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The guide to Arkansas entertainment

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For food lovers

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A view from Northwest Arkansas

Eat Arkansas

Meet Monday @ the corner

Kamiyah Merrick, who with business partner Leila King has been working since the first of December to get her cafe @ the corner open at the corner of Scott and Markham streets, says can't wait to offer "something new to downtown." Now, if the health inspector comes this week, you won't have to wait past Monday, Merrick said, when @ the corner opens in the space formerly occupied by the Hop Diner.

River Market Damgoode Pies limited opening on Sunday

Jeff Trine with Damgoode Pies says that their new River Market outlet at 500 President Clinton Ave. will do a "barely open type scenario" this Sunday starting at 11 a.m. to serve those running and spectating at the Little Rock Marathon.

Girl scouts, edamame, Irish eats and chocolate rolls; mark your spring calendars

March is coming in like a lion — we've got a list of events that will make your inner foodie roar.

Dining Review

Bravo, Boulevard

February 26, 2015
Bravo, Boulevard
New Heights' bistro and bar delights. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

American Lions take round four

February 26, 2015
American Lions take round four
The Showcase continues Thursday, Feb. 26. /more/

To-Do List

Miranda Lambert returns to Verizon

February 26, 2015
Miranda Lambert returns to Verizon
Also, 'To Light a Candle' at Robinson, 7 Bands 7 Bucks at Low Key Arts, The Tontons and Wild Mocassin at Stickyz, 'James and the Giant Peach' at Ron Robinson and Jonathan Richman at Juanita's. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

The free lunch legislature

Is it any wonder the Arkansas legislature thinks you can get something for nothing? /more/

Ernest Dumas

Rutledge roots for dirty coal

Grandstanding is one of the unwritten constitutional functions of state attorneys general, but it always helps to know who is in the cheering section. /more/

Gene Lyons

Live from darkest Arkansas

Housebound in an ice storm, the columnist finds himself distracted by online trivia and tempted to yell at the TV. /more/

Movie Reviews

Could have been worse

February 26, 2015
Could have been worse
'Hot Tub 2' scores some chuckles. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Hogs play team ball

February 26, 2015
The dearth of team cohesiveness had killed Arkansas basketball in recent years. "Hawgball" more or less died because in-house friction led to on-court product that bore the evidence of dissent. Not to pick on any individual players, but you never sensed that in the last years of Nolan Richardson's regime or Stan Heath's or John Pelphrey's respective tenures that the players did the so-called "buy-in" or cared much about team unity. /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

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 16:17:00

Open (firing) line: Legislator proposes return to firing squad. Also more in NLR coach dispute


Here's the open line, video roundup and an additional legislative item:

* FIRING SQUAD: Rep. Rebecca Petty, who's already passed a bill expanding the number of family members who can witness an execution (her daughter was a murder victim), tells AP she will introduce legislation to seek alternative methods of execution, including firing squads. Legal challenges have delayed use of lethal injection.  It was filed today, in shell form. No word if beheadings will be considered.

* NEW TERMINATION LETTER IN NLR: KTHV appears to have the jump on the new termination letter from the North Little Rock School District to football coach Brad Bolding. An appeal hearings was scheduled today. It was canceled because the district wanted to send a new termination letter with expanded justification for the firing. Bolding's attorney calls it "outrageous." And old news. The letter gets specific about purchasing practices said to run counter to district rules.


 

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 13:19:00

Governor names new head of Assessment Coordination Department

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Benton County Assessor Bear Chaney as director of the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department. It's the agency that makes sure property assessment procedures for purposes of assessing the property tax meet statutory and constitutional muster.

Chaney, a Bella Vista resident, has decades of experience in real estate and as an assessor, a Hutchinson release said.

Debra Asbury had been director of the division since 1989. Hutchinson decided to make a change.


