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December 23, 2010

Vol 37 • No 16

Ferrari in the driver's seat

New Heifer head knows business, but is all about the mission.

The year in philanthropy

A down year, again, but fund-raisers hopeful for turnaround.

The honor roll

Hats off to Walton, Reynolds foundations.


What they're worth, what they've given.

Open on Christmas Day

I thought it was hard to find a place to eat on Thanksgiving… but I was wrong.

Wednesday: Caroling at the Capitol, Adam Faucett, Frown Pow'r

Wednesday brings caroling to the Capitol Hotel, Adam Faucett to Maxine's and a Frown Pow'r holiday bender to White Water Tavern.

Death in Welspun accident UPDATE

Fox 16 reports a worker was killed last night by falling pipe at the Welspun factory on Frazier Pike.

Another win for the Democrats

Don't get on the lawns of John McCain or Lindsey Graham. They'll really be pissed now.

Pardon the interruption

We experienced a server attack today that interrupted service. I think we're OK now.

Who is Arkansans for Common Sense?

An election year mystery lingers. Who is Arkansans for Common Sense?

Bells will be ringing

I'm in a hurry to go home for the ceremonial playing of Charles Brown's enduring "Please Come Home for Christmas."

The Week That Was, Dec. 15-21

Good week: equality, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, Cliff Lee. Bad week: Little Rock Airport Commission, Sam Baggett, Rep. John Boozman.

2010, A to Z

A year of pop culture in Arkansas.

The To-Do List, Dec. 23-29

The Big Cats, Hornucopia 2010, Nightflying 30th Anniversary, Smoke Up Johnny, The Body.

What the well-dressed Christian is wearing to school

It's made in Berryville.

A new time for the Times

Starting adjusting your internal calendars, readers. Beginning the second week of January, the Times will become a Wednesday paper.

The 'Delta': Better than the Best

'Toys Designed by Artists' a great go-before.

Another good use for $200,000

Nothing makes a greedy conservative madder than seeing a bus go by with only one or two people aboard. It is the nature of running a scheduled bus service. You must run buses on a regular schedule all day, lest people never ride them at all.

Darr, McDaniel: The big confab

Republican pizza mogul Mark Darr got elected lieutenant governor by vowing to rise in the state's behalf against President Obama's liberal doings. That was tall talk from a candidate for a ceremonial part-time office that exists only because the governor might become incapacitated for some reason.

Steak for all

Unpretentious Riverfront Steakhouse keeps up quality.

In Brief, Dec. 26-29

Rockst*r Jones at Ernie Biggs, The Back Pockets at ACAC, The Young Maths and Androids of Ex-Lovers at Revolution, Cody Ives Band at Stickyz

Simply Najiyah's Fishboat and More

Back to 1936

The big Republican health-insurance victory in a Virginia federal court last week either brought the party home to its roots or illustrated its dual-personality disorder. Take your pick.

Not giving up

On a rare visit to Republican state headquarters last month, we saw a picture of Herbert Hoover on the wall but none of Abraham Lincoln. This is the sort of thing that scares you about Republicans.

Eye on Arkansas, Dec. 23

The Chamber relents

After attempting to get better accounting from the Chamber, it refused to provide anything more than pro forma budgets of its economic development effort, which cost about $823,000 in 2009.

Civil rights unfinished

Achievement of the right to what were called civil rights by black Americans did not signal the end of the struggle.

The Observer, Dec. 23

It is The Observer's opinion that working women should get December off. Not to cast too wide a net here, it's not their menfolk who are sitting up until midnight needlepointing the stockings, knitting the scarves, sitting on a cold floor wrapping gifts.

Orval, Dec. 23, 2010

This Modern World, Dec. 23, 2010

Still resting comfortably

U.S. Rep. John Boozman is continuing to take paid leave from his duties as a public servant but plans to start working again next year.

Never enough

I'm reminded by a couple of things — the seasonal attention to Eb Scrooge, and the grousing over extending the Bush tax cuts for jillionaires — that we should be more appreciative of our rich people.

