He's the author of "The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness" and "Blue Laws."
Get litApril 14, 2016
Vol 42 • No 32
On writing as survival, reading the canon, fiction v. nonfiction and more.
On magic, mysticism and memoir.
On pacifism; historical leftists; and his new book, "Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939."
On his father's secret erotic fiction writing career, genre fiction and more.
Readers get ready.
On her novel "Turner House," Arkansas connections, race and housing discrimination and more.
Coby's at the Heart Hospital gets the Japanese mainstay right.
The Springfield-Des Arc Bridge by David Snoddy from our Flickr Eye on Arkansas page.
Also, Isaac Alexander and The Nobility share a bill at White Water.
Watching Bill Clinton bickering with Black Lives Matter activists in Philadelphia recently, I had several conflicting, and not entirely praiseworthy responses. One was that the longer an American political campaign continues, the dumber and uglier it gets.
Play at home.
Also, Sing Into Spring with the Arkansas Chamber Singers at the Governor's Mansion, Bless the Mic: Alicia Garza at Philander Smith, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy at Verizon, Young Thug at the Clear Channel Metroplex, Arkansas Derby Day at Oaklawn and "War Letters" at the MacArthur Museum.
Also, hard chicken, anti-LGBT laws on the march, Arkansas's budget without the private option and more.
On writing biographies, Elvis, Charlie Rich and more.
A minority threatens a shutdown over Medicaid expansion.
Two remarkable movements are underway across the South right now. First is a tide of state legislation intended to counteract progress on LGBT rights. Second, and even more remarkable considering the political history of the region, is strong economic pressure fighting these legislative efforts.
Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
It's a A POV trip.
The state's other newspaper recently ran a piece by longtime laissez-faire champion Paul Greenberg entitled "Down with equality."
The Observer is still learning, in our decrepitude, one of the hardest lessons there is to learn: when to stop putting chips on the table and fold. You tried to teach us, Kenny Rogers! Why didn't we listen?
Bless her heart, Mississippi has bested us again and the rest of the South, too, in a predictable venue — enshrining religion-based bigotry in state law.
NBC's Dateline will air its report on the slaying of real estate agent Beverly Carter at 9 p.m. Sunday. If offered this preview.
Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck resigned Tuesday after the county Quorum Court agreed to pay him almost $80,000 to "buy out" the remainder of this term, which runs through the end of 2016.
Saying "we respect our fellow citizens," Louisiana's new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, yesterday issued an executive order mandating nondiscrimination by state government against people based on sexual orientation and gender. It's a marked contrast to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who's said he sees no need to offer any protections to LGBT people.
Jennifer Carman, who's been at the center of recent stories about an apartment project before the Little Rock Historic District Commission, sent notice to city officials yesterday that she was resigning from the commission, which controls development in the historic neighborhood around MacArthur Park. Plenty of questions remain about what happens next.
With the legislature stuck at an impasse in the funding fight for the private option Medicaid expansion, some procedural maneuvering could provide a way forward.
Expansion is underway at The Root, which is also hosting dinner twice a month now. The South Main restaurant has also recently hired Sara Slimp, of the popular Fayetteville food truck Chunky Dunk, as its pastry chef. And it's hosting a pie bake-off on Saturday.
The state Board of Education today voted to put the Dollarway School District in fiscal distress, which allows state to assert control and also voted to hire a consultant to study public school district/charter school collaboration in Pulaski County.
An unidentified group is sening critical messages into the districts of 10 senators vowing to block the state budget rather than allow continuation of the Medicaid expansion.
Roxane Townsend, the chief executive officer of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has submitted her resignation effective Sept. 30. She joined the campus in November 2012 from Louisiana.
As expected, ten senators voted against the Medical Services appropriation this afternoon, the budget that includes the private option Medicaid expansion (as well as the entire Medicaid budget, including children on ARKids and the aged, blind, and disabled).
Little Rock School Superintendent Baker Kurrus today announced expenditures on equipment and new patrols to enhance security in the district's schools next year.
Bart Hester and Blake Johnson plan to vote for Medicaid appropriation; line-item-veto tactic may shrink the Tea Party Ten
Some of the Tea Party Ten seem ready to take the governor's out and surrender on Medicaid expansion.
Channel 4 has this somewhat surprising news: Chris Beard, who took a $5 million, five-year offer to go to UNLV after a smashing opening season as coach of the Little Rock men's basketball team, may be in contention for jumping to an open job at Texas Tech.
A new environmental group has filed comments today with Arkansas environmental regulators to do away with an easy permit process for hog farms, one that led to permitting of a hog farm in an unsuitable place in the Buffalo River watershed.
An open line and the daily video roundup.
