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lifestyle entertainment

22 24

Now Hear This A Concert for the Ages



Catherine Frederick

Habits of Harmony The Labyrinth The Dance From Darkness to Light When Pigs Fly

26 29 32

A Novel Idea The Art of Freedom Fish Without a Doubt



7 8 10 14 18

36 40 42

Girls Night Out Hearts of Acai Cocoa Love



44 46

It’s Different Up Here Hitched

Marla Cantrell


Marla Cantrell Laura Hobbs Doug Kelley Jim Martin Tonya McCoy Whitney Ray Clara Jane Rubarth J.D. Williams


Jeromy Price


David Jamell


Read Chair Publishing, LLC

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Catherine Frederick at 479 / 782 / 1500 Editorial or Artwork Information

Marla Cantrell at 479 / 831 / 9116 ©2011 Read Chair Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions contained in @Urban are exclusively those of the writers and do not represent those of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. as a whole or its affiliates. Any correspondence to @Urban or Read Chair Publishing, LLC., including photography becomes the property of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. @Urban reserves the right to edit content and images.



ebruary. The month with an entire day devoted to love smack dab in the middle of it. And I adore Valentine’s Day – the chocolates (specifically chocolate covered

strawberries), and heaping, beautiful bouquets of flowers. I even keep the dried rose buds from years passed- yeah, yeah, sappy I know. It hasn’t always been that way. If we’re honest here, we all know it’s hard to get very far into adulthood without one or two Valentine’s Days we’d rather forget. Maybe that’s how you’re feeling this year, if you’re not partnered up with someone special. I get it. All of that mushy, gushy, “I Love You More,” “No, I Love You More.” And then somebody you know up and gets engaged. I mean, really.

This February, we’re covering all the bases. Inside these pages we’ll introduce you to a wonderful woman who’s eighty-something and holds the key to keeping romance alive. We’ll show you gifts for that special someone, a few magnificent places to get ‘hitched,’ and a story of love and loss that will tug at your heartstrings. But we’ll also show you how to find the path to peace walking a simple path, introduce you to a man in love with freedom, and unveil a mystery involving a curious doctor, two inmates and a matter of national security. And then there’s the food: a recipe called Cocoa Love, filled with chocolate deliciousness; a night on the town, complete with Bananas Foster, Black Forest Torte, and an X-rated martini; and finally, catfish (yes, catfish) sloppy joes! So Urbanities, this Valentine’s Day, if you’re not passionate about someone I urge you to be passionate about something- because life is always sweeter with a little passion thrown in.


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The old singer, from back when the Ryman still held the soul of country music, talked on the radio about his partner, his brother Ira, who sang with him fifty years ago, until a car crash ended any chance of the Louvin Brothers together again.

Habits of Harmony @lines Doug Kelley

“But even now,” he said, “when it comes time for the harmony, I catch myself moving over to the left. You know, to share the one microphone.” I sat and listened and looked over at the chair where my Miriam used to sit and thought, I know what you mean, Charlie. I know what you mean. 7


t’s a bright winter morning and New Year Resolutions have not yet failed. Perhaps this is the time to reflect

on a considered life and to follow the path of people since the Morning Star first rose ages ago, to have a dialog with the living Earth and with all that is held in the Sacred Spaces within. Scholar Joseph Campbell invites us to come to places where people may acknowledge and focus on who they really are, and in what, or whom, they place their ultimate trust. One of these sacred places is a circle of stones at Stonehenge, another the sacred groves of trees of the Greeks. Such a Sacred Place available here and now is the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth, a marvel of geometry, is a spiral pattern, a single path, unlike the maze with junctions and dead-ends to puzzle the mind and to call upon left-brain logic. Instead, its turns and reverses release the right brain’s creativity and intuition as the Pilgrim progresses toward the Center, choosing the pace, following the Path. There is tension in the twisting path, a tension between soul and body, between the ancient and the new, the known and the unknown. Only the imagination is native to this rhythm. The feet feel the rhythm, and the energy rises as the pent-up tension is released. The spirit initiates

the labyrinth following the path

@story Clara Jane Rubarth @image Greg Hartman

a profound conversation with the mind as new thoughts are born, promoting introspection and reflection. This walking journey is not the province of any age, any people. Navaho, Hopi, and Pima trace such patterns on sand and pottery and baskets.

Archaeologists have uncovered sacred paths

in primordial caves. The crypt beneath the nave of the great


Cathedral in Chartres, near Paris, holds this primitive pattern many

clarity gained. The Mantra chanted since the beginning of the

thousands of years old.

Journey - “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” - is once again repeated and the Pilgrim may choose again

The entrance to the Labyrinth asks the Pilgrim to face east, but

the seven circuits, this time clockwise, perhaps even running or

many walk counter-clockwise seven times around the outer edge

dancing - before returning to quotidian tasks.

of the Labyrinth - three for the Trinity or the phases of the moon, plus four for the archangels or the compass directions or the

Restored, the Pilgrim continues. The Garden sleeps, awaiting

elements of fire and earth and air and water - before entering the

the next Pilgrim seeking refreshment.

Path to clarify the questions, the intention of the walk.

the Gathering at the Labyrinth, inspired by Paula D’Arcy’s

In colder seasons

WOMENSPEAK, walks the Sacred Path in the design of the Peripatetic thinkers from Aristotle to Thoreau to our own time

Chartes Cathedral at Trinity Episcopal Church in Van Buren

find that as their feet pace their mind clears. Medieval pilgrims

for the Winter Solstice in December and at St. Scholastica

unable to walk the hazardous way to Jerusalem instead walked

Monastery in Fort Smith for the Spring Equinox in March. Both

labyrinths. The turns on the Path lead the mind first one way

of these Labyrinths are open to the public as well.

then the other as intention swings from one possibility to another and the energy of the thought rises to an answer or to

The Gathering Speaks Peace and Walks the Garden Path at

a higher level of clarity or praise.

“The Learning Fields at Chaffee Crossing” in June to mark the Summer Solstice and in September at the Autumnal Equinox. The Community is invited to participate at each of the seasonal-

“Solvitur ambulando,” writes Saint Augustine. “It is solved by walking.”

marking Gatherings. At the Center of the Labyrinth, the Pilgrim enters the still point of our turning Earth. Time is put on hold as the Pilgrim enters

The “Gathering at the Labyrinth” will be held at the

the Fourth Dimension. There is only a scent of the past, patient and non-judgmental.

Labyrinth on the grounds of the St. Scholastica Monastery in

The Pilgrim rests, meditates, dances,

Fort Smith, at the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Albert

thinks of the inner journey of healing, or places a hand-held

Pike. Enter the grounds at the Service Entrance and follow

stone or shell symbolic of a burden released.

the road to the greenhouse area. The Gathering will be 5:007:00 on Saturday, March 19, and coincides with a Labyrinth

The outward Path traces the Journey in reverse as the Pilgrim

retreat led by Sr. Macrina Wiedekehr, OSB. More information

returns, usually with a lighter step, into the present. There is

on this three-day retreat is available by calling the Retreat

no need for Ariadne’s thread, for the turns of the Path are clear.

Center, 783-1135 or by e-mail at The retreat is open to those interested. The public is invited to

At the entrance, now the exit, the Pilgrim turns to acknowledge

the Gathering, and no reservation is required to attend.

the Journey and to express gratitude for the Path and for the


the dance

the two of them, he in a white tux, she in a red gown, and asks, “Isn’t he just the handsomest man?”

unstoppable betty farmer @story Marla Cantrell @images Matt Graham

And he is, even at ninety-two. Dance, she says, can keep a marriage alive. You move together,


etty Farmer, eighty-one, sits on her sofa, hands in her lap,

depend on each other, overlook the occasional misstep. It’s not

her posture impeccable. As she rises and crosses the room,

bad advice.

there is a grace to it, her head held high, her feet all but gliding Betty traces her love of dance back to the town of Alma, when

across her living room floor.

she was only twelve. World War II was raging. There was an overflow of girls, a deficit of boys, and a teen hangout called

She is an accomplished dancer and her movements show it.

The White Goose where the jukebox played incessantly. “My Betty teaches ballroom, Latin and swing dance at the Eagles

girlfriend had an older sister. We’d follow her there. They’d be

Club in Fort Smith every week. Her husband Jim, whom she calls

doing the jitterbug. ..The girls danced together a lot. If I learned

the love of her life, helps her. She reaches for a photograph of

the boy’s part, the girl’s part was easy. It was natural for me.”



