Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rockin', Just a Little

This is the week I fly to Little Rock, Ark., to accept my "prize" for winning the 2011 Robert Felter Memorial Award from the Renal Network. My reward is an exciting weekend in exotic, romantic Little Rock, to attend the annual convention of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP).

What's more, I get to write about my experiences for the Renal Network. For free. As a professional writer who makes his living getting paid to string words together, I can't begin to tell you how happy that prospect makes me. Seriously, I can't tell you. Is there no end to the wonderfulness stemming from this honor?

The 2010 AAKP convention was in Tampa, Fla. Like Maxwell Smart used to say, "Missed it by that much."

This week the AAKP sent out an email titled "Things to Do in Little Rock!" It reads, in part:

"Little Rock is an exciting city with a vibrant downtown and entertainment district, a wealth of unique sightseeing, day trip and tour opportunities, excellent restaurants, shopping and museums!

"Famous as President Clinton's first capital city, the cradle of the civil rights movement, and the center of the beautiful Natural State, no city represents a bridge from the treasured past to the exciting 21st century than Little Rock."

Really? No other city? Anywhere? Wow!

Sounds to me like they're trying to suck up to the members who loved meeting in Tampa last year.

And did you know Little Rock was the "cradle of the civil rights movement"? I always thought Rosa Parks boarded that bus in Montgomery, Ala., not Little Rock. Maybe she got a transfer.

"Say you had only 24 hours to take in the sights and sounds of Little Rock?" the email asked. "What would you do?" Well, I probably would stay in my hotel room. But the convention hosts suggest:

• The River Market and downtown Little Rock (every city has a downtown, and almost all have markets; keep going)
• The Old Mill (as apposed to the New Mill?)
• The William J. Clinton Presidential Center (OK, they've got me there; presidential libraries are typically way cool. Wonder if Monica's dress is on display?)
• Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site (where, in 1957, nine brave black teenagers stood up to a raging, racist mob protesting integration at the school, providing the first major test of the Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Maybe Little Rock isn't the cradle of civil rights; more like the incubator.)
• Craters for Diamond State Park (I didn't book a hotel room so I could go camping; unless, of course, this park has real diamonds.)

The message also pumps Little Rock as "the dining capital of Arkansas," which I trust isn't the same as "the cesspool capital of New Jersey." They recommend eateries named The Pantry, Whole Hog Café & Catering, and Brave New Restaurant. Brave New Diners might be more like it.

Open mind. Open mind. Little Rock is a state capital, after all. Then again, so are Lansing, Springfield and Cheyenne.

I always try very hard to have a good time no matter where I happen to be. I'll let you know if my track record remains intact after this weekend.

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