Swashbuckling Midtowner Alex Justiss makes the most of his proximity to some Little Rock's finest and funnest locales.
1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Alex (or Alexander, if I'm putting on airs) Justiss; attorney; I've lived in Little Rock for 14 years, cumulatively, and bounced around the rest of this great State for the other 16; I live in Prospect Terrace, a tiny neighborhood between the Heights and Hillcrest that gets the best of both.
2. Tell me about this fencing business. I'm a competitive fencer at the Central Arkansas Fencing Club, where I train under my dedicated (and thankfully patient) coach, Mary Hightower. I've only been fencing for a year and some change, but I've been able to practice and compete across the US and in the UK since I started. Our club has a great group of fencers at all skill levels, from the brand new to the nationally rated (one of our fencers just qualified for the Junior Olympics, which is pretty dang awesome).
Sort of like how legal TV shows don't have much to do with reality, competitive fencing isn't like movie fencing: no swashbuckling from chandeliers, no 6-Fingered Man, and no blood (99% of the time.) A lot of people describe competitive fencing as playing chess with knives: a fencer has to score a touch on an opponent while analyzing every movement both are making, calculating and closing distance, maintaining balance, moving quickly, efficiently, and precisely, all without getting "stabbed" in the process. Fencing has three different weapons (foil, épée, and saber), each of which have different rules and areas of the body on which you can score a touch; we also wear protective gear that's puncture resistant: mask, glove, jacket, and funny-looking pants. It's a fun sport and our club always welcomes anyone who wants to give it a try.
3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get in Little Rock? Anything my mom cooks, of course. A close No. 2 would be a summer dinner at my house with family and friends. I'd definitely cook something from Hillcrest Artisan Meats, which is hands-down the best butcher in town (everything Brandon and Tara make is top-notch, but my favorites are their buckboard bacon, hanger steak, mortadella, and merguez sausage). For the sides, Little Rock has several produce markets, and my go-toes are the River Market Farmers Market and the Hillcrest Farmers Market. Heirloom tomatoes are always on the list during the summer, along with any other veggies, herbs, and peppers that look tasty.
If I'm too lazy to cook, I'm going to Acadia for their roast duck with cheese grits, and I'll bring a friend so we can split their smoked gouda mac & cheese as an appetizer.
4. Finish this sentence: My job is awesome because... I get to add that pretentious "Esq." at the end of my signature. No, my job is awesome because I love it. I usually tell people I'm a fake lawyer because I've never been in a courtroom (and hopefully never will be), so in a lot of ways I'm just a boring paper-pusher. But I'm fortunate to have coworkers and clients who challenge me every day, and I'm passionate about what we do. My practice area is healthcare law, so our work directly benefits patients and the healthcare providers who deliver their care. It's the best of both worlds for me: I get the feel-good perks of doing non-profit work while satisfying my stress addiction as a corporate monkey.
5. Describe your perfect night out in Little Rock. I'm a walker, so I'd head down from my house to meet friends for happy hour at a Hillcrest bar patio, probably either The Fountain or U.S. Pizza for some Diamond Bear Southern Blonde. Then we'd settle up and grab some dinner at Acadia or Bossa Nova, and wrap up the night with Gin Blossoms at Ciao Baci, where I guarantee you someone will order the S'Mores.