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February 9, 2011

Vol 37 • No 23

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The Best Restaurants in Arkansas in 2011

With features on Hot Dog Mike, Bossa Nova's Brazilian treats, a banh mi sandwich worth driving for and more. Plus, readers pick the best restaurants in Arkansas.

The food of the people

Trio's, Mike's Place, Dugan's Pub and ZaZa Conway are among this year's winners, according to Arkansas Times readers.

Thirty years of Readers Choice

A look back at a culinary institution.

Pass the pao quiejo, please

Only at Bossa Nova.

The ascendancy of Hot Dog Mike

A study in street food, done right.

Dugan's and the appeal of the moderately Irish Pub

A new Irish migration.

Make a pilgrimage to Pho Vietnam in Fort Smith

For the vegetarian banh mi sandwich.

Readers Choice results, through the years

Results from 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006.

Chavez free on bond

Jonathan Chavez, the UA Honors College student who was detained in Florida by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is free on $1,000 bond and is headed back to Fayetteville to resume his studies.

Amendments include lottery killer

With the deadline at hand for filing proposed constitutional amendment, the garbage has been flowing in.

Welspun putting workers at risk, OSHA says

Worker safety at issue for the corporate recruit.

The Week of The Year of the Tiger

The Underclaire/Moving Front fusion wins Round Two in a photo finish; Week Three this Thursday.

Tales from the stacks

Thom Hall talks about the Arts Center's drawings.

The extremists' agenda

What the Family Council wants is the assurance that they can impose their religion and bigotry on the rest of us.

Race is hard, but justice should not be

There is ripe and racially explosive criticism readily available for what you are about to read.

Swamped with flavor

A find in England.

Mick's BBQ, Catfish and Grill

It's a leap beyond football game concession stand food and just a few paces behind backyard barbecue: just like roadside grub should be.

Clinton's post-mortem

Whatever his failings in everyday life or in governance, put Bill Clinton in front of a roomful of laborers or intellectuals and he always delivers a tour de force.

Save kids and workers

The Arkansas legislature is seldom so brash as to do what's right first shot out of the box. Legislative progress is measured in dribs and drabs.

Eye on Arkansas, Feb. 9

In Brief: Dirtfoot, Big John Miller, Adam Faucett and more

Dirtfoot at Maxine's in Hot Springs, Big John Miller Band at The Afterthought, Adam Faucett at Vino's and more.

Supreme Court race

Ray Abramson of Holly Grove, currently serving by appointment to complete an unexpired term on the Arkansas Court of Appeals, is letting it be known that he plans a race for Arkansas Supreme Court in 2012.

Domino theory

We have a general membership meeting at the House of Dominoes from time to time. It used to be an annual meeting, with refreshments and everything, but domino-playing fell off considerable after these last two downturns.

A reader with questions

I have long valued the Arkansas Times as a source of trenchant analysis and a more progressive slant on Arkansas people and events than I get from the Dem-Gaz.  I was puzzled, though, by your Jan. 27 editorial, "Austin Learning Limits."

Mike Leigh prods middle-aged domesticity in 'Another Year'

Time is not on your side.

'Beaker Street,' remembered

When the clock struck midnight Sunday night, one of the few remaining sovereign states of radio disappeared from the map: Clyde Clifford's "Beaker Street" went dark.

Orval, Feb. 9, 2011

A ticket to non-violence

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, will be at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville May 11 and lead a discussion and lecture on non-violence.

This Modern World, Feb. 9, 2011

The To-Do List, Feb. 9-15

Kid Rock at Verizon, Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Revolution, Ingram Hill at Juanita's, "The Second Annual Meeting of the Little Rock Lebowski League" at Market Street Cinema, Mike Jones at Club Hollywood, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" at Weekend Theater, "Arkansawr'n'b" at the Old State House Center.

The Televisionist, Feb. 9

The Televisionist on "Must Love Cats" and "Beyond Scared Straight: San Quentin."

