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May 4, 2011

Vol 37 • No 35

Read the print version

Beat the heat

With our annual guide to the summer

Step out

To music, movies and more this summer.

Hot Springs kitsch

The tourist trap lives in the Spa City.

Drink away the pain

Five booze-y antidotes to the heat.

Bringing the heat

A slideshow of swimsuits provided by Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions.

Highway Department pulls back on weight limits

Same song, second verse. The gas drilling industry simply will not abide being made to pay for the damage it does to Arkansas.

Little Rock school intrigue UPDATE

What's this? A notice of a special Little Rock School Board meeting at 5 p.m. today for "discussion of the superintendent search"?

Over my dead body

Reports are pouring in to me of telephone polling on the developing Little Rock sales tax proposal.

Checking in on cbmaa

Peering through an oculous tonight.

Little Rock Government Payroll: Agency Overview

See an overview of the maximum and median salaries and wages and number of employees for the City of Little Rock and three other independent city agencies.

Dandyism today

The sexagenarian rocker and voice behind Black Oak Arkansas is still kickin'.

How did he get here?

Even in a low-level office like land commissioner, one wouldn't expect to find a John Thurston.

Joe Yonan, author of "Serve Yourself," comes to the Clinton School

Among other visiting authors in the month of May.

Osama's farewells and Huckabee's comments

"Welcome to hell," indeed. And welcome to the Christian-Muslim divide that Huckabee nurtures with relish.

Is that Ann Coulter or Alice Stewart?

What was the Arkansas secretary of state's spokesman doing on Hannity ridiculing the president and getting identified as some supposed Republican strategist?

Artful ingredients, Pizza Hut prices

Palio's isn't perfect, but it's way cheaper than it should be.

Sandy's Homeplace Cafe

The unassuming, beige lunch joint offers some of the most delicious rib-sticking, gut-packing soul/comfort grub around.

It's not a vo-tech school

In conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau pretty well runs the Arkansas legislature. Now it seeks to extend its sinister influence into the field of higher education.

Unpopular truths do not earn speaking engagements

The center has not vanished; it's just moved to the right — for various reasons, including the influence of the corporate media.

All wet

Flooding affected several in central Arkansas early this week.

Why do we torture ourselves at the gym?

Why, at 35, for perhaps the first time in my life, is every article of clothing I'm wearing soaked through with sweat?

Polarization thwacks the legislature

One would think that Arkansas's state political institutions would be overwhelmingly popular with the state's citizens.

Burger guide

Central Arkansas loves its burger joints. And there's a burger for every preference.

Revolution celebrates Cinco de Mayo with "Cinco de Metal"

Also, the ACAC cross-dresses it up on the Arkansas Queen for its annual "Drag the River" party.


Former First Lady Janet Huckabee complained to the Governor's Mansion administrator at a recent private event that she felt slighted, since neither her name nor former Gov. Mike Huckabee's name was included as a host on the invitation.

'Honest mistake'

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office set a rate of 25 cents a page for copying documents after the Arkansas Times was forced to make voluminous requests for information because office spokesmen wouldn't answer our questions.

Rooting around

A squirrelly guy I know accosted me recently and demanded I produce a birth certificate in order to prove I'm qualified to write a newspaper column.

Happy with LR

"One thing that you can't deny about Little Rock is that it is a cosmopolitan, multicultural, civilized — even genteel — city."

Better than it should be

As over-the-top heist movies go, 'Fast Five' fares well.

James Taylor

April 29, Verizon Arena

Bob Seger

April 26, Verizon Arena

The Observer and the political rally

"Tim Griffin wants us to work 'til we die," a protestor's sign said. The Observer wondered what the Representative's response would be if he were there to see it.

Orval, May 4, 2011

Update on honors students

After an April 5 hearing in Miami with a judge whom the 22-year old UA student described as "very nice and considerable," Chavez's hearing was moved to a Memphis immigration court.

Remembering Gus

In the "State Government" section of its 2011 telephone directory for Little Rock and North Little Rock, AT&T lists Gus Wingfield as the state auditor. Wingfield left that office in 2003.

Where's Keith?

Sean Hannity is around the world before Keith Olbermann is allowed to put his boots on.

This Modern World, May 4, 2011

What's the meta?

>A movie review headlined "Awfully meta" went on to say that "Scream 4" is a most self-aware film.

