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November 16, 2011

Vol 38 • No 12

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High art in middle America

Alice Walton opens Crystal Bridges.

Gabby Giffords on TV

Here, in multiple segments, is that ABC special last night on U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords that everyone is talking about.

Shooter's scores with pub food

A good spot to eat a burger, shoot some pool.

Griffin's Medicare lies

Health-care law and policy in the United States form such an impenetrable maze that rational public discourse about them is impossible. When anything is believable, the world is safe for demagoguery.

Our exultant American hearts

When most people think of stoicism, they think of someone maintaining composure in the face of adversity. But that's only half the equation. To reach such equanimity, the Stoics expected, at every turn, that what they cared about most would be taken from them.

'Immortals': not so mythical

New movie is heavy on CGI, light on plot.

Riding Hog seniors

Watching Senior Night 2011 at Razorback Stadium made me reflect upon September 2008. Thirty-eight months ago, I assumed my standard, slovenly posture on my in-laws' sofa, watching in horror as Arkansas scuffled against a hapless directional school from Louisiana.

The War on Thanksgiving

Stupid me, I didn't even know there was a War on Thanksgiving, and wouldn't know it yet if our fair and balanced friends hadn't raised the alarm. They're good at raising alarms.

Where the jobs are

Republican congressmen keep trying to give more tax money to people they call "job creators," though the only jobs those people have been creating are overseas, at coolie wages.

The Griffin gang

Somebody who still has a job, but is in danger of losing it, is U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin of Little Rock. This is why rich right-wingers have been shoveling money into the Second Congressional District.

The Holy Shakes and Foul Play Cabaret come to White Water Tavern

Hot Springs takes over the White Water Tavern.

Easter Seals property

The former Easter Seals training center at the east end of Lee Avenue has long been a festering sore for the surrounding residential neighborhood in Hillcrest and for Easter Seals, which has tried repeatedly to unlock some value from the abandoned building and land lease since moving to new quarters in western Little Rock years ago. Neighbors have always thrown up a roadblock of objections.

Mike Anderson returns to Little Rock

Also Black Tusk/Thou/Monstro, Epiphany and Gina Gee, Flameing Daeth Fearies and Glittercore, Owen Temple and Adam Carroll, Jim Mize and The Frontier Circus, a jazz tribute to Miles Davis and John Coltrane and 'Pregnant by the Pastor'

Heroes to the Republic

Not Mitt Romney

Of mules and men

What is the origin of 'mule skinner'?


A star trail taken outside of Russellville.

History, for a price

You never know what might turn up on eBay. Like the doors to law offices that housed, among others, U.S. Sen John L. McClellan and Hamilton Moses, the former head of Arkansas Power & Light Co.

No entitlement cuts

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have protected millions of Americans and have contributed to the stability of our families and our communities. I cannot sit idly by while Washington proposes cuts to these important programs while ignoring the call of middle class Americans to find other ways to cut the deficit.

Memory and the rain

The Observer is getting older — not old enough to get the Senior Slam at Denny's yet, though sometimes it seems like it — and we're starting to feel the years.

Wes Bentley in 'Hunger Games' trailer.

And R.I.P. Walter Norris.

Funny papers: Bumpers' correspondence

Arguably no other Arkansas governor pushed through more progressive legislation in a four-year period than Dale Bumpers. During his two-term leadership from 1971 until 1975, he managed to reorganize state government, enact a more progressive state tax rate, expand the state park system and undertake a major construction initiative among the state's universities.

On 'All-American Muslim'

I've often been heard to call TLC "The Freak Show Channel" in this space, owing to its tendency to peek in the back door of rather odd American subcultures.

A good week for art lovers

Also for Andy Allison, Arkansas roads and a Huckster eying a new home. It was a bad week for the Arkansas Lottery, North Little Rock and the Arkansas Shale Caucus.

H.A.M. opens

In Hillcrest.

The Root of all success

Sustainability means more than just the food.

Fighting at Ferneau

Officer caught on tape involved in earlier incident.

Juanita's loses late-night bid

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has upheld the director's rejection of an application by Juanita's restaurant to hold a private club permit that would have allowed it to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. at its River Market location.

11-11 nuptials

"Everything just fell in place," said state Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford, the former state legislator, about his marriage 11/11/11 to his long-time partner Robbie Thomas-Knight, a clinical psychologist.

Charter schools struggle, too

The state Education Department last week released the final 2011 count on how schools in Arkansas are doing in meeting the No Child Left Behind Standards, which require that all students be testing at grade level in math and reading by 2014.

