GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, SYMONE | LEE ISAAC CHUNG AND ‘MINARI’ | NORML-IZING MARIJUANA
IN OUR ANNUAL READERS CHOICE POLL, WE SALUTE THE RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE GOTTEN US THROUGH A TUMULTUOUS YEAR
WE LOVE WHAT WE DO!
BEST OUTDOOR DINING BEST HAPPY HOUR
BEST BARTENDER, KATHY BEST MARGARITA BEST RESTAURANT TO-GO PACKAGING BEST CHEESE DIP BEST SOUP BEST MEXICAN
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BEST SOUP AROUND ARKANSAS BEST MEXICAN AROUND ARKANSAS
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FEATURES 22 ‘MINARI,’ AN ARKANSAS STORY
Filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung’s latest film, inspired by his immigrant family’s farm life, is getting rave reviews. By Sam Eifling
27 READERS CHOICE
Flyway finds a way to wing the pandemic, by Lindsey Millar; Star of India’s Sami Lal welcomes his fans, by Rhett Brinkley; and the winners of our annual restaurant contest.
9 THE FRONT
Q&A: With City Director Antwan Phillips. The Big Pic: A look back at 40 years of our readers choices. The Inconsequential News Quiz: Compliant Riot Edition.
15 THE TO-DO LIST
Museum month: Derrick Adams at the Momentary, American craft at Crystal Bridges, Black history at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, plus ASO offers up Russian masters.
4 FEBRUARY 2021
HER MAJESTY: Symone, Conway native and queen from the House of Avalon, rules “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
18 NEWS & POLITICS Life after Trump. By Ernest Dumas
53 SAVVY KIDS
News & Notes: Punxsutawney Phil makes his prediction, Valentine’s Day and a stay-home Mardi Gras. Feature: Protecting your kid’s mental health. Meet the Parent: Esperanza Massana-Crane.
As the world meets Symone, the drag queen finds herself. By Stephanie Smittle
Proposals would legalize marijuana or decriminalize it. By Griffin Coop
74 THE OBSERVER ON THE COVER: Melanie Turner amid French fries. Photography by Matthew Martin.
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 Rhett Brinkley
Steve Aday Class of 2002
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR 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, Terrell Jacob and Kaitlyn Looney ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER Roland R. Gladden IT DIRECTOR Robert Curfman CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Jackson Gladden CONTROLLER Weldon Wilson BILLING/COLLECTIONS Charlotte Key
ALWAYS A ROCKET When I think of Catholic High, the first thing that comes to mind is family. We all look after each other. We celebrate each other’s successes and lift each other up in times of hardship. No matter how much the world changes around us, the traditions and brotherhood of Catholic High endure. The bonds and friendships really are something that lasts forever.”
PRODUCTION MANAGER Ira Hocut (1954-2009)
association of alternative newsmedia
FOR SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE CALL: (501) 375-2985 Subscription prices are $60 for one year. VOLUME 47 ISSUE 6
Steve Aday, English Teacher, Catholic High Class of 2002
The Catholic High Difference Integrity • Duty • Faith Apply Today | LRCHS.org
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. ©2021 ARKANSAS TIMES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP
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6 FEBRUARY 2021
Celebrating BLACK LIVES Every Day and All Year Long Programming highlights include: “Antiques Roadshow: Celebrating Black Americana,” Monday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song,” Tuesdays, Feb. 16 and 23, at 8 each night. “Finding Your Roots,” Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
Additionally, the locally-produced digital series “So You Want to Talk About Race” is available now at youtube.com/arkansaspbs. New York Times best-selling author Ijeoma Oluo and Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch of Arkansas State University host a frank and honest discussion about how to discuss race, what talks on race don’t have to be, and practical tools for having hard conversations.
Local series “The Glow With Big Piph” and “Healing the Divide” are also available at youtube.com/arkansaspbs.
Find the full list of related programming at myarkansaspbs.org/schedule.
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THE FRONT Q&A
LITTLE ROCK DIRECTOR ANTWAN PHILLIPS WANTS TO LEAD THE CITY IN A NEW DIRECTION HOPES TO INVOLVE CITIZENS WHO HAVE BEEN IGNORED. What’s your priority as you start your first term as at-large city director? There are a few things. The targeted community initiative resolution [approved by the board Jan. 19]. The idea is that we’re going to be intentional where we spend our dollars in the city. It’s recognizing that there are parts of towns that need more attention than others, that haven’t received the type of development other parts of town have. And it affects what those parts of town look like. It’s top of mind and taking it from resolution stage to lineitem funding stage by the end of the year in preparation for 2022. Another thing is form of government. There was a study commissioned a couple of years ago about getting rid of at-large positions as we know them. Even as an at-large representative, I think that’s better for the city. So at some point, I’m going to be working to maybe work myself out of a job. In some shape, form or fashion. There’s a lot of ways to skin that cat. It may be some hybrid form. I definitely plan to bring it up before the end of the year.
who don’t get along with other people, I hope to do that. I see a lot of times when it’s happened, most of the time it’s not even the message, it’s the messenger. It’s like, “If she said it, I’m against it,” or, “If he said it, I’m against it.” I’m hoping to build relationships. I want my fellow board members to think, “If it’s coming from Antwan it’s coming from a good place.” You and Mayor Frank Scott Jr. are longtime friends. You’re also close friends with his chief of staff, Charles Blake. I think there’s a perception that you’re going to be carrying the mayor’s water, so to speak, on the board. Do you anticipate points of disagreement? I definitely foresee times when we don’t agree. We’re friends and friends don’t agree all the time. Anyone who knows me and the mayor personally knows that despite being close, we have different personalities. You don’t see it out in the public, but there are times we’ve disagreed behind the scenes. From a technical standpoint from the way our form of government works, he doesn’t get a vote unless there’s a tie. Usually, I’m going to get to act first before the mayor gets to act. But I would agree that most of the time we’re probably going to be on the same page. We see the city the same. We’ve had similar experiences, growing up the way we did and leaving Little Rock and coming back and getting our graduate degrees here and jumping into public service. But I’m not going to be afraid to disagree with him.
At-large directors, past and present, have gotten criticized for favoring moneyed interests or constituents in certain, often wealthNAME: Antwan Phillips ier neighborhoods. You’ve talked about JOB: At-large Little Rock director; lawyer addressing Little Rock’s inequities being a and partner at Wright Lindsey Jennings focus. How do you engage people who’ve always been left out of the conversation? AGE: 37 This may be an age thing with me being the BIRTHPLACE: Little Rock youngest person on the board: It’s not hard SECRET TALENT: Grilling seafood to get people the information and have them Mayor Scott unveiled a plan to ask Little Rock be involved in the process. It’s going to be on taxpayers to support a permanent 1-cent FAVORITE 2020 ALBUM: Big Sean’s me, whether that’s through social media or sales tax increase at what turned out to be the “Detroit 2” my connections through living here or cambeginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and paigning, to let people know. It affects your the city had to put it off indefinitely. When neighborhood. It affects your business. Let will it be time to roll it out again? people know: When they show up it makes a difference. That’s going to Soon! I know we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, but obviously our be my responsibility because I’m the only one different on the board. I city needs resources. There are things that need attention as far as doldon’t expect anyone who’s been on the board to change the way they lars. We have a three-eighths-cent sales tax that sunsets at the end of legislate or govern. If there’s going to be greater involvement, it’s going the year. At some point during ’21, we have to do something to prepare to be me bringing people to the table. for ’22. We have to prepare to have at least what we have this year. We still have to be able to look forward to what Little Rock is going to look I haven’t done the math, but I know that your coming on a board made like next year. We need to be ready. This hasn’t been discussed, but I up largely of directors who are 65 or older has dropped the average don’t know if you wait until the perfect time, because then it may be too age considerably. You’re also the only lawyer on the board. Those are late. If you wait ’til, say, two weeks of decreased numbers, what if that’s two things that I imagine will inform how you work with board memNovember? That wouldn’t be practical. I think there’s timing concerns. bers. How do you think you’ll change the board dynamic? But I’m generally supportive about it because we need the resources. Watching the board meetings, it’s obvious that there haven’t often been kumbaya moments. To the extent that I can be a liaison between people — Lindsey Millar ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 9
THE FRONT BIG PIC
40 YEARS OF READERS CHOICE A look back at an Arkansas Times institution. Forty years ago this year, the Arkansas Times first asked its readers to vote on their favorite restaurants. That kind of history makes our annual Readers Choice restaurant poll the gold standard among an array of latecomers by other publications. To celebrate the anniversary, here are some memorable quotes, factoids and other odds and ends from the last four decades: PIE QUEEN
In January 1984, Bob Lancaster profiled Ruby Jones, 81, who had worked from 5 a.m.-9 p.m. six days a week at the Jones Cafe between Cottondale and Linwood for 32 years (and 10 years before that at the Central Grill in Pine Bluff): “Like most great artists, Mrs. Jones doesn’t have much to say about her art. She makes pies. They’re good. People eat them and she makes more. … About all you’ll get out of her about the art is this: ‘If a pie don’t have a good shell, it won’t be worth a flip.’ ”
Doug Smith, writing Jan. 31, 2003, explores the history of pizza in Arkansas. He concludes that many people who attended the University of Arkansas in the 1950s and early 1960s had their first pizza at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. More: “It may come as a surprise to young people, but pizza is not indigenous to Arkansas, not like okra or banana pudding. Once, a time within living memory, there was no pizza. ... “It’s widely believed, by members of the Bruno family of Little Rock among others, that the first pizza in Arkansas was served up by Bruno’s Little Italy. ‘We started selling pizza in Levy in 1947,’ Vince Bruno says. ... “So one could get a pizza in Little Rock by the late ’40s, but the writer can attest that through the ’50s, there was no pizza in Searcy, nor most other Arkansas towns. Hot Springs was exceptional, as usual. Little Rock advertising executive Paul Johnson, who grew up in Hot Springs, says there was a pizza place in the spa city in the ’50s, on Central Avenue, near the south end of Bathhouse Row. Long gone, its name may have been ‘Tony’s.’ “Like Dean Martin, ‘They called it pizza pie,’ Johnson said. ‘You could play the slot machines while you waited for your pizza.’ ”
A LITTLE HISTORICAL CONTEXT From the intro to the first Readers Choice issue in July 1981: “Over the years, perhaps no activity has occupied as much of man’s attention as the getting and serving of food: not sex, not religion, not even war. First, man was a gatherer, then a hunter, and finally a farmer who raised crops and animals that made their way to their board by dint of the plow or the hatchet. Way back there, it didn’t matter so much how a meal was prepared: a Neanderthal was tickled with a loin chop just off the hoof, with little or no roasting.”
10 FEBRUARY 2021
From Jan. 27, 1994: “The coffeehouse explosion has arrived in Arkansas, finally, after its birth in mid-’80s Seattle. It’s not quite as ubiquitous here as in the Pacific Northwest, where rugged crossroads general stores wave big banners proclaiming ‘espresso’ right next to signs for Red Man and live bait.” Among those profiled was Arsaga’s in Fayetteville, which has been open since 1992.
STILL SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS In the Feb. 9, 2011, issue, Lindsey Millar asked a series of questions about mobile vendor Hot Dog Mike: “Why does Hot Dog Mike have more than 1,000 Twitter followers? Why does Hot Dog Mike sell T-shirts? Why does Hot Dog Mike appear on the evening news, on two networks no less, every time he unveils a new hot dog creation? And, ultimately: Why are Hot Dog Mike and his small hot dog cart the most exciting culinary development in Little Rock since the birth of cheese dip?”
MEAT! In the Jan. 30, 2020, issue Lindsey Millar put together an oral history of Doe’s Eat Place. Past owner and longtime FOB George Eldridge talked about former President Bill Clinton’s embrace of veganism. “The last time I saw him, I hugged him. I felt like I was hugging a skeleton. I’ve got a doctor up at the Mayo Clinic who’s a vegan. He’s alway telling me you need to eat from the stalk. I said, “I’ve got a buddy that’s a vegan, he’s probably the most famous vegan in the world, and he looks like hell. He gonna dry up and blow away. So you can take that vegan shit and stick it where the sun don’t shine.”
40 YEARS OF WINNERS Here is a record of winners in two of the top categories in Central Arkansas, best overall and best new. Many of the winners are no longer with us. It’s a stark reminder, in these tremendously difficult times for restaurants, how fragile the industry is even when life is normal. It’s hard to keep going for years and years.
1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS
BEST NEW RESTAURANT IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS
RESTAURANT JACQUES AND SUZANNE RESTAURANT JACQUES AND SUZANNE CAJUN’S WHARF RESTAURANT JACQUES AND SUZANNE RESTAURANT JACQUES AND SUZANNE RESTAURANT JACQUES AND SUZANNE COY’S ASHLEY’S COY’S COY’S GRAFFITI’S REGAS GRILL BLUE MESA BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT TRIO’S BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT TRIO’S BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT TRIO’S BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT TRIO’S BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT TRIO’S BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT TRIO’S BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT THE PANTRY BIG ORANGE THE PANTRY THE PANTRY PETIT & KEET PETIT & KEET TABLE 28
BLACK-EYED PEA SHORTY SMALL’S, THE BLUE PLATE SPECIAL (TIE) SHOGUN PACKET HOUSE ASHLEY’S GRAFFITI’S JUANITA’S A’LAN’S GABRIEL’S LUCKY’S PARADISE SEAFOOD GRILLE, PURPLE COW (TIE) REGAS GRILL TIA’S TEX AND MEX GRILL BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT ROMANO’S MACARONI GRILL ROMANO’S MACARONI GRILL SPAULE LOCA LUNA CAPERS ST. PASCUAL’S KITCHEN VERMILLION BISTRO WHOLE HOG CAFE TRIO’S RIVER MARKET LILY’S DIM SUM THEN SOME BOSCOS ON THE BORDER FERNEAU SO RESTAURANT BAR BILL VALENTINE’S BALLPARK RESTAURANT ZAZA CAPI’S DUGAN’S PUB BIG ORANGE LOCAL LIME SOUTH ON MAIN THREE FOLD NOODLES AND DUMPLING CO. HEIGHTS TACO AND TAMALE CO. HONEY PIES PETIT & KEET DOS ROCAS MOCKINGBIRD BAR & TACOS
FEBRUARY 2021 11
INCONSEQUENTIAL NEWS QUIZ
COMPLIANT RIOT EDITION PLAY AT HOME, WHILE
TWO-BIT THIEF’S ONE-BIT
SGT. KEVIN M ROY, PUBLIC DOMAIN, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
WAITING FOR THE FBI BATTERING RAM TO HIT YOUR DOOR.
1) One of the first rioters to be arrested after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection was Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 60, of Gravette. How was the FBI able to identify him so quickly? A) He was seen in a now-famous high-definition photo with his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. B) He later showed off a piece of Pelosi’s mail he’d swiped from the office for reporters, saying he’d left a quarter on her desk “because I’m not a thief.” C) He also told reporters he took the mail because he’d bled on it, which would surely be DNA evidence if investigators actually needed it following Barnett’s many on-video confessions. D) All of the above. 2) Speaking of bad takes, on Jan. 10 — more than three full days after the Capitol insurrection, with TV screens coast to coast flooded with video of Trump-incited MAGA rioters smashing through doors, beating police and chanting their intent to lynch elected officials — Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Merkin Fork) took to Twitter to stump for the idea that the riot wasn’t actually as seditious as it looked and that liberals were using it to create a “false narrative” to demonize conservatives. In that tweet, how did Rapert describe the violent coup attempt that cost five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police Officer, their lives? A) “Proud Boys will be boys.” B) “What’s a little treason among friends?” C) “A whirlwind sightseeing tour of the U.S. Capitol!” D) “A few hours of protest.” 3) Another Arkansan arrested for alleged involvement in the D.C. insurrection was Peter Francis Stager, 41, of Conway, who investigators say is the rioter seen on video brutally beating a police officer on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and later saying “death is the only remedy” for elected officials inside. According to investigators and the widely seen video, what was Stager’s weapon of choice in his assault on the officer? A) A pillowcase full of hardback copies of Donald Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.” B) FREEEEEDOMMMMMMMM! C) The framed Declaration of Indepen-
dence, which he stole from the National Archives by following the plan laid out in the 2004 Nicholas Cage film “National Treasure.” D) Shamefully, a long pole bearing an American flag, with which he was seen raining vicious blows on the officer’s prone body as he lay on the steps. 4) Arkansas U.S. Rep. Steve Womack has been in the news recently, with the 3rd District Republican figuring in several stories about GOP House members pushing back against stringent new security measures instituted at the Capitol since the insurrection. According to news outlets The Hill, NPR and others, which of the following was part of Womack’s reaction? A) He refused to enter the House Chamber, instead sending an intern holding an iPad with his face live-streamed to it. B) He took his ball and went home. C) He started wearing a T-shirt that says: “F**k Your Feelings (Unless They’re About Why Rules Shouldn’t Apply To Me).” D) According to news accounts, Womack screamed “GET BACK!” and “DON’T TOUCH ME!” at U.S. Capitol police officers trying to usher him through newly installed metal detectors outside the House Chamber. Republicans eventually became so obstinate in their refusal to accept the idea that “law and order” should apply to them that House leadership was forced to institute a $5,000 fine for anyone dodging the detectors, in hopes they would grow up and comply with police. 5) By the time you read this, President Trump will have shuffled off the national stage and into infamy as a failed oneterm, twice-impeached president who managed to kill more Americans than the Axis Powers before inciting a mob of nutcases to attempt a deadly coup on his behalf. Which of the following was the first thought you had when you woke up on Jan. 21? A) “Well, that was stupid.” B) “Thank God! It was all a horrible nightmare!” C) “You know, call me crazy, but I wish Biden would randomly tweet some crazy shit about ‘hamberders’ today.” D) “I survived! Now can we all go back to just being Americans again?”
