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For food lovers

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Eat Arkansas

In Hot Springs, pizza means Deluca's

In Hot Springs, one pizzeria is taking fresh flavors to the next level.

Vegetarian delights with The Veg and Solfood Catering

The Veg and Solfood Catering are serving up vegan cuisine with mainstream appeal.

Brew Review: Half Seas Over Imperial IPA

Half Seas Over, the debut beer from Moody Brews, is a bold statement from the brewer. But can a big beer like this please even a picky drinker?

Dining Review

High-end at Heritage Grille

September 11, 2014
High-end at Heritage Grille
New Marriott restaurant impresses, but at a price. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

A Q&A with Shabazz Palaces

September 11, 2014
A Q&A with
Shabazz Palaces
The experimental rap duo's Ishmael Butler talks internships, weed and Lil B. /more/

To-Do List

Eric Church to Verizon

September 11, 2014
Eric Church to Verizon
Also, '40 Years of the Arkansas Times' at the Historic Arkansas Museum, KABF Girls Night at White Water Tavern, the Arkansas Times Latino Food and Music Festival in Argenta, "Northville Cemetery Massacre" and "Death: Live in L.A." at Riverdale, "Rushmore" at Ron Robinson and Tony Joe White at Juanita's. /more/


Max Brantley

GOP rule No. 1: Win

The Republican Party's devotion to principle was on display last week. After months of opposition to a proposed initiated act to raise the Arkansas minimum wage, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson flip-flopped to say he'd vote for the measure. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Obama vs. GOP philosophy

If you have followed the Arkansas election ads you know that each party faces a single challenge. Republicans must overcome a philosophy problem, Democrats an Obama problem. /more/

Gene Lyons

Not giving up on Fred

We ended up adopting Fred due to his incorrigible stubbornness. Originally bred to track game, basset hounds can be amazingly persistent. It sometimes appears that when their noses are working, their hearing shuts down. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Victory at Texas Tech crucial

September 11, 2014
For God's sake, Hog Fans, just enjoy it! So much social media grumbling was afoot after Arkansas obliterated Nicholls State, 73-7, on Saturday to finally kill off the damnable 10-game skid the program had been mired in. "Congrats on beating a JV team!" "Who scheduled this?" "If this is how we have to win, it's not worth it." "How did I get this drunk before halftime?" /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, September 14, 2014 - 15:34:00

A swell Sunday open line

It is a beautiful day to have lots to do that keeps me away from blogging. I yield the floor. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 08:11:41

Beebe: No politics in Leslie Rutledge's poor rating at DHS

click to enlarge CAMPAIGNER: Leslie Rutledge, campaigning for Mike Huckabee in Iowa in 2007.
  • CAMPAIGNER: Leslie Rutledge, campaigning for Mike Huckabee in Iowa in 2007.
A spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe today brushed away a suggestion that politics played a role in the addition of a "do not rehire"  message to Leslie Rutledge's personnel file after she resigned as a staff attorney at the Department of Human Services in 2007.

The Repblican candidate for attorney general raised that as a possible defense of her negative evaluation after it was disclosed last week.

We first reported last week after receiving docents under an FOI request that Rutledge's supervisor had added a notation to Rutledge's termination form after she resigned Dec. 3,2007. The form had a blank for "termination" crossed out and a hand-written note referred to an e-mail 10 days later from Lisa McGee, now deputy chief counsel at DHS, that she wished a "do not rehire" note be put in the file. It was coded with a 21, which denotes "gross misconduct." I am attempting to learn from DHS if there's any further definition of the term in the personnel manual, though DHS has refused to discuss further details about Rutledge's work.

After our report, the Democrat-Gazette also reported on the file Friday. In addition to speculating, as she had to me, that her failure to give notice before resignation might have been cause for the rating. she added: 

"Whether it was politically motivated because I was going to work for a Republican governor and these individuals were [working] for a Democrat, [Gov. Mike Beebe,] I don't now." Rutledge said. "It's clear that they went back and scratched it and it went from voluntary to not [voluntary]. That's something as attorney general that I'll look into."

Beebe had taken office in January of 2007 after Republican Mike Huckabee's two terms in office. Rutledge had worked 10 months on Huckabee's staff, then for a Jacksonville attorney before going to DHS. I asked Beebe's office about her political suggestion. Spokesman Matt DeCample replied:

The governor didn't know who she was until the campaign, so any claim of political connection to the designation is groundless.

Should Rutledge release other information about her time at DHS? Said DeCample:

The decision to make the personnel file public is hers and hers alone, but we're confident that if she does choose to authorize its release, you won't find party politics involved in the DHS decision-making process.

There's almost certainly other material in DHS records pertaining to Rutledge — work by her and about her work and e-mail, among others. She went straight to work for the Huckabee campaign. One immediate question is whether her e-mail would reflect any political activity.

The state is limited in what it may reveal about Rutledge's work because she resigned and was not fired or suspended. But Rutledge herself is free to release all material she generated during that time, so long as it doesn't bear on otherwise confidential matters, such as information about juveniles.

I've asked her campaign if she will do so. I've also asked for the reason for her departure from Huckabee's staff In January 2005 after only 10 months on the job. She didn't take another job at that time, but went to work in March for the Lonoke prosecutor at less pay — $40,000 a year versus the $43,000 she made in the governor's office. An employee of the office at that time insists Rutledge departed amid some unspecified controversy. But Rutledge did work later for the Huckabee presidential campaign and he's endorsed her in the race for attorney general

Rutledge should reveal everything about that work, too. Getting hold of Huckabee-era files from storage wouldn't be an easy task, particularly because Huckabee always jealously guarded all information in his office. (Remember the crushed hard drives?)

In short, Rutledge shouldn't wait until next year to look into the matter of what her personnel files reveal about her work. It's within her power do do so now. She seeks to be the state's top attorney for an agency that won't hire her. Voters need to know more.

Nate Steel, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has emphasized his resume as attorney and prosecutor against Rutledge who's bounced through a number of mostly political jobs in her career.


Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 08:11:00

Liquor stores contribute $1.2 million to fight alcohol sales

click to enlarge HOLD THAT LINE: Red Gate Liquor, which operates at the Pulaski-Saline County line, at the edge of a growing "dry" county, has put $10,000 into campaign to beat statewide alcohol sales.
  • HOLD THAT LINE: Red Gate Liquor, which operates at the Pulaski-Saline County line, at the edge of a growing "dry" county, has put $10,000 into campaign to beat statewide alcohol sales.

If you didn't understand the specifics, you might find irony in the fact that Arkansas liquor stores have contributed $1.2 million — so far — to an effort to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment to allow retail alcohol sales in all 75 counties.

Citizens for Local Rights, the committee formed to fight the Let Arkansas Decide amendment, reported Friday that $1.2 million had been contributed to the campaign by liquor stores, owners and trade groups around the state. The leading contribution, $400,000, came from Conway County liquor dealers. They enjoy a regional monopoly on alcohol sales, particularly lucrative thanks to the "dry" status of neighboring and populous Faulkner County. They want to preserve that situation, as do other county line liquor operations. The Poinsett Package Store, which neighbors dry Craighead County, contributed $100,000 and Greene County liquor dealers, another neighbor to Craighhead, contributed $60,000.

Lawyers employed by liquor store owners have filed suit to throw the alcohol proposal off the ballot. They challenge compliance with a filing deadline and also argue that the ballot title — legalizing sales where it is now illegal — doesn't sufficiently disclose consequences. Backers of the amendment — primarily grocery and convenience store chains — argue that the deadline was properly interpreted by the secretary of state and that the arguments on impact are lacking.

Here's the report on the financial filing by the liquor stores.

Some of the money has gone to legal fees, but more than $800,000 was paid to Heathcott and Associates for public relations. That would appear to anticipate an election campaign.

This isn't the only expenditure on alcohol. The Conway County liquor dealers spent more than $300,000 fighting a local option petition campaign in Faulkner County. It was one of three — also in Craighead and Saline — financed by Walmart and Kum and Go. All but Saline failed and the liquor dealers are fighting the Saline local option in court. They've won a lower court ruling to disqualify the measure, but the decision is on appeal. Walmart and Kum & Go have spent $1 million on those three local option efforts.

Let Arkansas Decide has reported incurring about $220,000 in expenditures on the ballot effort to date and $90,000 in contributions from grocery chains, but is expected to report far more expenses and contributions. It has been faulted by opponents for lack of disclosure to date, though it argues it has complied with the reporting law.


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Friday, September 12, 2014 - 17:09:00

Get out your chalk for Thea Paves the Way

click to enlarge thea.JPG

Tag time! The Thea Foundation's annual sidewalk chalk art event, Thea Paves the Way, is Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Clinton Center. For the ninth year in a row, school kids and families and church groups will make the sidewalks with their original artworks. This is grafitti-making to love, and it runs 8 a.m. to noon. There will be music and family activities as well. 



Friday, September 12, 2014 - 16:44:00

Staff Picks: Boulevard Bread, Bolaño, Bernice Garden, Bill Callahan and the Bible

click to enlarge "Only Lovers Left Alive"
  • "Only Lovers Left Alive"

Arkansas Times Recommends is a weekly series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.

I recommend this song. It's a perfect soundtrack to cool, late summer days that feel like fall. — Lindsey Millar

I'm kind of a nut on vampire films. For one thing, none of them — from "Nosferatu" to "Twilight" — are really about bloodsucking. They're always about something else: xenophobia, fear of having your metaphorical, jingoistic bloodlines polluted by a menacing foreign Other, hangups about sex, guilt about living so well in the West while countless millions in the Third World get paid pennies an hour to make Nike shoes and cute clothes for The Gap (drink up, you vampire you). For another, modern takes on the vampire tales are inevitably pretty good yarns about anti-heroes and outsiders, all too human creatures who feel the sting of having to repeatedly make the choice to either die or to take from someone else in order to survive.

While the genre seems to be getting about as worn and threadbare as Grandpa Munster's cape, there are occasionally some great, myth-warping additions to the blood bank that kick things in a new direction. Such is the case with writer/director Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," which stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as star-crossed, centuries-old lovers who just so happen to be members of the Un-dead. Filmed in Tangier and the near-post-Apocalyptic neighborhoods of Detroit, where so many houses have been bulldozed that the coyotes and skunks are beginning to retake what were once prim and manicured neighborhoods, it's a thoughtful, literature little indie flick that's probably really more about heroin use and the passage of time than it is about that famous Count from Transylvania. Definitely worth watching, just for the lead performances, including John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe (yes, the Elizabethian playwright). Literary and fun, "Only Lovers" has it's weird moments, like any Jarmusch film. But it's also a whole lot of fun. Bonus: plentiful guitar porn, as Hiddleston's character is a collector of the best of the best things with six strings. The soundtrack is amazing as well. — David Koon

You can buy a baguette from Boulevard Bread for under $3, and that makes two lunches worth of cheese-and-tomato sandwiches.

I know what you're thinking: should we really be supporting the French, what with September 11th just passed and all? And yes, as a chronically cheap person, my standard bread purchase is a fat loaf of the good old American, presliced, cellophane-bundled, PBJ-factory stuff bought from the shelves of the Meat People and worth a lot more than two sandwiches. But crappy sandwiches for lunch get old fast. A half baguette with cheese and tomato and mayo is a perfect dream of simplicity and union. It's a satisfying lunch all on its own. I personally don't think you need fancy cheese — the garish orange kind is fine. (Remember, any cheese is fancy when it's slathered in mayonnaise.) A good tomato is a non-negotiable component, though, and since good tomato season is just about over, you'd best act now before the last vestiges of summer fully disappear.

Powerful men will back me up on this: it's the best damned sandwich you've ever ate. — Benji Hardy

I read Roberto Bolaño's "The Savage Detectives" the year after I graduated from college, while I was living in Atlanta and had a twenty minute bus ride to work every morning. I liked the voice, the autobiographical aspect (which mocked and romanticized his background in the same breath) and the idea of this outlaw poetry collective who sells pot to finance a literary magazine (called "Lee Harvey Oswald"). I even liked the way the narrator disappeared midway through and was replaced by this confusing shotgun blast of short vignettes from strangers we sometimes heard from again but usually didn't. It made a big impression, but I haven't read much Bolaño since giving up on "2666" four-fifths of the way through a little while later (I don't remember why).

A couple of weeks ago, though, I found a collection of his short stories, "Last Evenings on Earth," in a bookstore in Athens, Ga., and read it last week over a few nights: It's an incredible book, and maybe even a better introduction to his writing. Almost all the stories are remembrances of a writer or strange character the narrator (often just named B.) knew a long time ago, who died or disappeared or otherwise failed. It's the kind of book that makes you okay with failing, and that makes you think about the people you've met a handful of times and never really gotten to know. It makes you want to go Acapulco, too. — Will Stephenson

Well, I'm headed to the Vintage Market at Bernice Garden tomorrow because it's all outside and there are good vendors and the last time I was there I found a tiny gold poodle charm with diamond eyes and a tablecloth advertising the charms of Alaska. (Actually my friend found the poodle charm for me, and then made me give it to her.) Anyway, lots of booths, nothing too fancy, just right prices, and such good food nearby, and parking is no problem, so you'd be nuts to skip it. — Leslie Peacock

click image andyfitts.jpg

As I understand it, it isn't cool to recommend the amazing things your friends have done. That kind of veiled name dropping isn't acceptable to some. But fuck that, I'm busy and I want you to hear this amazing album by my old friend Andy Fitts. It is called "Smoky Wilds." I was going to do the album art for it (humble-brag) but it is really good that I didn't because the final product turned out way better than if I'd had done it (humble-fail). If you've listened to or seen David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) much in the last 5-10 years you've probably already heard or seen Andy on bass. Or in one of his other iterations such as Airport Cathedral, which is also super good. Okay, I gotta get back to work. Please listen, okay, and keep your opinions to yourself. — Bryan Moats

I'm recommending the Holy Bible. If not me, who?

For example, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

In thinking about what makes Christianity stick around, one thing that strikes me is how malleable the messaging is (even if not all Christians are so malleable). The passage above was read at my grandfather's funeral earlier this year. He was 97. A fully lived life as "this light, momentary affliction." It's an astonishing sentiment when you really think about it. There is a graceful spot, I think, between the religious idea of thanksgiving which accompanies death and the secular mourning of the loss of earthly life. The friendly episcopal priest at my grandparents' church in tidewater Virginia gave the climactic weight to "eternal weight of glory," naturally, (he's a priest!) but lingered too on the peculiar value of, well, 97 years of this light, momentary affliction.

While in Virginia, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, at her own tail end, who doesn't recognize anyone or have any idea what's going on but lights up and laughs when I call her "grandma." Or she may just be in to young men giving her attention. I drank some salty, brakish water from the York River, down below the bluff at the house where my grandfather died and my grandmother still lives with caretakers. My grandfather taught me to fish there. Used to be a big beach, now just a strip of sand even at low tide.

Someone at the visitation told me the story of my grandfather in a little sub-chaser in World War II, supposedly captaining the ship but basically a clueless kid with some sailing experience on a small wooden boat in the Pacific ocean. The Japanese dropped some bombs nearby and popped the boat up out of the water. My grandpa bit his lip in fear, so hard he was covered in blood. He saw all the blood and yelled "I've been kilt!" The fella telling me the story said he had looked at my grandfather's embalmed body in the coffin, looked at the lip — to see if he could still see the scar.

Psalms 30 :11-12:
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. — David Ramsey


Friday, September 12, 2014 - 16:01:00

2nd Friday Art Night: TONIGHT! Times covers! ALA artists! Aj Smith! More!

click to enlarge old_times_cover.jpg

Where has the time gone today! Starting RIGHT NOW (really at 5 p.m.), galleries downtown are serving up wine and whatever for 2nd Friday Art Night. Check these out:

click to enlarge ALA artist Sandy Barksdale, at the Butler Center.
  • ALA artist Sandy Barksdale, at the Butler Center.

, 401 President Clinton Ave.: Annual juried Arkansas League of Artists exhibition, 42 works.

GALLERY 221 & ART STUDIOS 221, Pyramid Place: New works by Tyler Arnold, also work by Kathi Couch, Gino Hollander, Greg Lahti, Mary Ann Stafford, Byron Taylor, sculpture by Siri Hollander, jewelry by Rae Ann Bayless, Sean LeCrone, Emile and Brenda Fowler.

click to enlarge In "All that I Am: A Retrospective," Work by Aj Smith at Hearne Fine Art.
  • In "All that I Am: A Retrospective," Work by Aj Smith at Hearne Fine Art.

1001 Wright Ave.: “All That I Am: A Retrospective,” works on paper by Aj Smith, artist’s talk 6:30 p.m.
click to enlarge Cypress poles in fog, by Jack Kenner
  • Cypress poles in fog, by Jack Kenner

HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM, 200 E. 3rd St.: “Disciplined Inspiration,” photographs by Jack Kenner, art glass by Ed Pennebaker; “40 Years of the Arkansas Times," with music by Finger Food.

OLD STATE HOUSE MUSEUM, 300 W. Markham: Music by Big Silver on the lawn, 5:30-8 p.m. Sept. 12, 2nd Friday Art Night; “Different Strokes,” the history of bicycling and places cycling in Arkansas, featuring artifacts, historical pictures and video, through February 2016; “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!”, the state’s ties to Hollywood, including costumes, scripts, film footage, photographs and more, through March 1, 2015. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun. 324-9685.


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