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Smart Talk April 20

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Walls’ flowers win

When Little Rock native Derek Fisher, the former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star who’s now with the Golden State Warriors, and Candace Patton decided to marry last year in L.A., they chose another Little Rock native to design the flower arrangements for the wedding. Michael Walls, a Catholic High graduate who started his own events firm in Los Angeles in 2000, not only got the job, he won Special Events Magazine’s Best Floral Design Award last month for his work in the Fisher wedding. Walls used thousands of red and pink roses (the bride’s requested flower) with pink hydrangeas and burgundy amaranthus to create swags at the entrance to the ceremony, hung the dinner tent’s 12 wrought-iron chandeliers with garlands of roses and smilax, used rose clusters as tiebacks on the tent’s velvet draperies and planted the moss-covered sign-in table with rose heads. “Walls’ reputation comes primarily from his impeccable work, then from his charming humility,” a PRNewswire story said. “How unusual for Los Angeles. He must be from someplace else. Arkansas, for example.”

What a parent could learn in kindergarten

Drew Pitts, an England, Ark., fifth-grader, won a trip to Washington as a winner among 2,000 entries in the Box Tops for Education essay contest. (Box Tops helps with school fund-raising drives.) We liked his idea — giving parents paid time off from work to volunteer in schools. He was inspired by his father Mike’s employer, the IRS, which allows paid time for employees to participate in blood drives.

Drew figures that the schools and businesses could benefit from a similar policy for school volunteer work, both in practical help for the school and good public relations for employers. Drew’s school, England Elementary, got a $1,000 grant to support programs to increase parental involvement in schools.

Why does Joe Klein hate liberals?

Joe Klein (“Primary Colors” and a columnist for Time) is among the speakers at next weekend’s Arkansas Literary Festival. If it were up to liberal columnist Eric Alterman, he’d have somebody ask Klein why he hates liberals. And why he sounds so much like Rush Limbaugh.

Alterman last week recounted on his Altercation blog “… after someone brought up the question of whether the Democrats will be able to present an effective alternative to Bush in the next election, Joe Klein shouted out, ‘Well they won’t if their message is that they hate America — which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past 20 years.’ ”

Alterman commented: “That’s right. The most liberal columnist at America’s largest weekly newsmagazine pretends that the message of liberals for the past 20 years has been that they ‘hate America,’ just as if he were reading from talking points issued by Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter.”

Are you a liberal? Do you hate America? Ask Joe Klein what the hell he’s talking about. He speaks at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 22, at the Darragh Center of the Main Library.

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