May 7: The weekly tabloid edition of the Arkansas Times debuts with an 86-page edition. John Brummett, who moves from editor to political editor, trails Gov. Bill Clinton in New York and Chicago. “Go home, racist. Go back to your country club,” he hears blacks in New York jeering at Clinton, who, days earlier, was photographed playing golf at the then all-white Little Rock Country Club. “I’d never heard Bill Clinton and racist used in the same sentence,” Rodney Slater tells Brummett. “I could tell by the look on his face that it was like someone had stabbed him in the stomach.” Brummett also profiles James Carville, who he writes looks like a cross between “Walter Hussman and E.T.” The debut issue features 13 sections (including crime and punishment, trends and fashion) and 11 columnists (Jim Bailey on sports, Max Brantley, John Brummett, Jack Butler on food, Janet Carson on gardening, Ernest Dumas, Bob Lancaster, Deborah Mathis, Robert McCord, Doug Smith and guest writer James O. Powell on airline regulation). A front-of-the-book feature includes a list of well-known Arkansans and the cars they drive: Connie Hamzy (1981 Mercury Lynx), Orval Faubus (1985 Chevrolet Cavalier), Harry Thomason (1992 Range Rover), Dr. Joycelyn Elders (1987 Dodge K car).
June 4: In her campaign to unseat 24-year incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Alexander, Blanche Lambert used Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” for her traveling music. Might the song suggest sexism or vanity or recall the recent hit movie about a hooker? “It never occurred to us,” Lambert tells editor Max Brantley. “We were just looking for something spunky, to catch attention.” Lambert would win the election and a second term, under her married name Blanche Lincoln, in 1994. She later would serve as U.S. senator from Arkansas for two terms until her defeat in 2010 by U.S. Rep. John Boozman.
Aug. 13: A festival called August in Arkansas debuts (despite earlier skepticism about the wisdom of the timing). Among the performers: Toots & The Maytals, R. Kelly & Public Announcement, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, Gunbunnies, Social Distortion, Willie Nelson, Branford Marsalis, Sounds of Blackness, Billy Joe Shaver, Nanci Griffith & The Blue Moon Orchestra, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, Rufus Thomas, Rosemary Clooney, Carlene Carter, Brave Combo, Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited, and Culture. Oddly, despite the lineup and unnaturally cool weather, attendance is paltry.
Aug. 20: In an article on his U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Dale Bumpers, Rev. Mike Huckabee tells John Brummett, “The most bare-knuckled, hard-fisted, heads-up politics I’ve ever encountered, and that includes this race, so far, was my two years as president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. People who call me a newcomer to politics don’t understand the Baptist Church.”
Sept. 10: In a profile of poet and University of Arkansas professor Miller Williams and his daughter, Lucinda Wiliams, Mara Leveritt asks about Lucinda’s childhood, when she says she “soaked up” a lot of “soul” just by hanging out with her father and his friends — writers like Richard Wilbur, Howard Nemerov, Maxine Kumin and Charles Bukowski. “Flannery O’Connor was a friend of ours,” Miller Williams remembers, “and we would go to her farm and Lucinda would chase her famous peacocks. And Flannery didn’t mind, knowing that Lucinda wouldn’t be able to catch them.”
Nov. 5: In the 24 hours leading up to Bill Clinton’s presidential election victory, staff writer Richard Martin spots Tom Cruise at the Capital Hotel bar and sees Texas columnist Molly Ivins join Vic Snyder for dinner at Doe’s, with Hunter S. Thompson slugging margaritas nearby. Later, in the Clinton “War Room,” James Carville wears a gold sheriff’s badge glued to his forehead and chants, “More! More! More!” At the headquarters, Thompson, “in his ravaged Fifth-Horseman-of-the-Apocalypse voice” tells Martin, “Early in this race, I saw chaos coming … but the more I saw of him, I saw he was a warrior and a winner.” At the Republican headquarters in the Holiday Inn West on Shackleford Road, a gaunt man asks why the media hasn’t hounded Clinton on “tax and spend” and insists the soon-to-be president-elect is the Antichrist. Pressed for exit-poll results, Skip Rutherford, former state Democratic chairman and a Clinton campaign worker, says, “Off the record? It’s big. It’s really big.” In Josephine’s in the Excelsior Hotel, actor Richard Dreyfus tells the press, “There’s a larger event going on here. It’s a mass movement. It’s bigger than Clinton. The energy is just beginning.” With the crowd surging toward the Old State House lawn, the Philander Smith Choir belts out “America the Beautiful.” Finally, President-elect Clinton comes out of the Old Statehouse doors: “My fellow Americans. Tonight, the people of America have come together with high hopes and with brave hearts to vote for a new beginning …”
Dec. 17: “Moderation is not in his vocabulary,” Mitzi Osborne says of her husband, Jennings Osborne, in staff writer David Mabury’s cover profile, “The Prince of Lightness.” Mabury interviews the couple and their 12-year-old daughter, Breezy, in the house’s 1,700-square-foot “big room,” which he describes as “an ocean of plush raspberry carpet lit by eight chandeliers. The largest, which rotates, is a miniature replica of a chandelier in the old MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, a favorite vacation spot of the Osbornes.” As for the notorious Christmas lights, “Breezy asked for a few lights and that’s what she got,” Mitzi said. How much do the lights cost? “If I told anybody they wouldn’t believe it. Beyond comprehension,” Jennings says.
July 15: Roger Clinton has a good enough voice, John Brummett writes in a cover story “Roger and Me.” “He clearly has the music in him; his gyrations are rhythmic and without inhibition.” But with the song “L is for the lies,” a song Clinton wrote with a refrain that asserts that things are getting better with “Big Brother,” “Roger sends a signal that he’s a so-so lounge singer cashing in on his brother.” He won’t admit that to Brummett, but Clinton does say, “I’ve been paying dues all my life. I was a road hand for George Jones. I’ve played every bar and lounge in Arkansas — twice. I didn’t just start singing when my brother became president. People don’t know that. But it’s all about opportunity. Whatever the reason, I have mine. And now it’s up to me and my talent.”
July 22: For $40, young women from the new Definitely Different Maid Service will scrub toilets “dressed to your fancy” — as French Maids, or in lingerie, or a swimsuit, or in a “surprise” costume, all supplied by Frederick’s of Hollywood. One maid tells The Arkansas Reporter she had cleaned a gentleman’s pool in Hillcrest dressed in a “French Maid’s outfit” — lacy black and white undergarments topped off with apron, bow tie and sheer black stockings. “I skimmed leaves off the water, and they’d (a friend came to watch) put more in,” she says, laughing.