(UPDATES) Democrats not ready to back governor's procedural maneuver to continue Medicaid expansion; amendment blocked
The governor's procedural maneuver hits a roadblock. They'll try again on Tuesday.
"We are opposed to this sort of procedural gamesmanship in order to extend the Medicaid expansion," said AFP-Arkansas State Director David Ray.
Sen. Jason Rapert, who has been a stalwart backer of "Arkansas Works," the governor's plan to continue the Medicaid expansion private option, today raised concerns about beneficiaries having access to the Plan B morning after pill. Rapert said that he considers this form of contraception to be equivalent to abortion.
Sherry Faubus sends word that a Celebration of Life is planned at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14 at the parish hall of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville for Larry Woodall, known to regular blog readers as elwood, our most prolific community member.
Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock put a hold yesterday on the budget of the state Heritage Department because of questions about the fate of the historic building next door to the state's Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum of the black experience Arkansas.
The Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club objects to the state Department of Environmental Quality's plan to continue general permitting for hog feeding operations.
Federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith issued a 32-page ruling yesterday indicating he contemplates punishment of 16 lawyers who moved a class action lawsuit against an insurance company out of his court to a state court in Polk County after a settlement had been worked out.
Eureka! A Walton school choice agenda acolyte, state Education Commissioner Johnny Key, has discovered that some things like poverty should be taken into account in judging whether a school is failing or not. At least he believes it for charter schools.
Is the scheme to use procedural trickey to preserve the Obamacare Medicaid expansion legal? Some past attorney general opinions suggest maybe not.
Still more good news on the job front. The unemployment rate in Arkansas in March fell to 4 percent, from 4.2 percent the month before and the workforce grew by more than 7,000.
The state school report cards — the legislatively mandated letter grade for each school — were released today.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a progressive grassroots group, is urging all to sign a petition pressing the legislature to approve the Medicaid expansion plan pending before the legislature.
Here's the Friday open line and video news summary.
The Tea Party Ten, procedural tricks and the future of Medicaid expansion; Federal Judge P.K. Holmes throwing down on class action lawyers; and state school report cards and what they say about Little Rock schools (if anything) — all covered on this week's podcast.
After a wild week at the Capitol, thoughts from Gov. Asa Hutchinson on his procedural trick, on changing minds in the Tea Party Ten, on Democrats' reluctance to go along with his scheme, on what comes next, and much more.
Rapert still backs private option after getting clarification that morning after pill is federally mandated coverage
Jason Rapert takes a chill pill.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, naturally, is appealing Circuit Judge Tim Fox's ruling that allowed the names of three married same-sex couple to appear on their child's birth certificate.
If Gov. Asa Hutchinson's gimmick to win approval of the continuation of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Arkansas is successful, it will raise the question of what side deals may have been made to win approval of hard-core Tea Party holdouts Bart Hester and Blake Johnson
Minority Leader Gray on Medicaid budget maneuver: Democrats will "continue this discussion" and "remember the ultimate goal"
Minority Leader Michael John Gray explains the Democratic Caucus's thinking on the Medicaid budget and the governor's line-item veto scheme to try to pass it.
charter schools, Louisiana, Waltons, Walton Family Foundation
The Saturday open line. Plus an impromptu polls: Who's the meanest of the Terrible 10? s
On the terms of the deal.
The open line last night invited votes on the meanest of the Terrible Ten Republican senators blocking continuation of the Obamacare-enabled Medicaid expansion that has put more than a quarter-of-a-million Arkansans on health insurance.
LRPD responding to a homicide at 714 Dennison Street.
The University of Arkansas Razorbacks haven't made the top echelons in many performance areas this year, but the "program" is among the mightiest in the country in dollars.
Here's an open line. If you write in that it has been a terrible day, I'll veto it, because I know that would be a lie.
Dr. Bettye Caldwell, a giant among educators for her work in early childhood education, died today in Little Rock.
What a fabulous late morning/early afternoon on South Main Street. In just a few blocks we walked by a full house at Community Bakery, saw folks streaming into Sou$6 mimo.
40/29 reports an apparent meth lab explosion in a Fayetteville apartment has sent one person to a hospital.
I sent several messages to Republican Senate candidate Trent Garner of El Dorado about his position on the Medicaid expansion and the appropriation bill for its continuation. No response so far.
The Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods has urged the Metroplan Board of Directors, and particularly local members Mayor Mark Stodola and County Judge Barry Hyde, to fight the Highway Department's proposal to expand the Interstate 30 freeway to 10 lanes through the heart of the city.
Special interests will again use a loophole in the ethics law to wine and dine legislators this week, beginning with a big Chamber of Commerce reception Tuesday night.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton reiterates in a distributed video — and CBS obliges by posting — his belief that President Obama is not nearly afraid enough of terrorism and he did America a disservice by not flying home to D.C. to fret when the Brussels attacks occurred while he was in Cuba.