Three heretical thoughts on education

Despite melodramatic pronouncements to the contrary by sundry politicians, tycoons, tycoon/politicians and media-enhanced "reformers" like former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, the available evidence shows American students performing steadily better on standardized assessments of educational progress over the past 30 years.

New Daisy Bates film to show first at UALR

UALR's new Institute on Race and Ethnicity is up and running at full speed. Mark your calendars for Nov. 30.

SAU recovers four stolen horses

Southern Arkansas University says four of five horses stolen from the campus — they belong to members of the school's rodeo team — have been found in Oklahoma.

Former minister up for parole

Saline 24/7, the new Saline County news site, reports that David Pierce, the former music minister at Benton's First Baptist Church sent to prison for sexual indecency with minors, is up for a parole hearing this week.

Gene Lyons: Heretical ideas on education

Gene Lyons, who's been covering education for decades and is a former college professor himself, writes this week about some heretical ideas regarding education.

Occupy Wall Street's next move

Various people quoted in this New York Times article make the case that the at-least loosely coordinated efforts of city nationwide to bust up Occupy Wall Street-style camps is actually good for the movement.

Supreme Court members feted by key lawyer

They don't call the U.S. Supreme Court supreme for nothing. Ethical rules don't apply to them.

Republicans: Pizza sauce is a vegetable

The Republicans love to talk about the "nanny state" — by which they mean government regulation aimed at improving the health and safety of American citizens.

Airport has four finalists for lobbyist job

Ron Mathieu, director of the Little Rock National Airport, has narrowed a second round of applications for the job of director of government relations at the airport to four finalists — all new names — and they'll be interviewed by airport officials Nov. 28 and 29.

Wednesday To-Do: Black Tusk, Thou, Monstro

Black Tusk headlines a big show at Downtown Music Hall Wednesday night.

Chowing down in Bentonville: Petit Bistro

For hungry art lovers.

Thursday To-Do: Epiphany feat. Gina Gee & One Night Stand

Epiphany plays Thursday night at Stickyz with Gina Gee and One Night Stand.

Arrest made in Chicot Road home slaying

Channel 4 reports arrest of suspect in the slaying of Lillian Sisson, 68 found dead last night in her home on Chicot Road.

Thursday To-Do: Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, head coach of the Razorbacks men's basketball team, speaks at the Downtown Tip Off Club's meeting Thursday morning.

Rep. Altes loses disputed unemployment appeal

The Arkansas Court of Appeals today upheld a Board of Review decision that a former employee of Altes Sanitation in Fort Smith was entitled to unemployment compensation benefits.

Thursday: Tom Joyce, Jim Brickman, Hull and UALR Women's Trojans

Jim Brickman plays Robinson Center Music Hall Thursday night.

Please, don't tell the chamber of commerce about this

In England, young unemployed people are being told to work for up to two months at supermarkets and discount stores without pay and no promise of future work.

Thursday: Blacksmith Tom Joyce at AAC

Metalworker talks in conjunction with "Cast, Cut, Forged and Crushed" show.

Eating out on Thanksgiving Day

Rather eat out than cook up a storm during the holidays? There are several places that will oblige you.

Watch The Smittle Band on AETN

The Smittle Band will be featured on AETN's "On the Front Row" Friday at 6:30 p.m.

I-430-630 interchange progress report

The Highway and Transportation Department had a news conference today to update progress on the $125 million work on the Interstates 430/630 interchange.

We're over the hump

And readers take over. Final thoughts: * READ THIS ARTICLE: By Charles Pierce on Penn State.

Maze, Keith Sweat and Bar-Kays 'postponed'

Frankie Beverly and Maze, Keith Sweat and the Bar-Kays, scheduled to play Verizon on Nov. 20, has been "postponed," according to the Verizon Facebook code.

Resolved: Unity is about today, not 1957

The Democrat-Gazette this morning reported in detail on a movement, apparently arising from a Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce initiative, to repeal a pro-segregation resolution adopted by the Little Rock city board in 1957.

Saturday To-Do: Jim Mize, Frontier Circus record release show

The Frontier Circus plays a record release show at Maxine's Saturday.

Weekend: Foul Play Cabaret, Boom Kinetic, Roger Creager and more

U2 tribute act UZoo plays Cajun's Wharf Friday night.

Supreme Court upholds Lepanto mayor ruling

The Arkansas Supreme Court today upheld a circuit court ruling that Steve Jernigan was qualified to be mayor of Lepanto.

M2 Holiday Show opens Friday

New artists: Keith Newton, Sam Jones IV, Kathy Bay, Chris Hill, Toby Penney and Richard Sutton.

Burger joint of the week: Bayou Bistro

Hot buttery ciabatta bun. Crawfish. Cream sauce all over the place. Is this a burger, or is it something else? You'll have to travel to El Dorado to find out.

Arkansas Tech reports sexual assault

I'm thinking this is a post-Penn State product. Arkansas Tech distributed far and wide a news release reporting a sexual assault yesterday in a campus locker room — a man groping inside the pants of another man. The release:

The spirit of giving, the giving of spirit: UAMS glass

Sale of James Hayes' blown glass figures benefit cancer institute.

Arkansas's service to rich and poor

Interesting convergence today: * TAXES: Republican Twitterers are eagerly broadcasting news of an Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce-backed study presented to a legislative committee today that says Arkansas's tax rate, particularly on new investments, is too high.

Friday To-Do: Flameing Daeth Fearies, Glittercore

Glittercore plays Vino's Friday night with Flaming Daeth Fearies and Jab Jab Sucker Punch.

And from the 1st Congressional District ....

For some reason, all the early political grist today concerns the 1st Congressional District, where Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford is currently in charge.

Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus

David Goins of Fox 16 says a pedestrian who was hit by a Central Arkansas Transit bus while crossing Louisiana Street near Capitol Avenue has died at a local hospital.

Republicans still want to kill Medicare

It's become increasingly apparent the Super Committee will fail. The Republicans continue to hld toon tax breaks for rich, tax increases, if any, for poor and, now, privatization (ruin) of Medicare.

Juror Twittering in death case before Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court today heard oral arguments from Erickson Dimas-Martinez, appealing a death sentence for murder from Benton County.

UALR to screen Daisy Bates documentary

UALR will screen "Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock" on Nov. 30.

Huckabee backs foreign aid

When I gaze upon the clowns assembled for the Republican primary campaign, I often think how glad I am Mike Huckabee opted for media money.

Thursday thoughts here

The line is open. Close-outs: * GUBERNATORIAL GUESSING GAME: What if another Democrat with deep pockets lined up with Mike Ross, Dustin McDaniel and Bill Halter to run for governor in 2014?

McDaniel yields on FOI request

I see Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Chris Heller, attorney for the Little Rock School District, have worked out a controversy fabricated by McDaniel over his office's request for documents from the district in the ongoing litigation over the state's failure to review desegregation implications in charter school approval.

Blind-Deaf School Board rejects Easter Seals proposal

The Board of the Arkansas Schools for the Blind and Deaf last night rejected a proposal from Easter Seals to transfer its $1-a-year lease of almost 10 acres of Blind School land to Little Rock businessman John Chandler, who proposed to buy the former Easter Seals center on the property at the eastern end of Lee Avenue for business offices, including for his clothing business.

Legislator: State-paid Bible classes sent to attorney general

It sounds like the Department of Human Services has sent another hot potato to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

Naked came the blogger; clothed came Channel 4

Clothing, and lack, of on parallel tracks in Little Rock and Egypt. * NAKED BLOGGING: Fascinating story in New York Times on a young Egyptian woman whose posted nude photos of herself on her blog as a political and artistic statement.

Pieday: Chocolate Torte at Barr's Junction

Sometimes the best things are found at the most simple of places. This chocolate torte was discovered by chance at a little convenience store-grocery-hardware store between Prescott and Magnolia, just because I needed a road break.

Oklahoma St. coaches killed in Arkansas plane crash

Channel 11 is reporting that two women's basketball coaches at Oklahoma State — Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna — were killed in a small plane crash in Perry County last night.

Saturday To-Do: Owen Temple, Adam Carroll

Owen Temple plays White Water Tavern Saturday night with Adam Carroll.

Saturday To-Do: Jazz Tribute to Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers team up with Velvet Kente's Joshua and Dee Davis for this tribute show.

Saturday To-Do: "Pregnant by the Pastor"

"Pregnant by the Pastor" premiers Saturday at Riverdale 10.

Fort Smith copes with Whirlpool closure

Good article in Wall Street Journal about Fort Smith's reaction to Whirlpool's plan to close its refrigerator factory, which will put the 1,000 remaining employees out of work.

'Is our children learning?' Yes.

You know the answer you're supposed to give to George Bush's immortal question posed in the headline — NO! It's what the Billionaire Boys Club is teaching you to say.

Tonight at Thea: Teachers, patients at ACH

Collaborative and independent artworks.

Drew District Judge Harper censured on alcohol use

Drew County District Judge Ken Harper of Monticello was reprimanded and censured today by the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for misconduct related to alcohol He was reprimanded for a drunk driving arrest and conviction in Lincoln County.