While dancing was easy, school was not. “I fell asleep all the

Aircraft. The 1950s were just unfolding, the world was getting

time. I slept in class. I slept when I tried to study. If I wasn’t

much bigger for this girl from Alma, and things were looking up

moving, I slept. The only studying I could do was by walking the

– as long as she could stay awake.

floor and talking to myself. The loud whistles at the plant proved beneficial. “I’d take my “Mother took me to doctor after doctor and they said, ‘Oh, she’s

break in the ladies’ lounge and fall asleep. When the whistle

just a lazy teenager.’ Mother said, ‘Don’t tell me there’s not

blew I’d go right back to work. Same thing at lunch. A girl who

something wrong with this child. She’ll fall asleep, wake up, and

worked with me watched me. ..She told me her father was a

do her chores. She’s not lazy.’ In the ninth grade, Betty realized

retired doctor, that she’d talked to him about me and he thought

she couldn’t finish school. She started working at her mother’s

he could help.”

business in Alma, The Corner Café. “As long as I was waiting on customers, I was fine. If I stopped – boom – I was asleep.”

Soon after, he did help. The doctor gave her a little box of diet pills with a stern warning not to abuse them. “For the first time

What Betty had was narcolepsy, although she wasn’t officially

in years I was finally awake. It was wonderful.”

diagnosed for years. “It was a hindrance in a lot of ways but it also made me a fighter. I was that go-go-go girl. As long as I was

Now alert, the world was manageable. The woman who regularly

moving and talking I could cope.”

asked seatmates on public buses to wake her at her stop now had a driver’s license. Her stepson, Ed, a second grader, came

While working at The Corner Café another goal surfaced. “I wanted

to live with her. He was shy and withdrawn. Betty looked for

to take a beauty course but I was too young. My mother let me go

a way to help him through it. “I took him to tap, ballet, jazz. I

anyway. I had a couple of friends there who’d help me study by

figured dance would draw him out.

walking with me as we worked on theory. ..When I finally turned sixteen, the age you had to be to get your license, I took the test

After two years in class, Ed set his sights on ballroom dance,

and they helped keep me awake. I passed with flying colors.”

which was taught only to adults. Betty convinced the owner of the dance studio to start a children’s class and he agreed – with

She was good at her job, although there were times when she’d

one stipulation. Betty had to find the students. “I had fifty in

wake up in the middle of giving a customer a permanent, or

just a couple of weeks, and fifty more a few weeks later. ..When

while painting someone’s fingernails. “I’d usually hear my name

he [the owner] asked me what I wanted from all that work I told

and that would snap me out of it. But I never messed anything

him I wanted to learn to teach. That’s how it all started.”

up, and no one ever suspected I’d been asleep.” The owner of the dance studio eventually turned the operation Betty married her first husband when she was in her early

over to Betty when his marriage hit the rocks. For a year

twenties, moved to California, and began working at Douglas

she continued to work for Douglas Aircraft and taught in the



That was the end of the “other Betty”.

evenings. But she finally left the plant. “We had 300 children at one time. The funny thing was we never advertised. ..I renamed

They married and moved to Jim’s house where they’d pull back

the place The Anaheim Guys and Dolls.

the rugs and dance across the hardwood floors. Not long after “We were on TV shows. ‘The Wink Martindale Dance Party’ was

they began teaching other couples. That led finally to organized

kind of like ‘American Bandstand’ and it was out of Pacific Ocean

classes at the Eagles Club that continue today.

Park. They also performed on “Al Jarvis Let’s Dance.” In the summertime they had teenage competition. My stepson and

Betty cherishes every minute, including the narcolepsy that

his partner won that. Their solo was the tango. They competed

threatened to stop her in her tracks. “I didn’t want to lose out

against kids three or four years older than them.”

on life. I wanted to make the best of it. I wanted to live all the life I could.”

Betty was also soaring. She received her certification from the International Dance Masters Association. It was a grand time.

For her, the best part of life includes dance. In November of last

But it all ended when Betty’s family returned to Arkansas in the

year, more than 150 friends Betty and Jim met by teaching dance

1960s. “I was a Baptist in Alma. We didn’t do a lot of dancing

showed up to help celebrate his birthday. “Dancing is good,

after that. I had two daughters by that time and we had little

wholesome fun,” Betty says. “It lightens your life, it lifts you up.”

house parties where we danced but that was it.” But it means even more to Betty because it’s what brought her A few years after her husband of thirty-two years died, Betty

together with the man she adores. “I’ve got Jim with me. We’ll

saw an ad for a ballroom dance class. She couldn’t wait. It had

be married eighteen years in March. ..When we got married we

been twenty years since she’d been on the dance floor. But

decided to make each other our priority. ..I idolize Jim. ..And

she needed a partner. Betty’s mother thought of Jim Farmer, a

the dancing keeps the romance in the marriage. It’s one-on-

widower and retired engineer. “I told my mom I just couldn’t ask

one that we all need,” Betty says, looking at her husband, who

him, but then he called me and I just blurted it out.”

smiles back at her. “None of this,” she says, “would have been half as interesting without him.”

Soon they were dancing five or six times a week. They were just two friends who loved to dance. And then ‘the other Betty’

More information is available at

came along. “Jim’s just precious and he was trying to be nice

and this other Betty needed a dance partner. They’d go to dances sometimes. But I didn’t like it. Not one bit. ..So one day when we were at his house practicing I just went over, sat on his lap and gave him a big kiss.”


from darkness to light van buren library

@story Marla Cantrell @images Catherine Frederick


ayor Bob Freeman stands inside the brand new Van Buren Library and smiles. “It’s like going

from darkness to light,” he says, looking out across the building, its ceiling so far above you have to crane your neck to see it. The grand opening for the 19,000 square foot building will be Febraury 13 at 2:00 p.m. at the Main Street and 15th Street location. Freeman is anxious to have the library open; it’s taken far longer than anyone expected. In fact, the origins of this shining building go all the way back to 2005 when voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund the project. The tax that paid for the $3.4 million project has long since been retired. When the building opens there will be no mortgage, it’s all bought and paid for. As Freeman walks down the now empty rows of shelving, where movers will soon unpack the 62,000 books that make up the collection, he considers the marathon from start to finish. “I cried the day it caught fire in September of 2008,” Freeman says. He points



to the row of cottages visible through the wide expanse of glass.

says. “It’s going to be a relief to say, here it is. It will be a great

“I was standing right over there,” he says, “watching the firemen

feeling to see the community’s reaction. We’ve been watching

work. It was 5:30 in the morning. I had tears coming down then,

the progress and have had the little jolts of ‘feel good.’ I want to

because I had a feeling it was going to be bad, not just because

see that person who sees all this for the first time.”

of the fire. There had been some indications of trouble.” “I’ll probably cry all day,” Porter says, and then reconsiders. The foreboding had merit. That following January, the general

“But maybe not. There will be so much to do.”

contractor went out of business. At the same time, the city was wrapping up negotiations with the insurance company over

Already, her staff of eight is working with professional library

payment for the fire damage.

movers, who “map” the new library out, rack up the books, shrink-wrap them, and put them where they belong. “They

But there was still a long road ahead. The next round of

know where every book belongs,” Porter says. “The ‘A’ fiction

negotiations was with the bonding company to work out

authors don’t have a chance of ending up with the ‘C’ authors.

payment for the fifteen percent of construction left undone

It’s really a phenomenal process.”

when the fire started. That process took more than a year. The old library, just three blocks from the new one, is two-thirds With the library now on the brink of opening, Freeman can

smaller and busy nearly every second of the seventy hours a

finally breathe. “There were times when it was first being built,”

week that it’s open. “We have three people working out of our

he says, “when I couldn’t wait to see it as I drove by. Later, there

break room,” Porter says. “If you eat, you eat literally at your

were days when I turned my head. ..Now, I can finally say it’s

desk. ..Lately we’ve had close to 500 patrons come through a

water under the bridge, and I’m not swimming in that water.

day. ..Right now we have one little carpeted area we use for our

This is too much of a feel-good story to do that.”

meeting room, story time, teen activities, crafting. Computers are right against it. It’s so tight that we have young children

Van Buren Library Director Danalene Porter agrees. She was with

walking to the Easy Reads even as meetings are going on. We

the mayor that September morning, the blaze lighting the sky, fire

are so excited to have a children’s room where we’ll be able to

trucks screaming down Main Street. Now, as she walks into the

expand programming and activities.”

topnotch building and sees the new rockers for the porch where patrons will be able to sit with a good book, she tears up. “I hadn’t

Teens will also benefit. For the first time since the old library

seen the rockers yet,” she explains. “I get a little emotional. It’s

opened in the early 1970s, they’ll have their own section.

so great to see all this,” she says, pointing across the space where

Funky armchairs are already in place, a drink holder on one

red and yellow and blue tiles shine in the kids’ room. We can’t

side, a tray table on the other to hold school work or a laptop.

wait for the public to see this. To see how far we’ve come.”

