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September 3, 2009

Vol 7 • No 34

Could a health co-op work?

WASHINGTON — Bob Redford of Fort Smith thinks he has experienced what could be the future of American health care, right in the Arkansas River Valley.

Blue Dog bites district

It was far from the usual exchange between a member of Congress and a constituent.

Above the law

Add another cynical twist to the farce masquerading as justice in the case of the West Memphis Three.

To-Do List, Sept. 3

Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Randy Rogers Band, The Dangerous Idiots / Dragoon, KC and the Sunshine Band, Boot Fest, Sunset Jazz Cruise, Reggae on the River and Tantric are this week's top picks.

In Brief, Sept. 3

The two Bills, Thurman and Nesbitt, do hot club and gypsy jazz during the Afterthought’s regular jazz night, 8 p.m., $5.

Art flows again at Eureka

The Artery, nearly blocked earlier this year by the City Council from showing public art the Eureka Springs way, will unveil a new group of murals at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, at the Labor Day Tra LALA Palooza.

The Observer, Sept. 3

It was Sunday afternoon, and The Observer had just finished watching an old movie about how the Tudors took care of their enemies in the 16th century when we saw something that really infuriated us: Drag racing on Kavanaugh.


First of all, it’s not “Final Destination IV.” Or “Return of Final Destination.” Or “Bride of Final Destination.” Or “Final Destination Strikes Back.”

Hog wild

It’s a big week, Arkansas sports fans.

Hidden in the River Market

Prost, the new addition to Willy D’s Piano Bar in the River Market, gets its name from a German word that loosely translates as “cheers.”

Juke Joint Duo

Here's a not-so-bold prediction: Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm are about to blow up. For most of October, the North Mississippi bluesmen are hitting the road with Lucero and Amy LaVere, with stops in Nashville, D.C. and New York. But whatever happens, please, God, don't let them outgrow White Water Tavern.

Editorial cartoon, Sept. 3

The Televisionist, Sept. 3

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise made a big budget, whiz-bang, CGI-bloated remake of this classic story from H.G. Wells a few years back, but we think not many will argue when we say it fell a little flat.

Corporate control or banned books?

Free expression is a pain in the posterior to endure.

Will the soda pop tax go national?

President Obama is being urged by health-care activists to propose a national tax on soft drinks, both to slim down Americans — especially children — and to raise money for improvements to the national health-care system.

Orval, Sept. 3

Turning the corner

Many years ago, the Times produced a special magazine on downtown development, “Turning the Corner.”

Bullying the new guy

If a legislator wants an interim study of whether water flows uphill, his colleagues will oblige him, and likely pitch in a few thousand dollars of taxpayers’ money to aid the investigation.

Smart Talk, Sept. 3

The Wall Street Journal last week published what it said was the first public acknowledgment by major league baseball star Torii Hunter of a family matter.

Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009

It was a GOOD week for … FALL. Another week of non-summer, with morning temps in the 50s and the football season upon us.

If you’re going to have a vision

Thought you were rid of me for good, huh?

Words, Sept. 3

Better glamping than cramping, I suppose:

Fashion week

I am utterly amazed at your completely negative review of Brandon Campbell’s Little Rock Fashion Week couture show.

Above the law

Add another cynical twist to the farce masquerading as justice in the case of the West Memphis Three.

Why you’re so mad

As promised, I had my own little town-hall meeting, trying to find out exactly what it is that so many of you are so mad about.


Breaking the long drought of good political news last week was a prayer answered.

D-G shrinks

You might have noticed that, starting Tuesday, the pages of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette were a little narrower than before.

What's Cooking, Sept. 3

A couple big food events to pencil in on your calendar:

This Modern World, Sept. 3

What’s happening in September.

Unless indicated, event is a reading and/or book signing.

Talk about a cleaning

Man stops at car wash in Jenny Lind. Reports theft of bag containing almost a half-million from his car.

Baker's bucks

Brummett chronicles the startup of Sen. Gilbert Baker's dash for dollars in September, an effort to put him comfortably ahead of other Republican senatorial hopefuls.

State Fair search

The State Fair wants out of its long-time location in a poor neighborhood (so happens to be majority black) in a difficult-to-reach part of Little Rock.

Do the loudest win?

Could be. That at least seems to be the thinking at the drown-them-out halls, such as Sen. Blanche Lincoln had in Russellville yesterday.

Thursday To-Do: Randy Rogers Band

RANDY ROGERS BAND9 p.m., Revolution. $15 adv., $18 d.o.s.Everything's coming together for the Randy Rogers Band.

