good thing for an artist using line (and hand lettering) to tell her story. Finck has been drawing since infancy, practically, “always from a place of wanting to tell stories,” she said. Her first book, “A Bintel Brief,” tells the stories of Jewish immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York trying to adjust to life in America. Finck’s debut was inspired by The Forward, a newspaper that began publication in 1897 and was originally in Yiddish. Its advice

column (“A Bintel Brief,” which translates to a bundle of letters) was familiar to “everyone in my parents’ generation and my grandparents’ generation,” Finck said. As with “Passing for Human,” there’s a mystical bent to “A Bintel Brief”: The narrator (a young woman) learns of the letters from the long-gone editor himself, a man with a heart-shaped head. The device allows Finck to retell, in shortened form (and in English) some of the letters she found (and some of her own creation, also): A woman who suspects her neighbor of taking a valuable watch wants to know if she should confront the neighbor; the socialist Forward remarks on the terrible lot of the underpaid worker who might need to steal to feed his family. A man is guilt-ridden because he escaped a pogrom; his answer is made privately. A cantor who’s lost his faith in God is not chastised, but told to seek work singing elsewhere. The subtitle of “A Bintel Brief” is “Love and Longing in Old New York,” and the book turns out to be love and longing in New New York, as well. Finck hasn’t yet decided what she’ll talk about during the festival; she says she’s a last-minute kind of person. She’ll join comic book artist Charles Forsman, whose “The End of the F***ing World” has been adapted into a Netflix original series, and Adam Smith, author of the graphic novel “Long Walk to Valhalla” for a panel discussion at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in the Darragh Center of the Main Library.


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Arkansas Literary Festival: Highlights See arkansasliteraryfestival.org for a full schedule of author talks, workshops, special events and children’s activities. TUESDAY 4/23 “Goldfinger.” The 1964 James Bond movie, featuring Sean Connery, will be screened. 7 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater. 100 River Market Ave. WEDNESDAY 4/24 “A Reception for Higgins Bond: A Survey of Paintings and Drawings.” Higgins Bond, the first African-American woman to illustrate a stamp for the U.S. Postal Service, is a Little Rock native. Here’s a chance to meet the artist and see her work. 5:30 p.m., Hearne Fine Art, 1001 Wright Ave. THURSDAY 4/25 “What’s Inside?” Anita Davis explores art and femininity through handbags, discussing her work at ESSE Purse Museum and her book “What’s Inside? A Century of Women and Handbags, 1900-1999.” 6 p.m. ESSE Purse Museum and Store, 1510 Main St. FRIDAY 4/26 “Author! Author!” A party and reception kicks off the Lit Fest in earnest, with libations, light fare and books for sale from presenting authors. 7 p.m., Main Library, 100 S. Rock St. “The Birth of Loud.” As a nod to presenting author Ian S. Port’s “The Birth of Loud,” a concert features a triumvirate of Little Rock’s finest songwriters: Joshua Asante, Isaac Alexander and Bonnie Montgomery. 10:30 p.m., Four Quarter Bar, 415 Main St., North Little Rock. SATURDAY 4/27 “Peace & Prose.” Mark Freeman debunks misconceptions about mental health and discusses his book “You Are Not a Rock: A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Mental Health (for Humans),” with Levi Agee, Mike Mueller and Sister Deborah Troillet. 10 a.m., Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave. Mitchell S. Jackson, Julie Rieger. Acclaimed novelist Jackson (“Survival Math,” “The Residue Years”) pairs with Rieger, head of media at 20th Century Fox and author of “The Ghost Photographer: A Hollywood Executive’s True Story of Discovering the Real World of Make-Believe,” for a talk. 10 a.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. Maker’s Alley. Meet makers of all kinds in the Lit Fest’s all-day outdoor celebration at Library Square, with performances from DOT (5:30 p.m.) and Dazz & Brie (6 p.m.) and pop-up displays from Electric Ghost, Control, MilkDadd, Bang-Up Betty, Crying Weasel Vintage, Sean Sapp, Matthew Castellano of Gallery 360, Luna Tick Designs

Kathy Bay and Jason McCann Opening Reception, Saturday April 27th 6 to 9 pm Show runs through May 18th

and Jack Lloyd of Dower. 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Library Square. Kevin Brockmeier, Kathryn Davis. Little Rock native Brockmeier discusses his forthcoming book “The Ghost Variations,” paired with fellow eight-time author Davis and her latest, “The Silk Road.” 11:30 a.m., UA Little Rock Downtown, 333 President Clinton Ave.

Kathy Bay

Rick Campbell, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. “Smallville” creators Gough and Millar share a forum with Campbell, a retired U.S. Navy commander and author of “Treason,” “The Trident Deception,” “Empire Rising” and “Ice Station Nautilus.” 11:30 a.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. Roman Muradov, Mary Laura Philpott. Muradov, an Azerbaijan-born illustrator and author, explores the benefits of idleness, and is paired with fellow illustrator Philpott (“I Miss You When I Blink,” “Penguins with People Problems”). 11:30 a.m., Roberts Library & Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, 401 President Clinton Ave. Dorie Greenspan, Elizabeth Minchilli. New York Times magazine columnist and fivetime James Beard Award winner Greenspan (“Everyday Dorie”) pairs with blogger/author/food tour guide Minchilli (“The Italian Table: Creating Festive Meals for Friends and Family”). 1 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave. Crystal C. Mercer, Randi Romo. Textile artist, actor, activist, poet and author Mercer (“A Love Story Waiting to Happen”) and self-described “Mexican-American, Southerner, former farmworker, organizer/activist, queer, female, parent, grandparent, working class, elder, and survivor” Romo (“Othered”) team for readings. 1 p.m., UA Little Rock downtown, 333 President Clinton Ave.

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Patrick McGilligan, André Millard. Film writer Patrick McGilligan (“George Cukor: A Double Life,” “Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast,” “Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light”) joins André Millard (“America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound,” “The Electric Guitar,” “Beatlemania”) for a talk on film, technology and culture. 1 p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. Elizabeth Eckford, Euridice Stanley, Grace Stanley. Eckford — one of the Little Rock Nine — joins her co-authors for a discussion of their book “The Worst First Day: Bullied While Desegregating Central High.” 2:30 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave.

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APRIL 2019 63


Liana Finck, Charles Forsman, Adam Smith. Cartoonist/memoirist Finck (“Passing for Human,” “A Bintel Brief”) joins comic book artist Smith (“Long Walk to Valhalla”) and Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist Forsman (“Hobo Mom,” “I Am Not Okay With This,” “The End of the F**king World”) for a panel discussion. 2:30 p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. Marina Lostetter, Arkady Martine. Lostetter brings her space opera duo “Noumenon” and “Noumenon Infinity” as complement to Byzantine Empire historian/city planner Martine’s speculative fiction. 2:30 p.m., UA Little Rock Downtown. Rhett Brinkley, Lillian Li, Vaughn Scribner. Essayist and Little Rock native Brinkley (“I Want to Stare at My Phone with You”) joins Li (“Number One Chinese Restaurant”) and UCA history professor Scribner (“Inn Civility: Urban Taverns and Early American Civil Society”) for this talk. 2:30 p.m., Allsopp & Chapple, 311 Main St.

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Chigozie Obioma, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Pitchaya Sudbanathad. Nigerian-born novelist Obioma (“The Fishermen”) teams with New Orleans native author Ruffin (“We Cast A Shadow”) and Sudbanathad (“Bangkok Wakes to Rain”). 4 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater. Mark Freeman, Esmé Weijun Wang. Wang (“The Collected Schizophrenias”) and Freeman (“You Are Not a Rock: A Step-ByStep Guide to Better Mental Health [for Humans]"), authors who delve into mental health topics, team for this forum. 4 p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. Cherisse Jones-Branch, Erin Wood. This talk puts a spotlight on Arkansas women, with readings from Jones-Branch (“Crossing the Line: Women and Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II,” “Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times,” co-editor) and Et Alia Press owner Wood (“Women Make Arkansas: Conversations with 50 Creatives”). 4 p.m., Roberts Library and Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Room 124. Pub or Perish. This annual event, sponsored by the Arkansas Times, features live readings of poetry, memoir and fiction in the big room at Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack. 7 p.m., Stickyz, 107 River Market Ave. SUNDAY 4/28 “Everyday Dorie” Workshop. Cookbook author and New York Times magazine columnist Dorie Greenspan demonstrates how to cook cheese puffs and Ricotta Spoonables. 1:30 p.m., Eggshells Kitchen Co., 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd.


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APRIL 2019 65


the TO-DO list

BICENTENNIAL SHOW: "Quapaw

Quarter Spring" by Susan Chambers (top right) and "In Reference to Stamps" by Autumn Blaylock (below) are part of the touring exhibit.

By STEPHANIE SMITTLE , LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK, DANIEL FORD and CHRISTIAN LEUS

ARKANSAS TERRITORY COLLECTION

It’s not often that one sees a comical imitation of a Thomas Hart Benton painting depicting rough sorts gigging fish at night. For that painting alone, if not the portrait of Judge Isaac Parker looking out the window at a hanging reflected in a window pane, or of Maya Angelou with birds tied to her wrists, or of Eldridge Cleaver rendered with playing cards, should make a trip to Siloam Springs worthwhile. Works by 65 Arkansas artists were selected for the “Arkansas Territory Collection,” an exhibition commemorating the bicentennial of the incorporation of the Arkansas Territory in 1819 with paintings and mixed media about the people and places of Arkansas and Oklahoma. The traveling exhibition, assembled by the Heart of America Artists’ Association, a nonprofit established last year by John P. Lasater IV and Todd Williams, both of Siloam Springs, opens at John Brown University’s Windgate Gallery. Central Arkansas artists represented in the show include Susan Baker Chambers, Cary Smith, Lynda Deer (all of Little Rock), Rashawn Penister (Pine Bluff) and Neilann Brown (Sherwood). Altogether, there are 78 works in the show, by artists from nine states. Donations are being sought for the publication of a catalog for the exhibition at heartofamericanartists. com/donate. The show is slated to travel to the Cane Hill Museum in May, the Historic Arkansas Museum in July and the South Arkansas Arts Center in May 2020, along with sites in Oklahoma, which was part of the Arkansas Territory. LNP

ARKANSAS TRAVELERS VS. TULSA DRILLERS

4/11/-4/14 | 7:10 P.M. THU.-FRI., 6:10 P.M. SAT., 2:10 P.M. SUN. | DICKEYSTEPHENS PARK | $7-$13. For many, the start of spring is marked not by a groundhog’s shadow or by a date on a calendar, but by the smell of freshly cut grass, the crack of a wooden bat, and the cherished sight of an overeager dizzy bat racer careening wildly down the third base line. Kicking off their 13th home season at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, their 112th season overall and 54th consecutive in the Texas League, the Travelers will once again seek to provide the time-honored mixture of professional baseball and amateur theatrics that minor league diehards crave. The 2019 season offers something for everyone: For those who want to see how close they can get to a sporting event without paying any attention at all, the beer garden awaits. For those more interested in the product on the field, many of the Seattle Mariners’ best prospects should spend time in Central Arkansas this year, with former first-round picks Kyle Lewis (OF) and Evan White (1B) expected to play at the AA level. Regardless of your interest in our national pastime, the Travelers offer one of the best places in town to just pass time, particularly as the sun sets on the Little Rock skyline, the craft beer flows freely, and Otey the Possum lurks around looking terrifying. DF

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: MONSTER JAM/DAVID DEANGELIS

MONDAY-FRIDAY, SUNDAY THROUGH 5/2 | JOHN BROWN UNIVERSITY, SILOAM SPRINGS.