There is also a meeting room for non-profits to use that can hold

Freeman is waiting for the same thing. “That will be the day,” he

100, a genealogy department, study areas, and a center that will



eventually have twenty-four computers – the old library has only eight for public use. There is also a high-tech self checkout for those wanting to grab a book quickly and head out the door. The building is the handiwork of MAHG Architecture in Fort Smith. Wood beams run the length of the towering ceiling, ductwork rises between them like sculpture, light jumps from every corner. Even the check-out counter near the entry stands out, with its zigzag design and flashy red countertops. Freeman sees it as part of an awakening in downtown. Chuck Fawcett Realty recently renovated an office building next to the library and set up shop there. First Baptist Church, when faced with the necessity of expanding, stayed where it was, using adjacent land, instead of moving to the fast-growing section of town near the Wal-Mart Supercenter. And soon, the historic Drennen-Scott House, which is being renovated by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, will open to the public. He also sees the new library as proof the residents of this town of 23,000 have their priorities straight. “A library is a sense of community, a sense of gathering, coming together. It’s a focal point, a center. ..Our community understands the importance of this place.” Porter walks down the row of offices where built-in desks wait to be filled. Her heels click along the floor, echoing in the yet-tobe filled space. The mayor stands at the entrance, and looks up at the wall of textured glass high above him. “This is all I know about architecture,” he says pointing at the panels, each with two horizontal strips and two large rectangles of glass. “See

the problem of the library fire, trying on solutions like a man

how the lines match up? Now look at the windows,” he says,

looking for the right suit. Now Freeman is almost giddy. “I never

pointing to the entry where windows rise higher and higher.

expected it to be quite this hard,” he says, “but it been worth it.

“That was on purpose,” he says, and smiles again.

Just look at this place.”

He is no longer the man who woke in the night worrying out


when pigs fly razorback disc golf @story Whitney Ray


hen Alex Flippin and Scott Sharp step

boys zipped up in North Face jackets. There are

onto the grass at Lake Fayetteville Park

scarves, toboggans. One brave, or maybe stupid,

the wind attacks every bit of skin not covered

frat boy is dressed in shorts and a long-sleeved

by boot, jean or jacket. It’s cloudy. Forty-three

T-shirt with Greek letters on the front, no hat.

degrees. Not ideal weather for a day at the park, but Alex and Scott aren’t the only people out. In

It’s winter, a Wednesday. After a few minutes

fact it‘s almost as busy as a summer day.

of stretching, Alex digs through an odd shaped bag filled with brightly colored discs. There are

Dozens of people, mainly twenty-something

twenty of them. Alex grabs an orange one with

men, are marching on the dead grass, through

a pumpkin painted on its face. He steps onto an

mud, over fallen trees. You see bearded men

eight-foot slab of concrete, aims, takes three

wearing camouflage coveralls, clean-shaven

quick steps and lets the disc fly.


It soars down the fairway about 100 feet before hitting a tree,

Scott mouths along. Alex has played half of the Arkansas courses.

ricocheting to the left and landing in thick mud. To make par

There are eighteen. Nineteen if you count the course set up on

Alex has two more chances to throw his disc another 125 feet

the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville twice a year.

and into the mouth of a four-foot yellow basket with chains for teeth. His goal isn’t just to beat Scott, but to best his top score,

The University of Arkansas Disc Golf Club drags eighteen

which is six over par on this course.

portable pins to the Old Main lawn in the spring and fall. The club hosts the biannual tournament to raise money to compete

Disc golf is growing in popularity among Arkansans. The

in the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship. The U of A

sport has been around since bellbottoms and tie-dye. It’s like

has placed in the top five the past two years.

traditional golf, but instead of using clubs and balls, players use discs. There are as many different discs as there are clubs. Some

Club president Ryan Black puts a lot of thought into how the

fly straight, some curve. There is a putter. Scott has a bright pink

course is put together. It’s challenging to set up the course

disc designed to roll.

without jeopardizing the windows and doors of the surrounding buildings. “The course is a pretty epic layout with one of the

With the flick of his right wrist, Scott makes a shot that curves

holes shooting off the second floor balcony of the Graduate

around a large oak on his right, then breaks left, barely missing a

Studies Building,” Black says. “Senior Walk is out-of-bounds

dead bush before rattling the chains and landing in the basket.

which makes the course interesting,”

Nature provides the obstacles. Players have to throw around

Tournaments, like the Biannual Razorback Classic, cost money,

trees, over water, and through thick brush. At Lake Fayetteville

but nearly ninety percent of all courses are free. Nationwide

several holes run right along the shoreline. The discs aren’t

3,000 courses blanket the country. Most are in public parks

Frisbees, they’re smaller and more dense, which means they

where all it takes is a disc and the patience to play.

don‘t float. Patience is needed because sinking a disc in water, jamming one Scott and Alex have sunk more discs on this course than they

high in a tree or slicing one into the brush can take half an hour

can count, but losing a disc is not always bad. “I’ve lost quite a

to recover. On this trip, Scott loses a blue disc in the lake just

few here,” Alex says. “The last one I hated, so I think we’re both

eight feet from shore. The water is clear and the disc is spotted

happier now. It was tie-dyed, and the farthest I was ever able to

quickly. “I found it,” Scott yells. Although he’s a little reluctant

throw it was in the lake.”

to wade in after it. It’s cold and wet pants and fingers early in the course could affect his score, or even his health. Alex comes

Alex says the rule of thumb is, if you can’t see the goal from the

over to analyze the situation. Branches are grabbed. Slippery

tee-box it must be behind a tree. And there’s always a tree. He’s

rocks sticking out of the water are stepped on. A threesome

been playing for three years and gives the advice so often that

playing behind Scott and Alex offers to help.



“We’ve got it. Play through,” Alex yells as Scott balances on two rocks and paddles his disc closer to shore with a thick branch found in the rough. The situation is lousy but the mood’s light. In disc golf everyone’s on the same team. Friends help friends find lost discs. Strangers offer a hand. Slower groups let faster groups play through. A man in a bright red Razorback hoodie lining up a shot while Scott and Alex recover the disc spots an abandoned candy wrapper. He bends to pick it up. While the atmosphere is friendly, and most players follow the rules of the game, a long-standing state law is often ignored. A

Near the eighteenth hole the course begins to open up. The

lot of players drink beer while they play. Some make halfhearted

tall pines and oaks give way to open fields of yellow grass. The

attempts to hide the cans marked Bud and Busch in koozies.

people change too. A dad and his two young sons can be seen

Most drink right in the open.

on the tee box of hole sixteen. A couple looks for a disc in a field of tall grass. They’re getting help from a black lab that is off

The calories from the beer are quickly burned. Most courses are

his leash. “When I started playing you would only see guys out

at least two-and-a-half miles long. They go up hill and down.

here. Then you saw couples,” Alex says. “Now you’ll see groups

Teeing off demands skill, but it also requires strength. The shot

of three or four girls throwing discs and playing just as fast and

begins in the feet, passes through the legs, up the abs to the

rough as the guys.”

chest and finally through the arms, wrist and fingers. Players While the players are changing from the sport’s early days

break a sweat, even in the winter.

when mostly college students and hippies threw discs, what The season adds its own obstacle to the already challenging

hasn’t changed is the experience. The courses put you in the

course. The cold weather tightens muscles, stings frigid fingers.

elements. At Lake Fayetteville, players throw around tall pines

But with the bad comes the good. The trees are void of leaves

and oaks, over gorges and beside clear water. A course in Bella

making the yellow goals easier to see. Almost everyone at the

Vista goes through creeks. In Alma, pins sit atop cliffs. In Fort

park is playing, so no one walks through the course while Scott

Smith, a tunnel waits. In Jasper, horses watch.

and Alex hurl discs at speeds up to sixty miles per hour. “With vegetation gone for the winter, a neon disc shows up like a

In the fall the beauty of a soaring disc is overshadowed by the

diamond in the rough,” says Scott, as he picks up his disc just

rustic reds and oranges of the leaves. In the spring the birds

feet from the fairway.

sing. The score is quickly forgotten.



are cheesy and the lyrics are lacking. The second track, the title track, is weak and feels incomplete with the music completely overwhelming the vocals, not that it matters; her enunciation is so bad here that, even in the very few instances she can be heard, you

now hear this

really can’t understand what she’s saying. And why the constant repeating of the word, “calling?” It has nothing to do with the rest

sugarland — the incredible machine

of the song and, to be honest, becomes rather annoying.