Sept. 2: “Football is important,” new Razorback football coach Danny Ford tells staff writer Jim Bailey in his cover profile, “Skepticism and Plain Vanilla.” “It’s like supper. It’s something you just do. Winning is important here. Arkansas wins in every sport it competes in. We want that to always be the case with football.” Ford leads the Razorbacks to a winning season in 1993 and wins the SEC West in 1995, but back-to-back 4-7 seasons in 1996 and 1997 lead to his firing by Frank Broyles.
Nov. 4: According to a Smart Talk, “A shoe company that sends shoes to every new president reported the other day to The New Yorker that Bill Clinton has the largest shoe size of any U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson, though it declined to reveal the size. But we have our sources. And if it was Clinton’s impressive 13 ½s that made him a shoe-in for the presidency, Arkansas officials who might hope to follow in Clinton’s footsteps clearly don’t measure up.”
Gov. Jim Guy Tucker 11E
Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee 10 D to 11 D
U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers 12 D to 12 E
U.S. Sen. David Pryor 10 ½ C
U.S. Rep Jay Dickey 11 ½ A
U.S. Rep Ray Thornton 10 ½
U.S. Rep. Tim Hutchinson 8 ½
Feb. 17: John Haman writes about the regular doling out of narcotic drugs to Razorback athletes — worth about $20,000 a year — and the regulatory agencies’ turning a blind eye to the practice, done mostly without prescriptions. A University of Arkansas pharmacist had blown the whistle on the drugs earlier, and they were removed from the men’s training room in January.
March 10: David Mabury writes about the astonishing 28,000-square-foot First Pentecostal Church that has gone up next to Interstate 40 in North Little Rock, with its steeple a lofty 104 feet from the ground, its marble foyer with 20-foot-ceiling and fountain, its 1,800 seats, its electronic billboard flashing messages, and its shouting, dancing and clapping congregation urged on to speak in tongues. Five years later, the church would build next door a new sanctuary twice the size of the original, which became a children’s chapel and school.
March 31: Bob Lancaster takes a trip up the White River looking for the White River Monster (“Whitey”), in which he does not believe and which, compared to the catfish in the river, some bigger than Jim Guy Tucker, isn’t such a monstrosity. He does not find Whitey.
April 7: Reporting from the murder trials of the three teen-agers who would come to be known as the West Memphis Three, Bob Lancaster eschews traditional journalism to write, correctly, that Satanism “would endow the case a motive,” and that “prosecutors never produced any evidence to show that Echols had anything beyond a jerkoff Metallica-level interest in witchery and hobgoblins.” Lancaster concludes that the trials were “bottom line, show trials — by people under pressure to ‘do something’ — something tidy and legal — about a right-here-in-River-City atrocity. … Show trials of the ‘It’s coming … It’s coming … It’s gone’ variety in Huckleberry Finn. It’s only too fitting that HBO filmed the entire trashy production, for a TV movie.”
July 7: It was a good week for Beth Anne Rankin, according to The Week That Was. She prevailed as Miss Arkansas on her fourth try. (In 2012, she is a Republican candidate for U.S. Representative in the Fourth Congressional District.)
Nov. 11: “The head coach of the Razorback basketball team has tossed and turned through the long, dark night of the soul, moving to a state that resented him when his first team came up a loser, losing his daughter to leukemia, glowering as players, not he, got credit for the success of his teams. Well it’s morning now, and the bad dreams are gone, but a fog still hangs over Richardson’s mood,” John Haman writes in his profile of Nolan Richardson, seven months after Richardson led the Razorback basketball team to its first national championship. Among Richardson’s lingering frustrations: the NCAA’s upwardly creeping educational standards. “If you want education, let’ s do it,” he tells Haman. But don’t base it on high school grade point or an ACT score, let athletes prove themselves on campus. “In Richardson’s ideal compromise, young athletes with low or marginal academic credentials would study through their freshman year of college without so much as touching a ball. If they meet scholastic standards in that first year on campus, they would be allowed to play when they become sophomores.”
Jan. 27: For the third year in a row, Brave New Restaurant wins the Best Overall category in the Arkansas Times annual Readers Choice poll. Regas Grill and Cafe Saint Moritz are runners up.
Feb. 10: Bob Lancaster pens Valentine’s to well known Arkansans, including Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee:
To have as a valentine Rev.
we’re afraid would really
March 31: The Times suggests names for what would become Alltel and later Verizon Arena: Dog Dome, Dog Palace, Dog Pen, Dog House, The Argentium, Madison Square Garden, The Rock.
June 30: Restaurants requested by the Times in a Smart Talk: vegetarian, Burmese (“the road to Mandalay is filled with exotic herbs and light, crunchy salads”), German, late-night and seafood (“Not another Fry-o-lator emporium, but a reliable source of crackling fresh ocean fish; gargantuan lobsters; fragrant bouillabaise, and cockles and mussels alive, alive, Oh.”)
Nov. 10: “I think guns are part of the problem, not the solution,” Rep. Jim Argue of Little Rock, one of the few legislators to vote against a new state law allowing concealed handgun licenses, tells associate editor John Haman for a cover story called “Arkies, Get Your Guns.” “It promotes a vigilante mentality that will lead to innocent victims. The whole idea of concealed weapons has a scary quality to it.” Argue tells Haman the law passed because legislators live in fear of the NRA. After theTimes publishes a list of all concealed carry permit holders in Arkansas in February 2009, Max Brantley receives death threats.
Nov. 10: Since January, 81 people have been arrested for jaywalking, associate editor Leslie Newell Peacock reports. All were black and between the ages of 14 and 42. The Little Rock Police Department says it was enforcing the law at the request of local property owners. Municipal Judge Bill Watt, who presided over many of the cases, tells Peacock, “I’m a lot more interested in helping that property owner than some little jerk-off walking down the street who wonít get out of the way of my car.”
Dec. 29: Fayetteville lawyer Tom Mars has filed a class action lawsuit, on behalf of a Washington County woman, against Disney over allegations of sexual messages and images in animated films, staff writer John Haman reports. Among the scenes cited: a moment in “The Little Mermaid” where a priest gets an obvious erection and one in “Aladdin,” where a whispering voice admonishes, “Good teen-agers, take off your clothes,” before characters take a magic carpet ride.
Feb. 23: From a story announcing the Arkansas Times’ first website: “Surfers can peruse some of the most useful, service-oriented features of our newspaper at Arkansas Times Online, our outpost on the World Wide Web. You’ll want to save that ‘uniform resource locator,’ (URL) with a ‘bookmark’ or ‘shortcut,’ because for the first week to a month, the Times articles will not be included in the major Internet search engines. Soon, though, you’ll be able to search for our articles in Yahoo, Webcrawler, Lycos and Infoseek — the more popular search mechanisms. The home page is a work in progress, so be sure to tell us what you think about it, and to make suggestions for its improvement.”