‘RARER THAN HENS TEETH’:

Arthur Hash’s 3D jewelry at UA Little Rock.

MONSTER JAM

SATURDAY-SUNDAY 4/6-4/7 | VERIZON ARENA $17-$47. Here is a nonexclusive list of the vehicular majesty one can likely witness at Monster Jam 2019: A truck named Megalodon doing something called a “slap wheelie,” Grave Digger pulling off a rad “pogo,” Raminator and Rammunition competing to determine who rams the hardest, and a 12,000-pound piece of machinery known menacingly as Monster Mutt engaged in a donut-off with the less-menacingly named Scooby-Doo. Eight trucks will compete in a variety of events, including timed and head-to-head races, a two-wheel skill challenge, donut competitions and a freestyle period. If the 1,500-horsepower tomfoolery taking place on the track isn’t your cup of Natural Light, then come for the people watching; there will be no shortage of babies in comically large over-the-ear headphones. One of numerous stops on Monster Jam’s 2019 journey to the World Finals in Orlando, this year offers the opportunity for you yourself to serve as a judge. If you are able to shoulder such serious responsibility, then head to the arena, pull out your phone and, if you dare, let Bounty Hunter know how unimpressed you were by its “sky wheelie.” DF

‘THE DAILY CARRY IN A POST-DIGITAL AGE’

4/1-5/15 | WINDGATE CENTER OF ART AND DESIGN | UA LITTLE ROCK. Arthur Hash is an assistant professor in the jewelry and metalsmith department at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Ben Dory is an artist-in-residence at UA Little Rock in metals and teaching a class in 3D printing/jewelry this semester. Lucky UA Little Rock art students and for those of us who love a little weirdness in our art: Hash’s exhibition, in the Small Gallery (level one), will feature fabricated jewelry that nods to a love of his “daily carry.” A news release explains Hash feels these items — good luck charms, river stones, folding knives — help shape his identity. Toothpaste, does, too, as evidenced by his necklace pendant of a mostly used toothpaste tube, “Rarer than hens’ teeth as common as an old shoe.” The show also includes work in silver and gemstones. Hash has shown his work at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Virginia Beach, Va.; the Wayne Art Center in Philadelphia; and the Museum of Art in Delaware, Ohio. Hash will give a talk at 5:30 p.m. April 19 at the Windgate Center, Room 101. LNP

‘SISTER ACT: THE MUSICAL’

THROUGH 4/20 | MURRY’S DINNER PLAYHOUSE | $25$37. At any given minute during the last 20-plus years you could have scrolled through your cable guide and the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg-starring “Sister Act” would have been playing. Watching Country Music Television at 3 a.m.? “Sister Act.” SyFy on a Sunday afternoon? Probably “Sister Act.” The film takes a wild batch of ingredients — Vegas lounge singers, mobsters, nuns, the Pope himself, ’60s girl-group pop music, immaculately arranged hymns, my personal favorite dame (Maggie Smith) — and cooks up an exceedingly watchable fish-out-of-water musical comedy that was a smash hit upon release and has refused to fade from public consciousness since. It is cinema of the very highest order: The power of music converts San Francisco street toughs to Catholicism. Nuns fly to Reno, Nev., in a helicopter and overrun a casino. In 2006, this timeless tale of a nun on the run won five Tony Award nominations for the Broadway production, including one for Best Musical. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (dinner 6-7:20 p.m.) and 12:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Sun. (lunch 11 a.m.-12:40 p.m., dinner 5:30-6:40 p.m.). DF

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DERBY DAY AT OAKLAWN

SATURDAY 4/13 | FIRST POST 12:30 P.M. | OAKLAWN RACING & GAMING | FREE. According to Oaklawn’s glossary of horse racing terms, the “Holy Ghost” is a betting strategy that relies on the fact that good things come in threes. So, if a certain jockey or trainer wins twice, chances are they’ll win again — or, if a horse wins both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, they’re more than likely to take the title at the Kentucky Derby as well. The Holy Ghost blessed Smarty Jones in 2004, winning him all three races and winning his owners a $5 million cash bonus on top of their winners’ purses. In 2015, the Holy Ghost did American Pharoah one better, getting him not just the Kentucky title, but the whole hallowed Triple Crown. So, Derby Day is the time to put on your church clothes, foray out to the race track and place your bets on just how exactly the spirit will move. And, for nonbelievers — or maybe for the equine-ambivalent — you can see and be seen in the fashionable crowd beneath the dogwood trees in Oaklawn’s infield, where beer and corned beef sandwiches abound. General admission is free, but seat reservations can be purchased starting at $4.50, if you feel so called. CL

OZARK FOOTHILLS FILMFEST

THURSDAY-SATURDAY 4/18-20, FRIDAY-SATURDAY 4/26-27 | MELBA THEATER, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE, BATESVILLE | $3-$30. The Ozark Foothills FilmFest has been rockin’ along for 18 years, bringing panels, workshops and screenings of all sorts to Batesville every April. This year, though, will be extra special, with the festival’s opening weekend being hosted at the Melba Theater, a recently restored art deco jewel in downtown Batesville. The festival will open with a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush,” a restored version of the original 1925 comedic masterpiece, accompanied by live music from local guitarist Danny Dozier. From there, the festival will pack its two weekends with films of all shapes and sizes, including four programs that feature narrative and documentary shorts from the States and abroad. Documentary features will include Pat Mire’s “Sushi and Sauce Piquante: The Life and Music of Jerry McGee”; Jessica Ynez Simmons’ “I Can Only Be Mary Lane,” about a Chicago blues singer originally from Clarendon; and Katharina Stieffenhofer’s “From Seed to Seed,” a look at ecological agriculture. The festival will also reprise its focus on rural America in film with its “Reel Rural” program, which will screen on the final day of the festival in UACCB’s Independence Hall. This year’s series features James Choi’s “Empty Space,” Daniel Peddle’s “Moss” and Andrew Paul Davis’s “Palace,” and all three filmmakers will stick around for a panel discussion and post-screening Q&As. You’ll get your money’s worth and then some with an allaccess pass for just $30; tickets for individual screenings and blocks are $3-$7. CL

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM/IMDB/ PALM PICTURES/RETT PEEK

the TO-DO list


BEETHOVEN & BLUE JEANS 4/13-4/14 | 7:30 P.M. SAT., 3 P.M. SUN. | ROBINSON PERFORMANCE HALL | $16-$68.

The great thing about the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra having done this casual-classical shindig for so long? Patrons know that every spring, they’ll get a chance to go wrap themselves in a blanket of heady musical drama, in duds no fancier than those they’d wear for a quick trip to Kroger for eggs. The drawback, if there is one, is that slating the annual concert under Ludwig’s namesake risks masking the surprise and variety on the bill. Take this year’s repertoire, for example, in which violinist Gareth Johnson interprets Beethoven’s sweetly frolicsome “Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 2,” a stark departure from the magisterial “Ode to Joy” the ASO tackled in February. That’s programmed alongside the “Bacchanale” from Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Dalila” —hands down, the Best Orgy Banger of 1877 — along with the serpentine, frenzied “Tzigane” from Ravel and other delights: Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” suite and the first of George Enescu’s three Roumenian Rhapsodies. It’s all ear candy, every bit of it, prepared in petit four-sized servings. SS

BEN DICKEY

SATURDAY 4/20 | WHITE WATER TAVERN.

ARKANSAS TIMES FILM SERIES: ‘STOP MAKING SENSE’ TUESDAY 4/16 | 7 P.M. | RIVERDALE 10 CINEMA | $9.

Look, until holograms and virtual reality can make us smell colors and experience Thanksgiving dinner in a single bite, it’s pretty inconceivable that we are going to bear witness to the art rock of Talking Heads in live concert form. Excepting, perhaps, here, in this screening of Jonathan Demme’s hallowed film from 1984, up on the big screen as part of the Arkansas Times Film Series. Therein, framed by the vision of Demme and his then-girlfriend, Sandy McLeod, are crystallized snapshots of all the things that made this rock quartet so pivotal: David Byrne’s intensity and jerky physicality, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s shared bounce and joie de vivre, the conspicuous absence of anything that resembled a confessional love song. With “Stop Making Sense,” it was as if the Talking Heads, armed with its inimitably normcore comportment, was saying, “Look at this! We are going to wear gray, do peculiar things with our hips and trim any fat that might distract from what’s really important to us: the beat, our bodies and the joy of marrying the two together.” Arkansas Times screens the film in partnership with Film Quotes Film and Riverdale 10 Cinema. SS

In a world ruled by fairness, Ben Dickey’s 2016 solo record “Sexy Birds & Salt Water Classics” and its 2019 follow-up “A Glimmer on the Outskirts” would be enough to make his a household name. It was, however, the fortuitous events of that three-year interim that would do the trick. The Little Rock native — formerly of ’90s-era local post-hardcore act Shake Ray Turbine — found his name on the tongues of critics at Rolling Stone and Sundance last year after his friend Ethan Hawke cast him at the center of “Blaze,” a film depicting the life of Malvern native/songwriting legend Blaze Foley. What emerged was hailed as the best biopic of 2018; Dickey’s film debut grappled with its subject unflinchingly, giving a wider audience not only awareness of Foley’s catalogue and stunning biography, but an awareness of Dickey’s own artistry. Even better, Bob Dylan’s longtime guitarist Charlie Sexton — who played Townes Van Zandt in “Blaze” — produced “A Glimmer on the Outskirts,” selecting its track list and its studio musicians. It’s a mesmerizing collection of tracks, earnest and beatific, and worthy of getting lost in more than once, with vivid turns of phrase like “the Great Rearranger drippin’ all his venom into our eyes.” Dickey performs from it for this Saturday engagement at the White Water Tavern, where he debuted “Sexy Birds” in 2016, before he became an indie film darling. SS

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FOOD & DRINK

SURVEYING THE LINE AT DOWNTOWN LITTLE ROCK’S POPULAR NEW DONUT SHOP. By MICAH FIELDS Photography by BRIAN CHILSON

DONUTS, 25/8: They're wild, weird and worth a long wait to Hurts lovers in Little Rock.

