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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/


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


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

Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 08:18:00

Arkansas in middle of debate about future of Medicaid and Obamacare

click to enlarge ARKANSAS FOCUS: The New York Times today out on is front page a look at the impact of a Medicaid work requirement on a number of Arkansans, including Nancy Godiner of Jacksonville. Unemployed and covered by Medicaid, she agrees that people who receive coverage should do something for it. But she's had a hard time finding work.
  • ARKANSAS FOCUS: The New York Times today out on is front page a look at the impact of a Medicaid work requirement on a number of Arkansans, including Nancy Godiner of Jacksonville. Unemployed and covered by Medicaid, she agrees that people who receive coverage should do something for it. But she's had a hard time finding work.

Governors were in Washington last week and a prime topic was the future of the Affordable Care Act and, of particular interest in Arkansas, continuing federal support for the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

Arkansas is in the middle of the scrum because it's had a highly successful Medicaid expansion that has brought tens of millions of federal dollars to Arkansas — an economic and state budget boon on top of the enefit of better health coverage for some 300,000 Arkansans.

Arkansas angles:

* MAKE THEM WORK: The New York Times front page article focuses on Arkansas in an examination of the push by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and others to add a work requirement to Medicaid. This was resisted by the Obama administration, though it's an idea with popular political support. The theory is that medical coverage discourages people from seeking work.

That might be true, but the issue is complicated as the Times article illustrates through many personal stories in Arkansas. The Times writes about the people who'd be left behind by such a rule. The article notes that many on Medicaid already DO work, but because of lack of opportunities or continuing health problems, can't work the minimum that might be required to qualify. Some could work, but it also might be detrimental to health to do so.

The outline of a new replacement plan, presented to House members last week, shows just how far some Republican leaders hope to go in overhauling a program that has grown under the Affordable Care Act to insure one in five Americans, including more than half of the roughly 20 million people who have gained coverage under the health law.

It would give each state a fixed amount of money for each Medicaid beneficiary, instead of paying a large share of whatever it costs to cover everyone who qualifies. And it would substantially reduce the amount that the federal government pays to help cover the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas and 30 other states, a change that would most likely result in many people losing coverage.
It's easy to say people should work. But it's not always easy for people without transportation to get to available jobs, for example. And how do you define able-bodied?

Hutchinson is quoted as saying a limited work experiment on food stamps seems to have "worked," if a decline in recipients is a measure. Undoubtedly, rules on Medicaid can "work," too. But at what cost?

* THE COST OF CHANGES: A Bloomberg article on the governors' meetings in Washington says millions could lose coverage under the changes envisioned by Republicas in Congress. The estimate says a drop of perhaps 30 percent in states that expanded Medicaid. That could mean a crippling blow to tens of thousands of Arkansans.

The article had this scenario which happens to sound a lot like Arkansas:

In a hypothetical state that did expand Medicaid coverage and had 300,000 enrollees in the individual market, the number would drop to 210,000.

...The expansion state could see further losses in Medicaid, where another 115,000 would probably lose eligibility, without being able to find an affordable replacement plan."

The presentation also revealed that a hypothetical state that expanded Medicaid could lose 24 percent of federal dollars spent on the program over five years, requiring $6.2 billion to make up the gap. The scenario would require Congress to repeal the expansion and implement a per-person funding mechanism. A hypothetical state that didn’t expand the program could lose 6 percent in federal spending.

The presentation is based on a plan by Republican leaders to eliminate income-based subsidies under Obamacare that help people afford insurance and replace them with age-based tax credits.
This would be a success in the eyes of many Republicans, of course, because it would mean a huge cut in federal spending. If the government stops paying, Arkansas will have to rethink, Hutchinson acknowledged in the Times interview. He's among those hopeful of block grant continued funding, but if the grant is less than now received, freedom to spend it as states wish still will mean many fewer people served

Doubt my statement about what's considered a success? Here's the Republican chair of a key subcommittee quoted as saying it would be a "good thing" if a lot of people lost coverage.


Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 07:55:00

There ought to be a law on sexual contact by parole and probation officers

The Arkansas Leader this week shines an editorial light on legislation to discourage sexual contact between probation and parole officers and the people they supervise.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Farrer of Austin  and state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams of Cabot, would make such contact constitute the crime of first-degree sexual assault.

The legislation has a local back story, which the Leader editorial details.

It begins with multiple  allegations of trading sexual favors for considerations by  a Ward probation officer who happens to be the son of the Ward mayor (also a part-time pastor). He's been arrested, but was transferred to another city job. He was  subject of a sting  by a sheriff's deputy who posed as a stripper. This case followed allegations against a contract probation officer in Cabot accused of assaulting a woman he oversaw.


Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 16:12:00

An open line, plus Dickson Street blues

Here's an open line.

In the news today: An alcohol-fuels scrap on Dickson Street landed a high profile jock in trouble early this morning in Fayetteville. Not to worry. He's quarterback at Oklahoma.


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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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