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Celebrate the Grape preview

Celebrate the Grape preview

May 30, 2013

Vol 39 • No 39

Read the print version

Very special vino at Celebrate the Grape

A look at several of the top wineries appearing at the June 7 event.

Wine trends in Central Arkansas

Sweet wines, box wines and pretty labels sell well.

Celebrate the Grape wine list

More than 200 wines will be poured by distributors at the event.

Michele Bachmann won't seek re-election

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the former Republican presidential candidate and eternal source of amusement and bemusement, posted a video on her campaign website early this morning to say she would not seek re-election next year.

Second city: Fayetteville to lose Music Pavilion

Another major public facility will migrate from Fayetteville to more northern reaches of Northwest Arkansas, closer to the fortunes that support the arts ventures.

Blanche Lincoln's lobbying business grows to gas industry

Former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln is cashing in on her service. She's a registered lobbyist for Alston and Bird in Washington.

CORRECTION: Little Rock mayor deserves 'comparable pay'

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning indicates some differences of opinion on the Little Rock City Board on an ordinance to raise Mayor Mark Stodola's pay.

Now the conservative Super PACs go after Mark Pryor

First it was Michael Bloomberg's gun control group. Now the Senate Conservatives Action Super PAC, with Sen. Jim DeMint and Heritage Foundation links, is ripping Sen. Mark Pryor as a liberal.

Beebe names Charles Robinson, former state audit director, state treasurer

Gov. Mike Beebe today announced that he'd appointed Charles Robinson, retired director of legislative audit, to complete the term of State Treasurer Martha Shoffner, who resigned after being charged with a federal crime for taking payments from a securities salesman to whom she'd directed a disproportionate share of her office's state investments.

Heart for Art at Boswell-Mourot

Auction to benefit CAR is June 1.

UA begins polling fans on North End Zone expansion

The University of Arkansas athletic department (otherwise known as The Program) has begun polling fans on what they think of expanding seating in the north end zone of Razorback Stadium.

Secretary of State Mark Martin listed as speaker in Azerbaijan

Secretary of State Mark Martin is among the featured speakers this week at a convention in Azerbaijan. Yes, Azerbaijan.

PSA: Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp offer free training in Little Rock

Luther Lowe, an Arkansas politico who now works for Yelp as director of business outreach and public policy, sends along word of an event geared for those who aspire to be a little more social media savvy.

UPDATE: Dassault Falcon to spend $60 million on Little Rock production facility

You'll find on the jump the official news release on the announcement today by Dassault Falcon that it will spend $60 million to expand and refurbish existing Falcon jet finishing facilities at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Polling: Support for expanded background checks in Arkansas; Pryor hurt himself backing NRA.

I've said before that this is counter-intuitive to the Arkansas politician. But here comes another poll that says Arkies aren't much different than the rest of the country.

Auction for Autism, at M2 Gallery

Benefit for A-Camp is Thursday night, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Beat the Heat: Ice cream sandwiches at Sweet Love

Where does one go to successfully ride the heat wave? We’ll be sharing a few of our favorite eats and drinks throughout the hottest months of the year right here. Sweet Love is constantly imagining up new ice cream sandwich combinations to keep their customers coming back for more. You can also pick up scoops of ice cream alone in pre-portioned quantities if you’d like to pass on the cookie all together.

Bill Stovall heading to the lobby

Bill Stovall, the Democratic House speaker who remained House chief of staff under Republican Speaker Davy Carter (to the unhappiness of some Republicans), is heading to a lobby job.

Judge Robin Wynne announces for Supreme Court

Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne of Fordyce has announced he's running for the state Supreme Court seat vacated by the retiring Justice Donald Corbin.

Boys State report: Conservative, but not uniformly

I made my annual trek to Boys State today so the 400 or so at UCA could see what a real, live liberal looks like.

Open line anyone? NLR strikes endorsement deal with Nike

Here it is.

Governor slept here: Mike Huckabee's North Little Rock home for sale for $850,000

Just noted on real estate listings: The home in North Little Rock's Shady Valley to which Mike Huckabee moved after he left the Governor's Mansion in early 2007 is up for sale for $850,000.