@review Jim Martin

The first half of the first single, “Stuck Like Glue,” is okay. Driven


hen Sugarland first burst onto the music scene with

by a simple acoustic riff it actually brings back memories of

their 2004 debut album, “Faster Than The Speed Of

the group performing at their prime. But then, the reggae/rap

Life,” one of their most appealing factors was the voice of lead

middle section rears its ugly head and ruins the song. “Stand

singer Jennifer Nettles. At a time that most female country

Up,” track five, is another brash piece with both Jennifer and

vocalists seemed in competition to hit the highest note, along

cohort Kristian Bush taking on lead vocal duties rasping about

came a woman who simply sang the song. No screaming, no

the need for folks to stand up and use their voice. Bush should

screeching. It was a nice change.

not have used his. “Every Girl Like Me,” sounds enough like the past to make the tune tolerable, but just barely.

Their next two releases were just as good, earning critic’s praise, a multitude of fans, and a number of awards nominations. Their

“The Incredible Machine” turns out to be the perfect title

third release, “Love On The Inside,” debuted at number one on the

because that’s exactly how it sounds: machine-made with no

Billboard charts and spawned no less than eight hit singles, leaving

heart whatsoever. Bottom Line: backing tracks overwhelm

country fans wildly anticipating whatever might come next.

the vocals, lyrics are redundant and trivial, and for the most part, Jennifer Nettles just doesn’t sound good – screaming, screeching, seemingly joining that competition for the highest

So what happened?

note. It’s a shame. The latest release from Sugarland, “The Incredible Machine,” sets a new standard for being overproduced to a point of being

If you’re looking for a good listen, I’d suggest you go back to their

unlistenable. I tried hard to find something, anything, even

original three releases; a perfect in-depth look at just how good a

remotely likable on this album, but time and again, my ears felt

group could have been if they’d stuck with their original vision.

assaulted by this brash, bombastic mess. Track one, “All We Are,” finds Ms. Nettles belting at the top of

I Rate It

her lungs throughout the entire cut. The echoes on the chorus


a concert for the ages

“Several of us decided to join forces and to provide a concert of area choirs and professional soloists. Fourteen professional artists, fourteen church choirs, and a twenty-five member band have come together to do this event.”

gospel fest 2011 The choirs, soloists and band brought the number of performers

@story Marla Cantrell @image Kat Wilson

to 300. The additional 100 singers are from the Academy’s third through sixth grade choir and local children’s church choirs.


n the night of March 5, 400 performers will gather on the

The night will be filled with songs like “His Eye is on the Sparrow,”

stage of Harvest Time Tabernacle in Fort Smith to sing the old

a classic written in 1905, “How Great Thou Art,” and “Amazing

gospel songs. It’s a monumental event and a major fundraiser for

Grace.” Local performers including Don Bailey, Gary Hutchison and

the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Academy of the Arts.

Jason Gilmore will perform solos. Southern and black gospel music will also be showcased, including a trio from St. James Missionary

Dr. Rosilee Walker Russell, the executive director of the Academy,

Baptist Church in Fort Smith. “This kind of music is a perfect fit for

said using local talent for Gospel Fest 2011 – A Concert for the Ages,

the community because it’s age appropriate for children. It also

is a wonderful way to include the talent we have in this community.

works for families, or anyone who loves good music,” Rosilee said.



Harvest Time is also a good fit because it can hold 2,500 people

instruction. And while none of the students who started when the

in one auditorium. “We’re only doing this once, so I encourage

Academy began are old enough for college, the results are already

everyone to get tickets early. And I’d come a little early. It starts at

evident. “They find a place to connect. They find people to connect

7:00 on March 5, but we’ll be doing some preview music possibly as

with, both kids and adults that they don’t see at their school. It

early as 6:30.”

gets them out of their little box and puts them in a place where everybody’s coming together for an artistic purpose. ..It brings shy

Last February the Academy of the Arts Children’s Choir performed

children out of their shell really fast. ..There’s scientific evidence

for a crowd of 600 at Breedlove Auditorium on the University’s

that the arts will raise your grades. The focus and the discipline and

campus. Surprisingly, there was very little stage fright. “We practice

that attitude of staying with a project helps the academic side.”

saying hello to the audience, what to expect from performing in front of a full house. ..We give them the opportunity to perform

One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the gospel concert will

before professionals, that’s one of my goals for the Academy. ..The

go back into the Academy. “Not a single person on that stage will

dress rehearsals are adult rehearsals so these children have to step

get one cent,” Rosilee said. Some of the money will be used for

up and they see how it’s going to be when they get older.”

scholarships for kids who might not otherwise be able to attend, as well as scholarships for gifted and talented students, and

Two of her students, second-grader Gabrielle Gore and sixth-grader

instruments. “About twenty-five percent of our students are from

Cameron Law, will be singing solos at the March concert. Both will

underserved, under-reached areas. ..We have an alliance with the

tell the audience what the Academy means to them before they

Fort Smith Public Schools that allows for a certain number of students

perform. Rosilee expects them to bring the house down. “Gabrielle

from certain parts of Fort Smith to be bused to our program. Private

will be singing a soulful, Southern number called ‘The Glory Train’s

money provides for that. We want kids to have a great experience

A Coming.’ She’s got a little bit of a Janis Joplin sound going and she

with the arts.”

can comfortably sing for 2,500 people.” Tickets to the event, which are only $10, are on sale at all fourteen Rosilee thinks it’s only the beginning for Cameron and Gabrielle.

participating churches, Solid Rock, and the University and Academy

“Both have what it takes to become professional performers,”

box offices. It’s a small price to pay to make a child’s life a whole lot

she said. But the goal of The Academy of the Arts is not to groom

brighter and a great way to spend an evening in March.

future artists. It’s actually much simpler. “We want them all to go to college, and yes we’d like a good percentage of them to attend the

For more information, log onto

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. But right now we want to teach or call 479-788-7251.

them self esteem, and to move them in the right direction.” The Academy, which opened in 2006, now serves about 500 kids per year. There are music, drama, and art classes, as well as private



hen Rowland Stewart was eleven he wrote a graphic short story about war. In it a fighter pilot blasted targets

on the ground, feeling disconnected from the flashes that rose as the bombs exploded. But later in the story, when the pilot was shot down, he faced hand-to-hand combat. He survived, but had to kill to do so. It was the alteration of distance that set up the dilemma. Death close up is different from death far away. “In the end he’s in a field, the grass waving, waiting for the helicopter to pick him up and he’s all tormented by his guilt,” Rowland says. “He pulls out his pistol, looks straight down the barrel. That’s where the story ended.” It was a complex plot for a young boy and one that caused concern for his teacher. “I think my mom got a call asking if I was okay.” The episode passed, and Rowland continued to work out moral questions far above his grade level. But he didn’t consider himself a writer. “I was a geek. I was a math guy, not a verbal guy. My ACTs and SATs flew off the chart in math and verbal was just okay.” More time passed, Rowland graduated from Northside High in Fort Smith, and then moved on to Southern Methodist University. “I went into college as a sophomore. I took AP classes and summer classes. When I hit campus I already had thirty-one hours. I was accepted for early admission to MIT and I was going to do pure mathematics and theoretical physics. I was certain. Certain. And then I looked and said, ‘It’s going to be how much?’

a novel idea

I remember calling and asking if they had scholarships and the guy said, ‘Son, everybody here’s smart.’

roland stewart’s The Dilemma

“I did understand I wanted to be educated and not just trained.

@story Marla Cantrell

I got into the Honors Liberal Arts program [at SMU] because I knew there were things I needed to know, I just didn’t know

To buy the book, or to read more about the author, log onto



what those things were. ..They made the assumption that you

It is fascinating, and a little disturbing, to read about the potential

understood English, and knew how to write but probably not

of Pine Bluff’s arsenal, the violence in backwoods of Jasper, the

effectively. I took a year-long, old fashioned rhetoric class. We

busy streets of Little Rock where a professional killer waits for

read novels, editorials, all kinds of things. You argued your

his chance to pounce. Arkansas becomes a key player in a plot

case but sometimes you’d be given a position to argue; it didn’t

involving the military, the U.S. President, and a doctor who seems

matter what you thought personally. What they did was really

trustworthy enough to watch your cat while you’re out of town.

well done. Writing is an extension of thinking.”