ANSWERS: D, D, D, D, ? 12 FEBRUARY 2021
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FEBRUARY 2021 13
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14 FEBRUARY 2021
the TO-DO list
CHRISTOPHER GARCIA VALLE
BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE and LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK
‘DERRICK ADAMS: SANCTUARY’ 2/20-6/6. THE MOMENTARY, BENTONVILLE. FREE.
“The Negro Motorist Green Book,” that Jim Crow-era guide to safe hotels, restaurants, parks and more for Blacks — and the subject of the 2018 Academy Award-winning “Green Book” — served as the inspiration for artist Adams’ exhibition at the sister museum to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Mixed media and collage installations employing facsimiles of pages from the Green Book combined with small sculpture, textiles and hard-edge two-dimensional works referring to shelter are an exploration of refuge for Blacks in the past and now. Adams, a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation resident in 2019, has work in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others. LNP ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 15
the TO-DO list
VISIT MOSAIC TEMPLARS CULTURAL CENTER
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ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: RUSSIAN MASTERS
2/23. ARKANSASSYMPHONY.ORG, @ ARKANSASSYMPHONY ON FACEBOOK. 7 P.M. PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN ADMISSION. Some of the most recognizable and cinematic orchestral music you know has come from Russian composers, and here, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra pays tribute to two of the country’s heavy hitters. The ASO’s Interim Artistic Director Geoffrey Robson worked with ASO musicians to pick out two string quartets for this installment of the Stella Boyle Smith River Rhapsodies series, to be presented via livestream from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in North Little Rock. The Rockefeller Quartet — Trisha McGovern Freeney and Linnaea Brophy on violin, Katherine Reynolds on viola and Jacob Wunsch on cello — performs Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 1 in B minor, and the Quapaw Quartet — Meredith Maddox Hicks and Charlotte Crosmer on violin, Timothy MacDuff on viola and David Gerstein on cello — performs Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 3 in E-flat minor, Op. 30. SS
16 FEBRUARY 2021
First, let’s all agree that designating one month out of the year to educate ourselves about the impacts Black people have made on society is pretty paltry, yeah? Or, at the very least, that confining our Black history education to a 28-day slice of the calendar risks homogenizing Black peoples’ stories into one sanitized and monolithic narrative, to be addressed in the middle school syllabus under the “February” tab and then brushed aside, likely leaving out names like Raye Montague, Claudette Colvin and Marsha P. Johnson in the process. Fortunately for Central Arkansans, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center does this work year-round, and February is as good a time to visit as any, virtually or in person. Museum Director Christina Shutt will hold readings from selected children’s books every Thursday at 7 p.m. on MTCC’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, and over the course of the month spoken word poet Marquese McFerguson will perform a signature series of poems inspired by MTCC exhibits and figures like Bayard Rustin, Sue Cowan Williams, Pharoah Sanders and the North Little Rock Six. Check out, too, MTCC’s series of downloadable Black History Month posters featuring Arkansans like George W. Stingley and savor the museum’s ice cream collaboration with Loblolly Creamery, whose “Maple Leaf Ragtime” flavor pays tribute to Texarkana-born composer Scott Joplin. For details, follow Mosaic Templars on Instagram and Facebook or visit mosaictemplarscenter.com. SS
2/6-5/31. CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART. $12 ADULTS (FREE TO MEMBERS). Crystal Bridges’ collecting expansion into contemporary craft is symbolically launched with “Crafting America,” more than 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass and nontraditional materials from the 1940s to today. Developed by the museum and featuring some of its new acquisitions, the exhibition broadens the definition of craft by exploring the journey of traditional craft, such as utilitarian vessels and quilts, to forms that expand on the use of materials to make works of art. Artists whose works appear in the show include woven-wire sculptor Ruth Asawa, ceramicists Peter Voulkos and June Schwarcz, textile artist and painter Jeffrey Gibson, weaver and performance artist Sonya Clark, Arkansas basketmaker Leon Niehues and Arkansas wood sculptor Robyn Horn. Timed tickets are required. LNP
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A message from Entergy Arkansas, LLC ©2020 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
A message from Entergy Arkansas, LLC ©2020 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
A message from Entergy Arkansas, LLC ©2020 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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FEBRUARY 2021 17
AFTER TRUMP WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF THE CULT MOVEMENT HE INSPIRED? BY ERNEST DUMAS
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NEWS & POLITICS
DOMESTIC TERRORISTS: Whether thuggery will persist post-Trump is the question.
n Nov. 3, 2016, we answered, affirmatively, the question of whether a modern democratic republic like the United States could actually choose a psychopath as the head of the government, as Germany had in 1933 when it installed Adolf Hitler as chancellor. On Jan. 6, we answered — negatively, one hopes — the second question, which is whether it would end as the German experiment with sociopathy did, with either a legal or a violent putsch. We must give some credit to Congress, Democrats and many Republicans alike, and to Mike Pence. They, unlike the German Reichstag, would not go along with a coup d’etat, and for their decision found themselves branded traitors and the targets of gunmen and a hangman’s noose. Now, the big remaining question is whether the real treason that occurred at the national Capitol on Jan. 6 and the days leading up to it was just the magical fusion of all the resentment politics of our times — racial,
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ethnic, religious, economic, social — into one nearly apocalyptic event that ended like other cult movements have, in tragedy, catharsis or in merely exposing the dark side of humanity. Donald Trump may take his place alongside Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite and other cult icons, although, unlike those men, Trump promised to march with his followers to their destiny but retreated into the White House instead to watch them on television. Or, by embedding itself like a virus in the nation’s political tissue, is the collection of grievances that were embodied on the national mall Jan. 6 so enduring that it will continue to threaten democratic norms for a generation or beyond? The former, I think, but as this is written, three days before the inauguration, I’m not certain. Watching the events of Jan. 6 inside and outside the Capitol on television, I thought ruefully about a noontime visit in the summer of 1975 to the Hofbrauhaus, the beer hall in Munich where in 1920 Hitler made his famous maiden
speech that blamed Germany’s surrender in World War I and the Treaty of Versailles on a cabal of Jews and laid out his party’s mission to install a Nazi government that would make Germany great again. I was accompanying a delegation of officials studying whether Arkansas should set up an office in Munich or elsewhere in Europe to promote corporate investment in the state. With a couple of state legislators who went there with me for bratwurst and sauerkraut, I quaffed a beer where Hitler’s raving had excited the throng (and, later, I also purchased two heavy HB mugs for souvenirs from der Führer’s political birthplace). We talked about the oddity that Europe’s most educated populace would fall for a psychopath and help him end democracy. Could it happen in America? Nah, we all agreed. I would also visit, later, the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich, the Buchenwald gas chambers and cemetery where Germans this month were sledding on the
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mass graves, Albert Speer’s stark Zeppelinfield stadium in Munich (now missing its giant swastika) where Hitler addressed his adoring throngs, and also the more famous beer hall across the river from the Hofbrauhaus, the Burgerbraukeller, where Hitler staged the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, when he directed a mob to overthrow the government but got himself sent to prison instead, delaying his ascendance to power for 10 years. Photos I took at those places are among the thousands that form my computer’s screensaver and have seemed the past week to float with ominous regularity across my vision. For half a century, allusions to Hitler on the right and Marx on the left have too readily characterized our political debate, to be avoided by journalists and commentators, but the correlation of the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich and the rhetoric and events around Jan. 6 have seemed too compelling to avoid. Inspired by the Italy Fascist Party’s and Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome a year earlier that installed Mussolini as Italy’s dictator, Hitler plotted the putsch at the Burgerbraukeller, where he and 600 thugs forced the chancellor of Bavaria and others into the kitchen at gunpoint, directed them to surrender the government of Bavaria to him, then announced to the throng in the hall that a revolution had broken out and that they were taking control of the government from “the Berlin Jew government and the November criminals of 1918.” Instead, he was convicted of treason and spent six months in in jail, where he dictated “Mein Kampf.” Ten years later, his party took over the Reichstag by threatening other party delegates and forced President Hindenburg to appoint Hitler chancellor and sign the Enabling Act of 1933, which effectively gave Hitler permanent dictatorial powers to make all the laws and enforce them. Mike Pence, who was a European history major at Hanover College, is not ignorant of that history. The putsch and the aftermath must have occurred to him as Trump directed him repeatedly to duck his constitutional duty to count the electoral votes and officially declare the results on Jan. 6 and, instead, substitute Trump as the winner of the election. It must have occurred to him again as Trump told the mob that day that the weak Pence had betrayed him and the country, and still again minutes later when the Capitol police yanked him off the dais in the Senate and herded him and his family into a locked room where they heard the chants from Trump men outside the door, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!”
Videos inside the chamber showed Trump’s marauders at Pence’s desk demanding justice, bellowing prayers and invoking God and Jesus against him and the other traitors in Congress, including, of course, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was supposed to get a bullet in the brain, and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who Trump told the crowd needed to be gotten rid of. Her daddy, the former vice president, heard the president’s charge on television and telephoned her on the House floor to get out. Nearly everyone in public life except Trump himself would soon concede that the marauders in the Capitol and at its doors were criminals, if perhaps only misguided ones, although millions, including many who were in the throng, would claim that the marauders were part of the mythical antifa hordes and liberal saboteurs trying to make Trump people look bad. So the question that will consume all of us — at least until the future of Donald J. Trump is more or less settled by Congress and the Republican Party — is how representative that throng on the national mall was of the body politic? How much trouble are we in? A sizable part of Congress — including a couple of Arkansas’s own — continue to subscribe to the absurd tenet that brought the marauders to the Capitol: that a giant conspiracy of socialists, communists, child sex-traffickers, anti-fascist radicals and technology geniuses from Cuba, Venezuela, Iran or China stole millions of votes to boot Trump out of the office that God intended him to hold. But what about the country outside the capital? That Trump would claim election fraud to stay in office was clear long before he ever ran. Psychopaths, literally, cannot lose. After abandoning the Democratic Party, the Reform Party, and liberalism tout court, and announcing for president in 2015, Trump pronounced himself the overwhelming choice of Americans over a band of Republicans he called “losers” or worse. In the very first election, the Iowa Republican caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, Ted Cruz won the state’s delegates 27.6% to Trump’s 24.3%. Trump tweeted: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he illegally stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!” He offered not a clue how Cruz could have stolen it, but he continued for days, insisting that Cruz’s delegates to the Republican nominating convention be thrown out and the delegates given to him. Since Cruz now is virtually alone in the Senate supporting Trump’s election-fraud claims, might we
On Feb. 1, 2016, Ted Cruz won Iowa’s caucus delegates 27.6% to Trump’s 24.3%. Trump tweeted: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he illegally stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong ... . Bad!”
presume that he is acknowledging he stole the Iowa caucuses from Trump in 2016? On the day of the general election, Trump claimed that Hillary Clinton was stealing the election in New Hampshire from him by sending caravans of buses full of illegals from Massachusetts into New Hampshire to vote for her. “Recall the election,” he tweeted. “Recall the election. I mean, there, you should be able to recall the election!” He maintained for two years that he actually had won New Hampshire and also the national popular vote by a landslide (Clinton won it by nearly 3 million votes) but that a massive conspiracy took them away from him. The state chairman of the New Hampshire GOP declared that Trump was lying. Trump may well have believed all his fraud charges. The clinical evidence is that a psychopath can do nothing else; he can never lose. So, it continued again before and after the 2020 election, as polls nearly universally showed him losing and he warned that Democrats were stealing votes everywhere. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined the Trump movement early in 2016, cheered him for four years from her government position, and then used the power and purse of her public office to advance his litigation to throw out the election results and commission him for another four years. In the end, Trump enlarged the conspiracy to put him out of office to include his vice president and treasonous Republicans in Congress, Georgia, and other states where Republican officeholders would not help overturn their elections. For one brief (we hope) moment, the alleged treason united all the major aggrieved groups in American society — nationalists and supremacists alarmed that racial and ethnic minorities were becoming supreme in the economic and social order; millions of evangelical Christians who were led to believe that the vain, carnal, corrupt businessman and showman was God’s imperfect vessel for leading His favorite country back to glory; thousands of good old boys (and the Arkansas attorney general) who were persuaded by radically revised interpretations of the Second Amendment that dark forces headed by Barack Obama planned to destroy the National Rifle Association, take their guns, and enslave them. Those flocks account for most of the domesticterrorism slaughters of the past 30 years, from Timothy McVeigh to Dylann Roof and the killers of immigrants at the Texas border and Jews and Sikhs at religious temples. Post-Jan. 6 polls suggest that all the true believers now make up a little less than 30 percent of the electorate. Donald Trump brought them all into the Republican Party. Governor Hutchinson dealt with some of them — remember Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord — as a federal prosecutor in the 1980s. He seems today, though alone, to be pondering how his party can deal with it.
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OPTIONS TO MEET EVERY NEED Dedicated early open enrollment period has ended, but it is never too late to join the LRSD family. Visit: LRSD.org – Student Registration (K-12) or LRSD.org/earlychildhood (Pre-K) Great THINGS are still happening at LRSD! The Little Rock School District salutes our two Amazing Educators for 2020-21 — among 3,500 dedicated professionals who remain committed to meeting the needs of each student, even during a pandemic. From rigorous academic engagement for those identified as gifted and talented to support for those facing learning, speech or physical challenges, LRSD — the state’s second largest district — offers unique, comprehensive educational approaches for pre-K to 12th-grade students. LRSD takes pride in its highly qualified teachers — nearly half of all classroom teachers have a masters or doctoral degree and 155 have National Board Certification — among the most in the state. LRSD continues to operate the state’s only K-8 STEM campus, eight magnet schools and a uniquely-focused language and literacy elementary academy, and last year, continued to expand Little Rock West High School of Innovation, adding a 10th grade class. Subsequent grades will be added each year for a 9-12 delivery. Little Rock Hall STEAM Academy was also introduced, enhancing its focus on science and engineering academies under the Academies of Central Arkansas (Ford NGL) umbrella. High school college preparatory programs, including
pre-AP, AP, classes with local universities and the District’s EXCEL program, provide multiple options for families. These programs allow students to align their educational experience with their interests, preparing them for college and career and equipping them to meet the challenges of a global society. LRSD consistently places among the top tier of state schools with National Merit Semifinalists, as well as Commended, National Hispanic and AP Scholars. LRSD is proud of its highly accomplished students and the community partnerships that enhance their educational experiences. Students will continue taking their learning to the next level at the newly constructed career-focused Little Rock Southwest High School. LRSD is also the state’s largest provider of public preschool programs with certified teachers in every class. The District’s pre-K students continue to outperform students who do not use LRSD’s pre-K program in every skill area. The District maintains its mission to provide students with equitable access to educational opportunities, equipping them with what they need to succeed.
FEBRUARY 2021 21
WRITER/ DIRECTOR CHUNG: His film about an immigrant farm family draws from his own life as a Korean American in the Ozarks of Arkansas.
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“Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung talks Korean pears, growing up in rural Arkansas and how he’s reimagining what it means to be a protagonist.
BY SAM EIFLING
Korean-American family heads east across America, moving to Northwest Arkansas so the father can afford land to start a farm. He and his wife earn money meanwhile at chicken plants by determining the sex of chicks. Their young daughter and even younger son have to adjust to living in a trailer in a white, rural corner of a new state. It’s the ’80s, and staying connected to anything beyond the land and their family is a challenge. This is the setup for “Minari,” the fourth feature film by Lee Isaac Chung, a director who lived all of that himself as a young kid. Naturally, he takes creative license in the film, but he says the story is true to his family’s experience. When he was 2, they moved from Colorado, where he was born, to Russellville. And then, when he was 7, they moved to Lincoln, a small town on the western edge of Washington County, near the Oklahoma state line. By coincidence, at that time I was nearly his age and growing up 20 miles away, in a house at the end of a hillside dirt road that offered a western view halfway to Lincoln. “Minari” strikes me, and probably others in the Ozarks, as the most authentic comingof-age story I’ve seen reflected on screen about our part of the world. Film nerds at large are also enthralled. At Sundance, to pick just one of the festivals where it has cleaned up, “Minari” won the top prize both from the jury and from the audience. Best I can find, it’s the first drama to accomplish that since 2006. It’s going to be in the mix for major awards, and in a bizarre year for cinema, you could see a small-budget Arkansas immigrant drama rake in some hardware. Steven Yeun (playing the father, Jacob) and supporting actress Youn You-jung (as an utterly indelible grandma) could get nods, as could Chung for directing and writing, and the film overall. In December, “Minari” fans on Twitter raised hell when the Golden Globes confirmed that, despite being an American film, “Minari,” with most of its dialogue in Korean, would be competing in the Foreign Language category instead of the Drama category. Already “Minari” has launched Chung, who’s 42, into some heady space. Next for him is writing and directing an American live-action version of “Your Name,” a massively successful 2016 Japanese anime that will be distributed by Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot. And in late 2020, MGM announced a production deal with Brad Pitt’s Plan B that includes another Chung joint, a yet-untitled romantic feature. The Arkansas Times took note of Chung as far back as 1997, when as a high school senior he was an Academic All-Star: “I’ve always wanted to be president,” he told the Times then. The Times caught up with him again in 2014, after his debut feature, the 2007 drama “Munyurangabo,” which Chung filmed in 11 days using local kids in Rwanda as the first Kinyarwanda-language feature film, had helped him jumpstart and support a film industry in Rwanda. Though his parents have moved to Colorado, they still have the old family farm in Lincoln, and are these days less worried about his decision not to pursue medicine or the White House. I reached Chung in South Pasadena, Calif., via Zoom to compare notes on Ozarks living (“I don’t miss the ticks”), to discuss the merits of a family as a protagonist and to jinx him by invoking the work of noted Oscar hoarder Bong Joon-ho. ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 23
FAMILY AS PROTAGONIST: Alan S. Kim and Yuh-Jung Youn in “Minari.”