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L

ittle Rock’s newest sweet-treat franchise, Hurts Donut Co., touts its brand as the “rebel of all donuts.” Piled high with themed toppings, many of the Missouri-born chain’s zany offerings resemble edible toys, bordering on the grotesque. They bear names like “White and Nerdy” and “Cosmic Brownie” — novelty concoctions dusted with cereal and crushed-up candy bars, crawling with gummy worms, slathered with neon icings, sprinkled with bacon and cookies. As someone whose donut tastes typically tend toward the prudish — a standard glazed here, an old fashioned there, the occasional fritter dunked in black coffee — I’ve been scandalized, but morbidly curious, since Hurts opened Feb. 27. Ahead of its 5 a.m. opening day, people were camped out in front of the store to be among the first to get a donut. What


Come to Lulu’s where finger-licking, shell-cracking, and head-sucking are socially acceptable activities. SUGAR SHACK: Hurts brings in customers as diverse as its donuts.

compelled these would-be patrons to sacrifice their evenings standing in sluggish lines, huddled in the rain and cold, all for a few morsels of fried and sweetened dough? What was I missing? I needed to know, and so I set out to test their wares. Inspired by Hurts’ billing as a 24-hour establishment (or, as their marketing cheekily spins it, “25/8”), my plan was to claim a table and hold court for half a day, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., observing the scene, quizzing fans and working my way through the chain’s vast, eccentric menu. I reported on a Saturday, having consumed nothing but a handful of olives. I took my place in the snaking line and settled in for a long wait. On this particular evening, two major events had converged in downtown Little Rock: a regional volleyball tournament and the 20th Century Club’s annual Hope Ball. Customers varied between casually dressed, out-of-town families and swanky, well-to-do Little Rock natives. They came in tuxes and sequined gowns, pajamas and athleisure. One of my linemates, a young man with braces and wearing a smart dark suit, admitted he’d escaped the Hope Ball prematurely with his companion, bored and craving sweets. His sights were set on a “Cereal Killer” donut covered with Cap’n Crunch. A volleyballer from Hot Springs named Nena raved about the cookies-and-cream option. A twentysomething named Jazz declared allegiance to straight-up glazed. Three girls ahead of me — Chloe (9), Lauren (10) and

Ava Kate (11) — schemed, fidgeted and eyed the display case with covetous stares. In the peak of the first rush, I saw one lone, befuddled dad from Oregon — in town on volleyball business — stumbling through the swarm, searching for his daughter, who had giddily rushed ahead. We locked eyes for a moment. “What is it about this place?” he asked me, desperate and confused. I shrugged and pointed my finger, directing him to the end of the line. “We just fell in love with the concept,” the franchise’s co-owner, Heather Grimes, told me as we shared a table around midnight, during a rare lull. She recalled a moment in the spring of 2018, when she and her husband, Connor, stepped into a Hurts Donut shop for the first time in Branson, Mo. “The bright colors on the walls. The vibe. It’s just not your average donut shop,” she said. Shortly after that trip to Branson, they approached the company’s founder. “We want Little Rock,” they told him. Less than a year later, their dreams materialized on the 100 block of East Markham, nestled across the street from the Statehouse Convention Center. Since then, they’ve experienced a steady throng of customers. Their shop, the company’s 22nd location, made 890 sales over the course of the Saturday I visited. Absurdist themes aside, the Grimeses take pride in the inherent quality of every product they sell. Before they’re loaded with sig-

5911 R St, Little Rock (501) 663-2388 www.luluscrabboil.com

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APRIL 2019 73


DOE’S KNOWS LUNCH & DINNER. Lunch: Mon- Fri 11am-2pm Dinner: Mon-Thur 5-9pm • Fri & Sat 5-10pm FULL BAR & PRIVATE PARTY ROOM BEST STEAK

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BEST ITALIAN Come taste what you’ve been missing! AROUND THE STATE (CONWAY) Downtown Conway 915 Front Street | 501-205-8751 Downtown Russellville Downtown Van Buren 319 West Main | 479-747-1707 810 Main Street | 479-262-6225 pastagrillrestaurant.com 74 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

‘I spent my donut savings on the upcharge of adding glitter to my drink, which shimmers when you jostle the cup and hold it up to light.’ nature toppings, Hurts donuts fall into three distinct categories: yeast-risen, white cake and chocolate cake, all of which are made in-house and from scratch, with no frozen ingredients. The “Jesús” donut, Heather told me, is their best seller by far. The recipe is simple: a white cake base with vanilla icing, dipped in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with caramel. After a knee-throbbing, 74-minute wait on my first trip to the case, I placed my order with a gregarious employee named Cole. I opted for the “Hurts Dozen,” which saves you a few bucks and averts paralysis of choice by allowing the staff to pick 12 styles at their discretion. I got an iced coffee, too, and spent my donut savings on the upcharge of adding glitter — no kidding — to my drink, which shimmers when you jostle the cup and hold it up to light. Freed from the line, I got down to the business of tasting. To my surprise, despite the weight of icing and garnishes, my yeast-risen donuts held the appropriate loft and structure, not too airy and not too dense. The range of texture was a testament to judicious frying: faintly crispy on the exterior, with an oil-free, pillowy interior. The cake donuts, too, while not exactly delicate — most configurations weigh close to a pound, it seems — maintained balanced flavor even without their quirky toppings. All told, after doubling back and waiting in line once more, I sampled over 16 styles of donuts that night. I put two yeasted versions at the top of my list, one of which cradled a dollop of Nutella at its center, the other a sprinkling of Fruity Pebbles. My two bottom-rung picks were cloying cake bricks, topped with crushed Oreos and powdered Tang. Between tastings, holed up in a quiet-ish corner, I tried my best to assess the venue as an all-night hangout. Amid the undulating din of customers and the store’s piped-in pop music, I composed several emails, wrote a heartfelt longhand letter to a friend, listened to Solange’s new album, and scanned Zillow


Serving up the Best Mexican Food in Central Arkansas year after year THE 2 A.M. LINE: Even in the wee hours, you'll have to wait to satisfy your Jesús jones.

for dream homes on the opulent canals of Venice, Calif. I watched the first half of “Legally Blonde.” Meanwhile, a late-night Little Rock tableau developed. Sometime between 1 and 2 in the morning, a rowdy quintet of Air Force bros in boat shoes and crew cuts came whooping in and demanded kolaches. Around 2:30, a man dressed in all black and a top hat appeared, ushering an elderly fellow hunched over a walker. At 3:56, a posse of cops streamed in and stoically munched their Jesúses. The cops were followed by a troupe of drag queens who threw open the doors and strode through the premises, striking poses and blowing kisses to all. Hurts staff trickled out from the kitchen and took selfies with the queens in front of the soda fountain. It was a joyous affair, and my mood — growing more sour and fatigued by the minute — took a turn for the better. I refilled my cup of glitter coffee, leaned back in my seat, let another hour pass, and watched a courteous, pre-church crowd begin to accumulate. Eventually my sentence neared its end, and I could see hints of sunlight reflected in the windows across the street. For the first time in what felt like weeks, I stepped outside, a little sweaty and ashamed. I was glad to leave, but an unexpected sentiment materialized. I had, in all honesty, prepared to condemn the place and its clientele on the basis of its gimmick alone, the relentless puns and unabashed kitsch, but the night had had the opposite effect. I’d come searching for a particular type, and had instead found too many to list. Those 12 hours, in fact, constituted the most democratic space I’d experienced in a long while. I’d discovered a broad and strange Hurts family there, congregating around those ridiculous, colorful rings of sugar and flour.

BEST MEXICAN FOOD AROUND THE STATE (HOT SPRINGS) BEST MEXICAN FOOD (LITTLE ROCK)

THREE LOCATIONS:

LITTLE ROCK, 3024 CANTRELL RD • BENTON, 17401 I-30 • HOT SPRINGS, 3836 CENTRAL AVE WWW.LAHAMEX.COM

Serving Dinner Monday-Thursday 5 pm - 9:30 pm Friday & Saturday 5 pm - 10 pm

www.Riverfront-Steakhouse.com Located in the Wyndham Hotel 2 Riverfront Place, North Little Rock, AR 501 375 7825 ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 75


WHAT'S HAPPENING IN HOT SPRINGS! APRIL 2019

SPONSORED BY OAKLAWN RACING & GAMING AND VISIT HOT SPRINGS

THROUGH APRIL 12

Tulip Extravaganza Garvan Gardens

Daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. DATES ARE APPROXIMATE! This event is highly weather-dependent. Dates will be revised as needed depending upon bloom time. Dates cover the entire bloom season, with peak usually in the middle. Celebrate the end of winter at Garvan Gardens during Tulip Extravaganza! There are thousands of beautiful blooms. Blooming spring annuals and azaleas make the biggest display of color between Dallas and Memphis all season. Free to members | $15 adults | $5 ages 4-12 | Free 3 and under 

APRIL 12-14

DAVID YERBY

THE RACING FESTIVAL OF THE SOUTH

The best horses in the country come to Hot Springs for the Racing Festival of South, which kicks off Friday, April 12, with the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) and culminates Sunday, April 14, with the $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes. Saturday, April 13, is the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and two other stakes races — the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. Oaklawn’s infield will be open every Saturday in April! Bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the races from this park-like setting. There will be a Beer Garden, Kids Zone and big screen TV. Live racing continues every Thursday–Sunday until May 4.

APRIL 26-MAY 5

ARTS IN THE PARK

Arts & The Park, presented by Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance and Presenting Sponsor Arvest Bank, is a 10-day celebration of the arts, scheduled April 26–May 5 in Downtown Hot Springs National Park. The festival includes Art Springs, a free two-day outdoor art festival that will showcase fine artists and artisans on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28. During Art Springs, art lovers can indulge in great food, have fun with activities for children, and take part in the always popular Chalk Walk. There will be numerous events throughout the festival, including Gallery Walk on Friday, May 3, artist demonstrations at downtown galleries, artist workshops for all ages, poetry readings, concerts and more. Art lovers can visit the studios of participating artists during the Studio Tours event to be held Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5.

