LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

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Little Rock Look Back: The Central High Chili Incident

Minnijean Brown Trickey & Dent Gitchel at 2006 chili cook-off (Richelle Antipolo/ Flickr)

On December 17, 1957, a chili bowl was dropped in the Central High cafeteria.

It was, of course, not just any chili bowl.  It was dropped by Minnijean Brown as she was being harassed by white students who were trying to make it difficult for her to navigate the cafeteria.

Balancing food on a cafeteria tray and maneuvering around narrow paths around chairs and tables can be difficult in the best of circumstances. But doing it when you are being harassed for the umpteenth time that day makes it even more of a challenge.

Reports differ as to whether she dropped the tray or let it slip. In the pandemonium of the moment, it may be six of one, half-dozen the other.  But what is not disputable is that the chili fell on a junior who was sitting at a table and not taking part in the harassment. That junior was future attorney and UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law professor Dent Gitchel.

While no one had stepped in to stop the pestering, after Minnijean had dropped the chili on Dent, officials swooped in and sent both students to the principal’s office.  Dent was sent home to change clothes.  Minnijean was suspended for six days.  This incident and suspension would be fodder for her foes who pressed for her eventual expulsion in February 1958.  (The student other student involved in that incident – a white female – was only suspended and later returned for the remainder of the school year.)

Minnijean and Dent went their separate ways.  While many knew about the chili episode, the name of the student who was on the receiving end had become forgotten.  It was not until many years later that his name was once again attached to it.  In 2005, he was named in an article in an historical journal.  By that time, he was a retired law school professor.  Later that year, he gave a brief interview to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about it.

In March 2006, the Central High Museum Inc. board organized a chili cook-off as a fundraiser.  Minnijean and Dent reunited for the first time since December 1957 to serve as co-chairs and judges of the cook-off.  The other judge was Central High principal Nancy Rousseau.  There were nine chilies made by Little Rock area celebrities:  Mark Abernathy of Loca Luna and Bene Vita, “Broadway” Joe Booker of Citadel Communications, Dave Williams of Dave’s Place, Max Brantley of Arkansas Times, Michael Selig of Vermillion Water Grille, Pamela Smith of KATV, Channel 7, Sanford Tollette of the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp, Scott McGehee of Boulevard Bread Co. and state Sen. Tracy Steele.

Ten years ago – on the fiftieth anniversary of the incident — NPR did a story and interviewed by Minnijean and Dent.  In various interviews, Minnijean has commented that she told officials that day she knew that Dent was an innocent bystander.  In the few public statements he has made, Dent has commented that while he did not cause problems for the Nine, he also was not one of the very,very few white students who befriended them.  Today, they both focus their comments on the continued need for reconciliation as well as facing up to the issues in order to move forward.

So have a bowl of chili today. And think about how far we have come.  And how very far we still have to go.

Arkansas Gives today from 8am to 8pm

If you are like me, you’ve been receiving notifications about Arkansas Gives Day for months.  Well, today is the day!  From 8am until 8pm, you can help grow the love for Arkansas’s nonprofit organizations by making a donation to the charity of your choice.  The event is sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation.

As a special incentive to give, each gift made through ArkansasGives on April 6, 2017, will be matched with additional bonus dollars; the more you give, the more bonus dollars your favorite charity will receive.

Nonprofit organizations and other tax-exempt charitable organizations may participate if they:

  • Are headquartered in Arkansas or have a base of operations in Arkansas.
  • Have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status under IRS code AND are qualified as a 509(a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) organization or as a private operating foundation.

The minimum amount is $25; there is no maximum amount you may give. You may designate up to 10 charities per transaction.

Accepted Forms of Payment: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards online.
You will receive an email receipt of your gift; please retain it for tax purposes. Unless you choose to remain anonymous, your donor information will be sent to the nonprofits to which you give.

Here is a list of cultural organizations which offer services within the boundaries of the City of Little Rock.

 

There are MANY MANY MANY other worthy nonprofits which are participating. But since this is a culture blog, only the cultural institutions are listed.  But please consider visiting the website and perusing the entire list.

1st ever winners of 12th Ever Nog-Off

thnogoff_tstHistoric Arkansas Museum’s 12th Ever Nog Off was Friday, December 9.
The winners have been announced.
The Judges were: Alexia Elichiryof Vive la Vieradio and De Nux Distributors, LLC, Becky Falkowski of Downtown Little Rock Partnership and Amy Kelley Bell of South on Main. Their favorite nog was the Capital Hotel Eggnog by Matthew Dunn and Ben Edwards, The Capital Hotel
The nog that got the most votes from the public was also Capital Hotel Eggnog by Matthew Dunn and Ben Edwards, The Capital Hotel.