Taziki's Greek Fare expanding

The new franchise of the Alabama-based chain will be at 12800 Chenal Parkway in the Chenal Creek Shopping Center.

Good week: The U.S.A.

The nation cheered the Navy SEAL team that ended a search of more than nine years by killing 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout.

Cody Belew bids adieu to Little Rock this Saturday at Wildwood

Also, "A Dandy Day" brings Black Oak Arkansas back to town.

Fair Park fights giant fuel stop

Here's one to watch: The Fair Park Neighborhood Association's fight to keep the Little Rock Board of Directors to approve a giant (20 pump) fuel stop and convenience store on Fair Park Blvd. just south of I-630.

Mike Huckabee: How good a friend of Israel? UPDATE

Mike Huckabee's penchant for exaggeration gets him in trouble and he rarely apologizes. Case in point: He compared the U.S. debt with the Holocaust.

Tim Griffin: His town halls are screened

Blue Arkansas reports on how U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin used staff to screen questions at his "tele-town hall" to prevent being asked embarrassing questions.

In flooding: Who and what to protect?

A reader recommends an article on the difficult decisions faced by the Corps of Engineers in deciding whether to open floodways or even blast levees to protect some areas from flooding while allowing flooding of other areas, primarily farmland.

Pulaski superintendent: It's just 'truth,' not religion

A Pulaski County School District patron sees parallels between recent communication by Superintendent Charles Hopson and the prayer warriors over in Van Buren.

Value of torture in bin Laden hunt: Not much

The New York Times delves deeply into the question of the role played by torture in developing intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Biggest doughnuts in the state... probably

Craig's Family Bakery in Van Buren makes monster doughnuts and cinnamon twists. But the cini-minis and ginger snaps are just as likely to steal your heart.

Injured man awarded Dogpatch

A man hit in the throat by a steel cable more than five years ago while riding an ATV through the former Dogpatch USA theme park in Newton County now owns the place, along with his father and attorney.

Tea Partyers say no to federal disaster aid

Check out the discussion on state Rep. David Meeks' Facebook page on whether federal money should be spent on storm cleanup in Vilonia.

Thursday To-Do: 'Preservation Crustaceans'

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas raises money for architectural conservation with a crawfish boil.

Thursday To-Do: 'The Story of Adele H.'

The Arkansas Arts Center screens the Francois Truffaut classic as part of its "Fete du Film" series

Big K.R.I.T. coming back to Little Rock

The acclaimed up and comer is set to play Cornerstone in support of his astonishing new album, "ReturnOf4Eva."

Tav Falco digs deep into the Bluff City for "Mondo Memphis"

The Gurdon-born Memphis icon set to publish a sprawling, experimental history of the city.

Waltons make $800 million gift to Crystal Bridges

Leslie Newell Peacock, who's on a press tour of the progress on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, reports the major news from a news conference today.

bin Laden death photo won't be released

CNN is reporting that President Obama has decided not to release the photo of Osama bin Laden after he was killed.

Flooding woes mount; I-40 blocked in E. Ark.

Interstate 40 is to be closed by White River flooding between Brinkley and Hazen and there's rising wariness in Southeast Arkansas about the rising Mississippi River.

An early line

The Koch-funded lobby group, Americans for Prosperity, is linking up with Radio K-NUT (also known as KARN) to bring Andrew Breitbart to town for a talk May 25.

Memphis candidate out of LR school job hunt

Irving Hamer, the deputy Memphis school cheif, just added back to the list of finalists for Little Rock school superintendent at a hurryup special board meeting last night, isn't interested in the job.

Former LR editor killed in New Mexico

Eric Francis sends word that Anne Clancy, editor of Spectrum Weekly in Little Rock in 1990 and 1991, was beaten to death this week in Las Vegas, N.M. A woman with whom she lived has been charged in the crime.

Playing games with the United States

So far, Arkansas Republicans seem united in reluctance, if not outright resistance (T. Griffin) to voting to lift the debt ceiling.

More sushi in The Rock

Tokyo House, a sushi and seafood buffet, is moving into the location formerly home to Rockston's, Gaucho's and other restaurants at 11 Shackleford Drive.

Fox to Huckabee: Fish or cut bait

Says here that Fox News has given Mike Huckabee until the end of the month to declare whether he is or is not running for president.

Bruce Engstrom named to state Lottery Commission

House Speaker Robert Moore has named Bruce Engstrom, a North Little Rock accountant, to the nine-member state Lottery Commission.

