Dickson St. memories 

As a Dickson Street musician of yore, I read Jim Kelton’s article about Ronnie Hawkins, John Tolleson, the Cate Brothers, and others of the Fayetteville music scene with interest and nostalgia. Although the article was about “club music,” I hoped it would mention Mike Shirkey’s Goodfolk Productions house concerts, which are held regularly on the ample stage at Mike’s house just off Dickson.

Mike is a staple concert announcer at the annual Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kan. Thousands attend the four-day festival every September. Through Mike’s Winfield connections and his reputation for high-quality shows, Goodfolk has become a favorite venue for stellar folk, bluegrass, blues, and semi-pop musicians. Recently, I attended his presentation of a sold-out reunion concert by Wheatfield, a Houston-based band, which was incredibly tight and inspiring. (Wheatfield consists of Trout Fishing in America augmented by two of their ’70s-’80s band mates.)

The rampant gentrification of Dickson Street, about which I have mixed emotions, may have contributed to the music wane described in Mr. Kelton’s article. I hope that Mike and his audiences will be able to resist those trends and that Goodfolk can continue to present first-rate music in Fayetteville.
David Newbern
Little Rock

Prayer power
Kudos to Bob Lancaster for his masterfully inclusive, tongue-in-cheek petition rendered in compliance with Bro. Gov’s request for prayer for rain. Gathering nature, specially weather, and the Almighty up into one synonymous breath and calculating how to influence, even REVERSE prevailing conditions, is always a highly presumptuous, ambitious exercise which invariably results in theological lines being drawn in the sand.

But, just for this one time, can even the mirthless wonder, yea, even indulge that Lancaster’s pseudo-entreaty was probably at least as consequential as the combined bead-countings, mojo-fingerings, cloud seedings, coven potions, rain dances, tarot readings, folk machinations, fastings, et al. Mercifully, the rains came. Now, as Lancaster expanded, we can move on to the fire ant, mole and pine beetle infestations.
Larry D. Powell

Take on the drone
Just imagine, if you will, that Congressman John Boozman goes to work one day, and is told, “John, you don’t have to vote the Republican line today. Just for today, we want you to make your own decisions, and vote according to your own conscience.” Do you think he would run home and hide under the covers in sheer terror?

Somewhere in Northwest Arkansas there must be someone with the passion and eloquence to take on this GOP drone in the November election.
Richard S. Drake

Don’t blame Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart has recently been vilified as one of the major causes of our health care woes. I believe this is blatantly wrong. A lot of the criticism of Wal-Mart in this area comes from groups who want to unionize Wal-Mart. For several years, I have worked with Wal-Mart people and have friends who work for Wal-Mart. Their full-time employees have good health insurance by the standards of our country. These are some of the most decent, honest people that I know and also some of the hardest working. If Wal-Mart closed tomorrow, people would still have many options to buy their consumer goods. The issues with health care would persist.

The core problem with the American health care system is that we are trying to operate it in a mercantile fashion, when every other civilized country has shown us that this is neither efficient nor equitable. A good friend of mine, who is also a gifted doctor, recently told me the biggest problem with health care in this country is greed.
R. Melton
Little Rock

The Bush economy
Ernest Dumas’ column Jan. 12 compared the job creation record of the Bush administration subsequent to the May 2001 tax cuts with that of the Clinton administration, completely ignoring differences in circumstances that make his comparison meaningless.

Most observers would agree that during the Bush administration the economy has been adversely affected by events outside the president’s control, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks that occurred before the 2001 tax cuts became effective. Mr. Dumas points to the creation of only 108,000 net jobs in December as an indication of the failure of the president’s policies. However, it seems amazing that the economy was creating any net new jobs only a few months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in the face of higher oil and natural gas prices.

The fact that more jobs were created during the Clinton years than during the Bush years means little without an analysis of all the facts. The real question is whether our economy today would be better or worse if different economic policies had been implemented in the past. It is possible, though Mr. Dumas would certainly disagree, that our economy might be worse off if Bush tax cuts had not been passed.

The Arkansas Times devotes significant effort to criticizing the Democrat-Gazette for what you perceive to be conservative biases. Your writers often fail to see in their writing the same biases of which you accuse your competitor.
Drew Speed
Little Rock

Huckabee’s footsteps
Asa! Hutchinson wishes to continue the Huckabee legacy. Here are some suggestions:

1) Asa! Could contribute to Klansman David Duke’s campaign and get chided by Ted Koppel on National Public Radio.

2) Asa! could hire Billy Joe Roper as “special staff” and later actually remember working with the guy.

3) He could announce that the now obsolete AASIS computer system can be upgraded for a measly $22 million per year, but actually cost $56 million.

4) He could raise the daily $5.75 bed tax on nursing homes to the elderly to $10.

5) He could replace the State Police King Air with an SST.

6) He could jog 16 miles, then write a book about running 22 miles.

7) He could get fat, lose weight, get fat …
Gene Mason



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