I got married on the steps of Old Main last year. My wife is from Long Island, New York. And God bless her, she didn’t have a problem making her everlasting vows on a university campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas (Well, at least she didn’t tell me she had a problem with it, I may have overlooked that during the planning). She knows how much I love the University of Arkansas. She married me knowing that I was a career student at the University of Arkansas. She married me despite knowing that I was a 31 year old man who still sat in the student section at Razorback games. During my senior year of high school, the University of Arkansas admissions office invited me to tour their campus. As an incentive, they offered one ticket to the September 27, 1998 football game against Alabama, free of charge. I took it.…Continue Reading
If you grew up in Arkansas in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, you might remember staying up until midnight to watch AETN’s sign-off video.  The video ran every night for years on channel 13, Arkansas’ PBS station.  Waylon Holyfield’s “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)” was coupled with the state’s scenic vistas glowing in a VHS haze to create a brazen salute to Arkansas’ people and places.  Holyfield’s song was written to commemorate Arkansas’s 150th anniversary in 1986.  The song became an anthem of pride throughout the state and was made an official state song in 1987. Holyfield was born in Mallettown, Arkansas, graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1965, and moved to Nashville in 1972 to write songs for a living.  He found great success in country music, scoring his first number one hit in 1975 with Don Williams’ recording of “You’re My Best Friend.” “Arkansas (You…Continue Reading
Some hard working folks over at the City of Fayetteville’s Geographic Information System Department have put together an amazing map that tells you when nearly every building in Fayetteville was built.  It is interactive and color-coded. I learned that the ol’ Gregg House on Lafayette and Gregg was built in 1871 (it didn’t tell me that the bricks in that house were made at the same time and place as the bricks in Old Main, but that’s true), the rotting Magnolia Co. Filling Station on Lafayette and West was built in 1930, and the building that houses George’s Majestic Lounge was built in 1935.  The map even features all of those newer houses west of I540. See if you can find your historic home or McMansion.  There’s also an option to see the city’s National Historic Sites.  Here’s the link. The GIS Dept. has some other interactive maps at their…Continue Reading
Plowing It Under
  Thomas Hart Benton was born and raised less than an hour’s drive from the Crystal Bridges site, in Neosho, MO in 1889.  Benton, the son of a lawyer and congressman and great-nephew of a prominent senator, left Neosho at the age of 17 to study art in Chicago and then Paris before serving in the Navy during WWI.  By 1930, Benton was known as a well-established “Regionalist” artist in New York.  Benton rejected the themes of modernism (while keeping a sort of modern aesthetic) and hoped to capture American life as he saw it, which led to dismissal from many art critics of the time.  “We came in the popular mind to represent a home-grown, grass-roots artistry which damned ‘furrin’ influence and which knew nothing about and cared nothing for the traditions of art as cultivated city snobs, dudes, and aesthetes knew them,” Benton recalled in his autobiography.  “Regionalist…Continue Reading
  As early as 1786, Arkansas women were thought to be “as vicious as the men, and are worthy companions of their husbands.”  Popular culture hasn’t been easy on Arkansas women.  They have been portrayed as willingly subjugated, backward, and crude.  “The women chew and dip / And the big gals go barefooted / With tobacco on their lip” rhymed Marion Hughes in his 1903 book Three Years in Arkansaw.  From the 1930s through the 1960s, Arkansas women were seen in Hollywood movies as happy-go-lucky hicks.  Comic strips and television often presented them as over-sexed, dim-witted bombshells, like Lil’ Abner’s Daisy Mae (set in Kentucky but identified with Arkansas) and The Beverly Hillbillies’ Elly May Clampett. In popular music, Arkansas women are usually and unsurprisingly depicted as an object of a man’s desire.  Delta bluesmen see Arkansas women as absent lovers.  Country Western singers give them a sweeter touch.  Here…Continue Reading
The Fall 2011 semester at the “You of A” welcomed a record 23,153 students.  Fayetteville is once again flush with thousands of additional consumers.  I’m sure Taco Bueno, Walgreens, and the liquor stores are happy to see them.  Some of our local businesses try to entice students to spend money at their establishments by catering to their needs and tastes (those sinister marketing experts at Orange Leaf).  Others, like our live music venues, seem to ignore the community of thousands on The Hill completely. The Fayetteville music scene has seen better days.  Have you seen the acts coming to town this fall?  Forgive me if you are a Charlie Daniels, Meat Puppets, Chris Robinson (from the Black Crowes) or a Candlebox fan, but quenching my musical thirst will once again happen after a long drive to Tulsa or Kansas City.  Sure we’ve got Lucero, Dr. Dog, and “The Gambler” Kenny…Continue Reading