Rowland wrote about Arkansas because he knows it but also because he wanted to make the point that we are all vulnerable,

After SMU he landed in Little Rock at UAMS. He is now a general

whether we live in a high-rise near a subway station, or drive

internist at Westark Diagnostic Clinic in Fort Smith, a practice he

twenty-five miles in a truck just to see our nearest neighbor.

owns with another physician. And don’t get me started about flu shots. You’ll have to read that for yourself.

Medicine brings him a great deal of satisfaction. But Rowland is whiplash smart, and looks for outlets for his other side, the creative one. “I get up at three every morning. ..I do a lot of

But at the heart of the story is a similar dilemma to the one

research. I read a lot. I’ve also been someone who tries to

Rowland’s pilot faced all those years ago. War, when viewed

figure things out. Tell me I can’t and I’ll make sure it happens.”

from a distance, is not as horrifying as when it’s brought into your back yard. Rowland brings it home, in biological weapons that

One of the things he’s made happen is his novel, “The Dilemma.”

slip like shadows through security checkpoints, in experiments

In it, a doctor named Joe stumbles across a government project

on those many see as the least fit in society, and finally in a hit

that’s using Cummins’ prisoners to test a vaccine. “I wanted a

list with the names of some of the best citizens, targeted only

very punchy book. I wanted someone to be able to take it on a

because they know too much and refuse to keep quiet.

plane ride or to the beach and read it straight through. But then, once they’re done, let it percolate and simmer and then figure

Rowland published the book himself after studying the craft of

out what the dilemma was. To ask, ‘How real was that?’”

writing, sending the manuscript to editors who happen to live in Spain, and working through the grueling process of rewriting.

You’ll ask yourself that question, and many more during the

He finished “The Dilemma” just as Hurricane Katrina was

quick read. Scenes flash by page by page, taking the reader

gearing up for her specific form of destruction. It is a cinematic

in and out of Arkansas, through the hills of Scotland, into a lab

story, jumping from place to place, from character to character,

in Iraq where America is hated so completely you can feel the

but always tethered to a central theme.

loathing, to D.C. where the powerful sit around polished tables And the theme, when you discover it, is a frightening piece of

and decide the fate of millions.

work. Which is exactly what Rowland intended it to be.



on Thai Tran, a Fort Smith artist, was one of more than a

But they did survive. Son arrived in California on Christmas Eve.

million people who fled Vietnam in the months and years

It was 1978. Everything he had had been stolen. All that was

after the fall of Saigon. He tells the story with precision – the

left were the pants he wore and the shoes on his feet.

hulking boat taking on water, the sound of the raging sea that threatened to crack the ship in half, the 500 other escapees

Still, he looked around and saw paradise. The greater part of

fearing they might not survive the journey.

his life had been lived in a war-torn country bitterly divided between North and South.

the art of freedom son thai tran

@story Marla Cantrell @images Catherine Frederick

“My counselor gave me ten

American dollars,” Son said. “I felt like even if I had just one American dollar I would be okay. It was warm, like tropical, and beautiful. ..In Vietnam, I spent two years in a prison camp. I was field labor for the communists. My dad come down there to see me. He say, ‘If you can escape here, come back to Saigon, I find somebody to help you out.’”


Son devised a plan, teamed up with two other prisoners, slipped

He held tight to his talent during his early years in America. But

out of sight and spent days hiding in the jungle. “I was scared,

there was little time. He was a busy man, washing dishes, and

sure,” Son said, “but I didn’t want to die there, in prison, so there

then working in a factory.

was not a choice.” When the furniture factory shut down a few years ago, Son Two weeks after he made it back to his home in Saigon he was

decided to paint full time. His work is now sold at Gallery

boarding a ship to the U.S. His father had gold that he used to

Under the Arch in downtown Van Buren. At home his dining

secure Son’s spot on the boat. Son was twenty-two. “My dad

room table is covered with projects, many framed and stacked

said, ‘I’m old. I don’t want to start over again.’ He said, ‘I love this

in a neat pile, others in various stages of completion. Blank

place, I can’t leave this place.’ He said, ‘You have future.’”

canvases lean against one wall, the result of a recent sale at a local crafts store.

After a few months he decided to come to Fort Smith where some of his family had already settled. “People talked to me and

Son likes to work with acrylics because they can move as fast as

I nodded, yes, yes, yes. But I couldn’t understand anybody. My

he can. “I can paint quick, quick, quick. Like my mind” he said,

family took me to the only Vietnamese restaurant in town. I asked

tapping his right temple with his index finger. “If I don’t paint

did they have a job. I started washing dishes that same day.”

fast, it’s gone.”

He took English classes where an instructor began by teaching

His work is prolific. A still life covers nearly half a wall near his

him the alphabet. At night he washed dishes. He was more than

front door. It is an abundant display, flowers, fruit, all tumbling

8,000 miles from home, missing his father, but grateful to be free.

out onto a dark canvas. “That one take too much time,” Son

In his spare time he did what he loved. “Somehow I always had

said. “Can’t make money when you paint one thing for too

paper and I was always drawing. ..I have good memory for art.

many months.”

Somehow it just comes out for me. I pull out color and a setting. Another one of his paintings is Picasso-like, lines and curves “My uncle is big in art in Vietnam. He would not teach me,” Son

and angles creating a woman who seems a bit perplexed to

said, still puzzled by the older man’s refusal. “I love my uncle.

be on display in his hallway. There are portraits as well, the

He traveled all the time. Later he got sickness and lived in a

subjects poised and hopeful. Some of his favorite pieces are

small room in the back of our house.

what he calls “free art,” abstract visions of emotions he feels in a flash and captures before they fly away.

“I say to him, ‘I cannot do what you do.’ He say, ‘Practice. Let it come out. Later on you recognize it in your brain and it come out in

Many of these are done without using a brush. He demonstrated,

your hand like music playing. You’ll practice everywhere, drawing

cutting a corner from a piece of cardstock, then dipping the

in the sand, drawing in the dirt.’ And I did. And it came out.”

edge in green paint before sliding it deftly across the paper.



“A long time ago I realized I could do things my way,” he said, explaining the technique he developed himself. He worked fast, applying the paint in a thick, wavy line . “A tree?” he asked, and then dipped the makeshift brush into red, applying the color sparingly, a bit here, a spot there. “Now a flower,” he said, looking satisfied with the result. Son seems unaware of his talent, perhaps because it comes so easily for him. He shrugged, saying, “I could not write a book.” But he tells stories just the same. There are frogs placed in unsuspecting places, a face peering through a blast of color. When asked to describe the painting he uses only two words: surrender and witness. It is enough for him. He knows the tale by heart. He believes his work has great value, but not a grand price. “In New York they sell paintings for thousands. Here, not so much.” Son gestured toward a masterpiece of his own making, a landscape with verdant hills and azure water. “But who am I, here in Arkansas?” he asked. “I am nobody.” It isn’t true. Son is talented. That he takes for granted. But not freedom. It’s what he loves best about his life, and about his work. “I have a free art because I didn’t study it,” he explained. “You go to school, your master tell you what to do, right? Then you belong to him, not yourself. I,” he said, his fist thumping the spot where his heart beats, “I belong to me.”


top of the food chain but we can’t just eat the largest predators and not have dramatic fallout,” Rick said. “I look at the world as an ecosystem, and as a system everything is inter-aligned upon each of the moving parts. You can’t just think it’s no major consequence when we put something into extinction. You wouldn’t drive your car down the road and pull out a part and expect it to run the same. Get that.” Twenty years ago he became an advocate for sustainable seafood – fishing in a way that doesn’t deplete any one species, harm the ecosystem or use technology that can be destructive to the oceans.

fish without a doubt

Sustainable seafood is the only kind you’ll find at his restaurant, RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay. But Rick wanted to do more to promote his cause. In 2008, he and a co-author published ‘Fish

rick moonen

Without a Doubt.’ “I’ve been asked to do a cookbook for many years, but I wasn’t excited about it. Especially a seafood-centric

@story Marla Cantrell @image Rick Moonen


People are afraid to cook seafood, at least in the

United States. People are afraid it will smell up their kitchens.


