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December 16, 2010

Vol 37 • No 15

Big Ideas 2010

For Arkansas, Little Rock and beyond

Big Ideas: Help a brother get further

A micro-model for affecting social change.

Big Ideas: For Little Rock

Reinvent Rock Creek as a floater's paradise; reinvigorate Main Street with food trucks; reboot the River Rail Trolley; reroute the Arkansas River; a Little Rock Promise; a banh mai Vietnamese sandwich shop and more.

Big Ideas: Rethinking the nature of the library

The Central Arkansas Library System's ambitious plans for its coming Children's Library.

Big Ideas: For the Beyond

Send world leaders into near space; fly to work; live forever.

Big Ideas: For Arkansas

Solve the energy crisis with wastewater and chicken feathers; stop building prisons; ratify the Equal Rights Amendment; bring a major tech conference to Arkansas; establish niche self-service museums in small towns; add a child-impact statement to the state budget; live broadcasts of all legislative meetings; health benefits for domestic partners and more.

Dale Hawkins dies

Rockabilly pioneer Dale Hawkins, who'd made his home in Central Arkansas since the early '80s, died last night after a long battle with colon cancer.

Notes from the Chamber

Roby Brock is Twittering from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting. Financier Warren Stephens is the speaker.

Adieu, Sen. Lincoln

Thanks to Jason Tolbert for a report on Sen. Blanche Lincoln's farewell speech to the Senate today.

Give 'em hell, Harry

Sometimes, you just gotta love Harry Reid. After Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) accused Majority Leader Harry Reid of grinchery for suggesting that the Senate work the week after Christmas, Reid blamed Kyl's party for the delay that may push votes past the holiday.

LR National: Private planes, private soirees

In response to the Arkansas Times’ request for information, the Little Rock National Airport has released more information on reimbursed expenses, now from a member of the Airport Commission.

Marisol, Taylor at Crystal Bridges

Museum announces works in wood.

House repeals gay military ban UPDATE

The House has voted to repeal the ban on gay military service, 250-175. U.S. Rep. Mike Ross was among the handful of Democrats who opposed repeal.

Over to you, blog fans

The line is open. And, despite some reader complaints about this recurrent topic, I'm afraid I just have to pass along one last item about a 2012 presidential candidate who once lived here until becoming a Florida tax fugitive: * Slate busts Mike Huckabee like an overripe Hope melon.

The Week That Was, Dec. 8-14

Good week: Bobby Petrino, Entergy customers, Ernie Passailaigue, the environment. Bad week: Ron Mathieu, U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, Aaron Jones, Kevin Lewis

What's Cookin', Dec. 16

Papa Sushi, the new restaurant in the space that formerly housed Koto, is scheduled to hold a soft opening this weekend and begin regular hours Monday, Dec. 20.

Our favorite things

Five wrapping paper-ready presents from around the state.

Words, Dec. 16

A reader says the English teachers of her youth didn't sanction tromp. "Is it acceptable now?"

A&E News, Dec. 16

The 2011 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase is just around the corner! We're accepting submissions for bands through Christmas Eve.

Payback time for Ron Mathieu

Director reimburses airport $3,000 for charges.

Club Little Rock

As in 2009, I'll spend most of my remaining space in 2010 griping about the city of Little Rock's annual year-end ritual of giving a $200,000 taxpayer subsidy to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Exceptional? Because we say so.

American exceptionalism: An old and dormant phrase newly embraced on or around 2010 by conservative Republicans in the United States.

Sushi steal

Mt. Fuji does sushi and other Japanese fare at a bargain.

Good government

Here is some shocking news: In one week, not one but two Arkansas regulatory agencies issued orders requiring the industries that they monitor to do something wholly in the public interest.

DREAM deferred

Even the literalists of the Religious Right seldom quote Exodus 20:5 approvingly. Though they presumably agree with the sentiment, they know that the idea of punishing children for the sins of their fathers is repugnant to most people. Un-American, one might say.

In Brief, Dec. 16-18

Jonathan Wilkins and the Reparations, Catskill Kids at Sticky Fingerz, Knox Hamilton at Vino's, Cool Shoes at Downtown Music, "Christmas Jams" at The Afterthought and Cornerstone, Whale Fire and Mandy McBryde at Pizza D'Action.

The Box lives

As The Insider reported this week, there is definitive hope for fans of the lovely burger bombs hurled happily from The Box.

Bring it on

It was supposed to be a surprise, but somebody broke the embargo — a WikiLeak maybe — and billboards went up. "Second Coming — May 21, 2011."