Judge Gunn settles case by agreeing never to run for judge again

Three pending disciplinary cases against former Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn, now presiding as a fictional judge over a fictional drug court in "Last Shot With Judge Gunn," were dismissed today in return for Gunn's agreement never to serve as a judge again in Arkansas in any capacity.

Renauds' camera smashed in Occupy Wall Street protest UPDATE

The Renaud brothers, Little Rock native documentary filmmakers, were in the thick of things during the mass Occupy Wall Street protests that jammed streets in New York yesterday.

Democrats defeat balanced budget gimmick

Sufficient Democrats — don't include U.S. Rep. Mike Ross in that number — held together to defeat the Republican balanced budget proposal.

UALR chancellor urges DREAM Act

I got another reason today to like UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson besides his quiet leadership, his modest ways (no housing upgrade or flashy car in his tenure) and, most of all, his dedication to a calling beyond building sidewalks or a football team or artificially inflating enrollment.

Tonight at Greg Thompson: Horn, Justus

Wood sculpture and paintings.

Tonight at Ketz: Rene Hein

Her "Birds of Arkansas" is at Ketz Gallery.

Open studios: Cox, Gorrell, McLeod

Open studios at 401 Maple St. tonight.

Chris "Clunk" Selby back in the game

Chris "Clunk" Selby, right, is once more booking bands in Northwest Arkansas.

Don't forget: Museum show tomorrow

Unless you're a member of the Arkansas Arts Center, tomorrow's the day for the annual Museum School Sale. (Members tonight.)

The Fighting Inequity Through Small Gestures Edition

The movement to repeal a pro-segregation resolution adopted by the Little Rock City Board, No Child Left Behind in Arkansas and a rapid-fire judicial review are up for discussion.

Friday night flights

Take off. Flights of fancy allowed.

Also Saturday: Wildwomen scarves!

At Blue Rock Studio.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders goes bipartisan

Mike and Janet Huckabee have a grandchild on the way, according to a mention of daughter Sarah Sanders' pregnancy (three months) in this interview with Forbes magazine.

Sebastian clerk fires complaining deputies

Sebastian County Circuit Clerk Ken Blevins has fired two deputies who were among several who complained he created a hostile work environment by sexual harassment, wage discrimination and retaliation.

Pulaski Tech's need for growth money

There were further details in today's Democrat-Gazette about a subject we raised several weeks ago, Pulaski Tech's plans to seek a property tax to help support the exploding two-year college's growth.

Peaceful protestors get pepper sprayed

The photo above by Louise Macabitas is getting viral distribution. As Nate Silver said, "That the police officer in this photo has not been fired yet is profoundly embarrassing."

Wall Street's man in the Senate

Does anger at Wall Street and the big bankers for escaping the consequences that befall working-class Americans have election day implications.

It's Saturday night

The line is open. Enjoy the Hog game through Brian Chilson's photo gallery on Facebook.

The Boot looms larger than ever

David Bazzel, the former Hog turned media mogul who invented "The Boot" trophy for the revived LSU-Arkansas rivalry is sending around his annual collection of photos taken during Hog victories.

McDaniel still hasn't sent State Police promised money

Some odds and ends this morning: * DUSTIN MCDANIEL'S MOVIE — THE SEQUEL: Remember back in July when Attorney General Dustin McDaniel spent $6,000 on a little movie to announce at a State Police gathering that he was directing $700,000 from settlement of a lawsuit against a drug company to build a training facility at the agency's shooting range.

Student achievment: It's the parents, stupid

Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times caught my eye this morning. It's discussion of the PISA test, used internationally to measure achievement of 15-year-olds, a test on which American students lag behind places such as Singapore, Finland and Shanghai.

CNN: Super committee will flop

Not surprising, I suppose, this news from CNN. Republican resistance to tax increases, particularly for the wealthy, is the core barricade.

Hog football player dies — cause not known UPDATE

Multiple reports coming in of the death of Garrett Uekman of Little Rock, a tight end of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks football team.

Secret military maneuvers OK'd by LR mayor

Kathy Wells sent a note to Mayor Mark Stodola about unusual helicopter flights over downtown Saturday night.

Sunday night line — Maumelle rules get vote tomorrow

It's open. Not much else to report at this moment, except: * TAKE OR LEAVE WATER DEAL: Kathy Wells, in an e-mail to neighborhood groups, distills the ongoing debate on land use rules for the Lake Maumelle watershed to their essence.

Arkansan sprayed in Oregon protest

The Atlantic talked to her mother: .... Elizabeth Nichols, a 20-year-old originally from Arkansas who moved to the West Coast about six months ago and made her way from Seattle to Portland a month later.

