Gene Prescott's photos brought to life thousands of news articles in the Arkansas Gazette for almost 40 years. When Gazette readers picked up their paper every morning, Gene's photos were there to give them a good visual sense of what happened in the accompanying news articles. That was not an easy task but Gene did it superbly. Gene helped make the Gazette the dependable, honest newspaper that it was.
I hated to hear that Gene died. He was a really good man and lived a full, honest life. Is there any higher honor than that?
Gene and I worked dozens and dozens of news stories for almost 25 years. He the photog and me the reporter. We had the same routine when we would meet up to tackle the story: Gene would ask me what the general nature of the story was going to be, who were the principal players and were there any special shots that he needed to get. Sounds simple? Not always.
Once in Forrest City, during a highly charged racial confrontation in the late 1960s, blacks and whites were at each others' throats. A hundred state troopers had locked down the city. Tension and guns were everywhere. Three hundred angry white people met at the courthouse to organize resistance to the black uprising.
Gene had quietly slipped around the city taking photos; he was almost like a phantom, getting photos without bringing attention to himself. He was simply a great news photographer.
Meanwhile, I was back at the courthouse listening to the prosecuting attorney rail about the “black rebellion.” The prosecutor noticed me — a reporter — and everyone wanted to throw me out of the meeting. I told them, they didn't have to do that; I'd go peacefully. When I walked through the courtroom doors, with the sheriff right behind me, Gene was there with his camera poised.
Gene yelled at me, “Why'd you do that?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Why didn't you let them throw you out...that would've been a great photo!”
That was Gene. Always looking for the photo that defined the moment. We'll miss you, Gene.
In reference to your description of me in your review of The House in the Feb. 18 edition as “The Democrat-Gazette's Eric Harrison (of Sims sauce-hating infamy),” I really don't mind your taking a swipe at me, even an anonymous and underhanded one. And if you feel that at-tempted put-downs improves the quality of your restaurant writing, by all means, go for it.
But at least have the decency not to misquote, or at least to misinterpret, my opinion.
Semantics aside, there is a world of difference between “Sims' sauce is not our favorite,” which is what my review of Sims actually said, and “I hate Sims' sauce.” Or perhaps your writer only sees things in absolutes and is incapable of distinguishing shades of gray.
And by the way, at least my readers know that it's my opinion they're looking at because I put my name on my reviews. For more than 30 years I have put my byline on every review I've written, and I intend to always do so. I believe a reviewer, any reviewer, establishes a relation-ship over time with his readers based on the percentage of time the reader agrees or disagrees with him. Why the Times expects its readers to trust the opinion of a writer who doesn't identify himself, I'm sure I don't know.
Eric E. Harrison
(What Harrison actually wrote about the sauce was this: “Sims' sauce is not our favorite: what we got on our sliced beef and rib plates was thin, mustardy and vinegary.” As it has been — wonderfully so — since Sims was founded 73 years ago. Signed: Max.)
The season of Lent is the perfect time to consider a plant-based diet. This 40-day period preceding Easter is when Christians have traditionally abstained from meat and dairy in memory of Jesus' 40 days of fasting and prayer before dying on the cross. Such a gesture would be a tangible expression of Jesus' message of compassion and love for all living beings.
Animals are being raised for food under abject conditions of caging, crowding, deprivation, drugging, mutilation, and manhandling. When trucked to slaughterhouses, they travel for days without food or water only to be bled, skinned, and dismembered while still conscious. Wastes from factory farms foul the water we drink and the air we breathe, and meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. Most chronic killer diseases are linked to consumption of animal products.
We have choices, and there are consequences: blessings and curses. We can continue to subsidize these sins against nature with every food purchase, or we can show our respect for Jesus' message by accepting a wholesome, nonviolent diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains first mandated in Genesis 1:29.
End the death penalty
Okay, let's be clear on this. A person commits murder and perhaps associated unspeakably horrible crimes. So we as a state decide to premeditatively murder this person to show how wrong it is to kill.
Most of the countries in the world and many states in this country have abolished the death penalty because it is unevenly applied (to the poor, people of color), much more expensive than life without parole, and morally wrong (and more than occasionally those who languish on death row for years are proven to be innocent, and it doesn't always happen before execution).
Arkansas has not had an execution since 2005, due to heroic legal efforts to show the cruel nature of death by lethal injection, where there continues to be concern that people injected suffer a slow, conscious suffocation (the chemicals we use to kill are no longer used by veterinarians for euthanasia due to suffering unintentionally inflicted). We now have executions scheduled in Arkansas for March, April, and May. No matter how angry we are at the person we are executing, this is a barbaric act of retribution that does nothing to undo the crime originally committed and only feeds a cycle of violence. As Gandhi famously said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
We should not look away and we should not be silent. We need to tell our governor that we want him to stop these executions, and we need to tell our legislators that we want to end the death penalty in our great state.
People let us take command of our families, neighborhoods, country and those inalienable rights with which we are all endowed. After hundreds of years, more than one amendment and too many lives we entered the socio-political arena, and then we stopped. The marches, boycotts, sit-ins, carpools, lending a hand, sharing of concerns somehow has come to an end as if the struggle for justice is over, as if the battle for equality has been won. We have not reached the top of Jacob's ladder nor have we broken the shackles that will bind our descendants to economic servitude.
Not spending when we can't afford it or where we are not respected works, spending when it is both efficient and convenient is prudent. Looking after our own is powerful and holy. We must be examples for our children and maintain our criticism of them to their faces while sharing our stores of free or underpaid laborers.
We must hold these truths self evident for ourselves, as our ancestors did through meaningful celebrations and purposeful spending, re-thinking the monthly and end of year holiday dogma designed to satisfy the earnings figures of the global power elite as their pawns scrambling to satisfy our tax obligations to a government and justice system that considers companies men. We fought for our freedom and our rights, and continue to seek justice while multinational conglomerates continue to be given restitution, purchasing their citizenship through lobbying in this new world order.
On the court
Has there been any notice by your sports commentator that the Razorback basketball team's won-loss problems appeared only after a) Marcus Monk had to leave the team and continued because this year b) with the experienced Michael Sanchez unavailable; c) Marshawn Powell, a freshman, though coming on, is still in his first varsity year, and d) Michael Washington, an outstanding senior, suffering a back condition and a referee problem he did not have last year, we no longer have the planned “team” that was recruited? Do the people who wish John Pelphrey out as coach ever watch a game and notice that the rebounding, inside defense, etc., difficulties are related directly to the play, or non-play, of these named players? Don't feel bad. Wally Hall hasn't noticed either.
Recently I was a participant in a debate with a Christian fundamentalist on intelligent design. It was obvious they do not find it essential to understand things in order to argue about them.
For example: Can any rational person truly believe that the creator of the universe could be found physically ripping the wheels from pharaohs' chariots at the Red Sea or that the inventor of the law of physics came to the Plains of Shinar to instruct Noah on how to build a wooden boat? To say this craft was well designed is to strain the meaning of the word. This vessel was a floating outhouse with inadequate ventilation and this would have allowed copious amounts of deadly methane gas to permeate this death trap. Plus, one tiny spark and man and beast would have disappeared in a cosmic flash. Seriously, to believe this absurdity one must have a deficiency in reason and an excess of faith.
The argument for design cannot prove the existence of God because we must first know that a God exists, which we cannot, before we can know anything is designed by him or her. One cannot prove the actual existence of a thing simply by entertaining the idea of it. The fundamentalists are like the preacher who saw God's design in the fact that everyone short or tall had legs just long enough to reach the ground.