Burger joint of the week: The House in Hillcrest

From bun top to bottom, the Great American Burger is a great example of how a good burger can be put together from fine ingredients and served up with a little pizzazz.

Debate continues on use of House video

Roby Brock has a most interesting discussion by House members of the state House rule to prohibit certain uses of the vast new amount of House video of committees and the full House in action.

Supreme Court stays Frank Williams' execution

The execution of Frank Williams Jr., just set last week by Gov. Mike Beebe, was stayed today by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Judge L.T. Simes dodges removal again

For the second time, the Arkansas Supreme Court has decided not to go along with a recommendation by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commision to remove Phillips County Circuit Judge L.T. Simes from the bench for ethical violations.

Little Rock Film Festival announces initial line-up

A strong Arkansas-made line-up highlights the Little Rock Film Fest announcement.

Unsolicited back rubs for co-workers: Bad idea

The deputy Fayetteville police chief just thought he was doing "something nice" for female police employees with difficult jobs by giving them back, shoulder and neck massages.

Wet Black Ghost comics

Local artist Matt Fox, who provided really striking illustrations for our Big Ideas issue last year, is working with local writer Adam Smith on Wet Black Ghost, a new comics collaboration.

Deer seek higher ground

Channel 7's Angela Rachels posted this photograph on Twitter of deer seeking higher ground in White River flooding near Georgetown.

ASU to award Sonny Burgess honorary degree

The rock and roll pioneer is set to receive the honor this Saturday.

Medicare to survive

Sounds like the House Republican plan to end Medicare — endorsed by U.S. Reps. Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Rick Crawford, along with a huge tax break for millionaires — is dead.

Little Rock down to one candidate for superintendent

Two more candidates have dropped out of the running for the job of superintendent of the Little Rock School District.

Cinco de Mayo en las Heights

Tonight is Thursday in the Heights and there's much celebration in store at Local Colour Gallery, which will feature new work by Pat Matthews, Tracee Gentry, John Allison, Robin Parker, Nancy Conley, Mary Allison and many more.

Cinco de Drinko 2011

Little Rock's bars and restaurants are offering an array of holiday drink specials.

Calling all bakers!

It's time to step up and help end childhood hunger. The Great American Bake Sale is coming up May 14th, and you can participate right here in Central Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges: Update

Trying to read Crystal's ball about landscape artists.

The Thursday line

* REDEFINING RAPE: The House vote Wednesday to attempt to make it difficult for women to pay for abortion with their own private insurance got scant attention on a busy news day. All Arkansas congresswomen voted against women's rights.

Ryan's individual mandate

Funny. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan — supported by Arkansas Republicans Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack — includes as part of its ending of Medicare an "individual mandate" to require payment for insurance coverage — whether you can afford to actually buy it or not.

SWEPCO: The fix was in

Remember the bill to retroactively prevent court oversight of inadequate regulatory consideration of the SWEPCO coal-burner down in Hempstead County?

Eastbound I-40 now closed

Just in case you missed it: Rising White River floodwaters have also forced closure of eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 at exit 193.

Friday To-Do: Stephen Pearcy

The RATT front-man brings his solo show to Juanita's.

Weekend To-Do: 'Good Boys and True"

The Weekend Theater wraps up its 2010-2011 season with a look at sex, shock and controversy.

Shooting overnight on UALR campus

A person was shot outside a UALR's East Hall about 2:30 a.m. this morning, apparently after two people brought a nightclub altercation on campus.

Friday To-Do: 'Craws For a Cause'

The biggest crawfish boil of the year returns to Dickey-Stephens Park.

Photo released in Hillcrest robbery probe

The police today released photos related to a robbery on Kavanaugh Wednesday night that I mentioned on last night's open line, the fifth robbery of a pedestrian in Hillcrest in recent weeks.

Pieday: Chocolate Meringue Cream at Gimme Some Sugar

The little bakeshop in Greenbrier melds the traditional chocolate meringue pie with a cream pie with excellent results.

What's right with Arizona?

Interesting polling from Arizona: People there don't like John McCain. They oppose defunding Planned Parenthood.

Tim Griffin's helper gets ethics reprimand

The gears of justice grind slowly, but ... A Virginia website, the Virginia Lawyers Weekly, reports on a public reprimand given by the Virginia State Bar to Monica Goodling, a key figure in U.S. Attorneygate and other efforts by the Bush White House to politicize the Justice Department.