Protecting children

I am writing to thank the Times and especially Mara Leveritt for her excellent article "My Heart to Shatter." There is much lip-service paid to protecting children in our culture, but child abuse remains accompanied by many myths and evasions.

The Observer, Dec. 16

Observer Junior is a special case. His preferred birthday cake theme this year: Cake of the Living Dead, sporting a horde of plastic zombies shambling across the plain of frosting in search of braaaaaaains.

Eye on Arkansas, Dec. 16

Adventures in stripper-sitting

James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart star in 'Welcome to the Rileys,' with mixed results.

Orval, Dec. 16, 2010

Where I stand on The Agreement

Nobody has any reason to be the least bit disappointed with the job Bobby Petrino has done with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Still, I have my reservations about the document that shall henceforth be known as The Agreement.

This Modern World, Dec. 16, 2010

Michael Buble

Dec. 7, Verizon Arena

Raffle falls flat

A drawing for the big prize was slated to be held in September but that has been delayed. No drawing will be held until 500,000 tickets have been sold. As of last week, barely more than 200,000 had been sold.

The To-Do List, Dec. 16-22

The Sword, 'A Crumby Christmas,' 'Home for the Holidays,' Ashtray Babyhead, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Lucero, 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.'

The Televisionist, Dec. 16

On "Dirty Jobs: Holiday Special" and "Explorer: Born to Rage."

Thursday: Jonathan Wilkins and the Reparations, Trey Hawkins Band, Smittle Band

Thursday night has Jonathan Wilkins and the Reparations and Catskill Kids at Sticky Fingerz, Trey Hawkins Band at Revolution and Smittle Band at The Revolution.

Thursday To-Do: The Sword

Austin-based fantasy metal act The Sword hit Juanita's, making up a missed gig from October.

Thursday To-Do: "A Crumby Christmas"

"A Crumby Christmas," the first annual fundraiser for an arts and music scholarship honoring Luke Hunsicker, lands in White Water Tavern.

If I were Pat Hays ...

I'm not sure I'd have been a character witness for North Little Rock Alderman Sam Baggett.

Milwaukee charter school project? Eh.

It's not the first study to find limited education benefit in the extensive Milwaukee charter school program, but it's worth noting that one of the researchers is a member of the University of Arkansas education reform group.

How strong the mayor? UPDATE

A reader noted last night — and the website confirms — that terms of four members of the Little Rock Airport Commission expire at the end of this year.

Let the UALR games begin

Now this is good news. The Coleman Dairy family is giving UALR 10 acres on the south side of Col. Glenn.

Oxford American's SoLost takes on 'True Grit'

With Philip Martin, Fort Smith native Candyce Hinkle (who plays a bit part in the Coens' film) and a real live teenager named Maddie from Dardanelle.

The Box lives

As The Insider reported this week, there is definitive hope for fans of the lovely burger bombs hurled happily from The Box.

Burger joint of the week: Hurley House Café

Half a dozen burgers or more dot the menu, including big meaty burgers like the Big Joe.

Nelson wants McDaniel help UPDATE

Sheffield Nelson, the former Game and Fish commissioner who's sued over Game and Fish Commission practices, now writes Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to join him in his protest of the commission's hiring of outside counsel to defend against Nelson's suit.

Votes in hand for DADT repeal, but ...

With support from Republicans Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe — and a couple of other Republicans still potential supporters — a filibuster-proof majority is prepared to repeal the law discriminating against gay military service.

Tops at "Toys," talk too: UPDATE

Winners announced for annual show; juror will speak.

Puppy mill owner works at zoo — briefly

Timothy King, who was convicted along with his wife on a combined 93 counts of animal cruelty in February of 2009, was recently hired through a temp agency by none other than the Little Rock Zoo.

Daily Show gives Huck a plug

The Daily Show's final show of 2010 is tonight — 10 p.m. locally. The interview segment features Mike Huckabee, who'll be plugging his new children's book.

Please don't tell Jeannie Burlsworth

But a Mexican drone crashed in the U.S. near El Paso this week. I think it was overseeing the movement of pregant Hamas women through tunnels that deposit them in U.S. hospital maternity wards.

The line is open

Your comments here. One last note: * Yes, that guy who looked like Bill Clinton down around the River Market was Bill Clinton.

Weekend: Weakness for Blondes, Velvet Kente, Cool Shoes

The weekend before Christmas has Weakness for Blondes at Sticky Fingerz, Velvet Kente at White Water Tavern and "Christmas Jams" both bluesy and jazzy at Cornerstone and The Afterthought, respectively.

