Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

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Music, art and eats in Arkansas

Cannabiz

Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Dining Review

Mex for the people

April 19, 2018
Mex for the people
Cantina Cinco de Mayo hits the right notes in downtown LR. /more/

Dining Search

Columnists

Ernest Dumas

Week That Was

After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency. /more/

Gene Lyons

Trump and Comey

In the Bizarro World of the Trump administration, it's only fitting that the president serves as publicity director for James Comey's big book tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bizarro World was an upside-down reality where wickedness was virtue and vice versa.) Supposedly, Trump's stomping around the White House and various golf courses red-faced with anger, emitting smoke from his ears. /more/

Movie Reviews

'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson

April 12, 2018
'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson
The actors deliver their lines drolly, portioning out emotions in pinches rather than with scoops. The stories flirt with magical realism. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Consistency

April 19, 2018
Dave Van Horn has had some fine baseball squads in his tenure as Arkansas's head coach. He took over for the well-regarded Norm DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving bunch in Omaha the next spring, and then took the Diamond Hogs back to college baseball's Valhalla three more times over a seven-season span from 2009 to 2015. But what happened in 2016 might well have proved his genuine value to the athletic program at large. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas

Cannabiz

Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 16:53:00

Earth Day open line

If you're going to celebrate Earth Day, you might as well read Annie Dillard. Just pick a sentence at random: "Freedom is the world's water and weather, the world's nourishment freely given, its soil and sap: and the creator loves pizzazz."

Set up a blanket and read outdoors, of course, under a good tree. It's a good way to spend the day.

What you got?

 

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 16:43:00

Climate change and the leadership vacuum

Arkansas Times columnist Billy Fleming has an op-ed with co-writer Katie Randall for Earth Day in the Houston Chronicle today.

Fleming  and Randall argue that climate change is the nation's single biggest threat to economic growth and national security and that President Trump has failed to act:

Post-Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico still lacks basic services, to say nothing of new investments in protective, coastal infrastructure.

Post-Hurricane Harvey, Houston continues to suffer from a lack of coordination — and a surfeit of tension — between the city and state recovery efforts.

Even post-Hurricane Sandy New York remains without a single major built project in response to that storm. The national system for responding to disaster is broken. The national system for anticipating disaster and adapting our communities to a changing climate is non-existent.
"As climate change quietly became the most pressing societal concern in the United States," write Fleming and Randall, "the vacuum of leadership amongst elected officials is placing tens of millions of people and trillions in economic value at risk."

Read the whole thing.

 

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 16:34:00

Jan Morgan and Rep. Dan Sullivan slapped with ethics complaint

click to enlarge BILLBOARD BUSTLE: Morgan accused of trying to skirt campaign finance laws. - JAN MORGAN/TWITTER
  • Jan Morgan/Twitter
  • BILLBOARD BUSTLE: Morgan accused of trying to skirt campaign finance laws.


Speaking of Jan Morgan, I meant to mention on Friday that she and Rep. Dan Sullivan were slapped with an ethics complaint for talk of collecting off-the-books campaign money at a recent rally. From a report in the D-G:

Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Jan Morgan and state Rep. Dan Sullivan were accused this week in an ethics complaint of trying to "skirt" campaign finance laws at an event in Jonesboro earlier this month.

Morgan and Sullivan, both Republicans, denied any wrongdoing on Thursday, saying the complaint was an attempt to stifle free speech and grassroots support.

Sullivan of Jonesboro told a group gathered April 7 to hear Morgan speak at a northeast Arkansas motorcycle dealership that he'd collect money and contact information from anyone interested in helping fund a billboard promoting Morgan's candidacy, according to a video of the event posted to NEA Report's Facebook group.

Sullivan jokes in the video that Morgan should cover her ears, so the fundraising efforts would be "independent" of the campaign.
Sullivan said he never actually collected money for a billboard. Perhaps he was kidding. The report notes that an ASU student and some buddies had bought a pro-Morgan billboard prior to the rally but doesn't indicate whether this was disclosed as campaign spending or hidden under the various convenient fictions available for keeping campaign finance in the dark. If Morgan's patron saint, Donald Trump, is any guide, sometimes the outsiders promising to battle the swamp have a bit of the swampy stench themselves.

While anti-establishment outsiders might be more likely to be clumsy or amateurish enough to actually get caught, it's worth noting that mainstream candidates have a fully legal version of the scam that Sullivan and Morgan are accused of running.

There is nothing stopping a candidate from raising funds for an outside group, which then turns around and make an expenditure in favor of the candidate. Furthermore, if that outside group avoids certain magic words (like "vote for"), it can pass off its electioneering as "education" and is under no obligation to disclose where the money came from.