Kindred Spirits Featured
Asher B. Durand finished Kindred Spirits in March 1849.  It was a memorial to his friend and mentor Thomas Cole, who stands in the landscape with writer and poet William Cullen Bryant.  The painting was commissioned following the death of Cole (aged 47) by dry-goods merchant and longtime art patron Jonathan Sturges.  Sturges gave the painting to Bryant, a close friend of Cole (his “kindred spirit”) and Durand.  Durand’s work remained in the Bryant family until 1904 when it was donated to the New York Public Library. Kindred Spirits was sold by the NYPL to Alice Walton at private auction for a purported $35 million dollars in 2005 (156 years after its completion), the highest price ever paid for a piece by an American artist.  Over the past 50 years, the painting has gained distinction (that it did not have in the 19th century) as emblematic of the Hudson River…Continue Reading
If you ever find yourself driving down Hwy 45, it’s easy to miss Canehill, AR.  There’s a few rough looking buildings, the old Cane Hill College, and the rusty old mill at the side of the road.  For most Washington County residents, Canehill is just another small dot on the map.  Last week, the Postal Service announced that it might be closing some post offices in Arkansas.  Canehill was on the list.  The news hit the local television stations yesterday.  Residents of Canehill strongly oppose the possibility, as you can see on the clip from KFSM bellow.  I imagine most folks in Fayetteville or Springdale think it is a shame, but probably understand the financial reasons for its possible closure.  They might even be surprised that Canehill had a post office, their own area code, in the first place.   It’s hard to see in the rotting buildings and the crumbling…Continue Reading
The buzz is officially on for writer/director Jeff Nichols’ new film, Take Shelter.  The film took the Grand Prize of the Critics Week  at the Cannes Film Festival last week and was awarded best film at the Sundance Competition.  Jeff Nichols also won the SACD award for best screenwriter. The Little Rock native Nichols shot his first feature, 2007’s Shotgun Stories, in southeast Arkansas.  The small budget Shotgun Stories tells the story of three brothers feuding with the family that their now dead father began after he abandoned them.  The audience knows tragedy can be the only outcome, creating a slow burning intensity that Nichols relishes. Based on the trailer, Take Shelter has a similar “impending dread” pace.  It stars the excellent Michael Shannon (who was in Shotgun Stories as well as Revolutionary Road, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire) as Curtis LaForche who experiences visions of a massive, apocalyptic storm…Continue Reading
In 1927, a Virginian textile mill worker named Kelly Harrell traveled to Camden, New Jersey to record some songs for Victor Records. It was his third time recording for Victor; his last two (in 1925 and 1926) garnered enough interest for six new cuts with his own backing band, the Virginia String Band. He was an unlikely pioneer of country music considering he couldn’t play an instrument, but his short career predated Jimmie Rodgers (who Harrell wrote a few songs for) and the Carter Family’s.   One of the songs Harrell recorded in 1927 was “My Name is John Johanna,” a traditional ballad about the state of Arkansas.  Harrell’s cut might have been the first time the ballad was recorded. “My Name is John Johanna” (or Jo Hannah) is also known as “The State of Arkansas” (or Arkansaw), “Bill Stafford,” “Stanford Barnes,” and “Misery in Arkansas” among others. Like most…Continue Reading
Don't Pass the Salt
“Don’t Pass the Salt” will be a semi-regular feature that glorifies the greatest gastronomical creations of Northwest Arkansas. Today’s feature is perhaps our region’s most delicious. I have tried dozens of hushpuppy varieties across the South and none compare to those found at the Catfish Hole in Fayetteville and Alma. Although its exact origins are a mystery, the hushpuppy is an entirely Southern dish. Nineteenth century Americans, particularly Southerners, ate a lot of corn. The hushpuppy was deep fried, unlike other corn-based foodstuffs like corn bread, corn pone, griddle cakes, and corn dodgers that were a staple of the Southern diet. Unsurprisingly, the hushpuppy was a product of fish fries. Fish were fried with a dusting of cornmeal; the remaining cornmeal was mixed with water or milk, rounded into balls, and fried in the same oil as the fish. Onions, eggs, baking powder, and even sugar, became standard additions over…Continue Reading
