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GiGi's opens with soul food and 'old school R and B vibe'

GiGi’s Soul Cafe and Lounge at 10840 Maumelle Blvd., where the Nashville Rockin Grill was located, opened July 28 and co-owner Darrell Wyrick the restaurant is “bringing back the spirit of some of the places that have gone, like Porter’s and The Afterthought” with its soul food and “old school R and B vibe.”

Restaurant inspections now online

The state Department of Health is now posting retail food outlets inspection information on its website, and has posted a video on its Facebook page explaining its food inspection program and how to use the online search form.

It's been long, but looks like John Daly's Steakhouse will open

John Daly’s Steakhouse in Conway has a new tee time: Sept. 1, according to the Log Cabin Democrat.

Dining Review

Simple and solid

August 17, 2017
Simple and solid
At YaYa's. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

The Fly's Eye

August 17, 2017
The Fly's Eye
Buckminster Fuller's work of genius at Crystal Bridges blends 'nature's geometry' with economy and environmentalism. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Charter secret

These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Klan's president

Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans. /more/

Gene Lyons

On Charlottesville

Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot. /more/

Movie Reviews

Rom-com remix

August 3, 2017
Rom-com remix
'The Big Sick' subverts genre. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 2

August 17, 2017
Halfway through the Hogs' 2017 football season, which now will undoubtedly be played out in the memory of J. Frank Broyles, Pearls has the team sitting at 4-2, 1-2 after back-to-back road defeats against South Carolina and Alabama. /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

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 19:09:00

Helen Gurley Brown: The notorious HGB

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Put the kids to bed, it's time for Arkansas Times Unmentionables, presented by Cupid's. In this series we'll be talking about the more salacious moments of Arkansas history.

For tonight's episode, we take a look at author and businesswoman, Helen Gurley Brown, and how she turned Cosmopolitan into the magazine we know today.

Cupid's is giving viewers a 15% coupon code so be sure to check out their website (shopcupids.com) and use this code: SCV727


 

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 16:36:00

Hutchinson's office says he will set execution of Jack Gordon Greene, state has drugs

click to enlarge JACK GORDON GREENE: This photo was taken down from ADC's website to hide his illness, say Greene's attorneys. - ADC
  • ADC
  • JACK GORDON GREENE: This photo was taken down from ADC's website to hide his illness, say Greene's attorneys.
The Arkansas Department of Correction has the drugs it needs to perform an execution and Governor Hutchinson plans to set a date for Jack Gordon Greene to be put to death, a spokesman for the governor said today.

UPDATE (4:37 p.m.) ADC spokesperson Solomon Graves said the agency "acquired a supply of midazolam on August 4, 2017. Once the Governor issues a warrant, the ADC will be prepared to carry out the sentence."

Here is a document showing the purchase, obtained by the Arkansas Times from the ADC.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge delivered this afternoon a letter to Hutchinson requesting a date to be set for the execution of Greene. (It is attached below.)

"We've received the letter from the attorney general's office. The governor will set a date, but there is no specific timeline," said J.R. Davis, communications director for the governor.

Greene was convicted of the 1992 Johnson County murder of Sidney Burnett, who was beaten, stabbed, shot and mutilated.

Arkansas received national attention for planning eight executions in a historically short period in April because the sedative drug used in Arkansas's execution protocol, midazolam, was set to expire at the end of the month. Many have claimed that midazolam is ineffective as a sedative to ensure that pain does not occur during an execution. (Here is a long article from our archive on those executions).

The major lingering question: If Arkansas planned to kill eight men in 11 days because the drugs were running out, and it would be hard to acquire new drugs, how has the state already acquired the drugs again?

"It was stated that it would be difficult but not impossible [to acquire the drugs]," said Davis.

ADC refused to answer questions on the ability of the agency to expediently obtain more of the execution drugs or make ADC Wendy Kelley available for questions — even after prompting about ADC Director Wendy Kelley's testimony that she told the Governor obtaining the drugs would be extremely difficult and that she was involved in the process of planning the execution dates with the Governor.

"Once again, questions relating to the setting of an execution date, should be directed to the Governor’s Office. Director Kelley is out of state at a conference and unavailable for comment," said Graves.

In April, only four of the eight executions were carried out by the state. The executions of Bruce Ward, Don Davis, Jason McGehee, and Stacey Johnson were all stalled, but not because of the potential ineffectiveness of the drugs.

The executions planned for Davis and Ward were stayed by the Arkansas Supreme Court pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether indigent defendants are entitled to mental experts who are independent of prosecutors. The parole board recommended clemency for McGehee, on which Governor Hutchinson has not yet taken action. And, Johnson was granted a stay by the Arkansas Supreme Court in order for a lower court to review new DNA-testing.

