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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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 07:45:00

Benton County Republican battles come down to handful of votes

click to enlarge DELLA ROSA: Leads by three votes for re-election to House seat in Benton County.
  • DELLA ROSA: Leads by three votes for re-election to House seat in Benton County.

Pundits looking to construct narratives about political party divisions might turn attention away from the Democratic Party to the outcomes of legislative races in Benton County, the biggest producer of Republican votes in the state.

Look what the GOP primary wrought last night in close votes.

District 90

Incumbent Rep. Jana Della Rosa 1,068
Kendon Underwood, 1,065

District 91

Incumbent Rep. Dan Douglas 946
Scott Richardson 934

District 93

Incumbent Rep. Jim Dotson 1,112
Gen Nunnally 936

Margins of 3, 12 and 178 votes for well-known incumbents. Recounts seem likely in two races.

Of note: I mentioned yesterday that independent money had entered this race against Della Rosa and for Dotson.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 05:49:00

In Pulaski County, a first and maybe another for African-Americans

click to enlarge ERIC HIGGINS: The next Pulaski sheriff
  • ERIC HIGGINS: The next Pulaski sheriff
Here's the complete account of election results in Pulaski County.

Results show two black candidates won Democratic primaries for countywide offices. Eric Higgins beat Carl Minden in the race to succeed retiring Doc Holladay as sheriff. There is no Republican opponent in the fall.

PS: A reader notes, correctly, that black candidates have been elected to judgeships in the county, not strictly county offices but point worth noting.

Terri Hollingsworth defeated Chris Crane in the race to succeed Crane's father Larry Crane as county/circuit clerk. She will have a Republican opponent.

But for now, the possibility exists of what I believe is the first election of African-Americans to a Pulaski countywide office. Perhaps two.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 05:42:41

Are Arkansas court seats for sale? Maybe in one race, no in another

  • COURTNEY GOODSON: In the lead
UPDATE: Outside money propelled one candidate into a runoff for a state Supreme Court seat but failed to elect a favored candidate in a race for Arkansas Court of Appeals.

Supreme Court Justice  Courtney Goodson, the primary target of more than $1 million in outside spending by dark and partisan independent groups, led the ticket with 37.4 percent of the vote. She'll be in a runoff with David Sterling, a Little Rock Republican lawyer in state employment who positioned himself as a conservative Christian gun-=toting conservative and enjoyed huge dark money support. He had 33.6 percent of the vote. Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Hixson, a late entrant to the race who enjoyed the backing of major Arkansas business interests who soured on Goodson, whom they'd supported in her original race for court, trailed with 28.9 percent.

Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Bart Virden, facing a candidate, Johnnie Copeland, heavily supported by out-of-state Republican money, prevailed with 52.8 percent of the vote.

By midnight last night, Copelad hadn't conceded. But early this morning she posted a statement on her Facebook page:

I congratulate Judge Virden on his win tonight. My family and I have been blessed with the votes, support, and prayers from friends, both new and old. We would like to thank everyone involved in this journey. I believe that God has a purpose for all things and I look forward to following His plan for my career.
At last report, each candidate had raised less than $50,000 forthe campaign, amounts dwarfed by the Republican group's $80,000 worth of attack advertising on Virden and in support of Copeland. The group makes no disclosure of donorsin Arkansas, though fedral tax records filed on a quarterly basis provide some insight into the money sources.

From earlier:

Too early to say if the increasing effort by dark money or partisan money groups to buy court seats can claim more successes this year after electing Dan Kemp as chief justice over Courtney Goodson two years ago,

This year, some $2 million has been spent by the totally dark money Judicial Crisis Network and the overtly partisan and not fully transparent Republican State Leadership Committee to beat Goodson in her re-election race with Republican partisan David Sterling and to unseat Court of Appeals Judge Bart Virden with a Baxter County Republican, Johnnie Copeland (whose name I listed incorrectly earlier).

click to enlarge AHEAD IN EARLY RETURNS: Bart Virden
In early returns for Court of Appeals, a district sprawling from Virden's Conway County home to far northeast Arkansas, Virden has 54 percent of the vote. Big margins close to his home have overcome margins for Copeland in Republican Baxter and Boone Counties.

With about 100,000 votes counted in the Supreme Court race, the tally has Goodson on top with 37.9 percent, Sterling with 31.9 percent and Kenneth Hixson with 30.8 percent. Hixson has enjoyed some Arkansas corporate support. But if the November runoff pits Goodson against Sterling, the dark money outpouring seems likely to be enormous. But does Goodson's effort tonight indicate there's some backlash to dirty advertising? We could hope.


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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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