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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


June 22, 2017
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/


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


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

Monday, June 26, 2017 - 07:07:00

Arkansas officials sued over efforts to extradite man wrongly arrested

click to enlarge STEVEN DISHMAN: In 1985 and today is now in custody. But a false arrest lawsuit engendered by the search for him lingers on.
  • STEVEN DISHMAN: In 1985 and today is now in custody. But a false arrest lawsuit engendered by the search for him lingers on.

More here on the case of Steven Dishman, the escaped convict arrested in Springdale Sunday after 32 years on the lame.

We mentioned then the false arrest suit by James Soler of Alpine, Calif., arrested erroneously as Dishman and held for a week, apparently because of a busybody neighbor.

I've since learned that Soler has filed suit in federal court in Little Rock against Lisa Wilkins, an attorney for the Arkansas Correction Department, and Ray Hobbs, former department director, for efforts by Arkansas to extradite despite a lack of evidence that he was, in fact, Dishman. Eventually fingerprints proved California cops had the wrong man and he was released. But during this period, Wilkins asserted vigorously probable cause for Soler's extradition (without demonstrating any, the lawsuit alleges), a process approved at every step in Arkansas.

The lawsuit pending in Little Rock tells the whole tale from Soler's point of vidw.
A trial in that case is scheduled in April.

Among others, the suit says that Wilkins decided to seek extradition based solely on the allegation by a neighbor that Soler was Dishman.

She made that decision based solely on the statements that Ms. Lara made to Lt. Smart earlier that day witihout: ( 1) conducting any follow-up investigation, let alone a reasonable one, including sending Mr. Dishman's fingerprints to San Diego by email or overnight express; (2) asking any other person or entity to conduct any follow-up investigation, including asking whether Mr. Soler's fingerprints were on file in San Diego or AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) which was in wide use by 2013 and in Arkansas since 20003; or (3) obtaining any additional information to accurately assess whether Mr. Soler was the escapee Steven Dishman.

Over the next several weeks, Ms. Wilkins periodically apprised Mr. Hobbs of her efforts with respect to the Dishman/Soler matter, and she advised Mr. Hobbs that ( 1) there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Soler was the escapee Steven Dishman, and (2) there was probable cause to support Mr. Soler's arrest in, and extradition from, California. Yet, they completely lacked probable cause. 
The lawsuit, filed by John W. Hall, seeks actual and punitive damages for violation of Soler's constitutional rights. It says his detention was prolonged by actions of the Arkansas officials.


Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 16:52:00

The crime and punishment open line

Here's the Sunday open line with some crime and punishment news:

* CRIME: Little Rock police said two people were shot about 7:40 p.m. on Montclair Drive in Central Little Rock. One victim told police the shooting was the work of the "Monroe Gang," and a juvenile suspect was identified as the man shooting an AR-15. The wounded were identified as Amanda Odom, 19, who was in a car that had several bullet holes, and  Chris Wallace, 21, at a house near the car. Odom and Wallace both suffered gunshot wounds to the stomach. Montclair runs north of 20th about midway between Fair Park Blvd. and Cedar Street.

click to enlarge THEN AND NOW Steven Dishman - KARK/FOX 16
  • KARK/Fox 16
  • THEN AND NOW Steven Dishman
* PUNISHMENT: State Police announced the arrest Sunday in Springdale of Steven Dishman, who escaped from custody on a seven-year burglary and theft sentence in Washington County in 1985 and has been at large ever since.  A sidelight of this case was the false arrest of a man believed erroneously to be Dishman in San Diego in 2014. That arrest spurred a false arrest lawsuit. No details as yet of what led to Dishman's discovery.


Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 08:17:00

Two years of marriage equality and the American family still stands

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-06-25_at_8.03.17_am.png

The New York Times has talked with a dozen couples
who married the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws against same-sex marriage in a landmark 5-4 decision June 26, 2015.

The American family still stands. The war against dignity continues, however, with the likes of a discriminatory birth certificate procedure for same-sex parents in Arkansas and a brand-new Texas law to discriminate against gay people in adopting children, among many other official acts aimed at preserving discrimination against LGBT people.

The two-year anniversary tomorrow is also a good time to remember that, for a brief and shining period, Arkansas was on the cutting edge of freedom and dignity thanks to Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling May 9, 2014 that the state law prohibiting same-sex unions was unconstitutional. For a heady week, hundreds of couples rushed to marry in Arkansas, before the state Supreme Court stepped in to halt the proceedings and then, thanks to shameful machinations by some of its members, delayed deciding the case until the U.S. Supreme Court decided it for them.


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Rock Candy

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

Guns 'N' Roses launches SiriusXM channel

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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Arkansas Reporter

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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