It’s not what we’re used to smelling when we come home.” Rick

remedy that this month when he heads to the city to cook for a

He had several hurdles to tackle: the names of fish change from

VIP dinner benefitting Bost, Inc., the local agency that provides

region to region, home cooks are wary of fish bones, and they

a critical services for those with developmental disabilities.

think seafood is expensive. So Rick stepped back from his

ick Moonen, renowned chef at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas,

scratches his head over the excuse. “When there’s a roast in the

author, and former contestant on “Top Chef Masters,”

oven,” he said, “no one complains it smells beefy.”

hasn’t been to Fort Smith before, or even to Arkansas. But he will

professional kitchen and looked at fish from a new perspective. Rick will do two things while he’s here: cook and spread the

“I took the task of going to a grocery store and purchasing what

word about the importance of protecting the world’s oceans.

everyone had access to and then going into a really small New York apartment kitchen equipped with normal pots and pans and

And boy can he talk about the ocean. From the BP oil spill in

just started getting creative. ..I’ve been in fine restaurants my

the Gulf of Mexico last year – “Every day was a frustration to

whole career and have a love and understanding and perspective

me,” – to the arrogance of mankind. “We see ourselves at the

on food from my experiences in life. And that’s what this book



became, a little more of an education on just how to purchase seafood, how to handle it, and how to prepare it.” A remarkable thing happened. “I never worked with catfish or tilapia. These are items I’d never put on my restaurant menu. They’re perceived as a poor man’s fish. So as I started to introduce myself to these products. I realized they were pretty darn good. I simply broiled a filet of catfish and a piece of tilapia – the texture was very meaty. The same day I was creating a barbeque sauce for seafood, a mother-sauce for seafood, to slather on it while it was on the grill. “Instead of veal sauce or beef stock that I’d put into some

a child I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to save lives. I have

barbeque sauces I’d put in clam juice. And when I tasted it I was

this rescue fantasy that’s somehow programmed within my

happy. I knew I needed to do simple things that people would

genes. And this [the sustainable seafood movement] became the

eat on a weekly basis. I thought of sloppy joes. ..And I turned

perfect venue for that and I’ve had a very rich and fortunate life.”

to my co-author and said, ‘This recipe is going to sell this book.’” So he continues to spread the word. “Symbiosis is the way of Rick was right. Oprah named his Catfish Sloppy Joe the “Best

the world. And in my opinion it should be called Planet Ocean,”

Sandwich in America” in 2008.

he quipped, “not Planet Earth.”

It’s his celebrity that helps him open doors, talk to groups and

When he comes to Fort Smith, he’ll prepare a meal for fifty

get his message out. He’s emphatic about the threat to the

Bost supporters, and then spend a little time talking about our

oceans, but he doesn’t let it weigh him down. “My life changed

oceans. “I try not to be preachy. I try to gather around the table

in 1976 when I enrolled in Culinary Institute of America in Hyde

and show everyone how wonderful social traditions are, all the

Park in New York. Two years later I graduated first in my class,

different factors that go into drawing us together as human

and I fell in love with the intricacies of the kitchen, with the

beings. And somewhere along the way it creates the realization

rewards of daily creativity and the getting immediacy back from

that we have to do better.”

people. It became addictive and I never looked back. The February VIP event is the precursor to the 2011 Grape Escapes “And I think I think differently than a lot of people, by absorbing

event which will be held on March 11. Tickets for the March event

everything, I process it and reflect and I realized that there was

are $100 per person. For more information call 478.5556.

a way I could make a difference in the world and I wanted to. As


@PEOPLE @recipe Rick Moonen




Sloppy Joes are great made with tilapia, but you could try skinless salmon, char, or trout, too.

Season the catfish with salt. Let sit on the counter. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan’s hot, add the oil, onion, and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the paprika and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the catfish and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until thick. Meanwhile, heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Butter the buns and toast them on the griddle. Fill the buns with the catfish mixture and pile some potato chips on top for crunch. Serve these Joes while they’re hot.

These are just as sloppy and delicious as you could hope for. Soft, tender potato rolls are my choice for serving, but any hamburger bun will do.


MAKES ABOUT 1-3/4 CUPS Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil, onion, garlic, and thyme and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook swirling the sugar in the skillet, until the sugar dissolves and the caramel is dark amber. Add the vinegar and clam juice and boil until the caramel has dissolved.

Fish deserves its own special barbecue sauce. This one isn’t aggressive in the least, so it’s perfectly suited to the soft nuances of seafood. The flavor of the clam juice wafts through the sauce.

Add the caramel and clam juice mixture to the onions, along with the ketchup, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and white pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes. Let cool. You can make this well in advance. It will keep for days in the refrigerator. Recipe from FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT by Rick Moonen & Roy Finamore, copyright ©2008. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

girls night out

decadent desserts of downtown fort smith @story Tonya McCoy

Maybe you find yourself sans boyfriend this Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry, you’re in for a treat. Celebrate this holiday by showing your affection for someone who works hard and deserves a night out: You. Dress up, dress down, it doesn’t matter. Call your dearest single gal pals and head to Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith for your just desserts.


Decadent Cupcakes Creative Kitchen

Average Cost:

Bread Pudding 309 Garrison Ave.

R. Landry’s New Orleans Café


Average Cost:

Rolando’s Bananas Rolando’s Restaurante

Average Cost:

Black Forest Torte Average Cost:


It’s that time of year again - Mardi Gras! Put on your beads and head to R. Landry’s New Orleans Café for a surprisingly addictive treat. Landry’s has what may be the best kept dessert secret around town: a New Orleans tradition – bread pudding. Now if you’re like me, the thought of eating bread or pudding for dessert doesn’t sound all that exciting. But wait! Don’t think of it as bread, or even pudding. Think of it as a warm, mashed cinnamon-roll-like bowl of heaven. These little squares of moist sweetness are drenched with a sweet creamy sauce and sprinkled with cinnamon. Coowner Dori Colston won’t hint at ingredients, but she does say that she’s often challenged folks to try it. “I’ve offered to buy it if someone tries it and doesn’t like it. I’ve never had to buy one yet.”

First, treat yourself like a princess at Creative Kitchen. This shop makes you remember the days when Prince Charming was real and you begged mom for cupcakes for your birthday. “What’s great about it is everyone grew up eating cupcakes, so it takes you back to when you were a child,” says Jami Coleman, co-owner of Creative Kitchen. Their bakery uses the highest quality ingredients including very finely ground powdered sugar. Rachel Johnson, a.k.a. “cupcake girl,” handmakes these treats and they’re almost too pretty to eat. These cupcakes are all dressed up in elaborately decorated holders, topped off with sugar pearls, and sparkle with edible glitter. The added bling may make you feel like royalty, but they also taste incredible. This winter try the kitchen favorite, a white cake with buttercream frosting that is glittered to look like new fallen snow. With a bakery case full of colorful cupcakes in flavors like strawberry, peppermint, S’mores, and chocolate raspberry, choose one that fits your mood.

Emmy’s German Restaurant

613 Garrison Ave.

200 North 13th Street

223 Garrison Ave.


Add some spice with “Nuevo Latino” cuisine at Rolando’s Restaurante. Before Rolando’s opened in Fort Smith, owner Rolando Cuzco carved out figures from the gold plaster walls of his restaurant to create decorative murals. He’s also carved up golden bananas creating his own version of Bananas Foster. This dish has quickly become a city favorite. Rolando’s recipe from his native country of Ecuador is creamy and tangy. The warm bananas are drizzled with rum and banana liqueur and sprinkled with brown sugar. The dessert is served ala mode with vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream.


Head just off of Garrison to Emmy’s German Restaurant. There you’ll receive a warm willkommen (welcome) with some fantastic chocolate cake. The Black Forest Torte is a chocolate cake with a cherry twist. Chefs mix in chocolate chips and bits of maraschino cherries. Cream cheese strips are wedged between rich layers of chocolate. The cake is drizzled with kirsch cherry liqueur and topped with whipped cream. It’s as good as mom’s chocolate cake, because the recipe is from a mom - owner Joe Caldarera’s mother - who baked the cake for the restaurant for six months, then taught other chefs her secret.



Nutty Caucasian 21 West End

Average Cost:

Chocolate Banana Martini 21 North 2nd Street, Ste 102

$8 – $9

It’s not a girls’ night out without a couple of martinis, right? How about dessert martinis? Go directly to 21 West End just off Garrison. Get a little nutty with 21 West End’s Nutty Caucasian. Owner Kevin Dorey was inspired by the “caucasian” (white Russian) drink from the movie “The Big Lebowski.” The Nutty Caucasian recipe includes a mix of vanilla vodka, Kahlua and a splash of cream. Kevin adds Frangelico hazelnut liqueur to give the cocktail that “nutty” taste. But don’t get too out of hand, there’s plenty of night left for indulgences.

