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Dining Review

Right at the corner

September 21, 2017
Right at the corner
The Restaurant at the Market dishes up date-night deliciousness. /more/

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A&E Feature

ACANSA preview

September 21, 2017
ACANSA preview
Art you can experience. /more/


Ernest Dumas

Bad health care bill, again

Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators. /more/

Gene Lyons

Sex on campus

Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated. /more/

Pearls About Swine

SEC hope?

September 21, 2017
There's precedent for the Hogs rebounding from a September misstep or two. /more/

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Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 22, 2017 - 12:04:00

60th opens with panel of Little Rock Nine

click to enlarge EIGHT OF THE NINE: At Clinton School. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • EIGHT OF THE NINE: At Clinton School.

Eight members of the Little Rock Nine, lacking the late Jefferson Thomas, gathered for a panel discussion at the Clinton School for Public Service this morning to open a weekend of activities marking the 60th anniversary of their desegregation of Central High School.

They are, from left, Thelma Mothershed Wair, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford and Melba Pattillo Beals.

The session will be archived at the Clinton school for viewing.

Ernest Green
commented, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., as saying the Little Rock Nine's actions benefitted white people, too. It's given the community an answer to the segregationists' resistance.

The discussion was eloquent, notably when Terrence Roberts said he wished there weren't a reason to have such an event. But there was. He said he needed no education as a young person in Arkansas to know segregation was wrong. "It was illegal, immoral and unconscionable and yet there it was." He added " .... in the continuing red state of Arkansas."

Elizabeth Eckford, who lives in Little Rock, said she lives in the "ghetto" and can go places younger relatives cannot go, perhaps she joked because she holds her canes as if she's prepared to hit someone. She remarked that photographs can sometimes be misleading. A reference maybe to the famous photograph of her harassment on the first day of school.? Get accounts from several witnesses about historical events, she counseled. People don't intentionally lie, she said, but what they say is sometimes influenced by "whatever mythology they grew up with."

Asked about challenges, Eckford talked of education and financing of schools. "Are the poor entitled to the same kind of education as the elite have and, if so, how do you finance it?"

Education is not the only index, Ernest Green said. You have to pay attention to employment and housing, among others. When he grew up, "Arkansas was a place you left," Green said. Now is an opportunity to retain talent. "Let's look beyond schools and look at some of these other institutions that are important for change."

Minnijean Trickey
said the country suffers from what she calls "profound intentional ignorance." in topics such as climate change, war and violence. "We have to stop being so goddam ignorant," she said.

Several thanked local supporters across the cultural spectrum.


Friday, September 22, 2017 - 10:52:00

Martha Shoffner, nearing completion of term, back in Arkansas

click to enlarge MARTHA SHOFFNER: Nearing end of prison term. - BRIAN CHILSON FILE PHOTO
  • Brian Chilson file photo
  • MARTHA SHOFFNER: Nearing end of prison term.
Martha Shoffner, who reported to federal prison Nov. 3, 2015 for a 30-month sentence for taking bribes in return for state bond business when she was state treasurer, is nearing the end of her sentence and is now in a halfway house to transition back to private life.

Shoffner, 73, had been held at a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth. The federal website for prisoners indicates she's now in care of the federal re-entry management agency, but for privacy reasons, it will not reveal the specific location. However, I've learned she returned to Little Rock early this month for residency in a halfway house here. She'll complete her sentence there and then be released Jan. 1. She'll likely live with her sister. She will continue on supervised release for two years. Federal prisoners can get at least a 15 percent sentence reduction for time served without incident, which explains how she will be released after 26 months of a 30-month sentence.

Her sentence included an order that she repay more than $31,000 she received from a bond dealer, Steele Stephens (who wasn't charged after wearing a wire to help catch Shoffner) but her lack of financial resources qualified her for a publicly paid lawyer. In pleading for leniency in sentencing, her attorney, Chuck Banks, said Shoffner was broke and disgraced. She apologized for her actions.

Incidentally, Steven Jones , the former state legislator and DHS official who went to prison in the bribery case involving Ted Suhl and his behavioral health agencies, is also under supervision of the re-entry management agency with a Dec. 27 release date. I'd heard recently from someone who thought they'd seen Jones in Little Rock. Those in halfway houses can go to work and other duties during the day and return to halfway houses at night. He was sentenced to 30 months in 2016.


Friday, September 22, 2017 - 10:36:00

Police release details on officer shooting Wednesday night

click to enlarge OFFICERS IN SHOOTING: Farley (lefrt) and Lichti.
  • OFFICERS IN SHOOTING: Farley (lefrt) and Lichti.
The Little Rock police this morning provided more details on officers' shooting of a criminal suspect Wednesday night in Southwest Little Rock, including the name of the unarmed man who was wounded and the officers who encountered him in what they said was a shooting stance.

