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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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 16:10:46

UPDATE: Grocery store wine bill meeting opposition, changes in the works

FROM BEER TO NUTS: New legislation would allow liquor stores to sell both drinks and food.
  • FROM BEER TO NUTS: New legislation would allow liquor stores to sell both drinks and food.
Earlier this month, a combine of Walmart and county line liquor stores introduced legislation to allow sales of all wines in grocery stores, not just Arkansas and small producer wines.

The county line liquor stores — huge operations that draw on big business from neighboring dry counties — entered the deal in return for Walmart and others agreeing to cease for a time the aggressive effort to call local option alcohol elections in dry counties. They've claimed Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed onto the deal, though his office has disputed that.

Most of the other liquor stores in the state weren't too happy to see the door opened to grocery store competitors. That has slowed the progress of the original bill. It has also produced new legislation from Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson that would allow retail liquor stores to pool to make purchases to take advantage of volume discounts; allow liquor stores to ship to purchasers in-state, and allow liquor stores to sell food, under rules promulgated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

Hard to imagine passage of this relative earthquake in liquor store regulation, but it might find its way into efforts to amend and compromise on the original grocery store wine bill. It, too, is in the process of being amended. It, too, may introduce a way for liquor stores to sell food, at least foods associated with consumption of alcohol (think salty snacks, though I think just about anything goes along).

Up for discussion, too, is a portion of the original bill that extended a two-year delay in grocery store wine sales in counties where alcoholic beverage sales had been approved since 2014 (Saline County being one of those, also Franklin).

Hard to pick a hero in this fight. We'd all be better off without the special interest-protection aspects of Arkansas alcohol laws. It would be best if there was wide open competition to sell everything everywhere (and with a somewhat less burdensome sin tax levy). But it's hard to figure why liquor stores shouldn't sell food if grocery stores can sell alcohol. It's hard to figure why rules should be written to advantage Walmart and Bruce Hawkins' clients in Conway County and disadvantage others. But the politics of alcohol are among the most intricate and hard-fought in Arkansas.

UPDATE: Huge crowd in the House Rules Committee after adjournment of the House this afternoon to talk about the bill. Small Arkansas wineries oppose, as do many liquor store owners. Preachers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving expected to add to the opposition.

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 15:54:00

Photographer pleads in Internet stalking case

The U.S. attorney's office announced today that Christian Trey Ashcraft, 41, of White Hall, a photographer, had entered a negotiated guilty plea to Internet stalking and a charge of lying to a federal agent had been dropped. He'll be sentenced later. The maximum sentence is five years.

According to the government, Ashcraft posed online as a teenage girl and had distributed sexually explicit photographs he'd obtained of a woman he'd established a relationship with online.

Hre's the full rundown from the U.S. attorney.

 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 14:40:00

Wednesday: An open line and news roundup


An open line and the roundup of news and comment.


/more/  

 

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Rock Candy

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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Visit Arkansas

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

"Locally Labeled" passport expands to accommodate booming brew scene

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February 16, 2017
Their home, too
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