May 17: In his cover story, “Who Are These Guys,” Bob Lancaster considers the superficial differences among the five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate: “One looks like a mere boy — a strapping country lad. One looks like a farm implement dealer. One looks like an escapee from a cartoon, with a countenance strangely pulled and slanted, like a pictograph from the Chinese, and some of the baddest bad hair in political memory. One, with Nixonian scowl, darting stormy glances at the opposition, looks like Shakespeare might’ve thought him up — flatbed heir to the brooding monarchs and dark thanes who paced the heath and thought those big old booming thoughts. And one actually looks like a U.S. senator, a prototype and archetype, with the haircut, the cut of clothes, the posture, the mannerisms, and a seeming gross of Bumpersian, Gary Hartish senatorial intangibles.” The credits, revealed at the end of the story: The boy is Kevin Smith. The cartoon-looking character is Winston Bryant. The farm implement dealer is Bill Bristow. The one who looks like Shakespeare might’ve thought him up is Sandy McMath. And the one who looks like a senator is Lu Hardin. Bryant wins the nomination and then loses the general election to Tim Hutchinson.
May 31: “Public service has not been an appealing career choice for quite some time,” writes Doug Smith in the wake of the conviction of Gov. Jim Guy Tucker as part of the Whitewater investigation. “Term limits, single-issue fanatics, bloodthirsty media and a growing meanness in American politics dissuaded people from entry. What happened to Jim Guy Tucker should scare off a lot more. Tucker is something like the baseball player who is plunked by the pitcher because the batter in front of him hit a home run. The pain may be especially sharp considering that Tucker and Clinton, though teammates in a way — both Democrats and Arkansans — have been more rivals than friends over the years.”
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee said he was “shocked” and “wounded” by the verdicts. Whether he would abandon his U.S. Senate campaign and assume the governor’s office or continue was the question of the day. “Whatever he decides,” John Haman writes in his cover story, “Huckabee is about to have tremendous effect on the state’s political future.” If he abandoned the Senate race, Democratic attorney general Winston Bryant would likely win the seat, Haman says. But if he stays on as governor, “the state party — rather than the national will have reason to cheer … As governor, he would also have a chance to prove to Arkansas’s largely Democratic electorate that Republicans can run state government. (Huckabee quits the Senate race to be governor. Another Republican, Tim Hutchinson, defeats Bryant.)
July 12: Among the Times’ impressions of the newly opened Ottenheimer Hall in the River Market:
“Will anybody pay for riverfront concerts after they discover you can see the amphitheater stage so well from here?
“Where’s the swill (i.e., brew)?
“Are downtown workers going to walk all the way down here? Will they ride a (proposed) shuttle bus?”
July 19: Our annual Best of Arkansas issue makes its debut. Among the first year winners: Jennings Osborne for best millionaire. Ho-Hum for best band. Mara Leveritt for best newspaper writer. Mike Huckabee for best politician. Craig O’Neill (best radio personality) and Anne Jansen (best TV news) inaugurate a tradition of putting Arkansas celebrities on the cover of the issue along with other winning products.
Sept. 13: Ashlie Atkinson, an intern with the Times who went on to achieve fame on Broadway and TV (“Fat Pig,” “Rescue Me,”) profiles Little Rock’s punk scene. It includes: File 13 Records, Towncraft, Das Yutes a Go-Go, the Rice Street House and Ratfink a Bu-Bu. (Chip King, featured on the cover but not mentioned in the article, now plays in the critically acclaimed metal act The Body.)
Jan. 10: The new rubber-wheeled trolleys are “cute but aren’t attracting many riders,” a Smart Talk reports, “presumably because of poor weather and the holiday season.”
Feb. 14: Life and Times section editor Kelley Bass asks what’s up with Sue E. and Porkchop, the Razorbacks’ new mascots, and wonders “Is Sue E. perhaps a wanton sow from Boss Hog’s past who finally surfaced after all these years?”
Feb. 21: The Times gets an exclusive excerpt from Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith’s new book, “No Contest,” that finds numerous conflicts of interest in Kenneth Starr’s private job with his role as independent counsel. The Times had thundered against Starr editorially throughout the Tucker trials.
April 18:Fewer than one in five Arkansans hunt, Leslie Newell Peacock reports, so the Game and Fish Commission will spend a considerable portion of its new revenue from the new 1/8 cent conservation tax on nongame activities, right? They’ll build nature centers about nature and not about game fish and bird blinds and ecosystem exhibits, and add staff concerned with endangered species protection, right? Wrong, turns out.
May 9: 16-year-old Fayetteville student William Wagner came out of the closet and got a severe beating for it by eight boys, the culmination in a series of school attacks that led to his dropping out. The ensuing investigation is limited to whether he is sexually harassed, since current law doesn’t protect students from gay-bashing, Leslie Newell Peacock reports.
June 6: Max Brantley spends some time with a sky-diving, jet-skiing, cancer-surviving first lady and finds “a naturalness about Janet Huckabee that you don’t always feel about her husband, a gifted performer at pulpit and podium.”
Aug. 1: Police appeal for help in capturing the “blue light rapist” — a man who put a flashing blue light atop his unmarked car in rural areas to get four lone women drivers to pull over and then raped them — and the assistant director at the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute tells reporter Judith Gallman that the attacker could be an auxiliary deputy. Robert Todd Burmingham, a married farm laborer, would be arrested the following September and convicted the next year; he’s serving a life term at Cummins.
Oct. 3: Arkansas State Police records show that Gov. Mike Huckabee is using the ASP’s new $1.4 million King Air as his executive plane, though the legislature was told the plane was needed for law enforcement. Leslie Newell Peacock finds Huckabee logged 90.8 hours in the plane; the ASP 12.5 hours and other agencies a total of 61.5 hours over a 10-month period.
September: Doug Smith exposes a heap of legislative corruption involving fraudulent payments of “legal fees” to a gang of legislators and their lawyer friends. Further investigation by state and federal authorities reveals more misdeeds. Some legislators are convicted. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are returned to the public treasury. One of the legislature’s most powerful members, state Sen. Nick Wilson of Pocahontas, spends a few years in federal prison.
Feb. 6: “Orval,” a new comic strip by Prairie Grove’s Tommy Durham debuts in the Times. “It features a pig by that name who occasionally wanders into situations with a striking similarity to current news events and who also offers other commentary on Arkansas folkways.”
June 12: The suicide of a jailed teen-ager comes to light as the Times investigates conditions at the state’s main jail for juveniles in North Little Rock. In April, Gov. Mike Huckabee revealed in a press conference that he’d been informed of terrible conditions at the jail by a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. When no article about the crisis occurring at the Division of Youth Services appears in the daily paper, Leslie Peacock looks into conditions at the jail, learning of the suicide — never reported in the Democrat — and instances of abuse, including a report that a boy had been beaten by older juveniles, hog-tied and raped with a broom handle. DHS’ own investigation claims that “half of the staff at CAOAC believed that when kids were sent to jail, ‘that they could beat the shit out of them.’ ” The Democrat-Gazette did not publish what reporter Mary Hargrove knew since 1997 so the news could be packaged as a high-impact series for publication later in the year.