Friday To-Do: 'Home for the Holidays'

Arkansas Symphony Orchestragets Central Arkansas in the spirit with a special-guest-laden seasonal smorgasbord. This year's program contains all the standards ("Nutcracker Suite," "Joy to the World") as well as a few offbeat picks.

Saturday To-Do: Ashtray Babyhead

It's another Little Rock holiday tradition you can't pass up when local pop-punk godfathers Ashtray Babyhead play hook-a-minute classics to a sing-along crowd.

Saturday To-Do: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Holiday prog-rockers Trans-Siberian Orchestra return to Verizon Arena for two shows full of shredding and arbitrary lasers.

Silver lining in the Senate

The Republicans' hypocritical reneging that killed the omnibus spending bill in the Senate yesterday has a bright side: Majority Leader Harry Reid will call for cloture votes this weekend on the DREAM Act and repeal of statutory discrimination against military service by gay people.

Obama: Not as bad as you might think

The electorate at large isn't nearly so unhappy with President Obama as critics on either end of the political spectrum.

We report, you decide

Talking Points Memo says: To perhaps nobody's surprise, a study released this week finds that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of any news consumers.

Huck on the Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cExclusive - Mike Huckabee Extended Interviewwww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook This is unedited 11 minutes.

Arkansas jobless rate edges up

The Arkansas unemployment rate in November was 7.9 percent, up from 7.8 percent the month before.

Argenta Artwalk tonight

Paintings, demonstrations, bead-making and more.

Pulaski school woes

Dawn Jackson, who runs the Save the PCSSD blog about Pulaski County School District affairs, is stiring the waters again this morning with statements attributed to Superintendent Charles Hopson, supposedly to other district employees.

Pokemons* to convene in Hot Springs

The first ever Arkansas Pokémon State Championship Tournament is coming to Spa City on March 19, 2011.

Call it the 'eating in SWLR app'

You'll never cluelessly order cabeza tacos again.

Auditors report on Wilcox

For your information, here's the Oct. 30 letter and reportt from legislative auditors (Page 7 is the relevant page) reported in the Democrat-Gazette this morning.

NLR roundabout opens

North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays and other dignitaries were on hand this morning for a ribbon cutting to open the new North Little Rock roundabout (or should that be "traffic circle"?)

Suskie leaves PSC

Paul Suskie, chairman of the state Public Service Commission, has resigned the position to take a job at the Southwest Power Pool, the big energy management agency based in Little Rock, Roby Brock at Talk Business is reporting.

Bugs in the Sugar Bowl

Channel 4 reports that 840 duplicate tickets were distributed for the Sugar Bowl football game.

State building only greenish

Jason Tolbert reports that the environmentally sensitive remodel of the old Dillard's HQ on Capitol Avenue for state offices hasn't wholly delivered on environmental promises yet.

Jury has Sam Baggett's case

A federal court jury is now deliberating in the trial of North Little Rock Alderman Sam Baggett for selling guns to a convicted felon — co-defendant George Thompson.

The new regime: Screw the poor

The fact that preserving billion-dollar windfalls for the rich was a non-negotiable part of the congressional tax bill pretty well set the tone for what's to come everywhere in the new Republican Reich.

McDaniel to Darr: Still no

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel still doesn't think lawsuits against the health care reform law will previal, but he also thinks opponents of it are already adequately represented in the multiple suits brought by Republican officials around the country.

Because sometimes, some things are too odd not to blog

Sometimes, some things are too odd not to post. In this case, Al Green and Annie Lennox's Christmastime music video for "Put a Little Love in Your Heart."

Airport moves to clean up

Committees of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission moved today to begin tightening financial procedures in the aftermath of Arkansas Times reporting about numerous questionable expenses at Little Rock National Airport, chiefly by airport director Ron Mathieu, but some involving expenses related to commissioners.

Friday night line

It's yours. * But if you want some fun, motor over to Blue Arkansas, which has some great video from Jonesboro.

NLR alderman Baggett convicted

A federal jury convicted North Little Rock Alderman Sam Baggett of helping provide guns and ammunition to a convicted felon, George Thompson of Cabot, and making false statements to the FBI and ATF agents.

Beebe v. the tax-cutters

John Brummett analyzes the coming legislative session, when the newly enlarged Republican contingent plans to introduce tax cuts of every description and Gov. Mike Beebe will resist on account of the lack of give necessary to accommodate the cuts.

For some, 'tis better to receive

Gail Collins of the New York Times assesses the Republican presidential contenders by their books.

Ban on gay military service repealed UPDATE

The Senate today repealed the ban on open gay service in the military. A historic and proud day, except for three Arkansas congressmen who fought civil rights to the end.