Last-minute gift guides

A Boy Named Sooie's gift roundup includes "Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend," "Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson," "Free Darko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Basketball History" and more.

Words, Dec. 23

Bejabbers and bejesus are interchangeable, it appears. As nouns, both mean "dickens, devil": The Chamber of Commerce wants to work the bejabbers/bejesus out of poor people, and cut off their health benefits too.

What's Cookin', Dec. 23

A new El Porton opened recently at 5507 Ranch Drive, off Cantrell Road. It's the third Central Arkansas location for the chain.

Thursday To-Do: 'Hornucopia 2010'

'Hornucopia 2010,' the annual instrument drive for Play It Again Arkansas, gears up for another installment at Juanita's, offering music from Shannon Boshears Band, Crisis and more.

Thursday To-Do: The Big Cats

The Big Cats annual holiday show returns for its 18th (or so) year tonight at White Water Tavern.

That old-time religion: Good stories

It will be a slow day, I'm guessing, so it's a good time to share a link to the Huffington Post where Lee Jefferson, a former Little Rock resident who now teaches religion at Centre College in Kentucky, has written a thoughtful essay on a decision in Kentucky to give state aid to a Bible-based theme park (with a religious employment test) that's the work of the same people who established the Creation Museum.

New Census? Take a breath

Nate Silver does some analysis of new Census numbers and impact on allotment of electoral votes.

Welspun: Safety inspectors busy

Readers yesterday raised questions about safety practices at Welspun, the tube factory near the Little Rock Port whose arrival in Little Rock has been a jewel in the crown of local industrial development.

Space buy in Botkinburg

The New York Times has a weekly feature comparing homes for sale around the country at the same price point.

Christmas weather forecast

The most recent Pulaski forecast includes the possibility of sleet and light snow after midnight Christmas Eve, but no snow accumulation.

Speaking of church and state

Keep an eye on Hot Springs and Garland County, where a potent (some might say toxic) mix of Tea Party and Religious Right Republican politics now controls many of the the levers of local government.

Burger joint of the week: Boom-A-Rang

Nothing says it’s time for a burger like sitting in a 60s style dive listening to Elvis and The Four Tops.

Sugar Bowl scandal

Making my last-minute shopping rounds today I gather the sports world is abuzz over the decision to allow Ohio State players to participate in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas despite having sold some gifts and uniforms. Let them play.

Z for Zombies

Vampires were so 2009. For better or worse, America's flirtation with zombies has burst into a full-blown obsession with the reanimated dead.

Y for Year's best concerts

This year had more great concerts than our amp-addled heads can recall.

X for X-Rated

Maybe "X-rated" only if you run with the Family Council. Instead, we'll suggest "titillating" to describe the Pretty Things Peep Show, which came to Revolution twice in 2010.

V for 'Voices for Justice'

The year's biggest concert wasn't billed as a concert at all. Instead, "Voices for Justice" was a rally to support the West Memphis 3.

W for WTF guests

We try not to give in to the picture of the small-town hayseed, slack-jawing at the big-city others strolling into town, but this year tested our steel.

U for Unsung moments in rock 'n' roll history

Keef remembers Fordyce

T for Theater

As Times contributor Werner Trieschmann pointed out in his review of "Wicked," this year, "the idea that Arkansans can only see great shows by hopping on a plane to New York City ... took a big hit."

S for 'Seagulls'

A close second for our local song of the year, this effervescent single from Greers Ferry is the only song the new yacht-rock-geared local super group (featuring members of Big Silver, The Easys, The Good Fear and The Salty Dogs) released this year.

R for Reunions

Little Rock bands can be a fickle bunch, disbanding and reuniting at string-shredding speed, but 2010 saw two of our town's most beloved bands reform.

Q for Quotes

Ubiquitous last year, Arkansas's most famous pop stars continued to give amazing quotes to the national press.

P for Portis

It was a big year for a novelist who hasn't put out a book in 20 years.

