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Smart Talk, Nov. 6



Senator says, don't squeal


John L. McClellan, who represented Arkansas in the U.S. Senate from 1943 until his death in 1977, had a reputation in the media as a tough-talking crimebuster. Criminals or alleged criminals associated with the Teamsters Union were particular targets of McClellan. But the senator knew the uses of discretion too, according to The Complete Public Enemy Almanac, a new reference book on gangsters.

Joe Valachi was a gangster who testified before Congress in the 1950s. In a section of the Public Enemy Almanac devoted to Hot Springs, the book says: “Before his televised testimony on what he called ‘Cosa Nostra,' Joe Valachi was approached in private by Arkansas Senator John L. McClellan. The committee chairman, sensitive to voter reaction back home, asked Valachi to say nothing about Hot Springs. Valachi naturally obliged, being a low-level hood who knew little about anything outside New York.”

Sounds reasonable. At the time, Arkansas politicians pretended not to notice that an Arkansas city was openly violating the gambling laws and providing a haven for well-known mobsters.



In deep water


A Little Rock native was one of the stars of the show in Las Vegas last month when the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association brought more than 11,000 people to its annual trade show. A highlight of the event is the annual DEMA Awards Party and a winner of one of the top awards this year was Marty Snyderman, a Hall High graduate, an award-winning underwater photographer and film producer, who now lives in Solana Beach, Calif. His work has been featured in National Geographic, countless other periodicals and the country's major aquariums. Snyderman, 59, is the author of nine books. He was honored for his 25 years of work using film and still photos of marine life to raise awareness about marine issues. We happened to catch Snyderman just before his departure for an expedition to Malaysia, but he was kind enough to loan one of his photographs to demonstrate his work.


Rooster Cogburn rides again


Variety, the movie trade publication, carried a couple of mentions of a long-simmering project with an Arkansas connection. It's an oldie but goodie, a remake of “True Grit,” based on the novel by Little Rock's Charles Portis. It should be a departure from the John Wayne version. The Oscar-winning Coen brothers are working to adapt the story for a film to be produced by Scott Rudin who worked with the Coens on “No Country for Old Men.”


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