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Eat Arkansas

Nestle Toll House Cafe open in McCain Mall

If you believe that warm Toll House cookies might be the world’s best invention, you might want to drop by the new Nestlé Toll House Cafe in the McCain Mall.

Spokes in first gear for coffee shop renovation

The wheels were to begin turning today, Feb. 16, on the renovation of the upper end of Spokes bicycle shop at Kavanaugh Boulevard and Markham Street for a kitchen, coffee shop and bakery.

Food Hall of Fame finalists named

Twelve restaurants, four proprietors and six food events have been chosen from nearly 300 nominations as finalists for the first Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Awards. Four awards will be presented, for the winner of the categories mentioned above and for a People’s Choice Award, to be announced at the induction ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at The Ron Robinson Theater.

Dining Review

Head down Milford Track

February 16, 2017
Head down Milford Track
Homemade pasta for the discriminating customer. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Believing is seeing

February 16, 2017
Believing is seeing
A look at Rebecca Gayle Howell's new novel-in-poems, 'American Purgatory.' /more/

To-Do List

Charlie Wilson at Verizon Arena

February 16, 2017
Charlie Wilson at Verizon Arena
Also, Stand Up for Access Comedy Show, Max & Iggor Cavalera, Billy Joe Shaver, Daddy Issues, Pat Donohue, Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, Beer, Brats & Bots, Third Friday Argenta Artwalk, 'Key Connections to Humanity,' /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Home again

The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Who needs courts?

Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge? /more/

Gene Lyons

Bungling

If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration. /more/

Movie Reviews

Kill, thrill, repeat

February 16, 2017
Kill, thrill, repeat
'John Wick 2' a crowd-pleaser. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Not worthy

February 16, 2017
There's something to be said for an Arkansas basketball team that spends two-and-a-half games looking like quitters before rising off the mat. /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 19, 2017 - 08:33:00

Trump ventures into fake news as he decries it

click to enlarge SWEDEN: Trump reference to the country appears to be more fake news.
  • SWEDEN: Trump reference to the country appears to be more fake news.
Yesterday in Florida, in a riff about the dangers of immigrants, President Donald Trump made a mention of something "last night" in Sweden.

Trump told supporters: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

“Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.”
There were no immigrant-related acts of violence or terror incidents the night before in Sweden. What could he have been talking about? Best guess it that it was another Fox News-inspired Trump reference, from a Tucker Carlson segment on whether the rise in immigrants in Sweden had created criminal problems there.

If it's on Fox, it will be out of the president's mouth before long. And it likely will be dutifully repeated by his many admirers. Facts? Here are some from The Guardian's account:

The source of Trump’s remark is unclear, but it came after Fox News aired an interview with film-maker Ami Horowitz, whose latest documentary examines whether high crime rates in areas of Sweden is linked to its previous open-door policy on people fleeing war and persecution.

According to the 2016 Swedish Crime Survey, crime rates in Sweden have stayed relatively stable over the last decade, with some fluctuations. In 2015, there were 112 cases of lethal violence in Sweden, an increase of 25 cases compared with 2014, but assaults, threats, sexual offences, car theft, burglary and harassment all reduced compared to the previous year – as did anxiety about crime in society.
By way of comparison: Arkansas, with 3 million people, recorded 166 murders in 2015 according to preliminary data from the Arkansas Crime Information Center. Sweden's 112 cases of lethal violence came in a country with almost 10 million people.

 

Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 08:08:00

More objections to the bathroom bill from Buffalo River businessman

click to enlarge MIKE MILLS: Buffalo Outdoor Center operator objects to proposed bathroom bill. - ARKANSAS BUSINESS
  • Arkansas Business
  • MIKE MILLS: Buffalo Outdoor Center operator objects to proposed bathroom bill.
The tourism business is rising up against the proposed legislation, not yet in final form, aimed at discriminating against transgender people in use of public facilities. Gretchen Hall of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau and Steve Arrison, leader of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, have both spoken strongly about the damaging impact of such a law.