July 3: Little Rock author Dee Brown’s 11th novel, “The Way to Bright Star,” is “one of the best American novels in years,” writes Bob Lancaster. It’s “an old-fashioned yarn, an adventure story and a love story, an epic and a picaresque, a quietly exciting romantic tale spun out unhurriedly and beautifully, with sweetness and dignity and marvelous humor, about life as it was lived in middle America a long time ago.” Brown published “The Way to Bright Star” when he was 90. He died Dec. 12, 2002.
July 31: Staff writer Jan Cottingham reports on the results of an opinion poll commissioned by the Arkansas Times of 405 women in the Little Rock and North Little Rock area. Seventy-two percent said the trend toward both parents working outside the home has had a generally negative effect on families. Seventy-four percent strongly agreed that it’s much harder being a working mother than a working father. Eighty-three percent said women were better listeners than men. Seventy-three percent said men were more likely to cheat on their spouse than women. Thirty-five percent said premarital sex is never acceptable.
Aug. 28: In an essay titled “Why Clinton shouldn’t quit,” following the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bob Lancaster — who weeks later summarized the scandal as “Never before have so many reported so much about so little by so few” — remembers a story from Brooks Hays. He “used to tell of the little old lady who wouldn’t vote because ‘it only encourages ’em,’ and a Clinton resignation at this point would give just too much encouragement to too many of the worst elements of American contemporaneity.
“Those elements include the vast right-wing conspiracy (VRWC), which would be encouraged in the notion that with the right combination of viciousness, persistence and sanctimony they really might hereafter be able to overturn elections …
“And of course the very worst of those worst elements of ’90s America is the press, in its new role as national tattler and tease. Journalism would be ruined for the foreseeable future if the president quit now. The whole purpose of news reporting would become, in the haunting Vince Foster prophesy, ‘ruining people for sport.’ If indeed it hasn’t already. The metamorphosis into a mob, into leering bloodthirsty rabble, has maybe already occurred, even without him resigning; rest assured that having invested so much of their credibility on ruining this particular president for no particular reason, his resignation would have the effect on them of throwing meat to dogs.”
Oct. 16: The winning entry to the Times inaugural “You’re a Real Arkie if …” contest: “You can pronounce, and spell, Fourche, Lonoke, Baucum, Ouachita, Altheimer, Arkansas and Bayou Meto.” (from R.R. Bailey, Little Rock). Other notables: “You shell purple hull peas while sitting in the surgery waiting room.” (Mae Voegele, Conway). “You think Kim Hanke, Leslie Basham and Marshall Schuster are celebrities.” (Don Blessing, North Little Rock). “You’ve had sex in any park along the Arkansas River.” (LeAnn Hackler, Alma).
Oct. 23: Leslie Newell Peacock reports that in his first year in office, Gov. Mike Huckabee and his family used an account created to support Mansion needs for their own use, spending the public money on meals at restaurants, dry cleaning (including getting blue jeans pressed), boat expenses and personal groceries — including lots of Velveeta cheese — and complaining when it was tapped for such things as getting mansion worker uniforms cleaned. Fired Mansion staffer Kamala Williams turned over the receipts and e-mails in which the Huckabees made clear that they believed the $60,000 account to be a tax-free salary supplement. The story sparks a taxpayer’s lawsuit against the governor, eventually withdrawn.
March 5: The Times publishes staff writer Jan Cottingham’s definitive profile of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorialist Paul Greenberg, noting that he can be “caustic, even cruel” in his editorials while maintaining a pose of civility. Greenberg tells her: “I never go off the record. I’m unworthy of confidences.”
April 9: Staff writer Michael Haddigan reports on his interview with child-killer Christina Riggs, who would in May 2000 become the fifth woman in the U.S. and the first woman in Arkansas to be executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Riggs smothered her son, 5, and daughter, 2, with a pillow.
April 22: Jan Cottingham reports on her interview with Susan McDougal, released after serving 22 months in prison for her role in the 20-year-old real estate transaction that came to be known as the Whitewater scandal. Eighteen of those months she served for refusing to testify about President Bill Clinton before a grand jury. McDougal told Cottingham that none of the degradation she suffered — being stripped naked in the Pulaski County jail and sprayed with a delousing agent, being shackled and handcuffed before being led away before a TV crew, transported with male prisoners who masturbated in front of her, enduring cells full of insects and no privacy on the toilet — was bad enough to get her to talk to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
July 23: Staff columnist Ernest Dumas, in an interview with Webster Hubbell, takes a scathing look at Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s relentless effort to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton by going after an already beleaguered Hubbell, who’d served prison time for falsifying billings at his law firm. Hubbell explained to Dumas his eventual decision to get Starr off his back by pleading guilty to one count of not being truthful to federal banking regulators about a potential conflict of interest in the 1980s and one count of failing to make payments on his federal income tax liability while he was in prison. In return, Hubbell got a signed promise from Starr that he would never again prosecute him, his family or his friends.
Sept. 24: Guest writer Craig Berry talks about the right way Little Rock should proceed in deciding whether to annex Deltic Timber property in West Little Rock — such as doing a complete fiscal impact study on the city that would detail the costs of creating neighborhood infrastructure and looking at impact fees. He suggests that the city planners’ conclusion that annexation would pay for itself did not take into account all it should have. Thirteen years later, thanks to development out west, the wastewater utility has had to come to the city asking its approval for several rate increases, partly to pay for a new sewage plant, and the city had to go to the voters to approve a sales tax increase to build a new fire station.
Oct. 22: In a column introducing a 25th anniversary edition, Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt writes, “The mission of the Arkansas Times is to make Little Rock a two-newspaper town again. That reminder is taped to the top of my computer screen. Editor Brantley rolls his eyes when I talk such, but that’s the goal. Not sure how, not even sure how one defines “two-newspaper town” in light of the Internet and e-communications. But that is where we are headed. Not entirely certain how we’ll cross the mountains, but we’re sure enough headed in that direction.
“During the next 25 years the huge capital outlays associated with daily newspapers are going to shrink. While I doubt we’ll ever see a daily Arkansas Times on the porch, the steady advance of Internet technologies makes the publication of a second daily “newspaper” inevitable rather than unlikely. Our job now is to be there and be ready when the next incarnation becomes clear.”
Feb. 25: The newly expanded and remodeled Arkansas Arts Center is opened, “with eight galleries at once intimate and grand, flowing from a softly lit atrium of heroic dimensions,” to a record crowd of 3,000, writes Leslie Newell Peacock, and the common refrain by visitors, stunned by the $21 million addition, is “I don’t feel like I’m in Little Rock.” Sights at the opening night reception include exhibits registrar Thom Hall, docent Susan May and marketing director Becki Moore standing together weeping. By weekend’s end, another 10,000 had come through the doors.
March 31:Craig O’Neill switches from radio DJ to television sportscaster for KTHV, Channel 11 (has it really been that long ago?), and James Morgan reports that folks are wondering: Can the guy with a face for radio make it on the set with the “airbrushed and bushy-tailed” beautiful people?
June 2: Little Rock’s first “mobile eat shops” — purveyors of tacos, burgers, barbecue and catfish — find a fan in Times editor Max Brantley, who confesses to hoping he’ll find a “Renoir of ribs, a Botticelli of burgers” among the low-profile stands. Reviewed: Roscoe’s Quick Pig, El Taco King, Adams Catfish Catering, Cross-Eyed Pig, Ma and Pa’s, Feastro’s and Mick’s Smoked BBQ.
Sept. 1: The Huckabees install a triple-wide trailer on the Governor’s Mansion grounds so they’ll have a place to live while the Mansion is remodeled, and declare their new home address is “Eagle Point” — the name of the model of the home manufactured by Champion Enterprises. First Lady Janet Huckabee and columnist John Brummett yuk it up during a press tour, Brummett wondering what the public would think about him being in her bedroom and Janet Huckabee retorting that it would be the last time he was.
Aug. 18: Bob Lancaster reports that the high point in the trial of former KARK owner David Jones, dentist Bob Rushing, former state legislator Mark Riable and restaurant owners Tony and Mary Ma on charges they conspired to bring Chinese women to the U.S. to be sex slaves came when Jones’ defense attorney Bob Compton declared that “It may be true that there’s no fool like an old fool. But that’s not against the law.” The jury deadlocked, but Jones, Rushing and Tony Ma would eventually be convicted on charges of marriage fraud and visa fraud.
Feb. 9: Jan Cottingham profiles world-renowned architect E. Fay Jones. “E. Fay Jones just turned 80. He walks slowly, goes out rarely. ‘If I’d known I was going to get old, I would have done it better,’ he says as he moves to the car that will take him and his wife, Gus, to one of their favorite Fayetteville restaurants for lunch. ‘It’ is left unidentified. Jones can’t mean his work, because he’s considered among the top architects of the 20th century. Last year, members of the American Institute of Architects were asked to vote for their favorite buildings of the century. Jones’s Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs came in at No. 4.
“Although the AIA noted that the survey was unscientific, Jones’s achievement is monumental, though — in the kind of paradox Jones appreciates — his work itself has been on an intimate scale. The 20th century saw the building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, the Chrysler Building by William Van Alen, the Seagram Building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, the Guggenheim Museum (also by Wright) and Maya Lin’s great marble slash in the earth that is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Jones is known for his chapels and houses.”
April 27: Times Editor Max Brantley correctly predicts that then Attorney General Mark Pryor would best Tim Hutchinson in their race for the U.S. Senate. His basis for such a prognostication? None other than erstwhile shock jock Tommy Smith, who had Pryor as a guest for his Magic 105 morning show for some regular-guy banter, with nods to Farrah Fawcett, the Washington Redskins and Yarnell’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, among others.
Oct. 12: Ten years after the final edition of the Arkansas Gazette rolled off the presses, Bob Lancaster pens a remembrance rich with history of what was once the real “oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi.” Lancaster’s story is not without some sense of regret: “Sometimes newspapers live on in other newspapers, as people live on in their progeny. There’s been some pretense of that in this case, but make no mistake: the old Arkansas Gazette is dead as a hammer. The Arkansas Democrat scalped its logo, and took a few of its relics for souvenirs, including a few of its old hands, but left the corpse on the field, as battle casualties too often are left — symbolized by the empty-looking, haunted-looking, still-outraged-looking, dead-colored Gazette Building, tomb-like a decade later there at Third and Louisiana streets.” In 2008, e-Stem Public Charter Schools would open in the Gazette building.
Jan. 11: In a special section, “A bridge for the 21st Century,” Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt urges an iconic redesign of the Junction Bridge. Among the proposals: a bridge for a monorail that would service the two cities, a multi-use shopping and living complex cantilevered over the river and, submitted by Mary Steenburgen and Jimmy and B.J. Moses, a bridge-as-hanging garden, “where people would celebrate everything from weddings to Easter parades to summer concerts.”
Feb. 1: “The lobby of the Peabody Little Rock looks something like Imperial Rome meets Art Deco Hollywood, only the Emperor and the Decorator exercised uncommon restraint. A trace of ancient Babylon can also be discerned,” Jan Cottingham writes in her cover story, “Little Rock gets its own ducks.” “It’s gorgous but not gaudy, grand but not overwhelming. It shimmers and glows. Most of all, it looks to be great fun. The lobby of the Peabody is where you will take your relatives from New York or Los Angeles (to impress them) and your kin from Oil Trough (to awe them).”
June 7: North Little Rock native Al Bell worked “very closely” with the former Republican Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller to put together financing to allow Stax to relocate from Memphis to Little Rock, Bell tells writer S. Koch. The deal was almost finished at the time of Rockefeller’s death Feb. 22, 1973. Stax died Dec. 1975.
Aug. 9: Mara Leveritt reviews the case against Tim Howard, convicted of murdering Brian and Shannon Day in Southwest Arkansas. In May 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the conviction in a 4-3 ruling. “Never before has the state’s high court been so divided on a death penalty appeal,” she writes. In April 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court would order a further hearing on the DNA claim of Howard that state suppression of critical problems with DNA evidence prejudiced his trial.
May 23: James Brown headlines Riverfest.
Nov. 14: In a cover story entitled “Sid McMath’s Rocky Road,” Ernest Dumas considers what might’ve been for the former Arkansas governor. “If Sid McMath ever ruminated about what might have been, it isn’t known, but surely this scenario troubled his sleep more than once: In the absence of the highway scandal, he would have been re-elected in 1952 and elected easily to the U.S. Senate in 1954. Six years later, when John F. Kennedy scouted for a running mate to help him carry the Solid South, he would not have chosen Lyndon Johnson, whom he disliked and distrusted, but McMath, a handsome Southern progressive who would have been more acceptable in northern precincts, an electrifying speechmaker and a decorated Marine hero, all personifications that the stolid Texan could not claim.” McMath died on Oct. 4, 2003.