The Week That Was, Feb. 1-8

Good week: Gov. Mike Beebe, the Republican Party. Bad week: ethics, State Correction Department, John Pelphrey.

What's Cookin', Feb. 9

Twelve Modern Lounge will open in mid-to-late February in the former Capital View-area home of Star Bar.

Words, Feb. 9

Let a swagger be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day.

Waiting for snow

Still time for a few last salt/milk/etc. runs before the snow arrives in Little Rock, according to this Weather Service map.

The self-absorption of the Tea Party

Interesting story today about an unhinged letter sent by freshman Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro to Gov. Mike Beebe.

Objection to Broadway Bridge plan

It may prove a quixotic stand, but I'm reminded by an article in the D-G this morning about the ongoing planning process that state Rep. John Walker has been at work behind the scenes raising questions about the Highway Department's desire to spend $45 million, maybe more, to replace the Broadway Bridge linking Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Abramson to run for Arkansas Supreme Court

Since our publishing schedule has been discombobulated a bit by weather, I'll pass along early an item slated for this week's Insider column.

Republicans: The party of intrusive government

This is an important discussion on Talking Points Memo of the Republicans single-minded pursuit of anti-abortion legislation — to hell with jobs and the economy.

How deep is the snow?

I thought elwood and others might be putting us on with tales of 18 inches of new snow in Northwest Arkansas.

Where are the jobs?

It didn't produce much in election 2010, but it's still better than nothing that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee continues to work and watch how Republicans are delivering on campaign promises.

French toast time

So, wondering what to do with all those eggs, that bread and that milk you just purchased?

Tim Pawlenty to visit Arkansas

Mailbag brings a note that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be in town next week to meet with Republican leaders.

Amendment to abolish two state offices UPDATE

This proposal has been mentioned favorably over the years by a number of journalists, me included.

Jefferson County approves tax for development

The final tally indicates Jefferson County has approved a 3-8th-of-a-cent sales tax to create a fund to hand out tax money to lure private business to the depressed county.

Wednesday To-Do: Kid Rock

Kid Rock braves the snow to play Verizon tonight.

Snow piles up at XNA

The Fox News Edge Facebook page posted this photo from Melena McFadden of a Northwest Arkansas Airport employee struggling through drifts today.

Jim Webb won't seek re-election

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb says he won't seek re-election from Virginia. Can you say macaca?

Gabrielle Giffords speaks

CNN flash says Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in rehab in Houston for a gunshot wound to the head, has resumed speaking.

Arkansas outpaces U.S. on AP testing

The Education Department announced today that Arkansas continues to have more students taking Advanced Placement tests than the country as a whole.

Osceola man killed in police search

Details remain sketchy, but the State Police have identified a 26-year-old Osceola man shot during what was said to be an effort to serve a federal search warrant related to computer crimes.

Slipping and sliding

Remember "The Reivers," and the mud hole that was always good for yielding a traveler in need of rescue?

Amendment a lottery killer

We commented yesterday on Rep. Anne Clemmer's proposed constitutional amendment to require that 35 percent of lottery proceeds be spent on scholarships.

Huckabee ends presidential committee

A reader notes a Jan. 31 filing with the Federal Election Commission that terminates Huckabee for President Inc., the committee through which he mounted his 2008 presidential campaign.

The line is open

I think I'll leave it with you and start tending the fireplace. Sounds like everything from state government on down will be closed tomorrow.

Now the freeze

20-pllus inches of snow on the ground and a temperature this morning of -18. Minot, N.D.?

Free enterprise at the airport

Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is another one of those Republicans who's always talking about how government shouldn't meddle in private business.

The government debate

John Brummett frames the local and national debate of the moment: * Republicans, like Sen. Gilbert Baker: Cut taxes and let government adjust.

It's the stupidity, stupid

OK, a family values Republican congressman, Christopher Lee, has quit because he was busted for trolling for babes on Craigslist.

Where's the PSC? And Dustin?

