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Root Cafe the Growing America winner on HLN

How apt: The Root Cafe is the viewer-chosen winner of the documentary series "Growing America: A Journey to Success," on HLN TV. The show's idea: that MBAs from the country's most prestigious universities could help businesses to, well, leaf out.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, for beer

What a great year it's been in Arkansas for beer lovers, and as the last month quickly gets crossed off the calendars it become pretty evident that 2015 is going to be just as rewarding.

Pupuseria Mi Chalateca serves elite Salvadoran cuisine

Fans of food trucks and Salvadoran food alike will find a lot to love about one of Hot Springs' most popular destinations for good eats.

Dining Review

Still the best

December 18, 2014
Still the best
One Eleven, formerly know as Ashley's, hits all the right notes. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Q&A: Let's Talk Figures

December 18, 2014
Q&A: Let's Talk Figures
The warped visionaries behind the Fayetteville record label open up (sort of). /more/

To-Do List

"Blue Velvet" at Ron Robinson Thursday

December 18, 2014
"Blue Velvet" at Ron Robinson Thursday
Also, 'Texas Love Letter' Listening Party at South on Main, Celebrity Karaoke at Verizon Arena, Jimbo Mathus at White Water, Improv at the Public Theater and Rick Ross at Barton Coliseum. /more/


Max Brantley

Women's work in the House

The new Republican majority in Arkansas came with the support of female majorities in some key races. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Good policies, bad politics

Democrats are like Republicans in one way. One party or the other suffers devastating losses at least every eight years and then engages in a noisy search for blame and atonement. /more/

Gene Lyons

'Rape culture' merits scrutiny

If the great Rolling Stone campus rape hoax proved nothing else, it's that True Believers make lousy reporters. I've always found it useful to keep in mind what my brother and I call the state motto of our native New Jersey: "Oh yeah, who says?" /more/

Movie Reviews

Old Testament in CGI

December 18, 2014
Old Testament in CGI
'Exodus' wows, but skimps on storytelling. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Portis must carry Hogs

December 18, 2014
Arkansas basketball is such a weird, aggravating thing. I don't know if the karmic tradeoff for one blissful year of "40 Minutes of Hell" was two ensuing decades of purgatory, but it sure seems that way. /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, December 21, 2014 - 17:10:00

The bigots-are-going-to-be-bigots open line

Here's your open line with the not-unexpected news that so-called Christians will fight to the death to legally discriminate against gay people.

click to enlarge images.jpeg
* NO QUARTER GIVEN BY BAPTISTS: We've written about efforts underway to rewrite a Fayetteville  civil rights ordinance, likely to omit specific transgender protection and to provide exemptions for religious organizations. Good Christians Larry Page of the Faith and Ethics Council and a Washington County Baptist preacher say that's no good; Any ordinance that might prevent a commercial business from discriminating against gay people is an infringement of their religious liberty.

It wasn't long ago that good Christians in the South like these said their religion demanded discrimination against colored people, but Congress passed a civil rights bill anyway and the Supreme Court has upheld it.

This is no different.

But the haters want you to believe it's an affront to religion if a baker, photographer, stationery store, hotel or tux rental outfit might get gay cooties from providing services to somebody who's perceived gayness and gay activities offend their religious sensibilities. It's not about religion at all. They simply demand the old discredited position of the ability to refuse service to those they don't like.

If you have the requisite state and city permits to do business in the city of Fayetteville, you should provide those services on a non-discriminatory basis. It might also offend one's sense of Biblical teaching to serve people who sin in other ways besides lying with someone of the same sex — commit adultery, steal, hate  — etc.  But you'd be laughed out of the room — not to mention take a damaging blow to hour business — if you refused to serve fornicators.


Sunday, December 21, 2014 - 08:29:00

Legislators looking for outs on new ethics amendment

click to enlarge WHAT DOES 'ALL' MEAN? If all Razorback football tickets are assigned on a point system, can the UA seriously talk about have a special event for legislators at which they get free seats and parking?
  • WHAT DOES 'ALL' MEAN? If all Razorback football tickets are assigned on a point system, can the UA seriously talk about have a special event for legislators at which they get free seats and parking?

Michael Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette plunged deeply this morning into a favorite recent topic of mine — fallout of Issue 3 on gifts to legislators, including choice seats and free parking at Razorback football games.

Clearly, free parking will be gone for legislators in the future. But I would note, too, that the assertion that this parking was worth $20 per game is misleading. This is prime parking. It is prime parking that typically only comes with contributions to the Razorback Foundation, the kind of contribution you have to make to get out of the end zone and into some midfield seats. Many legislators got this preferred seating and free parking by virtue of paying face value for tickets (and sometimes paid for the tickets with campaign contributions.)

