A Hip and Thigh Classic
Apparently a fellow named Lonnie didn’t pay his electric bill and in order to make sure he wouldn’t miss his baseball game this weekend, had an inspiration of genius to run electricity to his house via battery cables. I am reckoning he had the cables hooked up to his truck. Unfortunately, this spark of brilliance mis-fired and he was electrocuted in the process.
Not to glory in what really is a tragic story, but I was reminded of one of my first year blogging articles I posted highlighting some of the more illuminating lights from Arkansas.
For my newer readers, as well as my older, I present,
The Gallery of Infamous Arkansans.
I hail from Arkansas, the north western most southern state in the Confederacy. The Battle of Pea Ridge was fought there. Most Arkansans are simple folk. They like to duck hunt, deer hunt, turkey hunt, fish, watch NASCAR, drink at kegger parties, listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd, go to passion plays, attend revival meetings, watch Razorback football, and make fun of people from Mississippi. They are not ones to seek out the public spot light or pursue fifteen minutes of fame, particularly with some activity that will only bring cruel mockery, throat burning booing, and the total humiliation of his or her kinfolk.
Occasionally, however, and against the real possibility of life crippling scorn, some notorious individual will bring the fine state of Arkansas to the attention of the American public in an embarrassing way. This last week, Arkansas resident, Shawn Cox, made national headlines when he attempted to jump the White House fence. His reasons for doing so are a mystery, perhaps God or the devil told him to kidnap the president, we don’t know. Still, he is one of Arkansas’s sons. My friend Gregg noticed an interesting connection.
Of course, my first reaction is to recall if I know him from my past. Did I go to school with him? Did he once attend my church? Mr. Cox’s illegal entry onto the grounds of the White House got me thinking about other notable Arkansans that now are a permanent fixture in the Gallery of Infamous Arkansans. Let me remind you all of some:
In 1988, Edgar Whisnant, an Arkansas native from down around Little Rock somewhere, placed entire congregations of lukewarm and backslidden Christians on DEFCON 4 alert when he published his sensational booklet, 88 Reason Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988. I personally never read the booklet, but I do remember that it caused no small stir among my college freshman Christian friends.
Pastor Whisnant predicted the timing of the rapture as happening between Sept. 11 and 13, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. I can remember one poor gal who was on edge the entire week. She was a nominal church kid who had attended youth group because her parents made her. Jonesboro, the town where I went to college, is a major rail road hub, so everytime a freight train came through and sounded its horns at intersections, this gal would jump out of her skin believing it was the trumpet of Gabriel calling the saints to glory. She of course was not sailing upwards upon the sound of the “trumpet” and toiled the entire Rosh Hashanah holiday doubting her salvation. That was probably a good thing looking back upon her now.
Anyways, apart from a handful of young Christian couples who pushed their wedding dates up before September so they could experience marital bliss before they had to go to heaven, the week of the 11th – 13th passed quietly into history and nothing happened. Pastor Whisnant proclaimed he miscalculated his dates and quickly published, 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Take Place in 1989. By the time he went to print with that booklet, his credibility had pretty much been raptured away.
Back in the late 90’s, a young gal named Julia Hill climbed a redwood tree condemned to be cut down by a logging company. She built a crude, makeshift platform, called herself “butterfly,” and aided by her enviro-moonbat friends who brought her food and emptied her toilet bucket, Julia “Butterfly” sat in the tree for over a year. She became an instant celebrity among the pantheist earth lovers and a side-show curiosity for everyone else rational.
I first heard her interviewed on KFI’s John and Ken show (back when J&K were actually fun to listen to). She spoke with this sing-songy lilt in her voice and told how she had bonded with the tree she named Luna. Her and Luna were considered one now. She was protecting Luna from execution and Luna in turn protected her from the elements.
When I went home for Christmas that year, I was enjoying a small party with some friends when one of my buddies asked me, “Hey, did you hear about Dale Hill?”
Dale Hill was the father of a family that attended my church when I was in college. He had a lot of odd ball views about the Bible, but was generally liked by everyone. I remember his son Mike being a California surfer wannabe who always wore shorts, a tee shirt, and rode a skateboard all year around, even if it was 20 degrees with freezing rain.
Anyhow, I responded to my friend by saying, “No. What’s up with Dale?”
My buddy replied, “Well, he is moving out to California, because his daughter is living up in a tree.”
I was stupified.
I asked, “Is his daughter named Julia?”
“Oh yeah,” replied my friend, “Have you heard about her living in the tree?”
I couldn’t believe it. Little Julia Hill is the Julia Butterfly nutball living in a tree? Once when my church college group took a summer end waterskiing trip, she tagged along with her brother Mike. One afternoon, some guy friends and I were standing at the hotel door of some girls we were waiting on to join us for dinner. I remember her screaming at us when she accidentally walked out of the bath room in her underwear.
I told my friend about hearing her frequently interviewed on the talk show circuit in LA and how she is considered a kook. He told me this sad tale of how Dale divorced her mother (who was sort of a dingbat to begin with), the mother and Mike the son moved out of state, and he and Julia moved to Little Rock to start up a bar. They both got mixed up with a group of new ager folks and she moved out to Northern California to be an environmental activist. The rest is history.
Well, Bill Clinton pretty much speaks for himself. There is not much I could add that you the reader are not aware of. The interesting thing about Bill, however, is that I have met him on a couple of occasions when he was governor of Arkansas.
My cousin Shay talked him into stopping by my high school to meet the students once when he was in my town. All the teachers hated him at the time because he was pushing the teacher testing standards. However, he was a larger than life celebrity and I had him sign my hacky sack.
I later met him again at Arkansas Boy State. This was a week long summer camp thing that taught young minds about how guberment and politics work. Bill spoke there and I met him again. He even remembered me, along with many other guys he had met in the past. He and his staffers cooked up chicken for us at the week’s end. He makes a mean grilled chicken.
During the summer of 88, Clinton gave a speech at the Democrat National Convention. He made national headlines for giving an hour plus long speech. It was so bad, that he was invited onto Johnny Carson’s Tonight show, where he won people’s hearts by playing the sax.
The day after the speech, I was working my job at the soft ball park concessions stand and everyone was talking about how Clinton made Arkansas look bad. Our boss came in and said, “Ah, give Billy a break, he’s a good ole boy. I party with him a lot down at the strip bars in Little Rock.”
We were all stunned. “Strip bars? Our governor doesn’t go to strip bars. You have him confused with his brother or someone else.”
My boss was adamant. “Oh yes he does, I know him and he loves strippers and he’s a big drinker, too. He’s a man who loves to party.”
None of us believed his tales of partying with Bill Clinton at strip bars.
Looking back, now I do.