Add to this list Mike Mills of the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca. He writes his senator, Greg Standridge of Russellville, a sponsor of the legislation along with Sen. Gary Stubblefield of Branch:

Senator Standridge,

I am Mike Mills founder of Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, AR in your district. We employ 40 people, have an annual payroll of $1,015,717 and BOC is just one of the hundreds of tourism businesses in your district. I am not sure which of your constituents you are representing with the introduction of the “Bathroom Bill.” I doubt that it is farmers — they don’t have public bathrooms.I don’t think it is industries like Applied Industrial Technologies, KBN Industrial Services, Rockline Industries, Motion, Dow Chemical, Star, or Industrial Power that are promoting this legislation. Arkansas Tech I am sure does not want it as it affects all major sports venues. Many retail businesses don’t have public restrooms.

The brunt of the effect will be on the tourism industry, the number one job provider and tax producer in Newton County. I grew up with a saying that "if it aint broke don’t fix it." Sir, with all due respect the bathrooms of Arkansas don’t need fixing! This will affect every family-owned tourism business in your district, which is considerable. It will also include every restaurant and motel in Russellville! It won’t matter what language is in the bill. It will be the fact that there is one. Just ask anyone in North Carolina.

Please withdraw this unnecessary, unwanted and harmful bill ASAP. The economic vibrance of your district may be headed down the toilet if you don’t!!!!!

Mike Mills
BOC


 

Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 16:51:00

The open line and questions about the Tom Cotton town hall

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-02-18_at_4.41.03_pm.png

Here's the Saturday open line and also an update on the town hall that U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton had scheduled at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Jones Center in Springdale.

Ozark Indivisible, which has been pushing Cotton to meet with his constituents on health care and other issues, says it has been informed by the Jones Center that the event is no longer scheduled for that venue. It still appears as the site on Cotton's webpages.

One of those working for input, Billy Fleming, said the group has been unable to find out what's up. Interest in the town hall has been high. Perhaps Cotton has sought a bigger venue, but, if so, he hasn't told any of the Ozark group yet. One other senator under heavy fire in another state announced a venue 30 minutes before the event, which made it hard to attend.

I've sent a note of inquiry to Cotton's press spokesperson. I wrote as a taxpaying, registered voter of Arkansas. But his office has throughout his tenure refused to take questions from me or the Arkansas Times, constituent or not. If there's a change in custom, I'll let you know the answer.

I won't jump to conclusions. Congressmen in South Carolina faced the music and met a large inquisitive crowd at a town hall. They moved it outside when the room proved too small.  I've heard it was a positive discussion of issues that was so encouraging  the congressmen reportedly said they'd have others. That's how it ought to work.

Cotton has never demonstrated such an openness, preferring friendly reporters and ideological soulmates when he opens himself to questions. For a time, he even blocked his office to any visitors. But maybe he'll get UA to open a big hall.

 

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Rock Candy

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.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 17:06:00

"Nasty Woman" at HSU: 32 artists celebrate Women's History Month

click to enlarge Dina Santos, "Untitled."
  • Dina Santos, "Untitled."

A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month make up the exhibit "Nasty Woman," opening March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.

The show features works by 32 women, both from Arkansas and around the nation, addressing contemporary women's issues, from objectification of the female body to the political climate. The title, as all know, refers to Donald Trump's aside during a debate with Hillary Clinton when he called her a "nasty woman," a phrase that has since become a rallying cry for all who detest the descent into misogyny that our Republican-led country has brought about.

Contributing photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture and video pieces are Zina Al-Shukri, Heather Beckwith, Darcie Beeman-Black, Megan Berner, Cynthia Buob, Beverly Buys, Melissa Cowper-Smith, Norwood Creech, Nancy Dunaway, Margo Duvall, Melissa Gill, Mia Hall, Diane Harper, Tammy Harrington, Heidi Hogden, Robyn Horn, Erin House, Jeanie Hursley, Catherine Kim, Kimberly Kwee, Joli Livaudais, Angie Macri, Hannah May, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Catherine Nugent, Emily Rogers, Dina Santos, Kasten Searles, Katherine Strause, Brittany Wilder, Kat Wilson, and Miranda Young.

The show opens with a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, with poetry readings, discussions of the work, and talks with the artists.  The gallery,  on the first floor of Russell, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

 

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    A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month go on exhibit March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.
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Cover Story

Their home, too

February 16, 2017
Their home, too
Rasha Alzahabi is one of thousands of Arkansans whose families have been impacted by President Trump's travel ban. /more/

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