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Vote in Toast of the Town

Have you voted in our annual survey of Arkansas booze and bars? Time is ticking. The poll closes Sept. 30. Vote for your favorites today!

Prospect for success looks good for new Chi venture

It appears the Chi family of restaurateurs has landed a winner with the latest incarnation of its space at 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., the Prospect Sports Bar.

Hot dogs for LR, Korean food for Argenta

Details aren't firm, but two new eateries should open this fall in LR and NLR downtowns: Chef Kiyen Kim of Kiyens Seafood Steak and Sushi (17200 Chenal Parkway) is working up the menu for a new venture, Kamikaito by Kiyens, in the space formerly occupied by Ferneau in the Argenta neighborhood of North Little Rock.

Dining Review

Pho real

September 22, 2016
Pho real
At Jacksonville's Chopsticks. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

The Frederick Four

September 22, 2016
The Frederick Four
A Q&A with Clutch's Jean-Paul Gaster /more/

To-Do List

Spa Con returns to Hot Springs

September 22, 2016
Spa Con returns to Hot Springs
Also, the Sullivan Fortner Trio at South on Main, the Acansa Arts Festival, Gloria Browne-Marshall at UALR's Bowen School of Law, the Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, Nebo Jam and Bit Brigade at Vino's. /more/


Max Brantley

Who's harming women?

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion. /more/

Ernest Dumas

New normal

No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history. /more/

Gene Lyons

Fact check

Here's your presidential election coverage in a nutshell. Last week Donald /more/

Movie Reviews

New gear, same fear

September 22, 2016
New gear, same fear
But a bumbling 'Blair Witch' revisit still scares. /more/

Pearls About Swine

A&M awaits

September 22, 2016
Eight erratic quarters and a couple of overtimes into the 2016 season, Arkansas certainly had earned the right to get a comparative breather. Texas State was a perfectly timed and perfectly mediocre avenue toward that end. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Monday, September 26, 2016 - 07:11:00

Broadway Bridgeageddon set for Wednesday morning

click to enlarge GETTING READY: Construction work has long been in progress for a replacement span for the Broadway Bridge in background. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • GETTING READY: Construction work has long been in progress for a replacement span for the Broadway Bridge in background.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has scheduled a "closing ceremony" for the Broadway Bridge at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, 45 minutes after the bridge is closed for six months or so of work to tear down the old structure and replace it.

Many elected officials will be on hand, along with the National Guard, VFW and American Legion. A band playing a dirge might be in order. The public is welcome to walk onto the bridge for the ceremony from either side.

Downtown traffic, already a mess at rush hour morning and afternoon, is sure to be bollixed up as commuters decide on alternate routes to cross the river and perhaps adjust driving time. Immense pressure will fall on Scott Street, which handles north-south Main Street bridge traffic.

Work has been underway to pre-build much of the structure so it can be put in place relatively quickly after demolition.

With all due respect, maybe they should have had the closing ceremony somewhere else. An hour lost to construction is an hour lost.


Monday, September 26, 2016 - 07:01:00

Unusual alliance forming against amendment to limit nursing home damages

click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-09-26_at_6.54.19_am.png

Secure Arkansas, a rabid anti-immigrant voice among other issues, has come out against the amendment to make it just about impossible to sue nursing homes, doctors, hospitals and other medical care providers The nursing home lobby-driven amendment would cap damages as low as $250,000 and also place an arbitrary limit on attorney fees.

Secure Arkansas argues, as lawyer groups have argued, that the amendment essentially upends the constitutional guarantee of a jury trial. Secure Arkansas writes:

Tort reform is good for the insurance industry but bad for consumers. Follow the Money. Look at what major corporations are contributing to which politicians and who they are, in turn beating the “Drum for Tort Reform”. Victims of medical malpractice need not be victimized again by repressive Tort Reform. Again, we urge you to Vote “No” on Issue 4 in the November 2016 election.
The right-wing religious lobby, the Family Council, had earlier spoken against the amendment, which remains under challenge before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

I don't find myself aligned with Secure Arkansas and Family Council often. This is an exception.


Sunday, September 25, 2016 - 16:15:00

The debate eve open line

click to enlarge presdebate.jpeg

Here's the Sunday open line.

I've been stewing about the first presidential debate tomorrow. It could be pivotal in the election. Will voters be moved by Hillary Clinton's better knowledge of the job? There's no doubt that's true. Or will it be a repeat of the Republican primary, when insults, bluster and high school locker room pep talk lines ("We'll be winners again") and made Donald Trump a, well, winner again?

Fact-checking? Who cares? It hasn't mattered to date.