Consider the cozy relationship between Tom Cotton and Americans for Prosperity. In 2014, Cotton, then a candidate for U.S. Senate, and the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity both appeared at a donor gathering in 2014 sponsored by Charles and David Koch. Cotton told the donors: “Americans for Prosperity in Arkansas has played a critical role in turning our state from a one-party Democratic state …building the kind of constant engagement to get people in the state involved in their communities." Meanwhile, then AFP president Tim Phillips told the donors that Tom Cotton “is a champion.” AFP then spent millions in “issue speech” (advertisements and mailers that would appear to the average voter to be campaign ads) targeting the Arkansas Senate race, benefitting Cotton.

Neat trick! Because the Cotton campaign was careful to color within the law's lines, there was no ethics complaint filed, but such shenanigans have a stench worse than Sullivan's dopey remarks.

 

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Friday, April 20, 2018 - 16:42:00

No Small Talk, Ep. 14: Jasmine Blunt of "The Influence"

click to enlarge nosmalltalk.png

This week, we talk with Jasmine Blunt about her work on The Influence, touch base on a few pieces of news and festival lineups in the area and make some recommendations for the next couple of weekends in the Central Arkansas area.



First (1:25), a little arts and entertainment news:

The Rev Room is still going strong with shows from Hurray for the Riff Raff and Waxahatchee, Big Dam Horns, Keller Williams and Amasa Hines coming up, as well as a benefit for the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance this Sunday at 2 p.m., but the venue will close the restaurant portion of its business to make room for a new buyer. Sorry, taco lovers.

Heads up, nerds! Spa-Con, to take place Sept. 21-23 in downtown Hot Springs, announced the first of its special guests: Sean Maher, Arvell Jones and Nightengale Vixon. Stay tunes for more announcements from them.

The very first King Biscuit Blues Festival without Sonny Payne (1926-2018), longtime host of "King Biscuit Time" radio, announced its lineup, too. That's Oct. 3-6 on Cherry Street in downtown Helena, Arkansas.


The acclaimed and elaborate touring Broadway production of "The Lion King," designed by Julie Taymor (the same mastermind behind one of Omaya's favorite Shakespeare adaptations, "Titus"), opens this week at Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Also, the traveling Czech That Film Festival lands in Little Rock April 27-28, in partnership with the Arkansas Cinema Society.

Finally, we got word of a nonprofit working to revitalize public basketball courts as social hubs, The Blacktop Project. There's a Northwest Arkansas chapter soliciting designs for a court at Walker Park in Fayetteville. Neat!

click to enlarge 5ab7c47fd19f4368ffd75fe8.jpg
Next (16:54), we talk with Jasmine Blunt of The Influence radio, a self-described "full-service media company specializing in radio, events, and brand management for the aspiring artist, entrepreneur, and creative. Through innovative ideas, collaborative works, and supportive efforts; We strive to be a platform for the Arkansas creative youth and an outlet to ensure their craft, ideas, and dreams are no longer unnoticed."

Download The Influence Radio app on iTunes or your Android platform. It's all Arkansas-connected music, 24/7, and there's even a "song history" tab so you can see what you missed and chase those artists' music elsewhere.

Blunt talks about how she got started, what artistic and communication needs she was responding to when she and her team created The Influence, and we put her on the spot to name a few favorite artists.

Here's a sampling of a few [NSFW, depending on where you W] songs from Arkansas artists they played while we were writing this blog post:




At (27:49), Omaya gives a glimpse of the screenings coming up May 1-6 at the Bentonville Film Festival, our sponsor for this podcast.

click to enlarge bff.png

Finally, at (28:33), we make some recommendations:

Omaya fills us in on the Oxford American's "50 Years of True Grit" lineup this weekend, including screenings of both the 1969 and the 2010 film versions, as well as concerts, a variety show, lectures and a sweet afterparty at the White Water Tavern with Wussy and The Paranoid Style. 

Stephanie recommends you get tickets to hear poets Molly McCully Brown and Seth Pennington with musician John Burnette at Potluck and Poison Ivy next Thursday, April 26.

Jasmine recommends the "all Arkansas, all dopeness" on The Influence Radio app, available on iTunes and Android platforms.

And (31:36) The Move for the week: catch drag artist, LGBTQ advocate and cannabis activist Laganga Estranga at Club Sway this weekend. She does a killer "death drop" and a song called "Hot Box," and she's here to celebrate 4/20 weekend with the Club Sway contingent, hosted by the stars of the club's Fresh Fish All Stars competition.


 

Friday, April 20, 2018 - 13:50:00

Gallery guide: New shows, Argenta Art Walk

Tonight's the third Friday of the month, which means that you can see lots of art on and off Main Street in Argenta, which is holding its after-hours Art Walk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Read more about Art Walk and see collaborative art by Chris Swasta and Matthew Castellano here.