I can't link it, but John Pickett of Conway, the economist and former Public Service Commission member, has a guest column today in the Democrat-Gazette about the deficiencies of the state Public Service Commission, from its many failures in handling the SWEPCO power plant case to various rate-making deficiencies and a failure to force Entegry's integration into a regional system of power sales and delivery.

Weep, for Egypt's treasures

From Radio Netherlands, via culturegrrl: Looters have done severe damage to Dutch archaeological digs in Egypt, says Maarten Raven, Egyptologist at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities.

Gene Lyons on the Reagan record

If, like me, you didn't get a daily newspaper delivered this morning, you might be missing your weekly dose of Gene Lyons.

Give us your tired, your poor ...

And U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin will kick their children in the butt. Griffiin has joined the list of sponsors to attempt to end automatic citizenship for people born in the U.S. Immigrant haters are pushing this legislation in part because of the myth of an "anchor baby" boom, a non-existent flood of pregnant illegals seeking to get children born here with citizenship that could protect their own status.

Warm up for Wiggins' collection

2nd Friday Art Night shows: Arkansas Studies Institute's exhibit of work from the J.W. Wiggins Collection.

Nobody tell Loy Mauch about this

From the thank-God-for-Mississippi Dept. Confederate sympathizers are trying to get a commemorative license plate in honor of Rebel general and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Open carry bill killed in committee

Rep. Denny Altes brought his open carry handgun bill before the House Judiciary Committee today and after some rigorous questoning saw it shot down in a hail of hostile fire.

Kenny Chesney returns to Verizon

Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker are coming to NLR.

Group objects to congressional bunkhouse

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has formally objected to the practice of some 33 members of Congress — both Republican and Democrat and including U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin — of living in their offices in Washington rather than in private residences.

Mubarak preparing to step down UPDATE

No official word yet, but everybody is reporting that Hosni Mubarak is about to relinquish his dictatorial control of Egypt after 30 years.


Thanks to Rosso for a shot on Lee Avenue, I think from the same artists who gave LR the love sculpture during the last snowstorm.

Republican honeymoon over

So says Public Policy Polling. It's doing national samples for Daily Kos now, but it was hired because of its overall record against the span of polling companies.

Tonight's Showcase moved to March 3

Tonight's Showcase moved to March 3.

Arkansas census data released UPDATE

The 2010 Census figures will be released today at 1 p.m. our time. Here's a link to study the data for yourself.

Kid Rock rants

Kid Rock tells complaining fans to screw off. In so many words.

Maceo to Walton Arts

Funk sax god Maceo Parker is coming to Fayetteville.

'Waiting for Superman's' Oscar snub

A friend shares a Washington Post article that I missed while on vacation. It's Valerie Strauss' article on the reason "Waiting for Superman," the documentary about charter schools, wasn't nominated for a documentary film Oscar.

SWEPCO: Another attack on environment

SWEPCO, the friendly utility that wants to poison the air in southwest Arkansas with one of the last coal-burning power plants to be authorized in the U.S., has another money-making scheme that, I'm told, seems likely to be run through the legislature like you know what through a goose, with similar smelly after-effects.

French Quarter time

While we're all waiting for a thaw here in Central Arkansas, I thought I might direct you towards two New Orleans eateries I experienced right before I took off on my cruise last month.

The line is open

Your thoughts welcome here. State offices open two hours late tomorrow.

Burger joint of the week: Markham Street Grill and Pub

I gotcher blue cheese burger right here. And as far as blue cheeseburgers go, you can’t get any sharper or tangier than Markham Street Grill and Pub’s Black & Blue Burger.

Weekend: Dirtfoot, Ark. Symphony Orchestra, Adam Faucett

What's going on in and around Central Arkansas this weekend

Frozen Internet tubes

Don't know about you, but great swaths of the Internet territory I normally cover in the morning aren't responding, from New York Times to Census data pages.