O for Opera

The opera world focused its attention on Central Arkansas when Bonnie Montgomery and Britt Barber staged a well-received workshop debut of their long-anticipated folk opera, "Billy Blythe," this November.

N for New...

Wherein, we stick odds and ends.

M for Miss Arkansas

Yes, pageants are tired and vapid. But let's forget that next year. Because Fort Smith native Alyse Eady, crowned Miss Arkansas last July, is surely the best contender our state's sent to the Miss America Pageant since, well, ever.

L for Luke

It's hard to think of a more beloved figure in the Little Rock arts world than Luke Hunsicker, who passed away this year at age 29, after a long battle with brain cancer.

K for King Biscuit

The Biscuit's back, y'all.

J for Johnny Cash

Even seven years after his death, Dyess' favorite son is still making headlines, with his induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame; the release of his final collaboration with Rick Rubin in February to unsurprisingly near-universal acclaim; Grammy recognition for the crowd-sourced, eerily animated video for "Ain't No Grave" (available at, and with the famous jumpsuit he wore while recording "Live at San Quentin" auctioned off for $50,000 — over 10 times its original projected price.

I for Isaac Alexander

Alexander stood out this year when "See Thru Me," a soft-spoken album he released in 2007 to fervent acclaim in small circles, landed in our Greatest Arkansas Albums poll, sitting right alongside Louis Jordan and Al Green as a contemporary spoiler of the highest degree.

H for Hendrix College, music venue

This year, Hendrix might've been Central Arkansas's hippest venue.

G for Gone, but not forgotten

RIP Lisa Blount, Herb Ellis, Dale Hawkins, Luke Hunsicker, Calvin Leavy, Charles B. Pierce

F for Film

Arkansas is on the ascent as an unexpected, Southern mecca for movie appreciation.

E for Elise Davis' 'Trouble'

"Trouble," the highlight of Elise Davis' new album, "The Same Vein," is our favorite song to come out of Little Rock all year.

D for Dude-tats

Also known as "bro-tats," this local tattoo phenomenon picked up steam in 2010 as more and more local musicians got tattooed variations of Thick Syrup Records head honcho Travis McElroy's bearded silhouette.

C for Country Music

This year, when it came to contemporary country, you'd think we were Nashville for the concerts we got.

B for Brother Andy

"You'll know him when you see him." In some Little Rock music circles, it's a bit of a joke about Andy Warr, the giant, neckbearded young rocker who toes that line between backwoods Syd Barrett and a "foretold" musical Moses for the Little Rock Sound.

A for 'Antiquities'

Local filmmaker Daniel Campbell, 29, proved Arkansas-made film is in good hands with his deadpan, quirk-fueled "Antiquities."

Have a VERY merry Christmas

Televangelist Pat Robertson says it's time to legalize marijuana. Swear.

Keep on scrolling

On the off chance you don't scroll on down the page on a regular basis, I'd encourage you scroll on down to Rock Candy, where John Tarpley and Lindsey Millar have reviewed the Arkansas year in culture from A to Z. The back-to-back photos of Charles Portis (under P) and Beth Ditto (under Q for her quotability) are a study in Arkansas cultural contrasts for sure.

Early is the night

Comments welcome. Calls to make, so I'm off.

A tale of two candymakers

The history of chocolate and candy in the state of Arkansas really starts with one man — Martin L. Greer.

Welspun: A headline maker

The Welspun pipe factory in Little Rock, where a worker was killed and another was injured this week, has been the subject of controversy before.

The Party of No and judges

The Democrats didn't win all the final rounds of congressional action. The Republicans declared an embargo on judicial nominations until the new Congress, no matter how non-controversial the nominee was.

Lies, damn lies, Republicans

If you watch Fox News or similar, you probably believe government employment has been exploding.

Economic development miracles

A reader sends another news article from Kentucky about developers of the creationism theme park— truly a Six Flags Over Jesus concept — seeking still more government support in Kentucky, this time for a freeway interchange.

In silent wonder

Christmas Eve afternoon nears, a wonderful time when the world — and typewriers and keyboards — falls silent and families gather.

