NATIVES GUIDE | WEED WOES | CHASE OUTLAW
OUR QUARTZ ROCKS THE MINERAL, DESIGNER MARKET. BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK
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JANUARY 2020 3
FEATURES 26 ARKANSAS’S MINERAL TREASURE
A “mineral geek” and Alice Walton put quartz crystal in the spotlight.
37 NATIVES GUIDE 2020
From culture to cheap eats, comestibles to clever thrifting, here’s how to find what you need.
By Leslie Newell Peacock
9 THE FRONT
Q&A: Jay Barth The Inconsequential News Quiz: Dogpatched Edition Orval: Penalties and Poll Taxes The Month (or so) That Was: New coach for the Hogs
17 THE TO-DO LIST
Miranda Lambert at Simmons Bank Arena, Oaklawn opens, “Wicked” at Robinson, 10th annual Rally for Reproductive Justice, Arkansas Shorts, Fred Hersch Trio at South on Main, Ladysmith Black Mambazo at CHARTS and more. 4 JANUARY 2020
23 NEWS & POLITICS
Bud Cummins muddled the Ukraine mess. By Ernest Dumas
Chase Outlaw of Hamburg is the rock star of pro bull riding.
Arkansas’s weed deserts mean long drives for medical marijuana cardholders. Plus, an updated map of dispensaries. By Rebekah Hall
By Kally Patz
90 THE OBSERVER
Winthrop Rockefeller introduced the model school concept in Morrilton. By John A. Kirk
ON THE COVER: Quartz crystal cluster
photographed at Avant Mining in Jessieville. Photo by Brandon Markin.
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INCONSEQUENTIAL NEWS QUIZ
Play at home, with your visiting parole officer.
2) The Arkansas Department of Health recently revealed something about the state that may be a growing problem in coming years. What’s the issue? A) In an example of Darwinism at work, all Cleburne County residents now naturally produce a low level of meth in their bloodstream. B) As feared, airborne chlamydia will lead to the quarantine of Jacksonville’s strip clubs soon after the first of the year. C) Huckabeeism has been confirmed in seven Southwest Arkansas counties. D) Last year, the state had its lowest birth rate in almost two decades, following a trend that has seen birth rates plummet nationwide. 3) Dozens of elderly residents of a nursing home near Horseshoe Bend had to be hustled to new accommodations recently on short notice. What was the rush? A) Widespread riots after residents learned “Murder She Wrote” will no longer be shown on TNT. B) Octogenarian Fight Club bouts in the basement finally got out of hand. C) The DEA busted up a multimillion-dollar Metamucil-distribution ring there. D) The Georgia-based owner of the home, Marsh Pointe Management, abruptly closed the facility and another near Hope, telling managers that effective immediately it would no longer pay for necessities, including food for residents.
4) There’s been another setback for dreams of resurrecting Newton County’s dilapidated former Dogpatch U.S.A theme park, which closed in 1993. What’s the latest reason nobody can expect to have a heck’uvah day there again any time soon? A) A massive fire just after Thanksgiving did over $300,000 in improvements. B) Daisy Mae has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Earthquake McGoon. C) A three-year study found that a theme park full of pretend yokels can never be profitable as long as real-life yokels can be seen for free just up the road in Harrison. D) The current owner, spill-proof dog bowl magnate Bud Pelsor, was recently served with a foreclosure notice, having fallen behind on lease payments on the 400-acre property. 5) Michael Phillip Luby, 60, of Surfside Beach, S.C., was arrested recently on several felony counts related to a crime in Hot Springs that could net him more than 20 years in prison. What, according to police, did he do? A) Sold regular ol’ water as genuine, certified Hot Springs water. B) Skeezed without a license. C) Whizzed off the spire of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. D) He allegedly embezzled more than $33,000 from a Hot Springs hotel after convincing employees there that he was a wealthy investor who had purchased the property, with employees fronting him cash from hotel funds 14 separate times. 6) Police recently arrested Odis Julius Harris, 39, after a high-speed chase that wound through North Little Rock and Little Rock before ending on East Third Street. According to police, which of the following are real aspects of the chase? A) Harris was driving a rented U-Haul truck. B) The chase ended when the truck ran out of gas. C) When police apprehended Harris and asked him why he had fled, he answered, “I thought you were chasing me.” D) All of the above.
ANSWERS: D, D, D, D, D, D
1) Tecorian Mitchell, 20, of Little Rock was recently arrested along with two other men soon after the armed robbery of a Game Exchange video game store on South University in Little Rock. Why, according to police, were cops able to take them into custody so quickly? A) The three men got into an argument over which was better, “Fallout: New Vegas” or “Fallout 4,” and it got so heated they forgot to leave before cops arrived. B) The clerk quickly pressed up-up-downdown-left-right-left-right-A-B-start and was rendered invulnerable to gunfire, allowing him to subdue the men. C) As anyone who has ever played “Grand Theft Auto” knows, a five-star wanted level is unbeatable. D) Police say the three men fled from the store back to Mitchell’s home, only to find police there waiting to conduct a parole visit. Police searched their vehicle and arrested them on the spot.
JANUARY 2020 9
JAY BARTH TO HELP LITTLE ROCK RE-ENGAGE IN EDUCATION Will launch community schools model.
How would you describe, generally, how the city will address education in Little Rock? About six years ago, a diverse group came together to talk about what we needed to do to overcome division in Little Rock to create “one city” and to make city government a more active player in helping Little Rock live up to its potential. Mayor Scott and I were both part of that group that met across the next four years. One of the first major challenges facing Little Rock that we identified was that a wall had been erected between the schools of the community and city government. As we looked around the country at cities that worked well, that wall wasn’t present. Therefore, in general, this is bringing the wall down between the city and the schools. Now that doesn’t mean the city is running LRSD. Instead, the city’s role is to support the work of the public schools, both through targeting its own spending on programs that will enhance student learning and through fostering partnerships with nonprofits, higher education institutions and foundations that can fill the essential needs for students and schools that just can’t be met by the schools. Importantly, this is not just about the LRSD. This work will cover the early childhood learning that is so essential for preparing students for kindergarten; schools outside of LRSD, especially the large number of Little Rock residents attending the Pulaski County 10 JANUARY 2020
Schools; and higher education institutions in the community.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. named Jay Barth, a longtime Hendrix professor and former State Board of Education member, as the city’s first chief education officer earlier this month. When he officially begins in the position Jan. 6, Barth will be tasked with developing and implementing a community school model in some Little Rock School District schools as well as working on prenatal-to-5 care, literacy, out-of-school issues and workforce development initiatives.
Name: Jay Barth Hometown: Little Rock Age: 53 Album of the year: The Highwomen, “The Highwomen” Favorite book: Richard Ben Cramer’s “What It Takes” Favorite comic: John Mulaney Favorite Arkansas hike: Compton Loop Trail
How do you see your various areas of oversight in terms of priority or focus? Implementation of the “community schools model” in those schools serving some of the most economically fragile neighborhoods in our city will be the most immediate issue because of that issue’s role in the debate over the shape of the return to local control in the district. However, it’s crucial not just because of that debate, but because research and common sense tell us it’s the right thing to do. As schools have diverse needs, different partnerships will need to come together to respond to those needs. In certain cases, the city’s youth services could be targeted toward serving a community school. In other cases, nonprofits or foundations can help fill the void. In other situations, state or federal programs will be essential to bringing the key elements of the CSM to life. Just as every school is different, the services and programs that come together in that school will be different. That said, we do have a good idea of the types of issues typically faced by schools in communities like those that will be the target of our work — health care, nutrition, afterschool and summer programs, family engagement and high-quality early childhood options. In addition to the community schools model, our team will also be focused on enhancing access to early childhood education — particularly in the earliest years — across the city, development of smart career education programming and working to improve the health of our diverse higher education community that is so important for a vibrant city. When do you anticipate the selection of community schools? Now that we know what schools will be open in LRSD in the 2020-21 school year, we can move forward with the
OUR FOCUS SHOULD BE ON GETTING THE DISTRICT OUT OF LEVEL 5 SUPPORT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
conversation regarding the selection of the schools at which the community school model will be implemented. I anticipate that this will happen early in 2020. Who’s going to select the schools? Because of the importance of collaboration between the LRSD and the city in the implementation of the model, it will be crucial that there be collaboration in determining the number and identity of the schools that will be initially targeted for the community school model. Other districts that have invested in the CSM have tended to go with a smaller number initially and then grow over time. We are in a spot where we may need to go with a larger number of schools to bring about a more immediate impact on the district. What criteria will be used? Most obviously, we will look at achievement results in schools as a gauge of the schools where the community schools model should be implemented. However, there may be other schools selected that have performed better but draw students from other neighborhoods based on a look at other socioeconomic factors that typically presage poor academic performance by young people. In terms of sheer numbers, most of the community schools will be elementary schools. Will any or all be ready to go for the 2020-21 school year? Implementation will certainly begin in some schools in the 2020-21 school year, but rather than opening with a full complement of services and programming, I envision services to be added over time as partnerships needed for essential services or programs come alive. Over time, additional programs and services will be added to existing community schools and new community schools may well come on board. What are examples of successful community schools elsewhere? While all community schools do not look alike, because they serve such diverse communities, there are examples of successful implementations of the CSM in schools across the region and nation. Some are in more urban
areas, others in mid-size cities and others in rural communities. The community schools that come to life in LRSD will inevitably have their own unique elements because of the cultural and demographic differences between our community and others. That said, teams from the district, city and state are looking most specifically at CSMs in cities that look most like Little Rock on key indicators. Will you represent the city on issues before the State Board or with Education Secretary Johnny Key? While we will be selective in our engagement with the key state actors, we will also support the LRSD in its advocacy regarding its future. My ongoing interaction with the state will be with Reginald Ballard, whom Secretary Key has tasked to be the agency’s representative in efforts to build support for the Little Rock schools performing most poorly at present. I worked with Reggie when I was on the State Board and like him enormously and appreciate his deep connections to the LRSD. It may be a semantic argument, but you said in your intro press conference, “Local control is returning to the LRSD. The question is no longer whether, but how.” Advocates bristle anytime a public official says that the district is getting local control back, when the State Board has repeatedly made it known that it plans to significantly restrict the elected board’s powers. Do you anticipate lobbying Education Department and the State Board for a more autonomous local board? I think the mayor has been clear in his statements about the need for full local control. I fought for it nonstop while I was on the State Board. I understand fully that as long as LRSD is in Level 5 support that ultimately control will be with the secretary and State Board. It’s clear that the State Board has decided not to return full local control until the district escapes Level 5, and that is frustrating. Our focus should be on getting the district out of Level 5 support as soon as possible so that we can move forward without those constraints. The district and community are ready to run the schools and the sooner that is the case, the better off we will all be. —Lindsey Millar
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THE MONTH (OR SO) THAT WAS
NEW HEAD HOG This being Arkansas, the biggest local news since the December issue of the Arkansas Times was the hiring of Sam Pittman as the new Razorback football coach. Pittman was an assistant head coach and offensive line coach under Brett Bielema, 2013-15, before being hired by Georgia. He’ll be paid $3 million a year plus bonuses for wins. His successor, Chad Morris, was fired after the Razorbacks’ 45-19 loss against Western Kentucky, putting his record at 4-18 in his (nearly) two seasons at Arkansas. Several Arkansas players under Pittman wrote letters of support, and Razorback fans rejoiced, thanks to his reputation at recruiting. Pittman, at his first press conference, was visibly moved about his new job, choking up and later confessing, “I’m a wreck.” Morris was hired as offensive coordinator at Auburn.
MORE STATE BOARD MEDDLING IN THE LRSD The State Board of Education voted unanimously to place three major restrictions on the Little Rock School District after the November 2020 election of an LRSD School Board. Under board member Chad Pekron’s successful motion, the new board won’t be allowed to change its superintendent, recognize an employee bargaining agent (i.e. the teachers union) or alter the selection of the district’s personnel policy committee, or engage in litigation. Those restrictions will remain as long as the LRSD remains under the Level 5 intensive support state designation. But the State Board won’t be limited to those restrictions; as long as the district remains under Level 5, state law allows the State Board to intervene in district policy at any time. The board has signaled that it will discuss what should make up exit criteria for the LRSD at its January meeting. The State Board previously voted to expand the number of LRSD school board seats from seven to nine (which many see as effort to make it less likely that the board would again have a black majority). Perhaps as a sign that the State Board will continue to micromanage the LRSD, it also voted to reconstitute Hall High School and rename Pinnacle View High School the West High School of Innovation and require the district to hire a principal for the school, which now has only ninth-grade students and will expand by one grade in subsequent years. At the meeting, Education Secretary Johnny Key, who acts as the school board for the LRSD under state takeover, approved recommendations from the LRSD to turn Hall High into a citywide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) magnet school. He also decreed that the new Southwest High School should add a magnet component to its Southwest Little Rock attendance zone and that the district should delay its plans to develop a K-8 school in what’s now J.A. Fair High School.
CITY HIRES EDUCATION CHIEF Jay Barth, a longtime professor of political science at Hendrix College in Conway and a former member of the State Board of Education, was named Little Rock’s first chief education officer by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. (see more on page 9). Barth’s job will involve developing a model for community schools and getting them off the ground. The city has allocated $500,000 so far toward the effort, a good start but not enough to implement the model. The State Board drafted a memorandum of agreement on how community schools might operate, but it was scrapped after widespread criticism. At the press conference announcing Barth’s hiring, Scott said he’d seen what Barth had done “for the least of these” and that Barth’s decision to take the job was a good deal for the city. Barth cited kindergarten preparation, health care services and innovative after-school programs, as well as providing a place for parents and guardians to gain skills, as the community school ideal. 14 JANUARY 2020
HARRISON DAILY TIMES
MORE STATE BOARD MEDDLING
CRANFORD SENTENCED Rusty Cranford, the former lobbyist and health company executive who pleaded guilty to his role in the massive Preferred Family Healthcare public corruption case, was sentenced to seven years in prison in federal court in Springfield, Mo. At press time, he was being held in the Greene County Jail, where he has been for nearly two years, until the Federal Bureau of Prisons decides where to incarcerate him. His time in the jail will be credited to his sentence. Cranford has also been ordered to repay $3.7 million for illegal benefits he received over the years. The government will seize some property he owns in Florida and Arkansas, but it’s worth only a tiny fraction of the judgment. DONALD TRUMP IMPEACHED The biggest national news was, of course, the impeachment of the president. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach on grounds that Trump abused the powers of his presidency when he sought political favors from a foreign government to advance his own 2020 election campaign, and that he obstructed Congress by instructing federal employees not to comply with congressional subpoenas. The vote was on party lines; none of Arkansas’s four congressmen, all Republicans, voted for impeachment.
16 JANUARY 2020
the TO-DO list BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE AND LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK
BLACK TUSK FRIDAY 1/10. WHITE WATER TAVERN.
From a fellow heavy music scene in Savannah, Ga. — maybe best known for having exported a heavy, mathy quartet named Baroness — comes Black Tusk with a gut punch of a sound. This one’s a pretty straightforward yay or nay; if you hear the first 15 seconds of the track “Closed Eye” and think that’s the sort of sound you want to be physically near, this show will be a ceiling-rattling thrill, with all the urgency of hardcore punk and all the swampy despair of Southern doom metal. SS
MIRANDA LAMBERT THURSDAY 1/23. SIMMONS BANK ARENA. $40-$95.
ELLEN VON UNWERTH
Appearances at Simmons Bank Arena from country’s good/bad girl (and animal rescue activist) have become a near-annual affair. Maybe it was opener Jon Pardi, or the fact that her colleagues in the Pistol Annies dropped in to bring the gunpowder, but Lambert sold out the arena in 2018; she returns in support of “Wildcard,” her seventh studio album. Expect old-school Miranda tunes like “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Tin Man,” liberally peppered with circa-2019 sass, a la “Pretty Bitchin’”: “I got a pretty good time in the checkout line/With all the free press I’ve been gettin’ … ’Cause I use what I got/I don’t let it go to waste/I’m pretty from the back/Kinda pretty in the face.” Cody Johnson and LANCO open the show. Get tickets at verizonarena.com. SS
COURTESY OF OAKLAWN RACING & GAMING
OAKLAWN RACING & GAMING: OPENING DAY FRIDAY 1/24. OAKLAWN RACING & GAMING. FREE. Racing season at Oaklawn runs Jan. 24-May 2, but anyone who enjoys picking a horse and placing a bet there will tell you: Those few weeks fly by in a heartbeat. Opening Day means a particular kind of electricity in the stands and at the windows, where bettors emerge from hibernation, as eager to lay down their money as the horses are to get out of the gate. It also means — for lovers of bargains and salt-cured brisket — the annual arrival of Corned Beef Day on Saturday, Jan. 25, when the track’s corned beef sandwiches are a whopping 50 cents. If the whole horse-racing idea seems intimidating, and you don’t know a top wheel from a trifecta, check out Oaklawn’s primer at oaklawn.com/racing-101. General admission is free, and reserved grandstand seats are available for $2.50-$4.50 by calling 1-800-OAKLAWN, ext. 340. Post times vary, but gates open every race day at 11 a.m.; see oaklawn.com for a full schedule. Parking in the north, south and west lots is $2 until 4 p.m., after which it’s free. SS ARKANSASTIMES.COM
JANUARY 2020 17
the TO-DO list
‘WICKED’ WEDNESDAY 1/1-SUNDAY 1/19.
TALIA SUSKAUER BY JOAN MARCUS
ROBINSON PERFORMANCE HALL. For the uninitiated: “Wicked” isn’t so much a sequel or a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” as it is an offshoot, delving into the lives of Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. No doubt, in part, because the original 2003 Broadway musical had stage powerhouses Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth playing its principals, the so-called “untold true story of the witches of Oz” went gangbusters on the theater scene. Tonys were won, records were broken and, before long, every regional theater audition panel in the Northern hemisphere was being subjected to renditions of “Defying Gravity” from aspiring soprano and mezzo belters alike. Here, Celebrity Attractions brings the touring Broadway production to Little Rock for 24 performances; see celebrityattractions.com for details and see ticketmaster.com for tickets. SS
‘THE FACES OF SYRIAN REFUGEES’ JAN. 13-APRIL 4. UA PULASKI TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Photographer Michael Cohen decided to use his art to tell the story of Syrian refugees who’ve resettled in new countries in Europe and North America. “After seeing a presentation about a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, it hit me,” Cohen is quoted as saying by the art2art Circulating Exhibitions that brings the show to CHARTS’ Windgate Gallery. “What do we really know about Syrian refugees? Sure, we see them trying to flee a war-torn country and we see the despair in their eyes. But so many people are unwilling to allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their country.” So Cohen’s 20 life-sized images of refugees, accompanied by their stories, show the Syrians not packed in miserable camps or seeking entrance to one but as the people they are, given a chance: men and women indistinguishable from your next-door neighbors. A reception with music by guitarists Steve Davison and Micky Rigby will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, in the CHARTS lobby. LNP
BILLY DON BURNS, REBECCA JED THURSDAY 1/2. WHITE WATER TAVERN. Billy Don Burns is prone to uttering the same vow every time he lists an upcoming show: “We promise to rock your ass.” As regards his White Water Tavern booking this month, he should probably be believed. The Stone County native’s songs have been picked up by the likes of Merle Haggard and Mel Tillis, and he’s got an abundance of outlaw country fodder for the material, having been, as he told the Shore Line Times, “stabbed 17 times, divorced six,” and a frequent enough resident of the jailhouse that Willie Nelson penned a plea for leniency to a Kentucky judge on his behalf. Burns is joined by Rebecca Jed, who probably should have earned our attention the moment she penned a ditty titled “All to Hell With All of Y’all (I’m Going Back to Arkansas).” SS
18 JANUARY 2020
MICHAEL COHEN/ART2ART CIRCULATING COLLECTIONS
CHARTS (CENTER FOR THE HUMANITIES AND ARTS).
ARKANSAS SHORTS SATURDAY 1/4. MALCO THEATRE,
817 CENTRAL AVE., HOT SPRINGS. One of the best throwdowns in the Arkansas film world happens in a historic Art Moderne theater in downtown Hot Springs, and this year marks the 13th such gathering. Arkansas Shorts, in collaboration with Low Key Arts, presents short films in three categories: films made by Arkansas natives or current residents of Arkansas; films made by North American filmmakers; and films made by international filmmakers. Expect a good portion of that first category to be populated with the fruits of Low Key Arts’ Inception to Projection, a summertime program that teaches filmmaking fundamentals like screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography and editing, then tasks participants with the creation of a short film. SS
OPERA IN THE ROCK: ‘THE GIFT OF THE MAGI’
Wont as we all are to let the Gods of Retail tell us where to focus our energies each December, art tends to steer us in another, more contemplative, direction. Take, for one, the solemn plot twist in O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” rendered in 1997 by composer David Conte and librettist Nicholas Giardini as a chamber opera for seven voices. Here, Opera in the Rock presents Conte’s version of the love story with admission donations benefiting the company’s forthcoming performances and outreach programming. Cast members include Kyle Forehand as Jim, Shannon Rookey as Della, Sarah Stankiewicz-Dailey as Maggie and Daniel Morris as Henry. A family-friendly event, “Meet the Kings! Family Fun,” precedes the opera in the church’s Gathering Hall, with stations for crown-making and cookie-decorating, plus an opportunity to meet the titular “magi.” RSVP for childcare during the show by calling 501-664-3600, and see oitr.org or call 501-681-9640 for tickets. SS
LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK
FRIDAY 1/3. PULASKI HEIGHTS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 4823 WOODLAWN DRIVE. 7:30 P.M. FREE; $15 SUGGESTED DONATION.