MELISSA LUKENBAUGH, COURTESY OF A24
ON THE SET: Lee Isaac Chung directs Steven Yeun and Will Patton in “Minari.”
What was Lincoln like? We had one school, a consolidated school. Seventy-nine people in my class. Governor’s School [a summer program for rising seniors], that was big for me. Did you ever do AEGIS [Arkansas Enrichment for Gifted/Talented in Summer] camps? Those were my way out, from being stuck in Lincoln. I saw you went to Yale for biology. My sister, she worked really hard, she’s three years older than I am. She did that and after that she told me, ‘You gotta come here.’ She helped teach me what I needed to do to go. Even taking AP classes. We were taking [them] by satellite in Lincoln, videotaped lectures. There’s a whole system for rural schools. I’d be interested to hear about the reception you’ve gotten as you’ve taken “Minari” on the festival tour. People could either come at it and say, “That’s an amazing immigrant story,” which it is. Or, I watched it and said, “Man, you really captured this place.” Everyone always talks about the immigrant stuff. To me, this is an Arkansas story or a farming story. There were a lot of people on set from Oklahoma, and on set I felt like there was this interesting divide between the Korean people and the local Oklahoma people. I’m kind of in between both. I enjoy talking to both about different things. It’s fun. I hope people in those types of places feel like it resonates with them. I come from a farm family, and my dad compulsively grows things. When I was a kid, we had a vineyard. It was him, doing so much work himself, moving rocks, cutting 24 FEBRUARY 2021
posts for the vines, stringing up grapes. It was us, as kids, pulling weeds and June bugs off the grapes. And “Minari” was resonant in that way. That farm life is hard work! We say it, it’s in the language — it’s a hard row to hoe, for your family. It always felt like that part of Arkansas, the hill country, everybody’s kind of like my family in that they’re all trying to make it on their own. There are a lot of loners. So my family fit right in. We filmed part of this film on actual farmlands between Tulsa and Arkansas where these Vietnamese Hmong immigrants had started a farm. So that farm is a real farm run by immigrants. I noticed there was this huge stack of rocks where the dad had, by himself, gone through this entire field and pulled rocks out, just so they could plant some vegetables. That reminded me of that work that my dad did. I saw him outside constantly. I noticed with the Hmong, they were very communal in the way they did it. Their extended family would come together and do it. We were much more isolated. To be honest, I think that’s why our farm ultimately failed. It’s just too much for one individual, one family to do. What were you guys growing? We primarily did Korean pear trees. My dad felt like, “These are gonna take off. Americans are going to figure this stuff out.” Who doesn’t love a Korean pear? I know. He was kind of ahead of his time. People caught onto it much later. At the time, nobody in the American grocery stores was interested. But we would go to Kansas City and Dallas and try to sell these pears.
It’s interesting to consider the loner aspect. It felt to me that you guys actually fit in well. There’s a culture here of doing things the hard way and owning your fate. I definitely agree with that. You’d be surprised to see my dad hanging out with people in Lincoln, how well he gets along with people there, and how they understand each other. How so? When he goes now, he hangs out with our neighbor, and they get together and drink. And they just talk. It’s not what you’d expect when you think politically, the way immigrants are put into one camp and farmers are put in another. That’s what I felt I grew up with, even the friends I had in Lincoln. Around here, people are kind of simple. But they’re not cruel or hateful, which in this part of the country is how they’re often represented. For sure. That was my experience growing up. When we’d go play basketball somewhere I’d get made fun of by the other team and stuff, but it was always, in my own town, I was one of them. I am curious about your thoughts about where we are with Korean cinema right now. America’s reigning champion best movie is Korean. “Parasite” is a wildly different film, but it deals with some of the same theme ingredients: You’ve got a family, they’re in the basement, they’ve got their sights set on hustling and moving their way up. I wonder what you see in your work as having a connection to that sound or that tenor that
MELISSA LUKENBAUGH, COURTESY OF A24
JOSH ETHAN JOHNSON, COURTESY OF A24
AN ARKANSAS STORY: Steven Yeun and Yeri Han in “Minari.”
America is responding to from Korean artists. Yeah, I wonder. I don’t want to go too far out on a limb with this one, but with director Bong’s film, I felt a deep sense of solidarity with that. He had made his family the protagonist, in a way. It’s almost the family itself. It’s a very democratic protagonist. And I thought “Minari” was as well. Yeah, and I wonder if there’s something cultural about that. You see that in other Asian films. Films by Yasujiro Ozu and other filmmakers who might train their attention on a family, and not just a hero protagonist. In American film, of course, the formula is, you have a hero as a protagonist, and that is the lens through which you see the world. You’ve got one man against the world by the end of it. It is nice to see the narrative success of a film where the whole thing is the family. That’s the idea I was hoping for, and that Steven [Yeun] would allow us the American touchpoint, where he’s like the Western hero who is seeking a new life in the frontier, that sort of thing. But quickly the film turns into a lot about the entire family dynamics. I wonder if that might seem different to people. I hope it does. I love film, and I worry sometimes that we do ourselves a disservice by adopting its conventions. Film is so seductive, and offers a very Americanized view of heroism. Or how we view the role of the lone, angry male. That’s right. Who’s out to conquer, in some way. Yeah! Or who’s aggrieved, and who’s out
to take revenge on people, and the system sucks, and all of it. I think we internalize it. For sure. One of the things I was thinking about with this was, I wanted to tell a story that’s a journey into vulnerability rather than conquest. I remember going to film school, and one of the first things I’m hearing is, “Your story needs to be about someone,” and that someone wants something. And you set up these obstacles for why this someone, who’s usually a male, can’t get that thing. And then you find a way for that person to accomplish what he set out to do. I studied biology in college, and I feel like evolutionary biology was about that as well: The reason why we are human beings is because we have conquered this species and that species. There were advantages in this trait that led us to survive and to conquer. And I was interested much more in the idea that, what if it’s the opposite of that? The opposite of that makes us human, and makes for a good story.
seeing each other anew, in a way.
Describe, then, the opposite of that. What’s the opposite in that case? Weakness. Or even, in this case, what if it’s destruction that leads to salvation, in a way? What if it’s losing everything that leads to some kind of redemption? I don’t know. I felt that much more personally in my own life. That I’ve always gained by losing.
Was there something specific to Lincoln or Arkansas or Northwest Arkansas that you feel like, you could not have made this movie if you’d grown up in Indiana or North Carolina or Utah? That feeling of finding solidarity in isolation, in a way. I did feel like a lot of friends that I had, that they also, their parents had moved to Arkansas for a desire to have a new start. When I hear friends talk about growing up in places in the deep South where people have been there for generations, I think that there’s much more of a culture that is established and particular. But in the Ozarks I just felt there was something more democratic about the place. Everyone’s trying to figure it out, somehow.
What’s been your parents’ reaction to the movie? They were so scared of this film before they saw it. And I was so scared of showing it to them. It was like a big sigh of relief when I showed it to them. We watched it together and it was pretty emotional, to be honest. It felt like we were
I don’t have kids, but I think a terrifying part of having kids would be being seen so thoroughly, to be scanned so completely by someone paying so much attention. All the time. The original Siri in your house. And they’re going to carry that with them! My dad jokes with me now: “Now that I know you’re going to do stuff like this, I’m gonna be on my best behavior.” But it’s changed our relationship in a good way. We’re much more free with each other. He feels like maybe I harbor less judgment than he thought I had on him. I think he always felt like the life he brought us to was difficult and maybe I had negative feelings about that. But I think he saw that I see it in a much different way than that. And I think my mom, she felt good that I was able to air some of the feelings that she has about how difficult that time in her life was.
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‘KICK-ASS CURBSIDE’: That’s how Brood & Barley describes its salmon and other offerings to-go.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Arkansas Times’ Readers Choice restaurant contest. The issue goes to press at a time when restaurants have, for just shy of one year, been faced with a pandemic and the necessary safety rules that have limited their customers. So, this year, we have a new category to join our traditional bests: Best Pandemic Dining. Our readers have praised Trio’s Restaurant and The Hive in Bentonville for keeping diners safely spaced. They’ve toasted Flyway Brewing and Superior Bathhouse Brewery in Hot Springs for their beer-to-go service. (A feature on Flyway, which also won Most Innovative, illustrates how it kept aloft.) They’ve recognized Star of India for its to-go packaging (and we give Sami Lal his due for his enduring success). Our readers found much to praise in restaurants from Fayetteville (Atlas and The Farmer’s Table Cafe) to Marianna (Jones Bar-B-Que Diner), from Dumas (Taylor’s Steakhouse) to Jonesboro (The Parsonage), from Rogers (Local Lime) to Cabot (Pea Farm Bistro), creating a road map to good eating in Arkansas. Enjoy.
FEBRUARY 2021 27
FLYWAY BREWING HAS USED THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC TO REVAMP AND EXPAND ITS BUSINESS. BY LINDSEY MILLAR
he summer of 2019 was supposed to mark a significant expansion for Flyway Brewing: It planned to introduce Early Bird IPA, one of its flagship beers, to statewide distribution. Its Bluewing Berry Wheat, introduced in 2017 with a memorable can design — a namesake blue-winged teal silhouetted against the sun over a spread of water — has been a massive hit throughout the state, and co-owner Jess McMullen was hoping to build on that momentum with a fourth, widely distributed beer (to go along with Bluewing, Honeybird Blonde Ale and Flying Duck Amber Ale). But transferring the recipe for Early Bird IPA to the can took longer than expected. “We poured a lot of batches out,” McMullen said. “We spent all of 2019 trying to perfect that beer.” In another industry, the introduction of a major product in March 2020 might have been catastrophic. But it turns out people drink a lot of beer amid a pandemic, and the rollout of Early Bird IPA was a boon for the North Little Rock brewery at an uncertain time, helping Flyway not just survive, but thrive in 2020. In a January interview, McMullen was reluctant to quantify Flyway’s success in 2020 while many of his colleagues in the 28 FEBRUARY 2021
restaurant industry are struggling. And, yes, having a growing distributed beer operation that accounts for roughly 50 percent of the company’s revenue provides it with a structural advantage over typical bars and restaurants, but Flyway has also distinguished itself for its willingness to experiment. “Pivot” and “evolve” were words McMullen said he used constantly in the early days of COVID-19. “I know now people say, ‘If I hear the word ‘pivot’ one more time, I’m going to scream,” he said, laughing. “But COVID gave us some opportunities that we probably would have never explored. The forced creativity has been refreshing.” To slow the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Hutchinson ordered on March 19 the closure of all bars and restaurants in the state, so Flyway worked to fine-tune its takeaway and curbside operation, coming up with a drive-thru to sell its pretzels and sliders along with growlers and cans. Under Phase I of the state’s reopening plan, which went into effect May 11, restaurants were limited to one-third capacity. Under that requirement, McMullen figured that reopening Flyway’s brewpub to
GROWING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC: Flyway owner Jess McMullen (left) convinced his cousin Brayan McFadden to move to Arkansas to open a new specialty taproom, Brood & Barley.
indoor customers would actually cost it money. So he decided to expand its outdoor offerings. Working with the Argenta Downtown Council, which owns tents, tables and chairs for special events, items that weren’t being used amid the pandemic, Flyway was able to erect what it dubbed Tent City, with tables and well-spaced chairs set up in the brewery’s parking lot along West Fourth and Maple streets. On each table was a printed list of rules or “laws” for health safety. “We tried to make it fun and have a theme,” Ren Scott, Flyway’s front-of-house manager, told the Arkansas Times in July. “We have … our sheriff, and all of the other servers are her deputies and we’re slanging beers. We want this to be fun, but we’re also not kidding. My staff is at risk, the customers’ safety is at risk, so we’re trying to make it fun, but we can’t make it too light, you know?” Scott said the positive reception from customers rivaled the number of glowing reviews it got after it appeared on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” In fact, Tent City was so successful it helped the city of North Little Rock and the Argenta Downtown Council reimagine its plans for
branding a newly established entertainment district, a defined area where patrons can carry alcoholic beverages in public and between venues. The City Council approved the creation of the district in June. Instead of focusing on the drinking component, the new entertainment district became the Argenta Outdoor Dining District, and the Argenta Downtown Council began regularly blocking off sections of Main Street and setting up more tents and tables and hosting music. The cold weather months put a pause on tents in the middle of the street, but Flyway’s Tent City never closed, even after Hutchinson allowed restaurants in June to open inside with 66 percent capacity. It just evolved: Late last year, Flyway added outdoor firepits and what it called Chalet Lane, a row of small greenhouses warmed by space heaters. Flyway operates under an Arkansas small brewery permit, which allows for three separate taprooms. For much of 2019, McMullen had been working toward opening Brood & Barley, a satellite gastropub around the corner at 411 N. Main St., the former home of Core Brewing and, before that, Starving Artist Cafe. He convinced his cousin Brayan McFadden to move with his family from Philadelphia to Arkansas to run the new location and hired respected bartender David Burnette, well known for his time at the Capital Hotel and South on Main, to manage Brood & Barley’s bar program and the front of the house. The plan was to open in the spring. McFadden arrived in Arkansas in January 2020, but it soon became clear that COVID would put a wrench in the opening timetable. McMullen brought McFadden and Burnett over to Flyway to help with its curbside operation for several months. McFadden said he was worried, but he figured things would work out. “My cousin and I are really close. I’m not going to let anything happen to him, and he’s not going to let anything happen to me. I knew it was only a setback.” In June, with no end to the pandemic in sight and restaurants still limited to 66 percent capacity, McMullen and McFadden decided to press ahead and launch Brood & Barley with what McMullen called a “slow-roll opening.” “We spent four different weeks releasing different parts of the menu,” McMullen said. “We opened for three days and then shut down for four days. Then opened for two days and shut down for five days.” McFadden admitted he wasn’t sure about the plan. “To be honest, when we sat down and talked about [the slow-roll opening], I said, ‘I don’t know if this is a good idea.’ ” But it worked, allowing the restaurant to methodically fine-tune its offerings. “That’s the positive,” McFadden said. “We’re trying things you wouldn’t normally try.” Forming a coalition with other Argenta restaurants to brainstorm ways to get customers to the Argenta Outdoor Dining District was
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Historic Midtown Billiards
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1316 S. Main St., Little Rock, AR 501-372-9990 • Follow us on Facebook! Open 7 days a week 3pm to 5am Happiest Hour Every Day 3-5pm • Happy Hour Every Day 5-8pm
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another example of trying new things and a great introduction to the restaurant scene for McFadden. “We all got together and sat down every week and talked about what we were going to do that week to help each other out — businesses in direct competition.” McFadden credits the dining district to getting Brood & Barley through the summer months. Lately, Brood & Barley’s new “kick-ass curbside” has been the key innovation. McFadden created a special takeaway menu, which includes fried chicken, a blackened salmon salad, fried jumbo duck wings, a spicy falafel and a chicken sandwich. But the big sellers have been authentic Philly cheesesteaks and poke bowls. McFadden’s background in Philadelphia informs the cheesesteak. Sous chef Melanie Wood grew up in Hawaii, where poke is one of the state’s most recognizable dishes. Brood & Barley sells family packs of each, too. “I’ve done some Googling,” McFadden said. “I think we may be the only restaurant serving authentic Philly cheesesteaks and poke bowls.” Meanwhile, Burnette has been crafting cocktail kits to go. His latest is a riff on a Fireball. In December, McFadden said Brood & Barley sold Burnette’s eggnog recipe, a repeat winner at the Historic Arkansas Museum’s Nog Off competition, “by the vat.” McFadden and McMullen can’t wait for patrons to check out Brood & Barley in its full glory. McMullen calls it Central Arkansas’s first true gastropub. “Upscale pub food that’s fun” is how McFadden describes the vibe. “I’m putting popcorn on mussels right now. I love it.” Deviled eggs have become ubiquitous on menus in Central Arkansas and beyond; Brood & Barley’s tweak of the formula is a Scotch deviled egg. “They fly out the door,” McFadden said. Four fermenters in the back of Flyway’s brewing facility feed Brood & Barley. The beers, including a European-style slow-pour pilsner that takes 5-7 minutes to pour, are only available at Brood & Barley. There’s no draft tap crossover between the two. “Everyone’s like, ‘You’re not going to have Bluewing on tap?’ No Bluewing,” McMullen said, though it is available by the can. McFadden is looking forward to doing special beer dinners in the not-too-distant future. He and Wood are planning a Hawaiian-themed menu for one of those special events. Meanwhile, Flyway continues to tweak and grow. It recently announced the hiring of respected local chef Gilbert Alaquinez Jr. McMullen expects a lot of the company’s changes to stick post-pandemic. To-go offerings will remain a focus. “We will continue to have as much outside service as people want,” he said. “We proved that people will sit outside and drink a beer in a tent in 100-degree weather. We know some of that is because of COVID, but we kind of think a lot of it will stick.” Perhaps a little farther down the line, according to McMullen? The third taproom allowed under Flyway’s brewery permit.