 

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 13:10:00

Jon Woods has apparent way to restore tax money to chambers of commerce

click to enlarge HELP FOR THE CHAMBERS: Sen. Jon Woods offers some.
  • HELP FOR THE CHAMBERS: Sen. Jon Woods offers some.
The chambers of commerce apparently have their vehicle to restore tax subsidies put in jeopardy by Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce's ruling that the Arkansas Constitution forbids local tax money contributions to private corporations such as chambers of commerce.

Pierce ruled in a lawsuit supported by the Arkansas Public Law Center. He said contracts in Little Rock and North Little Rock were poorly disguised — "lipstick on a pig" — artifices to avoid the constitutional prohibition and enjoined them. Such contracts — some with more care to legal niceties than others — are commonplace around the state. A final version of Pierce's order is still in the drafting process, but chambers apparently have been working behind the scenes

Here's a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Jon Woods of Springdale, home to a chamber long a beneficiary of public tax dollars. It ppears aimed at  legalizing these payments.

It purports to encourage economic development. I think this is the key phrase: 

TO ALLOW PUBLIC ENTITIES TO FINANCE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES WITH FINANCIAL INCENTIVES

What better incentive than to pay the salaries and benefits of local chamber of commerce officials, which Little Rock and North Little Rock and others have been doing in cumulative millions over the years? Of course, this language would have even broader application. It would allow direct contributions by cities to private businesses, to bribe them to locate somewhere — even merely to move across the Arkansas River from one city to another.

Cities already may enter legitimate — emphasis, legitimate — service contracts. They could request proposals from all comers to provide economic development consulting with specific parameters. They could require explicit performance reports. They could require specific disclosure of expenses. Here, the cities just provide a flat subsidy to operate the chamber, payments to support what the chamber was doing with private money in the first place. It is more offensive to the public because the chambers are political operations. They lobby against unions, workers compensation, universal health care, progressive taxation and any number of other issues on which strong public divisions exist. It's legal, but taxpayers shouldn't finance lobbying against their interests. (Here and elsewhere, taxpayers provide both direct subsidies to chambers and subsidies to regional development organization operated by chambers — same kettle of fish.)

A legislature soon to consider a law to prohibit public employees from lobbying, if it approves this, will approve of shipping money by the truckload to chambers of commerce for lobbying.

Sen. Jon Woods is the right man to tote this corporate welfare. He's the mastermind of Amendment 94, the new "ethics" amendment. It allows Woods, who has no real job outside the legislature, to serve longer at the legislature, soon with a 150 percent pay raIse, and to draw full per diem, including for days not worked and including days where lobbyists have lined up to feed andwater him for free.

If you don't think  freebies don't pay dividends, see corporate welfare proposals such as this.

 

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Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 16:06:00

Well-Off-Man on 'Van Gogh to Rothko'

click to enlarge "Convergence," Jackson Pollock, 1952.
  • "Convergence," Jackson Pollock, 1952.

One of the best reasons to go to "Van Gogh to Rothko," the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's traveling exhibition to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is to see the Jackson Pollock drip painting there, curator Manuela Well-Off-Man says in an article about the exhibit in Apollo Magazine

Among the many highlights is Jackson Pollock’s Convergence (1952). It is one of his major drip paintings and is an excellent example of his revolutionary and influential painting style that uses line as an independent subject rather than to define objects and form. Since we don’t have a Pollock drip painting in our permanent collection this will be a great opportunity for our guests to experience Pollock’s energetic application of paint.

The other reasons are to see paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Mark Rothko, of course, as well as work by Pablo Picasso, Paul Gaugin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Frida Kahlo ... the list goes on and on. There are 76 works by 73 artists in the exhibition, which is hung chronologically, 19th century to the present, in the galleries so viewers can see change in styles over time. 

Asked what she found most exciting personally, Well-Off-Man said it was the color in Van Gogh's "The Old Mill," and richness of the black in Clyfford Still's "1957-D No. 1." Can't wait to see the Still, myself: Join me, if you can wait, and ride the Arkansas Times Art Bus, which is going to Bentonville on May 2 and which this time will include dinner at the Hive in 21c Hotel, where chef James McClure works his magic. There are two shows at 21c: “Duke Riley: See You at the Finish Line,” sculpture, and “Blue: Matter, Mood and Melancholy,” photographs and paintings. That's a lot of art to see in a day: Revel in it!

 

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 15:03:00

Raborn reflects on Italy, at Boswell Mourot

click to enlarge Laura Raborn, "Before Us A Place," at Boswell Mourot.
  • Laura Raborn, "Before Us A Place," at Boswell Mourot.


It's a fleeting show, so don't put it off: "An Italy Experience: Reflections on the Past and Present," figurative work by Laura Raborn, is at Boswell Mourot Fine Art Feb. 28 through March 5. That's less than a week, so head over to 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd. soon to catch it.

About the exhibition, from the Little Rock artist's website: 

This body of work is an attempt to consider and communicate ideas. Specific themes surfaced repeatedly during my travel research: the passage or suspension of time; the strong influence of history in daily contemporary life; and, visual cues contrasting the ancient with the modern. For example, several paintings examine the presence and participation of inanimate objects ... such as religious relics and sculpture, in contemporary life. 

In Italy, I began to see the omnipresent visual references to history as beacons of light. Details in stonework, in sculpture, in ancient relics and ruins allow the past to shine on contemporary life by guiding us with ancient clues, philosophy and lessons. This body of work examines visual evidence that seems to contrast modern life but actually surrounds, shapes and embodies today’s inhabitants of Italy.

 
Raborn's show will be followed immediately by an exhibition of new paintings by Elena Petroukhina and Kathy Bay, March 6-28.

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 14:19:00

Extra Soul Perception: A Monk Higgins Mix

click to enlarge monk.jpg

Because I couldn't find one anywhere else, here is a mix highlighting the best (or so) of the Arkansas funk legend Monk Higgins, born Milton Bland in Menifee in October 1936. He worked as a social worker, a music teacher, and making his way to Chicago and later L.A., he arranged and produced records for labels like Chess, Onderful, St. Lawrence, MCA, United Artists and, eventually, his own label, Almon. He produced singles by Etta James, Muddy Waters, Bobby 'Blue' Bland (no relation) and hundreds of others, including several albums by Blood, Sweat and Tears. As a solo artist, he released records with titles like "Extra Soul Perception," "Little Mama," "Heavyweight" and "Dance to the Disco Sax of Monk Higgins."

He made it to #30 on the R&B charts with an instrumental called "Who Dun It?" and hit #22 with "Gotta Be Funky." He scored commercials, radio shows and led the in-house band of a club run by Marla Biggs (best known for playing Florence in "The Jeffersons"). His wife's name was Virginia, but he called her Vee Pea — they wrote songs together. He also wrote and recorded the soundtrack to the 1975 Pam Grier film, "Sheba, Baby," in which she chased down Kentucky gangsters on a jet-ski (Tagline: "When you're after the top banana, you peel off the skin").
click to enlarge monk2.jpg

In 1976, when Al Bell wanted to recreate some of of the success he'd had with Stax (recently closed by court order) with a new record label called Independent Corp. of America, he picked fellow Arkansas-native Higgins as his head of production. At the time, Higgins' plan was record R&B records to be immediately followed by gospel records "by the same artist," in an attempt to "capture both the rock and gospel audiences with the same artist." He also intended to compose a musical adaption of a book called "How To Pick A Lover."

It didn't pan out. His greatest claim to crate-digging posterity today is a drum break from his 1974 song "One Man Band (Plays All Alone)." It made it on an "Ultimate Breaks and Beats" compilation and was sampled by Biz Markie, Gang Starr, Masta Ace, Big Daddy Kane and The D.O.C. Higgins died in California in 1986, presumably before ever hearing anyone rap over his drums on KDAY.

 

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Arkansas's new anti-gay law forgets history

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