Paul Carr may live in Hillcrest, but then again, he may not. He grew up in Arkansas, but he won't say where. What we do know is he earned a B.A. in physics from Hendrix, played in a handful of mid-'90s bands and two years ago started a quirky neighborhood blog called Forbidden Hillcrest. And Arkansas Times readers love Forbidden Hillcrest so much that it came in first runner-up in our Best of Arkansas reader's poll.
AT: Let's start with something that could be either simple or loaded. Who are you?
Carr: There are a couple of things I want to avoid. One is where I grew up. I have to keep that a mystery for reasons I won't go into. There are some fairly questionable people out there, now that we get beyond Hillcrest with the stories. We do a lot of stories that aren't really in Hillcrest, like some of these strange West Little Rock neighborhoods where the people are kind of, well, do you follow some of these dramas on the Forbidden Hillcrest Facebook page, like where the boyfriend was shooting at the girlfriend from two different vehicles? It was real Jerry Springer stuff. Everybody that wasn't a fugitive or in jail got on the page and started commenting within a few hours.
AT: You mean these commenters were actually involved in that situation?
Carr: Well, the one who was being shot at got on there ... she liked 2,700 things on Facebook, and Forbidden Hillcrest wasn't one of them, but these days you don't have to like something to comment.
AT: Why did you start Forbidden Hillcrest? And do you actually live in Hillcrest?
Carr: I either live there now, or I have lived there in the past. Originally I wanted to learn about the technicalities of blogging, and I just starting making up these ridiculous stories about Hillcrest, and I had so much fun doing it, I kept cranking them out. I think I did five the first day. There was a lot of buzz right off the bat, because people related to it. There wasn't any reporting. It wasn't a journalism site at all.
AT: When and why did you start incorporating more actual news?
Carr: It's kind of evolved. First it was fiction, then it was about exploring, then it was about history, then it was about crime. We had this big story back in November of 2010 about the catnapper. And I was all about that story, but that confused it, because it was very similar to the Pug Strangler [an earlier Forbidden Hillcrest story], which was not true. The reason I started doing true stories is, I would come across things that were just as interesting as anything I made up, and people like true stories better than made-up stories. And there's a lot of crime, but not a lot of crime reporting, so there's a hole in the market there. Even if it's small, if it's in somebody's block, they care a lot about it.
AT: Sometimes it's difficult to know what's true and what isn't on Forbidden Hillcrest. Is this intentional?
Carr: It isn't intentional. The catnapper was reported by all the papers and TV channels. ... Now, if I make up a story, I make it so ridiculous that you don't have to ask. Now it's straight journalism. I do post fiction on the site, but it should be clear to a reasonable person that it's fiction. The Children's Vigilante Network is not real.
AT: What about the Italian UFO Cult?
Carr: Everybody thinks that's phony. That's a 100 percent true story.
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