Wind energy project's long Arkansas footprint

Recommended reading: By Rob Moritz for Stephens Media about an ongoing effort to clear the way for a power line from wind farms in Oklahoma to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Why the super committee failed

New York Times offers insights into the failed super committee budget talks. * DEMOCRATS: They were willing to cut programs popular with its base.

A curry and a spring roll at Green Papaya

A nice little Vietnamese place serving up big portions of fresh, flavorful food on Highway 271 South in Fort Smith, worth checking out.

Hollywood meets Arkansas

I've come into possession of a memo sent to crew members on "Mud," the Jeff Nichols movie that has just about wrapped up production in Arkansas, including in rural Arkansas, with work in Stuttgart, Dumas and other places.

First shot of Matthew McConaughey in 'Mud'

Matthew McCounaughey on the set of "Mud."

Interstate 30 closed by flooding at Saline County line

Fox 16 reports high water has closed all lanes of I-30 at roughly the Saline line.

Assault with stun gun reported on movie lot

A new wrinkle in felonious assaults: Police report two men tried to assault women going to a car in the Rave theater parking lot off Col. Glenn Road about 6:45 p.m.

Central Arkansas Water endorses Maumelle zoning UPDATE

The Central Arkansas Water Commission today endorsed a proposed zoning code for the Lake Maumelle watershed. It's not as tough as environmentalists wanted and more zoning than some rural landowners and the Farm Bureau wanted.

New picture posted ...

to Delta slideshow.

Another week begins

And here's another Monday night open line. Final notes: * FOX: WORSE THAN NO NEWS AT ALL: Another poll suggests watching Fox is bad for your brain.

Freethinkers back at Capitol this year

Secretary of State Mark Martin announced the usual State Capitol Christmas season events yesterday (lighting ceremony is Dec. 3).

Obama's budget strategy

The New York Times lays out President Obama's thinking on the collapse of congressional budget negotiations: In remaining aloof from the special deficit committee in Congress even as it collapsed on Monday, President Obama showed his calculation more clearly than ever before: Republicans will never agree to raise taxes on the wealthy to balance any spending cuts, so let the voters decide.

A vote for Arkansas from Louisiana

A sportswriter in my Louisiana hometown risks a lynching by saying he favors an Arkansas win over LSU.

Dumas explains ills of balanced budget amendment

Ernie Dumas explains this week why the unanimous vote of Arkansas member of the House for a balanced budget amendment was a political charade that none of them truly wanted to succeed.

'Mud's' Arkansas star revealed

After an eight-week shoot in southeast Arkansas, Jeff Nichols' film "Mud" wrapped over the weekend.

Arkansas unemployment rate drops in October

Here's the monthly report on unemployment — 8.2 percent in October, down from 8.3 the month before.

The Republican dilemma — only Romney can beat Obama

The conclusion above is based on polling in Pennsylvania — without which President Obama probably can't be re-elected.

Wrapping up: "Dia de los Muertos"

A few days left for Hot Springs Fine Arts Center show.

Wrapping up: "The Art of Living"

Exhibition of art made at Rohwer closes Saturday.

'Take Shelter' up for two Gotham Awards

Jeff Nichols' film "Take Shelter" was nominated for two Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Bar association has slowed Obama appointments

Can't say with a certainty that the following was a factor in the slow pace of Arkansas federal judicial nominations (in one case, three names initially recommended by U.S. senators were rejected for a new slate), but this New York Times report is interesting for some insight on slow progress of Obama administration nominations generally.

Obstacles to Pulaski Tech Main Street move

I mentioned over the weekend that Mayor Mark Stodola had made a pitch to the Pulaski Tech Board of Trustees last week to move the two-year college's growing culinary school to Main Street.

Tuesday: Lucie's Place benefit, Lucious Spiller and more

White Water Tavern hosts a benefit for Lucie's Place Tuesday night.

HSDFI to screen docs monthly at Malco

The Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute will begin monthly screenings this weekend at the Historic Malco Theatre.

UPDATE: Planning Board approves Maumelle zoning rules

The Maumelle watershed rules are before the County Planning Board today, but whatever that group does, it's my understanding that the final say will come from the Pulaski County Quorum Court.

Hogs' Garrett Uekman had enlarged heart

40/29 reports on Washington County coroner's report on the death of Garrett Uekman, 19, the Razorback tight end who died Sunday after playing Saturday against Mississippi State.

Tuesday night topics

The line is open. You're on.

Family style

The continuing debate about the state's best fried chicken leads to Monte Ne, where the Monte Ne Inn Chicken Restaurant has been serving up the same family style chicken dinner since 1971.