10TH ANNUAL RALLY FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE SATURDAY 1/25. ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL. 1 P.M.
As long as there are legislators (and a president) who think women are second-class creatures incapable of thinking for themselves, the Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice will rally to fight for women’s rights. At the decade mark in the history of ACRJ marches to the Capitol, there is plenty to rally about: The legislature’s latest foray into nonscience and misogynistic nonsense included the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” requiring doctors to advise patients to Google “reverse abortion” in case they change their minds halfway through a medication procedure. Women do have a right to know: to know that their legislators will say or do anything to keep them powerless over their own bodies. Remember: No dangerous sticks on Capital grounds, so you have to hold your posters. Guns, on the other hand, are legal. LNP
LERA LYNN WEDNESDAY 1/15.
ARGENTA ACOUSTIC MUSIC SERIES: ALBERTO LOMBARDI THURSDAY 1/16. THE JOINT THEATER &
SOUTH ON MAIN. 8 P.M. $10-$15.
COFFEEHOUSE. 7:30 P.M. $30.
Looking like some come-hither, post-Americana Tori Amos, Lera Lynn is as sultry and candid in the video for her new single ”Dark Horse” as she’s ever been. Following up her killer 2018 album of duets, “Plays Well With Others,” Lynn returns to Little Rock with several more years of collaboration and experience in her toolbox, having mastered the art of pairing that delicate voice with a veiled, wry delivery. Get tickets at centralarkansastickets.com, and reserve a table by calling 501-244-9660. SS
There must have been some pressure for Italian guitarist Alberto Lombardi to give up electric rock playing in favor of his career as an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist, or vice versa. But here he is, interpreting Clapton and Hendrix on something called the Alberto Lombardi Stratocaster Tribute tour and then turning around and plucking out delicate Italian traditionals on an acoustic Taylor. Lombardi’s here as a guest of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series; grab tickets at argentaacoustic.com. SS
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the TO-DO list
OXFORD AMERICAN PRESENTS: FRED HERSCH TRIO THURSDAY 1/30. SOUTH ON MAIN. 8 P.M. $35-$54. The more you learn about Fred Hersch, the more onerous a task it is to single out the most gripping fact about his life. Is it that he became, in 2006, the first solo pianist to get booked for a weeklong engagement at the revered Village Vanguard? That he broke that record as one of the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz musicians in the nation? That he used heroin exactly once, and it was with Chet Baker? Or that Hersch’s nimble hands recovered their endless facility after he’d been held in a medically induced coma for seven weeks? That he then turned his torpor into a piece called “My Coma Dreams”? Or is it that, when he puts his hand to the keys, all of that biographical background floats away anyway, and you’re left realizing you’re bearing witness to one of the greatest jazz pianists in the world? This will be one for the books; grab a ticket to this installment of Oxford American’s Jazz series at oxfordamerican.org and find out why The New Yorker lauded Hersch’s trio for its “high lyricism and high danger,” or why All About Jazz declared that “when it comes to the art of solo piano in jazz, there are two classes of performers: Fred Hersch and everybody else.” SS
TEMPLE GRANDIN THURSDAY 1/30. REYNOLDS
PERFORMANCE HALL, UCA. CONWAY. 7:30 P.M. $15.
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO TUESDAY 1/28. UA PULASKI TECHNICAL COLLEGE CHARTS (CENTER FOR THE HUMANITIES AND ARTS). 7:30 P.M. $10-$65.
If the African songs you know by heart come mostly from the record “Graceland,” there are a couple of things you can do to expand the breadth of that knowledge. The first? Get hip to the locally produced BantuNauts Raydio, a program on KABF-FM, 88.3, that plays music from African countries — and from all over the world — between 10 p.m. and midnight every Saturday. The second? Go hear this concert from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the five-decade ensemble tradition whose harmonies, charisma and cultural scholarship have established them as de facto and official ambassadors of South Africa — and yes, who lent gravity, vibrancy and texture to that seminal 1986 Paul Simon album. Get tickets at uaptc.edu/charts. SS
20 JANUARY 2020
COURTESY OF UCA/REYNOLDS PERFORMANCE HALL
For someone who considers words her “second language,” Temple Grandin’s done an awful lot with them. Her books about autism have altered the way doctors and educators approach people on the autism spectrum. Her TED talks about “neurodiversity” have helped rekindle interest in vocational education. Her blueprints for cattle restrainment systems are used in livestock yards everywhere to facilitate a humane approach to slaughter. And, if you caught the 2010 biopic about her life and work, you know that she invented the “hug machine,” a device that calms anxiety in hypersensitive people by applying deep pressure. Grandin appears at Reynolds Performance Hall following the release of her book “Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like An Inventor.” Get tickets at uca.edu/publicappearances. SS
‘ANN’ TUESDAY 1/28-SUNDAY 2/16.
ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE. The Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s spring 2020 season marks the first under Executive Artistic Director Will Trice, and it’s a darling of a trinity. First up? “Ann,” an unblinking look at silver-haired, silver-tongued powerhouse Ann Richards, the 45th governor of Texas who ruffled feathers and raised eyebrows for her brash leadership style as much as for her status as a liberal running in ultra-conservative Texas. Holland Taylor’s play about the legendary (and consummately quotable) Texas governor, in The Rep’s production, passes the torch to Tony Award winner Elizabeth Ashley (“Russian Doll,” “Evening Shade,” “Treme”), with Michael Wilson directing. Completing the trinity: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “Bye-Bye Birdie.” Get tickets at therep.org. SS
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JANUARY 2020 21
SHOULD YOU GROW IT? • HOW TO GROW IT • WHERE TO SELL IT PRESENTED BY:
FEBRUARY 14TH & 15TH, 2020 • WYNDHAM RIVERFRONT LITTLE ROCK COME HEAR THE EXPERTS — your fellow Arkansas farmers, as they pass on lessons learned growing industrial hemp during this last growing season. Meet hemp seeds men, processors, consultants, state & federal agriculture experts and crop scientists. In this era of tariffs and market uncertainty, you owe it to yourself to evaluate hemp as a new crop.
In addition to lessons learned by your fellow farmers, the conference will cover: • Regulatory and legal requirements • Best growing practices • Biggest greenhorn mistakes • Best varieties suited to different regions in Arkansas • How to work with processors • Finding your best market • Testing to minimize THC • Necessary farm equipment for large and small operations
The Arkansas Farmers’ Industrial Hemp Conference begins at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 at the Wyndham and continues through Saturday. EARLY BIRD SPECIAL FOR $99 that includes happy hour reception on Friday night and lunch on Saturday. Special Wyndam Riverfront in North Little Rock room rates are available at 501-371-9000. Mention The Arkansas Farmers’ Industrial Hemp Conference in order to receive the rate. PURCHASE YOUR TICKET AT CENTRALARKANSASTICKETS.COM
FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO
NEWS & POLITICS
ASKED FBI TO INVESTIGATE: But Cummins said he didn’t know if allegations about the Bidens were true.
CUMMINS IN A TRUMPLAND HE URGED INVESTIGATION OF THE BIDENS. BY ERNEST DUMAS
s luck would have it, for at least a generation nearly every ethical dustup afflicting the White House, even one involving the warring countries of Russia and Ukraine, reaches out at some point and snares individuals in remote little Arkansas, so close to God but so far from Moscow and Kyiv. So it was with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s cabal with President Trump to block crucial U.S. military aid to Ukraine and a vital White House photo event in order to extort the leader of the former satellite on the border of menacing Russia into publicly proclaiming that Ukraine was investigating Vice President Joe Biden and his son over connections with a Ukrainian gas company. The announcement was supposed to damage Joe, President Trump’s most feared opponent in the 2020 election. Instead, the whole thing has brought Trump to the precipice of the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history. Trump’s and Giuliani’s intrigues against Ukraine had to be baffling for Arkansans, who were already confused by their hero Trump’s strange affair with Russia and Vladimir Putin. Then Talking Points Memo, a liberal web-based journal, reported last month that more than a year ago — before most of us had heard of the Ukrainian business — Harry E. “Bud” Cummins, a Little Rock lawyer who had once been the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas until his patron George W. Bush had him fired, had tried to get the FBI and federal prosecutors in New York to open an investigation into rumored corruption involving the Bidens and the gas company and also the absurd yarn that a few Ukrainian yokels had stolen a Democratic server and emails in ARKANSASTIMES.COM
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Washington in 2016 and, in order to hurt Trump and elect Hillary Clinton president, had made it look like Putin’s agents did it to help Trump. While TPM was reporting Cummins’ attempts to start a federal probe of the Bidens by trying to hook up the New York prosecutor with the prosecutor general of Ukraine, Giuliani was sending a letter to Trump’s most loyal supporter in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, saying that an unidentified former U.S. attorney — subsequently identified as Cummins — could supply the Senate with emails and other documents urging a Biden probe. Back in Little Rock, Bud Cummins said yes, he had, indeed, tried to get the New York prosecutor interested in investigating the Bidens and in trying to prove that the “black ledger” that revealed Trump’s 2016 campaign manager as a crook was itself the real fraud. But, Cummins said, he had no clue about whether anything he told either the New York prosecutor or Giuliani or his friends was true. He just accepted it all at face value without investigating. It was the New York prosecutor’s task to see if any of it was true. But he thought the prosecutor and the FBI should investigate the stuff, even if it seemed to be only a smear, because they were investigating his patron Donald Trump on the basis of dubious evidence. As the political cognoscenti in Arkansas know, Cummins was Trump’s Arkansas campaign chairman in 2016, his whip at the Republican convention and then a member of his inaugural and transition team. He joined a Washington lobbying firm set up to give people — needy Ukrainians and Russians among them — leverage in the new Republican government. TPM’s revelation of Cummins’ tiny role in the Trump-Ukrainian imbroglio, particularly his connections with Giuliani, seemed to be a tiny bit embarrassing. Cummins emphasized that he knew nothing about the veracity of Giuliani’s allegations or anything else and, perhaps to show his bona fides as a Russia-Putin antagonist, he had a Washington public-relations firm issue a news release announcing that he was investigating a couple of Russian bankers, friends of Putin, who might have used some U.S. banks to help scam investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. Much of the news release was lifted from year-old legal documents in lawsuits and criminal charges against the Russians or on year-old reporting by Forbes magazine. The TPM article also disclosed that Cummins happened to be the registered lobbyist for Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine and failed candidate for the job again in March. The attractive Tymoshenko, better known as “the gas princess,” made a fortune with a company marketing Russian gas to Ukrainian farmers. She was charged with giving kickbacks to a Russian for her stranglehold on Russian gas supplies for Ukraine and imprisoned for a while. Trump’s now-imprisoned campaign manager, Paul Manafort, helped a corrupt Ukrainian official prepare a 187-page report justifying her jailing. Manafort’s indictment by the U.S. Justice Department last year said Manafort used off-shore accounts to pay for the report on Tymoshenko, who at that point was considered antagonistic to Russian (and Trump’s) interests. 24 JANUARY 2020
NO ONE SHOULD BETTER UNDERSTAND THE ABUSE OF POWER FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES THAN BUD, WHO WAS ONE OF THE VICTIMS IN THE SCANDAL CALLED ATTORNEYGATE.
Sorting out all the Russian-Ukrainian intrigues seems to be beyond any westerner’s ken, including Bud Cummins’. But Cummins needn’t worry. No one should suspect that he would do anything dishonest to help undermine the impeachment case against Trump for using the instruments of government to bribe Ukraine into helping re-elect the president. No one should better understand the abuse of power for political purposes than Bud, who was one of the victims in the scandal called Attorneygate, which would have gotten President George W. Bush impeached in an atmosphere so charged as today’s. As it was, an independent investigation in Bush’s Justice Department concluded that the firing of Cummins and eight other U.S. attorneys for political reasons was not criminal, but only unethical, dishonest and a violation of the Justice Department code. Let’s refresh your memory. In 2006, President Bush told his attorney general that a bunch of the Republican U.S. attorneys had not pursued voter fraud suspicions against Democrats, a key GOP strategy that year, and they should be fired. Nine of them, including Cummins, were fired, although it would turn out, through the discovery of White House and Justice Department emails sent through the private Republican National Committee email server, that Cummins was fired mainly to make way for an aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove — Tim Griffin, Arkansas’s present lieutenant governor — who needed to build his resume for a political career in Arkansas. Included in the emails investigators found on the private server used by the White House and many executive agencies were notes from Griffin to Rove buttering him up. (Eventually, the administration destroyed 22 million emails on official business that were on the Republican Party server, but Democrats never insisted that people be jailed for it.) One of Griffin’s emails told his boss Rove: “Btw my wife is pregnant. We are thinking about naming him karl. Lol.” Griffin wanted to take a holiday in St. John in the Virgin Islands before Cummins was dismissed and he could assume the job in Little Rock. Griffin quit after a few months as U.S. attorney, but it catapulted him to Congress and the lite governor’s office and, if he can beat Sarah Huckabee Sanders in 2022, to the real governor’s office. The special counsel who looked into all the firings said Cummins was fired for political reasons, not for poor performance as the attorney general said, and the same for the other eight Republican prosecutors, who were said to be “loyal Bushies” even if they did not pursue the Republican agenda of accusing Democrats of election fraud. You might divine how Cummins in 2016 would jump on the Trump bandwagon when it first seemed that another Bush, Jeb, was about to become the party’s nominee. Politicizing foreign policy and jeopardizing national security by using a $400 million defense appropriation for extortion and bribery of an ally may, indeed, be a lower level of misconduct than firing a federal prosecutor to launch a political career for an ambitious gadfly. Someone other than Bud Cummins, maybe the American people, will get to decide that.
JANUARY 2020 25
AN ART SHOW AND A MINE OWNER UNEARTH NEW DESIRE FOR THE STATEâ€™S SPECIAL MINERAL. BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDON MARKIN
26 JANUARY 2020
JANUARY 2020 27
hen I thought of quartz crystal in Arkansas — if I thought of quartz crystal in Arkansas — I thought of the rock shops that used to line the highway into Hot Springs, the ones with the big blue glass chunks. I knew that people liked to dig for crystals and that they headed to the Ouachita Mountains with their kids to muck about in rusty red clay in search of them. Since quartz is everywhere, the second most common mineral on the planet (feldspar is the most common), I did not think it so special. Like every schoolchild in Arkansas, I was given a cardboard box of rocks and minerals from the Arkansas Geological Survey that always included, along with boring old shale and nondescript sandstone, a milky bit of quartz. I’ve seen little rock crystals, the kind that are clear and six-sided, on kitchen window ledges, porch rails, lined up with shells and heart-shaped rocks and other gleanings from nature. (Admittedly, just because I was clueless doesn’t mean most folks are.) So, I thought it was curious when Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville announced an upcoming exhibition about crystals. I knew Crystal Bridges was named for a nearby spring, not the mineral, so I figured the subject matter was simply a coincidence, that it would be a science exhibition in an art museum. I also knew that Avant Mining, near Jessieville in Garland County, had contributed specimens to the exhibition and that its owner, James Zigras, was interviewed in the August 2019 issue of the museum’s member magazine. So I wondered: Is Avant Mining a Walton enterprise? And if it were, would “Crystals in Art” be kosher? Is there a conflict of interest here? I had to check it out. I went to Jessieville. There, I was relieved to learn that Avant Mining is an operation solely financed by Zigras. And that these six-sided products of nature are special. That they can be enormous, too big for the windowsill or the porch. That some are worth millions of dollars. And that Arkansas seems to be underplaying one of its greatest natural assets. Also, that there are still blue glass rocks for sale in Hot Springs. “CRYSTALS IN ART: ANCIENT TO TODAY” at Crystal Bridges took some out-of-the-box thinking, in that it is a blend of natural history and fine art, co-curator Lauren Haynes told visiting press in October, when the show opened. (It closes Jan. 6.) The works in the show include such astonishing artifacts — from the Metropolitan Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and private collectors — as a 2,400-year-old crystal perfume bottle, a meticulously etched crystal disc from the 16th century, a ruby-encrusted flask from the 17th century. Chinese snuff bottles, Italian candlesticks, Roman beads. These valuables are cozied up to Andy Warhol prints of gems; a Juan Gris cubist oil; a video of performance artist Marina Abramović breathing, her face buried under prisms; a giant chandelier tree by Ai Weiwei. Among the works of art from nature — the show includes several quartz specimens mined in Arkansas — was a spectacular piece: a 5-foot6-inch cluster of limpid crystals emerging from a quartz-seamed quartzite rock matrix. Haynes 28 JANUARY 2020
Because of their clarity and form, Arkansas’s rock crystals are in a league of their own.
told visitors it was a difficult-to-install 1,500 pounds. It was called the “Holy Grail,” and it came from what is now called the Zigras Mine. The scales fell from my eyes. These prisms, made of molecules of silica and oxygen and described as “ice” by the ancient Greeks before we gave that name to diamonds, are unique in Arkansas. That’s because, commonplace though quartz may be, the clarity and form of Arkansas rock crystals puts them in a league of their own, unrivaled in the United States and comparable to spectacular finds in Brazil. Though they share a basic crystalline form, no two crystals are alike; expert geologists can tell which Arkansas mines produced which crystals. (The matchstick-like crystals produced at the Jeffrey Quarry in North Little Rock are so unusual that even an untrained eye may be able to identify them. The quarry is now under water.) Ignorant though I may have been, thousands of people have been burrowing into the state’s crystal belt, from Little Rock to Broken Bow, Okla., since the 19th century. Five generations of the Coleman family have mined and operated tourist digs outside Hot Springs, and Mount Ida (which calls itself “The Crystal Capital of the World” because of its numerous veins) hosts a championship crystal dig every year. The U.S. government, foiled during World War II from getting ships into Brazilian ports, turned to Arkansas mines for the pure quartz crystal needed for oscillators in radar and other instruments. Quartz crystal has certain electrical qualities: It is piezoelectric, meaning it can both conduct electricity and, under pressure, release energy. Squeeze a crystal, you get a tiny electric current. Send electricity through a crystal, it will vibrate at a precise frequency. These good vibrations likely sustain the belief of many in the metaphysical properties of quartz crystals, which some believe to have the power to heal, improve mood, even to cast spells. Crystal Bridges founder Alice Walton, who has her own kind of power, is said to carry a crystal in her purse, and the museum grounds include a fabricated grotto of crystal-studded slabs of stone. Maybe it was the crystals talking, but in my case, “Crystals in Art” engendered a heretofore-buried lust for these geometric objects of nature. I needed to know more about crystals. I’D HEARD A RUMOR THAT the Walton family was investing in Hot Springs enterprises, so I asked Zigras outright. Is Alice part owner of Avant Mining? No. “I wish Alice was my partner,” Zigras told me. “I like the sound of that.” The New Jersey native is as tall as a skyscraper, charmingly unkempt and smart as a whip. Had he been supported by an investor, he said, he surely would be out of business, owing to the fact that he came up with nothing during his first two years of mining and lost $1 million. Zigras, who describes himself as an “amateur expert” in mineralogy and even has a mineral named for him (zigrasite), is both a collector and consultant who travels worldwide. It was his desire for a different mineral, wavellite, that drew him to Arkansas.
THE ‘HOLY GRAIL’: A 5-foot-6 crystal cluster at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
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WHERE CRYSTALS ARE FOUND: The Zigras Mine in the Ouachitas was partially excavated by the U.S. government during World War II; boulders protect equipment (and people) from falling in.
30 JANUARY 2020
At a mineral and gem show in Tucson, Ariz., some years back, Zigras asked an Arkansas vendor why no one ever brought wavellite, a mineral that grows in green and yellow spheres, to the show. Give me a call if a mine ever comes up for sale, he told the vendor. One did, in Garland County in 2009, and Zigras bought a mining lease there. Because quartz is so common, Zigras wasn’t particularly interested in Arkansas’s rock crystal. But he remembered a specimen Jim Coleman dug in 1987 from what is called the McEarl Mine near Jessieville. Zigras, 38, had seen the cluster, which had been acquired by a collector, in the 1990s and was struck by it. “It was flawless and amazing and set a new standard for quartz around the world. It completely changed the game,” Zigras told me. Once in Arkansas, he discovered that Coleman didn’t own the entire McEarl mine; timber company Weyerhaeuser owned part. Zigras met with William Willis, then the manager for Weyerhaeuser’s Southern Minerals. “We had never done anything with quartz to speak of,” Willis, a member of the state Geological Survey Commission, told me. “It’s a commodity not many folks were interested in, and the ones, like weekend sellers, that were interested didn’t have any assets behind them. “When we sold surface rights in those areas,” he said, “we’d keep the quartz rights.” “James came in and he just had a spark about him,” Willis said. He said he thought that “maybe this is our guy.” Zigras had come prepared with maps of crystal mines in Garland County made by the government during WWII. “He’d done his homework,” Willis said. “He had that old government publication, and not 50 folks in the world have it, and 45 don’t know they have it.” So Zigras was able to obtain leases to mine the crystals in the Weyerhaeuser portion of the McEarl mine, for the agreeable sum of $2,000 an acre. “I bought the best crystal mine in the world for almost no money. Which means, I was meant to be here,” Zigras told me. But, rather than listen to Coleman miners about where to dig, he listened to some “turkeys” he’d hired to mine, and came up empty handed from the “best crystal mine in the world.” “So I did the unthinkable,” Zigras said. “I bought more land. … I just started buying and buying and buying and never stopped. Now we have 30 mines on 12,000 acres.” One of those mines, the Diamond Drill Carbon Co. No. 4, was mined out during the war — or that’s what the government’s report said. “I said there was no way this place is mined out,” Zigras said during our tour of the mine, on a denuded and quartz-studded slope of the Ouachitas. Why? “It’s not like I’m a crystal whisperer. You actually just look down at your feet.” He was right: Diamond Drill Carbon Co. No. 4 was where he found the wide vein that produced the “Holy Grail.” Houston Museum of Natural Science President Joel Bartsch gave the cluster its name. (He was at the mine when it was unearthed and told Zigras he’d found his holy grail.) The mine, now named the Zigras Mine at the encouragement of Alice Walton and
David Yurman, who buys crystals from Zigras for his jewelry, is still producing from the vein, which he calls the “Vortex.” The Yurman connection is not the only pizzazz Zigras brings to Arkansas rockhounding. Dr. Thomas Paradise, professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas, described him as a “mineral geek” with a “Hollywood” flair. Zigras’ Instagram account shows him with Paris Hilton at a private Art Basel party last year in Miami, with Dale Chihuly at Chihuly’s boathouse, with James Turrell, the famed artist who created “Skyspace” at Crystal Bridges and who has visited Zigras’ mine. He sold an enormous ruby to Devo musician and artist Mark Mothersbaugh, which Mothersbaugh then had carved into what is politely described as soft-serve ice cream in a bronze cone (“Ruby Kusturd”). When I last interviewed Zigras, he was packing away crystals for his display at the 2019 Art Basel show.