See the Razorback Foundation. Preferred parking at Razorback football games requires a $750 contribution. That's a good bit more than $20 per game. I think you could argue that, under the old rule, a season parking pass was a violation of the ban on gifts worth more than $100, but the UA broke the gifts down individually. A point system also applies on seating.  At least $200 is required for a sideline seat at the goal line. Lawmakers got choice seats without such contributions.

Parking and preferred seating have monetary value. They may not be given to legislators under the new amendment. They shouldn't have been given before, but an old Ethics Commission ruling gave them leeway they shouldn't have gotten.

I was chagrinned to read talk of universities considering whether a football game is a special event to which they could give freebies to legislators if all are invited. Really? Does this include special seating that regular fans must pay premiums for? And special parking which similarly require premiums? May they scatter wherever to enjoy the game or will they be seated together with an educational program from UA or ASU nabobs?

If they have a scheduled Razorback event it will be a sham and nothing but more of the same old influence-peddling. I still have some hope that some legislators have shame. I also hope the Ethics Commission will adopt enabling rules worthy of the name to prevent such subterfuges. 

A red flag was raised in Wickline's article by a quote from Sen. Jon Woods, one of the architects of the amendment. (He's no ethics crusader. He got behind it because he's essentially employed full-time as a legislator and wanted the part of the amendment that will raise his pay and allow him to stay in the Senate for 16 to 18 years.)

He said he and Sabin have met with more than 20 people including business leaders, lawmakers, lobbyists and civic leaders, and about 10 have sought some sort of exemption from the amendment's ban on lobbyists providing certain gifts to the state's elected officials.

Woods said, "We have not made any promises at this point. We are trying to listen to everyone and be responsive."

The amendment gives to the Ethics Commission the authority to set the rules. Not the legislature. Unless it passes legislation to do so. You would hope — hope — that the 2015 legislature would wait at least one session before rolling back a voter initiative approved barely more than a month ago. But the hogs must be slopped.

More guidance for the legislature: A special caucus — political, ethnic or otherwise — is NOT a governmental body. I hope the Ethics Commission gives clear guidance that, for example, by inviting all Republicans or all black legislators, to name two caucuses, that it DOES NOT open the door to legal hog slopping.

The price of an ethical legislature is eternal vigilance. And even that isn't enough.


Sunday, December 21, 2014 - 07:48:00

A tribute to Asa Hutchinson for remarks on torture

click to enlarge HOPEFUL SIGN: Asa Hutchinson, with his wife, Susan, election night earns praise for departure from Republican orthodoxy on at least one important issue. - ZAC LEHR
  • Zac Lehr
  • HOPEFUL SIGN: Asa Hutchinson, with his wife, Susan, election night earns praise for departure from Republican orthodoxy on at least one important issue.
Ernie Dumas, in a column written for the coming week, elaborates more fully on a subject I'd mentioned previously: Asa Hutchinson's departure from most Republican commentators on the recent Senate committee report on the use of torture by the U.S.

Hutchinson stands by his own work on a bipartisan commission that reported in 2013 that the U.S. used torture, that it had not told the truth about it and that the methods were ineffective. He and Sen. John McCain were nearly alone among Republicans. The Fox News Party's talking point was that the report was partisan. Rep. Tom Cotton called it a pack of lies and unsubstantiated. He chose to overlook the new Arkansas governor's own work to the contrary.

I saw Hutchinson Friday after he taped an interview with David Goins for Capitol View on KARK. I told him that I'd appreciated his remarks on the subject. He expressed no regret. He said he said much of his own party's remarks could be viewed in the context of George W. Bush supporters defending actions of that administration. He wondered, though, what Republicans would have said about the same report had it been issued about actions by a Democratic administration.

In a time when political discussion has grown rigidly partisan and talking points are recited endlessly, with no room given for admission of mistakes, I found Hutchinson's comments remarkable. And hopeful about his own coming administration.

But back to Ernie Dumas, who recites the history of true American exceptionalism — founding fathers who believed the new country battling for its freedom was a better place that wouldn't sink to the level of its enemies by torturing enemies. Polls now indicate a change in American mindset about this.

Ernie's column follows:



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Friday, December 19, 2014 - 17:40:00

About that $4.5 million Noguchi table Alice Walton may have bought

click to enlarge Noguchi.jpg

Max Brantley posted on the Arkansas Blog news from BLOUIN ARTINFO
while I was out about the auction of an Isamu Noguchi table that sources say Alice Walton was the high bidder on — paying $4,450,500. 