Then there's Gennifer Flowers, injected into the debate by Trump. Just to "make a point," his camp now says. The point?  There's no limit to how low he'll stoop and a significant chunk of the American electorate like him for it. It has nothing to do with anything, except as another dose of misogyny from the serial philanderer Trump.

The craziest new theme isn't so crazy, because polls continue to bear it out. Trump can say wrong thing after wrong thing — call them knowing lies or stupidity — and it reinforces a belief that he's a straight talker. Polls show more voters find him truthful than Clinton. (See Politico on Trump's week of misstatements, exaggerations and half-truths.)

"Trump may say some stupid shit, but he ain't afraid to say it, by damn."

Not feeling good about the debate or the election.


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Friday, September 23, 2016 - 15:54:00

Arkansas Times Recommends: The Think Edition

Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week. In anticipation of Arkansas Times' Festival of Ideas this Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, we recommend things that make us think.

click to enlarge RAMA VIA WIKIPEDIA.
  • Rama via Wikipedia.

Liberal fellow travelers: We live our little online lives in an ideological echo chamber, an assertion I’m sure I don’t have to back up with much evidence, considering we’ve all read the same think pieces lamenting that very fact. It’s true, though. Most of the opinion voices I absorb on a regular basis span the fairly narrow ideological space between lib-leaning centrist to solidly left-wing. Which is why I am grateful to take a regular dose of Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ babyfaced conservative columnist. I recommend you do the same.

Douthat is an odd one. He’s not a supply-side cheerleader preaching the gospel of tax cuts and deregulation. He’s not a neocon, or a libertarian, or a Tea Partier. He’s a Catholic with a Burkean perspective who sees American culture — Western society, really — in a state of decadence and disarray. Sometimes he irritates me very much. Sometimes he seems willfully blind, his assumptions built on caricatures of the cultural left. And sometimes, disturbingly, I see exactly where he’s coming from. Although I find the politics of Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd much more sympathetic, they’re far less stimulating to read. In part that’s because Douthat is a better writer, but it’s mostly because I typically know what the Times liberal columnists’ conclusions will be within three sentences. Rarely do I feel the same about Douthat.

It’s also sad that Douthat and occasionally David Brooks are the only conservatives I closely read on a semi-regularly. (The operative word there is “closely” — dismissively skimming the editorials in the Democrat-Gazette doesn’t count.) I need to read less palatable conservative voices too. I need to read the National Review. I need to read the Federalist. I need to read the WSJ’s editorial page. I even need to dip my feet into things like Breitbart from time to time, and not just when hate-clicking. I may disagree with them, rage at them and sometimes despise them. Ignoring them, though, is lazy and irresponsible.

Oh, also, liberals: Ignoring the dissident left is almost as lazy as ignoring the right, so read your Jacobin, your n+1 and your Chris Hedges, too.

-Benjamin Hardy

Once upon a time I was a philosophy major. 

click to enlarge 61ie8zb_jzl.jpg

I switched to English just in time, right before I lost my mind to existential turmoil and started foaming at the mouth, but I did encounter some stuff during those years that was probably enriching and definitely gave me an edge of pseudo-intellectual braggadocio necessary for surviving in academic circles. Most appreciated was a tiny book called "Think" by Simon Blackburn, which breaks down the fundamentals of philosophy into nuggets that are, if not understandable, easier to digest than ancient treatises in translation.

In a kindly, professorial tone, Blackburn is always saying smart things like: “A system of thought is something we live in, just as much as a house, and if our intellectual house is cramped and confined, we need to know what better structures are possible.” Amen, professor. 

-Megan Blankenship

click to enlarge THE GEORGE VERNAY SYRAH.
  • The George Vernay syrah.
As I study for my Certified Sommelier exam, I drink a lot of wine. So much so that it stops being grape juice and starts becoming…something else. I recently opened a bottle of 2012 George Vernay syrah. It’s grown on this tiny hillside in the commune of Condrieu on the banks of France’s Rhone river. There’s a scarcity of essence to it, a return to the base elements of life, a taste of aloneness. It called me back to the nights of autumn in my childhood when I find myself, late at night, still under the deep dark blanket of the sky. We had no neighbors, no light pollution, so I could look up at the deep and wide band of light that crosses our lives connecting us to a time, to maybe others, of another age, another universe. It was a humbling sight, like this wine. A visual representation of us at our most simple elements. Carbon, the sanguine taste of iron, petrichor, smoke. Carl Sagan once said of all of us "we are star stuff'," and with each glass it was like I was drinking eternity, drinking the vast nothingness of space, drinking ourselves.