Thursday To-Do: Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm

Photo by Jerry Colburn. CEDRIC BURNSIDE AND LIGHTNIN' MALCOLM9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern.

Maxwell, Common and Chrisette Michelle to Verizon

After a seven-year absence, neo-soul pioneer Maxwell is back with a critically acclaimed new album, "BLACKsummers'night" and a big tour that stop in North Little Rock on Saturday, Oct. 10.He's sharing the bill with long tenured rapper Common and rising R&B chick Chrisette Michelle.Tickets, which run $21.75, $49.50, $59.50 and a limited number of $79.50 VIP ones, go on-sale on Friday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m. via the Verizon Arena Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets.

Election time in Wrightsville

Early voting is underway in a special election for the mayor of Wrightsville.  McKinzie Riley and Patricia Rogers-Ward are seeking the post.  Early voting will continue through Friday, Sept. 4, at the Pulaski County Regional Building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Election day is Tuesday, Sept. 8.  Absentee ballots are available at the Pulaski County Clerk's office.  For ballot information or voter registration questions visit or call 340-8683.

One-newspaper town

Big newspaper news breaking Arkansas Business had the jump on the announcement that the competing Hussman and Stephens news operations in Northwest Arkansas will merge.

In this week's Times

We at the Times sometimes forget that not all of our blog readers have a chance to pick up the print edition.  Or maybe they simply choose not to, but it's usually a good read and this week is no exception.

Thursday: Thurman and Nesbitt, Luke, Kings of the Delta and the Travs

Luke. The two Bills, Thurman and Nesbitt, do hot club and gypsy jazz during the Afterthought's regular jazz night, 8 p.m., $5.

Eat For A Week.

Argenta's at it again.  The week of September 21-26, the Argenta Downtown Council and several participating Argenta restaurants are hoping you'll come out and enjoy two course $8 lunches and three course $25 dinners.  Can't wait to see what's on the menus for Restaurant Week in Argenta when they're posted... last time around there were some awesomely good deals.  More info now (and potentially even more later) at

Dispatch from Crazytown

Time Magazine's Joe Klein just happened to be at the town hall meeting last night in Russellville.  Klein said he was astonished at the number of people who "believe that the President has larded the government with communists."  He also comments on another curious meme that pops up at these meetings: the appointment of "czars" in the administration.  I've heard people at town halls here in Little Rock go on and on about Obama appointing "czars" who were known communists and criminals.  It is truly bizarre.  Klein writes: 

An open line...

for your reading and writing pleasure.  Enjoy. 

A sign for my times

Saw this on Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana today. And an utter dearth of U.S. visitors.


Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line?

Newspaper biz: Then and now

It's just inside newspaper baseball, but I came across a 1995 article recounting the lawsuit in which the Walton family, with supporting fire from Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman, successfully fought the Stephens family's effort to dominate daily newspaper circulation in Northwest Arkansas by buying the Fayetteville newspaper to join its Morning News in Springdale.

Memoirs from the Little Rock Nine, the latest from Donald Harington and more.

September’s a big month for Arkansas books.


If anything, Razorbabies, my mission and motto is Be All You Can Be!   With age, some start doubting their capacity to “make a difference” in the world.

Hog wild

Your time has come, Arkansas sports fans. Two (maybe three if you hail from up North) much-beloved state teams, on opposite trajectories, meet in the middle this weekend.

The speaker explains

House Speaker Robbie Wills defends the new House communications strategy. And he details other House structural changes.

The combined NWA newspapers

Coverage of the end of the Northwest Arkansas newspaper war in the affected newspapers didn't advance the story much beyond stories linked here yesterday.

Pea-paring For Winter.

Nothing quite like a hot simmering bowl of PurpleHull peas with a chunk of cornbread, especially on a winter's day.

Just sayin'

It should be obvious what's behind the widespread efforts (including at Cabot) to keep schoolkids from watching a speech by the president of the United States.It's a direct function of what was begun by the "birthers."

Obama's speech

So the Cabot School District won't show the Obama speech because of complaints from parents.

Obama's speech

So the Cabot School District won't show the Obama speech because of complaints from parents.

Now it's Jacksonville ...

No. 2 in line after Carlisle to formally prepare to pitch a site for relocation of the Arkansas State Fair.

Friday To-Do: KC and the Sunshine Band

KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND5 p.m. gates, Riverfest Amphitheatre. $10-$25.Formed in Miami in 1973 by Harry Wayne Kasey, this legendary disco, funk and R&B force refuses to fade into obscurity.