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There is plenty of room at Brave New Restaurant with our deck and party rooms fitted out for regular restaurant service. We exceed the Arkansas Health Department guidelines to serve you great, farm to table cuisine.
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32 FEBRUARY 2021
FEBRUARY 2021 33
THE LIVING LEGEND: Sami Lal.
ARKANSASâ€™S STAR FROM INDIA: SAMI LAL THE LONG ROAD TO LITTLE ROCK BY RHETT BRINKLEY
34 FEBRUARY 2021
RESTAURANT WORLD STARDOM.
‘ANYONE WHO COMES TO DINE IN OR ORDER TAKEOUT ARE MY GUESTS COMING TO MY HOME.’
t’s hard to explain how you’re good at something if it comes naturally. When you ask Sami Lal about his photographic memory and how he is able to remember his customers’ names or their go-to dishes at his restaurant, Star of India, he might not answer the same way each time. He told David Koon for a 2016 article in the Arkansas Times that, “It’s a very tricky system. It just comes to my tongue to say the name.” When I spoke to Lal in July of 2020, he told me that the skill is “a God-given talent I have. Service comes from my heart and I love the people.” When I interviewed him earlier this year, I brought it up again and he said, “When you love somebody, you remember the people.” It’s an understatement to say that Lal’s frontof-house style leaves an impression. Lal is revered by many in the Little Rock community who’ve frequented Star of India over the years. He’s often referred to as a living legend. Lal, 65, was born in Nakador, a town in the northern Indian state of Punjab. The second of six children, he took an interest in cooking at an early age. “When my mom was cooking at home, I was watching her all the time,” he said. Lal thought that maybe one day he’d be the one cooking food for people. “The dream’s come true,” he said. “I learned from my mom, which is what I’m using here in my restaurant — same thing as what my mom was cooking.” Lal moved to Hamburg, Germany, in 1979 to attend cooking school. He started learning German upon arrival. “I still speak it with some of my customers who are from Germany,” Lal said. While he was a student, he got his first restaurant job at a place called Dello Pub. “I was very young, I think 19 years old,” he said with a hearty laugh. He started out as a dishwasher and quickly worked his way up to a chef position. He eventually became the executive head chef
and trained 18 staff members and junior chefs on how to cook continental cuisine. Lal finished school and left Germany in 1982. “My dream was to go to the United States and have my own restaurant because cooking was my passion,” he said. “A lot of friends of mine wanted me to come. I said, ‘No problem.’ ” He moved to Dallas and became part owner of an Indian restaurant there, staying for 10 years. While in Dallas, Lal became connected with Little Rock residents who urged him to open a restaurant here. “They were always pushing me,” he said. “They say, ‘Sami, you should come over to Little Rock. There’s a lot of opportunity over there to open a restaurant.’ ” Lal met his wife, Suman Rani, in Punjab. They had an arranged marriage and will have been married 31 years in March. Lal said Rani coming into his life was the “best thing that ever happened.” Lal decided to move to Little Rock after the landlord of his restaurant in Dallas sold the shopping center and gave him and his partners notice. For an entire year, Lal would leave Dallas at 4 a.m. on Wednesdays (his day off) and drive to Little Rock to scout locations. “The need was there,” he said. “There were no Indian restaurants anywhere in Arkansas or Little Rock.” He found the space where Star of India is still located, in Westchase Plaza on Shackleford Road, in 1992 and began development. “I built my own restaurant,” Lal said. “The interior, the arches, I painted the walls — everything that would bring the Indian culture and vibe back to the United States.” Star of India opened in 1993. “It was great,” Lal said of his first year in business. “I received a good blessing from the people of Little Rock and from the Lord. I have always the positive; I never have the negative. I knew I was going to
be successful here in Little Rock. You wouldn’t believe it, I still have some patrons who I’ve been connected with since my time in Dallas in the ’80s who still come to dine here in Little Rock. Simply amazing!” Lal starts every morning with a shower and an hour of prayer. Then he heads to Star of India to start cooking. When guests enter the restaurant they’re likely to hear Lal say, “Welcome home,” before they’re able to spot him in his customary dress shirt and tie. Lal said he wants his guests to feel like they’ve arrived at their home away from home. “Anyone who comes to dine in or order takeout are my guests coming to my home,” he said. “If anyone were to come to my house, they would get the same experience and hospitality, so why not share it and make it special in my restaurant? I believe that a guest or a patron who comes to your house is like a God — so treat them well. It’s a cultural thing, and I’ve made sure my children respect and follow this through as well.” Lal’s three daughters, Joyti, Deepali and Shibani, were practically raised in the restaurant, which they said still feels like home. “We spent every holiday, our birthdays, we would do our homework. … Every day we would be there as young kids,” Joyti Lal said. “It was amazing. We’d get to see what our parents did, what all the other employees did, how the restaurant really worked.” Along with homework and birthday parties celebrated by the Lal family, Star of India employees and customers who happened to be dining there on those nights, the sisters also played cards and badminton out in the parking lot with a make-believe net. If badminton took place during a slow period at the restaurant, Lal would join them for a game. “You have to spend time with the kids when you have a restaurant business,” Lal said. “We ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 35
SAMI AND FAMILY: (Clockwise from top) At his Dallas restaurant in 1985. Celebrating with daughter Deepali Lal. A holiday family portrait of (from left) Deepali Lal, Joyti Lal, Sami Lal, Suman Rani and Shibani Lal.
threw some ball, play the game over there in the parking lot, you know. My wife was here helping me also, and I say, ‘You stay inside; I’ll go outside.’ ” As the kids grew older, they began to learn the trade from their father. Their mother also started working at Star of India after staying home to raise them for 10 years. The sisters would answer phones, fill to-go orders and work alongside their parents and the crew. Joyti worked as an assistant manager at one point. The sisters believe growing up in the restaurant around Lal helped prepare them for future success. “His leadership, the way he trains, the way he talks, the way he prepares you not only for the job at that time, but [for] a longer run,” Joyti said. “We’ve been able to embrace the challenging situations that are not only efficient in managing within the restaurant business, but in other industries as well.” Joyti works as a project manager analyst for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Deepali graduated from UA Little Rock with a double major in international business and human resources management and is a student at UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. 36 FEBRUARY 2021
Shibani recently graduated from UA Little Rock with a double major in business analytics and human resource management. She was also chosen to attend the 2019 Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit, where young entrepreneurs gained advice about business. I asked Lal if he knew his kids had learned valuable lessons growing up in the restaurant and working alongside him. “Yes,” he said. “They are very perfect in the restaurant business, too, by the way. They know what they are doing. The way I take care of customers, they take care of them just like that. I would tell them, ‘You are my photocopy.’ ” Joyti said, “I think the people in the Arkansas community have blessed him in a way where he’s able to make it personable. It’s not just a customer dining at his place, it’s a long-term relationship.” The three sisters helped design and market the family meals that Star of India started offering in the days before the pandemic shutdown in midMarch. Shibani said she’s working to “revamp our marketing platforms, promote our family meal packs, run other advertising campaigns, conduct marketing research to do much more to promote the restaurant on various platforms,”
she said. She’s also in charge of public relations, sponsorships and charitable events. The family meal packs were an immediate success. Photos of the Star of India to-go spreads started showing up on social media feeds featuring large portions of chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, Indian beer ... and rolls of complimentary toilet paper, then a scarce commodity. “We had extra toilet paper, so we were like, ‘Dad, why aren’t we making use of this extra toilet paper?’ ” Deepali said. “People were very appreciative of that toilet tissue, more than food,” Sami Lal said, laughing. Star of India’s award-winning curbside service was provided with the same hospitality Lal and his crew have always been known for. The waiters still dressed up in long sleeves and ties even on hot summer days. They handed out complimentary ice cream to customers waiting in their cars. It wasn’t the same as eating inside, but it felt just as welcoming. A portion of the profits from the family packs were put toward donations for first responders and health care workers. Lal made the rounds at area hospitals, dropping off food for as many as 100 people.
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BEST BARBECUE “I love to do it for them,” Lal said. “If you love somebody, they will love you, too. And everybody supports us, and I support everybody, too.” Lal’s daughters told me the most common question they get from Star of India fans is, “What is Sami like outside the restaurant?” “He’s very cool,” Joyti said. “He has that humor. Even during the holidays when we’re together with family, his jokes and his humor always gets me. He’ll find a way to make us laugh and make it a fun and memorable holiday. “We play tennis and badminton with our dad. We also take turns going on daddy/daughter drives. We’ll have random conversations just to have fun and get away from work life. It feels great to just sit in a car and go … with our dad. That is something I have loved in my lifetime. ... “He has always been our biggest motivator. He wanted us to make our own decisions, he wanted us to be independent [and] unique. That is one thing I’ll always have an appreciation for.” Lal has seen a lot of progress in the local restaurant scene since he opened in 1993. “The industry has boomed tremendously,” he said. “I was the first one to bring an Indian restaurant within the state of Arkansas. Many different cuisines started to come afterwards, which is amazing as we need all kinds of different ethnic cuisines for the people to enjoy the food experience. Many of our restaurant friends, including ourselves, have been impacted from the pandemic. What kept us going stronger and together is the Arkansas community, our hardworking employees and our families. Things will pick back up for sure after the pandemic,” he said. “I do foresee curbside as a big win and something many patrons will want even when things are settled. Overall, restaurants will be more appreciated in a true sense. We will get through this together sooner or later,” he said. For many of us that have been hunkered down, making our own food and living off takeout for the past 10 months, we can’t wait for the time when Sami Lal can welcome us back home.
2415 Broadway St • Little Rock (501) 372-6868 • simsbbqar.com
BEST DELIVERY (BY AN INDIVIDUAL RESTAURANT), BEST CHINESE IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK
THANK YOU! 1900 N. Grant, Little Rock, AR 501 663 8999 • fantasticchinarestaurant.com
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Open Daily at 11am 7 Days A Week 210 Central Ave. Hot Springs 501.318.6054
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FEBRUARY 2021 37
BEST OF THE BUNCH OVERALL IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Petit & Keet Finalists: Allsopp & Chapple, Brave New Restaurant, Trio’s Restaurant OVERALL AROUND THE STATE The Hive (Bentonville) Finalists: Local Lime (Rogers), Postmaster’s Grill (Camden), Taco Mama (Hot Springs) NEW IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Cypress Social (Maumelle) Finalists: Brood & Barley (North Little Rock), The Library Kitchen & Lounge, Rock n Roll Sushi NEW AROUND THE STATE Winner: Atlas (Fayetteville) Finalists: AOI Sushi on the Square (Bentonville), Arsaga’s Mill District (Fayetteville), YGFBFKitchen (Conway) CHEF IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Steve Binotti (Petit & Keet) Finalists: Peter Brave (Brave New Restaurant), Capi Peck (Trio’s Restaurant), Scott Rains (Table 28) CHEF AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Matthew McClure (The Hive, Bentonville) Finalists: Dianna Bratton (Taco Mama, Hot 38 FEBRUARY 2021
Springs), Joseph Coleman (Saracen Casino and Resort, Pine Bluff), Jacqueline Smith (WunderHaus, Conway) SERVER IN LITTLE ROCK Winner: Brooke Faler Elliot (Cypress Social) Finalists: Amanda Watson (Soul Fish Cafe), Joann Sims (Cache), Shannon Lewis (Dugan’s Pub)
BEST PANDEMIC DINING BEST RESTAURANT KEEPING DINERS SAFELY SPACED IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Trio’s Restaurant Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Flyway Brewing, The Rail Yard BEST RESTAURANT KEEPING DINERS SAFELY SPACED AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Hive (Bentonville) Finalists: Atlas (Fayetteville), The Parsonage (Jonesboro), SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs) BEER TO-GO FROM A RESTAURANT IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Flyway Brewing Finalists: Cypress Social (Maumelle), Flying Fish, Lost Forty Brewing BEER TO-GO FROM A RESTAURANT AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Superior Bathhouse Brewery (Hot Springs) Finalists: Point Remove Brewing Co. (Morrilton), Steinhaus Keller (Hot Springs), Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville)
Serving THE BEST steaks and hot tamales in the Arkansas Delta. WINE TO-GO FROM A RESTAURANT Winner: Ciao Baci Finalists: Crush Wine Bar, Petit & Keet, Trio’s Restaurant CURBSIDE IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Trio’s Restaurant Finalists: @ the Corner, Petit & Keet, Star of India
Come visit our charming location nestled in the Eldridge barn located on Highway 33 in Gregory, Arkansas just south of Augusta.
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Tamale Factory Southern Restaurant • Steakhouse
19751 Highway 33 • Augusta, Arkansas • (870) 347-1350
CURBSIDE AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Farmer’s Table Cafe (Fayetteville) Finalists: The Hive (Bentonville), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot), SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs)
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MOST INNOVATIVE RESTAURANT DURING THE PANDEMIC IN LITTLE ROCK Winner: Flyway Brewing Finalist: Ciao Baci, Petit & Keet, Trio’s Restaurant MOST INNOVATIVE RESTAURANT DURING THE PANDEMIC AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Yeyo’s (Bentonville and Rogers) Finalists: Mule Kick (Magnolia), The Parsonage (Jonesboro), SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs)
DELIVERY SERVICE Winner: Bite Squad Finalist: Door dash DELIVERY (BY AN INDIVIDUAL RESTAURANT) Winner: Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe Finalists: Fantastic China, Petit & Keet, SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs) RESTAURANT TO-GO PACKAGING
1201 Main Street • Little Rock • 501.907.5244 • www.rocktowndistillery.com
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Winner: Star of India Finalists: Baja Grill, Brood & Barley, The Root Cafe TO-GO COCKTAIL MIX FROM A RESTAURANT Winner: Local Lime Finalists: The Fold, Heights Taco & Tamale, La Terraza Rum & Lounge
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The Magic Food Bus (501) 908-6741 ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 39
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Winner: Best Overall Restaurant In Conway
Finalist: Best Steak around Arkansas
808 Front Street • Conway (501) 269-6453 mikesplaceconway.com A Loyal US Foods® Customer Proudly Sponsored by
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3 Rahling Circle, Little Rock
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BEST FRIED CHICKEN 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
(501) 372-2211 • 300 President Clinton Ave • www.gusfriedchicken.com 40 FEBRUARY 2021
BEST EARLY EATS BAKERY IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Boulevard Bread Co. Finalists: Community Bakery, Dempsey Bakery, Hillcrest Little Bakery BAKERY AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Wild Sweet William’s Baking House (Searcy) Finalists: The Humble Crumb (Sherwood), Ozark Mountain Bagel Co. (Bentonville), Serenity Farm Bread (Leslie) BREAKFAST IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: @ the Corner Finalists: Mugs Argenta, Red Door, The Root Cafe BREAKFAST AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Farmer’s Table Cafe (Fayetteville) Finalists: Ozark Cafe (Jasper), The Parsonage (Jonesboro), Prelude Breakfast Bar (Fayetteville) BRUNCH IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: @ the Corner Finalists: Raduno Brick Oven and Barroom, Red Door, The Root Cafe BRUNCH AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Farmer’s Table Cafe (Fayetteville) Finalists: The Parsonage (Jonesboro), Taco Mama (Hot Springs), Tusk and Trotter (Bentonville)
BEST PIZZA AROUND ARKANSAS BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT IN HOT SPRINGS
831 Central Avenue • Hot Springs (501) 609-9002 • delucashotsprings.com Deluca’s Pizzeria Napoletana
BEST ITALIAN AROUND ARKANSAS
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COFFEE IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Boulevard Bread Co. Finalists: Dark Side Coffee Co. (North Little Rock), Fidel & Co., Nexus Coffee and Creative
BEST RESTAURANT KEEPING DINERS SAFELY SPACED BEST CURBSIDE
COFFEE AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Onyx Coffee Lab (Fayetteville) Finalists: Arsaga’s (Fayetteville), Doomsday Coffee & Roasterie (Fayetteville), Red Light Roastery Coffee House (Hot Springs)
BEST SINGLE DISHES BARBECUE IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Sims Bar-B-Que Finalists: Count Porkula BBQ, Whole Hog Cafe, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ
8201 Cantrell Road Little Rock Pavilion in the Park 501.221.3330 TriosRestaurant.com
BEST OVERALL • BEST CHEF, CAPI PECK BEST WINE TO-GO FROM A RESTAURANT MOST INNOVATIVE RESTAURANT AMID THE PANDEMIC BEST DESSERTS • BEST PIE BEST CATERER ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 41
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Hive (Bentonville), Holly’s Country Cookin’ (Conway)
Best Cheese Dip & Tacos
BARBECUE AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Jones Bar-B-Q Diner (Marianna) Finalists: Wright’s Barbecue (Johnson), McClard’s Bar-B-Q (Hot Springs), Fat Daddy’s Bar-B-Que (Russellville) BURGER IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Big Orange Finalists: Cypress Social, The Faded Rose, Petit & Keet
e Rock’s historic Heights neighborhood
The home of Ark-Mex cuisine, Little Rock’s original frozen Mojito, & the cheese dip that beat Texas.