The bell still rings

The customary call to the Christmas Eve open line is a reference to my favorite Christmas book.

Did Santa come through?

I can't recall what I asked the Muller's Department Store Santa for back in 1953 or so, a wagon maybe.

New Congress; just like old Congress

The fresh blood new Republican majority in the House will come to office just like hacks of old — with hands out for cash.

Death panels: Born again

The news of a slow post-Christmas Day has to be the New York Times report on revival of end-of-life medical planning by the Obama administration — through regulation rather than legislation.

Leaner government: For thee, not me

How rich is it that oil heir Madison Murphy, a long-time leader of the starve-government movement, finds as a state highway commissioner that the state Highway and Transportation Department doesn't have A SINGLE STATE CAR too many for its administrative staff and office workers.

Another Arkansan in Washington UPDATE

The e-mail today brings a link to a cautionary tale from the state of Washington.

Grazing in the grass

Arrived home from lunch today at Little Rock's finest taco truck (Taqueria Samantha No. 2 — recommend the burrito pastor with everything) to find four deer grazing across the street from our house in Hillcrest.

Hunka start

Hunka Pie begins serving its regular winter menu come Tuesday. Likely inspired by the location (the former location of The Hop on Cantrell Road), Hunka Pie will serve up burgers and onion rings... but don't worry, the Naanwich will be back.

The comedian as advocate

Did Jon Stewart's advocacy break the Republican filibuster against the legislation to help 9/11 responders?

California's anti-tobacco campaign

Higher taxes, tough anti-smoking ads and a tougher ban on indoor cigarette smoking (no bar exceptions, for example) have produced results in California, where the smoking rate is far lower than that in the rest of the country.

Sheffield Nelson: No political plans

AP's Andrew DeMillo wrote a column this week featuring Sheffield Nelson's fight with the Game and Fish Commission and his advocacy for a higher gas severance tax (Ernie Dumas has a cover story on this subject for us Jan. 13).

Cafe Bossa Nova owners open new bakery

Rosalia’s Family Bakery is now open next door to sister-restaurant Cafe Bossa Nova in a space that formerly housed Movie Gallery.

Masala will return

Masala Grill and Teahouse plans to reopen with regular hours in mid-January.

Fayetteville quarry wins court appeal

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's injunction that prevented Fayetteville from regulating the Rogers Group's limestone quarry near the city limits.

The plundering Gannettoids

Jim Hopkins, a former Arkansas Gazette business editor and former USA Today business reporter, now runs a blog that keeps up with the (plummeting) fortunes of the Gannett Corporation.

Death penalty in decline

So says the Arkansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Even Texas killed fewer people in 2010.

GOP hypocrisy on the mandate

Ernest Dumas has written several times on Republican hypocrisy on the individual mandate in the Obama administration health legislation.

Plan your Civil War parties now

Rob Moritz at Stephens Media has rounded up some of the events that will be part of the Arkansas observation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Now playing: Allsopp Park

How the pillar was painted.

Slow day in the rock

I guess I didn't get the memo that today was functionally another holiday. Not much happening in our corner of the world.

Tuesday To-Do: Smoke Up Johnny

The barroom rock royalty of Smoke Up Johnny hangs up their hat for the last time tonight at White Water Tavern.

Mike Huckabee: Huckstering again UPDATE

Florida tax fugitive Mike Huckabee is at it again. He's the pitchman on a TV ad for a putative campaign to repeal health care reform.

The earmarks charade

So what if Congress ends earmarks.? There are still lettermarks and phonemarks, among the many ways members of Congress — including the outspoken Tea Party types — work to send lard home to their constituents.

Transparency in the Fayetteville shale

Environmentalist Shawn Porter contends that the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission rule on disclosure of chemicals used in fracking to tap gas deposits in the Fayetteville shale isn't sufficiently transparent.

Murphy's Law: No austerity for highway czars

Add columnist John Brummett to those skeptical of Highway Commission Chairman Madison Murphy's assertion that every single one of the Highway Department's state car fleet for administrators is a necessity.