Police were called shortly after midnight to 5201 Geyer Springs Road on an "unknown trouble" call. The release continues:

Officers were advised that there was a female inside an apartment and she was bleeding. Upon arrival officers located the victim behind apartment 1057. She was identified as Alexandria Goforth who lives at the apartment. Goforth told officers that Jeromy Henderson had entered her apartment through the kitchen window. Once inside he struck her with a board and cut her with a knife on her neck and stomach. She also told officers that he assaulted her with a broken table leg. Officers could see blood in the apartment and the weapons that Goforth had described. She was taken to a local hospital for  treatment.

While officers were on the scene continuing their investigation, they were advised by people at the apartment complex that there were several people involved in the incident who were still in the area. One of these individuals was detained as information was developed that he had been a “look out” when the incident occurred.

Officers were then approached by another individual who told them that the suspect in theattack was hiding behind a church across the street from the complex. Sergeant Zachary Farley and Officer Stephen Lichti responded to the church at 6004 W. 53rd Street. They located Henderson on the north side of the building, hiding behind some wooden pallets. As the officers approached the church, Henderson emerged quickly with his arms extended out as if he had a weapon.

The officers could see a dark colored object in his hands. Both officers immediately fired their service weapons, striking Henderson multiple times. He fell to the ground and was
taken into custody. A cell phone was recovered near him, however, no weapon was located.

Officers called for an ambulance and Henderson was transported to UAMS for treatment.

Little Rock homicide detectives responded to investigate the officer involved shooting. It was initially reported that the victim had been sexually assaulted, however after interviews wereconducted it was determined that a sexual assault did not occur.

The investigation revealed that Goforth allowed Henderson stay at her residence, however, they were not in a relationship. Henderson had been asked to leave the residence the previous
day by management of the apartment complex.

The individual who was detained was interviewed by detectives and released without any charges, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Jeromy Henderson, B/M, 06/28/1995, of North Little Rock is currently in critical but stable condition at UAMS. He is expected to survive his injuries. Felony charges are pending upon his release from the hospital.

Sergeant Zachary Farley was hired as a Little Rock Police officer on February 19, 2001 and Officer Stephen Lichti was hired as a Little Rock Police officer on February 9, 2002.

Sergeant Farley and Officer Lichti have both been placed on administrative leave. The investigation is ongoing
On-line court records indicate a Jeromy Henderson with the same birthdate has a past record for breaking and entering and theft charges.


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Friday, September 22, 2017 - 09:43:00

Review: The Secret Sisters at South on Main

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
In an 1988 essay published by The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America titled "Intonation precision of choir singers," results from "two experimental investigations on the acoustics of choirs" are revealed. "The second investigation," the essay reads, "concerns the effect of spectral variations in the reference sound." Put super simply, the study investigated the way a choir's agreement on things like vowel formation impacted how often that choir sang at a desirable, unified frequency. Changes in vowel quality, it said, "and absence/presence of certain partials and of vibrato, were all found to affect somewhat the degree of fundamental frequency agreement between singers." Deviation between singers in the studied live rehearsals ranged from "0.10 and 0.15 semitones, or 0.6% and 0.9%."

The science and mystery of aligned vowels and semitones was on full display at the Secret Sisters concert last night. And the thing is, with the way those shared-DNA harmonies washed over the room last night, you'd bet the two were nearly vocally identical. As listeners will attest, though, the two voices are quite different. Lydia Rogers' is warm and smoky with a thrilling upper register. Laura Rogers' is pure, crystalline, theatrical.

The night was all wide fifths and aching minor thirds the likes of which would have made the Everly Brothers proud, paired with softshoe melodies that wielded dark bits and daggers. Laura's and Lydia's are two acoustically sympathetic voices, voices that vibrate on the same frequency, filling in the gaps between resonances over the course of big, arching phrases, their breaths occurring in startlingly precise unison. They wove through murder ballads, a scant few covers ("Make the World Go Away") and odes to an unnamed but specific ex-lover. With their sharp rhythm section (a pair of siblings as well, Cheyenne and Will Medders), the Rogers sisters seemed on a mission to prove that a recent lawsuit and dip into bankruptcy are not only in the rearview mirror (See their 2017 release's title track "You Don't Own Me Anymore"), but that the downturn emboldened them to self-realize through their music — to cement their own identities as well as their stage personas. Or are those one and the same?


Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 13:51:00

Matt Damon to portray LR charlatan famed for goat testicle implants

click to enlarge Brinkley
  • Brinkley
John Romulus Brinkley is one of Arkansas's greatest frauds, famed for his claim, fatal for some, that surgery to implant goat glands into testicles would restore virility. An early 20th century resident of  Vilonia (briefly, with one of his two wives), Brinkley amassed a fortune at his clinic in Texas. He moved to Little Rock after he met with competition from a cheaper quack.