There are grave concerns in attempting to execute Greene, say his lawyers.

The following is a statement released by John C. Williams, Assistant Federal Defender, Federal Public Defender Office (and a former employee of the Arkansas Times):

“Today the Attorney General has requested an execution date for a severely mentally ill man. Jack Greene has well-documented brain damage and mental illness. He has long suffered from a fixed delusion that the Arkansas Department of Correction is conspiring with his attorneys to cover up injuries that he believes corrections officers have inflicted upon him. He complains that his spinal cord has been removed and his central nervous system has been destroyed. He believes he will be executed to cover up what he calls these 'crimes against humanity.' Mr. Greene’s severe somatic delusions cause him to constantly twist his body and stuff his ear and nose with toilet paper to cope with the pain. By doing so, Mr. Greene frequently causes himself to bleed, as can been seen in the [above] photo.

“Capital punishment should not be used on vulnerable people like the severely mentally ill. We hope Governor Hutchinson will refrain from setting an execution date for Mr. Greene since he is not competent for execution.”


UPDATE (5:27 p.m.) The statement from Williams also says that ADC took down the above photo of Greene today — in which he looks visibly ill — for a more sanitized version. Here is the photo now on ADC's inmate database:

ADC
  • ADC
The executions that were carried out also were heavily scrutinized, specifically the death of Kenneth Williams.

Williams, who was executed on April 27, was reported to have jerked and convulsed upward of 20 times and audibly "moaned" — among other movements — after the time officials said the paralytic drug was administered.

If the paralytic drug, vecuronium bromide, was delivered while Williams was still moving this would be in direct contradiction of a procedure ADC Director Wendy Kelley described in federal court. Kelley said that "any movement" would prompt a second consciousness check.

As Dale Baich, an experienced death penalty defense attorney who witnessed a botched execution in Arizona told me, this could also mean Williams was in pain:
"At a minimum, this was a deviation from the protocol. More profound, Mr. Williams was [potentially] conscious and was suffocated before the third drug was administered, which means he would have felt like he was burning. What is important is that all the evidence be preserved and that an independent investigation is conducted to get to the bottom of what went wrong with this execution, and the other three that took place this week."
The supplier of execution drugs for Arkansas is not public knowledge. However, ADC provided some publicly available documents concerning the most recent purchase of midazolam. They show that the state paid $250.00 for the midazolam and "picked up" the vials.
The state has not always paid for its execution drugs, according to testimony from Wendy Kelley in response to challenges to the executions planned in April, the third drug, potassium chloride, was "donated" when Wendy Kelley drove to pick it up for the April executions.

From our reporting on Kelley's testimony:
A surprising disclosure was that the potassium chloride, the third drug in Arkansas’s three-drug protocol, which causes heart failure, was “donated” to the state of Arkansas. Arkansas did not have its needed supply of potassium chloride when the executions were announced. But last month the ADC found a supplier. Kelley said she drove to pick up the potassium chloride, put it in her car and then began a conversation about the method of payment with the supplier. She told the supplier that the payment would have to be processed through another department and, according to Kelley, “[the supplier] said, ‘Nevermind, I’ll just donate it.’ ” The supplier was worried about his or her identity being revealed to the public through the payment process.
And, Kelley also said that a supplier — on the same day they sold another drugs to the state — wanted them back.
Kelley also revealed problems in obtaining the other drugs necessary for Arkansas’s protocol. She told the court that these drugs were bought from a supplier and then — that same day — the supplier contacted her to undo the deal. The supplier wanted the drugs back. “But, I did not return the drugs,” she said. The supplier continued to contact state officials and Kelley, according to her testimony, in an attempt to have the drugs returned.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 16:25:00

Arkansas Democratic Party calls for removal of Confederate monuments from public grounds

click to enlarge FOR THE WOMEN: This Capitol monument honors the women of the Confederacy. - KUAR
  • KUAR
  • FOR THE WOMEN: This Capitol monument honors the women of the Confederacy.
The Arkansas Democratic Party has waded hip-deep (maybe over its head) into the suddenly hot issue of Confederate statuary. It has called for removal of such monuments to museums or private places.

On Thursday, the Democratic Party of Arkansas denounced the continued display of Confederate monuments on public grounds.

From the Democratic Party of Arkansas:

“The time has come for these symbols of our past to be placed in museums and privately owned spaces rather than to continue to occupy public lands.