STREET-STYLE TACOS | CRAFT MARGARITAS AHI TUNA CEVICHE | FRESH SALADS ICE-COLD BEER | HOUSE-MADE DESSERTS ARTISAN COCKTAILS AND MUCH MORE
BURGER AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Big Orange (Rogers) Finalists: Hugo’s (Fayetteville), David’s Burger’s, The Ohio Club (Hot Springs) CATFISH IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Cypress Social Finalists: Lassis Inn, Eat My Catfish, Soul Fish Cafe CATFISH AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Brown’s Catfish (Russellville) Finalists: Dondie’s White River Princess (Des Arc), Catfish Hole (Fayetteville), Mama Vee’s Southern Homestyle Cuisine (Hot Springs) CHEESE DIP IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Heights Taco & Tamale Finalists: Lost Forty Brewing, Baja Grill, Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro CHEESE DIP AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Baja Grill (Benton) Finalists: Stoby’s Restaurant, Taco Mama (Hot Springs), Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant (Rogers)
Arkansas Owned & Operated LITTLE ROCK, AR & ROGERS, AR
LocalLimeTaco.com Thank you for voting us Best Mexican Food & Best To-Go Cocktail Mix! 42 FEBRUARY 2021
DESSERTS IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Cypress Social Finalists: Trio’s Restaurant, Table 28, Petit & Keet DESSERTS AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets (Keo) Finalists: Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot), The
FRENCH FRIES IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Esters SOMA Finalists: Doe’s Eat Place, Brood & Barley, Big Orange FRENCH FRIES AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Hugo’s (Fayetteville) Finalists: Tamale Factory (Augusta), Big Orange (Rogers), Smitty’s Garage Burgers & Beer (Rogers) FRIED CHICKEN IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken Finalists: Ceci’s Chicken N Waffles, Cotham’s in the City, Flyway Brewing FRIED CHICKEN AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Holly’s Country Cookin’ (Conway) Finalists: Monte Ne Inn Chicken (Rogers), Campground Grill (Austin), Chicken Express (Benton) ICE CREAM/COOL TREATS IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Loblolly Creamery Finalists: The Original ScoopDog, Kilwins, Le Pops ICE CREAM/COOL TREATS AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Andy’s Frozen Custard (Conway) Finalists: Mamoo’s Paradice Cream (Hot Springs), Just Ice Cream (Benton), Scoops Ice Cream (Hot Springs) PIE IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Blue Cake Finalists: Soul Fish Cafe, Trio’s Restaurant, Community Bakery PIE AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets (Keo) Finalists: Holly’s Country Cookin’ (Conway), Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway), Three Sams BBQ & Catering (Mabelvale) PIZZA IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Zaza Fine Salad + Wood Oven Pizza Finalists: Damgoode Pies, The Pizzeria, Vino’s Brewpub PIZZA AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: DeLuca’s Pizzeria (Hot Springs) Finalists: SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs), Shotgun Dan’s Pizza, Rod’s Pizza Cellar (Hot Springs)
Thank you Arkansas for voting us the Best Restaurant in Eureka Springs!
SALAD IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: ZaZa Fine Salad + Wood Oven Pizza Finalists: U.S. Pizza, Doe’s Eat Place, The Faded Rose
Award Winning Ermilio’s is family friendly, with dozens of authentic Italian choices served in a casual, comfortable, just-like-home atmosphere. No reservations are taken… Come as you are!
SALAD AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot) Finalists: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway), Local Lime (Rogers), Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe (Conway) SANDWICH IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Cypress Social Finalists: Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Brood & Barley, Esters SOMA
Open for Dinner 5 pm to 9pm Every Night
BEST ITALIAN AROUND ARKANSAS
26 White Street • Eureka Springs Located on the upper Historic Loop, old Highway 62B, just a few short blocks from the Crescent Hotel. www.ermilios.com
BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT IN EUREKA SPRINGS
PROOF THAT OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE GOOD TASTE WINNER: Best Liquor Store and Best Beer Selection in Retail
SANDWICH AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot) Finalists: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway), SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs), The Ohio Club (Hot Springs) SOUP IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Mike’s Cafe Finalists: Baja Grill, Boulevard Bread Co., Cafe Bossa Nova SOUP AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot) Finalists: Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Baja Grill (Benton), Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway) STEAK IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Doe’s Eat Place Finalists: Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse, Petit & Keet, Cypress Social STEAK AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Taylor’s Steakhouse (Dumas) Finalists: Tamale Factory (Augusta), Mike’s Place (Conway), The Hive (Bentonville)
TACOS IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Heights Taco & Tamale Finalists: El Sur, Tacos Godoy, The Fold Botanas & Bar
501-223-3120 866-988-8466 ColonialWineShop.com
SUSHI IN LITTLE ROCK Winner: Kemuri Finalists: Rock n Roll Sushi, Benihana, Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant SUSHI AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Ai Sushi (Hot Springs) Finalists: Sushi House (Bentonville), Benihana, Meiji Japanese Cuisine (Fayetteville)
11200 W. Markham
SHOP ONLINE: ColonialWine.shop @ColonialWines
ON’S MEAT MARKE D L T WE “QUALITY TELLS, QUALITY SELLS” BEST BUTCHER AROUND ARKANSAS
BEST DELI/GOURMET TO-GO AROUND ARKANSAS
EVERYTHING IS CUT TO YOUR SPECIFICATION, AND WE’RE BIG ON CUSTOMER SERVICE! 3911 CENTRAL AVE. • HOT SPRINGS • (501) 525-2487 ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 43
TACOS AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Baja Grill (Benton) Finalists: Local Lime (Rogers), Torchy’s Tacos (Fayetteville), Taco Mama (Hot Springs) YOGURT/SMOOTHIES IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Argenta Nutrition Finalists: Tropical Smoothie Cafe, The Nutrition Place
CLOSE TO HOME &
YOGURT/SMOOTHIES AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Grinds Coffee Co. (Cabot) Finalists: The Healthy Spot (Greenbrier), Panther Nutrition of Cabot (Cabot), Natural State Smoothies (Fayetteville)
BEST SPECIALTY DINING BUSINESS LUNCH IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Brood & Barley Finalists: The Faded Rose, Doe’s Eat Place, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe BUSINESS LUNCH AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway) Finalists: The Parsonage (Jonesboro), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot), Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs)
DOG FRIENDLY IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Bark Bar Finalists: The Rail Yard, Dugan’s Pub, Flyway Brewing DOG FRIENDLY AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Good Dog Cafe (Fayetteville) Finalists: Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Beer Garden (Hot Springs), Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), Nomad’s Southtown Kitchen + Bar (Fayetteville)
FINE DINING IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Petit & Keet Finalists: Allsopp & Chapple, Table 28, Brood & Barley
Serving up the BEST MEXICAN FOOD in Central Arkansas year after year. Little Rock • Benton • Hot Springs 44 FEBRUARY 2021
BEST MEXICAN IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK lahamex.com
FINE DINING AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Red Apple Inn (Heber Springs) Finalists: Bombadil’s Cafe (Eureka Springs), The Hive (Bentonville), Vetro 1925 (Fayetteville) FUN IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Cypress Social Finalists: Hill Station, Petit & Keet, Rock n Roll Sushi
DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY How to get your fix: Dine in. Heated Patio. Curbside. Delivery.
Thanks for voting us The Best! 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock (501)-660-4100 • www.kemurirestaurant.com
BEST SUSHI BEST SEAFOOD BEST JAPANESE
411 Main St., North Little Rock | 501-400-8967
A Flyway specialty house serving beer, wine, cocktails, and tasty culinary creations! Many Thanks For The Votes! We’re proud to serve! BEST NEW BAR BEST BUSINESS LUNCH IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR BEST BEER SELECTION (BAR OR RESTAURANT) BEST BARTENDER: DAVID BURNETTE BEST NEW BEST BLOODY MARY BEST COCKTAIL LIST BEST HAPPY HOUR
BEST RESTAURANT TO-GO PACKAGING BEST FRENCH FRIES BEST SANDWICH BEST FINE DINING MOST HEALTHY BEST SEAFOOD BEST VEGETARIAN/VEGAN BEST BAR FOR FOOD ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 45
FUN AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: JJ’s Grill (Fayetteville) Finalists: Mule Kick (Magnolia), SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs), The Ohio Club (Hot Springs) GLUTEN FREE IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Dempsey Bakery Finalists: La Terraza Rum & Lounge, Cypress Social, North Bar
Thanks For Voting Us Best Sushi Around Arkansas! “A joy to make with love.” The word “ai” means love. We strive our best to present great food and experience to our patrons.
GLUTEN FREE AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Baja Grill (Benton) Finalists: American Pie Pizza, SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs), Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs) HEALTHY IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Taziki’s Finalists: Esters SOMA, Brood & Barley, ZaZa Fine Salad + Wood Oven Pizza HEALTHY AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot) Finalists: ZaZa Fine Salad + Wood Oven Pizza (Conway), Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Bombadil’s Cafe (Eureka Springs) HOME COOKIN’ IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Maddie’s Place Finalists: House of Mental, David Family Kitchen, Soul Fish Cafe HOME COOKIN’ AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Holly’s Country Cookin’ (Conway) Finalists: YGFBFKitchen Restaurant & Catering (Conway), Peggy Sue’s Place (Heber Springs), The Parsonage (Jonesboro)
1609 Albert Pike Rd, Ste J • Hot Springs • www.aisushihs.com • (501) 701-4323
OUTDOOR DINING AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Mule Kick (Magnolia) Finalists: WunderHaus (Conway), Postmaster’s Grill (Camden), Rolando’s Restaurante (Hot Springs)
THANK YOU! We are proud to serve the finest authentic Indian food for the the last 28 years! We believe you’re the best!
BEST INDIAN BEST RESTAURANT TO-GO PACKAGING
301 N Shackleford Rd. • Little Rock, AR 501-227-9900 • lrstarofindia.com
46 FEBRUARY 2021
OUTDOOR DINING IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Baja Grill Finalists: Cypress Social, Flyway Brewing, Brave New Restaurant
BEST CURBSIDE BEST VEGETARIAN/VEGAN
PLACE FOR KIDS IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Big Orange Finalists: The Rail Yard, The Root Cafe, All Aboard Restaurant & Grill PLACE FOR KIDS AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Purple Cow Finalists: Mule Kick (Magnolia), Smitty’s Garage Burgers & Beer (Rogers), Stoby’s Restaurant (Conway)
SEAFOOD IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Kemuri Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Petit & Keet, Brood & Barley SEAFOOD AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Dondie’s White River Princess Finalists: Flying Fish (Bentonville), Powerhouse Seafood & Grill (Fayetteville), BLU Fish House (Bentonville) VEGETARIAN/VEGAN IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Esters SOMA Finalists: The Root Cafe, Star of India, Brood & Barley VEGETARIAN/VEGAN AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Baja Grill (Benton) Finalists: SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs), Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), Kollective Coffee + Tea (Hot Springs) WINE LIST IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Petit & Keet Finalists: Table 28, Allsopp & Chapple, Crush Wine Bar WINE LIST AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: 501 Prime (Hot Springs) Finalists: Bordinos (Fayetteville), The Preacher’s Son (Bentonville), Omar’s Uptown (Jonesboro)
INTERNATIONAL CHINESE IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Three Fold Finalists: Fantastic China, Fu Lin, Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Cooking
Happy to be serving you in Arkansas!
SOUL FISH CAFE 306 Main St, Little Rock AR 72201 • 501-396-9175 • soulfishcafe.com Serving southern classics, po’ boys & tacos, plus beer & wine, in a casual setting.
THE PATIO IS OPEN! Available for delivery on Bitesqad and we have curbside pickup, too.
BEST CATFISH BEST PIE BEST HOME COOKIN’ BEST SERVER: AMANDA.
The Flyway Way T
here is something unseen and indefinable within us that quietly, impatiently and incessantly, drives us forward. Call it instinct. Call it natural. We travel in pairs. We gather in gaggles. With those most like us, we flock together as the moon and stars chart our course. The hearty grains that sprouted from fertile soils satisfy us in a way that nothing else does. We open our wings, and our inspirations take flight.
CHINESE AROUND THE STATE Winner: The Wok (Hot Springs) Finalists: Jade China Restaurant (Conway), Mong Dynasty (Fayetteville), Lin’s Garden (Bentonville) INDIAN IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Star of India Finalists: Saffron, Taj Mahal, The Indian Feast INDIAN AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Flavors Indian Cuisine (Bentonville) Finalists: Khana Indian Grill (Fayetteville), Pandiya’s South Indian Cuisine (Bentonville)
314 MAPLE ST., NORTH LITTLE ROCK • (501) 812-3192 WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/FLYWAYBREWING
THANKS FOR VOTING FOR US! BEST BREWPUB BEST BAR FOR TRIVIA BEST LOCAL IPA: FLYWAY BREWING EARLY BIRD IPA BEST LOCAL PALE ALE: FLYWAY PEREGRINE PALE ALE BEST BEER TO-GO FROM A RESTAURANT MOST INNOVATIVE RESTAURANT AMID THE PANDEMIC
BEST LOCAL BREWERY BEST RESTAURANT KEEPING DINERS SAFELY SPACED BEST FRIED CHICKEN MOST DOG FRIENDLY BEST OUTDOOR DINING
FEBRUARY 2021 47
ITALIAN IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Bruno’s Little Italy Finalists: Graffiti’s Italian Restaurant, Raduno Brick Oven and Barroom, Ristorante Capeo ITALIAN AROUND ARKANSAS
We ’ r e o p e n f o r d i n e i n , t a k e o u t o r curbside pick-up. Make reser vations or order online at
Winner: Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking (Eureka Springs) Finalists: DeLuca’s Pizzeria (Hot Springs), Pasta Grill (Conway), Vetro 1925 (Fayetteville)
Located in the Wyndham Hotel 2 Riverfront Place, North Little Rock, AR (501)374-8081
BEST SUSHI IN LITTLE ROCK, BEST SUSHI AROUND ARKANSAS, BEST JAPANESE IN LITTLE ROCK/NORTH LITTLE ROCK
JAPANESE IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Kemuri Finalists: Aji Ramen Bar, Benihana (North Little Rock), Rock n Roll Sushi JAPANESE AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Sushi House (Bentonville) Finalists: Meiji Japanese Cuisine (Fayetteville), Osaka Japanese Steakhouse and Bar (Hot Springs), Umami Sushi Lounge & Grill Fusion (Conway) MEXICAN IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: La Hacienda Finalists: Baja Grill, Heights Taco & Tamale, Local Lime MEXICAN AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Local Lime (Rogers) Finalists: Baja Grill (Benton), Table Mesa (Bentonville), Taco Mama (Hot Springs) OTHER INTERNATIONAL IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: KBird Finalists: Buenos Aires Grill and Cafe, Cafe Bossa Nova, Layla’s Gyro OTHER INTERNATIONAL AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Rolando’s Restaurante (Hot Springs) Finalists: A Taste of Thai (Fayetteville), Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), WunderHaus (Conway)
BEST TAKEAWAY/ MOBILE DINING Open 4 pm Mon, Thurs, Fri Open 11am Sat and Sun Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
48 FEBRUARY 2021
(501) 324-2449 • bigwhiskeyslittlerock.com 225 E Markham, Little Rock
BUTCHER IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Edward’s Food Giant (Cantrell) Finalists: Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Hogg’s Meat Market, Heights Corner Market
BUTCHER AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: Weldon’s Meat Market (Hot Springs) Finalists: Richard’s Country Meat Market (Fayetteville), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville), Butcher Boys Meat Market & Deli (Van Buren)
THANKS FOR VOTING US AMONG THE BEST! WE THINK YOU’RE THE BEST. STOP IN FOR DINE-IN OR TAKEOUT TODAY!