Mississippi is feeling blowback, along with North Carolina, for explicit anti-gay legislation. One example here is from the Southern Foodways Alliance, which reports getting an inquiry about places safe for LGBT people to eat in Mississippi. Don't laugh, Arkies. We are Mississippi.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in what may be the most significant case related to immigration in a generation or more. Some Arkansans will be listening.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office says executive branch jobs have dropped 3 percent on his watch, worth a savings of $7 million a year.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson's vote-against-Obamacare-to-save-it ploy continues to be discussed in private meetings with legislators today.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his staff are communicating with Democrats today, trying to get buy-in for his line-item-veto plan to continue the Medicaid expansion. Democratic lawmakers have proposed some minor alterations within the same conceptual framework to ensure that the line-item scheme is on sound legal footing.
Here's the Monday open line and daily video roundup.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said today that he has the support of three of the ten senators currently threatening to shut down the Medicaid program to back off via the governor's weird trick approach to passing the Medicaid budget (if you're not a regular blog reader, see the details here).
On Medicaid line-item veto plan, governor tries to address Democrats' legal concerns and meets with black caucus
Add this to mix on the progress of the Medicaid expansion legislation, as announced by the Senate information office:A 'compromise' from six of the Terrible Ten that have blocked the appropriation legislation.
Yeah, we like shrimp — fried, sauteed, boiled, stuffed, just about any way you can serve them.
Last-ditch presser: anti-"Arkansas Works" dead enders to present their (likely DOA) Medicaid alternative tomorrow
On the last-ditch proposal from the Medicaid expansion aginners. It will probably be baloney.
Joint Budget Committee Chair Larry Teague (D-Nashville) said that he did not expect the committee to take up the governor's line-item-veto scheme tomorrow. But Teague predicted that the line-item veto "will still be part of the formula." He said that one way or the other, the continuation of Medicaid expansion "is going to happen."
News that Republican Education Commissioner Johnny Key is ousting Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent prompts me to post early my column for this week — some counterintuitive information about the supposedly dreadful Little Rock schools.
Sen. Joyce Elliott: "stunned" by Kurrus firing, harms trust for backing governor's Medicaid budget scheme
Joyce Elliott on the firing of Little Rock School Superintendent Baker Kurrus.
UPDATED: Johnny Key dumps Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent; to replace with Bentonville's Poore
Baker Kurrus superintendent of the Little Rock School District, has been told by state Education Commissioner Johnny Key that he will be replaced. He is to work through June 30.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin bobs and weaves.
The Bentonville Public Schools United Facebook page provides the video of members of the school board paying tribute to Superintendent Michael Poore after accepting his resignation too take the job of superintendent of the Little Rock School District.
Greg Adams, former Little Rock School Board president and co-chair of the current district citizens advisory committee, says the removal of Baker Kurrus as district superintendent is a "sad day."
Johnny Key hides behind a news release to announce his firing of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock School superintendent to replace him with his successor from Bentonville, not coincidentally home of the Walton fortune now driving public education in Arkansas.
The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, a linchpin of the movement for state takeover of the Little Rock School District, is now holding a bloody bag of excrement with the firing of Baker Kurrus.
"Arkansas Works" backers propose new version of amendment to shore up legal concerns about line-item-veto strategy
Sen. Jim Hendren today released a new version of the amendment to implement the governor's plan to pass the Medicaid expansion via a scheme using the line-item veto. The revision is an attempt to alleviate legal concerns about the governor's approach.
A draft contract proposes that the state pay $225,000 to Michael Poore to be superintendent of the Little Rock Schol District.
This turkey is baked, but Little Rock voices conitinue to object to the Hutchinson administration's replacement of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock superintendent with a Bentonville school administrator. From Rep. Warwick Sabin, who represents a portion of the Little Rock School District:
With scant notice, Education Commissioner Johnny Key will meet reporters at noon at the Education Department. A release said he and Baker Kurrus, who Key is removing as Little Rock superintendent, will answer questions.
I don't guess I should have expected better from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce than "concern" on the Hutchinson administration's undeserved ouster of Baker Kurrus as Little Rock school superintendent.
Sen. Alan Clark and Rep. Bob Ballinger today presented their "compromise" on Medicaid expansion. It's baloney.
From the Johnny Key-Baker Kurrus press appearance: Key praised Kurrus but said new skills were needed in the district for academic issues.
A U.S. appeals court has struck down a Virginia law aimed at preventing a student born female who identifies as a male from use a male school restroom.
The House Republican Caucus has written Speaker Jeremy Gillam urging him to proceed with votes on budget bills. Democrats had asked for a delay until the Medicaid expansion issue was settled. That settlement appears somewhere in the future, particularly thanks to recent Little Rock School developments.
