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Matthew Pate


A century of bunkshooting fear

Recently, the evangelist Franklin Graham held a prayer rally at the Arkansas State Capitol where he urged citizens to vote for Christian candidates who support “biblical principles.” During his speech, he railed against what he characterized as the “growth of secularism.”

Stick a pin in me…

At several points in my life I have had a bulletin board. On these boards I’ve pinned post cards from trips, photos of friends, menus, magnets, mementos, school fliers and other little arcana as suited me at the time. Given their predictable appearance in the back-to-school aisles of the local big box store, it’s probably safe to assume that the custom continues.

Oligarchs rise in dirty money

The concept of hegemony is popular among people who study the distribution of power across societies and the world. The term ‘hegemony’ is used to indicate a condition where a small group of people exert a disproportionate or unfair influence over another group.

Rubble reflects long tradition

Long time readers know that my hometown, Pine Bluff, is often the topic of my weekly column. The City of Progress provides me with a lot of inspiration. Some of it’s hopeful and uplifting. Some not so much. As long as I can remember, the town has struggled with an image problem. Whatever the reality of life here in River City, it suffers in the telling. I certainly share the blame for some of that.

And the real socialist is…

As we get deeper into the weeds of the current election season, the din of empty rhetoric is deafening. Much of the blame goes to the Republicans’ darling of the moment, Donald Trump. I see Trump as the equivalent of cotton candy. It’s all puffed up, showy, appropriate for a circus and utterly void of meaningful substance. He’s all emotion, derogatory bating and narcissism.

These boots are made for justice

If you’ve ever been under water too long and aren’t sure you’ll make it to the surface in time to breathe, then you know how I’ve felt over the last few months. It was among the most stressful and unpleasant times in my life. Thankfully I’ve made it to the metaphorical surface and my lungs feel nice and full.

Needing more nooks for books

If you’re around me long enough, I’ll probably give you a book. If you’re fortunate, it’ll be something other than the ones I’ve written. When directly asked, I might give up a copy of my first book, but surrendering one’s magnum opus is a lot like giving somebody a framed photo of your baby. Even if it’s ugly, they have to pretend it isn’t. Nobody wants to hear “who put the monkey in a stroller?”

One hundred year board meeting

Even if you have been living under the proverbial rock, you’re likely aware that this weekend is the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth. I am an unapologetic Sinatra fan. I have been since high school. Oddly enough, my love of Ol’ Blue Eyes may have begun as the result of a magazine offer.

Cranberry sauce demands order

With Thanksgiving now in the rearview, guests gone and belts re-buckled, I have realized a few things about my family’s annual observance. Of course there are the memories, both saccharine and sad. There are the traditions and stories to be told.

A Japanese story made in Arkansas

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, U.S. Pres. Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. With his signature, all persons of Japanese descent were ordered from the West Coast to one of 10 internment camps, most of which were located in remote areas of California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, and Arkansas.

I’ve Got a Secret

My favorite movie is the John Ford classic, The Quiet Man (1952). It stars John Wayne as Sean “Trooper” Thornton, a disenchanted American boxer who travels back to his birthplace, Inishfree, Ireland. His co-star is the red-haired beauty, Maureen O’Hara, who plays a strong-willed Irish woman, Mary Kate Danaher. O’Hara and Wayne starred opposite one another in five films. They were a perfect pairing.

Something to think about

T he past couple of weeks I’ve been on the road a lot. I’ve eaten enough stratospherically priced airport food to contemplate a second mortgage. I’ve also enjoyed cramped seating, howling babies and weather delays. Even so, I managed to get back home safely, sound and exhausted.

Old souls side with Joe Friday

As long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of old television shows. Having weathered a few seasons, many “classic” television series are shows I remember from their original airings. There used to be only one or two cable channels that regularly broadcast old shows. Now there are several. One that I especially like is MeTV.

Herbie: No love just bugs

As many readers are doubtless aware, the automaker, Volkswagen, has come under fire for allegedly including a software switch that allowed heavily polluting vehicles to circumvent emissions inspections. Not only was this an outright fraud, it also meant that buyers were getting neither the promised fuel economy, environmental protection nor performance they were promised. I wished this surprised me. It doesn’t.

Herbie: No love just bugs

As many readers are doubtless aware, the automaker, Volkswagen, has come under fire for allegedly including a software switch that allowed heavily polluting vehicles to circumvent emissions inspections. Not only was this an outright fraud, it also meant that buyers were getting neither the promised fuel economy, environmental protection nor performance they were promised. I wished this surprised me. It doesn’t.

Fixated on hot biscuits

t’s funny how some things can just stick in your craw. Recently, I was in a car with a couple of friends when one of them asked, “Have y’all tried the new Lay’s Biscuits and Gravy flavored potato chips?”

Saving the past from extremists

Several years ago I was privileged enough to work on a project for the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. My team was asked to address some of the issues related to international trafficking of stolen art and antiquities. While this might sound pretty dry to the uninitiated, it quickly turned into an adventure involving Australian aboriginal tapestries, decapitated Javanese Buddha heads and French Impressionist paintings.

Light bent and captured

Much of who I am I owe to my father. He taught me that being honest and treating people right was always more important than making money. He taught me that nice guys don’t always finish last. He also taught me about a lot of creative things.

A job not done and not well

I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately. It’s not that good things don’t happen to me every day, but life’s little travails just seem to have come in a big pack in recent times. As I’ve gotten older, I deal with setbacks better than I would have a few years ago. It’s like picking out splinters — after you’ve done it a couple hundred times, you develop a technique, but you probably don’t want any more practice.

Seeing stars over Arkansas

With all the national discussion about the Confederate flag burning up national airwaves, I thought a little more lighthearted flag news might be in order. To that point, a really nice thing happened in my hometown recently. A once-faded mural depicting Willie Cavanaugh Hocker, alongside her design for the first Arkansas state flag, was just professionally restored and presented to the public. The mural also features three other iterations of the state flag and a profile of the naval vessel, USS Arkansas. With generous donations from several parties, the 1995 mural is new again.

Some bigotry is still acceptable

In the last few weeks, many in the United States appear to have rediscovered the Confederate battle flag. Much of what has been said makes sense to me. No one wants to be persistently faced with a thing that to them symbolizes fear, hatred and oppression. Neither would someone want to be told that an important part of their culture is to be dismissed wholesale because other people don’t like it. This is why America is hard. This is why democracy and freedom take work. Whatever happens to the battle flag, I hope we as a nation learn to get along a little better as a result.