For the duration of summer, the Ask Assmunch feature of this column will consider only brief interrogatories. It’s just too hot to research the longer, complicated ones.

Also, I don’t think anybody reads the longer answers when it’s this hot out. They might read half of one, then they’ll say “Whew!” or something heat-related of that sort, and go off to the kitchen to get another glass of Kool-Aid, or what they tell the children is Kool-Aid.


A question that just came in, for example, is “Well, are the gangs just taking over here like they have in Iraq and Brazil? I just nearly got shot in a McCain Mall drive-by is the reason I ask.”

I could go on and on about gangs. We have more gangs here now than fire-ant colonies, with about the same mindset and degree of pestiferousness. But the Arkansas July attention span being what it is, you wouldn’t get through five grafs of my reply about gangs before your mind went to wandering. The distracting question would insinuate itself rudely there between the Bigs and the Paks, the Easts and the Wests, whether the power company might hit your place this very afternoon with one of these rolling blackouts and what you’d do about it if they did.


You’d probably vow to take off down there and stomp somebody’s butt, but you know you wouldn’t really stomp anybody’s butt, or even take off down there. Your next thought would be that you could jump in the car and drive around with the a.c. on high until the blackout was over, but that’s no plan, either, really, at $3 a gallon and ascending, and you’d begin thinking of objections to it.

Those objections would carry you through another “Kool-Aid” and pretty soon gangs would be as far from your mind as President Bush lying about that giant perch. I can see you telling yourself, “I’m never reading another word about gangs, and if I do it won’t be anything that this nitwit Assmunch has to say about them.”


So what would be the point, with it 140 degrees out, of a long, drawn out, award-winning gang treatment in this space, with deep thoughts in it like you get from Mike Masterson and Dana D. Kelley? Just a lot of exhausting research on my part and irresponsible evasion on your part and the gangs would go on and do what they would’ve done anyhow.

So the Ask Assmunch questions will be short and sweet for the duration. And the answers will be too. OK then —

Q. Is it against the law in Arkansas to drive barefooted?

A. No, but they can charge you with indecent exposure, and if your feet aren’t any better-looking than mine, they’ll convict you too. And if you don’t have something on the governor, forget about clemency.


Q. Will Asa! get to use that exclamation point in the official listing of his name on the ballot?

A. The state Commission on Ballot Punctuation hasn’t ruled yet, but if Asa! gets to exclaim, then Mike:) plans to demand that his smiley face get on the ballot, too.

Q: Is that anything like Texas where the courts have ruled that “Kinky” can be on the ballot but “Grandma” can’t?

A. It’s the same thing only different.

Q. We plan to vacation in your state this summer. What’s your favorite Arkansas vacation spot?

A. Farindale. Except during deer season, when they shoot strangers there and hang them up as a warning.

Q. As a warning against what?

A. I’m not sure. But don’t mess with those people.

Q. Is it your policy to try to fool some of the people some of the time or all of the people all of the time or none of the people none of the time, or what? How does this work with you big-time columnists?

A. As the guy out at the zoo said, I’m just here to watch the monkeys fornicate.

Q. I was just reading my supermarket circular here, and it advertises ground chuck and “genuine ground chuck.” Can you tell me what the difference is?

A. Maybe the latter was from a steer that really was named Charles.

Q. I saw on TV that Baby Ruth is the official candy bar of Major League Baseball, and Acme is the official brick of the Dallas Cowboys. Does your column have an official anything?

A. The official Ask Assmunch geezer tool for cleaning out one’s ears is a match.

Q. I’ve heard that the Tull community near Benton once changed its name to Jethro, then changed it back. Is that true?

A. In the era when the hippies took over from the carpetbaggers, several Arkansas communities adopted fashionable new names. Fort Smith and Van Buren briefly became Groovy and Dude. Lee County officially proclaimed that it had been named for Brenda and not Ol’ Marse. The Pine Bluff suburbs of Dollarway, White Hall, and Watson Chapel became Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie. Attempts to make Little Rock Little Richard, Little Anthony (and the Imperials) and Little Darlin’ failed, however.