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Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Dining Review

SQZBX sings

May 17, 2018
SQZBX sings
With pie, tunes and beer. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

We wanna boogie

May 17, 2018
We wanna boogie
CALS hosts a tribute to Sonny Burgess. /more/


Ernest Dumas

Flooding the swamp

It became clear the first week of his presidency what Donald Trump meant with his repeated campaign pledges to "drain the swamp," the moneyed culture of Wall Street and corporate lobbyists who dictate the laws and rules of governing in Washington. /more/

Gene Lyons

Talking baseball

"God bless America!" I exclaimed to nobody, as the dog and cat watching the Red Sox game with me were napping. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Postseason plans

May 17, 2018
As the Arkansas Razorbacks ease their way into the college basketball postseason, they've steadily built their case for being a Top 8 national seed — thereby securing a possible Super Regional hosting opportunity if they can win the presumed Fayetteville regional first — in a manner that belies how difficult it really has been to get this far. /more/

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Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 17:03:00

An open line, plus an endorsement

Here is the open line. Also news of an endorsement in the race for Democratic nomination for 2nd District Congress from three of the Little Rock Nine.

LITTLE ROCK — The Clarke Tucker for Congress campaign announced today the endorsement of three pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Ernest Green, and Elizabeth Eckford — all three members of the historic Little Rock Nine. Citing Tucker’s personal story and his public record fighting for all Arkansans, the three civil rights leaders said Tucker would be the best fit for the job as the next U.S. Congressman for Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional District.

“I have known and watched Clarke Tucker for years, and he is someone who I know would make a great congressman for the people of Central Arkansas,” Ernest Green said. “He is a hard-worker, a natural leader, and most importantly, his heart and actions are in the right place.”

“Clarke Tucker is someone who has quickly made a name for himself by caring about the issues and the people around him and then working hard to better their lives,” Carlotta Walls LaNier said. “I am proud to support him in his bid to represent the people of Central Arkansas.”

“I have known Clarke since he was a teenager,” said Elizabeth Eckford. “I know him to be devoted, smart, and caring, and now he has a real opportunity to take that same attitude to Washington. I am just so glad he is running.”

“Growing up in Little Rock and going to Central High School, I have looked up to Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, and Carlotta Walls LaNier my entire life,” Tucker said. “Understanding what they sacrificed and achieved for our city and state, for the nation, and even for the entire world, and to know they support me now, it's overwhelming and motivating. I will attempt to follow their examples of courage, leadership, and sacrifice for the greater good as I run this race and as I live my life each day.”

FYI: Only Eckford is a local resident. Gwen Combs and Paul Spencer also are seeking the nomination to oppose Republican Rep. French Hill.


Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 08:12:00

A further look at sewer money in judicial races

click to enlarge FIGHT SEWER MONEY: Re-elect Judge Bart Virden.
  • FIGHT SEWER MONEY: Re-elect Judge Bart Virden.

More details today on the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is attempting to buy a couple of Arkansas appellate court seats along with another sewer money distributor, the Judicial Crisis Network.

I added to a post yesterday on judicial races a comment from David James, the communications director of the RSLC, objecting to my application of the term "dark money" to his organization, a so-called 527 independent expenditure committee that files financial reports at the state and federal level.

I was not particularly sympathetic. The filing most readily accessible to Arkansas voters about the $654,000 the RSLC is pumping into races for Arkansas Supreme Court and Arkansas Court of Appeals lists contributors to the effort only as the Republican State Leadership Committee. That's pretty opaque.

It is true, however, that if you have Internet expertise you can root out federal IRS filings of the organization, which raises money nationally to influence election of Republicans to state offices around the country. Here, for example, is the first quarter report of the group, accounting for $4.5 million in contributions more than a month before the money was poured into Arkansas in May. The connection to Arkansas? Apart from $100,000 from Walmart and a $200 contribution from a UALR professor, not much jumps out. Martin says contributions are not earmarked for specific races. If there's a giver with a specific interest in Arkansas, which has happened in the past with RSLC giving, there's no way for voters to know.

What does jump out is the amount of money contributed to the cause by big drug and insurance companies, among other major corporate interests. This continues a pattern. When Open Secrets analyzed the group's 2016 spending, it found the United States Chamber of Commerce at the top of the list and big help from drug, insurance, tobacco and other corporate interests. They are not seeking to advance the interests of the sons and daughters of toil in Arkansas.

If you pay premiums to Blue Cross, be glad to know the national organization is plowing some of its revenue into supporting election of Republican candidates across the country, including a couple of Republicans seeking the nominally non-partisan judicial seats in next week's Arkansas election — David Sterling for Supreme Court and Johnnie Copeland for Court of Appeals. The RSLC has been busy practicing dark political arts with inaccurate advertising against incumbent Court of Appeals Judge Bart Virden and in support of Sterling's race against Justice Courtney Goodson and Kenneth Hixson for Supreme Court.

If the RSLC spending is not wholly dark, as is the case with the Judicial Crisis Network, it is also not readily transparent in Arkansas. But, more significantly, it is exempt from any limit on the money it may receive or spend directly against political candidates. Candidates like Sterling and Coleman, need not raise much money on their own, confident that the RSLC and Judicial Crisis Network are doing their work for them — unrestrained by campaign spending limits or, apparently, by truth in advertising.  From where I sit, that's pretty dark.

But rather than quibble or curse the word darkness, as the RSLC does, let's just call it sewer money. The only way to fight it, as I said yesterday, is to vote for those the dark forces (Karl Rove is credited with inspiring the RSLC) are trying to beat — Courtney Goodson or Kenneth Hixson for Supreme Court. Given the group's inaccurate ads and effective coordination with his opponent in the Court of Appeals race, it is particularly important to vote FOR BART VIRDEN for Court of Appeals. We have enough RSLC puppets on the bench already.


Saturday, May 19, 2018 - 16:35:00

The Saturday line

Here's an open line. Fire away.


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Friday, May 18, 2018 - 16:36:00

No Small Talk, Ep. 16: Bash-O-Bash, McElroy House

click to enlarge nosmalltalk_-_copy.png

This week, Omaya and Stephanie talk with Bryan and Meredith Martin-Moats, the parents behind the Bash-O-Bash cast of animated characters and behind McElroy House, a rural community organization for cultural resources in Dardanelle.

But first up, we check in on a bit of entertainment news:

At (0:32): Trust Tree Programs continues its fundraising effort for a summer songwriting camp for girls with a show from Tranquilo, Pissin Comets and Fred at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Check out the Trust Tree Facebook page to see of these blossoming musicians/the future ambassadors of the Arkansas sound at work!

(1:43) "Antiquities," the short film from Daniel Campbell, has been turned into a feature-length film with a screenplay by Campbell and Graham Gordy, filmed in Arkansas last fall. It'll get a world premiere at this year's "Dances With Films" festival in Hollywood, and we've got our fingers crossed for an Arkansas screening soon.

Also, (at 3:56) Ben Nichols and Lucero are back with "Among the Ghosts," out August 3 on the Thirty Tigers label, and you can stream two tracks from the new record here.

(Also, Stephanie struggles to recall the name of the song accompanied by this fantastic video from Lucero's 2015 release "All A Man Should Do," so here it is in all its glory:)

Check out this week's To-Do List for more happening this week!

Next, (6:14) we talk with Bryan and Meredith Martin-Moats about their work with Bash-O-Bash, a collection of drawn characters that, as Bryan states, "started with our kids just goofing around," (also, Halloween costumes) and has morphed into a full-on storyline with a forthcoming book, "The Bulb."

And: they've got their own podcast! Check out their latest, an introduction to the "granny gopher" character Byanza Almeda, with a generous helping of Arkansas's own Granny, Almeda "Granny" Riddle. 

At 21:37, Bryan and Meredith talk a little about the wonders of yarrow and the work they're doing with "McElroy House," a community organization that works to bring people across differences. They've got a butterfly- and bee-attracting garden, a monthly skillshare, a cloth diaper bank and a partnership with Arkansas Tech University to cultivate, establish and give various types of away berries.

click to enlarge 21370973_1579616532102196_368486548449892307_n.jpg

Come meet Bryan and Meredith-Martin Moats (and try their limited edition "Bash-O-Bash" cookie) at Cattywampus Co-op's "Spring Bizarre," a collection of talented artists showing off (and selling) their handmade art at the Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse Saturday, May 19.

And, at 30:08, we make some recommendations:

Omaya recommends you check out the Star Party the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society is throwing at Pinnacle Mountain State Park this Saturday, May 19 and we wax self-righteously indignant about light pollution. (Who wants to start a dome street light initiative?!)

And, at 34:10, Stephanie recommends the body's new album, "I Have Fought Against It, But I Can't Any Longer." It's the latest effort from an Arkansas-connected duo that juxtaposes a thicket of heavy noise with alternately angelic and visceral vocals from Chrissy Wolpert of The Assembly of Light Choir.

And The Move for the weekend: go dig beautiful art by Robert Bean and Diane Harper at the opening for "You Are Not Alone," a new exhibition at Gallery 26.

click to enlarge 32544024_10157331865517538_2198423008102580224_o.jpg


Friday, May 18, 2018 - 13:49:00

3rd Friday in Argenta means Art Walking

click to enlarge North Little Rock street, traffic and vehicle maintenance employees stand by a dog sculpture they erected in the Argenta Arts District. - NORTH LITTLE ROCK
  • North Little Rock
  • North Little Rock street, traffic and vehicle maintenance employees stand by a dog sculpture they erected in the Argenta Arts District.

There's new public art in Argenta that celebrates the North Little Rock's once-hated, now-embraced moniker "Dogtown." The sculpture, at Sixth and Main streets, was designed by Terry Bean and fabricated of steel (it's one of two Bean sculptures installed; more are on the way.) The Argenta Arts Foundation provided the photo above, plus information on tonight's art offerings, 5-8 p.m. on Main Street:

Katherine Rutter, whose watery and fine-lined paintings of ambiguous human and animal creatures have earned her a national reputation as a muralist, is showing paintings in a show called "Meet Me in the Water" at the Thea Foundation (401 Main St.), where she's painted a mural on the wall as well.

The Latino Art Project has a new show, "In Bloom," at regular host venue Core Brewery (411 Main).

Abstract printmaker Dustyn Bork of Batesville and photographer/painter Heidi Carlsen-Rogers of Bella Vista put up a show of new work, "Flowers and Facades," at the Argenta Branch of the Main Library (420 Main St.).

Larry Pennington's "About Face" show of photography is on exhibition at Argenta Gallery (413 Main St.), where profits from sales benefit the Argenta Arts Foundation. (Adjoining gallery StudioMAIN continues its "Year in Review" show of creative design.)

Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main St.) continues its "Southern Abstraction" exhibition of work by Arkansans Robyn Horn, Dolores Justus and Sammy Peters and top regional talent.

Up in the 700 block, find Barry Thomas Fine Art & Studio (711 Main St.), where the impressionist will demonstrate technique

Theatergoers: Remember the Main Thing's production of "Orange Is the New White," a comedy about exactly what you think it's about, at the Joint Theater (301 Main St., curtain at 8 p.m.).


Friday, May 18, 2018 - 13:22:00

Walton grant creates Delta youth program

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena/West Helena will offer a yearlong program for youth, the DCC Arts and Cultural Education Program, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

A press release from DCC Director Dr. Kyle T. Miller said the program will "utillize history, scriptwriting and dramatic performance to enhance students' reading, writing and oratory skills. Students in the program will research the lives of people buried in three historical sites — the Dixon, Magnolia and Confederate cemeteries — and present a living history program similar to the Parkview High School's Tales From the Crypt at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.

Also supporting the project are  KIPP-Delta Preparatory School, the Helena-West Helena School District, Desoto Academy, Great Rivers Co-op and Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas.

According to the press release, the project will begin this summer and will "serve both charter and public school" students (an interesting construct, since charter schools receive public dollars).


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