SCENES FROM A CRYSTAL OPERATION: An employee of the mine (top) sorts smaller crystals that have emerged from the Zigras Mine (middle), which are collected in baskets before rough sorts (bottom).
CRYSTALS FROM THE ZIGRAS MINE are now in the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Harvard University and Caltech. Among the crystals from the Vortex housed at Avant Mining’s facility is something he calls the “Bouquet”: a cluster of crystals lit from beneath to glow. He said a major museum is interested in it, and that it has been appraised at $5 million. Zigras also has a cluster weighing 8,000 pounds, one he says is “truly a million-dollar piece.” What are you going to do with it? I asked. “Oh, I’m going to do something with it,” he said with a shrug. Asked how much the “Holy Grail” sold for, Zigras declined to say, except that he believes it to be the “most expensive and valuable Arkansas quartz ever sold.” I asked if he sold it to Alice Walton. “The ‘Holy Grail’ was a private transaction,” he said. “I can’t talk about it.” It is on indefinite loan to Crystal Bridges. Kevin Coleman, the fourth of five generations of Colemans to mine quartz crystal outside Hot Springs, said he, too, has a multimillion-dollar piece that Smithsonian benefactors are interested in. The 9-foot-tall cluster was dug from the Ron Coleman Mine, which is located on a ridge parallel to the Zigras Mine in Garland County, and is at the Coleman showroom in Tucson. “That’s where we sell our high-end pieces,” he said. The Colemans have been mining since the 1940s, and opened the Ron Coleman Mine to the public nearly 30 years ago. (Ron is Jim Coleman’s brother.) These days, it’s known in Arkansas primarily for its tourist trade; visitors can fly over the mine on a zip line nearly a quarter of a mile long and hold birthday parties there. There’s a gift shop, an RV resort and a digging area ($20 for adults, $15 for ages 55 and over, $5 for ages 7-17). Kevin Coleman said the profit is evenly divided between the tourist trade and the sale of big-ticket crystals, which includes a piece worth millions that went to the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2. The family is known by collectors for its more valuable pieces not by marketing, he said, but by word of mouth. “We play things close to the vest.” That might change if Netflix decides to go ARKANSASTIMES.COM
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SEES A BRIGHT FUTURE: Avant Miningâ€™s James Zigras, holding a crystal ball from his collection, says Arkansas could benefit by promoting its unique resource.
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PRISMS AND ARTIFACTS: Large crystals are lined up in Avant Mining’s warehouse (left); Zigras leans over “The Bouquet,” a giant cluster from the Zigras Mine that has been wired for lighting. forward with a documentary on the Colemans and crystal mining in Arkansas. Producers have visited. Coleman was reluctant to discuss the details, saying only that discussions were preliminary. Other networks are interested, he said, but Netflix has the first right. ALTHOUGH THE COLEMAN FAMILY would disagree — their mine has long been considered the best — Zigras believes his particular ridge in the Ouachitas is producing crystals of the greatest aesthetic value. One could expect Zigras to tout his mine, he acknowledged. So he suggested I call Jeffrey Post, the curator-in-charge of gems and minerals at the Smithsonian. Post has been to Avant Mining twice, has even dug a crystal from the Vortex. “It is pretty impressive,” Post told me. “They’re finding some really fine clusters of quartz crystals, very clean, very high quality, optically clear. … Some of the finest quartz I’ve seen in the United States.” Post said he could understand if Arkansans were a bit jaded when it came to quartz, because there is so much of it. Too, he said, not every crystal cluster that comes out of the ground is “truly spectacular”; many are cloudy from trapped air or have broken points.
And though Arkansas’s quartz is “more than a tourist attraction,” the fact that people can dig into the earth and come up with a glistening, crystallized mineral of any size has its own value, Post said. “Every time I pick one out of the ground, I feel like it’s pretty special,” he said. “Show me anyone who finds and cleans one and isn’t impressed.” Post was inspired to become a mineralogist because of rock crystal from Arkansas. He was in the fourth grade in Wisconsin when he saw his first. “I’d never seen anything like it before,” he said, and it put him on the path to the Smithsonian. Arkansas Geology Survey Commissioner Willis called Zigras’ crystals “world class.” THE METAPHYSICAL MARKET for rock crystals is strong, having shrugged off the goofball and sometimes offensive carryings-on by Shirley MacLaine in the 1980s. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry and Adele, who told a British newspaper that they help her combat stage fright, are believers. Then, of course, there is Alice Walton. Zigras, who also has a certain affinity for the idea of crystals as creating mystical energy, not-
ed that the year he began mining — 2011 — was also the year Walton opened Crystal Bridges museum. That year, Zigras said, “The energy in the whole state of Arkansas changed.” Gary Fleck, who lives outside Hot Springs and has been in the crystal vending business for 47 years, said he found it “challenging” to put the power of crystals into words. “People ask, how do crystals work and how do I use them? I don’t care for the word ‘healing.’ What is healing anyway? To sum up for me, they’re magic.” He said he first came to realize the power of crystals and other stones in a mine in the Sonoran desert, where an “angel of inner earth” named Sabatini told him that crystals will reveal their teachings just by touch and should be treated with respect. “I encourage people to take their metaphysical books to a recycling center,” Fleck said. Fleck said the shop he opened in 1985, The Crystal Fountain, was the first metaphysical store in Hot Springs. He no longer operates it, but said the market is “exploding.” What is the best use of crystal? “Just enjoy them, for their clarity and luster and color,” Fleck said. “Every time I look at them it is like looking at them for the first time.” Starr Fuentes has been teaching metaphysical ARKANSASTIMES.COM
JANUARY 2020 33
PRISMS AND ARTIFACTS: Zigras envisions opening a museum of his personal mineral collection, including an ancient Viking pendant (left); the cluster on the right was being packed for shipment to Art Basel in Miami. classes for 60 years, 15 of them in Hot Springs from her geodesic dome on Park Avenue. At age 80, she’s still going strong and eager to talk about the power of crystals. “What I want to say about crystals is they move, they’re alive. They’re so grounded and so slow that they teach us patience.” She believes certain crystals have healing properties — “general healing would require a green stone, or a crystal with chloride in it,” she said — and that because they can send and receive energy, you can ask them for help. Fuentes has written several books, with titles like “A Sprinkling of Starr,” “Gemstones for Foot Grounding” and “The Divine.” In her 18th book, “Crystal Polyhedrons,” to come out next year, Fuentes focuses on the crystals produced by Avant Mining. “The Avant crystals are some of the strangest, purest crystals I have ever seen,” she said. “The earth is offering up something new right now. The clarity, the power of the Avant crystals are of a new level unexpressed previously.” Fuentes moved to Hot Springs because of its thermal springs and quartz. “What I don’t understand,” she said, “is that we’re sitting on the biggest crystal deposit in the United States and we don’t monetize it. You know how Sedona (Arizona) has monetized its psychics and crystals — you can’t go 5 feet without seeing them. 34 JANUARY 2020
“We have water that is purifying. [But] we don’t have crystal conferences, we don’t have sacred water conferences today, we don’t have a Crystal Day.” Zigras, she said, is “doing something wonderful” by publicizing the state’s “crystal economy.” Consider that crystals were created 300 million years ago from dissolved silica that poured into fissures created by the folding of crustal plates that created the Ouachita Mountains. That the mineral is limited to the folds that trace a jagged oval surrounding Lake Ouachita and points west. That tens of millions of years had to pass before the mountains were eroded enough to reveal their rock crystal treasure. That the DNA of crystals — the subatomic pattern of silicon dioxide — can be seen in their outward form. That a sliver can generate the manmade silicon of Silicon Valley, the stuff of our phones, computers, our fiber optic cables. That’s amazing enough. ZIGRAS HAS PLANS beyond mining. He wants to open a museum featuring his own collection, which includes a giant piece of turquoise produced from the Mona Lisa Mine south of Mena (he has a lease on that mine from the federal Bureau of Land Management), Brazilian quartz streaked with threads of gold titanium
oxide, a 9th century Viking talisman, agates that he calls “cookie monsters” because of the mouth the layers create, and another agate whose swirls look like Donald Trump (“I had to buy that,” he said.). He has fossilized shells in which quartz crystals have formed. The shells would find a companion in the “Crystals in Art” show: Daniel Arsham’s “Blue Calcite Column of Footballs,” in which cracks in the Yves-Kleinblue footballs reveal crystallized interiors. Zigras’ shells embody past geological action; Arsham’s what the past could look like in the future. He sees educational opportunities he could create on his property, and says he has partners — anonymous — who are interested in various ventures. He is confounded by what he believes is indifference to the resource on the part of Hot Springs — which he said recently released promotional material that included the big blue glass rocks — and the state. “The state should jump on the bandwagon,” he said. Rock crystals, Zigras said, “are tired of being a tourist attraction. People need to learn the real value of these things. They’re really important. They power all our technology. “We don’t have a phone, computer or car, nothing without quartz … . You’re connected to them whether you like it or not. They literally run your life.”
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36 JANUARY 2020
NATIVES GUIDE 2020 Our 2020 Natives Guide is for people who like low prices, high art and shopping local. That should cover our readership, right? So we riff on thrifts, places to look (or just meander through) for clothes, books, furniture and other items for less coin. Looking for homemade samosas or pickled peaches or diced goat meat? Hawthorn berries? Halal spam? Seafood to go? Skip the chains and use our guide to get what you want at our corner markets. Weâ€™ve got your cheap eats, too, deals on meals all over Little Rock, from pizza to pork chops. Weâ€™ll also take you to places that feed the mind: galleries for viewing (and buying) art, museums to pick up a little scientific or historical knowledge. A little knowledge goes a long way; dive in.
JANUARY 2020 37
N A T I V E S G U I D E
FIVE DYNAMITE WEEKDAY LUNCHES IN LITTLE ROCK FOR UNDER $5. BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE
Little Rock has more stellar lunch spots than we deserve, and it’s entirely possible to escape most of them without busting your budget for the entire day. Here, we highlight a few steals for the noontime hour. Among them: a reliable River Market slice of pie, a tender torta and a Banh Mi that won’t break the bank.
, SWIFT, GENEROUS LE. RELIAB
GRAB A NA
FRIED PORK CHOP SANDWICH CHICKEN SHAWARMA SANDWICH For all the clamor and sizzle of a crowded Monday lunch visit to Layla’s Gyros, you might think the Greek diner had been closed all weekend (it’s open both Saturday and Sunday) and fans needed a fix. Behind the countertop, just a few feet away from a host of what seem to be regular patrons, cooks shave shards of beef and lamb from redhot autodoners, and the smell of garlic and halal ground beef wafts from the flat grill. For $4.99, you’ll get a Chicken Shawarma Sandwich with enough heft to forgo any accompaniments: sliced chicken marinated in lemon, garlic and a spice mix, packed into a pillowy pita with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and creamy tzatziki sauce. Or check out the crispy Falafel Sandwich counterpart — same price, same format, but stuffed generously with brawny chickpea croquettes. Either way, don’t plan to eat these Middle Eastern delights in the car or on a first date; Layla’s sandwiches are multi-napkin fare. Layla’s Gyro, $4.99. 9501 N. Rodney Parham Road, Suite 7 38 JANUARY 2020
Landing at K. Hall & Sons in the middle of a weekday brings a deluge to the senses. Coolers and freezers line the walls of the outsized bodega, packed with piles of fresh fruit, frozen ducks, frog legs in bulk and smoked sausages. Signs blanket the interior brick behind the cash register, administering warnings that range from “Watermelons: We guarantee ripeness, not sweetness” and “We cannot serve you if your drawers are showing. Please cover ’em up or leave the premises.” (And, when a holiday is imminent, stacks of vibrantly frosted, ready-toeat sheet cakes beckon, in flavors like caramel and strawberry lemonade.) Those looking for a weekday lunchtime bargain will want to take a spot in the line against the west wall and order up the Fried Pork Chop Sandwich. Between two slices of white bread slathered with mayo and mustard, you’ll get a bone-in pork chop fried to a golden crisp and topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion — hearty on its own, but still a bargain when paired with a bottle of soda from the iced beverage barrels nearby, or a few slugs from a half-gallon of HallBros2Go Wright Ave. Watermelon Lemonade.
On one end of the pizza snobbery spectrum: a slice of Hunt Brothers from the truck stop. On the other: a disc of carefully fermented dough topped with things like gorgonzola and pine nuts and prosciutto, then charred in a raging wood-fired oven. Somewhere in between those two extremes, there’s a golden mean: the ready-made lunch slice from Iriana’s. Reliably enormous and generously cheesed, it’s swiftly delivered to your table (or to a carryout paper plate wrapped in a modest brown paper sack) for a scant few bucks. The upsized supreme version — which Iriana’s calls “Clean the Floor” — will still run you under five bucks, and the plain cheese slice is $2.99. Technically, these are served weekdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., but they do tend to run out of the pre-fashioned slices when River Market foot traffic swells, so err on the earlier side.
K. Hall & Sons Produce, $3.29. 1900 Wright Ave.
Iriana’s, $3.29. 201 E. Markham St.
SLICE OF PEPPERONI OR MUSHROOM PIZZA
FOR A FEW PENNIES MORE
BANH MI THIT Here’s how Max Brantley, in a 2018 list of editor’s picks, described the Banh Mi Thit at Mike’s Cafe: “No slice of pate here. You choose beef, pork or chicken; each comes dipped in a sticky sauce. The meat is dressed with crunchy fresh and pickled vegetables, plenty of fresh cilantro and slices of fresh hot peppers (watch out!). They stuff a torpedoshaped bun that is served hot and crusty. They call it an appetizer, but it’s easily a lunch. And it costs THREE DOLLARS. That’s right. THREE DOLLARS.” It’s FOUR DOLLARS now, but still a bargain.
CHICKEN RICE BOWL
Mike’s Cafe, $4. 5501 Asher Ave.
OT SAUCE. ASK FOR H
Look for the banner bellowing “NO RAMEN, NO LIFE.” Inside the otherwise unremarkable storefront, you’ll find the lunch crowd at Aji Ramen bent over steaming bowls of broth, plucking bits of pork belly, seaweed and soft-boiled egg from within. Behind the bar in the compact kitchen there’s an exercise in efficiency — a trio of cooks working in silence against a backdrop of stacked pots, pans and bamboo steam baskets. Most of the menu at Aji skews under the $10 mark, but the Chicken Rice Bowl is a steal. For $6.50, you’ll get a generous pile of piping hot (and perfectly sticky) rice, blanketed by medallions of chicken tenderloin and a few steamed broccoli florets, all speckled with sesame seeds and drizzled with a sweet sauce that can, if you like, be tempered with a dusting from the canister of red pepper powder you’ll find within reach at every seat. (Bonus at Aji: clean, gender-neutral restroom facilities.) Aji Ramen Bar, $6.50. 301 N. Shackleford, Suite F3
THREE-PIECE CHICKEN WING DINNER Devotees of K. Hall & Sons (see Pork Chop Sandwich, previous) know we could easily have populated this cheap eats list entirely from the Wright Avenue mainstay’s menu. Another meal we have to mention is the chicken wing dinner. Requesting it means you’ll leave with a red-and-white cardboard lunch box bursting at its folded seams with starchy sustenance: a soft white roll and four fried potato wedges (or Jo-Jo logs, if you like) accompanying three enormous chicken wings rendered crackly by a deep fry and a subsequent stall under a heat lamp.
In a region swarmed by mediocre Mexican restaurants, it’s helpful to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and we count this tiny but vibrant strip-mall cantina as a favorite alongside the likes of Pinches Tacos and La Hacienda. Inside Taqueria El Palenque, towering stacks of corn tortillas from Little Rock treasure Tortilleria Brenda sit on stainless steel shelves in a clean, open kitchen, next to giant stock pots of meat simmering on the stove. For $5.99, you can score a soft bolillo roll stuffed with lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, jalapeno and avocado, served with salsa roja, salsa verde and your choice of protein: asada, chorizo, pork pastor, jamon, chicken, beef tongue, pork or barbacoa beef. Oh, and take heed: Taqueria El Palenque is closed on Mondays, but opens for lunch at a chipper 10 a.m. the rest of the week.
K. Hall & Sons Produce, $4.49. 1900 Wright Ave.
Taqueria El Palenque, $5.99. 9501 N. Rodney Parham Road
JANUARY 2020 39
N A T I V E S G U I D E
ART AND HISTORY AND SCIENCE VENUES. BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK
Museums are not just for rainy days, and art galleries aren’t just for shoppers. In Little Rock and North Little Rock, the historical offerings will let you ponder the lives of the first settlers of Little Rock; think of the struggles and successes of African Americans in Arkansas; or learn about the administration of the 42nd president of the United States. Submariners, former first ladies of Arkansas, deaf education, Third World farming. The Museum of Discovery tackles hard science. Retail galleries celebrate (not just sell) homegrown talents as well as introduce genius from abroad. It’s good for the mind to see such things. Check out the art, history and science museums, university galleries and retail galleries on this list, all offering fodder for the gray matter.
HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM
ART MUSEUMS, UNIVERSITY GALLERIES ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER The Arts Center is undergoing a $128 million expansion and rebuilding in MacArthur Park, so has temporarily moved operations to a former Walmart at 2510 Cantrell Road. It continues to operate its Museum School and will host occasional art exhibitions there until the new Arts Center opens in 2022. Examples of its contemporary craft can be found at branch libraries. arkansasartscenter.org
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BRAD CUSHMAN GALLERY / SMALL GALLERY / MANERS PAPPAS GALLERY These university galleries, located in the Windgate Art and Design Building and the Fine Arts building on the campus of UA Little Rock, feature works by both local and national artists, exhibitions that are sometimes designed with the curriculum in mind. ualr.edu/art/galleries.