-Seth Barlow

It's an extrovert's world, we introverts are just living in it (as quietly as possible). Being an introvert doesn't mean being non-productive, though, and I've found the website Quiet Revolution a valuable resource for tips, advice and stories from other introverts. Learn the art of "quiet networking," tips on public speaking and strategies for working together in groups. It's a great way to feel a little less isolated, and since it's all online, you don't actually have to talk to anyone to get the benefit.

-Michael Roberts

click to enlarge Ken Taylor and John Perry
  • Ken Taylor and John Perry

I never met historian J. Rufus Fears, but his death in 2012 left a Wilford Brimley-shaped hole in my heart. When he was still recording lectures for The Teaching Company, friends of mine collected bootleg copies of his talks on taxes and power structures like they were Pokemon, in the form of files on our laptop hard drives; this was a time when the word "podcast" still sounded exotic and highly technical. We nicknamed him "J. Rufus Fearless." Two of the aforementioned friends made a pilgrimage to the Oklahoma university where he taught in hopes of finding and meeting him. (Predictably, and to their delight, they found him, and Fears invited them into his office for a long and rousing discussion.)

I won't pretend that it replaces J. Rufus Fearless, but my current favorite source for shortform audio modules is "Philosophy Talk," a modular radio program led by two non-boring Stanford professors with boring names, Ken Taylor and John Perry. Each week, they ask some grand question like "The Military: What is it Good For?," "What Kind of Theory of Justice is Required to Improve Black Lives?" or "Am I Alone?" Taylor and Perry invite an expert guest to sit in with them and hash out the finer points of the question at hand, to think through the social, ethical and economical consequences of each proposed answer and to identify what assumptions they made to get there. The phrase "agree to disagree" is worn until it's threadbare and consensus is almost never reached, which is probably a sign that something is being done well. 

-Stephanie Smittle


Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 16:56:00

Benefits for the staff at Midtown Billiards this weekend

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson

The fire that broke out around 11 a.m. Monday morning at Midtown Billiards caused enough damage to suspend operations for a yet-to-be-determined period of time at the stalwart staple of pre-dawn debauchery in Little Rock’s South Main District. 

General Manager David Shipps reports that he will do what it takes to open again, and several groups have announced efforts to support the establishment’s employees in the interim. Conan Robinson of Argenta’s Four Quarter Bar, who worked as a manager and bartender at Midtown from 2000 until 2015, says that all $7 cover charges collected for Saturday’s performance from The Great Whiskey Rendezvous will go to support Midtown employees, as will the band’s earnings. Robinson credits Midtown owner Maggie Hinson with helping him launch Four Quarter, which he says is “almost like a sister bar to Midtown.”

An impromptu benefit show at Stickyz Friday night has been scheduled, featuring performances from Go Fast, Dangerous Idiots and American Lions, 9 p.m. Admission is donations-based, 100 percent of which will go to Midtown staff.

Tuesday night, Ernie Biggs hosts a party for Midtown staff, featuring performances from Big Brown, Paul Grass and Luis Mondragon, 9 p.m. Admission is also donation-based. 

Midtown Billiards — longtime home of sumptuous burgers served in red-and-white-plaid paper boats, walls whose graffiti details decades of Little Rock love triangles, bottle tosses and indiscretion — was founded in 1940, has been in its current location since sometime
in the 1970s and is one of only a handful of establishments with licenses that
allow alcohol to be sold into the wee hours of the morning.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - 16:14:00

30th anniversary screening of BMXploitation flick 'RAD', gnarly pre-show events, set for Oct. 15

I must confess that I have never seen the 1986 BMX-bike racing epic, "RAD," even though it was directed by Arkansas native and stunt icon Hal Needham. Somebody at The Downtown Partnership clearly loves it, though, judging by the decision to sponsor and host a full afternoon of "RAD"-related events, following by a screening of the film, on Saturday, Oct. 15 at the First Security Amphitheater near the River Market. 

"RAD" star Bill Allen — who played striving young BMX racer Cru Jones in the film — and BMX legend Martin Aparijo will be on hand in Little Rock that afternoon, starting with a meet and greet at 3:30 p.m.  After Allen and Aparijo press the flesh, there will be a BMX stunt show, followed by what a release about the event calls "a special BMX dance scene reenactment from the movie" which sounds like it's guaranteed to have the Millennial kids of any die hard original "RAD" fans covering their heads in shame with any available object. The film screening starts at  7 p.m.  The screening and other events are free, but tickets for the meet and greet with Allen and Aparijo are $10. Signed posters of Allen will be available for $5.  

The film currently has a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For a hint on why, hit the video below. No, your Youtube account isn't set for half-speed. Bask in that gratuitous use of Vaseline-lens slow motion, future-dweller! 


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Arkansas Reporter

Police cars for outliers

September 22, 2016
Police cars for outliers
A benefit for nonresident officers. /more/

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