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Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

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Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Dining Review

Head to Hoots

February 22, 2018
Head to Hoots
When traveling through Southeast Arkansas. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Q&A with Ashlie Atkinson

February 22, 2018
Q&A with Ashlie Atkinson
On 'Black Klansman,' calling the Hogs and the 'Jon Lovitz principle.'



Max Brantley

Meanwhile, back in Arkansas

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin got some glowing coverage in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for arranging an award from the national association of secretaries of state for the Little Rock Nine and their brave desegregation of Central High School 60 years ago. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Russian trump

Read the Russian indictments. It is a civic duty. Likewise, Donald Trump's tweets on the matter. /more/

Gene Lyons


Amid the shock and horror accompanying yet another mass shooting of schoolchildren in Florida, an anonymous White House official exhibited the sheer moral squalor of Trumpism. /more/

Movie Reviews

Wakanda for the win

February 22, 2018
for the win
'Black Panther' is thoroughly, joyously, unabashedly black. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Playing for seed

February 22, 2018
Paradoxically, the Arkansas basketball team has cratered at the worst possible time and seemingly is peaking at the perfect time. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 09:33:00

The gun debate: It's time to call the roll on suggestions for gun safety

click to enlarge WHAT TO DO? It's time to debate gun safety measures, perhaps parrticularly in states like Arkansas with high gun death rates. - VOX
  • Vox
  • WHAT TO DO? It's time to debate gun safety measures, perhaps parrticularly in states like Arkansas with high gun death rates.

The Florida school massacre has prompted a seismic reaction.

Revelations about missed opportunities to investigate the shooter and the lack of immediate response by an armed officer on campus are, of course, enormous stories.

The NRA lobby thinks law enforcement and community failures are somehow arguments against gun control. Clearly, they are arguments FOR further debate about the devices of killing and how they get and remain in the hands of dangerous people, too dangerous for even some law officers to wish to confront. A school teacher with all his or her duties is somehow going to be a better line of defense than a sworn law officer?

There is an easy place to begin. Let's start with research.

We could know so much more about public health issues surrounding guns. But the Dickey amendment prevents research by the Centers for Disease Control. Doctors are inhibited in asking about guns in homes The BATF can't distribute its data. All these limits are products of NRA lobbying against research. Research might produce safety measures sa auto research has done. But that might mean a reduction in gun sales.  Fewer people might have guns in homes if they were required to have liability insurance or faced meaningful criminal penalties for negligence in storage.

Congress should try again. Will any member of Congress from Arkansas vote to open the door to scientific research? The late Jay Dickey, a Republican from Pine Bluff who brought about the ban on CDC research, came to regret it before he died.

Florida legislators, including Republicans, are talking about raising the age on gun purchases to 21 among other measures. The NRA has stoutly resisted this. It's worth consideration, though I admit the contradiction in  barring the civilian purchase of firearms by people we are ready to dispatch to foreign wars with even more powerful weapons.

Can't we legislate an end to bumpstocks, which effectively create automatic weapons of mass slaughter? Yesterday?

Can't we end the gun show loophole on background checks and move to a universal system? Yesterday?

We make women wait days to get a legal medical procedure. Why not a waiting period for weapon purchases, particularly semi-automatic military-style weapons of little use on a hunt for anything but humans.

Even some conservatives, but not the NRA, favor red-flag laws that would allow a due process court procedure to take guns away from people who've demonstrated a real threat. Let's have that debate.

Oregon has extended the law on domestic abuse to cover non-spouses when gun rights are lost through convictions and prevent purchase by stalkers and those under domestic abuse orders. Let's do it. Rep. Clarke Tucker was rebuffed by the legislature in 2017 for his effort to take guns from those convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Tucker's bill got a whopping 31 votes in the 100-member House. Republican Rep. Bullet Bob Ballinger said it would just be wrong to take away a 2nd Amendment right for a "relatively minor encounter." Let's have that debate again. Do legislators really want to defend guns in the hands of proven domestic batterer?

Then the biggie. A ban on assault weapons. It worked in Australia. Sen. Marco Rubio — as easy to buy as an AR-15, cracked a Florida massacre survivor — has already enunciated the NRA's slippery slope argument. With what does it end? It wouldn't stop criminals. And so on. Let's debate it.

I think the old assurance that voting the NRA line is the safest course politically may be dramatically altered, at least in some states, beginning with swing-state Florida. Tell Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Jeremy Gillam, Jonathan Dismang and anybody else who claims to be a legislative leader to have these debates.

Then call the damn roll. Make a record of who puts guns above kids. And then let the people vote at the polls. The NRA wants to kill this idea in the crib, because they can read the national public opinion polls as well as I can.

And while we're at it, let's get a separate vote from the country's teachers on making them security guards along with everything else they are expected to do. Yes, talk about the cost of comprehensive school safety measures, too. I'd guess the costs would be a lot lower if the threats didn't include the country's oversupply of military-style weapons of mass killing.


Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 08:52:00

City to announce stopgap for loss of grocery in central Little Rock

click to enlarge CITY MARKET: Its closure has led to a stopgap weekly visit from a fresh produce seller.
  • CITY MARKET: Its closure has led to a stopgap weekly visit from a fresh produce seller.
The closure of City Market, a 12th Street grocery store, has left a food desert in a largely low-income neighborhood in the center city.

The city of Little Rock has announced a stopgap substitute, a mobile market that will sell fresh produce every Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the parking lot at 13th and Cedar Streets. At the beginning, cash only will be accepted but they hope to accept SNAP soon.

The Fresh2You Mobile Market stop at 13th and Cedar is a product of that group's work with the city of Little Rock, Vine and Village, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and Mosaic Church. Representatives of all of them will talk about the effort at a news conference Sunday at Mosaic Church at Col. Glenn and University.

Fresh2You begin operating in a refitted bus August 2016 with the goal of bringing fresh produce to different parts of Little Rock and North Little Rock. More info at its Facebook page.
click to enlarge ON THE BUS: Fresh2You has fruits and vegetables.
  • ON THE BUS: Fresh2You has fruits and vegetables.


Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 08:33:00

Hearing set on voter ID law challenge; Mark Martin defends law

click to enlarge MARK MARTIN: Defends new voter ID law.
  • MARK MARTIN: Defends new voter ID law.
Circuit Judge Alice Gray has set a hearing March 12 on a lawsuit that asks that she enjoin use of the state's new voter ID law in the May primary elections.

A public interest lawsuit with Barry Haas as plaintiff and Jeff Priebe his attorney argues that the new law remains unconstitutional, as the Arkansas Supreme Court held in a 2014 case advanced by Priebe on a previous version of the law requiring a photo ID to vote. The 2017 legislature tinkered with the language to make the law change appear to apply to voter registration procedures, which are covered in a separate part of the Constitution, but the lawsuit argues that the law still presents a new obstacle to voting, which the Constitution prohibits.

The membership of the Arkansas Supreme Court has changed dramatically since the last ruling, however.

Last week, Secretary of State Mark Martin, a defendant in the case filed his response to the lawsuit. Her rests his response on a three-judge concurring opinion written in the earlier case by justices remaining on the court, Courtney Goodson, Karen Baker and Josephine Hart. They didn't reach the constitutional question of whether the law was a new bar to voting, but merely said the law had failed to achieve the required super-majority vote to amend the Constitution. This law did get the required vote, he noted. And he argues it is about a system of registration, not about voting. He argues, effectively, that Amendment 51 on registration procedure overrides the Constitution's original statement that only age, residency, citizenship and voter registration are the only standards to vote. The four justices who ruled substantively — Jim Hannah, Paul Danielson, Cliff Hoofman and Donald Corbin — are no longer on the court. They' been replaced by Chief Justice Dan Kemp and Justices Robin Wynne, Rhonda Wood and Shawn Womack. Womack is a former Republican senator whose party has long supported voter ID laws as a means to suppress minority votes. Rhonda Wood campaigned for office with backing of former Republican Mike Huckabee and campaigned heavily at Republican county committee meetings. The current court also has already demonstrated it is willing to overturn precedent, as in the recent sovereign immunity ruling. Voter ID laws are pushed as a means to prohibit voter ID fraud, a happenstance that is virtually unheard of according to numerous studies. Proof of identity is required to register to vote and the signature on registration is checked at polls on voting day. Voters may also be asked to show an ID, but are not required to produce it. Poll workers with doubts may require a voter to cast a provisional ballot.

Note in passing: Martin's answer indicates his webpage on voting requirements was out of date until this suit was filed. He provided an updated version to respond to the page used in the lawsuit. Martin argued the plaintiff had shown no potential for harm if the new ID rule is used (the case will argue that eligible voters have been denied the ballot because of the rule in the past) and said there will be harm to the election process if the law is enjoined "in the middle of an election." The hearing is set before early voting begins May 1.

Here's Martin's reply to the lawsuit.


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Friday, February 23, 2018 - 16:40:00

No Small Talk Ep 7: Musicians Showcase, Follow the Woolf

click to enlarge no_small_talk_1.png
Last night, before the final round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, we chatted with Sarah Woolf, one of this year's judges and the purveyor of "Follow the Woolf."

The Youtube channel continues Woolf's chronicling of the Little Rock music scene. It began when she started posting on social media the shows she planned to see on any given night — easier than having to communicate to the many people requesting, "Where are you going tonight?"

Some links to follow along this week's episode of "No Small Talk":

*Here's a recap of Round 4 of the Musicians Showcase.