GALLERIES AT LIBRARY SQUARE Three exhibition spaces show works by contemporary Arkansas artists and objects drawn from the collection of the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History and Art. The River Market facility, part of the Central Arkansas Library System, includes a retail gallery featuring the work by more than 100 Arkansas artists. robertslibrary.org
WINDGATE GALLERY This gallery in the Center for the Humanities and Arts at UA Pulaski Tech in North Little Rock features changing exhibitions of works by national and international artists. charts.uaptc.edu THE ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE The Rep is a theater, but finds a place here because of art exhibits in its lobby. therep.org
HISTORY AND SCIENCE MUSEUMS ARKANSAS INLAND MARITIME MUSEUM Docked at the North Shore Riverwalk Park are two Navy vessels: the tugboat Hoga, used in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the USS Razorback submarine, which was in Tokyo Bay during the formal surrender of Japan in 1945. The submarine is open for tours for those who can handle the 14-foot ladder that descends into it; otherwise, check out the exhibits in the museum on land. aimmuseum.org CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE VISITOR CENTER The visitor center records the historic desegregation of Central in 1957 by the courageous Little Rock Nine. Exhibits include such things as a remake of the dress that Elizabeth Eckford wore when she was taunted for her attempt to enter all-white Central, historical photographs and videos. nps.gov/chsc
ESSE MUSEUM AND STORE There’s no other museum in the country like this SoMa neighborhood space that features permanent and changing exhibits on women’s purses, accessories and other women’s interest artifacts. The shop features purses, jewelry, hats unique to Little Rock. facebook.com/ essepursemuseum HEIFER VILLAGE AND URBAN FARM Indoors, find interactive social science exhibits on the issues of hunger and poverty and learn how Heifer International works to help farmers in Third World countries become self-supporting. Outdoors, there are alpacas! And sheep, goats and chickens, in a learning area that demonstrates earth-friendly farming practices. heifer.org/visit-heifer HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM HAM is the best of both museum worlds: The 19th century structures on its grounds, including the 1826 Hinderliter Tavern, provide a glimpse into territorial Little Rock; inside find galleries devoted to fine art by Arkansas artists, as well as a significant collection of Bowie knives and the multi-gallery “We Walk in Two Worlds” permanent exhibition on the Caddo, Quapaw and Osage in Arkansas from early history to today. historicarkansas.org
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MACARTHUR MUSEUM OF ARKANSAS MILITARY HISTORY The 1840 Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal in MacArthur Park — so named because Gen. Douglas MacArthur was born there — houses the city’s military museum, where artifacts, photographs, weapons and other military items tell the story of Arkansas’s soldiers, from the Civil War to Vietnam. macarthurparklr. com/military-history-museum MOSAIC TEMPLARS CULTURAL CENTER Exhibits, many interactive, on African-American life in Little Rock and the segregated South are in the replicated headquarters of the Mosaic Templars of America National Headquarters, a fraternal society founded in Little Rock in 1883. The museum also collects and exhibits art made by African-American Arkansans and hosts special events in its thirdfloor ballroom. mosaictemplarscenter.com MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY This science museum for children offers hands-on exhibits on weather, human health, technology and more, along with tinkerfests and other special events targeted at all ages. It’s also the hub of the statewide Discovery Network for STEM learning funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. museumofdiscovery. org
42 JANUARY 2020
OLD STATE HOUSE MUSEUM This antebellum building served in the 19th century as the state Capitol and in the 20th as the backdrop for President Clinton’s announcement that he would run for the presidency in 1991 and his election night speech in 1992. Its mission, achieved with permanent and changing exhibitions and special events, is to interpret Arkansas history with its diverse collection of thousands of artifacts, from quilts made by African-American women to art pottery to battle flags. oldstatehouse.com WILLIAM J. CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER The center, which also includes the Clinton collection held by the National Archives, tells the story of the 42nd president’s eight years in office with displays on policy, interactive exhibits and a full-size replica of the Oval Office. It also hosts changing exhibitions, educational programming, lectures and has a restaurant, 42 Bar and Table. clintonlibrary.gov WITT STEPHENS JR. CENTRAL ARKANSAS NATURE CENTER The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission operates this center along the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock that features exhibits on the state’s natural divisions, from the mountains to the Delta, calls of wild animals and an aquarium with moving water featuring larger fishes. centralarkansasnaturecenter.com
ACANSA GALLERY ANDSTORE: This small North Little Rock venue hosts exhibitions by Arkansas artists, often addressing social concerns. facebook.com/ACANSAGallery.
HOUSE OF ART: AfricanAmerican visual and performing artists offer special events and weekly poetry readings at this Argenta space. facebook. com/thehouseofart
ART GROUP GALLERY: An artists’ collective operates this West Little Rock gallery featuring works in all media. artgrouparkansas.com
L&L BECK ART GALLERY: Changing monthly exhibits feature paintings and wood carvings by Louis Beck, and painting classes are offered in this Heights gallery. facebook. com/landlbeckartgallery
BARRY THOMAS FINE ART AND STUDIO: Impressionist artist Barry Thomas both exhibits his work and offers workshops at his Argenta gallery. barrythomas.us BOSWELL MOUROT FINE ART: This Heights neighborhood gallery hosts exhibitions by Arkansas and other contemporary American and international artists. boswellmourot.com CANTRELL GALLERY: The oldest operating gallery in Little Rock has a stable of dozens of Arkansas artists, and also does framing. cantrellgallery. com CHROMA GALLERY: Find art in all media, including works by owner Robert Reep, as well as art-inspired gifts in this Heights neighborhood gallery. Also offers custom framing. facebook.com/reep.show GALLERY 221: Fine art by local, regional and international artists and studio space on three floors of the Pyramid Place building downtown. facebook.com/gallery2212art HEARNE FINE ART: Hearne shows work, both contemporary and historical, by Arkansas and national African-American artists. The accompanying bookstore features titles by African-American authors and readings. Frame shop as well.
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LOCAL COLOUR GALLERY: This artists-collective-run gallery in the Heights features work by 29 Arkansas artists. localcolourgallery.com LOUIE’S UNIQUE FRAMING AND GALLERY: Louie’s, in the Riverdale area, shows local and international artists and offers framing. louiesframinggallery.com THE NEW GALLERY: As the name implies, the SoMa gallery is the latest gallery to open in Little Rock. It features month-long exhibits by emerging and mid-career artists. thenewgallery.net RED DOOR GALLERY: This longtime Park Hill gallery features work in all media with a changing stable of artists, and does custom framing. reddoorgalleryonline.com STEPHANO’S: Works by Arkansas’s greatest pop artist, Stephano, and others are featured in this Heights gallery. stephanostudios.com THE SHOWROOM: Located in West Little Rock, this gallery offers framing, arts and crafts and art restoration. facebook.com/theshowroominc THEA FOUNDATION: Thea, which provides scholarships, programming and art supplies across the state, features quarterly shows by emerging Arkansas artists in its Argenta gallery. theafoundation.org
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N A T I V E S G U I D E
THE THRILL OF THE THRIFT
A NON-EXHAUSTIVE GUIDE TO THRIFT SHOPPING IN LITTLE ROCK. BY REBEKAH HALL, STEPHANIE SMITTLE AND LESLIE PEACOCK
In these divisive times, it can be difficult to see what we have in common. But one American pleasure remains ubiquitous among our citizens: the singular, potent joy of a good bargain. Little Rock is full of resources for those who want to get more for their buck, so we present a non-comprehensive thrifting guide to aid in your pursuit of a good deal.
GONE ANTIQUIN’ Though the concept of an antique mall is relatively similar to a thrift store — both offer goods that are secondhand, old or both — the antique shop is where the bargain hunt and the vintage hunt can diverge, because “vintage” is not synonymous with “cheap.” Antique store offerings can range from low-priced, delightfully random items to a $500 mid-century modern credenza. So, while they might not be the best spots for those looking to spend a little and get a lot, Little Rock’s antique malls are each ripe with opportunities to fall newly in love with something old.
MIDTOWN VINTAGE MARKET
MIDTOWN VINTAGE MARKET 105 N. Rodney Parham Road 501-223-3600 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sun. This 22,000-square-foot warehouse at the intersection of Rodney Parham and West Markham manages to feel quite cozy despite its massive size, and its aisles are marked with street names from Little Rock’s historic Hillcrest neighborhood, which helps customers navigate the 140 vendor booths. The business also hosts prize raffles and serves snacks on busy weekends.
SOUTH MAIN CREATIVE 44 JANUARY 2020
FABULOUS FINDS ANTIQUE AND DECORATIVE MALL 2905 Cantrell Road 501-614-8181 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. Marked by a large, brightly painted sign shaped like a Grecian column, Fabulous Finds is the kind of antique mall whose perimeters seem nonexistent. The back of the store seems to move ever further into the earth as you walk the aisles, the vendor booths a maze, the jewelry counters frequent and glittering with rings and brooches long unmoored from their original owners. Set aside an afternoon if you plan on browsing every booth. SOUTH MAIN CREATIVE 1600 Main St. 501-414-8713 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. You know those dusty antique warehouses you find in strip malls on the outskirts of town? The ones that want to sell you the lampshade of your dreams for $1.50, but hide it beneath tangles of dubiously frayed extension cords and spare drip trays from 1996 George Foreman grills? South Main Creative is less like that and more like a meticulously governed museum of curious artifacts. Expect to find mid-century board games in mint condition, old-school Arkansas Razorback patches, antique Tarot cards, vintage woodworking tools and loads of other pristinely preserved miscellany.
TIMELESS TREASURES VINTAGE SHOP 7509 Cantrell Road, Suite 103-F 501-256-6082 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. While not an antique mall, this vintage shop tucked away behind Edwards Food Giant in the Tanglewood Shopping Center is filled to the brim with furniture, home decor, artwork, books, clothing and knick knacks. Peruse carefully and watch your elbows, lest you knock over one of the several displays of glass orbs, or fine crystal, or antique ceramics. The vintage clothing section at Timeless Treasures is also full of gems, especially its collection of dreamy vintage handbags.
WHEELIN’ AND DEALIN’ ON THE WEB There are plenty of bargains to be found in Little Rock without ever setting foot in a physical store. With the advent of the Marketplace function of Facebook, users can buy and sell all sorts of things, like furniture, cars and electronics, all through the social platform. People also often list yard, garage and estate sales through Marketplace, which is easier to navigate than the online classified advertisement hub Craigslist. With both these platforms and any other online marketplace tool, exercise caution in sharing personal information or arranging pick-ups of purchases. Bring a buddy and meet in public.
MISCELLANEOUS THRIFTING HABITAT FOR HUMANITY RESTORE: STORE AND DONATION CENTER 6700 S. University Ave. 501-771-9494 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Sat. If you’re looking to furnish a new apartment, start a new project or fix something around the house, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore location on South University has a huge selection of donated appliances, furniture, building supplies, tools and home decor. You’ll find dozens of couches, pallets of never-opened floor tile, lighting, bathtubs, cabinetry, office supplies and all manner of household goods and fixings, all for significantly slashed prices. ReStore is a great resource if you’re perennially fixing your home, or if you’re someone who just enjoys a good stroll through the random items people give away. THE BOOK WORM 6801 W. 12th St. 501-366-4044 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. The Book Worm allows customers to buy, sell and trade books at its neatly organized home on 12th Street. The books are shelved by genre, including a robust selection of books written in, about and for Arkansas, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. An especially interesting section of The Book Worm’s inventory is the store’s collection of rare and vintage books, which are labeled with the book’s printing date and are fairly priced, even for first edition printings. Some especially rare finds are labeled with “make an offer,” so you can haggle your own price. The Book Worm also has a large, wallet-friendly selection of children’s books, making it a great resource for stocking a child’s library or contributing to a school’s book drive. THE BOOKSTORE AT LIBRARY SQUARE 120 River Market Ave. 501-918-3093 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Thanks to the generosity — or simply a desire to make room for more stuff — the Central Arkansas Library System is overflowing in used books. Its Bookstore at Library Square has three floors of used books in every genre, including rare books and first editions. A bonus is the Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches eatery on the ground floor for the book-lover hungry for more than a bargain book. For those hungry for love stories, the bookstore also sells romance novels by the sack.
The Mighty Mississippi
HeART and Soul of the Southern Delta NOW ON DISPLAY! SEE VISUAL ART DEPICTING LIFE AND SCENES FROM THE DELTA! CARROLL CLOAR HENRY LINTON
CLEMENTINE HUNTER KEVIN COLE ELSIE FREUND MIKE DISFARMER
WALK INTO BC’S BLUES SHACK AND HEAR MUSIC FROM THE REGION! B.B. KING JAMES “SON” THOMAS MUDDY WATERS MAVIS STAPLES
BESSIE SMITH JOHNNY CASH
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS CENTENNIAL BANK LITTLE ROCK PORT AUTHORITY PINE BLUFF ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION Commission UNION PACIFIC FOUNDATION QUAPAW TRIBE OF OKLAHOMA CDI CONTRACTORS & CUSTOM MILLWORK
CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER
JANUARY 2020 45
LITTLE ROCK GOODWILL, MARKHAM PARK DRIVE
THE GOODWILL GUIDE In the absence of West Little Rock’s beloved Savers, which closed in 2017, Little Rock thrifters looking for a similar shopping experience must make do with the city’s four Goodwill stores. Though all four stores offer low prices, the experience — and the selection — is different at each location. LITTLE ROCK GOODWILL 16924 Cantrell Road 501-673-1550 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.
LITTLE ROCK GOODWILL 2904 S. University Ave. 501-568-5313 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.
The Goodwill store on Cantrell Road is sometimes heralded as the best Goodwill in the city, mostly because of its large size — it’s housed in the building of a short-lived CVS Pharmacy — and its placement in deep West Little Rock, which can result in a pool of high-end, name-brand items donated by residents of Chenal, The Ranch and other wealthy enclaves of the surrounding McMansion country. This Goodwill’s location may play a part in the quality of its inventory, but for the most part, it earns its reputation as the best branch in the city because it’s clean and well-organized with a sizable selection of clothing and shoes. The wares section — Goodwill’s catch-all term for home goods, kitchen items and toys — is also worth browsing, but the books, artwork and linens are usually slim pickings.
South Little Rock’s Goodwill store is located at the end of a long line of strip malls in the Broadmoor Shopping Center. Because this location is significantly smaller than its West Little Rock branch, the inventory is appropriately slimmer, though it consistently offers a great selection of shoes and purses in addition to several racks of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. This Goodwill location also offers a unique perk: After shopping, visitors need only travel across a few yards of asphalt to the store’s neighbor, the Shipley’s Donuts at 2900 S. University Ave. The rarely found and endearing outdoor seating in front of this Shipley’s makes it a perfect place to consume freshly fried baked goods, especially if you’re celebrating a particularly satisfying purchase.
GO FORTH AND SHOP The final and most important tool for thrift-shopping is the attitude of your approach. Walking into a thrift store in search of a very specific item often proves unsatisfying, as that exact piece may elude you; let the find come to you. Take your time browsing. Go alone if your friends are anxious shoppers. Go with people who understand that you need to take a few minutes at each rack, or go through multiple rounds of trying on clothes. And don’t let pressure to buy something eclipse the fun of looking — just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it needs to come home.
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LITTLE ROCK GOODWILL 109 Markham Park Drive 501-221-1018 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Career Center phone: 501-221-1748 Career Center Hours: 9 a.m.-5 pm. Mon.-Fri. What was once a bustling Circuit City electronics store in the ’90s is now home to what some affectionately call “the Goodwill by the Outback Steakhouse,” but don’t let this description undersell the Goodwill store on Markham. The behemoth, 33,000-square-foot neighbor to the home of the Bloomin’ Onion also houses a donation processing warehouse and a Career Center that hosts job fairs, computer classes and job training programs for the community. Because this Goodwill location is huge, it has a correspondingly vast inventory of clothing, shoes and accessories, and it also has what might be the largest selection of wares, linens, art, books, electronics and furniture of Little Rock’s three Goodwill retail stores (the fourth store is an outlet that sells by the pound).
LITTLE ROCK GOODWILL OUTLET CENTER 7400 Scott Hamilton Drive 501-372-5100 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Career Center phone: 501-372-5100 Career Center Hours: 9 a.m.-5 pm. Mon.-Fri. The Goodwill outlet is an entity unto itself because it’s more than just a store: Instead of seeing neatly organized racks of clothes, shoes, linens and wares, shoppers at the Outlet Center enter a cavernous room that’s filled with row after row of 6-foot-long blue bins, each piled deep, wide and high with layers of donated goods. To shop at the Goodwill Outlet is to literally hunt for a bargain: Clothes are not hung, linens are not folded, wares are not shelved. All the goods are thrown into the bins in the back warehouse, the bins are set on wheeled carts, and employees push the bins onto the sales floor, where the offerings are descended upon by frenzied hands. It’s the Wild West of thrift shopping, and one’s haul from the Outlet Center depends entirely upon one’s dedication to sifting through the bins. Most goods at the Outlet Center are sold by the pound: Clothing and wares at $1.39 per pound, linens for $0.75 per pound, luggage for $1 per pound. Books are sold for $0.50 each, or you can get five for $2.
THE LITTLE ROCK ZOO Local Conservation Making a Global Impact
he Little Rock Zoo has experienced a complete evolution since its beginnings in 1926. From a small park hosting only two animals, the Zoo is now a 33-acre campus caring for more than 500 animals and has become a living classroom. As the state’s only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), it demonstrates how local strides in conservation can make major changes in the world. The Zoo’s accreditation acknowledges that the animals in its care receive the highest standard for animal welfare, and that its practices are helping secure the survival of endangered species. The Zoo also participates in the Species Survival Plan®, founded in 1981 to promote the long-term survival of endangered animals through population management and conservation at AZA accredited zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages a specific species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. The SSP program’s animal experts, such as biologists, geneticists and zoologists, make breeding andcompanionshiprecommendations for animals to ensure their health and well-being. One of the SSP programs the Zoo participates in is for sloth bears. Native to the Indian subcontinent, sloth bears are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning one that is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances that are threatening its survival and reproduction improve. Their vulnerability is mainly caused by habitat loss or degradation of their home. They are also threatened because of poaching. Experts estimate fewer than 20,000 sloth bears survive in the wilds of the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka.
The Zoo is doing its part to ensure the protection of the sloth bear. A healthy female sloth bear cub was born at the Zoo in January 2019. Zaara, whose name means “bright as the dawn” in Hindi, was the only survivor of a two-cub birth and the only other sloth bear born in an AZA-accredited zoo in North America during 2019. It is hard to believe this healthy and thriving bear was once bottle-fed every 2 to 3 hours. Today, Zaara is on her way to being a healthy, strong adult bear; her future is certainly bright as the dawn! In addition to our work with sloth bears at home, the Little Rock Zoo is also partnering with Wildlife
for orangutans. The orangutan SSP is a program that cooperatively manages orangutan species in AZA zoos to further conservation goals. Along with the SSP program for orangutans, the Zoo is also in the AZA SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program for orangutans, which combines the collective strength of AZA organizations to help save this species in the wild. The orangutan, which is native to Borneo, is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, meaning there is a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future. Their vulnerability is mainly caused by habitat loss and fragmentation of their home. Between an estimated 45,000 and 69,000 Northwest Bornean orangutans remain in the wild. As a result of the great care and hard work of Zoo staff in 2019, the Zoo proudly announced another successful birth of healthy female animal, this time an orangutan infant! Kasih, whose name means “love” in Malay, was born in July. The Little Rock Zoo continues to strengthen its knowledge base, skill and expertise in conservation efforts and animal care. We are proud to be an institution that the local community can say is making a visible impact and difference for animals and nature in our world. Our efforts and gains in animal care and conservation are an active measurement of our commitment to species longevity. Our mission — to create engaging experiences that inspire people to value and conserve our natural world — begins with the excellent standard of care we provide to our animals. Come visit us at the Little Rock Zoo so you, too, can become engaged in our work and do your part to conserve our natural world. n ORANGUTAN FAMILY AT THE LITTLE ROCK ZOO BY KAREN CASTER
S.O.S, a non-governmental organization in India credited with saving the sloth bear in the wild. Through private gifts with the Arkansas Zoological Foundation, the Zoo was able to send two keepers to India this year to assist Wildlife S.O.S. efforts to improve animal care at its sloth bear wildlife preserve. The Zoo also educates the public about the important work Wildlife S.O.S. does every day to save wild sloth bears. Another SSP program the Zoo plays a part in is
littlerockzoo.com • 501.661.7200 • 1 Zoo Drive • Little Rock, AR 72205
N A T I V E S G U I D E
GREAT GROCERS SHOP LOCAL.
BY REBEKAH HALL, STEPHANIE SMITTLE, LESLIE PEACOCK AND LINDSEY MILLAR
It’s hard, especially if you have a family and you cook, to avoid the big, national chains, but if that’s your only shopping stop, you’re missing out. Little Rock is rich with ethnic and locally owned specialty grocery stores. Here’s our list of essential stops.
HEIGHTS CORNER MARKET
HEIGHTS CORNER MARKET
7414 Baseline Road 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. 569-9394
9112 N. Rodney Parham Road, No. 102. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. 221-9977
5018 Kavanaugh Blvd. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun. 663-4152
The theme here is one-stop shopping. Grab the essentials from the grocery: queso blanco from the dairy case; a big bottle of Tapatio hot sauce; a handful of peppers from the bulk bin (take your pick: chile puya, guajillo, ancho, chipotle, arbol, pasilla mulato, morita, pequin); cheap avocados and limes from the ample produce section; a pack of Brenda’s Tortillas, made fresh daily on 65th Street. Then amble a few feet to the butcher counter where you’ll find everything from cabeza (cow head meat) to camarones (shrimp). Next, grab a tray and tongs and, without thinking too hard, pile on as many different flaky, puffy, sugary, fruit-filled pastries and cookies as you can; they’ll likely cost you less than $5. Finally, because grocery shopping always inspires hunger, head to the adjacent restaurant, where you’ll find some of the finest tacos and burritos around.
Tucked between Drug Emporium and a clothing store in the Treasure Hill area, you’ll find a storefront labeled “Asian Groceries.” Unlike Sam’s Oriental or Mr. Chen’s Oriental Supermarket, though, the descriptor “Asian” here has a decidedly Southern Asian bent — as in, Indian. If you get there before 5 p.m., you can grab a Spinach Cheese Masala Dosa (stuffed rice flour crepes) from the Veggi Deli snack counter near the back, or a Vegetable Samosa stuffed with peas and potatoes. Nearby, the produce and deli shelves offer diced goat meat, daikon radishes the size of your forearm, eggplants in several shapes and sizes, dates, coconuts, “water buffalo and cow milk butter,” okra and taro root. Frozen goods abound, too — vacuum-packed mango pulp, curried TV dinners and a host of tempting ice cream flavors like anjeer (fig) and rose. Otherwise, the shelves are stocked with inexpensive Indian pantry staples you’re unlikely to find at your big box grocery stores: roti batter mix, bulk bags of jasmine rice, cardamom chai tea bags, 4-pound bags of sesame seeds, lotions and skin care creams, puja cloths for home prayer altars, single-serving packets of masala-flavored penne pasta, dried mung beans and red lentils, telescope-shaped canisters of a chicken luncheon loaf called “Zwan” (a halal version of Spam) and Bombay milk bread.