Thursday-Sunday To-Do: Wakarusa

Gogol Bordello plays at Wakarusa Saturday.

Lighten the load

"It quickly became apparent that the Hastings Cutoff was no place for ladened wagons."

Rembrandt en route to Arkansas Arts Center

Lift a glass of stout to Guinness' collection of masterworks.

Tom Cotton: too extreme for Arkansas?

The shadow race for U.S. Senate continues.

Dumas: A new moral philosophy

The most underplayed news story of the season — maybe since the first newspaper in 59 B.C. — has to be the story from Hawaii the other day that a climate observatory recorded the highest carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere in three million years.

Won't shoot

This state would be in awful shape if the people who run the colleges and universities were as goofy as the ones who run the legislative branch of state government. They are not, though, and all across Arkansas, boards of trustees of public colleges and universities are opting out of a new state law that would allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus. Amazingly, the law permits the institutions to opt out. The NRA must have nodded off.

Tex-Mex chain Chuy's a hit

Texas-sized portions, atmosphere appeal.

Mike's men

It's easy to see how Mike Huckabee could be friends with Tony Orlando and Yakov Smirnoff. He has more musical talent than Orlando and he's funnier than Yakov. There's no envy to restrain his warm feelings.

Obama at Morehouse

During President Obama's recent speech to the black men who graduated from Morehouse College he uttered this amazing statement: "Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you've gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and they overcame them."

Flobots at Juanita's

Also, Zozo at Revolution.

Why is the cost of the GED rising so dramatically?

Follow the money — straight to Pearson testing.

National media freak out

Judging by the caterwauling of many in the national media, you'd think Orwell's Big Brother had taken over the White House.

Faster and furiouser

'Fast & Furious 6': Exactly what you'd expect.


Memorial Day just blew past us, more than a long weekend for cooking burgers and splashing in the lake or pool, you know, though one might well think it was invented by and for the folks who make powdered lemonade and instant-light charcoal.

Bow before Luxora

Arkansas's Most Endangered Places

Last week, the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas announced its 2013 list of Arkansas's Most Endangered Places. "The 2013 list of endangered places highlights distinctive sites throughout Arkansas that represent important aspects of Arkansas's culture and history. Though each circumstance is different, each of these places is important to the community where it is located and each is worth saving," said Vanessa McKuin, executive director of the alliance.

Wakarusa headlines weekend

Also, Iron Tongue at White Water Tavern, Keith Sykes Weekend at the Arlington Hotel, Wingspur Benefits with Kinky Friedman at the Argenta Community Theater and White Water Tavern, The Bad Years and The Crooked Roots at Vino's, 10th Annual Conway Pride at The Pink House and Legacies & Lunch with Bill Carter at the Main Library.

Netflix pix: revenge!

Is there anything more satisfying than watching a character take a just and righteous revenge on someone who has smugly screwed them over at some time in the past? Not in this writer's book. I love the cinema of revenge, and Netflix Instant happens to have a crop of Revengers that includes some of the best ever made.

It was a good week for Riverfest

It was also a good week for goofball endorsements. It was a bad week for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, Searcy County Sheriff Kenny Cassell and Education.

Gravel Ridge church revokes Boy Scout charter

There'll be many more of these, no doubt. But hat tip to the First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge for being first in the race to local news media to trumpet their forsaking of Boy Scout troop sponsorship because of the national organization's decision to allow gay members.

Former Faulkner County administrator plea bargains theft case

Log Cabin Democrat: Former County Administrator Jeff Johnston pleads guilty to misdemeanor theft. Receives 12 months probation, $1,000 fine.

The right attacks U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford with radio ads

Could there be a challenge from the right flank in the Republican primary for U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro?

Crime alert: Smash-and-grab in the Big Dam Bridge parking lot

Sporting Life Arkansas features an account by Stacy Margaret Jones, victim of a car burglary after she parked at at the Big Dam Bridge for a two-hour bike ride.