*No Depression's write up of Mark Currey

*Big Piph's "Celebrate" and his album "Live from SoMa"

*We mention, a few times, The Wildflower Revue

*Some underappreciated venues: 109 & Co., Gigi's Cafe in Maumelle, Hawg's on JFK, the Undercroft (in the basement of Christ Church Episcopal), South on Main (on Wednesday, curated by local artists).

*Bonnie Montgomery's new album "Forever"

*The Fulcrum Festival, which Woolf recommends

*Incredible gardening tips from Stephanie: follow the Instagram garden_plant_lover for beautiful inspiration, use the Year­ Round Home Garden Planting Chart to put that inspiration into action

*And the To-Do list is, as the kids say, on point. Tons of stuff is going on this weekend. The Move, though, is to go see "The Planets." Space music!



Friday, February 23, 2018 - 10:39:00

Recognizer wins round three of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

click to enlarge Recognizer - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Recognizer

And Round 4 of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musician's Showcase goes to: Recognizer!

They'll join The Rios, Couch Jackets and Sabine Valley at the finals at The Rev Room on Friday, March 9.

The winner of that final round receives: cold hard cash, an in-studio showcase at Capitol View Studio, a live spot at Patio on Park Hill 2018, live spot at the Arkansas State Fair Bud Light Pavilion, a live spot at Musicfest El Dorado, a live spot at a reinvented Riverfest, a live spot at Low Key Arts' Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs, a Thursday Night Live performance at Griffin Restaurant in El Dorado, eight hours of artist development at The Hive Studio, a PRS SE 245 Standard 22 Electric Guitar from Sunrise Guitars and more.

Here's a rundown of last night's show with comments from our four judges; Sarah Woolf of the "Follow the Woolf" series; Robert Locke of Shindig Music; J. Bradley Minnick of KUAR's "Arts & Letters"; Mike Poe, Little Rock filmmaker and director of the documentary film "TC and Me, a Little Rock-umentary," the story of the late, legendary rocker TC Edwards; and Christopher Terry, host of "Tomorrow's Dream" on KABF FM 88.3, events coordinator at Vino's Brewpub and glass-shattering vocalist of Rwake, Deadbird and Iron Tongue.

And check out the slideshow from our photographer Brian Chilson, who was on the floor to catch the evening's performances.


Judge's Comments:

"Down a man and just kept rockin."

"I love the twin guitar leads. Very Maiden."

"Badass performance! Incredibly impressed with the bass player/drummer overcoming the adverse [car] accident and still having such an incredibly full sound."

"Bass player moved to drums just for the show! And the original drummer has staples in his head. Metal!"

"The lead vocalist has a phenomenal range and is one helluva shredder too."

The Inner Party

Judge's Comments:

"Great band. Sounds like an old 4AD label band."

"Felt like that scene from 'Pretty in Pink' when they're at the freaky New Wave club. Nice job."

"Like the name suggests, the band seems like they're a part of an Inner Party only they know about."

"Like no other band in the showcase."

"And then they bust out a saxophone."

"I think this band keeps the 'mesh' loose but doesn't have very many weak spots in the chain mail."

"Wildly diverse riffs, and the vocals make it hard to label the sound which is a plus in the music world."


Judge's Comments:

'Even if you don't know the song. it feels familiar. Like your dad used to rock it in the Dodge Dart."

"They are insanely talented and play their instruments like extra limbs attached to their bodies."

"Roll down the windows and turn this up."


"DeFrance has that soulful southern blues-rock sound that clearly gives Creedence to their muddy Ark. waters background."

"Amazing guitars and they are tight as fuck! Put them on tour with ZZ Top fast!"


Judge's Comments:

"Pro. Seasoned. Completely dialed in."

"Fantastic band. Win or lose, they're gonna do just fine."

'With a voice like Mike's, it is hard to listen to the newest incarnation of his sound/band without the nostalgia of the previous amazing bands he led, but he consistently steps to the microphone with another brilliant creation....."

'These dudes are tight as 80s Spandex worn three days in a row. I bet they have, like, four practices a week."


Friday, February 16, 2018 - 16:26:00

No Small Talk Ep. 6: Point Break and even more Musicians Showcase

click to enlarge no_small_talk_1.png
This week's "No Small Talk" features continuing coverage of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase plus a preview of "Point Break," the next movie in our film series at Riverdale.

As always, we've got the links you need to follow along:

*Here's the most recent Musicians Showcase update on Round 3

*You can grab more information from our To-Do List about the Arkansas Times Film Series screening of "Point Break." (Or grab tickets on Riverdale's site.) The To-Do List also has the information you need on what to do this week — including Stephanie's move for the weekend, a reading with Molly McCully Brown.

*The Riverdale film series that's going on throughout 2018 is online here; it includes "The Room," "Blazing Saddles," "Clockwork Orange."

*Dig into light pollution info, courtesy of Omaya's recommendation.

*Listen to "A Very Fatal Murder"

*And you must, if on Android, follow in Stephanie's footsteps with the live earth background.

Happy weekend!


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