(Updated – The facebook page that was protesting Chipotle’s choice of signage received this message: “I checked with our team responsible for our Fayetteville location, and they have made the decision to remove the Chipotle sign and relocate it.  The original sign was completely protected and is not damaged in any way.  We are beginning this process in the next couple of days.  Please tell everyone not to worry, the sign is still there!  We appreciate your support, and we look forward to seeing you soon! – Ashley – Chipotle“ Well done Chipotle, well done.  I am not surprised that they decided to remove the sign.  They made a mistake and they did not realize it until some folks spoke up.  Well done Fayetteville.  I’m actually glad Chipotle moved into the location, despite the over-abundance of fast-Mexican food on Dickson.  The Frisco Depot has had a run of lousy businesses filling its…Continue Reading
Since the end of the ’90s, Langhorne Slim has been turning out homegrown hit after hit, gradually gaining a wider recognition.  Langhorne and his loyal band, The War Eagles, have been touring non-stop, state to state and country to country, greeting fans and giving folks a night to remember.  Their popularity has grown by word of mouth from fan spreading the love.  It’s fair to say, that right now, Langhorne Slim is bringing around one of the greatest shows on Earth. Langhorne Slim has created a genre of his own, it’s something he has always had inside him (with a touch of subconscious influence). Listen to a finger picking intro and it’s easy to recognize that it’s Langhorne.  His unique voice was made to sing his style of music.  This is feel good music, in the most lovable way. You’ve probably even gotten one of his songs in your head…Continue Reading
Once in a while I will hear a song for the first time that gives me a kind of déjà vu. It’s like, “Ok, I’m here, I know this, I want to keep going.” This is what I felt the first time I heard the song “Orion Town 2” by Frontier Ruckus. It was cathartic but not dramatic, just a girl in her room surrounded by her things and stuff, listening to music, and then putting on an album that a friend recommended. Frontier Ruckus gave me pleasure as much as it gave me a tool for self-discovery. Frontier Ruckus’ music has a folk-heavy sound filled with urban and suburban themes. Songwriter and Detroit native Matthew Milia’s songs are about decaying metros, northbound highways, and revisiting memories once discarded. The banjo, harmonica, and singing saw bloom alongside the propelling lyrics. It is an unwound poetic experience that pulls the listener…Continue Reading
Lucero Casually Arm-Wrestling
Lucero is wildly popular in our state.  The rowdy Memphis rock band earned every bit of that popularity during their thirteen years of existence.  In 1998, Little Rock’s Ben Nichols and Memphis’ Brian Venable decided to form a band.  Eight albums and a guesstimated 2,000+ concerts later, Lucero has garnered critical success while nearly perfecting their live shows. Lucero is no stranger to Fayetteville, they’ve made frequent stops to George’s and JR’s Light Bulb Club over the years and to Wakarusa in 2009.  They will be playing Wakarusa for the fourth time on Friday, June 3 at 6:00 PM (and not at 12:00 PM as reported on Waka’s stage schedule).  Get your tickets here.  Check out Lucero’s massive tour schedule here. Brian Venable, lead guitarist and all-around nice guy, talked with us about their affinity for Fayetteville, their NEW ALBUM, the lost Bob Seger, and countrified heavy metal.  We’ll be using that format where we…Continue Reading
Tragic news from Dickson Street this morning. Bruce Walker, owner of Flying Possum Leather, died in a fire at the shop. Bugsy, the “Dickson St. Dog,” made it out ok. Bruce opened Flying Possum in 1976, his leather guitar straps and sandals became world renowned. Bruce, only 57 years old, represented one of the last of his kind. He was proud of his craftsmanship and Fayetteville was proud of him. A memorial has formed outside the shop. [flickr]http://www.flickr.com/photos/justingage/5506824370/[/flickr] [flickr]http://www.flickr.com/photos/justingage/5506824172/[/flickr] Read the story at the Flyer: http://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2011/03/07/flying-possum-leather-catches-fire-one-person-hospitalized/
We all know the reputation the state of Arkansas has across the country. We hear the occasional joke from our Northern friends about being barefoot or having dated our cousins. Most people know that our state has modernized, but outsiders still see us as a little behind the times.  But as any Arkansan who was alive during the “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1962-1971) era can tell you, things used to be much worse.  As late as 1954, the influential American Mercury published an article titled, “What’s Wrong with Arkansas?”  It  stated that Arkansas had stood for “watermelons, the unshaven Arkie, the moonshiner, slow trains, malnutrition and mental debility, hookworms, hogs, the big fat lie, shoelessness, illiteracy, windy politicians and hillbillies and paddlefeet who cannot seem to pronounce correctly the name of their native state.”[1] The 1944 movie “I’m From Arkansas” serves as a visual time capsule of the national perception of…Continue Reading