Saturday night line

It's your time. An item of note: * Rep. John Boozman joined many House Republicans in defeating a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate unanimously to recognize child marriage as a human rights violation, and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent such marriages around the world.

Out of Arkansas: high society

I'm a few days late on this, but for a slow Sunday I thought some might be interested in a huge New York Times feature on the A-list party planner of the moment in New York City.

Open the state's books

An extensive article in the Democrat-Gazette this morning on a Republican push for a useful on-line database of state spending.Good idea.

The great centrist swindle

Sharp column by Frank Rich, taking off from the new "No Labels" initiaitive, on the manifest shortcomings of the idea that what Washington needs is a little more centrist bipartisanship and civility.

Supporting our economic engines

Kathy Wells, president of the Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods, noted a convergence of public events last week that's worth repeating.

All in the family: Texas charter schools UPDATE

The Dallas Morning News has been doing a series of articles on charter schools, the last one here.

Sunday open line

Quiet day, except for: * Petulant Republicans, who'd rather kill a nuclear treaty than let the Senate run on a timetable other than their own.

Monitoring Main Street

The Washington Post has unleashed a massive project on the growth of domestic intelligence gathering activities as a response to terrorism.The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.

Walmart goes to college — UA

If this was announced previously, I missed it. Walmart is opening a small store on the University of Arkansas campus.

Some holiday baking

Banana nut season has now passed, and now pumpkin rules the roost at Chez Robinson.

Let the hostilities resume

On this, the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's vote to secede from the union, a historical footnote is in order to heat up the morning: I’ve heard it from women and from men, from sober people and from people liquored up on anti-Washington talk.

In defense of child marriages

I mentioned this vote the other day, but here's more information on how Republicans defeated a bill to discourage coercion of children into marriages around the world.

Violent crime rate declines

The FBI today reported a sharp drop in the violent crime rate nationwide and a smaller drop in property crimes.

Baggett resigns from NLR council

Newly convicted felon Sam Baggett has submitted his resignation from the North Little Rock City Council, Stephens Media reports.

When cameras are outlawed ...

I had no idea. I knew about the guy in Benton County (above) who made an unflattering video of an arresting officer with a camera hidden in his sunglasses.

Haley Barbour: Mouth full of shoe leather

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is going to have to remember that every place isn't Mississippi when he runs for president.

Artworld to Smithsonian: Drop dead.

Artists want to pull their work from exhibit in protest of National Gallery censorship.

An open checkbook — cheap

A reader notes that New Mexico has opened the state checkbook on-line for a mere $211,000.

"Small Works" winners

Seven artists were selected to receive purchase awards for their entries in the 2011 "Small Works on Paper" exhibit, the Arts Council's "Artlinks" announces.

Marine, Harding grad, abstract artist

Exhibiting in Georgetown, learning Pashto.

The tyrants of Iowa

The Religious Right in Iowa is something. A judge must interpret t the Constitution they way they say or 1) they'll mount a drive to remove the judge; 2) call the judge to resign voluntarily, or 3) impeach the judge.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - 'Silent Night'

Today's holiday-themed "Ear Candy" has Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing "Silent Night."

The Monday line

It commences.

Another divided school district

Bill Lawson of Stephens Media reports that three of the seven members of the Pulaski County School Board are ready to fire Superintendent Charles Hopson, but president Bill Vasquez, whose joined those three board members on other votes, is so far in favor of retaining him.

Job news in Maumelle

Also from Stephens Media: Maumelle has approved a $42 million bond issue that apparently will allow reopening of the former Target distribution facility as a facility for Higbee, a department store chain owned by Dillard's.

Memories: The land of cotton

The New York Times writes further today about Haley Barbour's fond memories of the White Citizens Council, an organization well-remembered in Arkansas for Jim Johnson's membership and use of the specter of sexual race mixing as a potent political tool.

The conscience of Fox News

It is Shep Smith, naming names of the Republican senators blocking passage of aid to 9/11 emergency workers.

Census findings: No loss for Arkansas

The Census Bureau rolled out its first 2010 census results today. The key news for us: Our population growth apparently was sufficient that Arkansas will not lose one of its four seats in the 435-seat U.S. House, were seats are distributed based on population.

Beebe plans a party

A two-day party is planned for Gov. Mike Beebe's second inauguration — a barbecue and catfish dinner at Cajun's Wharf the first night, Jan. 10, and a fancier affair at the Statehouse Convention Center after his inauguration Jan. 11.