"The Goodyear Table, for A. Conger Goodyear,” which has a stack-laminated rosewood base and the original Herculite plate glass top, was manufactured in 1939. Art collector Ronald Lauder (of Estee Lauder bucks) is said to have consigned the piece to the Phillips auction house

The table is a little too early to be appropriate for the Usonian home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that is moving to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (the Bachman Wilson House, built in 1954). So maybe it's for Walton's home, if the sources are correct that she won the bidding. Besides, the house apparently comes with furniture.

However, if Walton was looking for tables to fit the Wright home era, maybe she also bought the "Managing Committee Table," designed by Balkrishna Doshi and Le Corbusier, 1953-54. The auction house estimated it would sell for $300,000 to $400,000, but the winning bid was $1.8 million.

click to enlarge "Managing Committee Table," designed by Balkrishna Doshi and Le Corbusier
  • "Managing Committee Table," designed by Balkrishna Doshi and Le Corbusier


Friday, December 19, 2014 - 15:46:00

Holiday Staff Picks: 'Lilyhammer,' The Dream Scene, Christmas gift ideas, recipes and more

click to enlarge ELEANOR LUTZ
  • Eleanor Lutz

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.

Perfect for the season: The Netflix series "Lilyhammer," starring Steve Van Zandt as a protected witness mobster living in Norway. Lots of snow. Van Zandt brings his felonious ways to prim and proper Norway in slapstick fashion as a nightclub operator with Norwegian good fellows. Great scenery. A good dose of information on Scandinavian socialism and folkways. And good music. Gary US Bonds turned up on one episode. — Max Brantley

I recommend this list, "Classic Christmas Dishes for Academics." — Caitlin Love

Every few weeks, the designer Eleanor Lutz posts a new original infographic to her site, Tabletop Whale. Because it is the holidays, I’m assuming this week’s animated gif (above) aims to answer the question, what did Jesus look like the nine months leading up to that fateful night in Bethlehem? Or perhaps not. In any case, I recommend this fascinating look at the process a human goes through whilst in the womb.

Also, don’t know what to buy for the graphic designer/black metal fan in your life for Christmas? How about the font from Deafheaven’s amazing album "Sunbather"— Bryan Moats

I recommend that you read "The Christmas Miracle" by Rebecca Curtis, but only if you are able to handle a story about pedophilia, Lyme disease and the violent, bloody deaths of a series of cats, all set against a backdrop of gingerbread houses and family holiday communion. And, only if you are open to the idea that such a story can be as touching as it is grotesque, and as funny as it is disturbing:

I am telling this story to you, K, even though you are a Russian Communist and a Jewish person who doesn’t believe Jesus was the son of God, and even though Christmas is an obnoxious holiday when millions of people decapitate pine trees and watch them slowly die in their living rooms, because miracles can happen on any day, and as long as man has existed he’s celebrated this weirdest time of year, the shortest stretch of sunlight, the winter solstice, as a time of fear, change, courage, and passion. I’m going to tell you the story of a miracle that happened at Christmas.
— Benji Hardy

When I lived in Athens, Ga., one band I always liked was The Dream Scene, a recording project helmed by a guy named Javier Morales. Their most memorable release was a 2009 Christmas album — haunting and strangely faithful bedroom-pop versions of Christmas mall-classics, unironically and pretty painstakingly produced. The album had a big following in the city and was played near-constantly at people's houses around the holidays. It's both a little insipid — why spend so much effort and imagination on another arrangement of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" etc. — and also pretty impressive, particularly from a craft perspective.

Thanks to Facebook, I saw this week that The Dream Scene has returned with yet another Christmas album: "Christmas II." On first listen, it sounds even more elaborately produced — drawing on off-kilter pop stylists like Todd Rundgren, "Smiley Smile"-era Brian Wilson and R. Stevie Moore, plus what might be understood as kind of reclaimed New Age quality (VHS synth washes and weight-loss-meditation tapes and '80s Nintendo soundtracks). It's fully invested in the inherent sadness of the end of the year, and it's also, aside from the first one and maybe "Christmas on Death Row," the only good Christmas album. — Will Stephenson

Got most of your holiday shopping done, but still have some extra cash left over to spend on friends, family and loved ones? This year, instead of blowing that extra money on some plastic piece of junk you know will end up collecting dust on a bookshelf, or any other meaningless gift you find at the eleventh hour, consider making a donation in their name to a local 9 year old girl's GoFundMe campaign that is raising money to buy cold weather essentials (socks, hand warmers, foot warmers, etc.) for our homeless population in Little Rock. All items purchased with your money will go directly to The Van, Inc./The One, Inc. for distribution (If you don't know about either of these organizations yet, you should. Look them up!). Come on, Little Rock. If a NINE YEAR OLD can see through the holiday consumerist bullshit that saturates all things end-of-year, maybe you should, too. Show this incredible Arkansas youth her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Back this lil' hero up, and help her make a difference! — Erin Holland