Nov 19: “We’ll hold this administration to account,” Wesley Clark said at an announcement of his presidential campaign. “We’ll ask the tough questions. And we’ll do it in the highest spirit of patriotism.” The campaign will be nationwide, Doug Smith reports, with special emphasis on the early primary states. “GET READY! WE’RE MOVING OUT!” Clark told the crowd at the James H. Penick Boys and Girls Club.
Dec. 19: An editorial obituary for George Fisher, who died on Dec. 15: “He started as a professional editorial cartoonist in West Memphis, and later drew for the North Little Rock Times. But he was most closely associated with the Arkansas Gazette, whose fearlessly liberal editorial opinions were close to his own. Fisher came to symbolize the Gazette to many, in a way that nameless, faceless editorial writers could not. To symbolize the Gazette at a time when the Gazette itself symbolized the best of Arkansas was not a light responsibility. Fisher handled it gracefully.
“After the Gazette folded in 1991, Fisher joined the Arkansas Times, giving the new weekly publication an instant credibility. We’ll retain the credibility without him, but we’ll have to work a little harder.”
Jan. 9: Mara Leveritt interviews Lorri Davis, who moved to Arkansas to meet Death Row inmate Damien Echols and then married him. Davis tells Leveritt, “I believe in him. He’s going to get out someday. And we will have a life together.” More than seven years later, she would be proved right.
April 9: Space is running out in Mount Holly Cemetery, the “Westminster Abbey of Little Rock,” writes Leslie Newell Peacock, who learns from board member Mary Fletcher Worthen that even in death, location means something: One visitor rejected a plot along Broadway as “too noisy.”
June 24: Marc Smirnoff, the editor of the Oxford American and self-described baseball nut, gives 10 reasons why the Arkansas Travelers provide the greatest show on dirt, and one of them is “creaky little Ray Winder Field.”
July 8: Warwick Sabin tracks Warren Stephens’ purchase of properties along Main Street, said to be part of a $100 million revitalization plan that would include the redevelopment of the Center Theater and a gift of land to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre if it were to get a Reynolds Foundation grant to build. As it turns out, The Rep didn’t get the grant, the theater was torn down and a building at 5th and Main was leveled as well, prompting fears about preserving the historic downtown.
Aug. 5: U.S. Rep.Mike Ross is considering a run for governor, Warwick Sabin reports; among his qualifications are “I’m probably the only member of Congress who shoots a shotgun 150 times a weekend.” It is suggested that the 4th District congressman’s real goal is to secure committee assignments “or other favors.”
Oct. 14: The Arkansas Blog, the driver of the Arkansas Times‘ transition from a weekly paper to a daily website, begins. Since then, former editor Max Brantley and others have published more than 30,000 stories on it.
March 10: Gay men and women, moved by legislative efforts to classify them as bad parents and a threat to conventional marriage, speak out publicly, their first-person accounts a brave move for the times. After publication, one of those who came out was fired from her job. Among those who contribute is Kathy Webb, later elected as the first openly gay state representative in the Arkansas legislature: “It would be easier to not be part of this story, to not speak out. I came home to be closer to my family, to open a restaurant and to continue my life-long involvement with my community. Being a spokesperson for gay rights was not on my agenda!
“But to remain silent on the issue in the current political climate would be, for me, dishonest. I’ve worked for social justice since I was a kid. I was taught that compassion, love, and acceptance are moral, Christian values. I was taught that the moral thing to do is provide access to health care, quality schools, enough food to eat. I was taught that fighting discrimination, whether it occurred because of the color of someone’s skin, gender, economic status, or sexual orientation, was a moral value. And that staying silent on these injustices is wrong.
“As a girl, I struggled to come to terms with my homosexuality. It seemed like it would make my life really hard — and it did. I lost my first full-time job and my apartment because I was gay. I had no role models — few people were willing to come out and face the consequences. There was no ‘Will and Grace,’ no PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), no K.d. Lang or Ellen DeGeneres.
“But my loving, nurturing family and my faith enabled me to find self-acceptance. Being a lesbian is not the only part or even the most important part of me — being a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and partner rank pretty high! But I won’t hide that part of me, and until we end discrimination against gay men and lesbians, I’ll continue to speak out and work for justice.”
March 24: Doug Smith recounts how Joyce Elliott, first educated at an all-black elementary school in Willisville (Nevada County), grew to be one of the “scrappiest” legislators in the House, a voice for women, the downtrodden and the undereducated. “I think sometimes [white] legislators assume a bill is a minority issue because I bring it up,” Elliott told Smith. “I’ve gotten mail from people on the alien bill [to make them eligible for state-funded college scholarships and in-state tuition rates] saying, ‘You’re only doing this because they’re a minority.’ I don’t look at hate crimes as a minority issue. Everybody should be concerned about hate crimes. How to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday — that’s not a minority issue.”
May 12: Warwick Sabin (who would become a candidate for the state House of Representatives seven years hence) says Mike Beebe’s time to be governor has come, declaring he could be chosen the Democratic nominee “by acclamation.”
May 19: “Walk into a coffee shop in Little Rock these days — not a cuppajoe place, but one of those soy-mocha-latte-skinny coffee shops where you’ll always find a potted plant and a copy of the New York Times — and you’re likely to see something that existed only in science fiction just a few years ago: up to a dozen people, busily clicking away on laptop computers,” writes David Koon in a cover story about wireless web surfing.
June 9: The thought-to-be-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker is found again in the Big Woods of Arkansas, or so Leslie Newell Peacock writes in this saga of a kayaker’s report, secret searches by the Arkansas chapter of the Nature Conservancy and Cornell University, the 7-second “Zapruder film of the woodpecker,” the happy merchants of Brinkley and the restoration of the bottomlands along the Cache and the Bayou de View. In the ensuing years, no others would be able to document the bird’s existence in Arkansas.
May 18:Finding jokes in the Good Book is Doug Smith’s quest, prompted by the cancellation of a TV sitcom about a priest who is visited by Jesus and the Savior’s guest appearances on South Park. Stop us if you’ve heard this one: When Jesus greets Nathanael (John 1:45-51), Nathanael is so impressed that Jesus knows him he exclaims, “Rabbi, You are the son of God!” Jesus answers him, “Because I saw you standing under a fig tree, believest thou?” Badaboom! The story also gives the Times a reason to once again use its laughing Christ of the Ozarks on its cover.
June 1: It’s the latest thing: Investing thousands of dollars in jewelry for your teeth. “For those of you who have experienced the wonderful world of orthodontics, think ‘retainer,’ multiplied by ‘Liberace,’ ” David Koon explains.
July 20: Warwick Sabin looks at the governor’s cozy relationship with adolescent mental health care provider Ted Suhl (of The Lord’s Ranch) and the huge amount of the state’s Medicaid money being channeled to inpatient care.