There has been a grocery store in the Tudor-style 1924 building at 5018 Kavanaugh Blvd. for decades, serving Little Rock’s upper-crustier types in what was once called the silk-stocking ward, close to the Country Club of Little Rock. In 2017, the venerable occupant, Terry’s Finer Foods, gave way to new owners, Eric and Lou Anne Herget, and a new name, but kept the silk stockings on. HCM now focuses on specialty and locally made items, including in-house baked fudge and breads. Frontier organic herbs sold in bulk line one wall; there, find such items as Hawthorne berries and nettle leaf along with other more common herbs and spices. The store’s produce is always top-notch; in summer it hauls in 200 pounds of homegrown tomatoes a week, along with Arkansas peaches and strawberries and greens. Available now: pickled peaches, a throwback to mid-20th century dining tables. Other healthy foods include Bitchin’ Sauce almond hummus and locally made granola. Local but not in the organic isle: North Little Rock’s Popcorn Spot’s loaded potato popcorn. The Corner Market is perhaps most famous for its meats; butcher Nathan Horn is the go-to for peppered hams. Rabbit Ridge Farms in Bee Branch is HCM’s supplier of choice cuts of pork, beef and poultry. There’s also hot soup to go in the market, or a sit-down restaurant in the adjacent Walter’s Green Room, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday brunch.
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JANUARY M USIC IN A RGENTA ! Jan 13: Ed Petersen
HAM MARKET 2807 Kavanaugh Blvd. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. 671-6328 HAM has come full circle. When Brandon and Tara Brown opened Hillcrest Artisan Meats in 2011, Little Rock immediately embraced the charcuterie and its deli sandwiches. Business boomed, but the Browns got burned out running the small business and sold to The Pantry’s Tomas Bohm in late 2016. Bohm changed the business’ name to District Fare, renovated the space and repositioned it as more of a deli. Then in 2018, he sold to local restaurateur Daniel Bryant, who promptly hired the Browns to run it and Hill Station, a restaurant in the former home of the Helmich garage on Kavanaugh slated to open early in 2020. Now known as HAM Market, the space has once again been remodeled and the business has been slightly reimagined: Beloved sandwiches, like the Georgie (just butter and ham on a ciabatta) and the H.A.M. (ham, mortadella, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, aioli and Dijon mustard on ciabatta), are now among a daily slate of premade options available to grab-and-go, along with various soups, dips, bone broth and the best meatballs you’ve ever tried. Brown and Co. also regularly offer lasagna, whole roasted chickens and macaroni and cheese for take-home dinners. The meat case always has an assortment of delicious, house-made sausages, along with cuts of meat you don’t often see elsewhere, like hanger steaks, as well as house-cured items like duck ham. You can also find a small selection of gourmet groceries: olives, pasta, sauces and the like.
w w w . j a z za t t h e j o i n t . o rg
Jan 16: Alberto Lombardi w w w . a rg e n ta a c o u s t i c . c o m
Contact: Steve Davison
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STOREWIDE SALE NOW! MASSIVE REDUCTIONS.
JANUARY 2020 49
SAM’S ORIENTAL STORE
SAM’S ORIENTAL STORE 3704 S. University Ave. 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 562-2720 Little Rock is home to a number of East and Southeast Asian grocery stores, but Sam’s is the undisputed king. The relatively small shop in a strip mall near the campus of UA Little Rock is teeming with essential items from Asia and other far-flung cultures. (Earlier this year we stood in line with an African priest who had driven several hours for fufu powder.) For folks merely dabbling in Asian cooking, you’ll find dozens of varieties of noodles and rice, bulk garlic and ginger root, fresh tofu, miso, tom yum paste, half an aisle of tea and giant bottles of Sriracha, hoisin, fish and soy sauce. The scene is especially lively on Saturday morning when owner Sam Choi gets his weekly shipment of produce and other goods in from Dallas. Then, you’ll also find delicious house-made veggie kimbap (Korea’s version of sushi) and jap chae (glass noodles). Sam’s also makes its own excellent kimchi, available in various sizes. Important: You can only pay by check or cash here.
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STRATTON’S MARKET 405 E. Third St. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 791-6700 Folks who live in downtown’s River Market district have to travel several blocks to get to a supermarket. But they don’t have to go far to get essentials, like bread and milk and cereal and coffee and tea. Stratton’s Market, next door to Dugan’s Pub, fills the niche, and does it well with lots of local labels and specialty items. Low on breakfast supplies? There’s Mylo’s coffee, McCann Irish oatmeal, Bonne Maman jams, Petit Jean hams and bacon and cheese, Richard’s honey from El Dorado, raw honey from Willow’s Apiary in Scott, Ozark Health Bread from Rogers, and, yes, Cheerios and boxed cereals. Party time? Find local salsas Aunt Bee’s from Lonoke, Robbi’s from North Little Rock and Ms. Tonya’s from Fordyce as well as Velveeta in stock. But the moneymaker at Stratton’s is its wine selection, the best downtown. You can get a pricy bottle of Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon or a four-pack of Kahlua Cold Brew Martini; you can also tell Tasha Stratton what you want and she’ll order it for you. Beers and spirits are there, too.
EDWARDS FOOD GIANT AND CASH SAVER Various locations edwardsfoodgiant.com and edwardscashsaver.com. Unlike the other spots on our list, Edwards Food Giant and Cash Saver are full-service supermarkets. We’re including them here because they’re locally owned and also very good grocery stores. There are four Food Giants in Little Rock, including a popular one at 7507 Cantrell Road, and a Cash Saver in Little Rock (1701 Main St.) and North Little Rock (3801 Camp Robinson Road). Food Giant is large, clean and full of helpful employees who’ll offer to carry out your groceries to your car. The store bills itself as “The Meat People,” and the selection is truly something to behold. Plump rows of sausages and pink chunks of pork and beef line the meat case, and the butcher will select the specific cut of meat for your recipe. There’s also always a good selection of local items, including, during the summer, heirloom tomatoes from Arkansas Times Publisher Alan Leveritt’s farm. To shop at Edwards Cash Saver is to do exactly what the grocery store’s name suggests: save money on your grocery bill, even if you just turn around and spend the dollars you saved on a lunch plate from the store’s popular hot deli counter. Edwards Cash Saver is a “cost plus food outlet,” which means all items are priced at the cost the store pays to source and stock the product. An additional 10 percent is then added to each item at checkout, often resulting in prices far lower than other grocery stores. It’s undoubtedly the cheapest place in town to buy beer, both from local breweries and other domestic and imported beers.
K. HALL & SONS
701 S. MAIN ST., PINE BLUFF
1900 Wright Ave. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun. Diehard fans build a line around the perimeter for the specials at K. Hall’s Saturday seafood boil, but it’s impossible to wait in the deli line without noticing something else the Wright Avenue spot consistently does well: just being a grocery store. The bundles of collards, turnip and mustard greens heaped on the store counters are so good they tend to sell out around the holidays, and should you need to skip the prep step, they’re also available in cooked/takeout form in the cooler near the deli counter, with pork-less options. At K. Hall, sweet potatoes come in two size categories, a bushel of raw peanuts sits at the ready, and there’s a shelf with no fewer than seven varieties of Brim’s chicharrones. You’ll find sheet cakes in flavors like red velvet, lemon and German chocolate; dairy staples; small tubs of house-made chicken salad, pralines and peanut brittle to accent your lunch; and a small selection of canned and dry goods. Beside the lunch deli counter, you’ll see a display case with the daily cuts of meat: beef shoulder steaks, whole Petit Jean hams, turkey necks and a variety of cold cuts. The real grocery wild card, though? Take a look in the freezer, where you’ll find frozen alligator, pork jowl, hot water cornbread discs, pickled pork, oxtails, pig’s feet, rabbit, chitlins, frog legs, andouille, crawfish, hot beef patties, coconut shrimp and bulk bags of purple hulls, pintos and speckled butter beans.
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For students seeking to make their way in the world to seniors seeking a place to retire, Central Arkansas has services for people at all stages of life. These Natives Guide lists include resources in education, providers of health care, financial consultation and real estate.
LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT
ARTS & SCIENCE CENTER FOR SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS
The Arts & Science Center in Pine Bluff serves as a cultural crossroad, engaging, educating, and entertaining through the arts and sciences. As an American Alliance of Museums accredited institution, we strive to provide the highest standards in museum education. Year-round programming includes a rotating schedule of art and science exhibitions, hands-on family programs on the 2nd Saturday of the month, weekly after-school STEAM activities, weekend youth theater tinkering workshops, the CrEATe Lab culinary series, summer camps, creative construction studio for pre-K and up, adult art engagement classes, documentary film screenings, theater productions, monthly live music and meet-the-curator lecture series. Gallery admission, hands-on family programming, school field trips and after-school programming is free. To learn more, visit www.asc701.org.
52 JANUARY 2020
Find out what’s NEW and EXCITING in the Little Rock School District! LRSD offers a variety of educational opportunities to meet your child’s needs. If you are looking for classrooms that are interesting, innovative and rigorous, be sure to check out the Little Rock School District! Our mission is to equip students with skills and knowledge to realize aspirations, think critically and independently, learn continuously and become productive citizens. We do this through open access to a diverse, innovative and challenging curriculum in a secure environment. Accomplishments to celebrate: • Graduation rates up from 74 percent to 82 percent • 16 National Merit Semifinalists and three National Hispanic Scholars for 2019 • 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year • $23 million in scholarships • $27.2 million in volunteer support • $150,000 grant for new health clinic • LR Southwest High School to open in 2020 • Top-rated pre-K/early childhood centers • Career education expansion in the medical program, police and fire academies
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The Catholic High School Difference Annual Open House Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 12:30 - 2:30 PM
Integrity • Duty • Faith
You’re invited to learn about the Catholic High tradition of achievement and how 90 years of brotherhood can change lives. Now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year.
Freshman Entrance Exam Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
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Catholic High School for Boys is a college preparatory school, educating more than 700 students in grades 9-12 each year. The school, which is celebrating 90 years of brotherhood, is committed to instilling the values of integrity, duty and faith into its students by creating a tradition of achievement in academics, Class 7A sports, more than 30 clubs, an award-winning Marine JROTC program and community leadership. Many of Catholic High’s graduates are influencers in the state and beyond, including hundreds of politicians (including a current U.S. representative), CEOs, entrepreneurs, physicians, lawyers, journalists, military officers and others. More importantly, Catholic High graduates are committed fathers, husbands and community leaders. The school’s tuition is kept affordable by design so that students of all walks of life can experience the Catholic High difference. Each year, Catholic High holds its open house in January, with freshmen entrance exams held in February. Learn more at lrchs.org.
UA PULASKI TECH
UA Pulaski Technical College provides access to high-quality education that enables individuals to develop to their fullest potential. Through university-transfer curriculum, workforce training and economic development initiatives in business and industry, UA Pulaski Tech provides its students opportunities to get a competitive edge in today’s job market. The curriculum includes programs in allied health and human services, aerospace technology, business, culinary arts, information technology and technical sciences, as well as continuing education and community services, and awards associate of art and associate of science degrees. UA Pulaski Tech is also affordable, with tuition priced at just $134 per credit hour for instate residents. For more information, see www. uaptc.edu. 54 JANUARY 2020
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PINNACLE POINTE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System offers a full continuum of health care services to meet the needs of children and families throughout the state of Arkansas. The hospital is Arkansas’s largest inpatient facility for children and adolescents ages 5-17 who find themselves struggling with the pressures often experienced by today’s youths. In addition to our inpatient facility, our system also brings hope and healing to families through our statewide continuum of compassionate services through programs such as partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, school-based mental health programs and traditional outpatient. Pinnacle Pointe’s 15 outpatient clinic sites are spread throughout the state to provide care in the local communities we serve. Individualized mental health treatment is offered in a secure and nurturing environment, and Pinnacle Pointe’s staff is dedicated to helping children, adolescents and families find their path to living happier lives. Pinnacle Pointe Hospital offers no-cost assessments 24 hours a day, seven days a week to children and adolescents who are struggling with emotional or behavioral issues. For more information, visit pinnaclepointehospital. com or call 501-223-3322 or toll-free at 1-800-880-3322.
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THE BRIDGEWAY HOSPITAL
The landscape of Arkansas is adorned with mountains and caves, rivers and streams, and spacious skies and foliage as far as the eye can see. It’s no wonder that Arkansas is known as The Natural State. And each season is painted by the trees that beautify our state. When it comes to trees, most of our attention is focused upon what grows above ground. That is, after all, the part of the tree we actually see. Yet, it’s only half of the story as what grows below ground — the roots— is just as important. Over 35 years ago, Arkansans experienced a seminal moment in behavioral health care when The BridgeWay was established as the first free-standing psychiatric hospital in the state. What began as a seedling is now a thriving tree rooted throughout the health care system. The BridgeWay is located between Interstates 40 and 430, in the woods of the Ouachita Mountains and near the banks of the Arkansas River, affording our patients with breathtaking views. In 1983, the facility comprised 60 beds and served children, adolescents and adults of all ages through inpatient hospitalization. Since then, the hospital has branched out, growing along with the needs of Arkansans to include 127 inpatient beds, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient services for people of all ages. With an empathetic approach toward providing quality patient care, The BridgeWay has been the source of strength for Arkansans crossing from unsteady soil to solid ground. Today we offer a continuum of care that is safe, secure and serene. To learn more about our programs and services, call 800-245-0011.
PET CREMATION SERVICES OF ARKANSAS
When we think about our pet’s health, we often think about annual vet visits, flea protection and heartworm prevention. These things are always important to make sure that furry friends stay happy and healthy. While we have enjoyed the time we have spent together, unfortunately the day will come when that life will come to an end. When faced with the difficulty of saying goodbye to our loved pet, we must make the decision of where our pet’s final resting place will be. One of the most honorable ways to pay respect to your pet is through pet cremation. Pet Cremation Services of Arkansas has been providing services to Arkansas families since 1995. Whether it’s a standard, wood or metal urn or a pawprint plaque, Pet Cremation Services can provide the perfect means to memorialize your pet. Your best friend has always been there by your side, so when the time comes to say goodbye, we invite you to visit us at www.petcremationsar.com or talk to your vet for more information.
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With 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the United States, the needs of seniors are constantly changing. That’s why CareLink services have been evolving to help older people retain the independence they need to age in place and provide peace of mind to their families for 40 years. Headquartered in North Little Rock since 1979, CareLink provides resources for older people and their families to help them overcome the challenges of aging. From Meals on Wheels to HomeCare to fitness and wellness classes, Central Arkansas’s Area Agency on Aging connects with the older community when and where they need it most. For more information about CareLink services and how they help the aging community live out the best years of their lives in the comfort of their homes, call 501-372-5300 or visit CareLink.org.
As a traditional pharmacy, we take care of all of your prescription needs, including delivery. We accept all major insurance coverage and Medicare Part D plans. As a neighborhood gift shop, we have something for everyone. We even throw in free gift wrapping! So after you drop off your prescription, browse for great gifts you won’t find anywhere else.
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Taking the Next Step... INPATIENT CARE
ADULT OUTPATIENT PROGRAMS
Detox & Acute Psychiatric Care Inpatient Hospitalization for Adults, Adolescents, and Children
2-4 Week Partial Hospitalization (PHP) & Intensive Outpatient (IOP) • Insurance/Private Pay • Monday-Friday • PHP 9:00am-2:30pm • IOP 9:00am -12:00 noon • Intensive Daily Treatment • PHP: 5 Hours of Therapy Sessions Daily • IOP: 3 Hours in Session Daily • Mobile Assessments Available • Medication Management • Lunch & Refreshments Provided • Guided Journaling • Local Transportation Available • Aftercare Appointments Arranged • Relapse Prevention & Support
• No Cost Confidential Assessments • 24/7 Emergency Admissions • Mobile Assessments Available • Psychiatric Evaluation & Physician Supervised Stabilization • Detox/Dual Diagnosis Program • Counseling & Education • 4 Group Sessions per Day • On Site AA/NA Support • Friend & Family Visitation • Aftercare Planning
www.rivendellofarkansas.com Fax: 501-672-7379 - 100 Rivendell Dr. - Benton, AR 72019
TAKE A STAND! Buy The Bumper Sticker! Tell Your Immigrant Neighbors “Welcome to Arkansas!”
et our hardworking immigrant neighbors know that you are glad they’re here. The headlines are filled with hate but you can take a stand and make a new Arkansan feel a little more at home. Profits from our Bienvenidos! (Welcome!) bumper sticker go to Arkansas United, Arkansas’s most effective grass roots immigrant rights organization.
$6 covers costs and postage. 100% of anything above that goes directly to Arkansas United ___$6 enclosed ___$20 enclosed ___$Other enclosed and thank-you!
Please send check to: Arkansas Times Attn. Welcome Project 201 E. Markham, Ste 200 Little Rock, AR 72201 Or go online to: arktimes.com/bienvenidos
Give what you can, stick it on your bumper and make someone’s day! A SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT OF THE ARKANSAS TIMES
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METHODIST FAMILY HEALTH
For 120 years, Methodist Family Health has made a significant impact addressing the trauma in the lives of the Arkansas children and families we serve. Through community contributions of time, funds and prayer, the abandoned, abused and neglected children and adolescents throughout our continuum of care understand — many for the first time — their value as human beings. This legacy began in 1899, when the Methodist Episcopal Church South established the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage in Little Rock. In the next 12 decades, Methodist Family Health expanded to a statewide continuum of care for children and their families struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Today, we continue our mission of providing the best possible care to those who may need our help through our behavioral hospital, psychiatric residential treatment centers, therapeutic group homes, outpatient communityand school-based counseling clinics, the Kaleidoscope Grief Center for children and their loved ones dealing with the loss of a loved one, and therapeutic day treatment programs, the Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (Arkansas CARES) and the Methodist Family Health Foundation. If you or someone you love is struggling, contact us at Info@MethodistFamily.org or visit methodistfamily.org.
UAMS STATEWIDE HEALTH SYSTEM
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently organized all of its clinical enterprises in Little Rock and around the state under the UAMS Health umbrella. “UAMS is more than a hospital, a university and cutting-edge research,” Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, said. “We are a health system — one that serves all of the state.” UAMS Health includes the UAMS Medical Center, neighborhood clinics, orthopaedic clinics, women’s clinics, the Family Medical Centers at UAMS regional sites, digital health clinics and the affiliated clinics that UAMS operates in conjunction with other health care providers. As a state-supported health sciences university offering unique specialty care and programs, UAMS serves residents in every county of Arkansas. What started with one campus in Little Rock in 1879 has evolved into a multicampus clinical delivery system that includes regional campuses strategically placed across the state with plans to add more, Patterson said. “We are increasing our focus on digital health,” he said. “Programs pioneered by our Institute for Digital Health & Innovation are allowing for physician-to-physician consults as well as patients to communicate with physicians without leaving home.” UAMS, part of the University of Arkansas System, is the parent institution of UAMS Health.
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In the past most health care innovation focused on developing new medical devices, diagnostic procedures or drug therapies; areas in which the U.S. has excelled. While this has resulted in impressive results, this focus has been relatively narrow. In the future, experts agree innovation in health care needs to produce exponential change in the delivery of services to the patient population, which will in turn create improvement in population health and wellness and have a direct impact on local economies. Preparing to open its current practice, Premier Gastroenterology identified two primary needs requiring an innovative approach: a need to improve community access to health care and the need for health care/community integration, resulting in an economic benefit to the local community. Premier recently completed a $35 million project to convert a vacant Kmart location into a state-of-the-art medical plaza on Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock’s West Village Business District that will address those needs. The building space is approximately 80,000 square feet and houses Premier’s technologically advanced, ambulatory surgery center and its medical clinic, which will utilize roughly the same amount of space. From convenient parking to surrounding amenities, the facility addresses the access and community integration issue and is projected to result in over $1 million in retail spending in the area, which will benefit the economy of West Little Rock. By integrating multiple specialties and services into the new medical plaza, Premier creates efficiencies and improves the patient experience. Additionally, in a new location, Premier has the luxury of using an efficient new clinical pod design that will improve efficiency of the clinical staff, enabling patients to spend a shorter amount of time in the exam room. For more information, call 501-747-2828 or visit pgalr.com.
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HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE
Hot Springs Village is a world of unlimited outdoor adventure and natural splendor just outside the national park and city of Hot Springs. As the largest gated community in the United States, the Village combines the best of the natural world with a rich culture of arts, entertainment, food and recreation. Hot Springs Village offers nine golf courses, 12 lakes, an indoor pool, fitness center, 13 tennis courts, 30 miles of nature trails, 14 pickleball courts, two full-service marinas and hundreds of clubs and activities in our 26,000-acre community. For more information and to book a Discover Package, call 501-922-5560 or visit explorethevillage.com.
FLAKE & KELLY
Downtown Little Rock is thriving and we see no signs of that slowing down anytime soon. Whether you’re looking for real estate with a past, like the historic Gracie Mansion Apartments, or prefer an industrial, open space, like Rock Street Lofts, downtown has the space for you. The best part of living downtown is that it’s never boring. With art galleries, restaurants and unique retail shops lining the streets, you’re guaranteed to find something to do. With all these options, you’re sure to bump into a friend or maybe make a new one. For more information, call 501-375-3200.
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Block, Beer & Bourbon - and Burgundy!
