Favorite

The Observer set off for our first film in the Little Rock Film Festival on Friday afternoon at Riverdale 10, feeling pretty erudite and cool with that pass hanging around our neck. As it turned out, we were in a mob of the cool, standing in two lines stretching into the theater’s parking lot waiting to get in. Now we know people here like film, enough to stand in a line on hot asphalt just about the time, on other Fridays, they’d be unwinding with their first Cosmopolitan somewhere.

We were there for “Killer of Sheep,” a 1977 black-and-white film about hopelessness in the Watts neighborhood in L.A., whose screening here was one of the first it’s had. In it, the kids hang out in dusty lots and throw rocks and fight and boys and girls square off. The grown-ups hang out, fight, the men and women square off, and, in the case of the hero, herd sheep into slaughterhouse chutes from which they cannot escape. It’s a grim little student film shot angularly a la “Citizen Kane” with amateurs and music from Paul Roberson, William Grant Still, George Gershwin, Dinah Washington and Rachmaninoff to drive its points home. It made us wonder, how much has changed?

As it happened, that was the subject the following morning, when The Observer and colleague caught up with some of the Little Rock Nine at the NAACP convention. They were in town for the release of the commemorative coin that honors them for standing up to the ugly face of racism — on adults and teen-agers and teachers cowed by the vocal segs — that they found at Central High 50 years ago. Only their bobby-socked feet and legs show on the coin; theirs and the legs of a federalized National Guardsman, his weapon at his side.

The colleague, who graduated from Hall High three years ago, met Gloria Ray Karlmark, who, like most of the Nine, did not return to Arkansas after high school but became a patent lawyer in Europe. He was a little awestruck at meeting one of the Nine but not speechless, and so he answered her questions about the lingering racism she was hearing about at Central High, and the segregation in advanced classes. He told her about peer pressure not to take advanced classes, about the stigma of being a “nerd.” (He was a nerd, he told her. “I was too,” she said.)

Karlmark sat in real disbelief. “Why?” she asked, over and over again. People threw rocks at her 50 years ago. She expected more from today.

How many mimes are enough, The Observer has been asking ourselves, an inquiry prompted by our discovery on Saturday morning that two mimes are now working the Farmers Market. This seems quite a lot for a venue this size in a town like Little Rock, hardly the mime capital of the world. But The Observer remembers a few years back, when brigades of belly-dancers writhed at every public event in Central Arkansas. Perhaps mummery is the new belly-dancing.

Of the competitors in the mime game, the one with the longest tenure is a Michael Jackson look-alike who sets up near the western end of the market. Lately, another silent artiste has been doing his robotic moves at the eastern end.

We’d expect that the second mime has reduced the income of the first, two now splitting what used to belong to one. The Observer imagines one of them pursuing the other, both in slow motion, through the produce. Mime after mime, as it were. We thought of asking one or both “How’s business?” but decided that would be inappropriate.

Some commercial enterprises — restaurants, car dealerships — are said to prosper by having competitors nearby, the idea being that the proximate establishments draw more potential customers to the area than would come there otherwise. Mimes might be like that too.

A third mime, or a fourth, would seriously exceed demand, we expect. But the patrons of the Farmers Market need to keep at least one of the mimes in business. A mime adds flavor to the Market, just as the occasional musicians do. And whatever happened to the dog-adoption people? We always enjoyed seeing the pooches, always dropped a contribution into the box. We wouldn’t even object to a belly-dancer, as long as it wasn’t too early in the morning.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016
  • Yawp

    The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.
    • Mar 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in The Observer

  • Dumb and smart, at the same time

    The Observer spent the week at a bar and thought a lot about a joke and its writer.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • -30-

    A newspaper died up in Atkins a few weeks back, not with a bang or a whimper, but with the sound of change jingling in a pocket, just too little of it to keep the printing presses rolling.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Does she know?

    Did Kim Walker-Smith, when recording "Throne Room" for her new record "On My Side," truly understand the power of her music? Does she now know that her song was the one that played on the radio as Michael Reed thumped into the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds and brought it on down?
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation