Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Dining Review

42 gets a winning overhaul

November 23, 2017
42 gets a winning overhaul
At the Clinton Center. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

'Bullets and Fire'

November 23, 2017
'Bullets and Fire'
Arkansas's history of lynchings in the rearview mirror, barely. /more/

To-Do List

Noruz at Four Quarter

November 23, 2017
Noruz at Four Quarter
And much more. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

The Clintons

I wasn't particularly excited about the 25th anniversary celebration of Bill Clinton's election. Life goes on. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Selling tax cuts

Making tax law is always pretty simple, despite the arcane references to S corporations, pass-throughs, carried-interest deductions and the like, which define the ways that lots of rich people get their income. /more/

Gene Lyons

Trust in Putin

The more Donald J. Trump talks about Russia, the harder it is to believe he's actually loyal to the United States. He's dedicated to his money and to his grotesquely inflated ego. He enjoys pomp and parades. The end. /more/

Pearls About Swine

The end

November 23, 2017
If Bret Bielema is going to prep a video reel of the best moments he's had during a five-year run as Arkansas's latest polarizing head football coach, he's ostensibly going to use something like the first quarter against Mississippi State. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 15:52:00

Anybody around?

Here is an open line. I’m not long for consciousness after the traditional feast.

 

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 07:53:24

Turkeys rescued in Yellville enjoy their Thanksgiving

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-11-23_at_7.09.57_am.png
click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-11-23_at_7.02.52_am.png
Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection organization, sends word that four turkeys rescued from the Yellville Turkey Trot after the annual drops from buildings and an airplane will enjoy Thanksgiving in friendlier places

Four turkeys — the "Fab Four” — were taken first to a shelter in Watkins Glen, N.Y., a spokesman said. Medical care was needed. One had a large chest wound after a drop from a building into the scrum of people trying to capture the birds. Two of the turkeys — named John and Ringo — have now been shipped to a "forever home" in Southport, Connecticut.

A video of the annual rite of turkey terrorism in Yellville and the rescue is here.

PS: To correct some misinformation being pumped out regularly by defenders of Yellville's turkey drop: The birds dropped in Yellville are NOT wild turkeys, though they are a breed resembling wild turkeys. It is illegal to trap wild turkeys for a use such as this. Also, the Game and Fish Commission says it can find no evidence to support a bit of local mythology — that wild turkeys were restocked in the area decades ago by airplane drops. They were most likely delivered in cages by truck. a spokesman told me. Video evidence demonstrates that, while turkeys have the ability to fly short distances, some don't and these meet gruesome ends in the plane drops.

Bon appetit!

 

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 07:53:00

The New Orleans charter school 'miracle'? It's a ruse

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The New Orleans Tribune has a devastating piece of editorial commentary, "Faking the Grade," based on local reporting and test scores, that lays bare the depiction of the charterization of New Orleans public schools 12 years ago as a miracle of the "school reform" movement.

Charter school operators made unrealistic promises to seize control of the schools (and the tax money that flows into them). Now the results in the eyes of the Tribune, an African-American community magazine:

As we looked over the 2017 school performance data, one thing was clear—Orleans Parish will be getting back schools that aren’t much better than the ones taken over 12 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In other words, the reform was a ruse. And this subterfuge has cost us dearly.

But we knew that already. Didn’t you? We said that. We wrote about it.

Numbers don’t lie. And year after the year, the numbers were telling the story. We’re just journalists over here—not a statistician among us. But all we had to do was look at the annual SPS reports to know that this “reform” was failing. Year after year, the school performance report cards filled with Cs, Ds, Fs and SPS scores so low that would not have held up in the fall of 2005.
There's much more and it's worth reading in Arkansas, and Little Rock in particular. They are talking in New Orleans about some kind of return of "local control" to New Orleans schools in the form of an elected supervisory board, but not sending the private charter school operators packing. They'll still be reaping benefits from public tax dollars with none of the rigor of rules imposed on real public schools. Chaos in school assignments will likely continue. Some schools will skim cream. Some schools will fail children. But there will be almighty "choice," as if that alone is a guarantee of quality. What the Walton-paid lackeys in Arkansas have spent millions selling like laundry detergent is not always so.  Parents are not always equipped to evaluate schools. This is no surprise to anyone who's ever read a file about families in need of services. Basic care, never mind education, is often lacking in all too many families.

The Waltons tried once to pass legislation that would have allowed Little Rock — and eventually other school districts — to be declared "opportunity" school districts, or some such euphemism, and opened up for takeover by private operators. Denied that legislation, the Waltonites have proceeded to finance thousands of new charter school seats in Little Rock, sometimes propping up schools with cash infusions to keep regulators at bay. The slow erosion of real public schools — predicted by Baker Kurrus during his brave and short leadership of the district — continues.

Inevitably the aim of the Billionaire Boys Club of Arkansas is to make Little Rock another New Orleans "Miracle."

The data-based New Orleans Tribune editorial might make you cross such a miracle off your wish list. It includes background on the handful of schools in New Orleans that ARE doing well — typically selective admission schools with enhanced programs and such advantages as admission preference for Tulane faculty.

It is no miracle when children of highly educated middle- and upper-class parents do well in school.

 

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Rock Candy

Friday, November 17, 2017 - 16:35:00

Art partying on Friday night: McLeod's, Museum School sale preview, New Deal, Argenta Art Wall

click to enlarge Holmes and Massey at McLeod.
  • Holmes and Massey at McLeod.
So here's the scoop for tonight:

Matt McLeod Fine Art is celebrating its 2nd anniversary from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 106 W. Sixth St. See paintings by Cindy Holmes, alabaster sculpture by Bryan Massey and more, plus blown glass ornaments and art, and hear Rena Wren sing and play guitar. You will be plied with snacks and drinks, too.



click to enlarge Artist Robert Bean's booth at the AAC Museum School Sale.
  • Artist Robert Bean's booth at the AAC Museum School Sale.
Buy a membership to the Arkansas Arts Center at the door to get first dibs on paintings, jewelry, pottery and more at the Museum School Sale, 6-9 p.m. at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.


Head to New Deal Gallery, 2003 Louisiana St., to see "We Dissent: An Exhibition of Protest Photography." No music, but beer and wine.


North of the River, Argenta galleries are open until 8 p.m. for the Third Friday Argenta Art Walk: "Under the Influence: Scott Lykens/Tom Richard" at the Argenta branch of Laman Library, "Best of the South" at Greg Thompson Fine Art, Jake Jackson at the North Little Rock Heritage Center, David Murphree at StudioMain and Chad Maupin at the Thea Foundation.


 

Friday, November 17, 2017 - 11:42:00

Review and slideshow: Chris Stapleton and Marty Stuart at Verizon Arena

click to enlarge Chris Stapleton - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Chris Stapleton

Given the sparse Western desert landscapes and the Hunter S. Thompson-esque horror stories of behind-the-wheel pill popping that characterize Marty Stuart’s new album, I half expected Stuart’s set to create an unexpectedly trippy warm-up to headliner Chris Stapleton last night at Verizon Arena. True to a showman’s form, though, Stuart ripped through a variety show-style set of hits he’d co-written for other people (“The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ Anymore”), his own hits (“This One’s Gonna Hurt You”) and hits from the formidable repertoire he’s developed as a country music sideman of the first degree, like “Orange Blossom Special.” Stuart invoked former bandmate (and former father-in-law) Johnny Cash with “Ring of Fire,” introduced with the squarely nonrhetorical question: “Y’all ever heard of Dyess, Arkansas?” Even the younger country fans – otherwise concerned with filing through the crowd of 13,445 to find their seats, and without spilling their craft beer – could get excited about that one, and cheered again when Stuart declared that “Little Rock is the surf music capital of the world right now.” He and his dapper band, The Fabulous Superlatives, were more Grand Ole Opry than desert mirage in their delivery, taking time to let each of the longtime band members step up to the center stage microphone. And – though they handled it with finesse – I’ve no doubt that those who were there for Stapleton would have left in awe of Stuart’s musical prowess, had the openers been afforded a fraction of the luxuriously present sound afforded to the headliner on this “All-American Road Tour.”

Guitarist “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan sang his own “Country Music Got a Hold On Me,”  followed by a number from true Nashville cat session player and former member of BR549 Chris Scruggs. Finally, “Handsome” Harry Stinson stepped up to show off his skilled brushwork on a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd,” and might well have stolen the moment with his “Mule Skinner”-style breath control, had the camera not been so careful to close in on shots of Stuart’s storied mandolin, with the initials “JRC” scratched into it unceremoniously from the time Johnny Cash “ruined his mandolin,” as Stuart recounted to CMT in a 2005 interview:

“Well, I’d saved my money to buy that mandolin when I got a job with Lester Flatt, and it was $650. For years, I was real proud of the fact that it never had a scratch on it. It looked like a brand new instrument for probably 12 or 13 years. When I got a job with Johnny Cash, he got on a kick of wanting me to teach him how to play the mandolin. And he was a horrible mandolin player. He’d take my mandolin on the stage and just play along with June Carter when she was singin’. One night I looked over there and he had his pocketknife out and scratched a huge cross on it and put his initials, “JRC,” on it and then flipped the mandolin over and autographed it and signed, “Johnny Cash.” My heart fell. After the show, I said, “What did you do that for?” and he said, “I didn’t want you to forget the Lord.” And I told him I could have remembered the Lord without him wrecking my mandolin. But it was all in good fun. And that started a trend after that. People just felt compelled to sign the mandolin. It has Stephen King, President Clinton, Bob Dylan, Billy Bob Thornton, Chuck Berry, Quincy Jones, Natalie Cole, ex-girlfriends, my momma and a lot of people I don’t know on there. I’m about to run out of places for people to sign.”

The crowd, mostly listless during Stuart’s set, piped up loud and clear in the intermission before Stapleton’s set for Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” The aisles were a parade of leather, fringe, suede and cowboy boots; all the sartorial signifiers of a stadium country show, if a somewhat traditionalist one. A stray Miller Lite was passed around for anybody willing to drink a beer from an unknown source – which, as far as we could tell, was nobody. The couple in front of us, who’d initiated impromptu trivia during intermission about the original lineup of The Eagles (or, as it was put chidingly between debaters then: “The founding members, dipshit!”) snuck down to the stadium floor for a sweet waltz or two. When the lights went down, the crowd went wild, but it was a false alarm — “Cripple Creek” kicked in on the loudspeakers. Finally, around 9 p.m., there was a great bass rumble that gave way to a cold open; a solo Stapleton ripping into a weed-loving lament from his debut record “Traveller,” “Might As Well Get Stoned.” The crooner's lean outfit was remarkably loud for such minimal instrumentation: guitar, bass and drums. For my taste, they were maybe even a bit too sonically homogenous, but nevertheless solid and in the pocket, with polished arrangements that recalled the “Black Velvet” heyday of 1980s country radio — the era when country fell back in love with blues rock.

Morgane Stapleton, Chris’ wife and an accomplished Nashville singer and songwriter (Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” LeAnn Rimes’ “You Ain’t Right” and two tunes with the late Guy Clark) filled in on some muscular vocal backup to songs like “Hard Livin’,” and Stapleton called Stuart back up for a rendition of Rodney Crowell’s “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” made famous by Waylon Jennings.

Don't get me wrong: Chris Stapleton is wildly accomplished and in complete command of his voice. He’s probably the closest thing, vocally, that we have to Chris Cornell on this earth, and capable of blending his blues leanings with his bluegrass history (Stapleton is a former member of The SteelDrivers) so seamlessly that you’re not even all that mad at him when he solves the eternal “Freebird” conundrum by actually playing the damn thing. Dude’s racking up CMA Awards like they’re Pokemon, and he’s definitely the name pulling in the ticket revenue for a 13,000-plus audience.

But somewhere, there must be an unwritten rule that the headliner is to be afforded the luxury of a superboosted presence, something that lets the audience know, as I knew when my entire body began to rumble seismically upon his grand entrance, that things were cranking up to eleven, that we were “really gonna party now.” I don’t know that Stapleton’s set needed that glitz – which, to be fair, was understated in comparison to a few of the stadium’s 2017 shows. Somehow, though, it felt a little artificial to roll out the acoustic red carpet for Stapleton when legends like Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives got the short end of the stick, sonically speaking.







 

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 17:06:00

Announcing the inaugural Central Arkansas Music Awards

click to enlarge cama_logo.jpg

In partnership with Arkansas Sounds, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the Arkansas Times presents the first ever Central Arkansas Music Awards, a concert and ceremony of recognition to take place at the Ron Robinson Theater.

With the help of an esteemed board, we've put together a list of nominees in 22 categories. Now, we need your help! Visit arktimes.com/cama to add your favorite musicians to the list of nominees by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. We'll combine your responses with those from our board, and our board will cast its final votes.

Then, mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, where host Kevin Kerby and a panel of presenters will name the winners. Keep an eye out here and on the Times’ Rock Candy Facebook page for announcements about live performances from a few of Little Rock's finest, and make plans to celebrate the changing landscape that makes up the Little Rock music scene.







 

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Cover Story

Long gone

November 23, 2017
Long gone
lt's curtains for the Arkansas AD. /more/

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Arkansas Reporter

Ripe for juvenile justice reform

November 23, 2017
Ripe for juvenile justice reform
In DYS director, some see a potential force for long-sought change. Part 1 of 2. /more/
 

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