7:00-9:30 p.m. Saturday, January 11, 2020 Albert Pike Masonic Center 712 Scott Street Music by Rodney Block and The Rodney Block Collective Food from The Pantry and bourbon, beer and Burgundy tastings from O’Looney’s Presented by
O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor
Jay Barth & Chuck Cliett Music Sponsor Lounge Table Sponsors First National Bank Mary and Jim Wohlleb The Design Group Kanga the Dog in Honor of John A. Krebs, H. Holmes Distinguished Professor of Music
The year 2020 brings exciting change to the Riverdale area of Little Rock as we welcome the Centennial Bank Commerce Center. The commerce center, to be located on Rebsamen Park Road in Little Rock, will be innovative in look and function. The three-story building will be approximately 24,000 square feet with space available for lease on the third floor. The commerce center will feature modern concepts with business functionality. Different facets of the bank will gather under the same roof to offer a broad range of financial products to suit individual customers’ needs. Centennial has long been known for giving back to the communities in which it serves. To continue that mission, the board room, which will feature advanced audio-visual equipment, will also serve as a community room that the bank will allow community groups and nonprofits to reserve both during and outside of business hours based on availability and purpose. Bicyclists and walkers will be able to easily access the center because of its proximity to the River Trail. The center will feature covered walkways surrounding the building so customers may access the building and stay dry on rainy days. An interactive teller machine, or ITM, will be available for customers in the vestibule of the building. Other innovations and customer-friendly features will be revealed as the project begins. The architecture of the Centennial Bank Commerce Center building draws inspiration from the eclectic Riverdale neighborhood. The exterior blends exposed structural columns with brick masonry and slate panels as a response to the surrounding traditional, modern and industrial buildings. A glass stairwell on the building’s corner will visually welcome both customers and the surrounding neighborhood. Groundbreaking on the new state-of-the-art Centennial Bank Commerce Center is anticipated for February 2020. The center is expected to open in the spring of 2021. The Riverdale branch of Centennial Bank, which has had a strong presence for the last 10 years, has rocketed to No. 1 in market share in the thriving Riverdale area. The branch initiated the commerce center project to give back to the community. This is no real surprise considering the tenured bankers who work there. Centennial Bank was founded in 1999 by John W. Allison. The bank provides a broad range of commercial and retail banking and related financial services to businesses, investors, individuals and municipalities. Centennial Bank has locations in Arkansas, Florida, Alabama and New York. Home Bancshares integrated all charters and branches under the brand “Centennial Bank” in 2008 and 2009.
Tickets: events.kuar.org 60 JANUARY 2020
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THANK YOU! FOR VOTING US BEST NEW BAR AND BEST BARTENDER, KEVIS SMITH.
KEVIS SMITH, ATLAS BARTENDER (left), TONY POE, ATLAS OWNER (right),
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CENTRAL ARKANSAS LIBRARY SYSTEM
The Central Arkansas Library System provides resources and services to inspire discovery, learning and cultural expression. In the past 20 years, CALS has built state-of-theart branch libraries across Little Rock, bringing its patrons easy access to books, the internet, classes, meeting rooms, storytimes and other programs, in facilities staffed with helpful librarians. Technology has multiplied our offerings and brought CALS’ resources even closer. Patrons can read ebooks from our digital library on their computer or mobile device anywhere, anytime; CALS also offers students and researchers access to dozens of databases. To encourage civic engagement and education, CALS in 2018 partnered with schools to bring digital-access Tech Cards to over 40,000 students. These Tech Cards allow students free access to our digital resources from any digital device, so all students can read, research or study wherever they are whether or not they or their parents have a standard library card. Partner school districts include Little Rock, Pulaski County, Jacksonville North Pulaski, Perryville, East End, Pulaski Academy, Episcopal Collegiate, Christ the King, Quest Academy, eStem Public Charter and others.
BEST MEXICAN FOOD AROUND THE STATE (HOT SPRINGS) BEST MEXICAN FOOD (LITTLE ROCK)
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GREEN MEANS GO!
The untold true story of the Witches of Oz
Now Thru January 19 ROBINSON PERFORMANCE HALL HURRY FOR THE BEST SEATS 501-244-8800 • Ticketmaster.com
natives guide: LITTLE ROCK FROM THE OUTSIDE IN
Outside Magazine — the bible of paddlers, climbers, hikers, campers and more — named Little Rock one of its “12 Best Places to Live in 2019,” calling it “a hidden gem.” Huh. Now, this does NOT mean that Outside overlooked one of only 13 Presidential Libraries in the country (the Clinton Center); one of only three purse museums in the world (Esse Purse Museum); the only public high school operating inside a National Park (Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, scene of the pivotal 1957 integration showdown); a remarkably sophisticated restaurant scene with a deliciously heavy emphasis on local ingredients; and a craft beer and adult beverage scene that stays hopping late into the night. But it DOES mean that they appreciate that “Little Rock, smack-dab in the state’s geographic center, is an undiscovered multisport oasis.” That oasis includes more than 62 city parks and recreational areas; the Big Dam Bridge — the longest bridge in the country designed exclusively for bicyclists and pedestrians; Rattlesnake Ridge, an innovative public-private partnership that offers nearly 400 acres of hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and nature-gazing just minutes from downtown; the 1,800-acre Fourche Creek basin, where you’ll find one of America’s largest urban wetlands, with 300-year-old cypress trees that host some 188 species of birds, all within the heart of the city. Now, if you’d rather spend your off hours indoors, Little Rock has a host of museums, galleries and inside activities to keep you occupied. The Museum of Discovery comes to mind: Arkansas’s oldest museum, MOD is the state’s premier science and technology center, with a mission to ignite and fuel a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math through dynamic, interactive experiences. Or maybe you’d like to practice axe-throwing. Or visit the first legal distillery in Arkansas since Prohibition (amazing cocktails here, of course). The thing is, Little Rock is happening … in so many ways and on so many levels. Indoors and out. So check us out. And for the full download on what to do and where to go, visit LittleRock.com. —Bill Fitzgerald Vice President Marketing and Communications Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
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RIVERDALE 10 VIP CINEMA BEST MOVIE THEATER 2016 2017 2018 2019 Full Food Menu Serving Beer & Wine Tickets & Gift Cards available online Luxury Leather Electric Recliners with tables in all auditoriums Reserved Seating Ticket Kiosks in Lobby for your convenience
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Pinnacle Mountain State Park PHOTO COURTESY ARKANSAS STATE PARKS
Jackfork Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Award-winning restaurants. A thriving craft brewing scene. World-class museums. Hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and kayaking trails. Little Rock has endless ways to reward yourself when you reach the top. Don’t believe us? Just ask the locals. LittleRock.com
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OUTLAW NATION PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDING HAS A NEW ROCK STAR: CHASE OUTLAW OF HAMBURG. BY KALLY PATZ
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COURTESY ANDY WATSON/BULL STOCK MEDIA
ne thing everyone wants to know about Chase Outlaw is whether his name is really Chase Outlaw. They also want to know whether he has a fake eye and how many bones he has broken in his face. People are interested in learning which parts of his body are real, and which parts have been replaced by smooth metal balls. They ask him to identify the bones that have shattered on impact, and the parts of his face held together by pins and titanium plates. They want to hear about the 2,000-pound bulls that have bucked him, trampled him, kicked him, sent him hurtling through the air. More than anything, they want Chase Outlaw to tell them what it felt like when he flew off a bull named War Cloud last year and landed on one of the bull’s horns, shattering 30 bones in his face. People ask Chase Outlaw what he remembers, and he tells them how the blood filled his sinuses, then ran into his eyes. He offers the number of screws the doctors inserted into his face, because people are interested in hearing about that too: The number is 68. When Chase Outlaw (that’s really his name) goes into the bucking chute now, the announcers broadcast the story of his infamous comeback across the arena, and an X-ray of his mutilated face flashes on every screen, projecting an image of his eye socket looking like a chewed up piece of tobacco. Chase’s theme song, “Turn Down For What,” pulses through the speakers, and everyone always cheers. It’s been a little over a year since Chase Outlaw broke his face, and he is now the third best rider in the world. As he climbs on top of the bull, the announcers say things like, “He has come back with a vengeance” and “He is riding better right now than he ever has.” Then Chase Outlaw makes a gesture, the gate opens, and the bull goes hurtling into the ring. The time Chase Outlaw actually spends on a bull is hardly anything. At home he thinks about leaning forward and pushing down on a mechanical bucker he keeps in his workshop, but in the ring there isn’t time for that. He tries not to think a single thought as he flops up and down on the bull, one arm flapping in the air like a flag. If things go well, his mind is totally blank until someone calls that eight seconds have passed and he scrambles away from the bull before it can trample him to the ground. As he races to the other side of the ring, his face is soaked with sweat and his eyes are bloodshot and crazed, but his voice is always completely calm by the time reporters appear to ask him what he’s thinking. “I’m taking it one bull at a time.” “You just have to have faith in God.” That’s the sort of thing Chase Outlaw tells them, and the way he speaks into the microphone is so bland and uninflected you’d think he was explaining how to repair a motor. It’s difficult for Chase to describe why he’s good at bull riding, or even why he loves it. Growing up, it wasn’t so much a dream as an inevitability. Every weekend he and his sister watched riders like Chris Shivers and Tuff Hedeman dominating bulls on
‘ONE BULL AT A TIME’: Chase Outlaw attempts to ride a bull named Sky Harbor during the championship round of the Minneapolis Invitational on Oct. 5, 2019.
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DOUBLE RECONSTRUCTIVE SHOULDER SURGERY
BOTH SHOULDERS DISLOCATED
FOUR PIECES OF SURGICAL MESH IN HIS FACE
11 PLATES IN HIS FACE HAND SURGERY
15 FRACTURES ON EACH SIDE OF HIS FACE
SPRAINED PELVIS AND GROIN
68 SCREWS IN HIS FACE
SIXTY-EIGHT SCREWS: Professional Bull Riding Inc. details Chase Outlawâ€™s devastating 2018 injuries courtesy of a bull named War Cloud.
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CHASE OUTLAW >
COURTESY OF PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDING
RECONSTRUCTIVE SHOULDER SURGERY
TV, and Chase loved them for being “badasses,” by which he meant to say that they were the best in the world. At the time, he was 4 years old and riding small farm animals mostly. He got on his first sheep at a mutton busting in Beebe and won a bucket full of horse supplies and a small orange whistle. When he got home, he hung the whistle around his neck, and played it across the farm to announce his victory for anyone who cared to hear. “He blew that whistle for about a decade,” his sister said. After that, riding was all Chase wanted to do. His father bought a small flock for him to practice on, and he asked his sister to round them up every day as soon as the school bus dropped them off at their farm in Hamburg. In those days, they had to replace their furniture all the time, because Chase rode the fabric off the arms of the chairs and sofas. If they didn’t prop every piece of furniture in the living room up with end tables, he rode them all to the ground and left the room looking like it had been ransacked or hit by a natural disaster. At 8 years old, Chase wrote a letter to his second-grade teacher saying that when he grew up he was going to be a world champion bull rider, own cows and live in Texas. That’s exactly what his life is like now, except he lives a mile from his childhood home in Hamburg. He never imagined that it would turn out differently. He rides because it’s what he does, and because he prefers it to working construction sites, and because it has never occurred to him to do anything else. No one ever asked him if he had a backup plan, and he never thought to develop one. Now Chase lives in a one-story house with “Outlaw” written in swirling letters at the entrance. His living room contains 21 belt buckles, four cowboy hats and a long cowhide rug. After Memorial Day each year, he switches from wearing a straw cowboy hat to a felt one that he adorns with peacock feathers sent to him by a hunter up the road. Until about a year ago, he wore a mustache as well, and one of the photos in his wedding album shows him and another bull rider grooming their facial hair in front of a bathroom mirror before the service. On another page, he and his wife, Nicole Outlaw, stand beneath a bull’s skull and a wedding arch made of cow bones. Chase Outlaw is wearing a crepe cowboy hat and pumping his fist in the air, and Nicole is smiling beside him, wearing a white lace wedding dress she bought three days before the ceremony. Some of the bull-riding wives are barrel racers with careers of their own. They ride horses at rodeos and talk about where to buy ropes that pull right, and how to get the best inseams for riding gloves. Nicole doesn’t have that kind of vocabulary. When she met Chase Outlaw at a bull-riding competition six years ago, she was working as an assistant at a dental office and she didn’t know Justin McBride from Ty Murray. Even now she hasn’t picked up enough of the terminology to follow Chase’s conversations with the other bull riders. She has photographs of half a dozen different bulls hanging in her living room because that is what Chase loves most in the world, and she loves that he loves to ride bulls.
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68 JANUARY 2020
COURTESY ANDY WATSON/BULL STOCK MEDIA
CHASE SHOWED UP AT HIS WEDDING SERVICE WITH 10 STITCHES IN HIS CHIN COURTESY OF A BULL NAMED SIOUXPER STINGER.
‘RIDE THE RIDE’: D&H Cattle/Flinn’s bull Cool Customer gives Outlaw a run for his money during the 2019 PFIWestern.com Invitational in Springfield, Mo.
When Chase proposed to Nicole, he was one of the top 10 riders in the world and competing in rodeos most weekends. A little over a year after they got engaged, he called Nicole from a rodeo to say that Chad Berger was having his annual bull-riding party in a week, and they should get married there. Chad Berger was a rancher from North Dakota who had been named best stock trader in the business eight years, and he held his own rodeo each spring to show off his bulls. Nicole said yes, because she’s the kind of person who doesn’t mind planning a wedding a week in advance and because she couldn’t think of another way to work the wedding into Chase’s rodeo schedule. It turned out that another bull rider had recently officiated for a friend’s service and he agreed to read the vows for Chase and Nicole as well. The night before the wedding, Chase rode a bull named Modified Clyde, and he still remembers his final score: 90.5. He won the whole rodeo, and showed up at his wedding service with 10 stitches in his chin, courtesy of another bull named Siouxper Stinger. The Professional Bull Riders channel filmed the whole ceremony, and Chase’s battle song played as the couple came out for their first dance. Nicole had a few bridesmaids, but she didn’t know most of the faces in the crowd. Even now, people will come up to her and say, “I was at your wedding!” and she will think, “I have no idea who you are.” The question everyone has for Nicole Outlaw is whether it scares her to see Chase Outlaw on top of a bull. They want to know what she’s thinking when she sees her husband flopping up and down on an animal that weighs a ton. For the first few weeks after Chase’s accident, no one asked Nicole questions, but now people want her to tell them what it felt like when she saw her husband get into the ambulance. They want to know if she was afraid. Last summer, a film crew from the Professional Bull Riders channel took Nicole to the hospital where Chase had 12 hours of reconstructive surgery on his face. It was exactly one year after the accident, and the moment they pulled into the parking lot outside the hospital, Nicole remembered everything. The PBR crew filmed her sitting in a hospital room and asked, as everyone asks, if the accident made her afraid. Nicole doesn’t like the question. When people ask her about Chase’s accident, she tells them she has never told him to quit. Some of the wives close their eyes when the gate swings open, but Nicole Outlaw never does. If she gets nervous now, it is because she wants Chase Outlaw to win. The thing that makes Nicole Outlaw really afraid is watching her 4-year-old daughter run at every horse she sees on their ranch. Earlier this year Nicole and Chase went to see a boy who was paralyzed after he fell off the back of his pony, and now Nicole can’t stop thinking about all the things that might happen to her daughter every time she gets on top of her horse, Cupcake. Chloe Outlaw has blonde wispy hair, and if she had her way she would ride horses all the time. She prefers the Professional Bull Riders channel to cartoons, and every time she sees a horse she is reminded of
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the fact that she is not riding it and screams. When a film crew came to her ranch in October to film Chase Outlaw at home, Chloe’s most important question for them was whether they knew how to saddle a horse. She pointed to Cupcake again and again as the crew set up their equipment in Chase’s workshop. Finally someone asked her why she liked to ride horses, and she cooly replied, “Because it is what I like to do.” The film crew had come from Ride TV, a channel dedicated to chronicling the many ways a human can momentarily dominate a massive animal, and they wanted to know what life was like for Chase Outlaw two weeks before the Professional Bull Riders World Championship in Las Vegas. They spent the day trailing Chase as he rode saddleback with his infant son in his lap and swayed up and down on the mechanical bucker in his workshop. In the evening, they followed him to a bull ring a few miles from his house, and asked him to walk into the range and gaze into the sunset. They wanted him to look deep into the camera and say, “Though I walk through the
ded a bull into the pen, then told Jonah to get down with him and pray. Chase joined them, and they all kneeled together praying for Jonah’s safety. After a few seconds of silence, Mike and Chase said “Amen” and got up to finish preparing the bull, but Jonah stayed behind with his head sunk into the grass and his face clenched. He waited there for a long quiet minute, his whole body locked into whatever prayer he was saying, then he brought a silver cross hanging from a chain around his neck to his lips and shouted “Amen!” By the time Jonah got to his feet, the bull was already in the bucking chute and Chase Outlaw was lounging on top with a cell phone to his ear, talking in the same tone another person might use to describe a trip to the grocery store. “I’m sitting on a bull now,” he said into the phone. “In the bucking chute, yeah.” His feet swayed casually. “I’ll let you know.” Chase hung up the phone and glanced at the bull, which was looking calm and impassive as a massive labradoodle. Jonah watched them both as he paced up and down a plank that ran alongside
About a year ago, Jonah went to a riding camp that Chase hosted in Hamburg, and he has been learning how to ride from Chase ever since. $9.00 RIVERDALE 10 VIP CINEMA 2600 CANTRELL RD
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valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.” As the crew filmed Chase Outlaw pondering death in the evening light, a 14-year-old named Jonah Richard waited by the ring. He usually came to ride on Thursdays and Sundays, but he was there on a Wednesday to show the cameras how Chase Outlaw would ride bulls if Chase Outlaw was riding bulls two weeks before the Professional Bull Riders World Championship. Jonah has fluffy hair and the quiet intensity of the lead singer in a boy band. He started riding bulls when he was 8 years old at a rodeo he went to with his father, Mike Richard. He thought rodeos were boring, so when someone asked him if he wanted to ride a bull, he said yes because he figured it would give him something to do. The first time he was bucked off right away, but the next day he rode until someone called for him to get off. Now riding bulls is all he wants to do. About a year ago, Jonah went to a riding camp that Chase hosted in Hamburg, and he has been learning how to ride from Chase ever since. Jonah rides bulls like some teenagers play guitar, as if riding were his only claim on seriousness in this world. His family likes to make fun of the videos he has posted online of himself deadlifting to soft rap and riding bull after bull in one slow montage. “Those videos are so old,” Jonah tells them, but his family knows he made them last year, and no one leaves him alone about it. As Jonah put on his equipment at the ring, a camera buzzed above him. His father prod-
the pen, kicking his boots and rubbing his hands together, grunting at nothing in particular. “Ready, cowboy?” Chase Outlaw said. Jonah squatted like a frog and leaped onto the fence. He swung both legs over, then settled down on the bull while his father and Chase Outlaw yanked the rope around the bull’s abdomen tighter and tighter. “Pull,” Jonah said once, then again. His voice was quick and quiet each time, like the rope was going tighter around his stomach and not the bull’s with each crank. Mike asked Jonah if he was ready. Jonah gave a small nod. Another farmer released the gate, and the bull shot out of the chute like soda out of a can. The animal curled its back and stamped his feet, and Jonah dug his knees into its massive abdomen. A few seconds went by, and then he flew off and landed on the ground, running to the fence before the bull could chase him down. A farmer raced after the bull to get it back in the barn. “He rode that time,” Mike said. Jonah tried two more times that night, but he couldn’t ride again. The light drew dim and the camera crew disappeared into their van. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Jonah’s father reassured him, but Jonah didn’t see what Rome had to do with his situation. “Huh?” he said. They both turned from the ring to walk toward home. Jonah’s house was just across the field, and they arrived a few minutes later. Chase Outlaw was already sitting at the dining
C a l l i n ga l l COURTESY ANDY WATSON/BULL STOCK MEDIA
L E A D E R S
‘TURN DOWN FOR WHAT’: Outlaw’s theme song plays when he enters the bucking chute, eliciting cheers from the crowd and superlatives from the rodeo announcers. room table. He had driven ahead with Nicole in their pickup, and now his cowboy hat was lying on the table. He looked happy and goofy, completely unlike the person who had walked around the ring for the cameras, with his hat tilted low over his black sunglasses. Jonah’s mother said that there was tortilla soup for everyone, but Jonah shrugged her off. He went to his room and shut the door and pulled out a box from under his bed. It was full of plastic fences and bulls. He had names for each of them — Bodacious, Bruiser, Pearl Harbor — the names of the bucking bulls he saw competing in rodeos on TV every weekend. Sometimes he bet on them with his friends, or just handled the hooves in his hands and thought about which one would turn out fiercest. As dinner wound down in the other room, the conversation moved from ropes to snakes to bucking bulls, and Chloe Outlaw appeared at Jonah’s door. She wanted to see the bulls, too, how they bucked and rode, and Jonah showed her. He put the miniature bodies in her waiting hands. Two weeks later, Jonah turned on the TV to watch the Professional Bull Riding World Championship from his grandparents’ living room in Arkansas. The rest of his family had gone out to hunt deer, but Jonah stayed behind to see Chase ride. In the final round of the competition, Chase was lined up against Smooth Operator, one of Chad Berger’s stock, a 9-year-old white American Bucking Bull in the twilight of his career. In the years Jonah had watched the bull, he had only gotten fiercer and wilder. Smooth Operator had learned new tricks, and Jonah expected him to beat the other bulls for best in the world at the Las Vegas rodeo. He bucked his riders nine times out of 10, generally in just over three seconds. In the second round of the world championship, he bucked a rider named Dylan Smith in 6.99 seconds. In the final round, he bucked Chase Outlaw in 4.1. The announcers screamed into the microphone as Chase tumbled off the bull’s back. It was Chase’s second buck of the competition,
and his chances at the world title were shot. As Chase retreated back into the holding pen, the cameras turned from him to the bull bouncing around the ring. The animal’s back continued to curl up and down, like he was still trying to shake the cowboy. “Smooth Operator does not care who is on his back!” the announcers yelled. “Smooth Operator is the World Champion Bull!” “He’s taking a victory lap!” Smooth Operator bounded around the ring, evading a cowboy who was pursuing him on horseback with a lasso turning in the air. When the cowboy finally managed to loop the rope around Smooth Operator’s horn, the bull slowed to a trot and paraded around the stage gracefully, like a poodle just crowned best-in-show. “If I had to give one word to that bull, it would be rank,” Jonah said. On the screen, the camera turned to Chad Berger as he threw up his hands in the stands. He was wearing a black felt cowboy hat with a feather painted like the American flag, and he took it off and waved it in the air. Chase climbed the fence surrounding the ring to shake his hand. They nodded at each other, and then Chase Outlaw tipped his hat and walked off the screen. Three weeks later, Chase would learn that he needed shoulder surgery, his fourth, and that he wouldn’t return to the ring for another six months. He’d fallen off a bull named Twist of Barbwire in October, and elected to delay a full examination until after the world championships. The week before the surgery, a reporter called to ask how he was feeling, and he replied that he wasn’t concerned. He said it would be like the last time, when he broke his face and returned to the ring two months later and won. It would be like that time, and the time before that, and the time before that. He would come back, and ride Smooth Operator, and become the best bull rider in the world. His voice was steady and calm as he described the injury, the surgery, the victories to come. “You got to know you’re not out of the fight,” he said. “You just got to ride the ride.”