Lemon Drop 21 West End

Average Cost:

21 North 2nd Street, Ste 102

$8 – $9

Do you like extra sweet lemonade? If so, let the Lemon Drop take you back to summertime. This invigorating martini mixes freshly squeezed lemon juice with citrus vodka, Triple Sec, sweet and sour, and Splenda is added. Tip: If you’d like yours slightly more tart, kindly ask the bartender to add less Splenda. On the weekend you’ll save cash with this drink because it’s also listed on their “Five Dollar Friday” menu. 21 West End is perfect for girls wanting to try something new; it has an extensive martini and wine list. The restaurant also boasts a four-star menu with items not regularly seen in this area, like Beef Wellington, and occasionally elk.

Mojo’s Ivory House

Average Cost:

823 Garrison Ave.


The night is still young so head on down to Fort Smith’s one and only piano bar. Mojo’s Ivory House at 823 Garrison Avenue was opened by TV reality star turned entrepreneur, Joseph Meadows. Joseph was on the show “The Amazing Grace” and his spark for adventure has led him to this business venture. Mojo’s features live music and is an entertaining place to have a drink with the girls. “Girls just wanna have fun,” and also they just want chocolate. Spoil yourself by trying a sweet, rich chocoholic’s favorite: the Chocolate Banana Martini. This smooth mix is chocolate with banana liqueur, vodka, cream and, of course, swirled with more chocolate. Did I mention it has chocolate? Sorry. It’s great for banana lovers too. For all martini lovers, you never know what new exciting flavor is going to appear on the drink menu. Expert bartender Chris Sherwood says he and the other bartenders come up with varieties of delicious flavors mostly by trial and error. Where’s the form to sign up as taste-tester?!

X-Rated Flirtini Mojo’s Ivory House

Average Cost:

823 Garrison Ave.


The final addition is a cocktail called the X-Rated Flirtini, which is a fruity vodka concoction of orange, mango and passion fruit. This drink is the perfect girls’ drink – sweet, bright pink and with just the right zing. Drink it at the bar where blue neon lights glow across the length of the countertop and thank your lucky stars for your gal pals who make your life so much better.

Now that the night is over, call a taxi, grab that bottle of water, a couple of aspirin, and don’t try to add up the calories. You can always work out tomorrow.



Recipe by Bartender

Jennifer Lemley @image Catherine Frederick

1.5 oz Absolut Berri Acai

5 oz Cranberry Cocktail Juice

1 oz Sprite

- A squeeze of Fresh Lime

- Fresh Lemon and Lime Slices for Garnish

» Mix together Absolut Berri Acai, cranberry juice, Sprite and fresh lime.

» Squeeze in a shaker over ice.

» Garnish with a slice of fresh lemon and lime. 40

Provided by Mojo’s Ivory House 479.434.5434


box of stale chocolates. Droopy red roses. An obnoxious Mylar balloon. The middle of February has many men and some women - running around like chickens with their heads cut off, scrambling to find a gift that supposedly expresses their unyielding love and affection for their better half. Corporate America has us convinced that it’s imperative we buy something for our beloved on or before February 14th in order to prove our worthiness and devotion. Ah, love. You can be really... expensive and ridiculous.

@recipe & images Laura Hobbs

Around our house, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, per se; some may even consider us the Ebenezer Scrooges of Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, here; I love, honor and adore my Hubs more than words. More than the universe. Even more than my Clarins Eye Contour gel. Probably even more than my limited edition Coach Legacy handbag with the anniversary silk lining and the Garcia leath…- well, you get the point. Hubs and I are staunch believers that it doesn’t take a bouquet of flowers, a sappy card or embarrassing lingerie to let the other one know of our love and adoration. On February 14th, gifts to each other are explicitly off-limits, and restaurants are avoided at all costs... The gift of food, however, is always negotiable. I will admit that I do, in a sense, passively celebrate Valentine’s Day by cooking a nicer-than-normal meal for dinner. I may buy some nice steaks or plump shrimp. I may set the table and light some candles. I may put Marvin Gaye on the hifi. But no harm done, right? No wasted time or energy. No fretting. No overspending. No creepy stuffed animals. Just some good cooking. When I want to turn up the volume on an otherwise ordinary meal, I look to a special dessert as the icing on the cake (pun


@TASTE 3/4 cup flour 2/3 cup cocoa powder 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 cup butter, softened 2/3 cup brown sugar 4 eggs 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 1 (3oz) bar of dark chocolate, chopped 1 cup fresh (or frozen) cherries, pitted & halved 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 Tbs. powdered sugar for whipped cream

intended). Dessert is like the cherry on top of the sundae (I did it again!), and will have your sweetie thinking you’re a real peach (look at me go!). While there are millions of dessert recipes out there, ones I gravitate to most often have one common ingredient: chocolate. Chocolate is not only delicious, decadent and mildly nutritious, but it seems to have a magical way of curing what ails you. Studies have shown that chocolate increases serotonin levels in the brain, creating a sense of well-being, as well as increasing antioxidant levels in the blood to fight free radicals. In a funk? Eat some chocolate! Feeling the mid-winter blues? Eat some chocolate! Still bummed about the Sugar Bowl? Eat some chocolate!

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars, beating until well blended, about two minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well blended. Fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture. Fold in the dark chocolate and the cherries. Divide the batter evenly among 4 (8 oz.) ramekins. Arrange the ramekins on a small baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to 2 days).

And what better way to celebrate all of chocolate’s wonder and glory than with a warm, fudgy chocolate cake all of your own? I’m not talking cupcakes here. These little cakes, my dear readers, are so chocolaty, so rich and so intense, they will make your eyes cross, your nostrils flare, and your toes curl – in that order. What begins as an is-it-cake-or-is-itbrownie batter morphs into something of divine origins with the addition of dark chocolate chunks and sweet cherries. A little over 30 minutes in the oven puffs them into glistening works of art. While they cool a minute on the counter, whip yourself up a little cream to go alongside, and you’ll be in chocolate heaven in no time.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Let the ramekins stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Uncover the ramekins and bake them at 350° for about 35-40 minutes, until the cakes are puffy and set in the middle. Allow to cool about 5 minutes.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I’m a firm believer in the old adage. They also say that the way to a man’s heart is through his pie hole, with a heaping spoonful of chocolate cake and a dollop of whipped cream, and I’m a firm believer in that, too. Try this recipe for the shining star of your Valentine’s Day meal and see for yourself. Enjoy!

In the meantime, combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, and beat the cream at high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Serve the cream alongside the warm cakes.

Step by step photos



n incredible blessing dearly earned - that’s life as a professional pilot.

According to that venerable paragon of data collection, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, over 116,000 United States

it’s different up here

citizens were paid to fly in 2008. Of those, about 76,000 were employed as airline pilots of various stripes. Include military

a pilot’s perspective

pilots and the total tops out at around 150,000. So there –

@story J.D. Williams

you’ve got a new fun fact to know and tell.



There are a great many benefits to flying for a living. It’s a fun job – most days. And once you pay your dues the money is pretty good. But most pilots would agree that the greatest benefit of flying for pay is the view. And the view up here is, well, different. Clouds look different up here. They are far bigger than you think. Even the smallest rain cloud is massively taller and thicker than

of air that dulls our perception of hue. Above it all, the stars

any skyscraper on terra firma. And dwelling among them for any

exhibit an amazing variety of color. And the galactic disk – the

length of time will convince you that you are very small indeed.