Friday To-Do: The Dangerous Idiots - Dragoon

The Dangerous Idiots. THE DANGEROUS IDIOTS / DRAGOON10 p.m., White Water Tavern.

A dream come true for a '80s-rock-loving ice skating fans eager to start the holidays

Time, you cruel bastard, says REO Speedwagon. It's got to be the strangest big-time event to come our while in recent memory: On Nov. 19, Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano and pals come to Verizon Arena, where they'll get a live, holiday-themed soundtrack, courtesy of '80s survivors REO Speedwagon and Rick Springfield.UPDATE: It's all going to be filmed for an NBC special that'll air on Sunday, Nov. 29 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.Tickets, which run from $46.75 to $61.75 unless you're a boy scout or a member of a group of 15, go on-sale Friday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m.

Get educated

UALR reports record enrollment this fall, more than 13,000, a 10 percent jump from last year.

Their turn

Going out on a limb here to predict there will be no one shouting about czars at the Rally for Healthcare Reform set for Saturday at Riverfront Park behind the Peabody Hotel.


This is getting a little ridiculous

A friend and local Twitterer passed this along last night. Just thought I would share.  I know everybody's getting excited about the Hogs game this weekend, but caskets?  According to

Corpse abuse in LR

The LRPD just faxed over information that a man walking in Calvary Cemetery at 20th and Woodrow, the Catholic cemetery, noticed yesterday that two caskets and the marble facings of a mausoleum had been exposed and defaced and an urn was stolen.

Politics in the classroom

Texas nutjobs -- ably abetted by Cabot nutjobs -- have been leading the charge to keep public school children from hearing a feel-good TV address by the leader of the free world.

The Weekend: Boombox, Razorback Rooftop Party, Boom Kinetic, DJ Paul Anthony and more

Boombox. FRIDAY 9/4At Sticky Fingerz, the Muscles Shoals' duo Boombox — one guitarist/vocalist + one DJ = something club kids and jam fans can agree on — plays for a growing following, 10 p.m., $10.

Sunday To-Do: Reggae on the River

REGGAE ON THE RIVER10 p.m., Ernie Biggs. $10.After big success with Frankie Beverly and Maze, Chris Bowen, impresario of Onestone Productions, returns with another “grown and sexy joint.” He's going back to his roots.

Sunday To-Do: Sunset Jazz Cruise: Evolution of Horns

Rodney Block. SUNSET JAZZ CRUISE: EVOLUTION OF HORNS8 p.m., Arkansas Queen Riverboat.

Sunday To-Do: Boot Fest

BOOT FEST2 p.m., Riverfest Amphitheatre. $20-$25.Kick up your boots, country music fans, there's a big party down by the river.

It's the weekend...

and a long one too.  Everybody be safe.  In the meantime, put your thoughts here. 

Evening roundup

Back from the beach, I have some evening headlines and mail to share: * ELECTRIC RATES GOING UP: Entergy wants to raise your base electric rates.

Love Languages

There are a few things I love, made sweeter when grouped together. For example, I love the beach, a really good pina colada, and good music.

Polite society

One football player punched another and the NY Times is deeply ruminating on the sordid behavior in college athletics.

Sen. Lincoln starts swinging

Sen. Blanche Lincoln swings back at Republican critics on her stance on health care. Read for yourself.

Hidden in the River Market

Prost, the new addition to Willy D's Piano Bar, gets its name from a German word that loosely translates as “cheers.” As in something you'd say with a clink of a glass.

Another foe for Sen. Lincoln

A herd of Republicans and one independent have already expressed intentions of challenging U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2010.

Propaganda czar Wills

Brummett details what's wrong with the Ministry of Approved Information just set up by House Speaker Robbie Wills.

Clinton's Motown sound

Famous people are recalling their connections with Motown for a retrospective on the legendary music label's 50th anniversary.

Chunking card check

The head of the AFL-CIO says he'd accept faster union elections and give up on the card check signup to win passage of legislation to remove some of the management-biased obstacles to organizing.

Instant 'riches'

The Arkansas Lottery Commission has rolled out its first set of scratch-off tickets. They'll cost from $1 to $5 each, pay prizes up to $100,000 and carry chances of winning of roughly 3- and 4-to-1.  Internal politicking has already begun.

The Arkie angle

CBS News weekend edition carried a feature on Batesville's Mike Low, one of three families of 9/11 victims who has refused to accept a monetary settlement in the death of a loved one killed in the terror attack.