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Bring the family!

APRIL 18-20

21st Annual Hot Springs Corvette Weekend

TA C O S AT A N O T H E R L E V E L

Mon-Thur 11-9 • Fri-Sat 11-10 • Sun: 11-3 Brunch Only 200 Higdon Ferry Rd. • Hot Springs • Across the street from the racetrack. (501) 623-TACO (8226) • capostacoshs@gmail.com

Hot Springs Convention Center

21st Annual Hot Springs Corvette celebrates a weekend for charity. Over 200 Corvettes will be on display in the Convention Center on Saturday, April 20, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.! Admission is free and open to the public.

APRIL 19

Northwoods Full Moon Ride

300 Pineland Drive, Hot Springs The ride will be a no-drop beginner-to-intermediate group ride. The route will depend on the skill level of the participants. We will spend around an hour on the trails. We will meet at the trailhead at 6 p.m. and begin the ride by 6:30 p.m. It will be dark by the time we return to the trailhead. For more info, visit www.hotsprings.org.

We Have The #1 Customers In The State! AROUND THE STATE:

SATURDAY, APRIL 20, IN DOWNTOWN HOT SPRINGS

Hot Springs Gumbo & Crawfish Festival Noon-5 p.m. Sponsored by the Spa City Blues Society.

Open Daily at 11am 7 Days A Week 210 Central Ave. Hot Springs 501.318.6054

BEST BUSINESS LUNCH BEST DESSERTS BEST DOG FRIENDLY BEST GLUTEN FREE BEST HEALTHY BEST OTHER ETHNIC, BEST WINE LIST BEST RESTAURANT IN HOT SPRINGS

rolandosrestaurante.com

AROUND THE STATE: BEST VEGETARIAN

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GET YOUR DRINK & LAUGH ON.

COMEDY NIGHT! OAKLAWN Mayday by Midnight

MUSIC TO YOUR EARS! APRIL 26

Mac Powell and the Family Reunion Concert

8 p.m. 134 Convention Blvd., Hot Springs Rock out with Mac Powell and the Family Reunion. If you like music that is a little bit Rock ... a little bit Country ... a little bit Gospel ... and a Whole Lotta Love ... then you're going to dig their music! Jeff Hartzell

APRIL SPECIAL EVENTS April 6: Boat and Truck Giveaway

April 12-14: Racing Festival of the South April 13: Arkansas Derby Day April 14: Progressive Cash Giveaway April 21: CLOSED for Easter April 24: $1,000 Lauray’s Gift Card Drawing

STARLITE CLUB

The “new and improved” Starlite Club … a safe place for poor choices! And don’t miss out on Comedy Night, every first Sunday of the month! 232 Ouachita Ave.

DERBY DRINKS!

April 28: Birthday Bash April 29: $3,000 Travel Voucher Drawing April 30: $1,000 Visa Gift Card Drawing

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS APRIL LIVE MUSIC AT ROLANDO’S 4th Jeff Hartzell 5th Rick Mckean 6th Aaron Balentine 11th Aaron Balentine 12th Jeff Hartzell 13th Rick Mckean 18th Jeff Hartzell 19th Aaron Balentine 20th Rick Mckean 25th Aaron Balentine 26th Jeff Hartzell 27th Aaron Balentine

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT AT OAKLAWN POP’S LOUNGE Every Wednesday: Karaoke with Chucky D., 7 p.m.-midnight Every Thursday Jacob Flores, 5-9 p.m. Every Friday and Saturday Susan Erwin, 5-9 p.m. SILKS BAR & GRILL Dazz & Brie, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. April 5-6 Mayday by Midnight, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. April 12-13 Shotgun Billys, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. April 19-20 Diamondbacks, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. April 26-27 78 APRIL 2019

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MONDAYS: Monday Fun Day, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. TUESDAYS: Hot Springs Village Days, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Surf and Turf 4-9 p.m. in Lagniappe’s

SUPERIOR BATHHOUSE BREWERY

WEDNESDAYS: Girls Night Out 5-9 p.m. Karaoke 8-11 p.m. in Pop’s Lounge Humpday Happy Hour 4-7 p.m. Reel Tournament THURSDAYS: Drop ‘n’ Win 6-10 p.m. Live entertainment 5-9 p.m. in Pop’s Lounge

MARGARITAS!

It doesn’t get much better than April in Hot Springs! Grab dinner and a beer at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery after the Arkansas Derby and grab a 64-ounce growler to take home. Staying the weekend? Don’t worry, you can fill your growlers seven days a week, even on Sundays. You can also catch Superior at the Crawfish and Gumbo festival on April 20th! 329 Central Ave.

FRIDAYS: Party Pit 8 p.m.-midnight Live entertainment 5-9 p.m. in Pop’s Lounge Live entertainment in Silks 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Live racing — First post 12:30 p.m. SATURDAYS: Live entertainment 5-9 p.m. in Pop’s Lounge Live entertainment in Silks 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Live racing — First post 1 p.m. SUNDAYS: Live racing — First post 1:30

LA HACIENDA

Ole! Every Wednesday, ALL DAY, $5 margaritas! 3836 Central Ave., open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.


SINCE 1981

GET YOUR GRUB ON.

TACOS

W

’S MEAT MARK N O D EL“QUALITY TELLS, QUALITY SELLS” ET

WE HAVE PETIT JEAN SPIRAL SLICED HAM FOR EASTER!

BEST BUTCHER AROUND THE STATE

EVERYTHING IS CUT TO YOUR SPECIFICATION, AND WE’RE BIG ON CUSTOMER SERVICE! 3911 CENTRAL AVE. • HOT SPRINGS • (501) 525-2487

CAPO’S TACOS

Mixing old-school dining, like handmade corn tortillas and slow-cooked meats and vegetables, in a modern setting with vibrant music and atmosphere! Directly across from the race track. 200 Higdon Ferry Road.

GRAB & GO

WELDON'S MEAT MARKET

Has grab & go casseroles, hand-cut steaks, your favorite fresh seafood and deli meats! Don’t forget to grab its famous twice-baked potatoes, cheeses, fresh-baked breads and pies. Try out the best butcher from around the state! 3911 Central Ave.

BRUNCH

TACO MAMA

Hit up our brunch before you bet on the ponies. Serving brunch up 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Saturday: Hangover burrito, cereal shake, brunch punch and smoked brisket hash. 1209 Malvern Ave.

BREWERY & PIZZA JOINT

BEST MEXICAN AROUND THE STATE

1209 Malvern Avenue • Hot Springs • (501) 624-6262 • www.tacomama.net ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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HELLO, EUREKA SPRINGS! To say that Eureka Springs is a colorful community is an understatement. There’s an overall creative vibe running through our historic arts village driven by more than 350 working artists in all mediums. During the month of May, we show it all off. The 32nd annual May Festival of the Arts is packed with one-of-a-kind art exhibits, demonstrations, performances, culinary arts, free music in the park, and the wildest street party thrown by artists: the White Street Walk.

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Chris Bohjalian

BOOKS IN BLOOM Books in Bloom is a free festival that begins at noon Sunday, May 19, and fills the afternoon with readings, author talks and book signings. Authors occupy festive tents in the gardens of the Crescent Hotel and Spa, and when they are not scheduled to speak they are free to chat with attendees.

ART AND ALL THAT JAZZ THE 32ND ANNUAL MAY FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS

May 3 – Steve Earle and the Dukes Auditorium, 8 p.m. May 4 – ArtRageous Costume Parade and Jazz in the Park May 5 – Cinco de Mayo Basin Park, noon-6 p.m. May 11-12 – Basin Art Fair May 12 – Mother’s Day Concert May 14-17 – Chalk Fest May 17 – White Street Walk May 18 – Jazz in the Park May 19 – Books in Bloom May 20-25 – Plein Air Festival May 24 – Opera in the Ozarks Basin Park May 25 – Drumming in Park, Juggling Fest, workshops May 26 – Opera in the Ozarks, Cabaret at GrandTavern May 31-June 1 – Rhythm & Blues Weekend

This year’s featured speakers include Chris Bohjalian, whose career includes both high-octane thrillers and stories offering thoughtful examinations of social issues; Lauren Wilkinson, whose debut novel has been hailed by critics as a masterful work addressing racial complexities against the background of international espionage; Jeffery Deaver, internationally known novelist whose works have sold 50 million copies and have been translated into 25 languages; and Wiley Cash, who mesmerizes his readers with tales of the struggles that ordinary people face. In all, 12 authors will grace Books in Bloom this year. Author announcements can be found at BooksinBloom.org. Books in Bloom is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

SPONSORED BY EUREKASPRINGS.ORG 80 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

Jeffery Deaver

Wiley Cash

Lauren Wilkinson


ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 81


THE STORY OF KEELS CREEK WINERY AND ART GALLERY After buying 15 acres of property that border on Keels Creek three and half miles down Rock House Road from Eureka Springs in 2000, Edwige Denyszyn and Dr. Doug Hausler were looking forward to one day building their retirement home there. Edwige wanted to be in a place where she could work on her art. When the opportunity to take an early retirement came in late 2003, they set to work on their new house. A little over one acre of the 15-acre property was an open field that they thought would make a nice vineyard and orchard. They planted 200 vines and put up a trellis system. Although the planted rows were not the straightest, the vines seemed to do well. The following spring in 2004, they planted an additional 600 vines.

BLUE SPRING HERITAGE CENTER Come see the extraordinary beauty and rich cultural experience of the Blue Spring Heritage Center. Visit the historic bluff shelter, now on the National Register of Historic Places. Walk on ground that nurtured the Cherokee people during the Trail of Tears. Connect with the natural beauty of our many native gardens. See the power and wonder of Blue Spring, pouring 38-million gallons of cold, clear water each day into its trout-filled lagoon. Come discover the land of blue skies and laughing water. Blue Spring Heritage Center 1537 County Road 210, Eureka Springs, AR 72632 bluespringheritage@gmail.com 479-253-9244

Then in late 2004, they had the opportunity to buy an additional 26 surrounding acres. Doug plowed 12 acres for additional vines and in the spring of 2005, they planted 5,000 vines. There wasn’t another winery in the immediate area to sell their grapes to so the search for an available building suitable for a winery began. One morning, they noticed that a building at 3185 E. Van Buren was for sale. A couple of weeks later, they were the proud owners of the building on U.S. Highway 62 in Eureka Springs. They wanted to have a facility that would be run in the manner of small wineries in Europe, by making wines that were sourced with locally grown grapes and, as much as possible, using regionally sourced materials. Keels Creek’s award-winning wines are made in the European tradition, being predominately dry reds and dry whites with just a small effort in lightly sweet wines. Their wines have taken over 80 Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in national and international wine competitions.

STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES Legendary singer-songwriter Steve Earle, backed by his longtime band The Dukes, will perform at The Auditorium at 36 S. Main St., on Friday, May 3. A three-time Grammy Award recipient and 11-time Grammy nominee, Earle is a cornerstone artist of Americana music. Throughout his more than 30-year career, Earle has crafted folk, blues, rock, country, rockabilly, and bluegrass recordings. Americana and alternative country musician Junior Brown will open for Steve Earle and The Dukes. Brown invented the unique “guit-steel” instrument, a combination (double neck) electric guitar and steel guitar. His raucous blend of country and rock'n'roll has helped make him a successful crossover act. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45-$85 and can be purchased at www. theaud.org.

82 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


Local Wines from Local Grapes

Keels Creek Winery & Art Gallery

Open Daily Sun - Thur 12-5 • Fri & Sat 11 - 6 3185 E Van Buren (East Rt 62) Eureka Springs EUREKA SPRINGS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS This year, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts celebrates 21 years! When ESSA began in 1998, we were a school without walls, with passionate local artists offering up their studios to support workshops. A few years later, ESSA moved into a small campus with one building and an acre of land. Today, ESSA has grown into a 55-acre campus with seven teaching studios located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. In the belief that art is vital to the human spirit, we are committed to cultivating, promoting and encouraging artistic expression by providing art education opportunities in a unique environment of beauty and creativity. Workshops include: Painting and Drawing, Small Metals, Clay, Iron, Wood and Special Media. Studio fees are now included in tuition in Iron, Wood, and Small Metals classes to cover the increased expenses of operating technical equipment. Some classes have additional materials fees.

A Must-See Get Away

THE CARROLL AND MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARY FOUNDATION PRESENTS

14TH ANNUAL BOOKS IN BLOOM LITERARY FESTIVAL

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2019 NOON - 5PM THE 1886 CRESCENT HOTEL & SPA EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS MEET JEFFERY DEAVER, WILEY CASH, LAUREN WILKINSON, CHRIS BOHJALIAN, JAMES DEAN WITH “PETE THE CAT” AND MANY OTHER CELEBRATED AUTHORS

JOIN US FOR A FREE LITERARY FESTIVAL BOOKS

in BLOOM Literary Festival

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

BooksinBloom.org

EurekaSprings SpringsSchool Schoolofofthe theArts Arts Eureka Eureka Springs School of the Arts

Heritage Center and Wedding Garden The Largest Spring in Northwest Arkansas Native Gardens on the Trail of Tears National Register Site Magical Setting for Weddings

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bluespringheritage.com Scenic Hwy. 62W

Workshops in Fine Art and Craft

WorkshopsininFine FineArtArtand and Craft Workshops Craft Fun,Fabulous Fabulous Special Events Fun, Fabulous Special Events Fun, Special Events WeeklySprings Studio Strolls and Demos Weekly Studio Strolls and Demos Weekly Studio Strolls and Demos Eureka Springs Eureka School the Arts Eureka Springs Eureka School Springs ofof School the Arts ofSchool the Artsof the Arts 15751Hwy Hwy W, Eureka Springs, AR 15751 Hwy 6262 W, Eureka Springs, 15751 62 W, Eureka Springs, ARAR (479)253-5384 253-5384www.essa-art.org www.essa-art.org (479) (479) 253-5384 www.essa-art.org

Workshops Fine Art and APRIL Craft ARKANSASTIMES.COM 2019 83 Workshops FineArt Art and Craft Workshops Workshops ininFine inand Fine Craft Artinand Craft Fun, Fabulous Special Events Fun,Fabulous Fabulous Special Events Fun, Fun,Special Fabulous Events Special Events


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Arkansas Times local ticketing: CentralArkansasTickets.com

UPCOMING EVENTS Mar 29-31 Apr 4-6

The Weekend Theater The Best Man

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South on Main Trap Jazz Giants

MAR

29

South on Main Shamarr Allen

APR

MAR

South on Main Kyle Cook with Special Guest Paul McDonald

MAR

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The Weekend Theater Lincoln’s Dream

Reinvented Vintage Crosses with Redeemed Home Goods

APR

12

South on Main Rodney Block Birthday Bash

APR

Four Quarter Bar Steve’n’Seagulls w/ Clusterpluck

APR

South on Main

13

An Evening with Tim Higgins, presented by South Main Creative

Albert Pike Hotel 55th Annual Spring Tour of Homes Preview Party

APR

South on Main Cash’d Out: a benefit show for James Isom

APR

South on Main

17

Sessions: John Burnette x Dire Straits/Brothers in Arms

MAR

31

Main Street Barkus On Main 2019

APR

South on Main Sessions :: Joshua Asante x Nirvana Unplugged

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South on Main Funkanites

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South on Main Genine does Nina

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11-14 18-21 25-28

The Studio Theatre War Paint: A New Musical

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Four Quarter Bar 4/20 Party with Deep Sequence

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Reinvented Vintage Pigs with Stacy Spangler

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The Mixing Room

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VFW Post 2330 Masters of Comedy

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4

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6 6 7

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Preservation Conversation: Insurance for Historic Properties by Patrick Anders

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Go to CentralArkansasTickets.com to purchase these tickets and more!

Arkansas Times local ticketing site! If you’re a non-profit, freestanding venue or business selling tickets thru eventbrite or another national seller – email us phyllis@arktimes.com or hannah@arktimes.com – we’re local, independent and offer a marketing package! 84 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


HISTORY

PHOTOGRAPHY: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS DEPARTMENT, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LIBRARIES

SWEET WILLIE WINE: Lance Watson (left) of Memphis helped bring attention to racial injustice with his walk from West Memphis to Little Rock.

Walk Against Fear

50 YEARS AGO, SWEET WILLIE WINE TOOK A STAND IN THE ARKANSAS DELTA.

F

or four days between Aug. 20 and 24, 1969, Lance Watson (alias Sweet Willie Wine), the leader of Memphis Black Power group the Invaders, led a walk against fear across Arkansas. The walk became an iconic episode in the state’s civil rights history and the stuff of local folklore. The protest inspired an award-winning longform poem by Arkansas native C.D. Wright, “One with Others,” in 2010, a testimony to how long it has lingered in the collective memory. Born and raised in Memphis, Watson joined the U.S. Army at 17. After receiving a discharge, he fell into a life of crime, which led to two stretches in jail. Upon release, Watson became involved in the civil rights and Black Power movement. He was in Memphis when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, close enough to the Lorraine Motel to hear the gunshot. Later that year, Watson joined the Invaders in organizing a caravan of protesters on a journey to Washington, D.C., as part of the Poor People’s Campaign, run by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Watson and the In-

By JOHN A. KIRK vaders ran security at Resurrection City, an encampment constructed on the National Mall as part of the campaign. Watson’s walk against fear in Arkansas grew out of his engagement with local civil rights struggles in Forrest City, led by Rev. James F. Cooley and factory worker Cato Brooks Jr. Cooley and Brooks were campaigning for swifter school desegregation and more job opportunities for blacks. After escalating conflict, Cooley threatened to hold a “poor people’s march” across Arkansas to pressure the white community to implement changes. This brought the intervention of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller at the request of local white leaders who felt the proposed march would lead to violence. Rockefeller established a committee to investigate. The investigation, which opened a dialogue between the black and white communities, came up with an agreement on a number of action points to improve race relations. Satisfied with the agreement, Cooley and Brooks agreed to postpone the march for 30 days to see what changes would be made. Within hours of Cooley and Brooks an-

nouncing the postponement of their poor people’s march, Watson announced that he would undertake a “walk against fear” from West Memphis to Little Rock. Watson and the Invaders had been working with Cooley and Brooks since April 1969. Although refraining from criticizing the two local leaders directly, Watson insisted that the momentum of recent demonstrations should be continued. Watson’s walk echoed an earlier protest by James Meredith, who integrated Ole Miss in 1962. In 1966, Meredith set off on a one-man “march against fear” across rural Mississippi from Memphis to Jackson. Soon after setting off, Meredith was shot and wounded. Major national civil rights organizations took up the cause and completed the journey. The event is best remembered for Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairman Stokely Carmichael’s popularizing the slogan of “black power” that quickly became the clarion call for a new black youth movement. Watson, who had just turned 31, and was married with two children, began his 135mile walk to Little Rock along U.S. Highway 70 on Wednesday, Aug. 20, starting in West ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 85


Memphis at 8:07 a.m. Watson was joined by three fellow Invaders and two young Forrest City residents. Five Arkansas State Police cars and a dozen reporters and photographers accompanied them. At a press conference in front of West Memphis City Hall, Watson told reporters, “We’re going to see if black people can walk in Arkansas.” The walk was “to keep people from thinking there’s been a sellout” in Forrest City and also a memorial to a “black brother,” 19-year-old Lee Williams, who had been shot, run over and killed in Benton the previous Sunday. Following a morning rain shower, the temperature swiftly rose into the mid-90s. Five miles outside West Memphis, eight blacks from Earle and Parkin joined the walk for about 10 miles, while others participated at various points along the way. The walk attracted curiosity from other blacks and whites who “watched silently from country stores, sharecropper shacks, front porches and the roadside.” The walkers gave Black Power clenched-fist salutes to black drivers who passed by, which were frequently returned through car windows. At 7 p.m. the walkers reached Forrest City. National guardsmen had been deployed there to prevent any trouble from occurring. Further down U.S. Hwy. 70, in Hazen, white citizens had spent the day readying for the arrival of Watson. Mayor Jerry J. Screeton, a former state senator, led the resistance. As Arkansas Gazette reporter Matilda Tuohey described the scene: “At every entrance to the city, except the highways, and at the intersection of every city street with Highway 70 were large rice combines and barricades manned by lone men or groups of men, all carrying shotguns and wearing white helmets and hunting vests crammed with bullets.” On Aug. 21, Watson and 11 people set out from Forrest City. The size of the walking column varied from two to 20 throughout the day as the rain steadily came down. There were several minor incidents along the way, but the walk finished as planned in Brinkley where 50 black residents welcomed the walkers. The group assembled at City Park alongside the downtown Cotton Belt Route railroad tracks. There, “the walkers sat on the grass and ate neckbones and blackeyed peas” and “sipped soft drinks and sang.” Watson told the press that despite his sore feet and aching legs, he intended to walk the full 22 miles the following day to face the barricades in Hazen. On Aug. 22, Watson and 25 people set off from Brinkley City Park at 8 a.m. As they entered Hazen later that day, 16 uniformed state troopers and five members of the Criminal Investigation Division joined them. The expected conflict did not arise. The previous day, Mayor Screeton had sheepishly withdrawn the armed guard and blockades from the city, claiming that he had “been misled by news accounts of the number that would come through the town on the walk.” Watson, along with three women from Forrest City, formed the main walking par-

ty into Hazen. One woman held a red Bible high in front of her face and recited Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil.” Watson waved the peace “V” sign and gave the Black Power salute. “Now, I see this fear has been broken by the reception we’ve received,” Watson triumphantly told reporters. “This is

