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A Fat Tuesday beer dinner at @ the Corner

At the Corner restaurant at Scott and Markham streets will celebrate Mardi Gras with its first "Fat Tuesday Beer Dinner,” featuring brews from Lost Forty, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Butts out at The Sports Page

Stop the presses! Or toss out the ashtrays at least. No longer does The Sports Page serve its great cheeseburgers and ginormous chilidogs with a hint of Marlboro.

Bohm's District Fare: Charcuterie, a glass of wine and more

Tomas Bohm, the owner of Czech and German eatery The Pantry in West Little Rock and The Pantry Crest in Hillcrest, has settled on a name for his new venture in the old Hillcrest Artisan Meats spot: District Fare. The name “suits the Hillcrest location," Bohm said. And besides, he added, "everything else is called Hillcrest” in the neighborhood.

Dining Review

Love for Sonny Williams'

February 23, 2017
Love for Sonny Williams'
River Market steakhouse hits all the marks. /more/

Dining Search

To-Do List

Marilynne Robinson at Trinity Cathedral

February 23, 2017
Marilynne Robinson at Trinity Cathedral
Also, MVP Jazz Quartet, Selwyn Birchwood, Parker Quartet, Arkansas Flower & Garden Show, Circular Calls/Resonant Shadows, Spooky Talk Show Benefit, Marcella and Her Lovers /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Stand up for Little Rock

If Little Rock deteriorates because of substandard schools, there will be blame aplenty /more/

Ernest Dumas

Hating the media

Presidents, with the exception of George Washington, never found much joy with the media, although Donald Trump is the first to use the scarily freighted words "enemies of the people." /more/

Gene Lyons

Trump and Russia

If you think about it, no wonder Donald Trump prefers the imaginative stylings of Fox News to the presidential daily briefing. He's pretty much the network's target demographic: a daffy old-timer with time on his hands. /more/

Movie Reviews

One for the money

February 23, 2017
One for the money
CMT's 'Sun Records' gets dramatic about Sam Phillips and the roots of rock 'n' roll. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Momentum

February 23, 2017
Sure, I'd like to think that Pearls About Swine, that modest batch of haphazard prose, had something to do with motivating Arkansas's beleaguered basketball program to rise from a seemingly inestimable late-season swoon to re-emerge in the NCAA Tournament discussion. /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, February 27, 2017 - 07:10:00

Mayor Stodola: Whatever happened to local control?

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-02-27_at_7.07.31_am.png
Credit where due to Mayor Mark Stodola for noting the national movement by Republicans to seize local control on pet issues, a movement amply illustrated by Arkansas's Republican legislature.

He cites several examples, thankfully including the attempt to have state seize control of how school districts use vacant buildings, giving preference to public school-wrecking charter schools. He also went after Jason Rapert's attempt to strip the Clinton name from the Little Rock airport. The mayor's weekly message:

WHAT HAPPENED TO LOCAL CONTROL?

Last week, the National League of Cities released a report highlighting the threat around the country that state preemption poses to local control by cities and the bodies that govern them. That report is timely here in Little Rock.

Last week, a state senator proposed legislation directing the city to strip the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton from our National Airport.

From the judicial branch, the Supreme Court of Arkansas struck down a nondiscrimination ordinance voted on by the people of Fayetteville based on a statute passed by the state legislature prohibiting cities from recognizing gender and sexual identity as a protected class, even though this same legislature identified such as protected in other statutes.

And finally, legislation (SB308) is currently progressing that requires surplus school buildings to be offered to charter schools. Removing local control with legislation like this is just another example of the state eroding local decision making by school districts and further aggravating the many implications of the State takeover of the Little Rock School District.

These efforts take away the ability of local leaders, who represent the level of government closest to the people, to enact policies that reflect local values and priorities.

By way of illustration, the volunteer Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission, which is appointed by the mayor and city board to govern the affairs of the airport, voted unanimously in 2012 to name the airport after the Clintons in recognition of their three decades of service to Arkansas and the Nation. It should be noted that since the dedication of the Clinton Library more than $3.3 billion in economic impact has been created for Little Rock and the State of Arkansas.

There is little doubt that efforts to usurp local control will continue beyond those that we have already seen, but as city leaders and citizens must continue to speak out loudly to our legislators and push back when appropriate so that we continue to control our own destinies. So, call or e-mail your legislator today and tell them what you think. Let your voice be heard!

The legislature long ago took away gun regulation from the cities. He didn't mention, interestingly enough, Little Rock state Rep. Andy Davis' legislation to strip local control on sewer line extensions outside the city, a breathtaking usurpation. With a few minutes, I could probably think of more.


 

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 07:03:00

A note of politics before the Arkansas Symphony played Mahler

click to enlarge ASO
  • ASO

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony Sunday and concert-goers report it was preceded by some symphony messaging geared to the current times.