CATERER IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Low Ivy Catering Finalists: On the Go Food Truck and Catering, Trio’s Restaurant, Catering to You CATERER AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Magic Food Bus (Conway) Finalists: YGFBFKitchen Restaurant and Catering (Conway), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot), Taziki’s Mediterranean DELI/GOURMET TO-GO IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: Boulevard Bread Co. Finalists: Burge’s Hickory Smoked Turkeys and Hams, Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Hogg’s Meat Market DELI/GOURMET TO-GO AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Magic Food Bus (Conway) Finalists: Taco Mama Side Town (Hot Springs), Weldon’s Meat Market (Hot Springs), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot)
LITTLE ROCK’S MOST AWARD-WINNING RESTAURANT 1619 Rebsamen Rd. 501.663.9734 thefadedrose.com
BEST BUSINESS LUNCH IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK, BEST BURGER IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK, BEST SALAD IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK
FOOD TRUCK IN LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK Winner: On the Go Food Truck and Catering Finalists: Delta Biscuit Co., Tacos Godoy, Low Ivy Catering FOOD TRUCK AROUND ARKANSAS Winner: The Magic Food Bus (Conway) Finalists: King Fry’s (Morrilton), Mama Vee’s Southern Homestyle Cuisine (Hot Springs), Taco Mama Side Town (Hot Springs)
BEST IN DRINKING BEST BAR Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Allsopp & Chapple, Petit & Keet, Rock Town Distillery
BEST BAKERY AROUND ARKANSAS
NEW BAR Winner: Brood & Barley Finalists: Cypress Social, Diablo’s Tacos and Mezcaleria, Hill Station BAR FOR FOOD Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Brood and Barley, The Capital Hotel, Petit & Keet
Handmade Pastries | Open Wednesday through Sunday | 7am-12pm or sold out 304B South Main Street | Searcy | 501-593-5655 | www.wildsweetwilliams.com ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 49
BAR FOR KARAOKE Winner: Town Pump Finalists: Brewski’s Pub & Grub, Khalil’s Pub & Grill, Maxine’s Live (Hot Springs) BAR FOR LIVE MUSIC Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Sticky Fingerz, Town Pump, The White Water Tavern BAR FOR POOL, DARTS, SHUFFLEBOARD, ETC. Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Midtown Billiards, Grumpy’s Too Neighborhood Bar and Grill, The Hillcrest Fountain
THANKS FOR VOTING US
BAR FOR TRIVIA Winner: Flyway Brewing Finalists: Dugan’s Pub, Mellow Mushroom, Stone’s Throw Brewing
BEST PIES Blue Cake Bowman 315 N. Bowman Rd. Little Rock 501-868-7771
Blue Cake Cantrell 6800 Cantrell Rd. Little Rock 501-613-7950
BARTENDER Winner: Greg Castille (Allsopp & Chapple) Finalists: David Burnette (Brood & Barley), Jacob Huddleston (Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom), Kathy Jordan (Baja Grill) BEER SELECTION (BAR OR RESTAURANT) Winner: Flying Saucer Finalists: Brood and Barley, Cypress Social (Maumelle), Lost Forty Brewing BEER SELECTION (LIQUOR STORE) Winner: Colonial Wine & Spirits Finalists: 107 Liquor (Sherwood), Legacy Wine and Spirits, O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor BLOODY MARY Winner: Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom Finalists: Brood & Barley, Midtown Billiards, Petit & Keet
❤ Check out our website for ❤ ongoing cocktail classes, and
❤ Valentine’s Day options! ❤ THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT! ❤
BREWPUB Winner: Flyway Brewing Finalists: Lost Forty, SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint (Hot Springs), Vino’s Brewpub COCKTAIL LIST Winner: Petit & Keet Finalists: Allsopp & Chapple, Brood & Barley, Cypress Social (Maumelle) COLDEST BEER Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Midtown Billiards, Pizza Cafe (Riverdale), Twin Peaks
BEST DELI/GOURMET TO-GO BEST BAKERY • BEST COFFEE
boulevardbread.com 50 FEBRUARY 2021
DISTILLERY Winner: Rock Town Distillery Finalists: Crystal Ridge Distillery (Hot Springs), Fox Trail Distillery (Rogers), Postmaster Spirits (Newport) DIVE BAR Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Grumpy’s Too, Midtown Billiards, Town Pump GAY BAR Winner: 610 Center Finalists: Discovery, Lucky Lou’s, Triniti Nightclub HAPPY HOUR Winner: Baja Grill Finalists: Brood & Barley, Petit & Keet, Table 28 LIQUOR STORE Winner: Colonial Wine and Spirits Finalists: 107 Liquor (Sherwood), Legacy Wine and Spirits, O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor LOCAL BREWERY Winner: Lost Forty Brewing Finalists: Flyway Brewing, Stone’s Throw Brewing, Vino’s Brewpub LOCAL IPA Winner: Flyway Brewing Early Bird IPA Finalists: Diamond Bear Two Term Presidential IPA, Lost Forty Rockhound IPA, LOCAL PALE ALE Winner: Flyway Peregrine Pale Ale Finalists: Diamond Bear Pale Ale, Lost Forty Pale Ale, Vino’s Pale Ale MARGARITA Winner: The Fold Botanas + Bar Finalists: Baja Grill, Local Lime, Taco Mama (Hot Springs) MARTINI Winner: Cache Finalists: The Capital Hotel, Copper Grill, Petit & Keet NATIONAL BREWERY Winner: New Belgium Finalists: Dogfish Head, Bell’s Brewery, Lagunitas Brewing Co. NEIGHBORHOOD BAR Winner: Four Quarter Bar Finalists: Brood & Barley, Dugan’s Pub, Starlite Club (Hot Springs)
SSteakhouse Steakhouse teakhouse
PATIO OR DECK FOR DRINKING Winner: Cypress Social Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Cache, Ciao Baci
PICKUP BAR Serving Dinner Winner: Midtown Billiards Serving Dinner5 pm - 9:30 pm Monday-Thursday Finalists: Maxine’s Live (Hot Springs), Petit Friday & Saturday pm - pm 10 pm Serving Dinner Monday-Thursday 5 pm - 59:30 OPEN FOR DINE-IN & Keet, Starlite Club (Hot Springs) SOMMELIER Winner: Jeff Yant (Cache) Finalists: Susie Long (Petit & Keet)
pm 9:30 pm Friday & Monday-Thursday Saturday 5 pm 5- Friday, 10 -pm Hours: Thursday, Saturday Friday & Saturday 5 pm - 10 pm
Located in the Wyndham Hotel 2 Riverfront Place, North Little Rock, AR 501 375 7825 WINE BAR Winner: Petit & Keet Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Crush Wine in the Wyndham 2 Riverfront Place, NorthLittle Little Rock, Rock, AR 375375 7825 Located in Located the Wyndham Hotel Hotel 2 Riverfront Place, North AR501 501 7825 Bar, Zin Wine Bar
THANKS FOR THE VOTES!
WINE LIST Winner: Petit & Keet Finalists: Allsopp & Chapple, Ciao Baci, Crush Wine Bar
BEST BY REGION OVERALL RESTAURANT IN BENTON/ BRYANT Baja Grill (Benton) Finalists: Eat My Catfish (Benton), Valhalla Restaurant & Axe Throwing (Benton), Verona Italian Restaurant (Benton) OVERALL RESTAURANT IN ROGERS/ BENTONVILLE Winner: The Hive (Bentonville) Finalists: Local Lime (Rogers), The Preacher’s Son Cafe (Bentonville), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville) OVERALL RESTAURANT IN CONWAY Winner: Mike’s Place Finalists: Holly’s Country Cookin’, WunderHaus, YGFBFKitchen Restaurant OVERALL RESTAURANT IN EUREKA SPRINGS Local Flavor Finalists: Bombadil’s Cafe, Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking, Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave
CAFETERIA-STYLE • FRIENDLY SERVICE CONSISTENTLY GOOD FOOD BEST FRIED CHICKEN AROUND ARKANSAS, BEST HOME COOKIN’ AROUND ARKANSAS
BEST PIE AROUND ARKANSAS, MONDAY - FRIDAY 11AM - 2PM 116 HARKRIDER, CONWAY • 501.328.9738 BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT IN CONWAY, BEST DESSERTS WWW.HOLLYSCOUNTRYCOOKIN.COM AROUND ARKANSAS
Think outside the city.
Come find out for yourself why it’s worth a trip to Des
Think outside the city.
OVERALL RESTAURANT IN FAYETTEVILLE/SPRINGDALE/JOHNSON Come find out for yourself why it’s worth Winner: Hugo’s (Fayetteville) trip to Des Arc! Come find out for yourself whyait’s worth a trip to Des Arc! Finalists: The Farmer’s Table Cafe (Fayetteville), Herman’s Ribhouse (Fayetteville), Rolando’s Restaurante (Fayetteville) ”Where Hospitality
Think outside the city.
OVERALL RESTAURANT IN HOT SPRINGS Winner: DeLuca’s Pizzeria Finalists: Rolando’s Restaurante, SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint, Taco Mama ”Where Hospitality Meets Delicious” “White River Princess”
Meets Delicious” “White River Princess”
BEST SEAFOOD BEST CATFISH AROUND ARKANSAS AROUND ARKANSAS
Open Saturdays from 5-8 p.m. Open for Private Parties by Appointment
101 E. Curran Street, Open Des Arc, • 870-256-3311 forAR Private Parties by Appointment
101 E. Curran Street, Des Arc, ARFEBRUARY • 870-256-33 ARKANSASTIMES.COM 2021 51
he Pulaski County Special School District celebrates another year of AVID (Advancement VIA Individual Determination), and recruitment is underway as we gear up for another successful year. AVID increases student engagement while activating a deeper level of learning in the classroom. This initiative emphasizes rigorous coursework, relevance of instruction and relationships in both elementary and secondary schools. It also prepares every student with a mindset of college potential. “Students, teachers, counselors, and administrators are recruiting in schools to enlist fifth and ninth grade students into the AVID family,” said Dr. Janice Warren, Assistant Superintendent for Equity and Pupil Services. “Student recruiters will emphasize AVID’s goals to improve study skills, organizational skills, and gain knowledge to prepare them for college.” Teachers are also reinvigorated by having AVID in their classrooms. Teachers who participate in AVID professional learning begin to shift their belief about teaching and learning, allowing them to cultivate a growth mindset both for themselves and their students.
2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR
During the AVID recruitment process, middle school AVID students will visit elementary schools and high school AVID students will visit middle schools. During the school visits, AVID students discuss the benefits of AVID, showcase some of the work AVID students do throughout the school year and highlight their reasons for participating in AVID at each grade level. Academic instruction and tutorial support through AVID will be highlighted through the students’ presentations. AVID strategies, such as reading and writing to learn, note-taking and time management skills, and working together, will be utilized for elementary students in grades 3-5. The next phase of implementation in PCSSD will expand these strategies to primary grades K-2 across the district. Eleventh graders are also in the next implementation phase. They will focus on moving these future leaders toward college success and beyond by strengthening writing skills, improving study and organization skills and visiting colleges and exploring potential careers. If you want to learn more about AVID, please visit the PCSSD website and find the AVID section under the “Big Rocks.” You can also reach out to Dr. Janice Warren who is the District AVID coordinator at email@example.com or (501) 234-2015.
2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR
Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927. PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.
pcssd.org/register 501.234.2000 52 FEBRUARY 2021
News & Notes 54 | Age of Anxiety pg 58 | Meet the Parent pg 62
THE AGE OF
FEBRUARY 2021 53
Kids’ Books by Arkansas Authors Book comes with sing-along
Your child can read these delightfully illustrated pages in the book, then watch and sing along with the accompanying DVD. Great entertainment for kids of varied interests and backgrounds! This well-illustrated book and more (many in audio book) and all autographed by the authors are available at:
NEWS & NOTES Feb. 2,
GROUNDHOG DAY: This year, Punxsutawney Phil will be
making his live annual prognostication from Pennsylvania without a crowd. He might prefer this, as groundhogs are very shy and eschew the limelight. To honor the day, may we suggest reading books about groundhogs, such as “Groundhog’s Runaway Shadow” by David Biedrzycki, and learning fun facts about these solitary animals: • They are related to squirrels (though when asked, squirrels emphasize “distantly”). • There’s a movement by some animal rights groups to replace “Punxsutawney Phil” with a robot, arguing that these timid creatures should not be put on display or interrupted from their natural hibernation cycle. • They’re impressive architects. A groundhog’s burrow can be anywhere from 8 to 66 feet long, with multiple exits, chambers and levels — a “bedroom” for hibernating, “summer home” with easily accessible exits, bathroom, rec room and office. • Groundhogs go by many names, including “whistle-pig” for their tendency to emit short, high-pitched whistles. They’re also called land beavers (not to their faces) and woodchucks. (An addendum: Hedgehogs, not to be outdone, will have you know that Feb. 2 is also National Hedgehog Day.)
Feb. 12, CHINESE NEW YEAR: Make paper lanterns or an authentic Chinese dish to ring in the Year of the Ox.
WANT TO ADVERTISE WITH US? Interested in sponsorship opportunities?
Contact Brooke Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org @savvykidsar
SAVVY kids PUBLISHER BROOKE WALLACE | email@example.com
EDITOR KATHERINE WYRICK | firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS ART DIRECTOR KATIE HASSELL 54 FEBRUARY 2021
MARDI GRAS: Critical care nurse Carrie Wills with her
husband, Nathanael, and daughters, Lela (7) and Poppy (2), are annual fixtures at the Mardi Gras parade in SOMA — always atop a fantastical, impressive float. This year, however, they’ll be celebrating at home. Says Carrie: “We may make gumbo, a king cake and listen to lots of Dirty Dozen [Brass Band] and Dr. John.” Sounds like a plan! Just for curiosity’s sake, you could also see how many of those colorful Mardi Gras beads you can gather up from different corners of your house. You may be surprised by how many you find.
VALENTINE’S DAY: What is Valentine’s Day, you ask, in the age of physical distancing? Without cuddles, snuggles, kisses and hugs? Not to worry, there’s still fun to be had. How about starting things off with a scavenger hunt in your house or yard (after a breakfast of candy)? Set up a series of clues that lead from one treat to another and end the hunt with a special prize for the whole family. Kids love looking for clues, and this has the added benefit of promoting some basic critical thinking skills and reading (and giving you a minute, just a minute). You may also want to check out the newly released “Good Dog Carl” book. “Good Dog Carl’s Valentine” is the 23rd picture book in the beloved series about the babysitting Rottweiler. (If ever there was a time we needed for a dog cum nanny, it’s now. Help us, Carl!) Feb. 27, NATIONAL POKEMON DAY:
Time to play some Pokemon! Made easier by the fact that your house is probably already littered with cards and figurines. “Gotta catch ’em all!” as they say. Here are a few Pokemon facts to mark the occasion: • The name Pokemon is a contraction of the Japanese brand “Poketto Monsuta” — or Pocket Monsters. • Creator Satoshi Tajiri hunted bugs as a kid and traded them with friends — the inspiration for Pokemon. • There are more than 800 species of Pokemon monsters.
STORYTIME AT CALS
Nothing is more central to the Central Arkansas Library System than storytime, so it’s been adapted for life in 2021. There will now be virtual storytime at 10 a.m. every weekday on the CALS Kids Facebook page. Each Monday will be Kids in the Kitchen Storytime, with food-related books and activities; Tuesday will be Baby & Toddler Storytime, with age-appropriate books, singalongs, puppet shows and more; Wednesdays are reserved for Preschool Storytime; and Thursdays will be devoted to a Read Aloud Storytime. Fridays will be a mix of different storytime offerings, including occasional guest readers from outside the library.
Great Things STILL Happening at LRSD
Building STRONG SCHOOLS and Even STRONGER COMMUNITIES
OPTIONS TO MEET EVERY NEED
Dedicated early open enrollment period has ended, but it is never too late to join the LRSD family. Visit: LRSD.org – Student Registration (K-12) or LRSD.org/earlychildhood (Pre-K) Great THINGS are still happening at LRSD! The Little Rock School District salutes our two Amazing Educators for 2020-21 — among 3,500 dedicated professionals who remain committed to meeting the needs of each student, even during a pandemic. From rigorous academic engagement for those identified as gifted and talented to support for those facing learning, speech or physical challenges, LRSD — the state’s second largest district — offers unique, comprehensive educational approaches for pre-K to 12th-grade students. LRSD takes pride in its highly qualified teachers — nearly half of all classroom teachers have a masters or doctoral degree and 155 have National Board Certification — among the most in the state. LRSD continues to operate the state’s only K-8 STEM campus, eight magnet schools and a uniquely-focused language and literacy elementary academy, and last year, continued to expand Little Rock West High School of Innovation, adding a 10th grade class. Subsequent grades will be added each year for a 9-12 delivery. Little Rock Hall STEAM Academy was also introduced, enhancing its focus on science and engineering academies under the Academies of Central Arkansas (Ford NGL) umbrella. High school college preparatory programs, including pre-AP, AP, classes
with local universities and the District’s EXCEL program, provide multiple options for families. These programs allow students to align their educational experience with their interests, preparing them for college and career and equipping them to meet the challenges of a global society. LRSD consistently places among the top tier of state schools with National Merit Semifinalists, as well as Commended, National Hispanic and AP Scholars. LRSD is proud of its highly accomplished students and the community partnerships that enhance their educational experiences. Students will continue taking their learning to the next level at the newly constructed career-focused Little Rock Southwest High School. LRSD is also the state’s largest provider of public preschool programs with certified teachers in every class. The District’s pre-K students continue to outperform students who do not use LRSD’s pre-K program in every skill area. The District maintains its mission to provide students with equitable access to educational opportunities, equipping them with what they need to succeed.
FEBRUARY 2021 55
the project prevent
s n o i s s i m sub epted acc 1 1 y r a u Jan - to 1 2 0 2 , 9 l Apri
Arkansas students in grades K-3 can create artwork to help others REACH the truth about smoking, dipping or vaping.
to learn more, visit projectpreventar.org and follow us on social media @projectpreventar. 56 FEBRUARY 2021
youth coalition presents
Arkansas students in grades 4-6 can write an essay to REACH family and friends to help them quit tobacco or REACH the truth about e-cigarettes and vaping.