Saturday microphone

Here's an open line. My update: It's not raining in Pacific Beach, Calif. A plane is pulling an advertising message aloft along the beach, but the streamer is not griping about Blanche Lincoln, as occurred at today's Hog game.


Happy Birthday to us! Publisher Alan Leveritt just e-mailed to remind the staff that the first issue of the Arkansas Times (then the Union Station Times) hit the streets of Little Rock 35 years ago today.

You know the score!

  48-10, of course. Couldn't post sooner because of computer problemos.

Boot Fest

Kick up your boots, country music fans, there's a big party down by the river. Boot Fest, a benefit for the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial, a bronze sculpture destined for the state Capitol grounds, brings together Luke Bryan and a host of other emerging country stars.

Socialism American style

American society is rife with government-supported services, some of which compete with the private sector better than others.

Quota queens

Republicans don't think enough Republicans were appointed to serve on the state Lottery Commission. What?

Obama shut out in Fayetteville UPDATE

Add the Fayetteville School District -- Fayetteville! -- to the school districts pointedly making it clear they will not subject impressionable school children to a speech by the leader of the free world.

Lazy Sunday

This one's for you.  Here's your open line.

Could a health co-op work?

Bob Redford of Fort Smith thinks he has experienced what could be the future of American health care, right in the Arkansas River Valley.

Blue Dog bites district

Ross’ 4th District, other rural areas, in dire need of health care reform.


  Ernie Unpronounceable, mon cheri, as an international style consultant I CANNOT let this slide.

Pre-empting debate

David Carr in New York Times reviews again how reason, logic and, yes, even tame political propaganda, have been subject to successful pre-emptive attacks in the age of cable TV.

Why work with these goons?

John Brummett explains Sen. Chuck Grassley's multi-dimensional appearance on health care. In short: If this is the best the Repubs have, they have nothing but liars.

Mean streets

Fox 16 reports an 8-year-old boy was shot in the side Sunday evening on Charles Bussey Street.

Travel day

I'll be departing shortly for the airport and a flight home. Make of this thread what you will.

Labor on Labor Day

AFL-CIO head Alan Hughes tells Roby Brock he's not counting Ross out yet on the Employee Free Choice Act.

That dangerous speech UPDATE

Just read that Obama speech for school kids that has all the right-wingers' panties in a wad.

How about...

a late open line?  Sorry for the delay but there were burgers on the grill. 

Kentucky grunge

Tantric's self-titled debut reached platinum status in 2001, largely on the strength of the single “Breakdown,” and extensive touring with Kid Rock, 3 Doors Down and Creed. They're back with a new album and a show at Juanita's.

Follow the pipes

I love hyperlocal blogging, a blue-ribbon example being Argenta News. You may have read in the daily paper that things are just perfect on NLR riverfront development, though that riverside hotel may be a little farther off than originally thought and though there are some obstacles in flood plain rules to building structures within the "seawall."

Blue Dog barks

Todays' the day U.S. Rep. Mike Ross will officially declare his already obvious opposition to a public health insurance plan, Brummett reports.

LRSD strategy

The independent Strategic Planning Commission studying the Little Rock School District will meet at 4 p.m. today at school board offices.

Clinton says ...

1) don't worry about the Republicans. 2) Obama is going to get health care legislation.

Get me a ticket for an airplane

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter went to China and came back with a letter. House Speaker Robbie Wills only had to go to Arizona (though he did recently get a junket to Taiwan among his many far-flung travels) to get a letter from China.

Tuesday To-Do: Tantric

TANTRIC9 p.m., Juanita's. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.Tantric is a post-grunge band from Louisville, Ky., formed by former members of Days of the New.

Go green

Town halls continue. No death panels tonight.

Gold digging?

A tipster say George W. and Laura Bush are due in Little Rock in the next few days for a "small dinner" in the Heights. Reported hosts: Mr. and Mrs. Joe Ford.

What's New? What To-Do?

Made in America Town Hall: Tonight, at Pulaski Technical College, Repower Arkansas will host a roundtable discussion on the benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy.  Panelists include Mary Ann Shope, vice president for economic development at Pulaski Tech; Stephen Walker, director of development at Phoenix Renewable Energy; April Ambrose, sustainability coordinator for Viridian USA; JD Lowery, sustainability project manager for Viridian USA; Christopher Charlton, Greenway Equipment/John Deere, and Bill Ball, CEO of Steller Sun Solar.  Promises to be interesting.  More details here. 