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MUS SE A C W SHO JOIN THE RANKS OF SOME OF THE BEST LOCAL BANDS IN ARKANSAS!
STICKYZ ROCK’N’ROLL CHICKEN SHACK THURSDAY NIGHT PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE BASED ON FOUR BANDS EACH NIGHT STARTING AT 8:00
DAZZ & BRIE JAMIE LOU & THE HULLABALOO HO-HUM TYRANNOSAURUS CHICKEN SALTY DOGS AND SO MANY MORE! TO ENTER: Send streaming Facebook, ReverbNation, Bandcamp or Soundcloud links to email@example.com and include the following: 1. Band Name 2. Hometown 3. Date Band was Formed 4. Age Range of Members (All ages welcome) 5. Contact Person 6. Phone 7. Email
All musical styles are welcome. Acts must be able to perform minium of 30 minutes of original material with live instrumentation.
JANUARY 15, 2020 FINALS AT THE REV ROOM: MARCH 14
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Winners Live Performance and Prize Package Includes: Arkansas State Fair Yadaloo Music Fest Palmer Music Company Gift Certificates to Trio’s Low Key Arts FestiVille Jacksonville Thursday Night Live at Murphy Arts District Valley of the Vapors and more to be announced.
A SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION BY VISIT HOT SPRINGS AND OAKLAWN RACING CASINO RESORT
JAN. 24 OAKLAWN RACING CASINO RESORT RACING OPENING DAY Opening day of the 2020 live meet on Friday, Jan. 24, is highlighted by the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. Save the date to your calendars! Running Jan. 24-May 2, 2020. Gates open at 11 a.m., first race is 12:30 p.m.
JAN. 18-MARCH 18 “A PHOTO ALBUM OF IRELAND” An international exhibition of photographs depicting life in Ireland will be on display at the Hot Springs Convention Center for two months in 2020, including the date of Hot Springs’ world-famous World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The exhibition includes 85 photographs that organizers describe as “a celebration of ordinary and extraordinary histories, viewed from the perspective of private individuals and families.” The photographs are “from the earliest photographs taken in the 1850s to the advent of the digital era in the early 1990s,” organizers said. “These images reveal details about how people lived, worked and gathered that official historical records may have overlooked.”
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LIVE RACING STARTS JAN. 24 SPECIAL DATES JAN. 18: Race to the Finish drawing JAN. 24: Opening day of 2020 race meet. First post 12:30 p.m. JAN. 25: 50-cent Corned Beef Day JAN. 26: Birthday Bash JAN. 27: Luxury houseboat rental draw
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS SUNDAYS: Horse Plush Giveaway with 150 points, noon-8 p.m. Jan. 5, 12 and 19.
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE
MONDAYS: Monday Fun Day, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. TUESDAYS: Catfish dinner, 4-9 p.m. in Lagniappe’s. Horse Plush Giveaway with 150 points, noon–8 p.m. Jan. 7, 14 and 21.
EVERY THURSDAY: Team Trivia, 7–9 p.m. FRIDAY, JAN. 3: Deshon and the Electric Current Band, 6–10 p.m.
WEDNESDAYS: Girls Night Out, 5-9 p.m. Off to the Races Slot Tournament, 6-9 p.m. THURSDAYS: Hot Springs Village Days, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Trivia, 7–9 p.m. in Pop’s Lounge. Happy Hour, 5–8 p.m. Flurries of Free Play, 6–10 p.m. FRIDAYS: Party Pit, 8 p.m.–midnight Live entertainment in Pop’s, 6–10 p.m. Live entertainment in Silks, 10 p.m.–2 a.m. SATURDAYS: Live entertainment in Silks, 10 p.m.–2 a.m.
GRAYSON GOFF BAND
FRIDAY, JAN. 10: Grayson Goff Band, 6–10 p.m. FRIDAY, JAN. 17: Zakk & Big Papa Binns, 6–10 p.m. FRIDAYS, JAN. 24 & 31: Cliff & Susan, 5–9 p.m.
SILKS BAR & GRILL:
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, JAN. 3-4: Oreo Blue, 10 p.m.–2 a.m. FRIDAY-SATURDAY, JAN. 10-11: Wesley Pruitt, 10 p.m.–2 a.m. FRIDAY-SATURDAY, JAN. 17-18: Electric 5, 10 p.m.–2 a.m.
PINK PIANO SHOW
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, JAN. 24-25: Mayday by Midnight, 10 p.m.–2 a.m. FRIDAY, JAN. 31: What the Funk, 10 p.m.–2 a.m.
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A SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION BY OAKLAWN RACING CASINO RESORT
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JAN. 4 AT 4 P.M. Low Key Arts and Superior Bathhouse Brewery present the 13th annual “Arkansas Shorts: A Night of Short Film” festival at the historic Malco Theatre, 817 Central Ave., in downtown Hot Springs. Directed by acclaimed Hot Springs filmmaker Jen Gerber, “Arkansas Shorts” is the only festival of its kind in the state and showcases emerging talent. The festival will feature three blocks of short films presented over the course of the evening. SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint will provide food for sale in the Malco lobby during intermissions. “Arkansas Shorts” is presented by Superior Bathhouse Brewery, which will host an after-party immediately following the awards. Festival passes are available from Prekindle. com or at the door. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Individual block tickets are available at the door for $10 per block. All ages.
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AWARDS The 2020 results are coming ... Since 1981, the Arkansas Times has asked its readers to tell us their favorite restaurants in Arkansas. The results for our 39th annual poll are in and winners will be announced in the February 2020 magazine. The Times, along with Southern Glazerâ€™s Wines and Spirits and Glazerâ€™s Beer & Beverages, will throw a fantastic party for winners and finalists at the Ben E. Keith regional headquarters in North Little Rock, where the Ted Ludwig Jazz Band will provide the dance music. Restaurants work hard, play hard and deserve to be rewarded. Invitations will be mailed to winners and finalists in early January 2020. PRESENTED BY
CENTRAL ARKANSAS LIBRARY SYSTEM ROCKEFELLER COLLECTION
MODEL SCHOOL DEDICATION: Robert Harris, J.W. Fulbright, Winthrop Rockefeller and George Reynolds pose next to the dedication plaque of Reynolds Elementary School in Morrilton.
MODEL I SCHOOLS WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER’S VISION FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION STARTED IN MORRILTON. BY JOHN A. KIRK
n 1956, Winthrop Rockefeller made his local school district in Morrilton an offer that it surely could not refuse: unlimited access to his considerable inherited Standard Oil fortune to fund a model school program that would be the envy of the state, the South and the nation. Rockefeller had moved to Arkansas in 1953, building Winrock Farms atop Petit Jean Mountain, 15 miles west of Morrilton. He was determined to use his wealth to benefit his newly adopted state. Public education seemed the best place to start, following his previous role as a member of the board of trustees of New York’s Public Education Association. Rockefeller created the Rockwin Fund — today the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation — specifically to finance a Morrilton model school program. The fund subsequently became the vehicle for his other philanthropic endeavors in the state. The first question Morrilton residents asked Rockefeller’s envoy, George M. Reynolds, the pres-
ident of Winrock Enterprises Inc., who pitched the model schools program to them, was this: “Does that mean we have to integrate?” Morrilton schools were still segregated two years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling. Reynolds conceded that “no one in his right mind would set out to build two separate school systems,” when there was a federal mandate to desegregate. Yet eventually, to get the locals to take his money, Rockefeller agreed to fund the model schools program on a separate but equal basis, preserving segregation while insisting that funds were spent proportionately between improving both white and black schools. Morrilton schools finally desegregated in 1965. The following year attorney John Walker assisted the Arkansas Teachers’ Association and black teachers who had been dismissed from their jobs as a result of desegregation in successfully suing the school district. It was the first case of its kind in the state. ARKANSASTIMES.COM
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CALENDARIO COMUNITARIO DE EVENTOS. Pág. 11 GRATIS LA VOZ DE NUESTRA COMUNIDAD www.ellatinoarkansas.com
30 DE MAYO 2019 • VOLUMEN 18 • EDICIÓN 52
¡Bienvenidos A Arkansas Central!
Guía e información para los residentes del “Estado Natural”
PÁG. 4 VIAJES GRATIS EN TRANVÍAS EL AÑO 2019 PÁG. 7
COPA ORO 2019: 15 DE JUNIO AL 7 DE JULIO EN COSTA RICA, JAMAICA Y ESTADOS UNIDOS PÁG. 12 www.ellatinoarkansas.com • 30 DE MAYO 2019 1
WE SPEAK SPANISH. DO YOU NEED HELP? Our sister paper El Latino is Arkansas’s only weekly – audited Spanish language newspaper. Arkansas has the second fastest growing Latino population in the country and smart businesses are targeting this market as they develop business relationships with these new consumers. El Latino is a free publication available at 185 pickup locations in Central Arkansas. www.ellatinoarkansas.com Facebook.com/ellatinoarkansas Contact Luis Garcia today for more information! 201 E. Markham, Suite 200 Little Rock AR 501-374-0853 email@example.com
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ROCKEFELLER SPENT $750,000 OF HIS OWN MONEY (INFLATION-ADJUSTED, THE EQUIVALENT OF AROUND $7 MILLION TODAY) ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW, STATE-OF-THE-ART WHITE REYNOLDS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. The second question was about taxes. Rockefeller offered to fund his model schools program for five years on condition that local residents raise taxes to sustain it afterward. Following a much-heated debate, the community agreed. Over the next five years, Rockefeller spent $750,000 of his own money (inflation-adjusted, the equivalent of around $7 million today) on the construction of a new, state-of-the-art white Reynolds Elementary School, named after Arkansas educator John Hugh Reynolds, a former president of the University of Arkansas and Hendrix College, and the father of George M. Reynolds. Hundreds of thousands of dollars more were spent on school enrichment programs during the same period. The progress made through the investments fast became evident. By 1960, class sizes were reduced from 36 to 30 students. A much broader curriculum was introduced. Teaching capabilities in the district were strengthened through professional development. Teachers’ salaries were raised by 10 percent. Furniture, equipment and school physical plants were all enhanced. Health, physical education and dental monitoring were all improved. A school nurse was hired, local doctors cooperated in physical examinations, and local dentists started school dental examinations, which in turn led to the fluoridation of the local water supply and fewer cavities. A school psychologist was hired to work with students on emotional and other issues, increasing the retention rate. Fifty-eight percent more of Morrilton’s high school graduates were
going to college in 1960 than four years earlier. Student test scores rose significantly as a result of better-funded and better-equipped schools. In 1956, only one out of 10 grades tested at the national average. In 1957, five out of 10 grades tested at the national average. In 1958, eight out of 10 grades tested at or above the national average. School officials attributed the success “to the extraordinary efforts of teachers and staff, to the close cooperation of parents and patrons and to the desire of the pupils themselves.” The benefits of investment in local schools were plain for everyone to see. However, when the vote to raise taxes to continue the model schools program was held in December 1960, it was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin. Dr. Verrell O. McNabb, a Morrilton optometrist, wrote a letter to Rockefeller with apologetic words about his fellow citizens that echoed down the ages: “This morning, I am ashamed. We Morrilton people, in the decisive vote yesterday, have indicated that we don’t put a very high value on the educational level of our young people. It seems that we prefer ultra-conservatism to progress.” McNabb added, “Perhaps it is significant that such a large percentage of our community’s population is on the Welfare roll, that our per capita income is so low, and that ours, relatively, is a state of retarded progress. We just simply refuse to be lifted up.” The defeat was a rude awakening for Rockefeller about the uphill task he faced in transforming Arkansas. What he did, and perhaps more importantly, what he did not do next, reveals much about Rockefeller’s fundamental commitment to
public education and democracy. Rockefeller did not seek to use his considerable wealth to charterize or to privatize Morrilton’s public schools to force his vision for a better education upon the community. Rather, despite the setback, Rockefeller kept faith in the people to make their own decisions about public education, and he remained steadfast in his conviction that through the democratic process they could ultimately be persuaded to make the right choices about their children’s education while retaining local control over their own schools. The defeat of his model schools program in Morrilton was one of the things that spurred Rockefeller to run for political office. He ran for governor as a Republican in 1964 and lost to Democratic incumbent Orval E. Faubus — the man who famously mobilized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. Rockefeller ran again in 1966, this time beating one of the state’s leading segregationists, James D. Johnson. Rockefeller became the first Republican governor of Arkansas in 94 years. He tried to pass progressive social programs, including higher funding for education based on tax increases, through a legislature that was packed with conservative Democrats. He lost at almost every turn. He was re-elected in 1968 and tried again. Still, the legislature refused to budge. Rockefeller was defeated in the 1970 gubernatorial election by Dale Bumpers, at the time a relatively unknown Democrat. Bumpers passed a virtually identical program to Rockefeller’s through the legislature. The first in a line of socalled “New Democrats,” Bumpers realigned Arkansas Democratic Party politics with that of the national Democratic Party’s progressive agenda. David Pryor, who did the same, followed him in office. Bill Clinton, who later married progressive state politics with progressive national politics to win the White House for the Democrats in 1992 and 1996, followed Pryor. The New Democrat governors ushered in a golden era of progressive politics that was coupled with a period of relative prosperity for Arkansas, dragging the state kicking and screaming belatedly into the 20th century. Nevertheless, it was Rockefeller who made the arguments and paved the way for change. His legacy remains a glowing testimony to the impact that great wealth along with an unrelenting civic-mindedness, an unshakeable belief in the power of public education and an unswerving commitment to the democratic process, can have on improving the lives of all Arkansans.
Experience more from your local library and start writing your own story. Visit cals.org to learn more about our events.
Off the Grid: A History of Nature, Black Power, and Freedom on the Arkansas Frontier STORY MATKIN-RAWN & THEO WITSELL
Legacies & Lunch Wednesday, January 8 Noon–1:00 pm CALS Main Library Legacies at the Branches Thursday, January 23 6:00–7:00 pm CALS Williams Library
Inside and Out: Figurative Works FIGURE DRAWINGS BY ROBERT BEAN, JEREMY COUCH, AND LOGAN HUNTER
The Galleries at Library Square January 10–March 28 Underground Gallery WORKSHOPS
The Artist’s Way BY JULIA CAMERON WITH INSTRUCTOR JOBE
Writing Workshop — 13 week course Every Saturday, January 4–March 28 Noon–2:00 pm Bobby L. Roberts Library
Open during 2nd Friday Art Nights starting January 10, 5:00-8:00 pm
Circus of Imaginings BY DEBILYNN FENDLEY
The Bookstore at Library Square On view through February 6 __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ _________________
Into the Woods ARKANSAS CHAMPION TREES BY LINDA WILLIAMS PALMER TURNED-WOOD VESSELS BY GENE SPARLING
Magic 105 Tribute Friday, January 24 7:00 pm Ron Robinson Theater __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ __________________________
FEATURE We pay tribute to central Arkansas radio station Magic 105 (1980-2008) with photos, audio clips, and a panel discussion featuring former Magic 105 on-air personalities Tom Wood, Tommy Smith, Carole Kramer, David Allen Ross, Sharpe Dunaway, Danny Joe Crafford and many more.
The Galleries at Library Square January 10–April 25 Concordia Hall Gallery __________________________ __________________________ __________________________ _________________
THE LIBRARY, REWRIT TEN.
L I B R A R Y S Q U A R E , 1 0 0 R O C K S T R E E T, L I T T L E R O C K A R
C A L S .O R G / R E W R I T T E N
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‘YOU CAN’T PUT PAIN ON HOLD’ MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARDHOLDERS SEEKING RELIEF IN ARKANSAS’S WEED DESERTS. BY REBEKAH HALL
rkansas has 14 operating medical marijuana dispensaries, most of which have opened in more densely populated areas of the state. Northwest Arkansas’s Zone 1 is the only zone in the state in which all four dispensaries are open; none of the four dispensaries licensed to operate in Southwest Arkansas’s Zone 8 have opened. For medical marijuana cardholders in those areas, the costs of a visit to the nearest dispensary can add up quickly: In addition to the price of gas and cannabis products, the trip can require a full day of travel, which can mean a day of work missed or a day spent recuperating from the physical demands of the journey. Without convenient access to a dispensary, some cardholders must weigh the benefit of pain relief with the cost of securing it. Debbie, 61, lives in East Camden, in Zone 8, about 70 miles from Native Green Wellness dispensary in Hensley or Suite 443 and Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs. Debbie describes the 140-mile roundtrip to a dispensary as “an inconvenience and exhausting.” (Some buyers interviewed for this article asked to be identified by first name only). “I don’t understand why the people in South Arkansas have to suffer the inconvenience,” Debbie said. “It’s time [the Medical Marijuana Commission] suspend and reissue permits for the ones not interested in [opening a dispensary], [or those who] bit off more
than they can chew. You can’t put pain on hold.” Debbie, who lives on a fixed income, got her card in August, and she tries to stock up on medical marijuana when she visits a dispensary to “make it worth the drive, knowing I may not be back for a while.” Debbie said her doctor supports her medical marijuana use as a tool to help her get off the opioids she takes. While Debbie said she wants to “stress” that she does experience relief from using medical marijuana, such relief is difficult to come by. “I can’t imagine the effects of it if I used it regularly,” Debbie said. “God’s plant heals. This is way overdue.” In early December, Bloom Medicinals in Texarkana got Alcoholic Beverage Control approval to open. It is waiting on the state to approve its employees’ licenses. A member of the Bloom Medicinals staff said the dispensary hoped to open in late December, which would make it the first dispensary to open in Zone 8. All 32 of the state’s licensed dispensaries must renew their licenses by the end of June 2020. The Medical Marijuana Commission requires renewal paperwork to be submitted 60 days in advance of that deadline. Scott Hardin, communications director for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, said that from April to June, the DFA anticipates the commission will “closely re-
view the renewal documents from those locations not yet serving patients.” “Ultimately, if there are dispensaries that are not open by June, the five members of the [Medical Marijuana Commission] must consider the factors presented and make a determination whether renewal is approved,” Hardin said. At a Medical Marijuana Commission meeting Oct. 23, ABC Director Doralee Chandler said that while the commission does not have the ability to revoke dispensary licenses, ABC does. At the time, Chandler said ABC was in the process of drafting rules for revoking licenses and hoped to have them approved and in place by January. The commission will meet next on Jan. 14, but until then, Hardin said, there is “not currently a rule in place addressing action [against unopened dispensaries] in this timeframe.” Melissa Fults, executive director of the Drug Policy Education Group, an Arkansas nonprofit that advocates for medical marijuana users and marijuana policy, said that even when all 32 dispensaries in the state are open, patients will still have limited access to medical marijuana — a problem Fults attributes to the way Arkansas’s medical marijuana amendment regulates the maximum number of dispensaries. “When you only allow 40 dispensaries in an entire state, when other states have two and three and four times that, there’s no way ARKANSASTIMES.COM
JANUARY 2020 81
AS OF DEC. 18: The status of Arkansas’s 32 dispensaries.
