A commemoration of the No Tears Suite from the Summer 2019 issue
I hadn’t been to Little Rock until the performance, and to be able to go to the museum across the street, to be reminded with videos how horrific that moment was, to actually play in that school, that was deep. To know that this is something that’s so heavy, something we’re still going through, even. To be there in the same town, on the same block, in the exact same building and onstage, in that beautiful auditorium. It was an emotional time.
Writers reflect on Charles Portis
He was the real thing, but he was modest about it. An awestruck fan meeting him by chance in a Little Rock bar named the Faded Rose gushed at him, praising him as a great American writer. Portis shrugged saying, “I’m not even the best writer in this bar.”
A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue.
All of Bill’s anecdotes about Diz played to this theme: here was a man, a titan of American music, whose genius helped revolutionize jazz in the forties, opening the door for its great modern period—the pre-birth of cool!—and yet who carried a “personality of warmth and openness and friendliness everywhere, with whoever he was dealing with,” Bill said. “That side of him was something that I remember as strongly as I remember his musical force and power and creativity.”
The first Japanese Americans began leaving for internment camps in the spring of 1942, effectively banished from their homes by the United States government. Norman Sagara, six years old at the time, can still recall how it played out for him: the FBI visiting his farmhouse in southern California; his older siblings translating for his parents, simple chicken ranchers; his family packing up their belongings and, then, late that summer, boarding a train. “We didn’t know where we were going,” recalls Sagara, now seventy-eight. “They wouldn’t tell us. And three days later we ended up in McGehee, Arkansas.”
A graphic story from the Fall 2019 issue.
Like many cities, Little Rock is a place of ghosts. The dead hover and haunt, though their stories often go untold. This story is a work of fiction inspired by some of those ghosts, who lived a tale the city tried to forget—of the mob and cops and gamblers, the good and the bad, and the hazy in-between. The violence they knew was real and ugly, with consequences, not a thing to be celebrated or courted. In those days it was impossible to escape. The story begins with a man named Gideon, back home from World War II . . .
Trying to achieve black selfhood in Little Rock
The erasure of pre-integration black community also means the loss of artifacts of black joy. Those artifacts, mementos of those places, seem harder to find today, scrubbed from memory, or crowded out by the drama of police dogs and fire hoses. Whenever I catch the stories of early classes from Little Rock’s black high schools—Dunbar, or Horace Mann—the joy such stories bring to the faces of their alums feels out of time with the Little Rock I imagine preceding 1957.
Walking through the sliding glass doors of the Peabody Hotel, across plush carpets under high industrial chandeliers, the first person I saw was a guy in a t-shirt and kilt. Not a plaid kilt, but a leather kilt—more like a skirt that a Roman soldier might wear. The man had a name badge around his neck with ribbons hanging from it and it turned out he was one of the conference organizers. Welcome to SSAWG, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group—weird farmers of the South.
A featured conversation from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue.
“The pandemic in the United States opened up the truth of what that nation is about. Like a volcano, truth just came pouring out. Just layers and layers and layers. I keep hearing this stuff about, well, in America, we’re exceptional. Are you kidding? I never thought that, never felt that, never even considered it. American exceptionalism? Please.”
An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.
Newly returned to Little Rock, this year I will attempt to catch the Southern vernacular on the air—the sounds that warp my senses and have conditioned me to experience this place in a particular way.