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Eat Arkansas

kBird: Little Rock's gem of a Thai place

kBird feels like your friend's house in college, but with way better food.

Ceci's Chicken and Waffles relocates to Conway

Slightly odd ordering system aside, Ceci's serves mouth-watering food you'll want a regular date with

Sashimi offered good service but mediocre dishes

While there was nothing terribly wrong with this experience, there wasn't anything truly great, either.

Dining Review

Cheers!

June 22, 2017
Cheers!
A different approach to the Heights stalwart. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Hard edges

June 22, 2017
Hard edges
The 59th Delta provokes thoughts about why we love our unnatural lawns, and what is real, anyway? /more/

To-Do List

Joo Won Kang at Wildwood

June 21, 2017
Joo Won Kang at Wildwood
Also, Esme Patterson, Little Rock Vegan Festival, Crystal Mercer, Ben Lee, Opera in the Ozarks, Sammy Kershaw and more /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

A tax for NLR

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith pitched me this week on a city sales tax increase. If still a resident, I'd be favorably inclined. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Obamascare

Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments. /more/

Gene Lyons

Megyn vs. Alex

As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud. /more/

Movie Reviews

Vroom (again)

June 22, 2017
Vroom (again)
Pixar's 'Cars 3' gets a few things right. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Summer hopes

June 22, 2017
Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere. /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, June 23, 2017 - 10:45:00

Equality watch: Arkansas birth certificate case still hanging

NAMESAKE: Marissa Pavan is one of the parents named in a case seeking equality in the issuance of Arkansas birth certificates. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • NAMESAKE: Marissa Pavan is one of the parents named in a case seeking equality in the issuance of Arkansas birth certificates.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued opinions today, but still no word on whether it will accept for review Pavan v. Nathaniel Smith, the challenge to the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that allows the state to discriminate against same-sex married couples in issuance of marriage licenses.

Opposite-sex married couples are automatically presumed parents when birth certificates are issued. Only the biological parent may be listed without further court orders on birth certificates of same-sex married couples. The controlling opinion by Justice Jo Hart offered the laughable justification that the decision was rooted in biology, despite the fact that many opposite sex couples have children who are not the biological offspring of both parents.

I asked the lead counsel for the Arkansas plaintiffs about the continuing delay.  The case has been distributed for Supreme Court conference six times, most recently Thursday. The Supreme Court has requested the full record of the case. But yet it holds over, while dozens of other review petitions have been denied. The Court finishes its work this term on Monday.

This is the response I got from Douglas H. Hallward-Driemeier of Washington:

We are not at all surprised that the Supreme Court is looking at our petition for certiorari in this case very carefully. The Court requested the record from the Arkansas courts and has undoubtedly been reviewing that along with the parties’ submissions. We are hopeful that the Court will announce on Monday either that it is taking review of the case for next Term or possibly summarily reversing the ruling of the Arkansas Supreme Court as clearly inconsistent with what the U.S. Supreme Court already decided in Obergefell, which required all states to extend the rights and benefits of marriage equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. One of the Tennessee couples we represented in Obergefell presented precisely the same circumstances as the plaintiffs in Pavan, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their claim.
In this dreary world, a summary reversal of legalized discrimination by the Arkansas Supreme Court would be good news indeed.

PS: The lead plaintiffs in this case, Terrah and Marissa Pavan, DID get a proper birth certificate for their child thanks to a circuit court order, but Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed and shut it down for other couples soon after.

Here's the petition for review.

 

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:20:00

Lend me your ears: 'Julius Caesar' opens at UCA tonight

click to enlarge 68dfe6076749208d3966afef65d9437a_750x600.jpg
Get your tickets. The Arkansas Shakespeare Theater is staging the suddenly even-more-famous-than-ever "Julius Caesar" beginning tonight at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall and running through July 9. Info here.

This presentation will "reimagine" Caesar,  though not as recently done so controversially by the Public Theater of New York with its Trumpian Caesar.

Here in Arkansas:

The historical events are reimagined as taking place in a world not unlike our own, with women taking on leading roles in the conspiracy to overthrow a beloved but possibly corrupt leader. Will their desperate action save or destroy the Republic they claim to want to protect? This production has a PG-13 rating.
Will the women wear pink pussy hats?

But I shouldn't make jokes. Theaters around the country have reported abuse and threats for staging "Julius Caesar." Nuance — not to mention reading — are not hallmarks of Donald Trump or many of his followers.

 

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:07:00

James Bowden plea bargains for life sentence in slaying of Deputy Kevin Mainhart, two others

JAMES BOWDEN: Pleads guilty to three slayings.
  • JAMES BOWDEN: Pleads guilty to three slayings.
James Bowden, 42, pleaded guilty today to the May 11 slaying of Yell County sheriff's Lt. Kevin Mainhart and Rita Miller, 61, and Ciera Miller, 17, and was sentenced in a negotiated deal to life in prison without parole.

Bowden killed Mainhart during a traffic stop near Dardanelle. He'd earlier killed the Millers, mother and daughter of his former girlfriend, Haley McHam. McHam has said Bowden became enraged when she wouldn't see him anymore. Mainhart was responding to a domestic disturbance call.