The War Memorial Park Golf Course will close on May 9 for three months for the greens to be reshaped and reseeded.
Little Rock-born film director Jeff Nichols, whose stature as a young auteur has been steadily growing with the success of films like 2012's "Mud" and his most recent sci-fi offering "Midnight Special," will get another chance to put a very big feather in his cap next month. His latest film, "Loving," has been selected to compete for the prestigious Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in France.
Reminder: The Arkansas Times Film Series at Riverdale 10 Cinema continues tonight, April 19, at 7 p.m. We’re screening William Friedkin’s 1977 cult classic “Sorcerer,” starring Roy Scheider and soundtracked hypnotically and brilliantly by Tangerine Dream.
Democrats have said that they do not want to take up any appropriation until the Medicaid budget impasse is resolved. They once again made good on their promise, with Democrats voting en masse to block the general appropriation, which pays various state salaries.
It’s chef vs. chef vs. chef vs. chef vs. chef vs. chef at the 2016 Diamond Chef “Recut!” competition set for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at Pulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute
Put mid-June on your calendar for the opening of Soul Fish in the former home of Dundee’s at 306 Main St., next door to the forthcoming Bruno’s Deli.
Joint Budget passes amended appropriation to implement governor's line-item-veto scheme to pass Medicaid expansion
The Joint Budget Committee today voted for the amendment that will put the governor's scheme to continue Medicaid expansion into action.
Having news fun yet? Here's an open line.
Nineteen Arkansas artists and three artists with ties to Arkansas are among the 30 whose work was selected to appear in the 58th annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center. The Arts Center announced the names today.
Governor agrees to do Jason Rapert's bidding, pursue waivers to stop Medicaid coverage of morning after pill
Sen. Jason Rapert is on a crusade against emergency contraception, which he says is "killing little babies," against medical evidence. Today, Gov. Asa Hutchinson stated in a letter that he would seek waivers from the federal government to end coverage of the morning after pill in Medicaid, both the private option and traditional Medicaid.
It's been a harried few days at the Capitol, but it looks like Democrats are on board with the governor's scheme to fund the private option Medicaid expansion via an elaborate procedural gambit (see here for details). Unless something crazy happens (like the governor firing someone!) it appears that lawmakers have found a way out of the budget impasse: the Medicaid program will be funded and the private option will live on.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus who represent Little Rock today met with Gov. Asa Hutchinson to discuss the dismissal of Little Rock School Superintendent
The federal government has sent warnings to 10 states that it is illegal to cut off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood for medical services without evidence of wrongdoing.
Little Rock's new school leader has both admirers and detractors in his current job in Bentovnille. Significantly, he joined religious forces in opposing an employment policy specifically protecting LGBT workers.
The San Jose newspaper has taken a deep look at on-line charter schools in California. The conclusion: They're failing. The operator is the same one reaping millions from an Arkansas law change pushed through by now-Education Commissioner Johnny Key. And their results here aren't sparkling.
This goose looks cooked.
Guy Bell, owner of Drawl Gallery, has announced the names of the artists whose work has been chosen for "The Gun Show."
The U.S. Treasury says Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
An 18-foot-tall stainless steel and bronze sculpture, "Mockingbird Tree" by Little Rock sculptor Michael Warrick, will be installed Thursday morning at Chenal Parkway and Chenal Valley Drive.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel sends word of a rally at the Capitol at noon Saturday in support of Little Rock public schools — a response to the surprise replacement of Baker Kurrus as the School District superintendent by the Hutchinon administration through his education commissioner, Johnny Key.
Linda Collins-Smith to TEFRA family worried about Medicaid impasse: "You don't know what you're talking about"
Sen. Linda Collins-Smith gets testy with concerned father of toddler with Down Syndrome.
Liveblog of the Arkansas Senate, expected to pass the Medicaid budget this afternoon (well, maybe!)
The continuation of Obamcare's Medicaid expansion was approved by the bare minimum 27 votes in the Senate today. Surely that's worth a comment on the open line.
Mount Holly Cemetery Sexton Steve Adams could hardly keep his composure today while talking about vandalism at the cemetery overnight that left several irreplaceable marble statutes severely damaged.Adams said he discovered the vandalism this morning when he arrived at the cemetery around 6:45 a.m.
Curious news release from the state Education Department I thought. They had school in Little Rock today.
Members of the Metrocentre Improvement District are making noises about dissolving the district — created in 1972 to build the Metrocentre Mall and which later built the Main Street and Sixth and Scott streets parking decks — and selling its assets. The largest asset would be the Henry Moore sculpture "Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge."
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has approved a broader ballot proposal to limit damages and attorney fees in medical malpractice and negligence cases. Good for nursing homes, doctors and hospitals. Not so good for injured people.