Monuments are symbols and symbols can sometimes have meanings that are not unilaterally shared across communities. Objects that romanticize the darkest days of our history do not belong on taxpayer funded public grounds.

Our nation was built on values of inclusion and free speech and it is incumbent upon us to always strive for a more perfect union. We can do this by filling our public spaces with new symbols of everything we hope to be rather than what we once were.”
Donald Trump accelerated this fight this morning, as I noted earlier. Such monuments and historical markers in Arkansas are so numerous as to be hard to reliably count.

We've been undertaking a survey of Arkansas politicians about Charlottesville, Trump's remarks and monuments. While many are ready to condemn racism, most are inclined to view statues as historic artifacts that should be preserved. That they don't often reflect their own history — erected as symbols of Southern resistance to equal rights for blacks, as evidenced by Jim Crow laws and tributes to traitors to the union — is not a persuasive argument in most cases.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said:

When it comes to the debate about our historical monuments, we cannot change history but we must learn from it. We should not start taking down monuments just because they remind us of an unpleasant past. Refusing to face our history by dismantling it is a mistake. We should use our historical markers as teaching opportunities to provide greater leadership for the future. Part of the legislation I signed to separate the holidays of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert E. Lee was to use the history of the Civil War as a teaching opportunity for our students.
As a legislative matter, the Democratic Party's idea is almost a certain loser at the state level.

More interesting might be thinking in individual localities. Surging Bentonville in Benton County, Union territory in the Civil War, nonetheless has a Confederate monument on the square that has been so revived by Walmart money. It's target of a removal petition and fierce opposition is already evident. Little Rock has a Civil War monument in the city's MacArthur Park, something that even Mayor Mark Stodola didn't recall when interviewed by KATV about the monument debate.

There are two large Civil War monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol and, as many have noted, the imagery on the Arkansas flag includes a star representative of the state's time in the Confederacy, which it joined to defend slavery. The star was added almost 60 years after the war ended. The meaning of the star was affirmed in 1987 legislation about all the elements of the flag.

I recounted some of the history in praising New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's speech explaining the removal of such statues in his city. The monument to soldiers at the Arkansas Capitol, for example, was put up 40 years after the war was over.  A band played "Dixie" and remarks were made.

The legislator who sponsored the funding proclaimed the state had "no excuses to make, no apologies to offer." He said the statue was a testimonial of "our unconditional and unqualified endorsement" of the Confederacy. Gov. Jeff Davis called the statue an altar "to the cause we each know was right, the cause of the Confederacy." Featured orator Col. A.S. Morgan said the Confederate cause "is neither a lost cause, nor will the Confederate soldier be forgotten."
The descendants of slaves perhaps don't feel the nobility when they walk by.

click to enlarge FOR THE SOLIDERS: Another monument at Capitol.
  • FOR THE SOLIDERS: Another monument at Capitol.

 

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Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 12:42:00

'Sign of the Times': Political posters at CHARTS

click to enlarge reagan_sized.jpg_show_at_pulaski_tech.jpg

Hendrix College's Dr. Jay Barth will give a talk and sax player Dr. Barry McVinney and pianist Mark Binns will provide the music at tonight's opening of "The Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster" in the Windgate Gallery at UA Pulaski Tech's CHARTS (The Center for Humanities and Arts). The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The exhibition, from ExhibitsUSA, includes posters from 1844 to 2012, which are shown both as an example of poster art, the dawn of lithography, and to stimulate talk about the politics of the past. The exhibition tracks changes in styles, from the use of political artists like Ben Shahn and illustrator James Montgomery Flagg during the World War II to the "floating head" design of the 1950s and 1960s and beyond.

Here's more about the show from the exhibition news release:

Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster 1844–2012 explores a variety of styles, design trends, and printing technology that will delight your eye, engage your imagination, and lead you to ruminate over past political commitments. The political campaign poster had its humble beginnings in the 1840s when the new lithographic printing process, largely developed in Germany, was developed to satisfy a growing demand for printed material. Hand-colored portraits of presidential and vice-presidential candidates were first printed for the 1844 race between Whig Party candidate Henry Clay and the eventual winner, James K. Polk of the Democratic Party. ...

The left-wing counterculture revolution of the 1960s was awash in civil rights, psychedelia and anti-war posters that culminated in the creation of some of the finest campaign posters, many of which appeared in the 1968 Democratic primary campaign of Eugene McCarthy. The George McGovern campaign that followed in 1972 was a virtual explosion of exciting political art. The offset printed poster was the more frequent, but many famous artists, such as Alexander Calder and Peter Max, screenprinted limited editions that helped fund campaigns. Hundreds of posters were created by well-known artists, illustrators, and often by inspired first time poster makers.

