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Eat Arkansas

Zangna Thai Cuisine in Little Rock

A mostly positive experience.

Nexus Coffee and Creative opens Saturday

Nexus Coffee and Creative, 301B President Clinton Ave., will open at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 15, becoming the third new downtown coffee house to open in as many months this year.

Viva Vegan Pop-up at The Green Corner Store

Vegan pop-up draws strong crowd.

Dining Review

Ready for Freddy's

July 20, 2017
Ready for Freddy's
Smashing burgers, shoestring fries. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

The edge of night

July 20, 2017
The edge of night
Next month's solar eclipse won't be total in Arkansas, but it still will be a spectacle to behold. /more/

To-Do List

Bob Schneider at Rev Room

July 20, 2017
Bob Schneider at Rev Room
Also, PopUp Argenta, Frances & The Foundation, "97" fiber installation at Bernice Garden, Jim Gaffigan, "Be Yourself" Poster Launch and more /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Football for UA Little Rock

Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college. /more/

Ernest Dumas

The ACA can be fixed

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened his 51 disciples in the Senate and his party with /more/

Gene Lyons

Turn to baseball

When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself. /more/

Movie Reviews

Live and let die

July 20, 2017
Live and let die
'Apes' reboot is satisfying, if not daring. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Five big questions for Arkansas football

July 20, 2017
Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions? /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

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 14:57:00

Another week done


The Friday line is open. From the White House to the Ole Miss outhouse in the news roundup today.

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Friday, July 21, 2017 - 14:39:00

Jarod Varner resigning as head of Rock Region Metro

click to enlarge JAROD VARNER: Departing bus company.
  • JAROD VARNER: Departing bus company.
Jarod Varner, executive director of Rock Region Metro, the local bus/streetcar organization, is resigning effective Aug. 18 to take a regional vice president's job with a national transportation firm.

He'll continue to live in North Little Rock as a regional vice president for Cincinnati-based First Transit. It works in several southern states, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama. The company, a subsidiary of a global firm based in the United Kingdom, has clients in among others, Hot Springs, El Paso and Memphis.

Varner has been a strong advocate for a greater role for transit in the community and notably spoke out strongly for more consideration of transit in recent freeway expansion planning in the city as the lone vote on the Metroplan board against the 30 Crossing expansion project as envisioned.  He had one great disappointment in his tenure, the election defeat of a dedicated tax for the transit operation, now dependent on appropriations from local governments, the largest contributor being the city of Little Rock.

But the organization advanced, with new equipment (including the move to a gas-powered fleet), new systems to track bus arrivals with phone apps, better signage and a variety of promotional efforts.

"We made a lot of progress in four years," he said. He said he planned to continue to be an advocate for greater support of transit in the Little Rock area. "Central Arkansas deserves it." He said the new job was a "great opportunity" to have a "broader based impact in the industry."

The board of Rock Region Metro, formerly known as Central Arkansas Transit, will decide soon on an interim leader and the process for choosing a new director.

Varner, 36, is a Texas native who's worked a dozen years in transit after education at Harding and North Texas State.

Here's the full Rock Region release. Not a bad list of accomplishments for a dynamic director.

 

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 14:37:00

Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes White House press secretary

click to enlarge NEW HANDS: Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, announces that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would succeed Sean Spicer as press secretary.
  • NEW HANDS: Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, announces that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would succeed Sean Spicer as press secretary.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is the new White House press secretary.

It was announced this afternoon following news of Sean Spicer's resignation, reportedly over his unhappiness over Donald Trump's choice of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.

It's a hot seat. Sanders seems to have been better liked by the press corps than Spicer, though she's had plenty of sharp interchanges as deputy, recently in briefings in which recordings haven't been allowed. She was unveiled on camera today. The problem is more the boss than the staff in most cases in the White House.

Sanders had some supporting roles as a character in "Saturday Night Live's" depiction of the Trump White House. It remains to be seen if there's a player ready to do for her what Melissa McCarthy did in her portrayal of Spicer.

 

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Rock Candy

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 14:29:00

Fayetteville, Fenix and art-making on Saturday

click to enlarge Gelatin print by Leilani Law
  • Gelatin print by Leilani Law
If you're in Fayetteville this weekend, you can drop in on several workshops being held by the Fenix Fayetteville artists' cooperative at the Walker-Stone House, 207 W. Center St. downtown.

There will be eight art stations, where you can watch artists work and then take part in making gelatin prints, sketch books and paper houses.

Participating artists and what they'll be working in include David Bachman (painting), Mary Collins (collage), Laurie Foster (mixed media), MM Kent (painting), Leilani Law (gelatin printing), Octavio Logo (bookbinding, sketchbooks), Sabine Schmidt (paper houses) and Steven Schneider (painting).

The free event is in conjunction with the Fenix & Friends Summer Art Exhibition at Walker-Stone House through Aug. 5.

 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 15:52:00

UALR artist Mia Hall is off to Penland: UPDATE

click to enlarge Mia Hall with her daughter, Fiona, beside Hall's 2016 Delta Exhibition piece, "Concrete Still Life." - UA LITTLE ROCK
  • UA Little Rock
  • Mia Hall with her daughter, Fiona, beside Hall's 2016 Delta Exhibition piece, "Concrete Still Life."

The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina has announced the hiring of Mia Hall, of the Department of Art and Design at UA Little Rock, as its new director.

Hall, who has served on the UALR faculty for 10 years and is interim department chair, is known locally for her sculptural work in exhibitions at the Arkansas Arts Center, UALR and Wildwood Park for the Arts, as well as in the Bernice Garden. She's also shown in the 108 Contemporary in Tulsa, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, N.C., and has work in private and public collections. She'll begin her job at Penland Jan. 1.

Hall is married to metalworker David Clemons, who teaches at Penland and is an artist-in-residence at UALR. I've sent an email to Hall to see if Little Rock is losing Clemons as well. The couple has a 10-year-old daughter, Fiona.

UPDATE: Yes, Little Rock will lose Clemons, too, at the end of the next academic year. He will then work on his art full time.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 14:32:00

Riverfest calls it quits

click to enlarge THE FESTIVAL BUSINESS IS HARD: Rain dampened the crowds this year. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • THE FESTIVAL BUSINESS IS HARD: Rain dampened the crowds this year.
The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. At its height, the festival drew 250,000 people to Riverfront Park in Little Rock, but this year's rain-soaked festival lost almost $300,000. A press release, published in full below, blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.

"The industry has just changed," DeAnna Korte, the nonprofit festival's longtime executive director, said. When Snoop Dogg headlined the festival in 2012, his rate was $75,000, Korte said. In advance of this year's festival, the rapper wanted upward of $300,000. Riverfest's budget this year for some 30 bands was $850,000. Streaming music's massive cut into album sales' revenue contributed to skyrocketing performer costs, Korte said.

The vast majority of Riverfest's $2.6 million budget was dependent on the event itself. Other than sponsorships, all revenue came from ticket sales and a percentage of sales of food and beer. That made it especially vulnerable to weather. Korte said that, traditionally, 85 to 90 percent of the festival's tickets were sold the week of the event. A bad forecast and rain that didn't let up until Saturday evening spelled doom for the music event this year.

Korte said she expected people to question the festival's decision to move from Memorial Day weekend to early June and to move away from nostalgia acts. That transition came in 2016, following a $200,000 loss in 2015 and significant losses the four previous years. In 2016, Riverfest spun-off the family-friendly Springfest and made Riverfest a music-only event with a lineup that included Chris Stapleton, Juicy J, Grace Potter and The Flaming Lips — at an increased ticket price.

Riverfest broke even in 2016. "We felt like the changes we made were heading in the right direction," Korte said. Advance tickets were selling better than last year's before the bad weather forecast came out, Korte said.

"It was too important to even risk another year and get halfway into it and have something happen and not be able to pay our bills," Korte said. A number of festivals have gone bankrupt around the country, leaving vendors in the lurch, she said.  

"We were never in this to make money," Korte said. "We wanted to give back. It was more about the economics of getting people downtown. People forget that."

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