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Butts off ground

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Butts off ground

Cigarette butts now have a place to go in the River Market area that's not on the sidewalks and streets: In containers mounted on 10 poles up and down the street. The city and Keep Little Rock Beautiful installed the receptacles, which will be placed in other areas downtown too, with grant money, with great fanfare last week, including an address by Mayor Mark Stodola. Litter has been a problem in the entertainment district, which has bar traffic by night and family and business traffic by day.

The receptacles, black cans strapped on to the poles, were described as "state of the art." That would be the art of cigarette butt containment.

A day in the life

"Billy Blythe," the forthcoming one-act opera about Bill Clinton that our Rock Candy blog first reported on last March, has been in the national news lately. Following a piece on U.S. News and World Report's website, the story landed everywhere from Gawker to the New York Daily News to "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," where, as you might expect, many jokes were made. Fallon: "You can tell the opera's about Clinton because it's not over 'til the fat lady moans."

But while Clinton's presidency might be the stuff of opera, "Billy Blythe" looks back on the former president's young life, before he changed his name at 12. Composer and Little Rock resident Bonnie Montgomery, who studied opera at the University of Missouri in Kansas City Conservatory of Music, says that the story, drawn from the autobiographies of Clinton and his mother, takes pivotal moments in Clinton's childhood and compresses them into one day in Clinton's life in 1959. Montgomery, who is collaborating with librettist Britt Barber on the opera, describes it as "inspirational" and "uplifting." She hopes to debut it in Arkansas in 2011, with a preview event possibly coming earlier.

Summer reading

Once again, the Drug Policy Education Group, headquartered in Fayetteville, is providing drug-reform books to Arkansas public libraries. DPEG began furnishing free books eight years ago. This year, two books will go to each of 50 public libraries around the state. The 2010 selections are "Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?" by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano and Mason Tvert, and "Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition" by Jeffrey A. Miron.

DPEG also sent us its latest in a series of tips on ways that decriminalizing marijuana would help Arkansas. This one says that legalization of marijuana would reduce expenditures of tax dollars for minor offenses. According to DPEG, the enforcement of state and local marijuana laws annually costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $7.6 billion. Arkansas's share of that would be about $65,176,800 a year.

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