Arkansas Supreme Court dismisses lottery trademark suit

The Arkansas Supreme Court today issued a couple of rulings of note: * ARKANSAS LOTTERY: The Supreme Court ruled that the Arkansas Lottery Commission was entitled to soverign immunity from a lawsuit by Alpha Marketing, owned by Ed Dozier, that the state had infringed its trademark for the words Arkansas Lottery, Lottery Arkansas and Arkansas Lotto.

Friday To-Do: Iron Tongue

Iron Tongue plays at White Water Tavern Friday.

Friday and Saturday To-Do: Keith Sykes Weekend

Keith Sykes hosts a songwriters' weekend at The Arlington Hotel Friday and Saturday.

Friday and Saturday To-Do: Wing Spur Benefit with Kinky Friedman

Kinky Friedman performs this weekend at two benefits for Wing Spur Wild Horses.

Thursday: Flobots at Juanita's, This Holy House at The Joint

Flobots perform at Juanita's Thursday night.

Friday: Zoso, ASDA Mission of Mercy and more

Zoso brings the Led Zep experience to Revolution Friday night.

Tim Griffin's dishonest campaign against Lifeline phone service

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin loves oil companies and Koch Bros. He wants to build pipelines across sensitive aquifers to transport dangerous Canadian tar sands to Texas so the Koch brothers can process it to sell goods to China.

Thank Guinness for Rembrandt

Here's my article in this week's issue of the Times about the upcoming "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Reminder: "Master Pieces" tonight

At M2 Gallery in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center.

The Thursday night line: The rappelant Les Miles; lottery theft probe; Mark Martin's legal staff

The line is open. Closing out: * LOTTERY THEFT: A reported investigation of a (former) Arkansas Lottery Commission employee for theft of lottery tickets is apparently nearing a conclusion.

Mark Pryor ads defend vote against gun background checks

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's $30,000 ad buy to defend his vote against very modest bipartisan legislation to require background checks for nearly all gun purchases is about as pathetic as you might imagine.

Quorum Court seeking applicants for Lake Maumelle watershed task force

A land-use ordinance restricting development in the Lake Maumelle watershed is set to go into effect in April of 2014 (with a moratorium on various forms of development in place in the mean time), but various stakeholders are hoping to come up with an alternative plan.

Iris DeMent to Oxford American's South on Main

Iris DeMent will perform at South on Main Aug. 24.

Capitol Zoning Commission rejects change in fence height rule

Ah, the great fence debate. Remember it?

UPDATE: Secretary of State Mark Martin piles up attorney fees

Blue Hog Report expands on a mention here yesterday of Secretary of State Mark Martin's use of the attorney general's office for an opinion on when legislation takes effect (90 days after a session ends for non-emergency bills, as always).

The Republican war on food stamps

I mentioned yesterday that a conservative group was targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford for, among other things, not going along with the Republican Party's war on food stamps.

Saturday: Help for Harper, MIMS and more

Downtown Music Hall hosts the Help Harper Benefit Show Saturday.

Want fresh? Pick it yourself at local Arkansas farms

This time of year is particularly wonderful for those who like to eat local, Arkansas produce. Go out and pick your own, you wont regret it.

Saturday: Night Ranger at Timberwood Amphitheater

Night Ranger plays at Timberwood Amphitheater Saturday.

Saturday To-Do: The Bad Years, The Crooked Roots

The Bad Years and Crooked Roots play Vino's Saturday.

David Pryor's home a burglary target

The Little Rock police say former U.S. Sen. David Pryor's home on a side street off the Cantrell Road hill was burglarized Thursday while the Pryors were away between about 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

UALR to announce 'game changer' economic development

Intriguing announcement: MEDIA ADVISORY EVENT:UALR will make a major economic development and higher education announcement.

Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner expected to enter plea on extortion charge

What's known as a "felony waiver" hearing has been scheduled at 2 p.m. today in Federal District Judge Leon Holmes' courtroom for an as-yet-unnamed criminal defendant.

Suspect sought in SWLR branch bank robbery

The Little Rock police are looking for the man in the surveillance photo above. He's a suspect in a robbery this morning of a Metropolitan National Bank branch at 6712 Baseline Road.