The Not Your Great, Great, Great Grandfather’s Eggnog Award (a nod to Nicholas Peay’s place in the family of longtime museum director Bill Worthen, who makes Peay’s recipe each year) is given to the best unconventional nog.  The public voted for St. Elizabeth’s Spiked Nog by Elizabeth Strandberg of Loblolly Creamery and Seth Barlow of O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor

12th EVER Nog Off at Historic Arkansas Museum Tonight

thnogoff_tstHistoric Arkansas Museum is home to the first ever, original Nog-off, a culinary celebration of a favorite holiday drink, and friendly competition for the best eggnog in town. The 12th Ever Nog-off welcomes old friends and new friends to this tasty and unique contest.

Among the new challengers are Luiggi Uzcategui of Big Orange Midtown, Merrick Fagan of Trio’s Restaurant and Dillon Garcia of Arkansas Mixology Associates. Will they take down last year’s returning champs, Rock City Eats and Stone’s Throw/Marriott Hotel? Or the Capital Hotel who holds 3 wins? Or Bill Worthen, whose family has been making Egg Nog with the same recipe for eight generations? Taste for yourself and make sure your vote gets counted!

Rex Deloney’s Eclectic Color: Diverse Colors for a Diverse World is inspired by the many different thoughts, emotions and people that he has portrayed over the years as a figurative artist.The emotionally driven portraits juxtaposed on colorful abstract backgrounds work together to convey messages of hope, faith and the everyday joys and struggles of life.

This exhibit is curated by the Arkansas Arts Council and continues in the SECOND FLOOR GALLERY through March 5, 2017.

…plus, holiday shopping in the Museum Store

  • Show your love of all things Nog with this t-shirt designed to commemorate our Nog Off, available exclusively online or in our Museum Store.
  • Get a signed book, for yourself or a gift: Rex Nelson, author of Southern Fried: Going Whole Hog in a State of Wonder will be in the store from 5 to 6:30, and Frances Mitchell Ross, will be on hand to sign copies of United States District Courts and Judges of Arkansas, 1836-1960.
  • Shop #ArkansasMade with Little Rock artist Jann Greenland, who will be showcasing her newest jewelry and fused glass work.

Little Rock Look Back: Prohibition Repealed on December 5, 1933

prohibition-repealOn December 5, 1933, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah provided the necessary support to officially repeal “the great experiment.”

Because this was such a foregone conclusion, the Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat carried only small, single column stories on their front pages.  Perhaps because this was Arkansas, it did not appear that any Little Rock businesses immediately set about to capitalize on this.  At least there were not any large scale advertisements in the days following that would indicate any specials or activities planned for the December 15 official end.

In fact, the only mention in the newspapers on December 15 was that President Roosevelt was trying to decide what the alcohol taxing structure should be.

One amusing story that ran in the Arkansas Democrat on December 6 was that Mrs. Roosevelt was keeping the wine glasses in storage at the White House for the time being.  She was awaiting action by Congress once it convened in January 1934 as to how it would deal with properly ending Prohibition in the District of Columbia.  Over 3,000 wine glasses had been in storage since Prohibition had been enacted.

Holiday Fun at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center this afternoon from 2 until 5

MTCCSayJoin the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center for a festive and fun day full of holiday cheer! The fun runs from 2pm util 5pm.

This year’s event will feature the 5th annual “Say It Ain’t Say’s” sweet potato pie contest, in honor of Little Rock’s black Santa, Robert “Say” McIntosh.  They will live entertainment, fun activities for kids and the opportunity to browse our current exhibits.

You and our panel of celebrity judges will determine who has the best sweet potato pie in Central Arkansas.

Tthe Holiday Open House will feature performances by comedian Nate Williams, Tania and Tamia Kelley, Mablevale Elementary Drumline, Gloryland Pastor’s Choir, Mablevale Magnet Middle School Dance Team, Horace Mann Magnet Middle School Dance Ensemble, Latavia Franklin and Shereece Manuel aka Shades of Diamondz.

This year, a trolley will be available to take guests to two other Department of Arkansas Heritage Museums located in downtown Little Rock: Old State House Museum and Historic Arkansas Museum. The trolley route will also include the Governor’s Mansion Open House.

For more information call 501-683-3620.