20. Natural Relief Dispensary 3107 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood NOT OPEN 21. Green Springs Medical 309 Seneca St., Hot Springs OPEN as of 5/12/19 22. Native Green Wellness Center 26225 U.S. Hwy. 167, Hensley OPEN as of 7/2/19 23. Suite 443 (formerly Doctor’s Orders) 4897 Malvern Ave., Hot Springs OPEN as of 5/10/19 24. Natural State Medical Group 10200 state Hwy. 5, Alexander NOT OPEN 1. Acanza Health Group 2733 N. McConnell Ave., Fayetteville OPEN as of 9/14/19
7. Plant Family Therapeutics 5172 U.S. Hwy. 62 E., Mountain Home NOT OPEN
14. River Valley Dispensary 23788 state Hwy. 38 W., Bluffton NOT OPEN
2. Purspirit Cannabis Co. (formerly Northwest AR Medical Cannabis Co.) 3390 Martin Luther King Blvd., Fayetteville OPEN as of 11/20/19
8. Arkansas Natural Products 1303 U.S. Hwy. 65 S., Clinton OPEN as of 6/20/19
15. Johnson County Dispensary 131 Massengale Road, Clinton NOT OPEN
9. THX RX, Inc. 3700 I-40 Frontage Road E., West Memphis NOT OPEN
16. 420 Dispensary, Inc. (formerly 420 RX Inc.) 3506 S. Arkansas Ave., Russellville OPEN as of 12/17/19
3. The Source (formerly Arkansas Medicinal Source Patient Center) 406 Razorback Drive, Bentonville OPEN as of 8/15/19 4. The ReLeaf Center 9400 E. McNelly Road, Bentonville OPEN as of 8/7/19 5. Fiddler’s Green 16150 state Hwy. 9, Mountain View OPEN as of 7/11/19 6. Big Fish of North Central Arkansas 3001 state Hwy. 25 B, Heber Springs NOT OPEN 82 JANUARY 2020
10. Delta Cannabis Co. 1151 E. Service Road, West Memphis NOT OPEN 11. Comprehensive Care Group 201 and 203 N. Ok St., West Memphis NOT OPEN 12. NEA Full Spectrum Medicine 12001 U.S. Hwy. 49 N., Brookland OPEN as of 12/10/19 13. Fort Cannabis Co. 3904 Ayers Road, Fort Smith OPEN as of 12/18/19
17. Harvest Cannabis Dispensary 1200 Thomas G. Wilson Drive, Conway OPEN as of 10/11/20 18. Herbology Dispensary (formerly Grassroots OPCO) 7303 Kanis Road, Little Rock NOT OPEN 19. Natural State Wellness Dispensary 900 S. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock NOT OPEN
25. Pain Free RX Mallard Loop, Pine Bluff NOT OPEN 26. Greenlight (formerly Delta Cultivators) 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Helena OPEN as of 6/27/19 27. Pine Bluff Agriceuticals 108 Grider Field, Pine Bluff NOT OPEN 28. Arkansas Patient Services 179 Industrial Park Drive, Warren NOT OPEN 29. Noah’s Ark 3213 Northwest Ave., El Dorado NOT OPEN 30. Bloom Medicinals 410 Realtor Ave., Texarkana NOT OPEN 31. RX Med 4423 E. Broad St., Texarkana NOT OPEN 32. Arkadelphia Dispensary 188 Valley St., Arkadelphia NOT OPEN
it can serve enough of the people,” Fults said. “Even once all 40 of them get licensed and get opened, there are still going to be patients that are going to have to drive in excess of an hour, one way, to get their medication. And that is a problem.” (The state constitution allows for up to 40 dispensaries, but the Medical Marijuana Commission has initially only approved 32 to open.) Fults sponsored the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, or Issue 7, the competing medical marijuana legislation that the Arkansas Supreme Court removed from the ballot on Oct. 27, 2016, ahead of the November 2016 election in which voters passed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, now Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution. Under Fults’ proposed act, medical marijuana cardholders living at least 20 miles from a dispensary would have been permitted to grow their own marijuana plants. Fults said this provision was important for two reasons: to ensure cardholders had access to medical marijuana, and to act as a “trip-wire” for the state. “The way [our legislation] was written [was that] if by November of 2017 there was not a dispensary within 20 miles of you, you could grow your own,” Fults said. “So, consequently, if they did not get the program up and going, everyone would be able to grow. Which was an incentive to make the state actually get up off their tails and do what they were told to do by the people, rather than waiting two and a half years.” Arkansas’s first dispensary, Suite 443, opened in Hot Springs in May 2019, nearly three years after passage of the amendment. Annette, 41, got her medical marijuana card in February 2019 and has yet to use it. She lives in Newport, about an hour’s drive from NEA Full Spectrum, which opened Dec. 10 — the first dispensary to open in Northeast Arkansas’s Zone 3. Before the opening of NEA Full Spectrum, any and all dispensaries near Annette were over an hour and a half away. Annette said she has degenerative disc disease and has previously been prescribed hydrocodone. She now takes gabapentin, a drug used to treat nerve pain, and said she “can’t function on it, I’m so drunk and drowsy.” “I watched my mom for years take hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, get shots in her back, and she was addicted to the pills,” Annette said. “I refuse to take that route.” Annette receives Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, so her income is limited. After spending $250 for an evaluation for a medical marijuana card and $50 for the card itself, she hoped a dispensary would open near her within the year, but so far she has been unable to make a trip. “So that’s money I’ve lost and wasted,” Annette said. “The whole program is a joke.” Her card expires in February, when she will have to pay a $50 fee to get it renewed. Greenlight Dispensary in Helena is the
only dispensary in the state that offers delivery of medical marijuana straight to cardholders’ homes. Greenlight, which began delivering medical cannabis in August, is the only dispensary open in Southeast Arkansas’s Zone 7. According to Greenlight’s website, cardholders can place orders for delivery online with a debit card only. The dispensary delivers to local cardholders in the Helena-West Helena area from Monday to Thursday. The minimum order for local cardholders is $20, and the local delivery fee is $8. The dispensary’s “extended delivery area” is organized by ZIP Code for 13 Arkansas cities: orders from Marianna and West Memphis are delivered on Mondays only, with a minimum order ranging from $75-$100 and delivery fees ranging from $10-$29; deliveries to Paragould occur only on Tuesdays, with a minimum order of $125 and a delivery fee of $35; orders from Jonesboro are delivered only on Wednesdays, with a minimum order of $100 and a $29 delivery fee. No extended area deliveries are made on Thursdays and Fridays; on Saturdays, Greenlight employees are busy delivering to all 26 of Little Rock’s ZIP codes, with a minimum order of $150 and a $39 delivery fee. Orders from cardholders who live in the extended delivery area must be made the day before their area’s designated delivery day. Alex Wall, a manager at Greenlight, said the dispensary’s delivery service has received a “phenomenal” response from cardholders. “Everybody’s loving it, and it makes [ordering] really easy,” Wall said. “We have a lot of patients who are not able to make it here and visit us on the regular, so it makes it easier. They can place an order once a week, and we come to the doorstep.” Wall added that the dispensary is “always” looking to expand its delivery area, but for now it’s focused on helping “those patients that need us and are constantly placing orders.” Green Springs Medical Dispensary in Hot Springs opened May 12, the second dispensary to open in the state. Since then, it has sold more pounds of medical marijuana than any other dispensary. As of Dec. 16, Green Springs Medical had sold over 950 pounds of marijuana. Dragan Vicentic, CEO of Green Springs Medical, said the dispensary is interested in delivering medical marijuana products to its customers, but it’s now “using all of our resources” to serve the 350 cardholders who visit the store every day. Vicentic said Green Springs Medical tried delivering just to cardholders who lived within a 15-mile radius from the dispensary, but to “devote the resources” to continue to do that and help customers in person became “very difficult to do.” Vicentic said offering delivery is also difficult because of the “hurdles” dispensaries are required to “jump through” by ABC. One of the rules for dispensary delivery requires that two drivers must be in each delivery vehicle — one to bring product inside to the
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cardholder and one to remain in the vehicle to guard other medical marijuana product. Vicentic said this rule is “really not fair,” considering that “pharmacies deliver a lot more value in pharmaceuticals than medical marijuana, and they don’t have to go through all that kind of stuff and … [have] the type of security that the ABC is requesting.” Bethany, 31, lives 30 miles south of Fort Smith with her daughter, who has special needs. Bethany said she receives disability benefits and is on a limited income. She received her medical marijuana card in June, and she said she tries to visit a dispensary once every two weeks. She lives in West Central Arkansas’s Zone 4, where 420 Dispensary in Russellville opened Dec. 17 and Fort Cannabis Co. in Fort Smith opened Dec. 18. Before those dispensaries opened, she said she has to travel either to The ReLeaf Center in Bentonville or Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs, each a one-way drive of about two hours from her home. She said she loses a “full day” each time she goes. When she does visit a dispensary, Bethany said she “cannot afford to get much,” so she still depends on her pain medications for “at least two weeks out of the month.” Bethany is a single mother and a fulltime student at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, and she said the medications she was prescribed for severe back pain were “making it hard to go to school” and do things with her daughter. Since receiving her medical marijuana card, however, Bethany said she’s been able to make a “dramatic decrease” in the amount of pain medications she’s taking — some of which she hasn’t refilled since May. “Having my medical card is slowly giving me my life back,” Bethany said. “I just wish it was more affordable. I feel that if I could afford enough medical marijuana to replace my pain medications, [then] I would be completely off of them.” Matt Thomas, 46, lives in El Dorado, Zone 8, where he works as a lawyer. He must drive at least two hours one way to either Native Green Wellness in Hensley or Green Springs Medical in Hot Springs to buy medical marijuana. He received his medical marijuana card in February to treat a number of conditions — including psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis and fibromyalgia — and said that before using medical cannabis, he was taking “18 pills a day, including opioids, as well as pills to treat the side effects of the medications I was taking.” Since receiving his card, Thomas said he’s found great relief. “With medical marijuana, I have gotten my life back in control,” Thomas said. “Even the chronic fatigue I can treat with [a sativa strain] when I lose steam and [an indica strain] when I need sleep, so my treatment can be customized from day to day.” Thomas said he visits a dispensary weekly, but added that “even for me, the cost is getting out of hand.”
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While pricing for medical marijuana products is determined by each individual dispensary, dispensaries are limited to the medical marijuana flower and products that are grown and processed by the state’s three operating cultivation facilities: Bold Team Cultivation in Cotton Plant, Osage Creek Cultivation in Berryville and Natural State Medicinals in White Hall. Chandler, director of ABC, has told the Medical Marijuana Commission that the two unopened cultivation facilities, Natural State Wellness and Delta Medical Cannabis, both in Newport, expect to begin fully operating at the beginning of the year. At a meeting Nov. 20, Chandler said one of the two unopened facilities has been “partially approved” to begin operating, meaning it’s been approved to start growing plants while construction on other parts of the facility is finalized. DFA spokesman Hardin said medical marijuana cardholders who live in parts of the state without dispensaries contact the agency “quite frequently” about the status of the unopened dispensaries. He said the DFA responds by telling people that Amendment 98, Arkansas’s medical marijuana amendment, “does not include a date by which dispensaries must be operational.” “Due to this, the pace at which these dispensaries are developed and open for business is totally at the discretion of [their] owners,” Hardin said. “ABC Enforcement agents continually check in with owners, requesting status updates while issuing a reminder that the company was licensed to serve patients.” As of Dec. 13, 2019, the Arkansas Department of Health has approved 31,655 medical marijuana ID cards. C.J. Mingues, 32, lives in Searcy, and he received his medical marijuana card in August. He’s visited a dispensary twice since then — Native Green Wellness in Hensley, Fiddler’s Green in Mountain Home and the Hot Springs dispensaries are each over an hour away from him — but he said he’s usually either “too busy to make the trip” or he doesn’t have the money. Mingues said he has degenerative disc disease, so his spine is “slowly deteriorating,” but he doesn’t like taking pain medication because he fears getting addicted, and he doesn’t like “how [pain pills] zombify you, where you can’t function properly.” “[Degenerative disc disease] is a pain that will never go away, I’ve got it the rest of my life,” Mingues said. “It’ll only get worse. So the last thing I want to do is sleep the rest of my life.” Instead, Mingues uses medical marijuana to relax his muscles, including a sativa strain that keeps him alert and helps him function throughout the day. But during the interim between dispensary visits? “I basically suffer in silence,” Mingues said. “I’ve dealt with this pain for years ... so I’m quite used to suffering.”
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A SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT OF THE ARKANSAS TIMES
Arkansas Times local ticketing: CentralArkansasTickets.com
UPCOMING EVENTS The Mixing Room Preservation Conversations: History of Public Water in Central Arkansas by Tad Bohannon of Central Arkansas Water
Redding House QQA Members Only Reception at the Redding House
Junior League of Little Rock INSPIRE Wedding Show Little Rock
The Joint Finger Food featuring Steve Davison, Danny Dozier and Micky Rigby with special guest Tim Crouch
Cranford Co. Firebrand Theatre Co presents “Art” by Yasmina Reza
The Mixing Room Preservation Conversations: Abatement Issues with Historic Properties, by Jason Dixon of Snyder Environmental
South on Main Lera Lynn
Wyndham Riverfront Hotel Arkansas Farmer’s Industrial Hemp Conference The Mixing Room Preservation Conversations: Solar 101 for Historic Places, Seal Energy Solutions by Heather R. Nelson and Josh Davenport Seal St. James United Methodist Church Arkansas Chamber Singers 40th Anniversary Spring Concert
The Mixing Room Chimney Safety: Maintenance and Repair, Jason Ward with Firecrest Chimney Services, LLC.
The Mixing Room Preservation Conversations: Albert Pike: The Man and the Scottish Rite Temple by Maureen Richmond
The Mixing Room Preservation Conversations: Vestal Florists by Sarah Vestal The Mixing Room Preservation Conversations: Rackensack Folklore Society Pulaski County; Charlotte Copeland and others
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BY RANDOLPH ROSS / EDITED BY WILL SHORTZ Randolph Ross, of New York City, is a retired principal for high schools in Queens, Great Neck and Plainview, N.Y. Crosswords helped him get one of his jobs. He says his final interview with the Great Neck Board of Education was devoted mainly to crossword constructing rather than how to run a school. Having had one of his puzzles published in The Times shortly before ‘‘was good timing and made for a happy interview.’’ This is Randy’s 50th Sunday crossword for the No. 1124 paper and his 113th Times puzzle overall. — W.S.
Across 1 Lack of this results in baldness 6 Alcohol 13 Scenes from action movies 19 Old foundation 21 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi thriller 22 Get back 23 Parenting: A+ 25 Night demons 26 Maintain 27 Number of people in an office? 29 “Step ____!” 30 Bye word 33 Nervous stress 34 Chip-on-one’s-shoulder outlooks, in slang 35 Taming wild horses: D40 Reflex messengers 42 Heavy metal 43 Some kitchen appliances 44 Wildlife conservationist’s device 47 Union station? 49 Valet skills: B+ 54 You can dig it 55 Spain and England in the 16th century 57 Like a sure bet 58 Watch chains 59 Do an old printing-house job 60 Skills, in Sevilla 61 Heart 62 Hosting a morning news show: C+ 67 Photo finish 70 First draft picks 71 It makes stealing pay off 75 “See you later!” 76 Cheerful 78 Norman Lear series star 80 Spots 81 Stuffing tip jars: D 83 Chip away at 84 Bottom-line figure 86 Alternative to a Maxwell 87 Indy winner Luyendyk 88 Hot stuff 91 Employee efficiency: D+ 95 Sorcerer 97 Much, informally 99 Supply-____ (economic theorist) 100 Growing room 101 Do a P.R. makeover on 103 16501–16511 107 Put on hold 109 Baseball skill: C 113 Protect, as freshness 114 What to do once you’ve made your bed, per a saying 115 Skirts 116 Nueva York, e.g. 117 Afterword 118 Bibliographical abbr. Down 1 Channel on which to see some b&w films 2 Fleece 3 Noted Deco designer 4 1975 Wimbledon champ 5 New Age author Chopra 6 Apt name for a cook? 88 JANUARY 2020
7 Lulu 8 Used Gchat, e.g. 9 Went back through a passage 10 Hockey infraction 11 “Yer darn ____!” 12 Clear soda 13 Lit ____ 14 Farm setter 15 Story 16 Stereo quality: B 17 Blake who wrote “Memories of You” 18 Roast rotators 20 Fantasy author Canavan, author of the “Black Magician” trilogy 24 Whirl 28 Producers of the most Mideast oil 31 Actress Samantha 32 Rides since 2011 34 Burned rubber 35 Designer Bill 36 U. S. Grant adversary 37 Trouble terribly 38 Learns to live with 39 Set a price of 41 Malodorous 45 Metro areas, informally 46 Sticks together? 48 Luxury-car pioneer Henry 49 One may exert pressure 50 Significant advances 51 The other guys 52 Diver Louganis 53 Porgy and bass 56 F.D.R. program 58 Dangerous structure 60 Combat zone
104 105 106
112 115 118
61 Anglican headwear 63 Strong brew 64 “Movin’ ____” 65 Call attention to, as a potential problem 66 Small power source 67 Classic shoe name 68 Starting job in Washington, say 69 Fashion sense: A 72 Lead-in to fare 73 Part of a TV transmission 74 ____ Garson, Oscar winner for “Mrs. Miniver” 76 Solomonlike 77 One-eighth part 78 Funeral stands 79 Mushroom that might be served in ramen 81 Uncivil greetings 82 Sign of a smash hit 85 ____ de Vil, Disney villain 89 Patch (together) 90 Way to get to Harlem, per Duke Ellington 91 Desire a piece of the action 92 Conception 93 Chutzpah 94 Mourn 95 Snooker shot 96 Flu symptoms 98 Full 101 Clinton’s attorney general for all eight years 102 Rat Pack nickname 104 Quod ____ faciendum 105 Stationer’s stock 106 “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” writer 108 Kid-____ (TV for tots) 110 Tiny criticism 111 Pioneer cellphone co. 112 Fancy-looking name appendage
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o more denying that as much fun as it is to go to the movies, or how close those lights coming down is to a time machine back to childhood hours with Indiana Jones and Marty McFly, it’s a little ridiculous to spend $40 plus for two movie tickets, two bladder buster sodas and a large popcorn, especially when a solid three quarters of the movies we saw in 2019 ranged from OK to ass, so we may be forced to allocate our resources to more enriching pursuits. Probably not, but we’re highly considering it. No more putting off re-reading “Moby Dick” for the first time since the college days, and this time, no skipping the chapters where ol’ Herman throws a two-day bender on random whale facts. We’re gonna get back into Shakespeare, too, and not the greatest hits, either. “Troilus and Cressida” or bust. May even wind up dabbling in some Toni Morrison too, if time and energy permit. In 2020, we’re declaring an absolute moratorium on subscribing to new streaming services for the boob tube; your Disney Pluses, Cartoon Network Ochos, New York Times Presents: Documentaries About Polar Bears Drowning and such. We know we’re missing the boat on that Baby Yoda everybody is cooing over ’round the water cooler, but we’re already shelling out for Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and whatever else Junior has signed us up for deep down in the night with his mother’s filched credit card, leaving our television an embarrassment of sedentary riches that would have simply poleaxed the kid we once wuz, living out in the sticks of Saline County with two respectably clear channels and one snowy mess to choose from for a big Friday night of must-see TV. And on a 55-inch high-definition screen to boot? How dare we want for 90 JANUARY 2020
a gatdamn thing? Besides, if we pop for anymore channels, we’re gonna start edging into the range of the same amount we used to pay to Comcast before we took a hatchet to the cable many years back, and then what’s the point? At that juncture, it’s just Basic Cable 2.0. Nobody wants that bullshit again. In 2020, we will answer one call per month from a number we don’t recognize, just to help keep our spirit of adventure alive. In that same vein, we will also tell the woman down at the haircutting place, “Just work your magic,” by way of instructions on every third haircut, then just close our eyes and let the locks and eyebrow notches fall where they may. In 2020, Yours Truly will try to laugh more and gripe less, though that might be a tall order, given that in November of this very year, we’re all going to be faced with the choice between whatever basically decent human being the Democrats stand up and the addled, bigoted orange creature slouching eternally toward Mar-a-Lago to be born, fat little thumbs always at the ready to spread some more cruelty on Twitter. It has been a minor miracle that over the course of the last three years, we haven’t had a large scale, history-changer event like a 9/11, ’29-level stock market crash, Cuban Missile Crisis or Pearl Harbor, as one can only imagine how badly our current White House occupant could screw up any one of those. Give him eight years, and eventually we’re all gonna get unlucky. Saddest thing is, all these Republicans defending him like he’s their dear sainted father know exactly how bad it would be if anything approaching an existential crisis strikes on his watch. But still they cower on. Speaking of crazy, this is the year we get serious about getting these cats that prowl The Observatory some mental help, or at least the year we get a good, honest dog up in here to give them something to focus their energies on. A beagle, maybe. Beagles are, in our experience, a force for good wherever they go, and if anybody can straighten this outfit out, that’s the one. We’re not looking forward to walkies in the rain, though, so maybe we can convince him to poop in that little box in the back room with the rest of ’em. That may, however, be an indignity too far. One thing’s for sure in 2020: less rootin’ and more tootin’. No more considering whether this is the year we should just go ahead and get one of those trained helper monkeys to do all our picking up, bending over and beer-gettin’ out the fridge so we don’t have to tear our attention away from Cartoon Network Ocho for even a solitary moment. We’ve already got too damn many critters up in this joint, both adopted and volunteer. It’s a whole new year, friends — a whole new decade, even — and even though 2020 is bound to be a rollercoaster full of ups and downs, left hooks and right jabs, dizzying heights and drops, the rattling cars careening through dark and spooky tunnels haunted by all the ghosts we thought we could leave behind for good, there’s still plenty to be thankful for no matter how it all turns out. First and foremost: that we’re all still around, above ground, to read these words. Considering the alternative, that ain’t chicken feed, no matter what you’re facing otherwise. The Observer wishes you and yours good fortune in the coming year, Dear Reader. And if you can’t manage good fortune, we hope to see you back again this time next year, when we’ll again give thanks for the simple fact of being vertical in the sun from time to time.
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