Food Feedback Friday: rumors, ragu, and Riverfest

You know the drill, tell us where you're eating and what was good, bad, and ugly.

'Lost Souls Volume 4' out now

"Lost Souls Volume 4" is out now on the Psych of the South label.

Body found in Coleman Creek at UALR

From the UALR Twitter feed: A body was found in Coleman Creek near Fine Arts bldg.

Sunday: Hot Springs Music Festival kicks off

The Hot Springs Music Festival starts Sunday.

Sunday To-Do: 10th Annual Conway Pride

The 10th Annual Conway Pride parade is Sunday.

UPDATE: Judge rejects guilty plea from Martha Shoffner after she fails to acknowledge elements of charge

Judge Leon Holmes rejected former Treasurer Martha Shoffner's guilty plea today after she refused to acknowledge that was influenced in state investment decisions by money she received from a securities broker.

Fluke fanzine No. 11 out now

Fluke Fanzine issue No. 11 is available now.

The Pander Bear open line

TGIF. To close: * NO COMMENT NECESSARY: U.S. Senator Mark Pryor will host a “Sportsmen Town Hall” on Saturday, June 1st to discuss issues affecting Arkansas hunters, anglers, and outdoorsmen.

Corazon at Boswell-Mourot: Reminder

Benefit for CAR tomorrow night.

Yelp's Luther Lowe, the sort of person the tech park would want to attract, talks tech park

Luther Lowe, director of business outreach and public policy at Yelp, talks about his job, his take on Arkansas' tech future and the Little Rock Technology Park.

The Failed Guilty Plea Edition

Martha Shoffner's unsuccessful attempt to enter a guilty plea, Congressman Tim Griffin and the Lifeline phone program, Max's annual trip to Arkansas Boys State and questions about a pay raise for Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola — all covered this week.

Wakarusa: Memories of Woodstock anyone?

The Wakarusa music festival is underway on Mulberry Mountain near Ozark. The weather provided a soggy welcome.

UALR to announce 'emerging analytics center'

I mentioned yesterday an announcement of a press event at UALR next week about an economic development effort to be headed by Dr. Mary Good and described as a "game changer."

McDaniel fights for anti-abortion forces

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is just doing his job — defending the unconstitutional state law that banned most abortions at the 12th week of pregnancy.

You, too, can participate in survey on the 'tort reform' campaign

We've reported previously that the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce is polling members on their thoughts about an initiated constitutional amendment on 'tort reform' since the Arkansas legislature failed to put one on the ballot.

Open line: Anti-background check Mark Pryor confronted by father of Connecticut shooting victim

The guns-and-more-guns open line. * MARK PRYOR RUNS RIGHT: Here's coverage of Mark Pryor's "sportsmen town hall" set up for him to say he's no anti-gun pansy like that black guy in the White House.

As one might imagine, it's been pretty muddy at Wakarusa

Wakarusa-goers got muddy this year.

A post-racial world? Gay people treated fairly? Read on

Belatedly, I'd like to catch up on a couple of depressing articles I read yesterday in the New York Times.

Consider the cost of the colonoscopy

Bloomberg presses gun control battles in the states

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to regulate guns targets much more than U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

Fatal shooting in John Barrow

A 22-year-old man, Juan Reyes, was found shot to death in the 3300 block of Katherine Street in the John Barrow Addition shortly around 10:30 p.m. last night.

Up, up and away UPDATE

Opening a thread early. I am soon to be airborne for the North Atlantic — Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway.

Get yourself into a (fried) pickle

The fried pickle is an Arkansas original. Here's where we like to get ours.

Remember crazy checks? They're back

Arkansas had a run with politicians making far more than evidence ever supported of the notion that parents were schooling their kids to act crazy to qualify for Social Security Disability checks.

Hello, hello?

If you are trying to call into the Arkansas Times today, you'll hear a busy signal.

Local Colour featured artist: Dickins

Buffalo River painting honors National Rivers month.