Census: Whites now minority in LR

The Democrat-Gazette further mined Census data yesterday for the finding that white people are no longer a majority of Little Rock's population.

DREAM dashed

You've read about him here before, but I don't think too much can be said about the plight of the UA honors student, Jonathan Chavez, facing deportation to Peru.

More bird deaths

The latest mass bird death report: Tree swallows in Lake Charles, La. Don't tell anyone that, though I now live just south of the killing fields of Beebe, I'm a Lake Charles native.

Hosni Mubarak steps down

Says here that he really did, and ceded power to military. The crowds are jubilant.

Friday To-Do: Ingram Hill

Memphis MOR rockers Ingram Hill land in Juanita's tonight.

Friday To-Do: Dirty Dozen Brass Band

NOLA brass band ambassadors to the world at large, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, return to Revolution.

Weekend To-Do: "The Second Annual Meeting of the Little Rock Lebowski League"

Fans of the cult movie "The Big Lebowski" flock, costumed, to Market Street Cinema tonight.

Friday To-Do: Mike Jones

Houston rapper Mike Jones heads to Club Hollywood.

Weekend To-Do: 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'

August WIlson's 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' opens tonight at The Weekend Theater.

2nd Fri. is on: Coppola, Gutierrez, Nelson, Nobel, Palmer and more

Betting that folks are sick of being at home and will brave a little slush to get out and see art, the 2nd Friday venues will be open from 5-8 p.m. tonight.

LR garbage pickup plans

In case you've been wondering about garbage pickup in Little Rock, given the weather mess, the city has announced: Solid Waste Collections will be suspending all services except garbage collections from today through Sunday, February 13, 2011.

A tribute to 'Beaker Street'

The Observer toasts Clyde Clifford and his long run on the internationally regarded "Beaker Street" radio show.

The Arkansas Times Jazz Bus

Make your reservation today for the Arkansas Times Jazz Bus to JazzFest in New Orleans.

Arrest made in double homicide

The Little Rock police have announced the arrest of Brandon U. Westbrook, 25, in the murders of two men found shot Feb. 3 at 2512 Summit Street.

Woman fights, but loses purse in scrap with robbers

Channel 4 reports on a 49-year-old woman's resistance outside Fred's discount store south of Little Rock last night when they tried to steal her purse.

People still read

CALS posts a record number. Plus, reading recommendations.

Gambling accelerates at racinos

I've commented a couple of times on Rep. Anne Clemmer's proposed constitutional amendment to require that 35 percent of lottery sales be spent on college scholarships.

Mike Huckabee leads presidential poll

A new Fox poll — said to be legit — puts Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee atop the field of potential Republican presidential candidates, a bare point ahead of Mitt Romney both among all surveyed and among Republicans only.

Friday night line

Weird week. Let's call an end to it and hope for dry streets in the next one.

Street renaming for Abrams withdrawn

Kathy Wells of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods reports that a proposal to rename a stretch of 19th Street for long-time community worker Annie Abrams has been withdrawn at the request of Mrs. Abrams.

Prostitutes ply Bentonville

KFSM TV is shocked to discover women are selling sex to businessmen in Bentonville. They're not streetwalking, mind you.

On use of traffic turn signals

Must drivers use turn signals if no other traffic is present?Attorney General Dustin McDaniel answered that question this week in an official opinion for Prosecuting Attorney John Threet of Fayetteville.

Grappling with a gun at Gaston's

The Baxter County sheriff favors me with releases of activities up in the hills and the happenings are not always peaceful.

Census tells the political story

John Brummett reviews the 2010 Census, and the stark maps that show the disappearance of people from the Delta and concentration of growth in Central and Northwest Arkansas, and concludes that the state's transformation to Republicanism is almost assured.

Iowa may force museum to cash in Pollock: Update

The legislature in Iowa hasn't been paying much attention to the controversy over institutions selling art to stay afloat.

