Missed point
Usually I take every bit of publicity generated about the Historic Arkansas Museum as positive, even if some of the facts come out wrong. But please allow me to respond to last week’s “$500,000 log cabin” article, which got many of the facts right, but seemed so woefully to miss the point. First, you should apologize to your readers for the tabloidal (would Doug Smith let me say that?) headline. It was as fanciful as “celebrity has alien baby” but not nearly as much fun, and didn’t square with the reporter’s story itself. For clarification, the site consists of a three-pen log house, a log barn, a log smokehouse, and a structure to be interpreted as a slave cabin. As to the $500,000, Historic Arkansas moved the barn and cabin from southwest Arkansas, then reconstructed and roofed them; constructed a smokehouse and outhouse; improved the existing Plum Bayou Log House; added security lights and cameras; prepared the site for authentic landscaping; fenced a full half block in downtown Little Rock; funded preparation for work at the historic Brownlee House; and razed a parking lot, graded and landscaped the recovered open space and added a brick trolley stop with restrooms for people participating in programs at the log house.

But from a broader perspective, while the reporter “got” the concept of authenticity — that Baldwin & Shell is completing the project as accurately as research and quality craftspeople can — she didn’t seem to understand why. The past can speak eloquently and offer perspective that, in my opinion, our society needs now as much as ever. Public opinion research shows that people trust history museums especially because they show the “real thing.” We have waited 30 years to complete the Log House complex, and we did it authentically because this is the only way to do it right. Will the thousands of 21st-century school children who experience a taste of pioneer life here notice the difference? On some level I bet they will.

Had the reporter finished the article by returning to that time-traveling homesteader, suggesting the amazement that he/she might have felt as being an object worthy of study and appreciation by 21st-century school children — now wouldn’t that have been a nice story?
Bill Worthen
Director, Historic Arkansas Museum

Editor’s note: According to budget figures provided by project architect Tommy Jameson, the approximate $500,000 cost of moving and renovating the log structures did not include the brick trolley stop or any of the work involved in turning the parking lot into a greenspace. That phase of the project cost an additional $239,900.

Swell commentary by Warwick Sabin (Oct. 20, “The migration of cool.”) He identified a significant Arkansas cultural shift. I see the contrast in my area of interest, local music.

A few years ago I poked my head in one of my old favorite Fayettenam spots, George’s Majestic Lounge; I almost cried. I remember hanging with Mary behind the bar and girls dancing on the tables whenever reggae was played. The furniture was gone. Red vinyl booths abandoned for an anywhere disco look. The hippies from the humanities college and the countryside were replaced by packs of Barbie dolls dressed in jeans, heels and obligatory shirt revealing just a touch of tummy; and Ken dolls with frayed white hats and eternal desire for Barbie. What had been Arkansas’s alternative Main Street had become an ATM-fueled pre-yuppie mating ground. I hear the hardcore hippies got partied out. They are still in the countryside, just homebodies. Do you remember when Herman’s was at the edge of town?

Now don’t get me wrong, there is still some fine music out of Fayetteville: B-side, Charlie Horse, Tel Aviv, and sorry, those are just the ones I can remember right now. George’s has a great performance garden in back. But Little Rock has been producing bands by the truckload. As a friend of mine who spent eight years as a session guitarist and alt-rock band member in Nashville put it, “Little Rock puts out more original music than Nashville, it’s just not a music town. People don’t go out to listen to music.” On the flip side, I hear former super band town Seattle is falling on creative hard times, lots of wannabes and poser hipsters. If there is money to be made, how many will remain true to their art? So, it is a double-edged sword. A lack of financial critical mass may produce a better atmosphere for honest and creative music.

Get out and explore and support your homegrown outstanding bands. It will remind you of Fayetteville/Oxford/Austin/Chapel Hill back in the day. You might even run into your kids who have been trying to tell you. Oh, yeah, don’t forget your earplugs.
Somers Matthews
Little Rock

Daisy Bates
I so enjoyed Grif Stockley’s splendid piece on Daisy Bates. He mentions that Mrs. Bates was set to go to Europe in the summer of 1965. She had organized a number of prominent Arkansas women and was to lead a group tour under the aegis of the NAACP when she suffered her stroke. She selected a protegee, I.J. Routen, the musician daughter of a well-known Little Rock family, to lead the trip, one which turned out to be immensely successful. L.C. Bates was never scheduled to go on the trip. I still treasure my memories of working with Mrs. Bates through the years.
Fred Poe
Little Rock

As I read Max Brantley’s diatribe Oct. 20 about a merit pay experiment for teachers in the Little Rock School District, I was struck with several thoughts. The least profound of which is that looking at his picture I think that he and I are the only fat people when compared to the Stephens, Hussmans and Waltons.

I cannot stand by in good conscience and allow him to malign and ridicule the Little Rock Public Education Foundation without speaking up. What gives you the right to accuse them of score manipulation? [Editor’s note: The column did not accuse anyone of score manipulation; it said an experiment with merit pay in the Meadowcliff school had not been reviewed for manipulation.]

My question would be, do you want your children to be that one who turns the lights out in the state when all the rest of the world has passed us by? How noble of the Stephens, Hussmans, Waltons and anyone else who is honestly trying to build a better state for our children and their education. Something your malicious diatribe has not succeeded in doing for this state. I would be glad to hear of any positive thing you have done for this state’s educational system.
George R. O’Connor
Little Rock

Execute DeLay
When our newspaper editorially called for the torture of Tom DeLay (Arkansas Times, Oct. 13), it was done, of course, tongue-in-cheek. To set the record straight, the Lovely County Citizen does not endorse torture — even of those who commit the most horrific of crimes (like those allegedly perpetrated by DeLay).

Breaking election laws to obtain a Republican majority in the Texas legislature for the purpose of gerrymandering congressional districts to ensure a Republican Congress for years to come amounts to treason in our view.

Redistricting is supposed to be done every 10 years, after the census. Redistricting seven years early in order to fix the imbalance of Congress is criminal. The Texas Democrats who fled the state twice in 2003 to prevent this travesty are to be applauded, while those responsible should be everything but tortured.

Torture might be a bit harsh, but isn’t treason a capital offense? Being that DeLay hails from Texas, execution capital of the world, perhaps prosecutor Earle should consider convening another grand jury.

Damn, can’t seem to keep that tongue out of that cheek. For the record, we don’t support the death penalty either.
Bill King
Publisher, Lovely County Citizen
Eureka Springs

Suburbia by the Book
And the racist is on! I must say that the two I’ll bet green money that these two self-righteous folk are regular churchgoers, volunteers in their communities and most likely contributors to some form of charity (how else could they attain such high opinions of themselves). But for all their good deeds (based on my sound assumptions) they only prove that they lack the very basics of what it takes to be a Christian or, by layman standards, a good person.

Just in case no one told you — Jesus was poor, too. Guess he wouldn’t be welcome in your neighborhood. My advice: If you happen to get a minute alone with your respective pastors, ask him to explain to you 1 Corinthain 13:3 — “And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
Doris Smith
Little Rock


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