‘We’re going to see if black people can walk in Arkansas.’ —Sweet Willie Wine

86 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

one of the better things that has happened to Hazen — Hazen itself being challenged.” Meanwhile, Mayor Screeton scowled in the doorway of his Prairie County Bank as the walkers passed right by him. “I came and saw and walked through Hazen,” Watson told the press that night. On Aug. 23, Watson set off at 9 a.m. from just east of Carlisle. Between four to 50 people joined him along the way at various points. At Galloway, Watson went into a closed 15-minute meeting with Bobby Brown, president of Little Rock’s Black Power group Black United Youth and the younger brother of Minnijean Brown, one of the Little Rock Nine. Brown had arrived with 25 cars containing 50 BUY members, who congregated near the County Merchant Store. Watson and Brown discussed overnight accommodations for walkers in the Little Rock area. More than 30 blacks, handclapping and singing freedom songs, walked into North Little Rock at 6:30 p.m. that evening. “It was beautiful,” said Watson of the walk. “It served its purpose.” On Aug. 24, Watson and 43 people set off at 10:45 a.m. from outside First American Bank’s Prothro Junction branch on the outskirts of North Little Rock, taking the short 6-mile walk to a rally on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. The group marched along U.S. Hwy. 70 to Washington Avenue in North Little Rock, across the Main Street Bridge into Little Rock, and then down Main Street to Capitol Avenue before heading west to the Capitol. Watson led the procession. By the time he arrived at the Capitol, there were 150 people walking with him. Another 100 people waited on the Capitol steps. Watson was the star attraction at the rally, which began shortly after

1 p.m. A number of other speakers were present, including Bobby Brown, who said the rally was historic because it was the first time that black people in the city had gathered at the Capitol “without asking permission.” Brown mocked the fact that white people had been terrified at the prospect of a few black people walking across the state. Although Watson’s walk against fear passed with relatively little incident, once out of the media spotlight he felt the full repercussions of his actions. In Forrest City, the stabbing of a white grocery store owner by an Invader before the march and later allegations of the rape of a white girl had inflamed tensions. On Aug. 26, hundreds of whites began picketing City Hall demanding an end to demonstrations. The crowd attacked Watson, a local newspaper reporter and a local radio announcer. Watson found himself back in Little Rock — this time in the hospital with a broken elbow and various cuts and bruises. Watson pledged to return to Forrest City to hold a “freedom rally” on Sept. 14. Three hundred blacks turned up to the rally, but Watson was absent under threat of arrest. Soon after, the main protagonists left Forrest City: Cooley took up a teaching position at Shorter College in North Little Rock; Brooks moved to work on civil rights projects in other Arkansas towns; and Watson returned to Memphis. Although the demonstrations won some concessions in Forrest City, racial tensions continued to simmer there. Watson came back to Arkansas periodically over the years to join further protest efforts in the state. Today, Watson — who is now Minister Suhkara A. Yahweh — remains active in community affairs in Memphis. Watson’s walk against fear is evocative of the demonstrations of the civil rights era and illustrates how their spectacle played an important role in bringing attention to racial injustice. The national press avidly covered events in Arkansas, as did the state’s newspapers. The memory of the walk remains potent 50 years later. Yet, with a white population determined to resist change, local black people in Forrest City found it difficult to make a lasting impact. Though the pressure exerted at the time led to some short-term concessions, the racial hierarchy remained intact. There was still much work to be done. Looking back today, Watson believes the most important legacy of his walk was “to get the fear out of the mind” of black people and to encourage them to insist on being “treated like a human being.” By demonstrating the capacity of black people to stand up to the white power structure, Watson laid the groundwork for the ongoing struggles that followed. John A. Kirk is the Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History and director of the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His ninth book, “The Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary Reader,” will be published later this year by Wiley.


Hosted by: Chris James SATURDAY, April 27 7-9 pm

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Pub or Perish is a related free event of the Arkansas Literary Festival, hosted by Central Arkansas Library System and presented April 25-28. author panels • book signings • special events arkansasliteraryfestival.org

THIS IS OUR 6TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY-WIDE FREE EVENT!

Join us Saturday, April 20, 10am–12pm at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock 424 W Markham St, Little Rock

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his year several Little Rock News Anchors from all four stations will join FOX16’s Donna Terrell in a Unity Event! These news personalities are coming together in the fight against colon and all cancers and helping to promote early detection. The two-hour event starts at 10am in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock ballroom. There will be raffle drawings, door prizes, Yoga Warriors items for sale and a yoga session led by KTHV’s Dawn Scott.

ALSO ATTENDING: KATV’s Melinda Mayo, Beth Hunt and Alyson Courtney. KARK’s Ashley Ketz, Mallory Brooks and Hilary Hunt. FOX16’s Stephanie Sharp and Ashlei King. Bring a yoga mat and joins us for this meaningful event!

YOGA WARRIORS IS IN MEMORY OF DONNA’S DAUGHTER, QUEAH, WHO DIED FROM COLON CANCER IN 2011. FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO WWW.YOGAWARRIORS.ORG. YOGA WARRIORS IS A 501(C)3 NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION. ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 87


CANNABIZ

GROWING BOLD CULTIVATOR WILL HARVEST FIRST MEDICAL MARIJUANA. By LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK Photography by BRIAN CHILSON

IN BUD: Mature marijuana plants close to harvest at BOLD Team's facility.

88 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


F

rom the outside, the $6 million BOLD Team medical marijuana cultivation facility looks a bit like a prison and smells like a skunk. A sniffing, and naive, reporter thought the smell was coming from its mammalian source just outside the concertina-wired fence that surrounds the nursery in a fallow field in the middle of Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), but a savvy photographer set her straight. Things are brighter on the inside, with long rooms of healthy, green plants nurtured and tended scientifically, with special grow lights, thermostats and air measuring devices, and vats of varying mixes of liquid fertilizer. Fans to blow air over the plants, fans to remove exhaust. A laboratory and a Brandeis University-trained chemist. A computer monitor tracking humidity fluctuations. There are nine nurseries: The “mother” plant room, where clones are rooted; a “veg” nursery for “teenage” plants; and seven growing rooms, each holding 656 mature, budding plants. Each of the veg and mature nurseries are nearly 9,000 square feet. The plants budding now will produce the first legal marijuana harvest in Arkansas, on April 22 or 23. BOLD Team’s products, which include 24 strains, should be on the market by May 10. Those products will include flowers and pen cartridges filled with distillate for smoking. BOLD is an acronym of names of owners Danny Brown, Kyndall Lercher and Mark and Misty Drennan, with inventory director Cayne Orman as the O. Kyndall Lercher’s husband, Robert Lercher, is the director of public relations. With the exception of Brown, they hail from Beebe, down-to-earth folks who, besides their venture into medical pot, own other businesses. Robert Lercher owns a company in McRae that repairs hail damage; Mark Drennan worked for the ABF trucking company in North Little Rock and owns a roofing business with Orman; Danny Brown owns Willy D’s Rock & Roll Dueling Piano Bar. He's in another business that gets people high, too: Altitude Trampoline Parks. Robert Lercher and Mark Drennan gave the Arkansas Times a tour of the facility March 13, starting in the mother (or what Drennan calls the “mom”) room, where snips from dozens of mother plants are being rooted to create BOLD Team’s family of products. All the plants are females: To keep them from going to seed instead of continuing to flower, no males are allowed. Seedless (as in sinsemilla) flowers have higher resin content and are more potent. (If the company eventually wants to grow seed, it will need the plant equivalent of a rooster.) In the mother room, clones of Cannabis sativa and C. indica were happily rooting, either in small cubes of a nutrient-saturated fiber called rockwool or an aerial form. They were growing under lights in the blue spectrum, at a wavelength that benefits baby marijuana plants (and, as it happens, boosts alertness in humans). After rooting, the plants are potted in a medium of coconut shells and perlite and

over the next several weeks are moved to long, clear-roofed growing areas. First stop: the “veg” nursery for their three-week adolescence. Here, pipes carrying fertilizer from three large vats provide calibrated nutrition to the plants. A PAR meter, which measures light photons, keeps the light in prime photosynthetic range and makes sure the teenagers don’t get sunburned: When it hits a high reading, it will turn off half the lights in the room; in direct sunlight, the meter will turn off all the lights. Another device measures temperature and carbon dioxide levels. At seven weeks, the plants are moved into the facility’s seven flowering rooms, where the mature plants — now at around 7 weeks old — are encouraged to flower under

high-pressure sodium lights in the red spectrum, 12 hours on and 12 hours off, mimicking the end of the growing season. Should the growing rooms get too hot, panels into a cooler common area between the growing rooms will lift and its roof can open. Should that not do the trick, a system of cold water will pour down over the walls. Lercher, 35, and Drennan, 46, have seen a demonstration; they figure the Arkansas summer will trigger the system for real. The growing process, from clone to harvest, takes 16 weeks, Drennan said. After harvest, plants are dried or turned into oil and samples are sent to the lab for testing for substances spelled out in state law, such as pesticides, and to measure the percentage of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) in the samples. Discarded plants are weighed, that information is provided to Alcohol Beverage Control, and the vegetation is rendered unusable by being ground up and mixed with a nonintoxicating substance, like dirt or grass clippings, equal to the weight of the waste. BOLD Team will sell the medical marijuana in both bud and oil form. To make oil, buds are loaded into tanks and reduced by

A FULL NURSERY: Young plants are nurtured in the "veg" room under blue-spectrum light.

ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 89


Wait Of The World

A special advertising promotion 90 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


THE TEAM: (From left) Danny Brown, Cayne Orman, Robert Lercher, Misty Drennan and Mark Drennan will be the first to produce medical marijuana products in Arkansas. The plants are rooted (middle photograph) in the "mother" room, where Lercher (bottom photo) shows the rockwool matrix the clones are placed in.

pressurized propane and butane in an hourlong process only a chemist could understand. It takes 20 pounds of buds to make 3 pounds of oil. The oil, too, must undergo lab testing. What’s happening at BOLD Team is a far cry from putting a bunch of pot plants under a grow light in your basement and hoping for the best. “We had no idea,” Misty Drennan said of the science involved in production. During a tour of the veg room, where 2-foottall strains of Elite Limonette, Gelato and others were spending their teen days, Robert Lercher — a consummate wisecracker — said BOLD Team hopes in the future to be able to give new names to some of the strains it offers. The strains have been developed over the years by marijuana growers all over the country — people, Lercher said, who must have started the process when they were children “because of the names they gave them.” That would be names like Bubblegum, Fruity Pebbles and Purple Urkle (strains not necessarily at BOLD Team). Other pot jargon includes lollipopping, which means pruning the plants so they’ll put more energy into their buds. “My mother is not going to go to a dispensary … one, she’s close-minded and old school … I love her to death ... but she’s not going to go to a dispensary and ask for Mildewed Cat Pee,” Lercher said. “I mean some of the names have swear words in them. The single most popular strain in the United States has the F word in it.” That would be Alaskan Thunder Fuck. (There is no strain, to this writer’s knowledge, of Mildewed Cat Pee, yet.) In the flowering room, a couple of BOLD Team employees were going from plant to plant, lollipopping off leaves and stems to encourage bloom. (The only leaf parts not thrown away are those with tiny trichromes on which resin has crystallized. Trichromes are used in making hashish.) BOLD Team, which employs 14 people on its grow team, will hire several more people when it begins to process the plants and additional employees when it begins the packaging process. The difference in C. sativa and C. indica were more pronounced in the room with the most mature plants: Indica grows short and bushy; sativa is taller and skinny. Both species produce THC, the chemical in the plant that causes a “high,” and CBD, which, because it works on different receptors in the body, does not. Lercher said — that is, he’s been told — indica makes people sleepy, which he remembers by thinking “indacouch.” If you’re awakened from an indica-induced snooze, Lercher said, “You’ll eat your entire refrigerator.”

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APRIL 2019 91


Non-Profit Recipient: ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE

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AN ARKANSAS TIMES EVENT


Pointing to a room of mature plants not yet in bloom, Lercher called it “magic” how fast marijuana grows. He mentioned that the company’s consultants “tell us plants are a lot happier when they are listening to music.” But there is no music playing in the nurseries, and Lercher said it was because … well, what if they don’t like the music chosen? “What if they’re more like Christian Rock plants?” he asked. Perhaps because merely standing among thousands of healthy marijuana plants was having some sort of mind-altering effect, a photographer suggested BOLD Team play “One Toke Over the Line” for the plants in bud. Or Alice in Chains, Lercher said, adding, “It’s a fair assumption they all like Rastafarian music.” In the flowering rooms are 16 tables with 41 plants each. BOLD Team’s production plan is to harvest 656 plants a week. Those numbers may seem random, but are based on the ratio of plants per tables: Too many, the bunched leaves will block the light and cut down on the flowering; too few, and “you’re shorting yourself,” Lercher said, on what you can produce. “You’ve got to have that perfect canopy.” As the plants are harvested, the best and brightest baby plants will be selected from about 800 clones in the mother room for moving to the veg room, so that weekly harvest is steady. If Cotton Plant was counting on a huge workforce at the plant, it will be disappointed. However, BOLD Team has committed to giving the city 1 percent of its gross profits every year. The town, a truly sad spot in Woodruff County, with only a couple of businesses besides the cultivation facility, more empty buildings than occupied ones, and an enormous tire dump, will appreciate that. Drennan declined to put a value on what a harvest will produce or when owners expect to break even, saying an estimate would be premature because BOLD Team had not sold anything. Lercher is visiting dispensaries to see what they’ll need and when. Next up in the race to provide the medical marijuana to Arkansans are Osage Creek Cultivation in Berryville (Carroll County) and Natural State Medicinals’ cultivation facility in White Hall (Jefferson County), both of which were approved by ABC inspectors in March to begin growing operations. Dispensary inspections will begin in April.

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Register now for the annual MacArthur Park 5k or Dog Jog! Proceeds go to improving Little Rock’s oldest park.

CORRECTION In the March article “Cannabis list stays at 18,” we reported incorrectly that a state Department of Health advisory about the risks of cannabis use was not sourced. The version provided in a press release was not sourced, but the agency did release a sourced advisory that was overlooked by the Arkansas Times. That advisory can be found at a link on the Medical Marijuana page at healthy.arkansas.gov.

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ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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Edited by Will Shortz

No. 0206

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PUZZLE BY QUEENA MEWERS AND ALEX EATON-SALNERS

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17 Note: The clues in this “uniclue” crossword appear in a single list, combining Across and Down. When two answers share a number, they also share a clue.

CLUES

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The New York Times Syndication Sales Corporation   2 Sch. with a campus in Providence

31 Avenue, New32 620 Eighth York, 33 N.Y. 10018 For Information Call: 1-800-972-3550 For Release Tuesday, March 5, 2019 37

  3 Dainty eaters   4 Prometheus’ gift   5 N.Y.C. subway letters

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  6 Rapping sound   7 Runs off to a justice of the peace   8 May honoree

Crossword

  9 “Awake and Sing!” playwright Clifford 10 Bygone Pan ACROSS

Am rival 27 Malia Obama’s

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ANSWER A T F I R S T

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No. 0129

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Ganymede among Jupiter’s moons 51 Comment made while yawning 56 57 58 59 DOWN 32 “Somebody That I Used to Know” singer, 2011 52 One practicing self-help, informally 60 61 62 1 Practice 33 Byron’s “before” 53 Declares with confidence swimming 63 64 65 34Trendy Light food beige 54 Prime-time time 2 from the Andes 35 Alternative to a cup 55 ___ factor PUZZLE BY BENJAMIN KRAMER 3 Toll method on 36the Dungeons & Dragons, for one, in brief 56 Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the ___” New Jersey 25 Orange Muppet 49 Primitive kind of 37 Forced into 37Turnpike Classify by type 57diet One of Donald Trump Jr.’s parents bondage 26 Whirler on a 4 Uno + uno 38 “Otello” and “Pagliacci” whirlybird 58 World Smile Day mo. 38 Fine point 5 Kingpin on “The 50 Holiday guest TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE 39Wire” Carnival game with bottles___” 28 “Please 39 Poker variant in 59that Hair-coloring a couple technique (secretary’s which the worst might fight over 40Excedrin Author Sholem E N I C H E D A S 6 words) 60 Dr. of rap set of cards splits competitor A U S H E R O C T 41 Drinking game penalty, the pot 32 Waterperhaps with the 61Starting Fight finisher 51 points in C Y C L I N G E T A 7 Do some in M. its logo 42mountaineering Many a character inAlps Ann Martin’s 42 “The TheBaby-Sitters first “B” of shipbuilding H U L A S O P S U P 62 Facility at Quantico, Va.: Abbr. 33 Men’s gymnastics B&B Club” 8 DVR button K E N T A N A L event 63 News inits. 57 Get-up-and-gosince 1958 44 German mark 43Molybdenite, “Peter Pan”fordog S I D E H U S T L E 9 34 Bit of volcanic 64 Line on a receipt C S E E S T 45 Spanish rice dish 44molybdenum Language of the answers uniclues fallout to this puzzle’s 58 Payment of O A D S H A L O M 10 Toothpaste brand 35 Apropos of 65tribute? Any of the Magi 46 Banishees 45 Urban area A S E S F I L A S 11 Airport named for 36 Luke Skywalker’s 48 Bottom of the 66 Nessie’s home 46a Good place to be during a blizzard president T H E M I C F I N E home planet barrel 59 “Ciao!” P I N E E V A N 1247Venison 67 Where you might get into hot water It might be left holding the bag E T R E N D E G O 13 Take some time Online subscriptions: Today’s puzzle and more than 7,000 past 68 Dissuades 48 British bottom K I C K S T A R T E R to consider puzzles, nytimes.com/crosswords ($39.95 a year). 69 “When all ___ fails …” Annoy E L I A S T E T R A 1849Break free Read about and comment on each puzzle: nytimes.com/wordplay. S T A T E A M I S S 2250Texter’s Cpl. orsegue sgt. 70 How many feet are in a fathom

21 Word Slender 24 of greeting 43 Sedan alternative 22 Play loudly, as 47 Symbol of the 25 Notable music stretches completion of the Transcontinental 26 fornatural a star witness? 23 Help Like all Railroad numbers: Abbr. 27 Sadistic 52 Upper extreme, 24 Boost after 28 Underground appearing on rock informally a certain old 29 Dawn’s direction 53 Stockpile Comedy Central show from a rowdy 54 Work without ___ 30 Sound crowd

ARKANSAS TIMES

31 Like

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Edited by Will Shortz


WHAT YOU NEED THIS MONTH!