After the graphically exciting 1972 presidential campaign, future contests produced only a few outstanding posters in each election cycle. However, the Democrat’s nomination of Barack Obama in 2008 heralded a renaissance of the form, as many artists—insiders, outsiders, and the famous—jumped on the candidate’s bandwagon. In fact, in 2008 it looked as if the great American political poster had at last solidified its place in future campaigns. Unfortunately, it was not to be; in 2012 the creation of exciting innovative posters tapered off sharply from the previous presidential election cycle.

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 14:39:00

GiGi's opens with soul food and 'old school R and B vibe'

click to enlarge gigi.png

GiGi’s Soul Cafe and Lounge at 10840 Maumelle Blvd., where the Nashville Rockin Grill was located, opened July 28 and co-owner Darrell Wyrick the restaurant is “bringing back the spirit of some of the places that have gone, like Porter’s and The Afterthought” with its soul food and “old school R and B vibe.”

The chef is Flint Flenoy, who is also executive chef at the Holiday Inn Express-Airport. The lunch menu includes burgers, beef brisket, meatloaf, hot dogs, smoked wings and more; the dinner menu adds, among other things, barbecue, burgers, pork chops, ribs, catfish and fried chicken. The house band, The Blue Candle, named for a jazz lounge in the Bay area that Wyrick’s wife, Helen Andrea Wyrick, used to visit, plays Friday and Saturday night. (Its four members are also part of SynRG.) In the future, GiGi’s may add nightly music and Wednesday night karaoke, Darrell Wyrick said.

GiGi’s is open for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., “depending on the traffic,” Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday).

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 11:32:00

Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

click to enlarge Mavis Staples, coming to Robinson Auditorium. - HBO
  • HBO
  • Mavis Staples, coming to Robinson Auditorium.

Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock Sept. 23 for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.

The Robinson Center concert starts at 7 p.m.; tickets are $45-$65. There will a cocktail reception before the concert starting at 5:30 p.m.; tickets for the concert and reception range from $170 to $190. The concert is a fundraiser for the Little Rock Nine Foundation.

Here's what Staples said in a recent interview with NPR before the release of her latest album, "Living on a A High Note":

So before we let you go, I wonder if you have any thoughts for some of the artists coming up today who are singing about a lot of the same concerns that you had. I mean, "Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)" — somebody could have written that today.

Yes, that's true. And I tell you, I watch the news sometimes and I think I'm back in the '60s. It's all happening all over again. This kid Chance The Rapper, he's very good at explaining what's happening in the world today. There are very few; I wish there were more who would sing songs like "Respect Yourself," and "Reach out, touch a hand / make a friend, if you can."

Pops used to tell songwriters, "If you want to write for the Staple Singers, read the headlines. We want to sing about what's happening in the world today, and if it's something bad, we want to sing a song to try to fix it."
If only.

The performance is part of numerous events scheduled to mark the 60 years since Melba Patillo (now Beals), Carlotta Walls (now LaNier), Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray (now Karlmark), Jefferson Thomas, Minnijean Brown (now Trickey), Terrence Roberts and Thelma Mothershed (now Wair) desegregated Central High after the President Eisenhower federalized the National Guard to escort them in past the white mob. The problem was not, as our current president would say, "on many sides." Thomas, who attended the 50th anniversary, is deceased.

Numerous events scheduled around the commemoration include the Arkansas Arts Center's exhibition "Will Counts: The Central High School Photographs," which includes one of the most famous integration pictures ever taken, the heckling of Eckford, on exhibit now; "The Surface of the Sky," UCA faculty member Blake Tyson's original composition for percussion commemorating the courage of the Little Rock Nine, to be performed at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies 6-8 p.m. Sept. 8; various ACANSA-related musical performances, like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band show; and many more, including multiple events Sept. 23 at Central High School, the outdoor stage at the Magnolia/Mobil Service Station across from the school and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center, and "An Evening with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Tania Leon: Turning History into Art" at Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA campus at Conway. Events run into next year, and include a book release of Beals' book "March Forward, Girl: From Young Woman to Little Rock Nine."

 

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  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

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The Arkansas Cinema Society's must-see 'Premiere'

August 17, 2017
The Arkansas Cinema Society's must-see 'Premiere'
The new outfit kicks off with Adam Driver "A Ghost Story" and more. /more/

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Arkansas Reporter

Youth lockups to go to contractors

August 17, 2017
Youth lockups to go to contractors
After takeover, governor cites improvements in facilities, but wants private companies to run them again.By Benjamin Hardy Arkansas Nonprofit News Network /more/
 

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