Every year over the holiday, at some indeterminate juncture, my family gathers around the fireplace, we turn off the lights, and my dad puts this story called "The Train" on the stereo. It's hokey, in the best kind of Christmasy, wintry way. I don't know much about its origins, and I don't care to. We used to sip hot chocolate and tea as we listened; nowadays we drink cold glasses of Highland Brewing's Cold Mountain Winter Ale, fresh from the mountains of North Carolina. Tomorrow, I push off for the long drive home. See you next year, Arkansas. — Maxwell George

The entire run of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" is now on Netflix. My wife and I watched it for two hours last night — it's hypnotic. — David Koon

One of my sons is finally old enough for me to buy toys that I'm excited to play with. I gleefully did all of the shopping for him and his elementary school-aged cousins this year. Here's the best of what I came up with: A robotic dinosaur that follows simple hand commands and gets really mad when you pull its tail. Magnetic building blocks. A Nerf gatling gun "drone." Kinetic sand. And lots of awesome Marvel action figures. — Lindsey Millar

I recommend going to see trumpeter swans at Magness Lake, just outside of Heber Springs in Sugar Loaf. It's a pretty little lake, just off the Little Red River, and for some reason, a group of trumpeter swans make it their winter home. This is peculiar because they don't typically come this far south — they're normally up in Canada, Alaska, or the northern U.S., and this is by far the furthest they're known to come. Three trumpeter swans were first spotted on Lake Magness in 1991, probably thrown off course by a storm, and apparently they liked the spot and told their buddies. Now around 150 swans migrate to Arkansas every year and make it their winter vacation spot. They arrive in late November and leave in March.

click to enlarge IMG_2385.jpg

They're stunning — solid white with 8-foot wingspans. And they honk like...trumpets! They're around all day, but going in the late afternoon is best (earlier in the day, some have flown off to look for food, but by 3 or 4 p.m., pretty much all of them will be on the lake, and toward the end of the day is when you are most likely to see them in flight). Is it amazing to see trumpeter swans circle overhead and then skid across the water for a landing? Yes, it is amazing. Is it amazing to see trumpeter swans dive their heads in the water to eat some dried corn you've tossed in the water, shaking their tail feathers all the while? Also, yes.

Apparently, one year, someone stole one and cooked it for Christmas dinner. Don't do that, dummy. It's illegal to touch them, but you can feed them dried corn, available at various local shops, and they will swim right up close to you. Trumpeter swans are the real reason for the season. Your holidays will be happier if you go see them. — David Ramsey


Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 12:16:00

New music from Mildriot, College Station Camron, Dividend and more

click to enlarge Dividend
  • Dividend

1. Mildriot - "No Hooves"
A baffling, instant-classic Christmas anthem from Mildriot, a.k.a Michael Chavez, who used to go by Miles Rattz and released a really good record over the summer called "Fought Songs" on the UK label Sister 9 Recordings. 

2. College Station Camron - "Good Vibes"
Here's a new video from 26-year-old College Station Camron, the last track from his tape, "CSC" (he cut out LouddPak's verse for whatever reason).

3. Dividend - "Wait"
Fayetteville band Dividend just released an album called "Synaesthesia," that's incredibly good — heavily reverbed, fully-formed jangle pop in the tradition of bands like Galaxie 500. Singer Christine Tan (?) is low in the mix but impossible to overlook. Looks like they're coming to White Water on January 9th, which is good news. 

4. Ghost Riders in the Sky with Diamonds - "Untitled 6"
10 minutes of noise and free improv from the Hot Springs experimental collective, via Colourful Mountain Records. Paranoid and surprising and really compelling — the whole record is worth a listen, as are their other releases (there are a few). 

5. Lil Futa ft. Chuck and KaYocee - "Just B.A.R.S."
Skip the first minute of this video and you'll get to the music, which is great, one of my favorite Lil Futa tracks of the year. 

6. Cloud9 - "Thotful"
Surprisingly big-budget effort from L.A. (by way of Little Rock) duo Cloud9, produced by the great North Little Rock beatmaker IAmNawf, complete with lens flares, fog machines and a throwback, claustrophobic sex-dungeon vibe. 


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Arkansas Reporter

Unrestricted high explosives, available at a sporting goods store near you

December 18, 2014
Unrestricted high explosives, available at a sporting goods store near you
It's 'dangerous stuff,' according to a Little Rock bomb squad member. /more/

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