Thanks to the upcoming movie "Charlatan," we might get to see Matt Damon handling goat gonads, reports. The movie is based on Pope Brock's "Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the 
click to enlarge Damon
  • Damon
Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam," which sounds like it  could be a contemporary account of American politics. The adaptation for is being written from "Ocean's Thirteen" writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien. says there's no director on board.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 10:34:00

Janet Jackson at Verizon Arena: A Review

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson

More than 23 years ago, I took a group of teenage girls from the Fort Smith Girls Club to see Janet Jackson in Kansas City. These girls had worked all summer to earn the trip: busting their tails racking up hours in everything from career development to fundraising to health and sexuality and, as a result, got to go see one of their — and my — idols. Of course, reality never lives up to the dream, right? So when we arrived at the Sandstone Amphitheater, it just made sense that the view from our lawn seats (the best the nonprofit Girls Club could afford) made the stage appear about the size of a postage stamp. Young, optimistic me was dissatisfied, unable to accept the reality that was. Then I saw a short man with a newsboy cap on backward and a lanyard around his neck.

So, I did what any sensible, safety-minded 20-year-old would do, and went up to the guy and started yammering on about how I was from Fort Smith, Ark., and had brought a dozen young teenagers to see Janet, and talked about how they’d worked all summer, and how one of them hadn’t ever even been on an escalator before this trip, and BLAHBLAHBLAH until he stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Can you get your group up on the hill by the bathroom in 15 minutes?” I practically screamed “YES!” and ran off to gather the brood. Somehow, I convinced my supervisor this was a great idea, and soon we had vacated our prime seats on the lawn (which we had claimed before the crowds began to gather in earnest) and voyaged to the bathroom where Lanyard Man was waiting. All was riding on this moment; if we had to return to the lawn, we would be relegated to the very back, where the aforementioned postage stamp would be considered a wide-screen TV.

It all worked out, of course. Lanyard Man gave us 20 second-row seats. I got him to sign my program. I shook his hand. Turned out he was Rene Elizondo, secret husband of Janet (at the time) and the man who held her breasts on the front of a very famous Rolling Stone cover. Let me break that down for you folks: I am one degree of separation away from Janet’s right boob (and therefore two degrees from Justin Timberlake’s right hand). But I digress. The concert was amazing. MC Lyte opened and we all screamed “Hey! Gotta what? Yo! Gotta get a ruffneck!” We marveled when Janet came onstage, so tiny, and danced and sang and held the crowd in the palm of her hand.

So, she had some big shoes to fill (albeit her own) when I went to see her Saturday night, almost two and a half decades later. And I had some high hopes upon arrival, where the opening DJ spun tunes from old-school Prince to modern Missy Elliott to Bell Biv DeVoe’s classic “Poison” (at which point the audience rose as one and began dancing with abandon). The stage was set for a good time, with show-goers wearing everything from leather bustiers and sequin pants to top hats banded with mirrors and tails emblazoned with “Janet 2017” in rhinestones.

Minutes before Janet took the stage, three stage-to-ceiling banners lit up with a stark video condemning domestic terrorism, fascism and white supremacy, the audio track declaring, “No human being is superior to any other on the face of this earth.” Electricity flowed through the crowd (6,304 in attendance). And Janet, dressed in a black asymmetrical waistcoat and leaning on a fashionable cane, appeared on the scene, fully bathed in spotlight. The bass line thumped from the floor, up through my shoes, into my gut. I knew she was small, 5’4” to be exact, but her presence was large, and I felt 20 again.

Until she began to “sing.” She had a large headset mic on that covered most of her mouth, so I wasn’t sure at first. But, in the first of a line of bad decisions, the show had large high-def screens on each side of the stage, from which it was plainly (and painfully) evident that Miss Jackson was not, indeed, singing live. And I have to call her Miss Jackson because, unfortunately, I’m going to be nasty.

The lip sync wasn’t great. It wasn’t anywhere near great. I’m pretty sure I knew more of the words to her songs than she did. Her dancing abilities had clearly diminished, as they naturally would over two decades, especially with her having had her first child within the last year. I mean, she's 50. And has a newborn. I get it, but it's like they're grasping at recreating 20-year-old Janet instead of focusing on what makes 50-year-old Janet amazing, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terribly disappointed. My date for the evening, a girlfriend of mine who, though was not of the group who went to see Janet the first time, was still a member of the Girls Club during said time, just wished she’d, “Take her hair down, put on some comfortable clothes, sit down, and just sing.” And for a hot minute there, we thought that wish was going to come true.

Janet came out (after a notably long absence while an instrumental interlude of “Again” played) in black and red track pants, a denim jacket, a checked flannel shirt tied around her waist (backward, for some reason), her hair tied up and a hoop earring with key dangling (hello, nostalgia!). She had a hand-held mic in addition to her headset, and she sat down on a stool, as if ready to get real. But did she? I couldn’t tell by watching from afar, and I was unconvinced by what I saw on screen. And by the time things took a turn for the better — when she pulled out some of her newer stuff and let the dancers do the dancing — it was just too little, too late.

Look, I’ve seen other reviews of this tour. I know I’m in the minority with my distaste for Janet’s return. And I might have been more forgiving, had the choreography been strong enough to mandate lip syncing. Instead, I thought, I could probably get a better version of lip syncing-Janet at just about any drag show, and that acts driven by a sense of nostalgia almost always look better in the rear view mirror.


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