Weekend: Samantha Crain, 'Drag the River,' Will Johnson of Centro-matic

This weekend brings an amazing Oklahoman indie-folkster to White Water, the lead singer of Centro-matic to an undisclosed living room and a crew of cross-dressers to the Arkansas—wait for it—Queen.

King Biscuit Blues Festival releases 2011 lineup

Keb' Mo', Buddy Guy and Delbert McClinton headline.

Arkansas Quiz Bowl champions

I caught some of this year's Arkansas high school Quiz Bowl state championships on AETN last weekend.

Weekend To-Do: Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Homes

The annual tour returns for its 47th year with a Saturday night Evening Candlelight Tour and a Saturday afternoon walking tour.

Saturday To-Do: Kanis Bowl Bash

A long list of local indie, punk and hip-hop acts team up to raise money for the historic skateboarding park.

Gallery Walk: Tom Richard, Gary Weeter

"Mr. Frito Lay" and watercolors from an ocean-going artist.

Saturday To-Do: Cody Belew & the Mercers' 'Never Can Say Goodbye'

The local singer plays his "goodbye, Little Rock" performance at Wildwood Park.

Saturday To-Do: 'A Dandy Day at the Park'

Black Oak Arkansas headlines the all-day festival at North Shore River Walk.

The new bin Laden talking point

Nothing else has taken hold, so now comes torture meister John Yoo to explain how President Obama screwed up the manhunt for Osama bin Laden.

Gretchen Hall to head LR Convention Bureau

The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission is meeting at this hour, a continuation of a Wednesday meeting and a subsequent conference call, to choose a new director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mary, Little Rock Zoo elephant, has died

Mary, the Little Rock Zoo's 60-year-old elephant, died today. She was euthanized because of a sharp decline in her condition.

Legislative apportionment: Senate maps

A friend sends along the first look at proposed new state Senate districts, work of the Board of Apportionment staff.


The Friday night line is open. A few extras: * WITH THE CALL AT OAKLAWN: Oaklawn track announced Terry Wallace got some national exposure on a New York Times racing blog today for some rough race calling in the Arkansas Derby and other races this season.

Podcast: The Jelly Behind Woman tax plan edition

On Osama Bin Laden, Elton and Betty White, Mike Huckabee, Crystal Bridges and more.

The greatest film in the history of the world

We ran across this last night, and while it doesn't have an Arkansas angle, we couldn't resist sharing it.

Texas rape victim made to cheer attacker

Unbelievable story about a Texas high school cheerleader who went to court to avoid being forced to cheer for an athlete who raped her.

Pope County considers Facebook ban

The Courier reports a split opinion on the Pope County governing body in Russellville on a proposal to ban county employees from using Facebook and Twitter during work time.

The hunt for bin Laden

I don't know about you, but I'm fascinated by the intelligence work that led to the successful raid in Pakistan.

Mike Huckabee: Reagan couldn't win in 2012

Think Progress wonders if Mike Huckabee is really talking about himself in remarks that Ronald Reagan probably couldn't win the Republican nomination in the current political climate on the right.

Fire away

There may be news later today. There may not.

Early warning on power line

Too soon probably for an in-depth look, but not too soon to mention: Central Arkansas environmentalists are watching a proposal by a company hoping to harvest electricity from wind turbines in Oklahoma and send it over lines through Arkansas to join the power grid serving the eastern United States.

Mother's Day

Mother memories? Mine worked.

Emergency! Southland casino is gambling 24-7

This is rich. Roby Brock reports that, due to "emergency" cirumcstances, the state Racing Commission has allowed the Southland racino in West Memphis to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sleepy Sunday

Fire up the open line. It's another grilled chicken and Arkansas strawberry Sunday.

Laying blame for the financial mess

Hold on, Paul Krugman says, before you go blaming an unrealistic and uninformed public for our financial crisis.These days Americans get constant lectures about the need to reduce the budget deficit.

Hypocrisy watch

I meant to mention this earlier. Mind-blowing hypocrisy by Andrew Card, once chief of staff to George W. Bush, who says President Obama has "pounded his chest" too much over the killing of Osama bin Laden.

MedCath sells Arkansas Heart Hospital to LR physician

Little Rock physician Bruce Murphy has bought MedCath Corp.'s majority share in the Arkansas Heart Hospital.