Airport Commission: What's not to like? UPDATE

The Little Rock Airport Commission this morning adopted new rules on financial expenditures following exposes by the Arkansas Times of a number of questionable expenses, including a $40,000 contribution to Little Rock Christian Academy (nominally for a small ad) for a football field. It was mostly a love fest for the man who did the spending, Airport Director Ron Mathieu.

Rodney Parham steakhouse robbed

Police say a 27-year-old employee of the Lone Star Steakhouse on Rodney Parham was hit in the head.

Another win for Obama?

So now it looks like the votes are just about in hand to pass the nuclear weapons treaty.

Swindle alert

Little Rock police put out an alert today about a pair of men working a swindle known to cops as a pigeon drop.

EarFear 'Geeks' out on new album

The Tillman brothers of EarFear (607 and Bobby) release the latest in their ever-growing discography with "Geeks Gone Wild."

Earth to legislature: Wrong frequency

A legislative committee today gave a cool reception to end the double-counting of service years for retirement benefits for county elected officials.

Tuesday night line

I'll leave it with you. A couple of notes: * Fox 16 says another mental exam has been ordered for the murder suspect in the Little Rock army center shootings, who faces multiple charges over assaults in the County Jail.

Bob Dorough and Miles Davis - "Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)"

Tuesday's holiday edition of Ear Candy spotlights Arkansas native Bob Dorough teaming up with Miles Davis to bop-ify "Blue Christmas"

The “Delta”: Better than the Best

Back in the Wolfe gallery, the Delta soars.

True to 'Grit'

The Coens stay faithful to Portis' novel.

Wednesday To-Do: Movies in the Park presents "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"

Movies in the Park does a special wintertime outdoor show with "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" inside the River Market Pavillions.

Wednesday To-Do: Lucero

After nine straight weeks on the road, mostly opening for Social Distortion, Lucero returns to its home-away-from-home for what's bound to be yet another sold-out show.

Civil War, contd.

A history lesson is provided for the neo-Confederates who dressed up in period finery to re-create the South Carolina secession ball the other night.

Thank goodness for Virginia

With far-right Republicans in the governor and attorney general offices, Virginia has become a tribune for that brand of politics — against health care, for punitive measures against gay people.

Mike Huckabee: Palin wrong on Mrs. Obama

Mike Huckabee states the obvious: Michelle Obama's push for healthier children isn't some statist conspiracy, but common sense ideas to address the growing number of unhealthy children.

Little Rock National Airport: A dissent

In honor of “True Grit,” call this bold talk from a one-eyed fat man who’s not much in a Christmas spirit after reading about the Little Rock Airport Commission essentially telling airport Director Ron Mathieu yesterday that all is forgiven.

Dillard's to serve Internet in Maumelle

Dillard's will hire 300 people as part of a new facility to fulfill Internet orders in the former Target distribution center in Maumelle.

Arkansas home sales down for year

Home sales in Arkansas through November are down for the year, but the average price of homes sold is up a bit.

Dixon Bowles, founder of Aristotle, dies

W. Dixon Bowles, 66, co-founder of Aristotle, the Little Rock-based Internet service provider and web design company, died Sunday at his home, according to a family statement.

Why 'True Grit' wasn't filmed in Arkansas

Why didn't the Coen brothers film "True Grit" in Arkansas, where the Charles Portis novel on which it was based is set?

Obama champions gay rights

President Obama today signed legislation repealing the ban on gay military service. And that wasn't all.President Obama, although he still supports civil unions over same-sex marriage, said yesterday that he believes the Defense of Marriage Act should be repealed.

Sunday: 'S.I.N. Sunday,' Cody Ives Band

The day after Christmas has Rockst*r Jones at Ernie Biggs for 'S.I.N. Sundays' and Cody Ives Band down the street at Stickyz.

Tuesday: The Back Pockets, Children of Spy, Lucious Spiller Band

Tuesday offers The Back Pockets at ACAC, Lucious Spiller Band at Copelands and karaoke just about everywhere.

Tuesday To-Do: Nightflying 30th Anniversary

Nightflying, the long-lasting alternative paper, celebrates their 30th year with a long lineup of their favorites.

Wednesday: The Young Maths, Brian and Nick, Kirtan Choir

Wednesday night brings Texas indie from The Young Maths to Revolution, acoustic duo Brian and Nick to Cajun's Wharf and conceptual classicism from the Kirtan Choir at ACAC.

Wednesday To-Do: The Body

Avant doom-metalists and critical darlings The Body hit the White Water Tavern stage for a round of sometimes unsettling, sometimes gorgeous, always progressive heaviness.