Nov. 16: A special report on progress downtown features Jimmy Moses and Rett Tucker (who else?) on the cover, with features on new construction, new places to live and ideas for the future. Tucker says about River Market Tower, the 18-story condo development he and Moses were then planning for Third and Rock (now River Market Avenue): “We’re not selling a building, we’re selling a neighborhood.” As it turns it, it would take a while to build a neighborhood, especially during a market collapse; the building, opened in 2009, still has plenty of available condos. In Argenta, the neighborhood is excited by the promise of a new seafood restaurant, the Argenta Seafood Co., which would eventually go under water.
Dec. 21: Ernest Dumas reviews the Huckabee decade — his laissez-faire approach to legislation, his rhetoric, his weight loss, his conservative credentials and his love of the material — for those following the former governor on the presidential campaign trail. About Huckabee’s claims to be a fan of small government? “Good strategy, hard sell,” writes Dumas. “State government expanded more robustly under Huckabee than under 15 years of Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker …”
June 7: Alice Walton’s creation of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the stir it is causing in the American art world gets its first comprehensive look in the Arkansas press by Leslie Newell Peacock, who also predicts some of the paintings that will be on the walls when the museum opens in Bentonville. The curator of American art at the Seattle Art Museum says what Walton is doing is “noble and so important,” but she’s unsure whether the museum will get a national audience. “It will take some effort.” Within four months of its Nov. 11, 2011, opening, 175,000 persons will have visited Crystal Bridges.
Aug. 16:Mara Leveritt tracks the Arkansas prison system’s decision to let prisoners sell plasma — some tainted with HIV — to its horrific and fatal consequences abroad. Former prison board member Bobby Roberts tells Leveritt that “You could not do anything with the ADC [Arkansas Department of Corrections] if you ran afoul of Bill Foster and Knox Nelson,” and that because there were so many other serious concerns with how the prison was being run, “We weren’t focused on plasma.”
Aug. 30:Times publisher Alan Leveritt takes on those who bash immigrants and their attacks on hard-working Latinos who — like many of their own American ancestors — risked danger and separation from their families to make a better life for themselves here. “Where is our memory,” Leveritt asks. “And where is our Bible?”
Sept. 6: Mara Leveritt breaks the story on Judge Willard Proctor’s founding of Cycle Breakers Inc., a non-profit supported by fees and fines collected from defendants appearing in Proctor’s court and whose meetings included hymns and Christian preaching. An audit concluded that “there appears to be a financial benefit to the court, judge and court employees” from the operation of Cycle Breakers.” In 2010, the Supreme Court would remove Proctor from the bench.
Sept. 20: The Times’ special issue for the 50th anniversary of the Central High Crisis features interviews with the Little Rock Nine, an account of the era by Roy Reed, stories about the National Guard mission and the involvement of the church, the Lost Year when Faubus closed the schools and Little Rock’s racial strife and segregation today.
Oct. 11: A new president of Arkansas Baptist College figures out how to get men to enroll: He starts a football team. John C. Williams writes about Fitz Hill’s success. At the beginning of 2006, there were 170 students enrolled. A year later, the student body includes 120 football players: “The school had discovered an elixir in football,” Williams observes.
Nov. 29: John C. Williams goes to Fouke to check out the new compound of evangelist Tony Alamo, whose relationship with underage girls has begun to get notice and whose associates have been indicted in various scams. Now, thanks to the “No Trespassing” signs and the compound’s security guards, the people of Fouke are getting nervous, and Alamo states on his radio show that God will strike down members of the Fouke town council who oppose him. Looks like the Fouke Monster is real after all: Two years later, Alamo would be convicted on 10 counts of taking minors across state lines for sex and sentenced to 175 years.
Jan. 10: Dateline Des Moines — Republican presidential hopeful and former Gov. Mike Huckabee zooms to the top of the Iowa polls thanks to religion and, writer John C. Williams observes, political fakery, including support of a national, flat-rate sales tax plan called FairTax, which would eliminate the IRS. “When the FairTax becomes law, it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness,” Huckabee says.
Feb. 7: Author and attorney Grif Stockley writes of the angry aftermath of the shooting of an African-American child, 12-year-old DeAunta Farrow, by a white West Memphis police officer, and finds its roots in a familiar dynamic. “To be sure, what has been occurring in Crittenden County is not about any one incident, however incendiary. Like all racial dilemmas, whether in South Africa or the United States, Crittenden County’s struggle is rooted in both the near and distant past. In the racial sphere, the history of Arkansas, particularly the history of the Arkansas Delta, has largely been the commitment of its white citizens to white supremacy, its eventual curbing by the federal government, and the failure in the last 50 odd years to come to terms with its consequences.”
Feb. 28: Leslie Newell Peacock revisits the nearly-forgotten 1959 tragedy at the Negro Boys Industrial School in Wrightsville, where 21 African-American boys were burned to death in a fire in their dorm, which had been padlocked from the outside. A brother of one of the dead is angry that there are no grave markers or headstones for 14 victims buried at a Little Rock cemetery.
June 5: An accomplice to a killing in Pine Bluff — teen-ager Kenneth Reams — gets death while the shooter gets life. Mara Leveritt writes on the case and action by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “That Reams should die and Goodwin live seems an injustice. But in the eyes of Arkansas law, an accomplice to a felony resulting in murder is as culpable as the murderer himself. Jefferson County prosecutors never had to show that Reams killed Turner; they simply needed to prove that he was party to the crime, a fact true by his own admission. Currently more than 30 states allow murder charges to be brought against non-killers under this legal doctrine, known as the felony-murder rule, and Reams’ death sentence is just one of about 80 in such cases over the past three decades.”
Nov. 20: Gerard Matthews and David Koon team up to report on the aftermath of KATV’s Anne Pressly’s brutal killing: Women TV anchors, whose public personas make them vulnerable to stalkers or overzealous fans, fear for their lives. “If this was any other moment in Little Rock,” they write, “it might strike some as ironic that the woman on the cover of this newspaper — a consummate professional who spends at least six hours of her life every week working live in front of a camera — didn’t want her face photographed for this story. It’s just one example of the wall of caution, if not outright fear, that has imposed itself around local news stations since Pressly’s death.”