Judge Rhonda Wood to run for Arkansas Supreme Court

As expected, Arkansas Appeals Court Judge Rhonda Wood will run for the seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Cliff Hoofman will vacate next year.

Health-insurance marketplace: letters of intent from carriers due today

Today is a big first test for implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Arkansas, particularly the so-called “private option” for Medicaid expansion.

A rocky start for Mamacita's

Despite an attractive dining space, the new Mamacita's on Kavanaugh doesn't impress.

Sammy Peters in New Mexico

"Internal Narrative" opens June 7 in Santa Fe.

Rusting boats in the Little Maumelle

Sunken boats still clutter the channel.

UALR announces data visualization center: UPDATE

UALR is creating a new center focused on data visualization.

CAW considers Lake Maumelle marina lease renewals

Central Arkansas Water is seeking public comment on two leases up for renewal in the Lake Maumelle watershed — Jolly Roger's Marina and the Grande Maumelle Sailing Club at Lake Maumelle.

Wiz Khalifa, Trinidad Jame$, Joey Bada$$ to First Security Amphitheater

Weed-obsessed rapper Wiz Khalifa ("Black and Yellow") will headline a concert on Saturday, July 27 at the First Security Amphitheater (previously known as the Riverfest Amphitheater).

Oil spill in Fort Smith

Workers with the energy utility Oklahoma Gas and Electric discovered a mineral oil spill at a utility substation in Fort Smith on Saturday, 40/29 reports.

Voter ID, DNA swabs and the implosion of a GOP consulting firm with ties to Huck, Boozman

Consider this an open line.

Wednesday To-Do: Legacies & Lunch: Bill Carter

Bill Carter speaks at CALS Main Library Wednesday at noon.

Another fire at Forest Place Apartments

Just weeks after a massive fire damaged the north building of the Forest Place Apartments on North University Avenue, firefighters were again called to the scene. This time, the fire was in the south building of the complex, and it's believed to have been contained in the elevator shaft, Times photographer, Brian Chilson, who lives in the complex, reports.

What it's like to work at Hooters

The latests in our ongoing series of candid interviews on the jobs and lives of Arkansans

Murder-for-hire plot in NWA features LSD, bowling, a guitar, and a Winnebago

An Elkins woman is out on bail after she allegedly tried to hire another woman to kill her ex-husband. Police say she offered the woman money and goods, including a guitar and Winnebago, as payment for the deed.

Arch Street Metropolitan Bank branch robbed

A branch of Metropolitan Bank at 15602 Arch Street was robbed this morning, with the robber getting away with an unknown amount of cash.

Arkansas receives letters of intent from four carriers to sell on healthcare exchange

Four insurance carriers submitted letters of intent to the Arkansas Insurance Department yesterday to offer plans in 2014 on the Health Insurance Marketplace, the regulated marketplace, or "exchange," created as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Ft. Smith teen shot during 'zombie game'

A 16-year-old Ft. Smith boy was wounded in the shoulder yesterday by a friend who shot him with a .40 caliber pistol while they were playing a "zombie game" with another teen.

Delta drops Memphis as hub: UPDATE — No Delta to Memphis from LR

Memphis International Airport, Delta Air Lines

Arkansas's Sibling Rivalry Press beats out big names for Lambda Lit Award

"He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices" a collection of poetry by author Stephen S. Mills, published by tiny Sibling Rivalry Press of Alexander, Ark. beat out titles by some of the top publishers in the genre last night — including Yale University Press, the University of Pittsburgh Press and a collection by Richard Blanco, who read at President Obama's inauguration in January — to win the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.

Rockwell show total: 121,000

A record tally for the traveling exhibition

Open Line, brought to you by the inspiring leadership of Phil Bryant and Mark Pryor

The line is open. A few odds and ends...

Arrest in Arch Street bank robbery

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office announced an arrest tonight of a suspect in today's robbery of the Metropolitan Bank branch at 15602 Arch Street.

3 Memphis restaurants every Arkansan should know about

For Central Arkansans, the relatively short jaunt over to Memphis is definitely worth checking out. Get in your car this summer and hop over the bridge to sample some of the best eating to be found on the other side of the state line.