Democrats elect Will Bond as chair

Zac Wright, Gov. Mike Beebe's campaign manager, is as good a Twitter feed to follow today as any for reports from the Democratic State Convention in Hot Springs.

Line's open

Sorry. Delayed by King's Speech.

And a fun time was had by all

Despite the snow, Eureka Springs' Chocolate Lovers Festival draws hundreds in to consume and celebrate all the chocolate they could eat.

Mr. Brummett regrets .... Courtney Henry

There are other points, but the nut of John Brummett today: I apologize to readers for having recommended Justice [Courtney] Henry’s election last year over John Fogleman.

Clarence Thomas, the silent justice

Interesting article in the Times this morning. Justice Clarence Thomas hasn't spoken in an oral argument in five years.

Suburban myths debunked

For your reading interest this morning: an op-ed writer in the Washington Post debunks myths about suburban communities.

This morning: 'Decade' featuring Kris Allen at Verizon Arena

Kris Allen was on hand this morning at Verizon Arena to help celebrate 'Decade,' the ten-year anniversary of New Life (mega-)Church.

Republican supports health reform?

Blue Arkansas provides an interesting clip of Bruce Cozart, the Republican candidate for the special election for House District 24 in Hot Springs, in an appearance before a local NAACP chapter.

An open line and a goodbye

I open the line with sad news. A friend, a great lawyer and a good man — retired Rose Law firm partner George Campbell — died today in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Ark. Times bus to Jazz fest

I meant to link this earlier.The Arkansas Times, after a successful charter bus run to the King Biscuit Blues Festival, is planning a bus trip to New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Republicans propose to eat 'seed corn'

Paul Krugman assesses the Republican plan to cut federal spending and comes up with a slogan — "Eat the Future."

The rising cost of retiree health benefits

Hard to imagine this trend won't be felt in Arkansas soon, if it is not already.

Call a lie a lie

Good column by Glenn Greenwald on criticism Anderson Cooper has received for pointedly — and accurately — describing lies told by Hosni Mubarak as lies.

Tax breaks don't build economy

Timing is good for receipt of this link to a study in Iowa that demonstrates the fallacy of the belief that corporate tax breaks and similar corporate welfare encourage economic development.

Art of Architecture: Gail Thomas on Trinity Bridge

Tomorrow night's Art of Architecture lecture about the architect-designed bridge over the Trinity River is timely.

Arkansas dog in Westminster hunt

A friend in Hot Springs, generally reliable, says Hot Springs Convention Center box office manager Brian Leonard's coonhound, Elvis, won best of breed at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York.

Brockmeier to receive Laman fellowship

Laman Library is giving Kevin Brockmeier $10,000 to write a memoir.

Valentine's Night: Pretty Things Peep Show, "Lovers and Friends," Tim Anthony

Valentine's Day around town offers burlesque, jazz and

Pat O'Brien on Arkansas progressives

Pat O'Brien, recently beaten by a nonentity, expense account-padding Republican legislator, in his race for secretary of state has contributed an op-ed to the Blue Hog Report on the state of progressives in Arkansas.

Judges endorse correction report

Add the Arkansas Judicial Council, which represents state judges, to the many groups that have endorsed the report of the Arkansas Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections.

Obama budget draws usual reaction

President Obama today proposed $1 trillion (with a T) in spending cuts over 10 years.

A victory for the gun lobby

The vote was 29-5 today on a Senate bill of little except negative relevance. It is, of course, to prove that the gun lobby can pass just about anything it wants in the state Senate no matter how damaging.

Rep. Webb's shale protection bills

Roby Brock has a rundown on a package of bills being offered by Rep. Kathy Webb of Little Rock to step up the state's efforts to protect air and water quality from adverse effects of gas exploration in the Fayetteville shale.

The line is open

You're on. Hungry?

Tuesday To-Do: 'Arkansawr'n'b: The State's Forgotten Rhythm n' Blues Legacy'

The Old State House Center's weekly "Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series" with Stephen Koch discussing the state's R&B history.