The plea bargain comes a bit more than a month before a scheduled July 27 trial in Yell County. He was charged with three counts of capital murder.  The penalty on conviction is the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Bowden was declared indigent and had a court-appointed attorney. Bill James of Little Rock became his attorney about a month ago and negotiated the plea deal. He said after the court proceeding this morning that it was "very unusual" to resolve a capital case so quickly. But he indicated there was little doubt about his client's responsibility for the crime. The only contest would have been in sentencing.

James said it was "very unusual" to resolve a capital case so quickly, but he said Bowden wanted to resolve the matter quickly so as not to "add to the pain he'd already caused."

Three members of Miller's family testified in court that they wanted the death penalty. James said Deputy Prosecutor Marcus Vaden read a statement from Mainhart's family that said they preferred this outcome to waiting 20 years for a death penalty to be imposed. Vaden presented the negotiated plea to the court, but did not offer an explanation for the office's agreement to accept it, James said.

 

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Friday, June 23, 2017 - 09:15:00

Guns 'N' Roses launches SiriusXM channel

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Looking to brush up on your Guns 'N' Roses repertoire before Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan descend on War Memorial Stadium August 5th?

From Rolling Stone comes news of a GNR-focused SiriusXM channel devoted to the Los Angeles rockers.
Guns N' Roses Radio will air from July 13th to July 22nd on SiriusXM's channel 41, with the station playing GNR tracks alongside live performances, rarities and songs by artists that inspired Axl Rose and company.

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:50:00

Kirsten Johnson's documentary memoir screens at Riverdale tonight

click to enlarge SAMIRA BOUAOU
  • Samira Bouaou
Kirsten Johnson — the cinematographer behind "Citizenfour," "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Darfur Now" and "The Invisible War" — delved into her personal connections with the subjects of her lens in "Cameraperson," released last September. She talked with Variety in January about the catalyst for the film.

I had the idea of making “Cameraperson” after working on a documentary which fell apart because its protagonist, a young Afghan girl who had initially accepted to be filmed, changed her mind after three years when she saw the almost-completed film and she feared it would put her life in danger.

The extent of the ethical conflict that we face as filmmakers at this moment in history, now that the Internet exists, really dawned on me in that moment. In this new territory we’re in, we can’t control where images go. This has an impact on people being filmed and the people making images as well: we can all be traced. It used to be that when you filmed someone in a foreign country who needed protection, you could tell people that footage would never be seen in their country. Today we can’t. In many ways, “Cameraperson” is about representation and misrepresentation, about political, ethical questions, as much as it is about trauma, love and tenderness.

Those questions came home to roost for Johnson, who interspersed scenes of massacre and desperation with scenes of her own mother's mental decline, as the symptoms of Alzheimer's set in. As Arkansas Times Film Series curator Omaya Jones wrote in this week's To-Do List, Johnson says she is is "not in the film, yet [she's] everywhere in the film."

Tonight's screening begins at 7 p.m. at Riverdale 10 Cinema, and tickets are $8.50. RSVP here.


 

Monday, June 19, 2017 - 11:31:00

'Here in Body': Birdcloud subverts and transcends convention

click to enlarge birdcloud_batch-79.jpg


If Charles Bukowski was the “poet laureate of skid row,” Nashville’s Birdcloud could be its house band. Singers Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green, who also play guitar and mandolin, respectively, are currently on tour promoting their 2016 vinyl release “Singles Only,” a comprehensive compilation of their previous four EPs alongside a few new songs.

Despite explicitly labeling themselves as “ultra-modern country music,” Birdcloud could just as easily be described as simply postmodern, owing particularly to their irreverence and broad yet nuanced delivery that defies genre. Their country influences are omnipresent, but so is their great love of Bob Dylan. Green’s vocals, especially, have a potent punk rock swagger about them, which is really driven home by the fact that she will straight up knock your ass out if you disrespect her. (Just ask the guy on YouTube who tried to grab her during their Christmas show last year.) Kaset’s voice has a tenderness and vulnerability to it reminiscent of “Live Through This”-era Courtney Love. This dynamic is somewhat reversed in their instrumentation. Kaset, who used to be a drummer, has a muscular power and precision to her guitar playing, while Green’s mandolin gives the songs idyllic texture, although her playing can also regularly be as angular as her singing. They also share Cormac McCarthy’s knack for making base descriptions of ordinary situations feel haunting and hypnotic.

Birdcloud initially came to public attention through their YouTube videos, which generally feature the duo facing each other while performing. Their live show is a greatly intensified version of this, with the group’s sexually charged party anthems taking on a performance art quality. Women’s issues are important to Birdcloud: last year’s second annual “Cool Christmas with Birdcloud” show served as a drive to collect tampons and pads for Nashville’s women’s and homeless shelters, and the duo's stage banter often serves to lampoon the kind of sexist behavior they are subjected to.


Although they are always very quick to point out that they aren’t a comedy act, Birdcloud regularly mixes with a plethora of comedians for interviews and performances, the most notable instances probably being their close association with Doug Stanhope and their tour last year with Wheeler Walker, Jr. The Smiths aren’t considered a comedy act just because Morrissey frequently wrote funny lyrics, though, and by that same token it’s not fair to write off Birdcloud as comedy just because some of their songs are really funny and they hang out with funny people. Still, humor is a crucial element to their career and often what initially draws fans to the band.

During his seminal 1987 stand-up special “Raw” Eddie Murphy quipped that he “couldn’t give no curse show.” Birdcloud doesn’t give no curse show, either. While the cursing and vulgarity is an undeniably crucial feature, more important than the profanity is the incendiary wit and sociological commentary found in Birdcloud’s lyrics, however subdued and subversive it might be. Doubtless many of these songs are personal and specific, but they all still possess a magnetic relatability for anyone who likes to have a good time and doesn’t like living their lives by outdated, outmoded conservative conventions. Dismiss them as sensationalists at your own peril and miss out on some of the most singular observations about everyday life in 2017.

Birdcloud plays Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack Tuesday, June 20 with fellow Nashville band Thelma and the Sleaze, 8 p.m., $10-$12. Jasmin and Makenzie were kind enough to answer some questions for us from the road ahead of that performance.

I know y’all plan to spend part of this year creating and releasing a new full-length album. Can you tell us a little bit the direction of the songs? Does it have a title yet?


Kaset: Our next record is called “Bolth.” It’s got road songs, party anthems, and more satanic stuff. We are using our time on tour performing the fuck out of the new songs to figure out how we might want to arrange them when we get home.

You’ve done a lot of tours as a support act for Vanessa Carlton, Reverend Horton Heat, Unknown Hinson, etc. This year you’re focused firmly on doing headlining shows. Any chance your live show will morph with that transition, i.e. doing performances with a full band as you gain more and more attention?

Kaset: Playing with a full band is always a treat, but what sets our sound apart isn’t the instrumentation, it’s the vocals and lyrics, so the most power is found in our set as a duo.

Green: We play with a full band a couple times a year. It really sets off the songs.


We live in perilous political times, particularly for women. What’s your opinion of the Trump Administration?

Kaset: I hate Donald Trump. I think he is really fucking scary and a huge asshole. I think it’s an important time in America to create art and nurture the creative and good in each other.

Jasmin has a solo career concurrent with Birdcloud and has released a few really great albums. Do either of you have any other outside projects going on right now or any cool collaborations and such planned for the future?

Kaset: I’m recording two solo records right now; one of them in my home studio, the Hymen Auditorium. A collaboration record I made with Makeup and Vanity Set is coming out this fall. The project is called "You Drive."

You’ve performed with one of Arkansas’s biggest musical legends, Jim Dandy from Black Oak Arkansas, as well as one or Arkansas’s strongest current artists, Adam Faucett. Are there any other Arkansas acts you admire?

Kaset: Yeah, Jim Dandy is an absolute legend. It was so cool to share the stage with him. Adam Faucett is very cool too. We have played with Mountain Sprout. Those guys are on another planet, man!

You’re extremely active on social media, especially Twitter. What role do you believe this plays in your career?

Green: Twitter has linked us up with most of the comics we’ve worked with. It’s probably the coolest internet for show promo.

You were recently blocked by Joel Osteen on Twitter and your music strikes a defiant tone against religion to say the least. Why don’t you like ol’ baby Jesus?

Green: Jesus is great. The people ruined it for us.

Damian Echols is well known just about anywhere at this point, but naturally he’s a particularly noteworthy figure here in Arkansas and you’ve made mention of him before. Got anything you’d like to say about him and the West Memphis 3?

Green: He talked to us on Twitter once. We just like to talk about and celebrate his (release) to piss off pro-life death penalty people.


Having fun and partying are obviously important features to your songs, but you are also clearly making social commentary in them. Do you purposefully try to balance that out, or are you just making observations?

Kaset: Nuance is one of the first casualties of political conflict or social unrest. Our lyrics are nuanced, so there are multiple levels of partying to it. We have strong feelings about the hypocrisy and backwards thinking in the South, all the hatred in America, being a woman in this or any sphere, all kinds of stuff. But we’re not gonna hit you over the head with it. You have to arrive at it through our fucked up performance. You may leave a show with an impression of it. Or you may leave with a hangover and a dumb smile on your face. By making lyrics dumb and party and the music style country, we are able to reach a lot of people other bands can’t. Like playing an anti-capital punishment song in front of a state senator and for him to stop tapping his foot halfway through, that’s a rare and important opportunity and it’s one we get because our music is nuanced. And that’s not saying a lot of our fans aren’t geniuses, ‘cause they fuckin’ are. And I can say with confidence none of our fans are Republican state senators.


 

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Two suits challenge new abortion laws

June 22, 2017
Two suits challenge new abortion laws
Arkansas legislators "matched cruelty with creativity" this year with the passage of new laws to block women from getting legal abortions, the deputy director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project said Tuesday in announcing the filing of two suits in federal court challenging new laws. /more/
 

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