Fayetteville: sanity pushes back

The Fayetteville School District let teachers decide whether to show President Obama's speech today. Its seeming reluctance to air the speech for all students prompted a Labor Day news conference at which school officials lamented miscommunication about the issue and endured criticism from parents who WANTED their kids to hear the speech. Scrambling school officials insisted No Child Would Be Left Behind who wanted to hear BHO speak. Pleasant switch, yes?

Clickit or ticket

I found the State Police report on Labor Day weekend arrests interesting. State troopers alone -- other police made arrests, too -- accounted for more than 170 DWI arrests statewide.

Slow start

Having a hard time getting back in the swing after the Labor Day weekend. Too many odds and ends to clean up.


  South Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, is not gay. He brought up how not gay he is back in June, though nobody had asked.

Something's happening here

ABC News reported tonight that a school in Arlington, Texas, that blocked President Obama's speech to kids on the importance of education on the grounds that it might be "political" intends to allow kids to miss school next week to go to Jerry Jones' new Cowboys palace to hear a speech by . . .

Will the soda pop tax go national?

President Obama is being urged by health-care activists to propose a national tax on soft drinks, both to slim down Americans and to raise money for improvements to the national health-care system. Arkansas could figure into the debate.

Domino falls for Sen. Lincoln

Sen. Blanche Lincoln may be headed to chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee, a plum with an election year around the corner.

The annals of post-racial America

All Fort Smith residents apparently haven't gotten the word that race is over as an issue.

Distress sale

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (under new leadership it should be noted before this item gets underway) apparently may unload a white elephant -- the Victory Building on Capitol Avenue across from the Capitol.

Common sense in Fort Smith

Given the earlier item about racial overtones of a city board debate in Fort Smith, it's worth noting a quote from another Fort Smith leader about local and national reaction to another prominent black man, President Obama.

I Smell Smoke.

... and it's coming from Hot Springs.  Well, not yet, but it will be September 18th and 19th when the Smoke on the Water Barbecue Championship returns.  This is no backyard barbecue; $20k in prize money's out there, just waiting to be won.  The big purse is $3500 to the winner of the Champion's Purse.  Prizes will be awarded in  all four categories (chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket) and to the top five overall cook teams.  There will also be a “best sauce” contest and Ribfest featuring several world champion teams selling their famous ribs and mouth watering barbecue to the public.

Lincoln to take questions UPDATE II

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who's taken fire from the right at public meetings, takes questions on health care today on KABF (88.3 FM), Acorn's public radio station in Little Rock.

Beebe stimulus

The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that Gov. Mike Beebe's recommendations for spending federal stimulus money included, depending on the rest of the $10 million being found, $2.5 million to renovate the former Rock Island bridge by the Clinton Library as a pedestrian/bike crossing.

That's my boy

Mahale, a Little Rock Zoo chimpanzee, gave birth to a male Aug. 29. It's not on display yet, but here's a photo by Catherine Hopkins of mother and offspring.

Wednesday: Soul Music Dance Party, Framing Hanley and more

The Big O. Damn, this is a good idea: Tonight, at White Water, local man-about-town Seth Baldy hosts a soul music dance party in honor of Otis Redding's birthday.

2 bits, 4 bits, 6 bits, the Spa

The U.S. Mint is rolling out a series of 56 quarters recognizing national parks and other historic places.

You'd be crazy ...

... not to take The Rep and sponsor Fox 16 up on "Pay What You Can" night tonight to see "Always ...

The face of health reform UPDATE

When President Obama addresses Congress tonight, he'll come with faces in the crowd to illustrate in human terms the need for health legislation.

Make that Chairman Lincoln

It's done. Sen. Blanche Lincoln will chair the Senate Agriculture Commitee.

Fair Fare.

The word is out on the neat new (and potentially diet-breaking and cholesterol-inflating) foods available at this year's upcoming Arkansas State Fair.  On the menu:  fried jalapenos and pickle chips.  And another locally-inspired bound-to-be favorite... hey, I can honestly say it beats the Pig Licker.  More at Tie Dye Travels. 

Pryor to Obama: Have a chat

David Pryor, who knows a thing or two about winning over voters, writes on Politico that it's time for President Obama to have a fireside chat, a la FDR, with Americans.

Cry the beloved Arkansas

Cass Sunstein, a universally respected Harvard law professor who happens to harbor some liberal views, is the latest punching bag of the nut right.

Assume the position

It's a sad day in Arkansas in many ways today. So thank goodness for a little comic relief from an Orange County, Calif. Republican legislator, (a family values rep., of course) who believes in party discipline.