Charter school accountability in Maumelle

It's taken 10 years, but the state Board of Education has finally begun bringing some degree of accountability to charter schools.

The push to save public TV money

Allen Weatherly, executive director of the Arkansas Educational Television Network, has sent a letter to AETN Foundation supporters urging them to call members of Congress in the state to save federal allotments for public television.

Curtis Vance's lawyer defends trial system

Little Rock lawyer Bill James was the successful defense attorney for Curtis Vance in his trial on a charge of raping a Marianna teacher.

Mayor Stodola touts 'sustainability' record

Mayor Mark Stodola has sent a newsletter touting his record at making Little Rock a "sustainable," or more environmentally sound, city.

Q: Obama's greatest strength?

A: Weakness of the field of Republican candidates. That's the bottom line on some numbers crunching by Nate Silver, who adds, naturally, that it is early.

Clarence Thomas' junket

Did Justice Clarence Thomas really make just a brief "drop-by" at a gathering of wealthy conservatives, as a court spokesman claimed?

The myth of eroding schools

The push for education "reform" depends on your belief in the steady erosion of the quality of American education.

Left behind

Maybe it was the way I was raised or having to deal with being poor as a young TV producer starting out… but the idea of wasting food bothers the tar out of me.

'Birthers' rule the GOP

Public Policy Polling says a majority of likely Republican primary voters believe President Barack Obama was not born in the U.s.

Traffic death on hospital grounds

Channel 4 reports that a Baptist Medical Center employee was struck by a car and killed this morning on the med center grounds.

More 1st amendment limits

Rep. Randy Stewart made his move in committee today to make a little political hay by extending from 150 feet to 300 feet the statutory prohibition on demonstrations during funerals.

Airport Commission raps Mathieu

The Little Rock Airport Commission today completed its annual review of airport Director Ron Mathieu.

House committee backs tax cuts

Gov. Mike Beebe's balanced budget took multiple licks in House committee today. * The House Revenue and Taxation Committee approved a tax break for manufacturers' utility bills (no, silly, not your home bill.)

Muhammad trial delayed

Abdulhakim Muhammad's capital murder trial is postponed until July 18.

Oprah Network filming here

Oprah Winfrey network show filming here.

Thank God for South Dakota

Unbelievable. South Dakota's legislature is considering a bill that would legalize killing someone to prevent the harm of a fetus—a measure which could be used to defend people who kill abortion doctors.

Prestige factor

Chef Lee Richardson is a finalist in Food & Wine's "The People's Best New Chef 2011" competition.

Signs and Signals: Nelson, Gutierrez, Coppola

U of A art professor Marilyn Nelson stared at a deck of Navy signal flags for several years before she found a way to use them in her art.

Dermott schools struggle; football targeted

A Dermott School District teacher tells me the School Board of the small Delta district, in the face of tight money, will consider an administrative proposal Feb. 22 to cut football, cheerleading and the yearbook.

Tuesday: Susan Gibson, Outstanding Red Team, ACAC bingo

Tuesday in Little Rock offers folkie Susan Gibson, rock from Outstanding Red Team and tons of karaoke.

Win tickets to Soup Sunday

Soup Sunday, arguably the year’s best food-related benefit, is scheduled for this Sunday, February 20.

Give Michael Inscoe some money, get odd schwag

Local writer Michael Inscoe is offering some wild stuff in return for financial backing for his new book.

Don't forget: Art of Architecture

Tonight. 6 p.m. at the Clinton School.

The line is open

Your comments welcome. But one last reflection on Little Rock National Airport.

Liz Ward at the U of A

Let's hope we can say that it's going to stop snowing buckets in Fayetteville and folks can get back out on the streets and to the galleries.

Stream: The Reparations "Ride or Die"

There's a new CD coming from The Reparations on Thick Syrup Records.

Zac Brown to Mulberry Mountain

Zac Brown and co. will play outside of Ozark this spring.