112: Meet Guy Choate

Guy Choate is a storyteller, a dreamer and a wanderer. He may hail from Beebe, but he always wanders back to his real dream hometown, Little Rock.

Photo by Joshua Asante

Photo by Joshua Asante

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Guy Choate. Communications Manager at Garver. I moved to Little Rock 15 years ago and I keep moving away for one reason or another, but I keep coming back and when I do, I try out a different part of the city, it seems. I've lived in--these are in order--Riverdale, Cedar Hill, Quapaw Quarter, Stifft Station, Park Hill, Downtown, Hillcrest, back to Riverdale, and my wife Liz and I surprised ourselves this summer by falling in love with a house in Lakewood of all places. 

2. What did you miss the most about Little Rock during your brief hiatus from being an Arkansan? Liz and I spent the first six months of 2016 living outside of Phoenix, Arizona, closer to her dad, which was great, but yeah, there were a few things (beyond family/friends, etc.) I found myself really missing about this place: 

  • I missed how green everything is here. There's not a lot of grass in the desert. 
  • The tap water in Arkansas is delicious. That's probably an equal testament to a lot of people/things. Like Central Arkansas Water, Mother Nature, some of my water engineering friends I work with at Garver, and some of my other friends at organizations like the Sierra Club, who are constantly out there fighting the good fight.
  • I missed the drunken noodles at Oishi, but y'all turned it into a sports bar while I was gone. I don't know how this city sleeps at night.

3. If you could only eat at one local restaurant for a month, what would it be? It would've probably been Oishi, but again, that colossal misstep has already be taken. Last year, I set out to rank every meal I paid for at www.icleanedthisplate.tumblr.com and Taj Mahal was at the top of the list more than once. Lately, I've enjoyed every meal I've had at Three Fold Noodle Company. And once a month Liz and I join her mom and stepdad at Forty-Two's Around the World Dinner, where Chef Gilbert and Chef Anne make a five-course meal based on the traditional meals found in a certain country. That's always fun and delicious. And sometimes I catch myself drooling over the idea of South on Main's chicken liver dishes. 

Oh, but you just want one establishment? I could eat at The Root for a month straight. To say nothing of their dedication to local farmers/growers and the environment, they're food is always top-notch. The best sandwich I've ever had is a special they run sometimes in the summer called the heinbochler (don't hold me to the spelling on that), which is some magical combination of cheese and peppers. Keep your eye out for that. 

4. It’s Sunday afternoon -- what are you up to? Sunday is usually my catch-up day, so I’m probably working on some project I’ve got going. Right now I’m putting lots of effort into launching the Argenta Reading Series, which I envision to be kind of a story time for adults. We’re kicking off January 14 with Nicholas Mainieri, a writer from New Orleans whose book, The Infinite, was published a couple of weeks ago by Harper Perennial. He’s an interesting guy and I’m thrilled to have him visit our city. If your book club’s looking for something to read, read Nick’s, then come talk to him about it.

But if my boy Marcus Johnson, Jr. and the Little Rock Trojans or Lady Trojans are playing basketball, you can find Liz and me at the game. I don't know how I never went to games when I was actually in school because it's a blast. (Also, I've never met Marcus Johnson, Jr.) 

5. Who is the most interesting person you've met in town? I got the opportunity to meet Maya Angelou at the Clinton Library back in 2008 when I helped judge an essay contest for her, and she's a legend, obviously. But lately I'm amazed at my contemporaries and what they're doing.

If you make me choose one person, I'm not sure I've ever met anyone more dedicated to his art than Joshua Asante and the rest of the guys of Amasa Hines. But there's also Daniel Campbell and Graham Gordy who's film "Antiquities" has a local notoriety that is shining a spotlight on a film industry in the city that I know I've under-appreciated in the last decade.

Matt White is always interesting to talk to. I remember watching a video a few years ago when a faceless politician visited Philander Smith College from Washington D.C. and Matt questioned him on an issue. Security escorted Matt out so the politician didn't have to answer the question, but that video of Matt being escorted out replays in my head often, and I'm comforted to know I share a city with a man willing to pose the kinds of questions that yield that result. 

I briefly lived at Garland House with Mark Thiedeman and Phillip Huddleston who are always collaborating on something that turns out to be absolutely beautiful (Re: "White Nights" and the "White Nights" Soundtrack). Those are interesting guys.

I could go on and on, but let me finish by saying I am endlessly fascinated by The House of Avalon. I don't know any of them personally, but when I see images of them on social media, they look like they are kicking an incredible amount of glamorous ass. If they inspire me--a 34-year-old heterosexual man--I can only imagine how inspiring those images are to Central Arkansas teenagers who are feeling alone in their struggle to understand and express their own sexuality. Little Rock has needed a loud and proud dose of The House of Avalon for a long time.

Don't forget to check out Guy's latest project, the Argenta Reading Series, beginning January 14, 2017 at 7 p.m., 421 N. Main St. in downtown North Little Rock.