1. CUPPA TIME Wake up, smell the coffee and drink it out of this Ruth Bader Ginsburg mug. Box Turtle, 501-661-1167, shopboxturtle.com 2. A SURPRISE IN THE BASKET Pick up a copy of this beautifully illustrated children’s book by John and Jennifer Churchman at WordsWorth Books. WordsWorth Books, 501-663-9198, wordsworthbookstore.com 3. GO FOR JOHNNIE-O’S “The Official Shirt Of Hangin’ Out” is the shirt you want for fit and comfort. Pair it with a pair of Johnnie-O performance shorts with moisture-wicking components for that complete golf look. Mr. Wick’s, 501-664-3062, mrwicks.com 4. SNEAKY The Noah Waxman Perry sneaker comes in soft, pebble grain leather and is available at Baumans Men’s Store. 8201 Cantrell Road, 501-227-8797, baumans.com 5. ‘THE BUNNY' EGGMAZING EGG DECORATOR This will become your favorite new way to decorate for Easter! Rhea Drug Store, 501663-4131, rheadrugstore.com 6. THE QUE-TEST WATER BOTTLES AROUND Lightweight, compact and stylish, these collapsible que Bottles are safe for you and the environment! Assorted colors available. Cynthia East Fabrics, 501-490-9330, cynthiaeastfabrics.com A special advertising promotion ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 95


MARKETPLACE AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS ANNOUNCEMENT OVERVIEW The State of Arkansas, Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Services (DFA-IGS) is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program. These programs will be funded from the Department of Justice federal formula VOCA grant. Projects that seek to expand services for victims of crime for targeted populations will be given preference. The VOCA application process is competitive. Applications submitted in response to this RFP will need to address Arkansas State goal 1.2 by providing trauma informed, evidence based, victim-centered services to primary crime victims. Goals and Objectives were adopted by the Advisory Board as the State of Arkansas Victim Services Plan. Goal 1.2: Expand services for targeted populations: culturally specific and underserved populations. These include African American, Hispanic, Marshallese, LGBTQI, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and geographically isolated populations. Based upon 2016 U.S. Census data, population statics indicate Arkansas has the following areas with underserved populations based upon Race or Ethnicity: Applicants are encouraged to read this entire Application Packet thoroughly before preparing and submitting an application. The Request for Proposals is open to all applicants meeting the eligibility requirements (see Eligibility section). Submissions must be made via the DFA-IGS grants management

TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SECTION, CALL LUIS at 501.492.3974 OR EMAIL LUIS@ ARKTIMES.COM

system. All submitted applications must be complete and include all required information and supporting documentation. Applications received with missing information may not be reviewed. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m., May 1, 2019. AVAILABLE FUNDING AMOUNT $15,000,000 AWARD PERIOD Awards will be made for a twelve (12) month period from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. Awards may be eligible for a one (1) year continuation dependent upon the availability of funds and the previous year’s performance. APPLICATION DEADLINE Applications must be received via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m., May 1, 2019. Applicants can access IGS Connect at https://igsconnect.arkansas.gov. An agency may submit as many applications as it wishes, however, only one application is permitted per proposed project. The application is subject to public review by state executive order 12372. Applicants must complete SF-424 and submit it with the application. Please direct all inquiries concerning this Request for Proposals to: IGS. Contact@dfa.arkansas.gov. All questions will be answered within 24 hours and posted to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document weekly. The FAQ document can be found at: https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/ intergovernmental-services/grantprograms/request-for-proposals/.

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96 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS ANNOUNCEMENT OVERVIEW The State of Arkansas, Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Services (DFA/IGS) is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds for sheltering and prevention services from the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA). Applicants are encouraged to read this entire Application Packet thoroughly before preparing and submitting an application. The Request for Proposal is open to all applicants meeting eligibility requirements Applications will be submitted via the DFA-IGS grant management system, IGS Connect. All submitted applications must be complete and include all required information and documentation. Applications received with missing information may not be reviewed. AVAILABLE FUNDING AMOUNT $1,000,000

AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS ANNOUNCEMENT OVERVIEW The State of Arkansas, Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Services (DFA-IGS) is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds from the STOP VAWA program. Applicants are encouraged to read this entire Application Packet thoroughly before preparing and submitting an application. The Request for Proposal is open to all applicants meeting eligibility requirements. Applications will be submitted via the DFA-IGS grant management system, IGS Connect. All submitted applications must be complete and include all required information and documentation. Applications received with missing information may not be reviewed. AVAILABLE FUNDING AMOUNT $1,000,000

AWARD PERIOD Awards will be made for a twelve (12) month period of October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. Awards may be eligible for a one (1) year continuation dependent upon the availability of funds and the previous year’s performance.

AWARD PERIOD Awards will be made for a twelve (12) month period from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. Awards may be eligible for a one-year (1) continuation dependent upon the availability of funds and the previous year’s performance.

APPLICATION DEADLINE Applications must be submitted via IGS Connect by 11:59p.m., May 1, 2019.

APPLICATION DEADLINE Applications must be received via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m., May 1, 2019.

Applicants can access IGS Connect at https://igsconnect.arkansas.gov. An agency may only submit one application per proposed project. The application is subject to public review by State Executive Order 12372; therefore, applicants must complete SF-424 and submit it with the application.

Applicants can access IGS Connect at https://igsconnect.arkansas.gov. An agency may only submit one application per proposed project. The application is subject to public review by State Executive Order 12372; therefore, applicants must complete SF-424 and submit it with the application.

Please direct all inquiries concerning this RFP to: IGS. Contact@dfa.arkansas.gov. All questions will be answered within 24 hours and posted to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document weekly. The FAQ document can be found at https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/ intergovernmental-services/grantprograms/request-for-proposals/

Please direct all inquiries concerning this Request for Proposal to IGS.Contact@dfa.arkansas.gov. All questions will be answered within 24 hours and posted to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document weekly. The FAQ document can be found at https://www. dfa.arkansas.gov/intergovernmental-services/grant-programs/ request-for-proposals/.


AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS ANNOUNCEMENT OVERVIEW The State of Arkansas, Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Services (DFA-IGS) is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program. Applicants are encouraged to read this entire Application Packet thoroughly before preparing and applying. The Request for Proposals is open to all meeting the eligibility requirements (see Eligibility section).

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Kids Zone

Applications should be submitted via DFA-IGS grants management system: IGS Connect. All submitted applications must be complete and include all required information and supporting documentation. Applications received with missing information may not be reviewed. AVAILABLE FUNDING AMOUNT $15,000,000 AWARD PERIOD Awards will be made for a twelve (12) month period from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. Awards may be eligible for a one (1) year continuation that is dependent upon available funds and the previous year’s performance. APPLICATION DEADLINE Applications must be received via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m., May 1, 2019.

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Applicants can access IGS Connect at https://igsconnect.arkansas.gov. An agency may submit as many applications as it wishes, however, only one application is permitted per proposed project. The application is subject to public review by state executive order 12372. Applicants must complete SF-424 and submit it with the application. Please direct all inquiries concerning this Request for Proposals to: IGS. Contact@dfa.arkansas.gov. All questions will be answered within 24 hours and posted to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document weekly. The FAQ document can be found at:

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ARKANSASTIMES.COM

APRIL 2019 97


WHITE HOUSE PHOTO OFFICE COLLECTION; 11/22/1963-01/20/1969; ARC 192493; NLJ-WHPO-A-VN013; LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON LIBRARY; NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION

THE OBSERVER

I

believe that even though it’s the oldest of old chestnuts in the newspaper business when an inky wretch is having a rough time meeting his or her genuflection quota to the great God of Journalism, Phil D. Hole, I will dust off the ol’ “I believe” clown car, fire it up and see where it takes me. I believe there is no better smell in all the world than old books, a lifelong addiction that keeps The Observer rifling through pages at pretty much every moment when we’re not rifling through old bookstores and haunting book sales, even though our shelves back home in the parlor and study and specially constructed Reading Toilet of The Observatory are already groaning with enough tomes that I’ll never get ’em all read unless I live to a well-seasoned 306. I believe, however, that I will try. I believe that if Donald Trump would crack a book every once in a while — a deep dive into macroeconomics, a Louis L’Amour novel, “The Joy of Sex,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” whatever — he maybe wouldn’t be such a heartless, ignorant shit. I believe books force us to inhabit the skin of others, and that action, by its very nature, helps us to understand the one bit of knowledge that can’t be imparted to a person in any other way: That other people aren’t just extras or supporting characters in the grand, D.W. Griffith Presents “Intolerance”-style production that is your life, but are human beings just like you, with dreams and aspirations and cereal preferences all their own, who walk around believing themselves to be the Meryl Streep or Mahershala Ali of their very own production. I believe the chances of Donald Trump actually trying to inoculate himself against self-centered ignorance and the cruelty it of98 APRIL 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

ten breeds is, at this late date, pretty much nil unless he’s visited by The Ghost of Christmas Future at some point. Barring that, I believe he’ll remain the same disgusting, proudly dumb bag of flatulence he has always been until they lower his gold-plated coffin into the clay, to the wailing of a gaggle of gold-digging Eurotrash mistresses and the smirks of several ex-wives.     I believe that whoever collects boxes for the Central Arkansas Library System’s annual book sale had better check ’em over a bit better, given that when The Observer picked one recently to haul out our loot — a sturdy white banker’s box with handles on each end to better wrangle the heaving load of new adventures we had collected over the course of an hour — I got it home to discover a label on one end of the box with the carefully typed notation: “Personnel Files, Year 2000” followed by the names of two people and their full Social Security numbers. I believe that of all the U.S. presidents Junior could idolize, it’s hellacious weird that he has picked jowly Texas hayseed Lyndon Baines Johnson, with Junior devouring enough books on LBJ to fill a Jacuzzi over the past year, and — for what might be the first time since he was maybe 12 years old — getting excited to the point of dancing from foot to foot about a family road trip when his mother suggested we motor on down to visit the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin this spring, despite The Observer’s blood oath some years back that the only way I would return to Texas is if Arkansas and Louisiana were rendered uninhabitable by some plague or nuclear fallout event. I believe I will have to break that oath, because I’ve never been able to deny that

boy a damned thing since the moment he was pushed into this world, eyes open and hungry for every new experience. I believe you shouldn’t ask Junior’s Old Man to explain any of it, because I can’t even begin to fathom the depths of that boy’s love for Lyndon Johnson, who — to hear him tell it — is clearly one of America’s least understood and most unsung political titans, not to mention way, way, waaaaaaay better at presidentin’ than JFK, and what fool would think otherwise? I believe when Junior writes his epic, three-volume re-evaluation of LBJ someday, the books that finally bring Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement to win his umpteenth Oscar for “Lyndon,” maybe The Observer and Spouse can live in his pool house. Fingers crossed. I believe, given that I am writing this the morning after at least 49 people were shot dead at mosques in New Zealand (people with, as I’ve stated previously, dreams and aspirations and cereal preferences all their own, just like you), that I will never get used to waking up to this carnage. That said, I believe that New Zealand is about to show NRAmerica what a sane and rational country does about guns when someone uses them to commit unspeakable crimes, just as Australia did after Port Arthur in 1996. I believe that here, meanwhile, it’s been 530 days since the massacre in Las Vegas and 2,282 days since the massacre at Sandy Hook, and we have done jack squat nothing except offer hollow prayers that only serve to echo our shame in the ears of the dead. And because there is nothing more to say on the subject, or a least nothing I can say that will make a damn bit of difference, I believe I’ll leave it at that.


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ARKANSAS TIMES

Profile for Arkansas Times

Arkansas Times | April 2019  

‘The Purple People’ A cult escapee recounts a life of abuse and isolation in Marion County. By Jacqueline Froelich

Arkansas Times | April 2019  

‘The Purple People’ A cult escapee recounts a life of abuse and isolation in Marion County. By Jacqueline Froelich