It came to this newspaper’s attention recently that the state of Arkansas is encouraging tourists to visit a facility in Eureka Springs called the Museum of Earth History.
This is an institution that presents a “biblical view” of ancient history, which means one that you can probably better appreciate if you’re a certified imbecile, but today’s purpose is not to argue natural science. It’s to point out other facilities here in the Natural State just as educational, just as scientific, just as publicity-worthy, that the state of Arkansas should be steering tourists to. Here are a few of them:
• The Museum of Legislative Nitwits, Scoundrels, and Poltroons at Little Rock. Newly created at the state Capitol complex, this one features such exhibits as the 25 Sorriest Legislators of All Time, the 25 Greasiest Legislators of All Time, the 25 biggest blowhards, the 25 worst dressers, and several other entertaining categories. Centerpiece is the Hall of Inanity, with its display of the 100 most asinine pieces of legislation ever enacted in Arkansas, with actual texts, roll-calls, and foolish published comments. Busts of the immortals — from Cassius M. Johnson braying against changing the name of Arkansas, to Napoleon Bonaparte Murphy peeing in the White House rose garden. Don’t miss it.
• The Museum of Celebrity Fishermen and Their Celebrity Fish at Hot Springs. Features actual fish caught by Arkansas celebrities and fish caught in Arkansas by famous visitors. Most of these are taxidermied, but some are live in glass tanks, or in the faux babbling brook that runs through the place. And some are just fragments of famous fish, like the bone from a goggle-eye that Al Capone choked on at an Arlington brunch. The mess of crappie caught by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. at Lake Hamilton during a respite from more typical Rat Pack activities is here, too. There’s a swordfish that Bob Burns claimed to have “charmed” with his bazooka in the Sea of Cortez. The gaspergou that terrorized the city of Magnolia. The alligator gar that ate former Secretary of State C. G. “Crip” Hall’s leg. Top billing goes to the leftovers of the smallmouth bass that weighed only two pounds when Gov. Mike Huckabee caught it back before the Devil lured him into politics — the same fish he used, with a single loaf of Wonder Bread, to feed the entire multitude at one of the Billy Graham Crusade revivals.
• The Gerald L. K. and Elna M. Smith Museum of Really Holy Stuff at Eureka Springs. The objects and relics here were personally gathered by the Smiths during their many VIP trips to the Holy Land back before the Jews took over there. All of the pieces are certified by experts. They include the jawbone of an ass that might very well have been the one Samson used, a leather slingshot with the name David stenciled on it that has been carbon-dated to the exact year Goliath was slain, a tooth from one of the same species of dog that ate Jezebel, a shard of brick from the general vicinity of where the Tower of Babel is thought to have stood, and a toenail that has been confirmed by DNA testing as 99.7 per cent likely to have come from King Solomon’s right big toe. There are other biblical artifacts, of course, but visitors rate these few as most inspirational.
• The Rasslingiana Museum at Pine Bluff. There are more world heavyweight championship belts here than you would’ve thought possible, from the time a few years back when the number of recognized simultaneous world heavyweight champions exceeded 1,000. But there’s much more than belts. For instance, there’s the world’s largest collection of handkerchiefs stained with the blood of famous rasslers sopped up from metal folding chairs used by other rasslers to hit those rasslers over the head. Also, the world’s largest collection of broken pieces of ringside announcers’ tables — folding fiberboard tables, broken when rasslers were slammed down on them or conversely when the tables were turned upside down and slammed on the rasslers. Each table fragment is identified by the rassler who was the slammer as well as the slammee, and by when and where the table-smashing mayhem transpired. All formally documented. Some of this revered debris goes back to Sputnik Monroe.
• The King Crowley Museum of Native American Knick-Knacks at Jonesboro. King Crowley himself is here, of course, along with a genuine living Toltec descendant who serves as a docent and tour guide and whose family has lived in the mounds area around Scott for more than 1,500 years. The museum has Henry Detonti’s iron hand, the very one, and Father Marquette’s canoe. Injun Joe drives from here to the campus every day to lobby for his retention as ASU’s mascot. And Chief Nockahoma’s teepee is onsite but unoccupied, the chief having opted against moving into a dry county, at least, he says, until Hell freezes over.
A coming attraction is the Jim and Virginia Johnson Museum of Negrophobia at Conway. Lots of water fountain signs, balcony directions, Hambone cartoons from the Arkansas Democrat, and other feel-good memorabilia from the good old days when all knew their place.
#StandUp4LR, the grassroots group organized to regain local control of the Little Rock School District, now run by the state has issued a statement today critical of Superintendent Michael Poore's budget process for next year, particularly insufficient community input. It also recommends a moratorium on new charter school seats in Little Rock because of the damaging impact that has on the School District.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.