Milky Way – is clear and thick and, well, milky. Even shooting

In my previous life as a fighter pilot I was always eager to punch

stars look different. Many years ago I piloted my F-16 on a

holes through the kind of towering, puffy clouds that spring

moonless night across a desolate and unpopulated country

up on humid summer days. The gaps within individual clouds

on a simulated nuclear bombing mission. While at extremely

as they billow upward may appear to be narrow constrictions.

high altitude I turned off all the lights, inside and out, and sat

Once elevated to their height, you find yourself dwarfed within

suspended under the stars with only a bubble of inch-thick

massive canyons of empty air surrounded by boiling peaks of

Lexan canopy separating me from the inky blackness. While

cloud stuff taller than Everest – and even a steely-eyed fighter

I took in the breathtaking vista, a shooting star crossed the

pilot feels very, very small.

sky directly above me – how close to me I’ll never know. I detected three separate colors in the fireball trailing the clearly

Lightning bolts look different up here. They are scarier – and

discernible meteor itself.

more beautiful – particularly after sunset. On a clear night, at 35,000 feet, it is common to see detonations within storm

And problems look different up here. They are much smaller.

clouds 300 miles away. When those thunderstorms form into

I’m not sure why, but as I gain physical altitude I gain mental

lines across the map, the lightning between individual cells

altitude. Perspective comes easily when my world is spread

comes alive. As one thunderhead flashbulbs a message another

out in front of me, all together, where I can keep an eye on

responds and passes along the news to the next - and the next

everything. Maybe it’s because I feel as if I’ve escaped the grasp

– and back - as if they were playing a colossal version of the

of my problems when I climb away from the earth. Maybe it’s

telephone game. I’ve seen lightning ripple across a hundred

because I think of heaven as being up here – even if the Kingdom

miles as each player elbows the other in the line.

is within us. Maybe my illusion of being in control seems less delusional up here. Maybe it’s the feeling of serenity when I

Stars look different up here. They are more colorful. Glued to

occupy the ultimate high ground. Nah. I just like slipping the

the ground, we view the heavens through a dusty horse blanket

surly bonds of earth – and touching the face of God.


Ministers of Eureka tell some interesting stories. Jann Ortiz, says she performs weddings for the “cost conscious lovers,” at All about Love Weddings. Ortiz says she’s seen just about everything in the sixteen years she’s acted as minister performing over a thousand ceremonies. She remembers one particularly surprising wedding. “The groom had a pet grey ape, and he said it was one of only twelve left in the world. He was the ring bearer, but during the ceremony he started screaming and was lying on his back like a little kid.” There are plenty of surprises from couples wanting to tie the knot, but there are also some surprising places to say “I do.” There are venues that cater especially to animal lovers, some that are favorites for ghost hunters, and one that is so breathtakingly beautiful it’s made architectural history.

Grotto Springs Esto Perpetua. This Latin phrase carved above the entrance to


Grotto Springs means ‘it is forever.’ What better place to vow your eternal love? A nearby plaque explains: “Esto Perpetua …

saying “I do” in eureka springs

declares the prevailing belief that these healing waters would ‘flow forth forever’.”

@story Tonya McCoy @image Purdy Art Co.

“Grotto Springs is one of our gorgeous little springs, that’s like a


ields full of tigers, haunted hotels, and cave-like springs.

park, and you actually have to walk into the side of the mountain

Sound like the perfect venue for a wedding? Believe it

to get to the spring,” says Gloria Stevens, Eureka Springs Visitor

or not, Eureka Springs hosts some weddings that would make

Center manager, and minister. The spring is small, damp and cave-

Robert Ripley proud. This Arkansas town has the monopoly on

like. Some couples have their ceremonies near the entrance, but

unique weddings, and hosts between 3,000 to 4,000 a year.

other couples believe that inside the spring is ideal for their

Engaged couples from all over the world visit this town that has

small wedding. “Well I had a young couple that actually wanted

a population of less than 2,000 just to wed.

their ceremony to be in the spring, which is supposedly haunted.



People have gotten pictures of orbs and ghosts in their pictures.

No matter what your reason for choosing the Crescent, you’ll

So we’re in the dark in there with all the candles lit, and doing

love being surrounded by the history, charm, and yes, a full-

that wedding in there was really kind of fun.”

service spa. The New Moon Spa, which is inside the hotel, is a full salon and offers manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. Wedding packages range from $425 to $2,410.

There are no fees related to using the spring for your ceremony so all you have to do is hire a minister. Minister fees in Eureka begin at around $50.

Thorncrown Chapel

The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa

Another dusk wedding site draws couples from all over the world. For thirty years Thorncrown Chapel has hosted weddings for couples in the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.

The Crescent Hotel is one of the premiere places to wed in Eureka. The 125 year old mountaintop spa and resort, built in the 1880s by Irish stone masons, is a magical setting. Ceremonies

The reason for the hype is the exquisite design from master

are performed in several locations, including the Crystal

architect Fay Jones. With 6,324 square feet of glass, connected

Ballroom and the Conservatory. The Crescent is surrounded by

by wooden beams that jut upward, the building is stunning. The

colorful showcase gardens and majestic views of the Ozarks.

zigzagging pattern of the structure creates diamonds of light.

The Sunset Terrace extends into this natural beauty from the

The building is listed as fourth in the top twenty buildings of

hotel; it’s perfect for weddings at dusk. The grounds are equally

the twentieth century by the American Institute of Architecture.

impressive and offer couples a beautiful outdoor setting, with

Around 350 weddings a year take place here.

a stone fountain, gazebo, and gardens that make the perfect Doug Reed has been minister for twenty-five years and says

backdrop for those once in a lifetime photos.

he’s performed many memorable ceremonies. He laughs, The Crescent also draws those hoping for a supernatural

“We’ve done motorcycle weddings, where everyone comes on a

experience. The mountaintop spa and resort was named one

motorcycle. The groom in a black leather tux and the bride in a

of the top ten most haunted hotels in America by the Travel

white leather wedding gown.” He says he’s also done weddings

Channel. There are plenty of ghost stories. Some say they’ve

where he incorporated customs from other cultures, as well as

seen the spirits of women in Victorian dresses, kids in pop-

presiding over ceremonies for followers of several different

bottle lens glasses and even Dr. Norman Baker, the infamous

religions. Also, Reed says sometimes wedding traditions are

doctor and con-artist, who for a few years, ran a hospital on the

different for those traveling from outside the United States. He

site, luring in cancer patients with the promise of a cure. He was

remembers one Japanese couple who was embarrassed when

sent to federal prison for fraud in 1940.

he asked the groom to kiss the bride. They refused. The chapel draws visitors because it looks different with every



Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

passing hour of the day. “It’s particulary beautiful in the evening when the sun is coming down and it’s just about to set and it shines through the leaves on the trees above. And if there is a

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my. You can get married the exotic

wind blowing and the branches are moving and the leaves are moving, the shadows are set in motion.” To wed here it is $495.

way, when you wed at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Turpentine

Judge Roy Bean’s Old Time Photos & Weddings

other animals in need, including bears. Tanya Smith, founder of

is a safe haven for abused and neglected big cats. They also house the park, says, “It’s just a unique place to come, and if you love animals, get married with a lion or tiger in your wedding party.” Tanya herself was married here and says for animal lovers nothing compares to this wedding site. But don’t worry, the animals remain

Some couples come to Eureka to get “hitched.” At Judge Roy

in secure yards, so there are no safety issues.

Bean’s Old Time Photos and Weddings brides and grooms dress like hillbillies to pose for their pictures while holding big

Plenty of wedding photos are taken with big cats or other animals

signs that say ‘just hitched.’ Sometimes the in-laws get in the

just a few feet away from the happy couple. Take an evening stroll

act by aiming rifles at the groom for a true shotgun wedding.

through the park and you get a special serenade from the kings

Couples can dress as cowboys and dancing girls, or gangsters

of the refuge, the lions. Each evening the lions “carol.” “When

and flappers. They can also wear Victorian attire suitable for this

one lion starts roaring, they roar simultaneously,” Tanya says.

town known for its Victorian style. “Everyone’s got their own idea of who they want to be when they come in. Some want to

And, how about spending a ‘wild’ honeymoon at the refuge?

be Clint Eastwood or John Wayne, or Al Capone, or even Bonnie

The “big cat rooms” are simple suites, but have an unbelievable

and Clyde, so it’s pretty fun,” says Susan Tharp, manager and

view. Look out your window and you see tigers right outside in

minister. Susan says keeping ceremonies “short and sweet” and

the yard. Weddings here start at $150.

also fun has kept her busy performing over 2,500 weddings in only six years. She has lots of help though. Every photographer

So there you have it, several unique ways to tie the knot.

at Judge Bean’s is also a minister.

And with the beauty of Eureka Springs, often called “Little Switzerland,” there’s no reason not to stay a few more days in

Whether you plan a wedding or elope on a whim, this setting is

one of our region’s most romantic spots.

both memorable and inexpensive. Depending on the number in your wedding party and your photography selection, packages

For more on weddings in Eureka Springs log onto

range from $65 to $210. or View more wedding photos at


Read Chair Publishing, LLC 3811 Rogers Avenue Suite C Fort Smith, Arkansas 72903

Keeper - February 2011  

Keeper - February 2011

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