Reports Ernest Dumas:

Great performance of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, but an unusual happening at the start. Instead of the usual short remarks by the symphony's development person and executive pointing out the corporate sponsors, a member of the orchestra stepped forward and made a great patriotic talk.

She said she wanted to talk about the orchestra's and the combined choirs' diversity. "We are gay, we are straight..." she said.

With the audience repeatedly applauding, she went on to talk about black and white, people of many faiths and philosophies, named the many countries from which the musicians hailed from, talked about the ethnicities of their children and their mothers and fathers, all of whom she said were "exceptional." "And we are all Americans."

When Phillip Mann, the conductor, came out to talk about the Mahler symphony, he concluded by mentioning a sponsor and leading source of support for the symphony, the National Endowment for the Arts. I'd never heard it mentioned before,—usually Entergy, Acxiom and other corporate groups. Of course, speculation is that NEA is on the chopping block of President Trump and the Republican Congress. The money is needed for immigration enforcement and the military building. No mention of Trump or Congress or immigration enforcement, but the message was pretty powerful.

 

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 06:57:00

Arkansas delegation makes excuses for skipping town hall

click to enlarge CRICKETS: Terrie Root, who helped organize Missing Persons Town Hall, said they heard "crickets" from congressmen in return to invites to appear. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • CRICKETS: Terrie Root, who helped organize Missing Persons Town Hall, said they heard "crickets" from congressmen in return to invites to appear.
screen_shot_2017-02-27_at_6.50.33_am.png
Indivisible Central Arkansas drew several hundred people to a "Missing Persons" town hall Sunday afternoon at St. Michael's Episcopal Church attended only by photographs of Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and U.S. Rep. French Hill. Here's a link to video of the event.

Can the spirit of resistance be maintained for the long haul? That's a good question. But pressing members of Congress for accountability can't hurt

In that vein, I'd like to note references in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article on the event. Caroline Rabbitt, who's paid to handle press for Cotton, said the senator did not get an invitation. His office, I can attest, got queries from me about whether he planned to attend. Rabbitt, as is customary and in keeping with the practice of President Trump, deigns to deal only with Arkansas reporters who don't  criticize the senator or threaten to ask him tough questions.

Boozman's office at least acknowledged the event, though claimed time was short to make arrangements. He DID have time to cancel a public meeting Friday and to arrange to be at a fund-raiser today, however.

Hill's excuse was that 1) he'd had a telephone town hall last week (good luck figuring out how to participate in these and then to get a tough question past the screener) and 2) he'd spoken to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce at a meeting open to the public last week. The meeting may have been technically open to the public had any of the great unwashed turned up, but it was on a workday morning and at a meeting to which chamber of commerce members were invited. His day of reckoning with the public will come sooner or later in that he lives in a county he couldn't carry against a virtually invisible Democratic opponent.

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson





 

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 11:31:00

Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

click to enlarge Tozzer Anthropology Building, Harvard University. - KVA MATX
  • KVA matx
  • Tozzer Anthropology Building, Harvard University.

Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Kennedy's lecture, “Mix, Mix, Max, Min,” will address her firm's design strategies, including "soft" infrastructure for networked cities. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m.; the free talk starts at 6 p.m. in the Lecture Hall.

Read more here.  

 

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 16:26:00

UPDATE: Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 4: Sextets, Septets and Martyrs

click to enlarge Brae Leni - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Brae Leni

The Winner: Brae Leni and the Evergreen Groove Machine (formerly Soulution) took the win with a commanding frontman and a band that I wish would play any wedding reception I am ever invited to ever again. Leni sports a D'Angelo falsetto and a ton of energy, and the two women singing Supremes-style backup might have stolen the show were he not so fun to watch. Their drummer was effortlessly solid, the band's call-and-response game was strong and the final tune veered intriguingly from dance territory to something that resembled freeform jazz.

Some comments from our judges:

"The frontman is charismatic and the backing vocalists swaying really gives it that 60s-70s flavor."

"Lead guitarist MVP of the showcase. Phenomenal understated style. Drummer is a stone cold badass, too."

"Youthful exuberance, ska melody."

"I felt like the set got off to a rocky start, but the grooves got hotter and hotter with each song."

click to enlarge Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel of CosmOcean - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel of CosmOcean
click to enlarge Ron McDaniel of CosmOcean - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Ron McDaniel of CosmOcean

The Runner-Up: CosmOcean. In what may very well have made showcase history with the inclusion of a B5 (as in, a B above the treble clef) leading into the opening groove, CosmOcean showed off the major vocal chops of its two frontpeople: Ron McDaniel and Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel, two classically trained singers who also happen to be spouses. Jensen-McDaniel took the stage like a badass Bettie Page in a pink satin bomber jacket monogrammed with the word "FEMINIST," and the pair played to the crowd with some sexually charged duetting. For my taste, they were at their best when the band's grooves leaned toward bass-heavy funkadelic (which was most of the time).

Some comments from our judges:

"Theater-style presence. All movement on stage has a very deliberate feel to it."

"Choreographed stage jump!"

"Delightfully retro guitar tones."

"I imagine 'Hair' would have sounded like this if a funky prog rock band had written the music."

click to enlarge Scott Diffie of The Martyrs - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Scott Diffie of The Martyrs

The Martyrs:
It's a pretty amazing feat for four people to have made more noise than the other three 6-7 person acts, and The Martyrs put on a true blue rock show with AC/DC riffs and songs about the Arkansas State Fair and girls who drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Rose City's resident tattoo lord Scott Diffie seemed like he pretty much sprung from the womb ready to climb on speakers and shred guitar solos, even when he was singing syrupy lyrics like "All I know is I really wanna have your hand." One of our judges put it pretty succinctly: The Martyrs f*cking rocked.

Some comments from our judges:

'Scott Diffie is a classic frontman. First-class banter between songs. Fantastic stage presence."

"First rock band that has had big enough amps."

"These guys do exactly what they came to do - rock hard!"

"'Exile on Main St.' abandon."

"You guys f*cking rock!"

click to enlarge November Juliet - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • November Juliet

November Juliet: Man, it's been a long time since I've seen a band with a bonafide hype man. November Juliet kept it weird with an American flag draped over the keyboard and a "Stop Making Sense"-style build that added members each song (including itsjusbobby) until there were six people on stage, all of whom sang. The sextet came across like some sort of super secret club that met in an undisclosed location to polish tight R&B harmonies and 90s-style makeout songs. Moments when an audience is slightly uncomfortable because they don't know what to expect are some of my favorite performance moments, and despite what one of our judges rightly called "uneven execution," the group sailed through an ambitious medley and a game of instrument-switching musical chairs.

Some comments from our judges:

"Hall & Oates harmonies with soul rap. ...Interesting concept with the white bearded sage shouter/rapper."

'A lot going on."

"There are some good ideas about putting on a show, but the execution of that needs work."

"Shout out to grey-bearded Ron Swanson in the back. Where's your saxophone?"


Brae Leni and the Evergreen Groove Machine put their Motown grooves up against DeFrance, Dazz & Brie and Rah Howard for the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finals at Revolution Friday, Mar. 10.

UPDATE: In the past, the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase has often included a "wild card" slot in the Showcase finals: typically a band who didn't win their round but was a clear audience favorite or the Runner-Up who scored the most points overall. This year, we'd planned to do the latter and offer a spot at the finals to the Runner-Up with the top score. We tallied up the points and compared rounds. The top runner-up, Spirit Cuntz, wasn't available for the finals on Mar. 10. The next highest scores were from two runners-up in a dead tie: Fayetteville's The Inner Party and Little Rock's CosmOcean. Both CosmOcean and The Inner Party will advance to the finals at Revolution on Friday, Mar. 10, for a total of six competing bands.

 

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 13:09:00

Crystal Bridges acquires Alice Neel portrait

click to enlarge Alice Neel's “Hugh Hurd,” 1964 (oil on canvas). | - CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
  • Alice Neel's “Hugh Hurd,” 1964 (oil on canvas). |


American portrait painter Alice Neel's painting of civil rights activist Hugh Hurd is now a part of the collection at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Neel, who lived in Spanish Harlem, is known for her unflinching style in portraiture. Jeremy Lewison, in his article "Showing the Barbarity of Life: Alice Neel's Grotesque," quotes the artist as saying, "I love to paint people torn by all the things that they
are torn by today in the rat race in New York."

Hurd, comedian Godfrey Cambridge and author Maya Angelou organized one of the first New York fundraisers for Martin Luther King Jr., in the late 1950s at Village Gate, according to Crystal Bridges' announcement. Hurd also co-founded with Cambridge the Committee for the Employment of Negro Performers in 1962. "Their leadership, foregrounding the issue of racial discrimination in the entertainment industry, prompted Harlem Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (D-N.Y.) to hold Congressional hearings on the subject," Crystal Bridges announcement said. More about Hurd:
On screen, Hurd played the male lead in “Shadows,” the 1960 improvisational film directed by John Cassavetes that was shot without a screenplay. He had a supporting role in “For Love of Ivy” (1968), the Sidney Poitier film that also featured Abbey Lincoln, Beau Bridges, and Carroll O’Connor. Also in 1968, when Arena Stage theater in Washington, D.C., sought to integrate its performances nearly two decades after its founding, Hurd took on the role of Mack the Knife in its production of “The Threepenny Opera.” His last acting credit was in a 1994 French documentary by Cassavetes. Hurd died in 1995 at age 70.
Neel painted Hurd, who like Neel lived in Spanish Harlem, in 1964. The museum acquired the painting from David Zwirner Gallery last year.

 

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