Also new in Arkansas galleries:

The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies (401 President Clinton Ave.) is has opened "Howard Simon: Art and Illustrations," a show of work by the woodcut artist who was for a time the husband of and illustrator for author Arkansas author Charlie May Simon.

Boswell Mourot Fine Art, 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd., opens an exhibition of new work by Arkansas artists Kellie Lehr and Elena Petroukhina tomorrow, April 21. There will be a reception for the artists from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Hearne Fine Art Gallery, 1001 Wright Ave., is showing "Then and Now," mixed media and illustration by Frank Morrison, in conjunction with the Arkansas Literary Festival. There will be an artist's reception for Morrison at 5:30 p.m. April 26.

M2 Gallery, 11525 Cantrell Road, is showing work by artists from Austin, Texas, in a show called "ATX2LR."

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville opens two shows tomorrow, April 21: "The Garden," about the intersection of art and nature, and "The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe and Contemporary Art," work by O'Keeffe and 20 other contemporary artists. One of the artists in "The Garden," Jessica Pezalla, has spent the week installing a large-scale paper floral work at Crystal Bridges.

The Historic Arkansas Museum (200 E. Third St.) has opened a show of photographic works by Esther Nooner, Kristoffer Johnson, Helen Maringer, Kaia Hodo and Grace Ann Odem called "The Medium is the Message: Experimental Photography in Arkansas."

UA Pulaski Tech's 10th annual "Student Art Competitive" goes on exhibit today in the Center for Arts and Humanities.

Up in Mountain View, John Kirkpatrick will give a demonstration of his woodworking skills from 10:30 am. to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, April 21, at the Arkansas Craft Gallery, 104 E. Main St.

The Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville is featuring work by the members of the artist's collaborative group The Fenix.




 

Friday, April 20, 2018 - 10:50:00

Guitarist Ed Gerhard's lyricism lands on spellbound ears at The Joint

click to enlarge mvimg_20180419_213553.jpg

Acoustic guitarist Ed Gerhard played for a full house at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse last night as part of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series. Essentially, once a month, fellow guitarist Steve Davison brings an acoustic guitarist of renown to the Argenta venue where he or she can be heard with minimal distraction in a small room that's acoustically outfitted for intense listening. I've been in the audience for formal classical recitals that were less hushed and still.

Gerhard's delivery is au naturale; he sits in a chair atop an elevated riser, surrounds himself with his guitar, his Weissenborn and a few accoutrements - a small mixer, an electronic tuner, a hot microphone and a nail file for mid-show maintenance of the long, acrylic-capped fingernails that double as picks on his right hand. He's too bereft of pretense to have a shtick, really, but if he has one, musically speaking, it's to take tunes like "The Water Is Wide" and render them in sweet, meterless phrases, stretching silences and giving shape to each line. He's consummately musical in his approach, landing on the next note in the phrase just a millisecond before the last one's done ringing, creating a seamless legato. He does not noodle. He does not make a habit of playing lots of notes in quick succession.

We caught the second half of his concert, in which he applied that lyricism to "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live," with a shout out to Ry Cooder for his version and a nod to fellow guitarist David Lindley for having done the piece before Gerhard could get around to it; a medley of The Beatles' 'If I Fell" and "In My Life" introduced as "a couple of old British ballads"; Gerhard's own "On a Pennsylvania Hill" and others. His stage patter is intimate and clever; he introduced his version of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" by admitting that though he was not especially religious, he was assuredly "sky-curious."

Appreciated: a fleeting reference to "Beavis and Butthead" that nobody in the audience seemed to get, his writerly description of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series as having created a "nice fire in a wet world," the way he floated his hands above the Weissenborn (an acoustic Hawaiian lap slide) as if he were charming notes out of a theremin. Unappreciated: his cheap shot at hip-hop, which went over swimmingly with the baby boomer contingent nonetheless. For me, too, I missed the bite and strum of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" when rendered by Gerhard (and I'd swear I heard the first two chords of Mitchell's "Amelia" before he started in; bait-and-switch!) Judging by the enthusiastic applause for "Both Sides Now," though, I was clearly in the minority.

Gerhard has the ear and the finesse to reach up and adjust a tuning peg mid-song, he can quote Leo Kottke ("The only thing you'll get from a tuner is an opinion") and ancient Chinese poetry in the same breath and he can do otherworldly things with six strings. If that sounds like your cup of tea, check out the rest of the year's lineup.

 

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Arkansas Reporter

Ballinger, King square off for Senate District 5

April 19, 2018
Ballinger, King square off for Senate District 5
The firebrand vs. the happy warrior /more/
 

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