‘Arkansas Times Recommends’ is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we’ve been enjoying (or, in Max’s case, not enjoying) this week.
Slate debuted a new daily podcast this week called “The Gist with Mike Pesca.” It’s off to a promising start. I’m already addicted enough that I all but got into an argument with my wife to let me do the dishes last night, so I’d have an excuse to listen to it. The gist of “The Gist” is every episode begins with topical coverage (this week: Ukraine, Boko Haram) then there’s some lighter something (so far, that I’ve heard: an interview with a scholar about bestiality in 18th century America and a participatory feature on an improv group that gives freestyle rap lessons) and the episode closes with Pesca ranting or otherwise monologuing about something. Pesca, formerly NPR’s sports reporter, is a natural podcast host. He’s very voluble, but not in an exhausting way, also funny, quick-witted and full of strange obsessions. — Lindsey Millar
Whatever you do, turn off commercial Arkansas TV stations’ newscasts until Nov. 5. Until then, you’ll otherwise have to endure, between the Preparation H and stool softener ads, millions (really — millions) of dollars in dishonest political advertising, much of it from out-of-state corporate interests intent on owning every Arkansas elected official from justice of the peace to U.S. senator. Instead, cue up Arkansas native Iris DeMent singing “Wasteland of the Free.”
“We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don’t tell me they don’t turn around and kiss them peoples’ ass
You may call me old-fashioned, but that don’t fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free”
She’s playing at the Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock Saturday night. I’ve got a ticket. If you can still get one, go. — Max Brantley
Five Netflix recommendations, in haiku form.
On Netflix streaming,
your best-bet category:
Or, for something that’s
episodic: “The Returned.”
So creepy. So French.
so bad at titles, but so
good at dialogue.
Well, but you know what?
Fuck it. Let’s re-watch “Dogtooth.”
I can’t get enough. — David Ramsey
If there’s a support group for people who’ve bought used cars from North Point Toyota, I guess I’d better join. Against all odds, and on a meager newspaperman’s salary, I bought a car on Monday, a pre-owned vehicle that first hit the market when I was thirteen-years-old. I bought it from a salesperson who, for the sake of this post, I’ll call “Kami Ronaghi” (because that’s his real name). It was gorgeous — you should have seen it. The car wouldn’t start the morning after I drove it off the lot. They took it back and repaired it, though it wouldn’t start this morning either, and as of this afternoon, it’s back in the shop. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. So this week I’m sending a song out to that car, wherever she is: “When You Come Home,” by DJ DMD, the only Texas rapper ever covered by ZZ Top. “Never figured that our dreams would be severed, now I’m waiting, hoping things will be better.” Come home. — Will Stephenson
For the past couple days, any time I’ve got a minute, I’ve found myself drawn back to this high-resolution photo of Little Rock’s Main Street, circa 1910, which somebody I know posted to Facebook last week. By holding down the CTRL button on your keyboard and spinning the little wheel on your mouse, you can zoom in close on details. Looking at Google Streetview — which would have seemed like witchcraft to anybody in that photo — the picture seems to have been taken near the corner of 4th and Main, looking south. Every time I look at it, it seems like I find something new and fascinating: The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg from “The Great Gatsby” atop the four-sided Stifft’s clock on the nearest corner. A little dog ambling up behind a man in a vest and a bowler hat on the opposite side of the street. A stooped man staring into a display window just behind Mr. Vest and Bowler, eyes seemingly inches from the glass. A book-shaped sign down the block that says “BOOK STORE.” A sign on the top of the tallest building in the picture that says “THE ROOF IS CAREY’S” (just who is Carey, and why has he claimed the roof?). An automobile at the curb on the east side of the street, a rarity then, but already killing that horse-drawn world. The Little Rock Trust and Savings Bank window, which proclaims “Capital: $100,000” in gold leaf. The string of placards over the street, studded with bulbs, which confoundingly spell out “LIGHT.” A man in a hat, hanging his head out the window of streetcar #221 to catch the breeze. Two men on the corner just past the clock, one holding what might be a briefcase, both of them with their heads cocked at just that angle that you know they’re checking out the two ladies who have just walked past. A hundred and four years later or thereabouts, it’s probably not a stretch to say that every single person in the picture is dead. Who were they? What did they want? What did they dream of? Where were they all going on that lost, not-important day — a day just like the one you’re living now, frozen by a click? — David Koon