'No-ride' list for Amtrak?

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has proposed applying no-fly lists to train travel. My instinctive reaction is negative.

Hefty piles of crawfish

4100 people came out for a giant mess of crawfish and suds, all to benefit the Baptist Health NICU.

Juanita's is moving to the River Market

Juanita's, the venerable Tex-Mex restaurant and music venue, is leaving the South Main Street location it's called home since 1986 for the River Market and the former home of Bill St., 614 President Clinton Ave.

Tuesday To-Do: Robert Randolph and the Family Band

A master of the pedal steel guitar and his roots-rock backing band return to Revolution.

Boeing-union clash heats up in South Carolina

Boeing's move of a production line to union-hating South Carolina in retaliation for strikes in Washington state looks like the next big fight on the anti-labor front.

Juanita's on the move

Been to Eat Arkansas lately? Big news.

Legislative redistricting: more maps

On Friday, I linked to a couple of draft maps produced so far (for Senate districts) in the legislative redistricting process.

Animal group: Send zoo elephant to sanctuary

In Defense of Animals, an animal interest group, has called on the Little Rock Zoo to send its remaining elephant, Ellen, to a sanctuary for her final years rather than to continue to look for another companion after the death last week of the zoo's other elephant, Mary, 60.

NLR cop shoots man after foot chase

A man was shot and wounded by a North Little Rock police officer at the end of a foot chase early Sunday that followed report of a man being seen beating a woman in a car in an alley between 18th and 19th streets.

Bye bye, T.I.

The rap superstar is set to be released from the Forrest City prison this September.

Eastbound I-40 reopens

Flood waters have receded enough that the Highway Department has been able to reopen eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 near the White River bridge.

Wes Bentley mounts a comeback

Jonesboro native Wes Bentley has been cast in "The Hunger Games."

The Underground closes

The Underground is closed.

Another Farm to Table

This time, it's herbs and roses feted at the big celebration at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm.

The Monday line

The line is open. Close-outs: * GUN NUTTERY: Florida has passed a bill that prohibits doctors — they are particularly targeting pediatricians — from taking to patients about whether they own guns.

Mike Huckabee's friends: Gulp

Among Mike Huckabee's many contradictions is his seeming normality against some of the wackier politicians that turn up on the religio-right end of the Republican spectrum.

Rick Crawford: Liar

Oops. U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford said during his congressional campaign he'd paid all his health care debts from a bankrupt period in his life.

A little lip from Fayetteville High

Slow morning, so why not share a link from a Fayetteville High admirer of the school's mass lip synch project?

Boehner's latest boner: Means-testing Medicare

House Speaker John Boehner proposes means-testing Medicare. This would, in time, kill it.

Politics in the health law challenge

It is a crying shame that the legal debate over the health care reform law has become almost as partisan as the legislative process.

The (withering) right to choose

You think Roe v. Wade is a bulwark protecting a women's right to reproductive choice?

R&R's Curry Express substantially sufficient

This Fort Smith restaurant has fired up the tandoor — on video, at that — to serve up hot naan, savory meats and a fantastic Keema Samosa.

The best places in Arkansas

Tennessee AG asks court to stop sale to Crystal Bridges

The Tennessee attorney general is seeking to stop Fisk University's sale to CBMAA of a share in its Stieglitz Collection.

bin Laden's sons object to his killing

From the New York Times: WASHINGTON — The adult sons of Osama bin Laden have lashed out at President Obama over their father’s death, accusing the United States of violating its basic legal principles by killing an unarmed man, shooting his family members and disposing of his body in the sea.

Vote in our Foo Fighters ticket giveaway

Check out three Foo Fighters covers and send one lucky reader to next week's concert at Verizon Arena.

Study links flammable water, fracking

A new study shows a link between exploration for natural gas and methane contamination of water wells.

First-class pay at Little Rock National Airport

You remember the Little Rock National Airport don't you? Where director Ron Mathieu sent $40,000 to pay for a football field carpet at his kid's private school? Pay raises all around in 2011, fat ones.

R. Stevie Moore coming to White Water Tavern

The underground music icon and prolific "father of D.I.Y." comes to White Water Tavern this July.

Tuesday night open line

You're on. Closing notes: * OBAMA'S BOUNCE: President Obama got a good bump from the killing of Osama bin Laden, it would appear.