Dec. 11: After the President Barack Obama jokes that he is a mutt, Mara Leveritt examines the absurdities of the government and public education’s insistence on racial identification, even by people who are of mixed heritage. “Eventually,” she writes, “schools will have to acknowledge what [Dr. Francis Collins, who worked on the Human Genome Project said], that by continuing to require racial identifications of students, we are affirming ‘something that [we] know is not true: that there are bright lines between populations and that races are biologically distinct.’ ”
June 4: Arkansas has a new celebrity: Conway-born “American Idol” winner Kris Allen. “[C]onsider the improbability of Kris Allen, 23-year-old former business major at UCA, coming anywhere close to the finale of ‘American Idol,’ ” writes Lindsey Millar. “Leading up to season eight, more than 100,000 auditioned for the show in eight cities. Of the more than 10,000 who auditioned in Louisville, Ky., in January, Allen, by his telling, was one of the last to receive a ticket to audition. His brother Daniel had convinced him to give ‘Idol’ a shot, and the Louisville audition was the only one in reasonable proximity that fit their schedules, though a gig at church the evening before forced the brothers to drive through the night. By the time Allen auditioned, he’d lost his voice. Adrenaline must’ve pushed him through several rounds with producers to an appearance in front of the four celebrity judges, where he sang the same song he’d sung at his wedding four months earlier, Donny Hathaway’s take on Leon Russell’s ‘A Song for You.’ Next came those four words every ‘Idol’ hopeful longs to hear: “You’re going to Hollywood.”
July 23: Gerard Matthews looks at the state’s new fund-raising scheme for education. Observation No. 1: Who’s struck it rich thanks to the Arkansas Lottery? Executive Director Ernie Passailaigue, who’ll be paid $324,000, and his staff. Two years later, with his leadership in question by the governor, the legislature, the lottery commission and the press, Passailaigue would resign.
Aug. 6: The Times publishes Mary Jacoby’s year-long investigation of religionist Ted Suhl’s operation, with state Medicaid money, of “The Lord’s Ranch,” an inpatient mental health facility for children in Northeast Arkansas, where state records revealed reports of abuse, denied medical treatment, forced Bible readings and other illegalities.
Oct. 1: David Koon examines why music minister David Pierce, who worked at a Baptist church in Benton, got away with sexually abusing boys for 20 years: the town trusted him.
Pierce would be paroled in February 2012 with the caveat that he leave Arkansas.
Oct. 29: Lindsey Millar profiles Gossip, a punk-pop band partly from White County that’s gained international fame, thanks in large part to feminist chanteuse Beth Ditto of Judsonia, who is as big as Beyonce in the U.K. As she’s grown older, she tells Millar, she’s grown more nostalgic for her life in Arkansas. “I love everything about the way I grew up. I love that my grandmother didn’t have a bathroom until the ’80s. I love that I know what it’s like to go squirrel hunting. I love that I grew up poor and rural. I love that I grew up in a huge Southern family. I think about growing up fishing. Growing up by the river, with the mosquito trucks coming by and spraying.”
But move back? “You couldn’t pay me,” she said.
Dec. 24: The last editorial cartoon (drawn by Vic Harvell) runs.
July 8: Ernest Dumas offers a primer on Obamacare and how despite Republican/Tea Party naysayers the law is good for Arkansas and Arkansans.
Oct. 14: White Water Tavern regulars tell all about the town’s near-mythical dive bar. Among the surprising revelations, from co-owner Matt White: “We’ve had several weddings. One was a zombie wedding. Everyone in the wedding was in crazy tuxedos with zombie make-up. The zombie bride came down the steps walking like a zombie. The groom came from the backdoor walking like a zombie. All the bridesmaids and groomsmen were dressed like zombies. They grunted their vows. And we had one, where after the vows were finished, the couple broke a bottle across the pole up front and cut each other in a cross and put their bleeding arms together. They were punk rock leathered out.”
Nov. 4: Patrick Kennedy, a losing candidate for 2nd District Congress, writes about how politics can make a person forget why he ran in the first place, and what a beating he took in his own race. In describing what it’s like to run for office for the first time, he writes, “Wait for a sunny day and seek out the tallest, thickest, nastiest tree you can find. Once there, strip naked and climb to the very top, wrap a blindfold around your eyes and jump into the thicket below.”
Dec. 16: In our second annual Big Ideas for Arkansas issue, Mason Ellis proposes reinventing Little Rock’s Rock Creek, from near Chenal Parkway to Fourche Creek. “We should build on their discovery and engineer a world-class whitewater and float park in Rock Creek, with an upper whitewater section during the wet season and a canoe trail in the lower section that’s floatable year-round. Re-engineering the channel by removing obstructions, burying utilities and providing better access, while constructing whitewater obstacles, would provide local kayakers and canoers with a unique water trail that could be a model for urban waterways in America and provide a way for curious locals to discover whitewater kayaking.”
March 2: David Koon revisits Pleasant Plains, where school board member Clint McCance had put on his Facebook that he hoped homosexuals would die, to measure any change in attitude — and finds little.
March 16: Leslie Peacock writes about the unconventional and affordable housing transforming Little Rock’s Pettaway neighborhood, including the city’s first shipping container homes. A year later, the bank the Pettaway CDC was working with on financing would decline to finance the then-installed container homes, saying they were too weird. (The bank would eventually change its position.)
May 4: Will this be the last Summer Fun issue of the Times to use a woman in a bikini on its cover?
July 27: Times graphic designer Bryan Moats gives his left arm for the paper, getting tattoed with a lightning bolt in the shape of Arkansas for the cover of the “Best of Arkansas” issue.
Aug. 3: The Observer remembers the late Jennings Osborne, provider of ribs, donuts and Christmas lights, quoting his son-in-law as saying the drug-trial businessman used to jest “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve fed 45 homeless men Viagra and they are running around your facility boasting about their erections.”
Aug. 18: Max Brantley, on the Arkansas Blog, breaks the news about a special court hearing in Jonesboro for the West Memphis Three — Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. — that would free them under an Alford plea, where the defendants maintained their innocence, while pleading guilty to reduced charges of first-degree murder. A week later, the Times and the Clinton School of Public Service partnered to host a panel at the Statehouse Convention Center that featured the prosecutor in the case, several of the defense lawyers and other experts. It drew more than 1,000 attendees.
Aug. 31: The Times’ print redesign hits the streets; readers must adjust to new story placement, format and type size (later made bigger).
Oct. 5: David Koon catches up with the former rabblerouser but now ailing Robert “Say” McIntosh and some of Say’s friends, proving Say can still get in the newspaper. Even those who came into conflict with McIntosh don’t harbor ill will towards him, Koon finds. Former Pulaski County Sheriff and U.S. Rep. Tommy Robinson, who once threatened to take a chainsaw to a cross McIntosh had intended to crucify himself on in front of the sheriff’s office, tells Koon, “He’s not on my Enemies List.”
“Say, back then, was sort of a crusader,” Robinson says. “In his own mind, what he did was altruistic and for the right purposes. Most of the time it was, but sometimes it wasn’t. He’d let certain people influence him and talk him into things he probably shouldn’t have done, but I can’t say one bad thing about Say McIntosh … I’ve been victimized by him, but like I said, I don’t have any ill will toward him or hard feelings whatsoever.”
Dec. 21: The Times has its first fun with Bobby Petrino, putting his picture on the cover with “BMFP” in big letters underneath for its 2011 Best and Worst issue.