Ends Do Not Justify Mean

This “119” fight in my home­town could’ve just offended me like the rea­son­able per­son I think I am. But it enrages, rekin­dling a pair of mem­o­ries. While I sup­port full nondis­crim­i­na­tion in my com­mu­nity and coun­try, when pro­posed this sum­mer Fayet­teville Ordi­nance 5703 / Chap­ter 119 Civil Rights Admin­is­tra­tion fell shy. Surely I could retain egal­i­tar­ian cre­den­tials and oppose a law that might dam­age its goal of extend­ing civil rights to mat­ters of sex, not just gender.

Promotional sticker from the producers of Hair, circa 1971. The Pollock Archive.

I still have a cou­ple of the stick­ers from 1971 that my dad was sent to pro­mote the stage musi­cal Hair.

Then its oppo­nents begin show­er­ing shrap­nel of fear­mon­ger­ing on my North­west Arkansas city. That prob­a­bly stops this week.

Still, the City Coun­cil passed “119” in a 6–2 vote fol­low­ing a 10-hour meet­ing that began Aug. 20. The foes’ peti­tion drive set up a repeal vote Dec. 9, for which early vot­ing ends Mon­day afternoon.

Vot­ing “against” means against repeal and thus sup­port­ing the new Chap­ter 119 ordinance.

The forces for repeal con­tinue its Atwa­ter/Rove–inspired cam­paign. First, to reminisce.

The senior Ben Pollock’s main hobby was the­ater. Begin­ning in the mid-1950s, he was active back­stage in Fort Smith Lit­tle The­atre, a com­mu­nity the­ater orga­ni­za­tion. That over­lapped with years on the board of the Broad­way The­ater League of Fort Smith, which staged com­mer­cial “bus-and-truck” musi­cals and plays at what is now the ArcBest Cor­po­ra­tion Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. For the league, Dad booked the shows. He par­layed that self-taught skill to a year or so work­ing as the munic­i­pal auditorium’s man­ager. Read More


Falling-Down Cake

Falling-Down Cake” is my child­hood name for Mom’s choco­late cake. Mom, as dis­cussed pre­vi­ously, was a cook of post-War vin­tage, the Joy of Cook­ing, The New Set­tle­ment Cook Book and Thoughts for Buf­fets her ref­er­ences, with a hand­ful of index cards copied from her BFF Isabel Marks. Her week­night choco­late cake — the sin­gle pan sort […]


Debatable? Indeed.

A full-scale, live tele­vi­sion can­di­date debate just may be the pin­na­cle of unscripted yet pre­dictable “real­ity TV,” with a local exam­ple as proof. It was a cir­cus of tamed ani­mals, no clowns. On Tues­day, Oct. 14, incum­bent Demo­c­ra­tic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor faced Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Tom Cot­ton at a Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas audi­to­rium. Below […]


#nsnc14dc: Crafting Columns, Getting Them Known

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Why were we here, besides for our writer friends and some sight­see­ing? To get bet­ter. Speak­ers at the 2014 con­fer­ence of the National Soci­ety of News­pa­per Colum­nists dis­cussed pol­i­tics, gov­ern­ment and his­tory, but the focus was on devel­op­ment of our skills. Hence, two wrap-up pieces. I tried to live-tweet a lot except […]


#nsnc14dc: Columnists in the Capital & Beyond

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Speak­ers at the 38th annual con­fer­ence of the National Soci­ety of News­pa­per Colum­nists could be sep­a­rated into two gen­eral top­ics, with over­lap: Some focused on Wash­ing­ton and cap­i­tal news, and oth­ers on devel­op­ing of craft­ing and mar­ket­ing columns. Hence, two sto­ries. I took a lot of notes and live-tweeted, except when I […]


Puttanesca Off Line

This pasta sauce says sum­mer to me louder than gaz­pa­cho soup. If you’re des­per­ate for hot weather, this’ll be almost as good with canned toma­toes and dried basil. The tem­per­a­ture con­trast between room tem­per­a­ture sauce and steam­ing pasta is delib­er­ate. Here’s a quote from a 1985 news­pa­per recipe by Arthur “Food Maven” Schwartz: “Some uncooked pasta […]


Principles of Journalism Pay

I have a real full-time job, near ideal actu­ally, its long title notwith­stand­ing. On June 12, I signed a for­mal offer to serve as 2014–15 Interim Assis­tant Direc­tor of the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas Cen­ter for Ethics in Jour­nal­ism and Instruc­tor of Jour­nal­ism. It com­prises the same respon­si­bil­i­ties and term as assis­tant direc­tor, with­out the “interim,” […]


A C Note

We asked for it so I can’t com­plain. We dined out to cel­e­brate. It would so kill the mood to ask what’s an add-on and what comes-with on each and every item, so we didn’t. Boy, did I pay for it. Here is a cau­tion to near-vegans and veg­ans, like My Beloved and me. All the pasta/risotto […]


Fingerholds on a Slippery Slope

It’s a busi­ness meet­ing with two 30-something women I’ve never met, the wrong place to bring up any­thing per­sonal. I know that. The hour is near­ing an end. Nearly all the seri­ous stuff is done. This is actu­ally a del­i­cate moment. Things can be screwed up moments before all is said and done. One of the women […]


Tall Lady Short but Sound

It’s unfair to say one feels let down by a free pro­gram. It’s more unrea­son­able to feel let down by a non-performer’s per­for­mance. Alas, sev­eral of us did; I asked around after­ward. Writer Joyce Carol Oates, 75, still teach­ing at Prince­ton and other cam­puses, was fas­ci­nat­ing for her 45 min­utes onstage at the Fayet­teville Town […]