FEBRUARY 2021 57
THE AGE OF ANXIETY
Let’s talk about kids’ mental health. BY KATHERINE WYRICK
he ongoing coronavirus pandemic, coupled with today’s political and social unrest, have made it more important than ever to keep mental health in the conversation. The persistent stress, fear, grief and uncertainty can wear anyone down, but children and teens may have an especially tough time coping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that rates of anxiety and depression have increased between twoand four-fold compared to the same time last year. Even before the coronavirus hit, these mental health problems were on the rise in children ages 6 to 17; research shows that social isolation can make these symptoms worse. Poverty, food insecurity, abuse, neglect, loss of health insurance and lack of access to health care further exacerbate these issues. Defined by the CDC, “Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices.” There’s a wide range of mental health issues that affect children and adolescents: anxiety disorders, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, depression and other mood disorders, PTSD and schizophrenia. There is also the problem of substance abuse as it relates to these. For the purposes of this article, however, the main focus is on anxiety and depression. On a personal note, my three children — 8, 18 and 21 — have all struggled to varying degrees with both over the past year. Though they manifest in different ways depending on a child’s developmental stage, we’ve discovered that teletherapy in combination with medication (if needed) and a mindfulness practice helps at almost any age. In the middle of last year, our youngest began to exhibit irrational fears — for instance, that our house was sinking. These 58 FEBRUARY 2021
typically appeared at night, and bedtime became a teary ordeal. Pre-pandemic, he was quick to fall asleep after our usual ritual, but now, as the sun went down, he became agitated — sometimes even vomiting. Melatonin and sleep stories on the Calm app changed everything. We also found that Cosmic Kids Yoga, a few teletherapy sessions and the book series “Big Bright Feelings” helped. Our daughter — poised to launch — was unable to attend college as planned; she, along with a generation of her peers, found herself in limbo and isolated from friends. Our older son — also isolated from friends and his college community — switched to virtual learning and in his last year of school faces an uncertain future. A recent study by the American Psychological Association shows that Gen Z teens (ages 13-17) and Gen Z adults (ages 18-23)
“We can’t control the pandemic, the circumstances, but we do control how we respond.”
are seeing the most marked rise in anxiety and depression during this time because they are at a pivotal moment in their lives. “Anxiety is very common,” said Amy Cates, a licensed social worker at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and mom of two children, 8 and 11. “The switch to virtual school has
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children. • Regression (i.e. toileting accidents or bedwetting). • Excessive, persistent worry or sadness (for two or more weeks). • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits/difficulty sleeping. • Changes in weight. • Poor school performance or avoiding school. • Difficulties with attention and concentration. • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past. • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors. • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. • Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions. • Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself. • Talking about death or suicide. • Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful. • Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or appearance. • Unexplained headaches, stomachaches or body pain.
been hard on kids. The pandemic has also brought out marital issues, which in turn affects kids. ... A lot of times the problem is a family dynamic. ... It’s not easy because a lot of the coping skills people had have disappeared — whether it was a book club or sport or whatever.” A shift in perspective can help, Cates said. “Instead of thinking of this year as a wasted year, think of it as a different year — maybe a time to restructure values and slow down. … There are so many things we can’t control. … We can’t control the pandemic, the circumstances, but we do control how we respond. ... “It’s so important to acknowledge the anxiety and teach kids that they can manage discomfort.” Cates suggested making small changes. “Stick to the basics: healthy sleeping and eating habits, less screen time and develop a consistent, but not rigid, schedule.” Routines give a sense of stability to children and teens, especially those who struggle with anxiety. (The Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours of sleep for children ages 6-13, and 8-10 hours of sleep each night for teens ages 14-17.) E. Christopher Lloyd, associate professor in the School of Social Work at UA Little Rock, shared his perspective: “Science clearly shows humans are biologically driven to be social, so it’s no surprise the distancing (and sometimes isolation) required by the pandemic has caused hardship for children and their families. A large national study indicated both parents’ and children’s physical and mental health worsening as the pandemic grinds on. … What we don’t know is how many of these problems will persist beyond the pandemic and how many will resolve spontaneously as vaccinations ramp up and the pandemic winds down.” So what are parents and caregivers to do? Before diving into specifics, let’s remember the tired but apt metaphor of “putting your oxygen mask on first.” Taking care of yourself makes you a
PCSSD REGISTRATION Registration is now open for the 2021-2022 school year for Pulaski County Special School District. This includes new and returning students to the district. Parents can register their student(s) using the online gateway registration system located at pcssd.org/register.
Important Dates to Remember • January 4 - May 1, 2021: Arkansas School Choice Applications accepted • January 11, 2021: Online registration opens for students new to the District in grades K through 12 • February 1 - April 30, 2021: Returning student registration • May 10, 2021: Equity and Pupil Services will begin accepting permits
More Information • K-12 Registration: please call 501.234.2021 • Pre- K Registration: please call 501.234.2065
REGISTER NOW pcssd.org/register ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 59
better parent. Sometimes it’s hard not to despair, especially when struggling with your own stress, but try to stay positive and relay consistent messages that a brighter future lies ahead. Here are some simple stress-management strategies for kids and caregivers:
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, you may first want to reach out to your child’s teachers to see if they’ve noticed any changes in behavior (if they’re in the classroom) and then contact your pediatrician. Note that for teens it’s important to offer them some privacy to talk with their pediatrician to ensure they have the chance to speak as openly as possible. Mental health conditions in children are diagnosed and treated based on signs and symptoms and how the condition affects a child’s daily life. To make a diagnosis, your child’s doctor might recommend that your child be evaluated by a specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse or other mental health care professional. A comprehensive assessment of a child’s mental health may include the following: • Complete medical exam and medical history. • History of physical or emotional trauma. • Family history of physical and mental health. • Review of symptoms and general concerns with parents. • Timeline of child’s developmental progress. • Academic history. • Conversations with and observations of the child. • Standardized assessments and questionnaires for the child and parents. Treatment options may include psychotherapy and/or medication.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCE GUIDE ARKANSAS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL 1 Children’s Way Little Rock, AR 72202 501-364-1100 archildrens.org
BRIDGEWAY 21 Bridgeway Rd. North Little Rock, AR 72113 501-771-1500 thebridgeway.com
CENTERS FOR YOUTH & FAMILIES 6425 W. 12th St. Little Rock, AR 72204 501-666-7233 centersforyouthandfamilies.net
METHODIST FAMILY HEALTH 1600 Aldersgate Road, Little Rock 501-661-0720 methodistfamily.org
60 FEBRUARY 2021
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or behavior therapy, is a way to address mental health concerns by talking with a psychologist or other mental health professional. Children and adolescents learn how to talk about thoughts and feelings, how to respond to them and how to learn new behaviors and coping skills. My family can attest to the value of psychotherapy (and cognitive behavior therapy) for teens and play therapy for younger children. Heather Chapman-Henry, a licensed social worker and play therapist, told us why she believes in the efficacy of play therapy and how it works: “Play is a very natural form of communication that all kids do. Using play in therapy is an easy way to connect and begin to solve problems from the very beginning. For example, blowing bubbles to work on deep breathing or using Play-Doh to create a safe place is fun and easy for a kid because you are already using tools they are familiar with and it’s something they understand. Kids don’t feel as intimidated by therapy because they are already the experts
“Kids don’t feel as intimidated by [play] therapy because they are already the experts in play.”
in play. Another example might be using animal puppets to create a play about friendships; kids can describe and work through feelings of jealousy, loneliness, etc., and then [using the puppets] solve their own problems or issues without really realizing they are doing it. One of the best things about kids and play therapy is that they learn from a young age that therapy is natural, empowering and can sometimes even be fun.” Your child’s doctor or mental health professional may also recommend medication, such as a stimulant, antidepressant, antianxiety medication, antipsychotic or mood stabilizer. Medication is best used along with psychotherapy.
KEEP CALM AND FIND HELP
In Central Arkansas, we’re fortunate to have a variety of mental health resources. You’ll find a more inclusive directory in this issue, but we highlight a few here: Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers; therapeutic group homes; school-based counseling services; therapeutic day treatment programs for kindergarten through 12th grades; and Arkansas CARES (Centers for Addictions Research, Education and Services) for mothers struggling with both substance abuse and mental health issues. Methodist Family Health offers 24hour confidential, no-charge assessments for children and adolescents in crisis and accepts Medicaid and most private insurance. “Our mission is to provide the best possible care to those who may need our help,” Kelli Reep of Methodist Family Health said. “With COVID, national issues, shorter days and longer nights, cold weather and a general, persistent sense of uncertainty, it is
more important than ever to seek help for your emotions. There is always hope, and we can help you find it.” The BridgeWay offers inpatient treatment of children ages 4-12 and adolescents 13-17. It offers confidential assessments at no cost on-site or through mobile services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Centers for Youth and Families offers a number of services that promote emotional and social wellness for children and families. Among them: outpatient counseling, residential treatment and day treatment. Its Day Treatment Program serves children and youths from kindergarten through 12th grade with social, emotional or behavioral problems who can no longer function in a traditional academic setting to continue their education. The Outpatient Clinic provides counseling services for children, teens and adults. Outpatient services can start as early as infancy. You can receive family and group therapies as well as case management, psychiatric consultation, evaluation and medication management. Bilingual therapists are available. So during these trying times, make sure to check in with your children often, and invite them to talk about how they are feeling. Make mental health an ongoing conversation and remember — help is at hand if you need it. a
“It’s so important to acknowledge the anxiety and teach kids that they can manage discomfort.” DAILY TOOLS TO MANAGE ANXIETY (YOURS AND THEIRS):
• Keep small promises to yourself every day (i.e. drink more water). • Get outside and get your feet on the ground — literally. • Exercise. • Practice mindfulness and positive thinking. • Stay in the moment. • Try this five senses meditation with your child. Take a breath and notice: Five things you can see Four things you can feel Three things you can hear Two things you can taste And one thing you can smell • Make a daily gratitude list — from the smallest things to the big ones. • Practice good sleep hygiene: Limit sugar and caffeine; stop using electronics at least an hour before bed; make the bedroom dark and cool.
Quality Care Rooted in Arkansas
hope Is The Foundation. recovery Is The Journey.
In response to the growing needs of our community, The BridgeWay has expanded its continuum of care for substance use disorders. The acute rehabilitation program will provide hope and recovery for adults struggling with substance use disorders. Led by Dr. Schay, and a Board Certified Psychiatrist and Addictionologist, the Substance Use Disorder Rehabilitation Program is for adults at risk of relapse. Rehabilitation requires the supportive structure of a 24-hour therapeutic environment. To learn more about our continuum of care for substance use disorders, call us at 1-800-245-0011.
Physicians are on the medical staff of The BridgeWay Hospital but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of The BridgeWay Hospital. The facility shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.
Coronavirus Also Affects Minds That’s why we are available anytime from anywhere, offering all our services in the safest possible manner – from telehealth to in-person psychiatric testing with plexiglass screen and PPE
These are our favorite books for helping younger kids understand and communicate their feelings.
FEBRUARY 2021 61
Meet the Parent:
ESPERANZA MASSANA-CRANE Born in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, Esperanza Massana-Crane came to Arkansas at 17 as a Harding University freshman. Since then, she has built an impressive career and a beautiful family while still finding time to help serve the community she now calls home. Family has always been central to Massana-Crane’s life. Growing up in El Salvador, she learned a strong work ethic from her grandfather and a belief that she could do anything from her mother, grandmother and aunt. After graduating and then earning a master’s degree in business administration, MassanaCrane traveled Central America for shoe company Nine West and then worked at advertising firm CJRW for seven years. In 2013, she became marketing director at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, where she helps bring international business prospects to Arkansas. The multilingual Massana-Crane has also been on the boards of AR Kids Read and Girl Scouts; she joined the LR Sister Cities Commission last year. Perhaps her most important roles to date, however, are as wife to Arkansas Film Commissioner Chris Crane and mother to Sebastian (21 months) — whom she calls “a chunk of love and determination” — and stepmom to Madison (27, who lives in Spain). How do you balance work and family? Any apps, tools, services, prep work you’ve found to be a lifesaver? To the extent that I am able, planning is very important. Being at the office all day makes it very difficult for me to get things done at home, so I decided to be smart in maximizing time. I can tell you three things that help me: 1. Maintaining a schedule. I NEVER thought I would be the mom that would try to stick to a schedule (snacks, naps, bath, bedtime, etc.), but keeping a schedule has helped us stay organized. 2. Bella’s Kitchen — my sister launched this company last year, and it has been a life saver! It’s a fresh and nutritious meal delivery service that allows me to purchase prepared meals for the little one. Also, smart services like Target pick-up or Whole Foods are game changers. 3. Being a team. My husband and I both take turns when it comes to responsibilities: He bathes Sebastian; I get him ready for bed. I make dinner; he plays with the little one, and so on. And yes, there are times when things can be incredibly hectic and chaotic, but we do our very best to be a team and support each other.
CHRISTOPHER, SEBASTIAN AND ESPERANZA LOVE SPENDING TIME TOGETHER OUTDOORS IN THEIR HILLCREST NEIGHBORHOOD. “WE LOVE GOING ON WALKS AND HIKES!” ENTHUSES ESPERANZA.
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What are your favorite family activities? We LOVE going on walks and hikes. Since my son was little, we have enjoyed taking him on strolls in our charming Hillcrest neighborhood. We also take advantage of walking at Two Rivers [Park] and Pinnacle
[Mountain State Park]. As our little one gets older, we plan to do more hiking. In fact, my husband gave me a pair of hiking shoes for Christmas so we can do more of that on the weekends. Name three things that are helping your family get through these trying times. 1. Village Montessori. My son attends Village Montessori, and we LOVE the school. My heart rejoices when I see how happy he is to go into his classroom with his awesome teachers, Ms. Leigh Ann and Ms. Mary. 2. Family. As clichéd as it sounds, the support and love of family during these times is so important. My family in El Salvador and Austin have always been a motor for my life. And even though we are not physically together, we support one another across the distance. Also, my father- and mother-in-law are an important support for me here. They come in the afternoons to spend time with Sebastian, and that is priceless to me. 3. Most importantly, holding on to God. Always. We are going through historic times that are shaping our world and the way we do things. Yet amid all this change, I hold on to God, knowing that His love for us is constant and He is faithful to sustain us. How do you recharge? What does your “me time” look like? Since time is of the essence in this stage of life, it’s the little things that matter. For example, the latte that my husband makes for me first thing in the morning; a long, hot shower; watching the news; a series or attempting to watch a movie with my husband after the little one goes to sleep; a glass of wine; scrolling through Instagram late at night; and daydreaming that one day I will have my house in order (right, mamas?).
CHILD SERVICES 6601 WEST 12TH ST. LITTLE ROCK, AR 72204 ADULT SERVICES 1521 MERRILL DR. LITTLE ROCK, AR 72211
CORONAVIRUS ALSO AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH
IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY
Call to schedule an appointment 501.666.8686
WE’RE HERE FOR YOU ANYTIME, DAY OR NIGHT Visit our website: www.thecentersar.com ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 63
‘THIS IS DRAG’ SYMONE, THE FIRST ARKANSAS QUEEN TO STRUT THE ‘RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE’ RUNWAY, IS STILL FINDING WAYS TO BE FREE. BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE
64 FEBRUARY 2021
ROYALTY: Faulkner County queen Symone is turning the charm up to 11 on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
ere there not a pandemic keeping the doors of Little Rock’s gay nightclubs shut — and its queer nightlife on ice — you can bet that Friday nights in January 2021 at Club Sway would have been lit. That’s because Arkansas has its first drag queen on the long-running “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — the televised Olympics of drag. And with the way the 13th season of the show has opened, the watch parties would have been as emotionally charged as they’d have been celebratory. Symone, born Reggie Gavin, is from Conway. She’s as witty as she is sweet. She’s quick to laugh, or to crack a blue joke. When we
fierce drag community in Little Rock over the last several years, hosting late-night shows at Discovery and a series called “Symone Says” at Club Sway — “boot camp,” she called it — then going to classes at UA Little Rock, her two-inch red fingernails the only tell that Gavin had an extracurricular career in entertainment. She moved to Los Angeles in early 2019, and had lived there with a consortium of other Arkansas expats for a little over a year when she got the call that she’d made the cut to appear on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She’d come into her own in LA, she told us, completing the transformation from the “shy, anxious little thing” she says she was as a teen to the
THE CAMERA DOESN’T JUST LOVE HER. IT’S WED TO HER. mentioned to her that Arkansans back home were shamelessly rooting for her, she issued a gracious “Thank you,” then quipped that she “loves a good shameless rooting.” And, not insignificant in her line of business, Symone is breathtakingly gorgeous. The camera doesn’t just love her. It is wed to her. The Faulkner County queen’s sparkle and charm have not gone unnoticed. After the premiere of “Drag Race” on New Year’s Day 2021, a writer from New York magazine’s entertainment blog Vulture wrote that “if anyone can lay claim to the title of frontrunner after only 10 minutes of screentime, it’s Symone.” After the second episode aired on Jan. 8, the feminist blog Jezebel published an article under the title “It’s a Little Early, But ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Already Seems to Have Found a Winner.” (Guess who?) Symone became a darling of the small but
supermodel queen we see owning the RuPaul runway on the TV screen. “Here,” she said, “no one had any idea who I was. I had to make a name for myself.” Back in Arkansas, the line between Reggie and Symone had been slightly more defined, and their corresponding pronouns kept more separate, Symone said. “Because, in my mind, they were different, you know? But now I’ve come to a point where I’m much more comfortable being called Symone, out in public or whatever. If you call me Reggie, that’s fine. I’m not a person who’s gonna get upset about those things. As long as you’re being respectful, I’m cool.” She acknowledged that, after all, gender is a construct and, in the same breath, waved off the notion of phrasing it in such academic terms. “For me,” she said, “it was about getting out of my own way as far as gender and identity.” ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 65
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Lingerie • Toys Games • Party Supplies Adult DVDs
‘YOU’VE GOT IT, KIDDO’: Symone sizzled in a dress made up of Polaroid photographs of herself for her “Drag Race” debut.
These days, Symone and Reggie cohabitate a little more intimately. There’s a short video Symone made for Vogue UK with Quinn Wilson, Lizzo’s creative director, in the summer of 2020, called “Symone, a Black Drag Queen Finding Ways To Be Free,” which Symone told us was “almost like a therapy session.” It’s soft and gauzy, and weaves in short ruminations on identity. “I created [Symone], and she helped me be free. And Reggie, which is my boy name, he’s my guard. Being a gay Black man, you have to be strong. Symone tears away at that. She’s the child underneath it, the one that, you know, society tears down, makes fun of, and says something’s wrong with. … She’s the person
that I really am. I would say Reggie is a mask I put on every day.” Realizations like that, for Symone, come not only with their own complexities, but with their own consequences. There’s a misconception about drag, she said, “that you put on a wig and you become somebody else. … I personally think drag reveals who a person is. There is a certain power that drag gives you. And I think there’s a misconception that you get to use that power to do and say whatever you want.” The Vogue UK video was filmed “around the time of George Floyd, for one. And then also right around when I got the call to go on the show — either right before or right after. So all of those
things that I was speaking about were really important for my life.” The timing, she said, was “crazy. Like divine intervention or something.” “The person I’d really credit that to, the one who really broke it down for me — what I do — is my housemate Hunter. He really sees people. You know what I’m saying?” That’s Hunter Crenshaw, a Bald Knob native. He’s Symone’s housemate in a double sense. That is, they live together, but are also both members of the House of Avalon, a gay street gang that takes its name from a passage in a book by Marianne Williamson, spiritual space cadet and one-time seeker of the Democratic nomination for U.S. president. House of Avalon, which got its start in the Arkansas capital city its members rechristened “Glitterock,” is a fully formed fashion/pop culture braintrust, hosting outlandishly themed parties in Hollywood and environs, armed with a sensibility that blends glamour with absurdity. “Drag,” Symone told us, “has become more like what pop stars have to be. ... You’re not just a pop star. You have to be a mogul.” There’s House of Avalon merch. The members have posed for a shoot with Los Angeles magazine. There’s an Avalon TV station on Twitch, a quarantine project dreamed up by Symone et al. when the pandemic quashed their party-planning aspirations for the year. There’s a playground of inventive Instagram content — Avalon members dressed as sexed-up characters from “Sesame Street”; a mini-horror film shot by HOA’s Caleb Feeney involving a Destiny’s Child refrain and massive amounts of what appears to be honey; vibrant full-body stills that make clear how difficult it is to fit Symone’s endlessly long legs into Instagram’s square-frame format. In that feed, too, is the iconic “Polaroid dress” menswear designer Michael Brambila constructed for Symone to wear for her “Drag Race” stage debut. The dress — “a love letter” to her drag character, Symone told us — was built from a collection of polaroids of Symone, chainlinked together to (barely) cover her upper half, a re-creation of a 2004 Gisele Bündchen shoot for Esquire magazine. The formula that drives “Drag Race” is, by now, familiar to viewers of competition-based reality TV shows. We know there will be solo “confessionals” where we get to know the contestants one-by-one. We know there will be manufactured opportunities for contestants to talk shit about other contestants. We know contestants will strut their stuff in some sort of weekly challenge — on “Drag Race,” queens sport couture drag looks on the runway and face the ever-imminent threat of a sudden death lip-
sync battle. We know there will be some cometo-Jesus moment in the last third of the episode in which deified judges rain down judgment from their pedestals, sending some poor soul packing. And above all, we know the show’s editors will work long and hard to steep as much drama as possible into that 22-minute cup of tea. (Or, in this case, nearly 83 minutes; “Drag Race,” being the empire that it is, occupies a considerable amount of Friday night prime-time real estate on VH1.) But the formula is not so hard and fast this season, it seems. There are COVID-19 precautions in place, for one thing, upending the usual getting-to-know-you routine in the premiere and forcing a plexiglass barrier between each judge. And given that there are ostensibly a dozen more shows to go (the number of episodes in this season was unconfirmed when we went to press), RuPaul and her panel haven’t exactly been coy about their enthusiasm for Symone in the name of maintaining some element of suspense. In the second episode, for example, Symone posed and punched her way down the mainstage in a candy-apple-red satin boxer’s getup with “Ebony Enchantress” etched on the back and the word “AVALON’’ emblazoned on her gloves and belt. Afterward, RuPaul, the nation’s most recognizable drag mother — and one whose brand of motherhood isn’t exactly tender — shrugged and said flatly, “You’ve got star quality. You’ve got it, kiddo.” As pivotal as that mothering moment seemed to those of us bullish on Symone’s chances at winning, Symone says it was a show of support from her father back home in Arkansas that took her by surprise. “When I came out, he did not take it very well,” Symone said. “Thank God for my mother, but I just felt very unseen by him as a kid. For men, especially Black men, it can be very hard to have a gay son and then on top of that, your son wants to do drag. So I was just very surprised that he a) watched the show and b) that he watched it with family members. I’m so proud of him. In a way it was a breaking of a barrier, in my mind. Of not being ashamed.” In the drag world, as in the workaday world, categories of identity can be as helpful or as restrictive as we make them; queens are often expected to specialize in a certain area of expertise: comedy, choreography, modeling, emceeing, singing. “People want to put you in a box so effing badly because it makes sense for them,” Symone said. “But you know, nothing’s supposed to make sense. It’s life. This is drag. I wanna do everything.”
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FEBRUARY 2021 67
Nell Irvin Painter THU | FEB 18 | 6:30 PM
CALS Speaker Series Rabbi Ira Sanders Program Painter offers a history written for a new generation of African Americans, stretching from life in Africa before slavery to todayâ€™s hip-hop culture.
Kevin Brockmeier THU | MAR 11 | 6:30 PM
Presented by Six Bridges Book Festival In his new book, Brockmeier gives us one hundred funny, poignant, scary, and thought-provoking ghost stories that explore all aspects of the afterlife.
VIRTUAL AUTHOR SESSIONS T E C H N O L O G Y C L A S S E S | M U S I C | C O O K I N G C L A S S E S | AUDIOBOOKS EBOOKS | G E N E A L O G Y R E S O U R C E S | S T O R Y T I M E S | A R T G A L L E R I E S
68 FEBRUARY 2021
CALS.ORG THE LIBRARY, REWRIT TEN.
NORML-IZING MARY JANE MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION EFFORTS CONTINUE IN ARKANSAS. BY GRIFFIN COOP
rkansas marijuana advocates are working behind the scenes to legalize, or at least decriminalize, marijuana in The Natural State. If neither approach passes the legislature, Melissa Fults of the Arkansas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said the organization will work to get full legalization on the 2022 ballot through an initiated act. The group had hoped to do that in 2020 but the pandemic made it difficult to gain the required signatures for the proposal to make it onto the ballot. Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) has expressed support for the proposals, Fults said, but recommended that the organization find a Republican to be the main sponsor. Republicans hold 78 of 100 seats in the Arkansas House of Representatives and 28 of 35 seats in the state senate. “We are desperately trying to find a Republican,” Fults said. “I have a couple of them that are interested. I don’t know if they are going to have the guts to do it.” Fults remains realistic about the chances of passing either proposal. “With our ultra, ultra conservative legislature, it will probably end up having to be a ballot initiative,” Fults said in a telephone interview. “But we are talking to some legislators that are strongly considering a full legalization [bill] or a decrim [decriminalization bill].” The group is using the language from the proposed 2020 ballot measure as a template for a bill that would fully legalize cannabis in Arkansas, Fults said.
The proposal for full legalization allows for Arkansas residents 21 years of age or older to possess up to 4 ounces of cannabis flower, 2 ounces of cannabis concentrate, edible products containing cannabis with THC content of 200mg or less and to cultivate up to six cannabis seedlings and six cannabis flowering plants. Cannabis would be sold at the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries as well as additional recreational marijuana dispensaries that would be licensed by the state. The state could levy a sales tax of up to 10 percent on cannabis products, according to the proposal. Revenues would be used to support the state’s regulation of the cannabis industry with excess revenue going to fund pre-kindergarten programs and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Fults expects the legislature to make changes to those provisions if a bill were to reach the floor, she said. “The legislature is more interested in what they get out of it than what the people get out of it.” The proposed decriminalization bill would not legalize marijuana but would lessen the penalties for those caught in possession of small amounts. Drafted by Little Rock lawyer John Wesley Hall, the proposal would treat low-level marijuana possession as a civil offense rather than a criminal offense, similar to a speeding violation for a driver. According to Arkansas law, possession of less than 4 ounces is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a $2,500 fine on the first offense. Possession of 4 ounces to 10 pounds is a Class D felony on the first offense. ARKANSASTIMES.COM
FEBRUARY 2021 69
The decriminalization proposal would change state law so that possession of less than 2 ounces is subject to a civil penalty of up to $100 with no loss of driving privileges or other sanctions. Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana would not be cause for arrest. Possession of between 2-6 ounces would be a Class B misdemeanor. The proposal would also preempt cities and counties from further criminalizing possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana possession. Although Hall worked on the decriminalization proposal, he said he believes Arkansas will eventually fully legalize marijuana. “I think it’s inevitable Arkansas will get to recreational in six to eight years,” Hall said. Arkansas would not be alone by taking either approach. Fifteen states, Washington, D.C., and two U.S. territories have legalized marijuana. In these jurisdictions, there are no criminal or civil penalties for the personal possession of marijuana, according to NORML’s national Deputy Director Paul Armenato. Commercial activities such as cultivation, sales and trafficking are legally regulated and permitted with a license. Twelve states have ended criminal penalties for marijuana possession, instead imposing civil fines, such as those imposed for speeding violations, Armenato said. A person found in possession of marijuana is issued a ticket but not arrested, and the accused only faces a judge if he chooses to fight the ticket in court. Decriminalization has its roots in a report issued by the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, according to NORML. Issued in 1972, the report recommended decriminalizing marijuana and changing the penalties for possession from criminal to civil. “This is not a novel policy,” Armenato said. “This was recommended by a presidential commission 48 years ago. The irony is to have, almost five decades later, some parts of this country are finally considering it for the first time when much else of the country has moved on.” Legalization and decriminalization efforts in other states have led to a national decline in marijuana arrests. Arkansas, on the other hand, saw a 50 percent increase in marijuana arrests between 2010 and 2020, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union. Arkansas law enforcement agencies levied 10,616 charges for marijuana possession in 2019, with the state’s largest counties of Pulaski (1,621), Washington (1,100) and Benton (1,453) accounting for the highest numbers of charges, according to statistics from the Arkansas Crime Information Center. The ACLU report found that marijuana
70 FEBRUARY 2021
AN ACLU REPORT FOUND THAT MARIJUANA LAWS ARE ENFORCED IN RACIALLY DISPARATE WAYS EVEN THOUGH STUDIES SHOW SIMILAR USAGE AMONG RACIAL GROUPS. BLACK PEOPLE IN ARKANSAS WERE 2.4 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE ARRESTED THAN WHITES.
laws are enforced in racially disparate ways even though studies show similar usage rates among racial groups. Black people in Arkansas were 2.4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, according to the study. (Nationwide, the report found that Black people were 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.) Although Arkansas ACLU Director Holly Dickson has not seen the Arkansas proposals and could not comment specifically, she did say that the ACLU supports significant changes to existing marijuana laws. “The injustices of the failed ‘War on Drugs’ have fallen disproportionately on Black Arkansans and Arkansans with lower incomes,” Dickson said by email. “The ACLU of Arkansas supports full legalization of marijuana use and possession, and laws such as the federal MORE Act or Illinois’s reform bill that would review prior convictions, grant clemency and ameliorate harms caused by these convictions.” The MORE Act is the federal Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December but has not reached the Senate floor for a vote. The MORE Act would significantly change the federal government’s approach to marijuana, unscheduling marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and expunging some prior marijuana convictions. Neither of NORML’s proposals would expunge any records for Arkansans with previous convictions for marijuana possession. Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana when they passed Amendment 98 to the state Constitution in 2016. Since the first dispensaries opened in 2019, they have sold more than 33,000 pounds of medical marijuana, at a cost to the consumer of more than $219 million. Medical marijuana sales have generated $22.9 million in state tax revenue as of Jan. 19, according to Medical Marijuana Commission spokesman Scott Hardin. More than 66,000 people hold Arkansas patient cards, which require cardholders to have one or more of 17 qualifying conditions. Despite the rapid growth in the Arkansas medical marijuana market, Armenato says Arkansans shouldn’t expect that to lead to a reduction in the arrest rate. Fults said she never intended to fight for full legalization but believes the state’s medical marijuana amendment did not go far enough in helping the state’s patients. “I seriously never thought I’d fight for full legalization,” Fults said. “I really didn’t. That was never my goal. That was never on my radar. My radar was making sure patients had medicine.”
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eet 40 country doctors from the 1830’s to the present as Dr. Sam Taggart profiles rural doctors from across the state in the pages of Country Doctors of Arkansas, a new Arkansas history with photographs by Dr. J.P. Bell and published by the Arkansas Times.
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UNDER THE DOME
he first time The Observer saw the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building was in January 2013, when The Observer and Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson accompanied the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission on a bus caravan to witness the second inaugural of President Barack Obama. By the time we sighted the Capitol, The Observer had just spent the last 24 hours shoehorned into the rearmost double seat of a tour bus alongside Chilson, who was, in turn, wedged in between The Observer and the fragrant, bus-sized crapper. Catch The Observer and Chilson together sometime and be amazed at the deprivation we suffered on that bus trip; a tale which either of us will deliver on command, like Ishmael recounting the Pequod’s deathduel with Moby Dick. The return trip was the same — 24 hours in a sweltering can — only this time, The Observer had the worst sinus infection of our life. But all that is a story for another day. The Observer has long been an America junkie. We don’t buy dumb T-shirts or American Flag swim trunks or bumper stickers that say “Love It or Leave It,” but we swear to you that we would, this moment, give our life for this country if our democracy was threatened, because that is what it takes sometimes. That is what it costs to protect this Republic, which Ben Franklin famously said we were welcome to, so long as we can keep it. You know where this is going, Dear Reader, so let’s just rip off the Band-aid and be done with the sting: We say all this to help you understand why the spectacle of Jan. 6 hurt so much, long after we thought the evil and division of the Trump Era had rendered us incapable of being wounded by this monstrous president or his most craven supporters. But there it was. The Observer could elaborate, but if you’ve read this far without turning the page, you likely 74 FEBRUARY 2021
already know. The great majority of Americans — Republican and Democrat, if polling is to be believed — were horrified in their own way by what we saw, just as we were on 9/11. So you already know some of what The Observer felt because you felt it yourself: the sense that something was terribly broken about these people, and that they had been encouraged by a madman and his minions to break something vitally important to our nation, something that cannot be easily put back together. That said, now that some of the shock has worn off, now that Donald Trump has been forced, at last, from The People’s House and into the waiting jaws of history, The Observer is made a bit hopeful by this moment. To explain why requires yet another story about D.C.: The Observer, Spouse and Junior made our return to Washington in the summer of 2018, on a jet this time instead of a bus. (The Observer ain’t too swooft, but we usually only require one lesson.) It was a dream trip for The Observer, giving us the chance to finally see the Smithsonian and the monuments with the people we love the most, after not having had time to see a damn thing in D.C. back in 2013 — other than, of course, the second inaugural of the greatest president of our life so far. The Observer makes it a point to be observant. It’s right there in the job description, and besides: Life is better when you slow down and pay attention. One of the things we noticed as we were tromping through the Natural History Museum and up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 2018 was that we were there with a good number of Trump voters. Lots of Trumpsupporting T-shirts, even a few genuine Chinese MAGA hats on those cranky enough to not mind getting the side-eye from everybody under the age of 20. It makes sense that Trump supporters would gravitate to D.C. for sightseeing while he was in charge. The first time The Observer was
in D.C., it added something to the power of that place knowing that the person we had voted for was in the White House. The other thing The Observer noticed was that most of the others there — with the exception of the sulky teens who didn’t even know why they had to come on this dumb vacation — were just as in awe of that place as we were: of its famous views, of its solemn memorials, of its connection to the history that binds us all as Americans. They felt its power, just like we did. So we must believe they saw the same thing The Observer did when we looked up at the great dome against the sky: the hub of our nation, where we send our elected representatives to commune with liberty and fairness and justice to find the rules that can peacefully govern us all, that great living monument to the idea that everyone in this nation has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if only we can live in peace with one another. We’re not so naive as to think it’s really like that. Not in D.C., where power and cash are mulched together to slop already over-fattened hogs. But as an American come home to our nation’s capital, it felt that way to Yours Truly. That feeling, and the awe we saw in the eyes of others during our visit to D.C., is why The Observer believes that every American of good will was horrified by what they saw and heard on 1/6. The Observer must believe that, deep down in the heart of us all, we still share the common ground of not wanting to see our democracy humiliated and defiled. And that is something to build on. That gives us hope that Americans can find a way to resolve our differences and live in harmony, once the fascist who looks up at that dome and sees only an obstacle to his power is gone. As Americans who must find a way to live together so we can rebuild the wreckage he leaves behind, The Observer prays we can.
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