Chicken and fries

Todd Rudisill has started a blog called Luv Me Tenders - a food review blog dedicated to chicken tenders and French fries — and that's all.

Do deficits really matter?

Answer to the question: No, if the deficits are caused by tax cuts. New rules in the works for the Republican majority in the House would ban new spending that increases the deficit but not new tax cuts that increase the deficit.

Alabama tries ethics reform

After an influence-peddling scandal involving bingo operators, the Alabama legislature adopted a number of pieces of ethics legislation.

Aerospace Education Center to close

The Aerospace Education Center is closing effective Jan. 1. A news release explains how the loss of a key tenant, lack of public support and other financial reasons dictated the decision.

Aerospace holdings to be liquidated

I reached Dick Holbert at Central Flying about news of the Aerospace Center’s demise. Holbert was a driving force in creation of the center and still a member of the board of the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society that operates the center.

A push for prescription pot

A group that advocates legalizing medical marijuana will bring exhibits and advocates to the state Capitol Jan. 12-13 to educate legislators and others on the cause.

Fire reported at Shorty Small's

Jason Tolbert reports a fire at Shorty Small's in WLR and Fire Department on the scene.

New Yorker reviews C.D. Wright

Mountain Home-born poet C.D. Wright's new book, "One with Others" gets the feature review spot in this week's New Yorker (you have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing).

The latest scare tactic

The right-wingers are working on a new script — President Obama wants to give the US of A back to the Indians.

Getting a jump on next week: Adam Campbell

Fayetteville Underground to open new shows.

The Tuesday line

Another slow one here. * You might check out Leslie Peacock's Eye Candy, where she's posted video on a public art project painted on the old suspension bridge foundation deep in Allsopp Park.

A millionaire in lottery

The Arkansas Lottery says a Mega Millions ticket sold at the Superstop on Crystal Hill Road was a $1 million winner in last night's drawing.

A modest proposal on prisons

Blog regular Elwood leads the letters page in the Democrat-Gazette today with a modest little idea on prisons — assess a local charge for the cost of every prisoner sent to state prison.

On going non-native in Arkansas

For a slow day, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette delved into Census findings that seven Arkansas counties are made up of a majority of people not born in Arkansas — Benton, Carroll, Marion, Baxter, Fulton, Little River and Miller.

Teachers and the double-dip

A couple of Twitters this morning make it sound like members of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System still haven't gotten the news about retiring and going back to work for another agency covered by the ATRS system.

The preacher and the fur coats

You might have noticed a squib in today's paper about the female Dallas preacher arrested after being seen leaving the home of a member of her congregation with a couple of fur coats and a laptop.

Math lesson for Erma Hendrix

You may have read that Little Rock City Director Erma Hendrix wants a raise in directors' $12,000 annual pay.

Arkansan of the Year

In January, one of our cover stories will be our annual Arkansan of the Year feature.

Yes, death panels are back

Fox and Republicans (but I repeat myself) are indeed churning up the death panel talk as expected, along with "rationing."

Thursday To-Do: Patrick Sweany

Ohio blues-rocking Patrick Sweaney raves on at White Water Tavern this Thursday night.

Thursday: Cindy Woolf, Magic Hassle, Brian Frazier with Androids of Ex-Lovers

Thursday night brings Americana from Cindy Woolf, garage rock from Magic Hassle and an unexpected, cool collaboration between Brian Frazier and Androids of Ex-Lovers.

Saturday To-Do: '1.1.11'

Local emcee Osyrus Bolly hosts a muscled line-up of local hip-hop from EarFear, Goines, Epiphany, Southwest Boaz, Velvet Kente and more at Mediums Art Lounge.

Sunday To-Do: 'S.I.N. Sunday: The Andy Warr Experience"

Brother Andy Warr pulls triple-time during "S.I.N. Sundays" at Ernie Biggs when he plays with three of his bands: Sweet Eagle, Iron Tongue and Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth