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OCTOBER 10, 2013
A country of takers
From the web
As I write this, the country is in its fourth day of the shutdown. Whether the country thinks we should throw all of the bums out (my personal choice), or reward them for sticking to their principles will be decided in November of next year. The conventional mood of the people is that they are both behaving like spoiled children. As one who is loathe to follow conventional wisdom, let me suggest a different mentality. They are both behaving like their political lives depend on the outcome, with the Republicans more so than the Democrats. And when your back is truly against the wall and you are fighting for your life, compromise is not really a viable option. So don’t expect this to end any time soon. As a member of the newly founded RWAP Party (Republicans Without A Party), let me speak to the predominantly Democrat base readers of this fine newspaper and propose an alternate reason for the Republican Party’s seeming intransigence. Think about what percentage of the country is comprised of the people in the following categories: welfare, food stamps, aid to dependent children, housing assistance, immigrants, farm subsidies, aid to the elderly and anyone else who gets more from the government than they contribute. You get the idea. It’s a fairly sizable chunk of the population and an even bigger chunk of our national debt. Now add to that millions of the working poor, for whom the government will now be paying for their health care. Currently the Democrats and the Republicans each make up just about one-half of the population. Once those working poor start enjoying the benefit of free health care courtesy of the federal government, they will suddenly become overwhelmingly Democrats to make sure the benefit never stops. It will be just like crack, once you are hooked you just can’t give it up. I think this is the real reason behind the Republican strategy to block Obamacare at all cost. Let’s take this one step farther now. If you don’t have to work to get welfare, you don’t have to work to get food stamps, you don’t have to work to get housing assistance and you don’t have to work to have health insurance for you and your family, then why should anyone want to get a job? And therein lies the true peril. Soon we will have a society where there are far more people taking from the government than there are putting in tax dollars to pay for it all. To quote Sir Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.” Gary Bortz Little Rock
In response to the cover story “Football is back on campus at Hendrix College” (Oct. 3): I am a Hendrix graduate, and I fall into the “overlooked” group opposed to bringing back football. One of the reasons I chose Hendrix was the lack of football, big time athletics, and the overwrought Greek life. Granted we did our fair share of partying and good times. But even the worst drunk knew he had to be sober enough to go to class on Monday mornings. Academics were always top priority, and athletics, while noble and respectable, were still a distant second. Ever since my graduation, I’ve felt more than prepared for what life has thrown at me, and I give Hendrix the credit for that. Football, fueled by testosterone, male competition, and the attraction of big money, has a way of subtly working its way to the top of the priority list. Suddenly spending $10 million on new grass for the football field starts making sense, at the expense of dollars that could have been (or should be) spent on academic pursuits. Football also tends to attract students more interested in football than academics. This line in the article par-
OCTOBER 10, 2013
ticularly caught my eye: “He [Crenshaw] said that he would not have considered the school if not for the football team.” Truly I hope that my fears are misplaced, and football will only enhance the whole mission of Hendrix. However, opening the door to football tends to welcome in other problems, most of which could be entirely avoided. As both an alumnus and parent of two potential Hendrix students, I’ve got my ears wide open to what’s going on in Conway. Weatherninja In response to the Arkansas Blog post ‘Government shutdown: There really IS a vast right-wing conspiracy’: The House sent out a CR with amendments to defund the ACA to the Senate. The Senate voted on it and it did not pass. The Senate sent out a clean CR to the House. The House leadership has refused thus far to bring it up for a vote. How come no one is pointing this fact out? I guess my point is, why is no one asking Tim Griffin or Tom Cotton or any of the other Republicans this simple question: The Senate voted on your bill and you refuse to vote on the Senate’s Bill. Why not? Am I mistaken on these facts?
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Republicans are claiming the shutdown is the fault of the Democrats, but they are the ones refusing to vote on a clean CR. Vote on it. If it fails, then call for a Conference Committee. But until they vote up or down on the Senate’s bill, they have no choice but to own the shutdown. JohnQCitizen Good point. The reason the Republican led House doesn’t want to vote on it is because Boehner and his boys know it will pass. They have to keep up the ruse, answering to their masters (Koch Brothers, etc.) and do all they can to delay Obamacare because they know that once Obamacare is a success, people will love it and it will hurt the Republican brand. One thing that’s really disingenuous of Tom Cotton and Tim Griffin is that these two are intelligent. They know how our system as laid out in the Constitution works. They have no respect for it, instead choosing to try and pervert it to their own will. They are the worst of the worst. They are poor sportsmen, sore losers, whatever you would like to call them. If they are really as smart as they think they are, [they would] work through the system, file a bill to replace Obamacare and work it through the system. They won’t do that however, they would rather play politics and make catchy political sound bites designed to scare people than actually do the work they were elected to do. They should be ashamed. Poison Apple I’ve been reading that the minority of the so-called Republican majority in the House of Representatives, those who are basically Tea Party representatives, don’t care much about government, but do care a lot about ideological purity. Perhaps, when the “realignment” of political parties comes, we’ll have Democrats, Republicans, and Idiocrats. “Tea Partiers” is too awkward and calling themselves “Partiers” would sound like they aren’t serious. Democrats, Republicans, and Idiocrats sounds right. If they ever control the government, we’ll have not a republic, not a democracy, but an idiocracy. Snapback
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-izations of a nation Harold Meyerson writes in The American Prospect that the economy has been so bad for so long (“The FortyYear Slump”) even the language has been affected. “The middle-income jobs of the nation’s postwar boom years have disproportionately vanished. Low-wage jobs have disproportionately burgeoned. Employment has become less secure. Benefits have been cut. The dictionary definition of ‘layoff’ has changed, from denoting a temporary severance from one’s job to denoting a permanent severance.” Meyerson continues: “All the factors that had slowly been eroding Americans’ economic lives over the preceding three decades — globalization, deunionization, financialization, Wal-Martization, robotization, the whole megillah of nefarious -izations — have now descended en masse on the American people.” This is the second time I’ve seen WalMartization in print recently, but I’ve yet to find a definition. Obviously, Meyerson didn’t intend it as a compliment; nefarious means “infamous or wicked.” (Those “nefarious -izations” remind me of the “damnable isms” regularly deplored by a long-ago writer of letters to the old Arkansas Gazette. He meant communism, fascism and the like.) I’d guess Wal-Martization has something to do with being a giant, low-wage, low-price retailer that
puts other retailers out of business. Many Arkansans have mixed feelings about WalMart. They may DOUG be nefarious, but SMITH they’re our email@example.com ous. Might as well take up megillah while we’re rummaging through this passage. In Judaism, megillah is a scroll containing the biblical narrative of Esther, traditionally read in synagogues to celebrate the festival of Purim. In slang, the way Meyerson uses it, megillah is “a tediously detailed or embroidered account.” I seem to have grown out of touch with sports-page lingo. “ ‘He is an athlete, and he’s a gamer,’ Maumelle Coach Mike Buchan said. ‘He kind of does the cool-dust thing in practice, but he gets out here and he turns into a great runner.’ ” I remember “Cool Water” by Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, but “Cool Dust” is foreign to me. Another new one: “When the offense isn’t having as good a day, we’ve got to lift them up, just like when we’re not having as good a day they lift us up. We’ve got a hold-the-rope mentality.” Muhammad Ali employed a “rope a dope” strategy. Not the same thing, apparently.
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WEEK THAT WAS
It was a good week for ... JOBS IN ARKANSAS. LM Wind Power said it would expand its Little Rock workforce to about 400, recovering most of the jobs lost in a slowdown last year. Meanwhile, Redman and Associates, which makes battery-powered ride-on toys, announced that it will spend $6.5 million to open a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Rogers to provide toys exclusively for Walmart, headquartered in nearby Bentonville. It will employ 74 people. THE PRIVATE OPTION. The Arkansas Department of Human Services sent out letters, based on verified income information on clients of other DHS services, to 132,000 households whose adults qualify for health insurance under the so-called “private option” for Medicaid. Some 55,400 adults mailed a letter back to DHS stating that they wanted to enroll. That’s an astonishing response rate. Five percent is considered a strong response rate in directmail campaigns.
It was a bad week for ... ARKANSAS. Thousands of workers whose salaries depend, in part or in whole, on federal funding were furloughed in the wake of the House Republican-prompted government shutdown. U.S. REP. TIM GRIFFIN. Immediately after Capitol police shot a woman who tried to force her way through a White House security fence, Griffin posted on his Twitter account “Stop the violent rhetoric President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. #Disgusting.” He soon deleted the tweet, but stood by the sentiment. U.S. REP. TOM COTTON. His latest political commercial echoes a lie he’s been spreading for some time, that there is a special benefit to Congress and congressional staff under Obamacare. Congress is covered under employer-backed group health insurance. Like anyone else who already has affordable insurance through a job, Cotton, Sen. Mark Pryor and their staffs will keep theirs. www.arktimes.com
OCTOBER 10, 2013
EYE ON ARKANSAS
Liability There are other factors, but the white helmets aren’t helping. 6
OCTOBER 10, 2013
enturing well outside the box, Congressman Tim Griffin suggested last week that Democratic leaders’ reckless cries of “Don’t shoot,” “Let us live, please,” and “I have a family” were encouraging the ongoing slaughter in America. So far, he is the only person to advance this notion. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has reportedly called Griffin’s statement “injudicious.” As bullets whizzed through the streets of Washington, Rep. Griffin (R-Little Rock) posted this on Twitter: “Stop the violent rhetoric President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.#Disgusting.” Schumer is a senator, Pelosi the minority leader of the House. Obama is the only president who was ever called a liar while delivering a State of the Union Address to Congress (so called by a Republican colleague of Griffin’s). None of the three Democrats carries a weapon, or threatens to use one, even on Ted Cruz. What violent rhetoric could Griffin possibly be referring to? The only thing we can think of is that Griffin heard the three Democrats express hope that people would stop shooting each other, and perhaps even voice a preference for not being shot themselves. Griffin, possibly panic-stricken by the gunfire around the Capitol, may have interpreted this as a naive provocation of further violence, like letting a dog see you’re afraid of him. What other explanation could there be for Griffin’s behavior, besides unbounded partisanship and general dizziness? If Griffin really believes that Pelosi, Obama and Shumer are using violent rhetoric, he should familiarize himself with the things that other politicians are saying, such as David Marsters, a candidate for selectman in Sabattus, Maine. On Aug. 23, according to the Portland Press Herald, Marsters posted a photo of Obama on Facebook with the caption: “Shoot the Nigger.” (It sounds like a motto for the Tea Party, though we’re not sure Marsters is a member.) A former policeman from Massachusetts, Marsters told the Press Herald, “I did not threaten the President. I might have used the wrong words. ... I didn’t say I was going to do it. ... What I really meant to say is ‘When are we going to get rid of this [expletive]?’ ... I should have said: ‘I hope the bastard dies.’ ” Griffin withdrew his remarkable Tweet after a few minutes, having attracted considerable attention, mostly unfavorable. We’d like to think his colleague, Rep. Tom Cotton, previously considered the most extreme member of the Arkansas delegation, took him aside and said “Tim, you’re way out of line here.” But we’re having trouble selling it to ourselves.
WHERE IN ARKANSAS?: Know where this slice of life in Arkansas is? Send along the answer to Times photographer Brian Chilson and win a prize. Once a month in this space, we’ll post a shot from a relatively obscure spot in Arkansas for Times readers to identify. We also invite photographers to contribute submissions to our eyeonarkansas Flickr group. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to guess this week’s photo or for more information.
Missing Mike Huckabee
ho’d have dreamed I’d write a column nostalgic for Mike Huckabee, the Florida talk show host who once occupied a big office on the second floor of the Arkansas Capitol? But here I go again, giving him credit where due. Perhaps because he survived and thrived during a time of Democratic political dominance in Arkansas, Huckabee developed some politically pragmatic ways. He also always displayed a streak of populism — compassion even. ARKids, the expanded health insurance coverage for children of working poor, was a project he championed. Before he was done, he’d also backed tax increases to make the education system equitable, a decision for which he continues to pay in political opposition from the Club for Growth. Compassion? Huckabee’s commutation policies weren’t always rational and his judgment frequently unsound. But I do think he was motivated, at least in part, by the bedrock Christian principle of redemption. And here I go again with something positive to say. Mike Huckabee has become an outlier in the current federal hostage crisis. The Republican Party has decided to hold the budget and perhaps the entire country’s credit, hostage to the Tea Party’s desire to strangle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in its crib. There’s a legitimate point to argue here. Universal health care will cost more money. But if education and defense should be a birthright of citizenship, shouldn’t health coverage be as well? The rest of the developed world thinks so. I’m with them. Mike Huckabee is no fan of Obamacare or the president himself. But he’s a political realist. He knows and acknowledges the facts. President Obama has been re-elected twice. The second election was a referendum on his health care law, as much as anything
else. The law was passed by the House and Senate. It was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It has begun taking effect, with many widely reported positive benefits (particularly insurance MAX for people previously denied it BRANTLEY email@example.com on account of poor health). The Republicans don’t have the votes in both houses of Congress to repeal or neuter the law. They have only an extremist-run House, threatening disaster to get their way. Huckabee has used his TV and radio shows to interview some of the small number of Republicans who think this is a poor course. On his TV show last Sunday, he went even further. He commented: “This week, most of the Republican callers to my radio show supported the shutdown and the showdown. One of them said it best. He said, ‘We sent those guys to Washington to take a stand.’ That’s when I realized, Houston, we’ve got a problem. Because, no, we didn’t send those guys to Washington to ‘take a stand.’ We sent them to govern. You see, it’s really easy to take a stand. Heck, you don’t even have to go to the trouble of running for office or serving as an elected official. On radio and TV, I take a stand every day. You can take a stand by raising your voice on the Capitol steps but to make a real change, you’ve got to get inside that building and have a vote. I can raise Cain as a talk show host. But to raise up test scores, create jobs, or build roads and reform prisons, I had to govern. And unless the numbers are all on your side, you are not going to get everything you want.” Could somebody get Mike Huckabee to call Tom Cotton, Rick Crawford and Tim Griffin?
The anti-government plot
t turns out that Republican leaders did and Charles Koch, not blunder into the cataclysm that faces who viewed the the nation over the budget and the debt Affordable Care Act but merely followed the script written by a as part of the lineage few of the country’s richest and angriest men. of Social Security, That had been obvious, but The New Medicare, deposiERNEST York Times spelled it out Sunday. As Presi- tors insurance, polDUMAS dent Obama prepared for his second inau- lution control, the guration, the men gathered in Washington GI bill, workplace safety and all the other to plan the disruption or defunding of the federal programs that punish and tax their health law before its final parts took effect class to benefit the undeserving. in January 2014. They planned to blackmail On a cruise ship in the maritime provthe president and Democrats with the threat inces at the end of September, a man who of shutting down government and default- enjoyed a fortune from some enterprise or ing on the national debt if they did not scrap inheritance captivated all of us within earObamacare and to blame the president for shot about the evils of “Obamacare” — horthe economic collapse. Now, they want the ror stories with no basis in the law or facts country to know it was their doing, not just — with a mixture of humor and anger. It was the rash impulses of a few zany Tea Party so important that Obamacare’s new insurpoliticians like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton. ance markets be thwarted that he thought The leader was Edwin Meese III. You Republicans were doing a good thing by remember the attorney general whom Presi- shutting down the government, sending dent Reagan refused to fire in 1988 after the nation into bankruptcy and destroying his role in the Wedtech, Iran-Contra and global faith in U.S. currency to stop it. (I Bechtel pipeline scandals came to light. After didn’t hear him mention it, but Obamacare his top Justice aides resigned to protest his makes him pay the 3.8 percent Medicare crooked actions, Meese quit. After 25 years tax on his investment income, heretofore his bitterness has not subsided. untaxed unlike your wages and salaries, to Much of the money for the campaign shore up Medicare. Could that have been came from billionaire industrialists David in his craw?)
The GOP and the gender chasm
flurry of new public opinion polling reaffirms the anecdotal chatter from social events of the last several days that Americans’ anger at their members of Congress is as intense as ever before and those who are Republicans are given special blame for the fiasco taking place in Washington. While utter hell for Republicans who happen to be on the ballot at the moment (a weak Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia appears to be waltzing to victory in that state’s election next month), some of the political animus shown in this polling data is ephemeral. Once the budget and debt limit crises subside, as they must, political attitudes will recede to the polarized norm that is contemporary American politics. However, there is one trend from the polling that portends long term problems for a GOP that has an array of long term problems: the fact that American women are decidedly more concerned about the ramifications of the shutdown. Given short shrift in the post-election analysis that focused on the continuing racial and ethnic diversification of the electorate was what happened with the gender gap in the 2012 election cycle.
According to Gallup polling, the gender gap — significant since 1980 and consistently large since the 1996 Clinton/ JAY Dole race — passed BARTH another threshold with a record 20 percentage point gender gap emerging in 2012 according to Gallup polling. While Obama lost badly among men, a 12-point margin in the Democrat’s favor among women drove a comfortable victory. The gender gap is reasserting itself in the current political crisis. In this week’s Washington Post-ABC News poll, the negative numbers for Republicans are driven by the fact that three in four women voters oppose the Republican tactics over the past weeks. Reporting shows that in internal GOP polls in advance of the shutdown in an effort to undermine Obamacare, even Republicanleaning women overwhelmingly opposed the idea by more than 30 points. The gender gap in American politics is driven by any number of forces — party differences on issues of peace and war and reproductive choice, the comparative ability of candidates to frame issues in ways that resonate differently for women and
It was too bad, in his mind, that Repub- support the idea of giving tax credits to licans had not taken similar steps when all working people with low incomes so that this started, in 1935 with the passage of the they can afford health insurance — the Social Security Act or later when Republi- single provision that Republicans most cans regained enough clout in Congress and loathe. Two-thirds favor barring insurers from denying people coverage because of the White House to undo it. There is merit to the Social Security, a predisposition for sickness. Medicare and Obamacare analogies. In all Surveys also show that when people are three cases, the government mandated that asked about the Affordable Care Act, they nearly everyone — employers and employ- like it. It’s “Obamacare” that terrifies many. ees — buy insurance: old-age and surviThe loopiness is understandable. Stories vors insurance, unemployment insurance, about how the law works usually label it by disability insurance, old-age and disability its shortened actual name, the Affordable health insurance and finally, with the Afford- Care Act, but stories about the political able Care Act, health insurance for able- attacks always call it Obamacare. At Fox bodied people under the age of 65. News, it’s always Obamacare. Republicans The only difference is that the original must refer it as Obamacare. My excursion mate and Cruz are right Social Security and Medicare acts required people to buy the coverage from the federal that protections grow on people. If you are government and have the premiums with- old enough you recall actor Ronald Reaheld from their payroll checks and matched gan’s brave campaign to block Medicare in by employers. The Affordable Care Act the ’60s. His LP, paid for by the American encourages them to buy insurance on the Medical Association and widely distributed, regulated private market, where the insur- urged people to help him fight health insurance companies could not deny them cov- ance for people over 65 or disabled. erage for a predisposition to illness or end “If you don’t do this,” Reagan warned, their coverage in the event of a catastrophic “one of these days you and I are going to illness or accident. spend our sunset years telling our chilPolls have shown that Americans over- dren and our children’s children what it whelmingly like each of the major elements was like in America when men were free.” of Obamacare. Three of four like it that Twenty years later, as president, he wanted children can stay on their parents’ policies to protect the programs he once called until they are 26, and the same percentage socialism.
men, and a not insignificant level of gender consciousness among American women. First and foremost, however, is women’s elevated faith in government to aid in easing the challenges disproportionately faced by women (and for those who also are mothers, their children). This government shutdown hits right at the heart of governmental efforts that aid the vulnerable in American society. From WIC feeding programs to Head Start early childhood programs to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families to investigations of child neglect, such programs are either shuttered or threatened by the government shutdown. Showing the legacy of Bill Clinton in U.S. politics, Democrats have also been effective in framing the shutdown in terms of its human impact while Republicans have continually discussed it in terms of dollars and cents. For these reasons, women are decidedly more likely to view the shutdown as a “crisis” and for it to have lingering electoral impact with them. Three-quarters of women voters say the shutdown is causing major problems while only 57 percent of men do, according to a CNN poll this week. Moreover, it’s crucial to remember what was at the root of the government shutdown: the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is a law that represents one of
the most important attacks on gender discrimination in history. Many of those policies — ranging from ending disparities in rates insurance companies charge women and men to requiring private employers to cover contraceptives as part of their insurance packages — are already in place. Moreover, the health care overhaul that will aid the uninsured has the power to stymy a fascinating but troubling trend in public health: the decline in female life expectancy in many parts of the country in the last generation. (This is a reality in 45 percent of American counties, including in over 50 of Arkansas’s counties.) The popularity of Obamacare will rise with time and, all signs indicate, that it is with women (already more supportive of the law) that the rise will be most pronounced and permanent. Despite the party’s challenges with white men, the gender chasm created by the current governmental shenanigans creates a path to victory in the 2014 election cycle for Democrats. Even before the latest events, Arkansas Democrats knew that running up a margin with women is vital to winning close races for the U.S. Senate and governor in 2014. If they — and Democrats like them across the country — are able to succeed, we will look back at the last couple of weeks as the time when those dynamics were rooted. www.arktimes.com
OCTOBER 10, 2013
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OCTOBER 10, 2013
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he Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s reports on the rescue of its reporter Cathy Frye, who was missing for days in the hot scrubby desert that is Big Bend Ranch State Park, are gripping. Frye, who with her husband, Democrat-Gazette photographer Rick McFarland, got lost in the south Texas park last week and separated when she weakened so he could bring in help, is a fascinating story of terror, fear of death, the urge to live and ultimate rescue thanks to dozens of people who came to her aid from all over the state. After the couple got lost Tuesday, McFarland managed to find his way out — using his camera to zoom in on a glint of metal off a truck in the distance — on Friday and soon a dozen searchers from the ranger’s station were looking for Frye. A Texas state police helicopter and, according to the Democrat-Gazette, the Presidio County sheriff, the Texas Game Warden Search and Rescue Team, game wardens from Austin, San Angelo, Odessa and El Paso, the Texas State Park police, Texas Search and Rescue — in all, the paper reported, about 40 people were involved. It was not until Sunday that Frye was found, sheltering from the sun under a bush, dehydrated but able to talk. She was airlifted out. The Times got word of Frye’s situation Sunday from a member of her church; the text followed a Twitter post a day earlier that she was missing. After calls to the Presidio sheriff’s office and Frye’s family, who informed us that she’d been found alive, we began to report her rescue on the Arkansas Blog. The Democrat-Gazette followed with a short item online on Sunday afternoon and a full story in Monday’s paper. The message that came to us Sunday asked, why is no one reporting this? It was curious. Surely the Democrat-Gazette knew it had a reporter missing in the Chihuahuan desert, a woman that Texas was investing serious resources in to rescue. Why no story on Sunday that she was missing? Had Frye’s family asked that the paper withhold the news to protect her young children? Managing Editor David Bailey answered our questions. No, he said,
the paper wouldn’t have withheld a story at the request of a family. “We’re pretty heartless,” he said, which is as it should be: Newspapers report the news, whether folks want them to or not. Often, of course, people don’t want them to. Bailey said he learned of Frye’s plight at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday from a text he got from McFarland’s supervisor, but at the time he thought she’d been missing only a short time. Later Saturday night, he got a call from the office. “They told me how long she’d been missing,” he said, but the information was still sketchy. He said he thought to himself that she was probably dead by then and started to cry. Bailey said he was reluctant to ask for “political favors,” but wanted his reporter found. He got Congressman Tim Griffin’s cell number from the Democrat’s Washington reporter, Sarah Wire, and called him Sunday morning “and bless his heart, he jumped on it.” Griffin made phone calls to Texas officials. He told Bailey he asked them if it were possible that she’d wandered back on to Big Bend National Park in case federal park rangers should be called back to the job. Did Bailey remind Griffin that he and fellow Republicans had shut down the government? No. Bailey said he wasn’t sure if any of the phone calls — the paper also called Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel — had helped, but he supposes it did, since the 40 searchers turned into 100 by Sunday and search dogs were flown to the area. A plane was waiting at the park’s airstrip when the rescue helicopter brought her in and transported her from there to a hospital in El Paso. (D-G reporter Cynthia Lauer was at the hospital when Frye got there; the paper had flown her to Midland on Sunday morning.) Bailey said McFarland had been asked by park rangers if he and his wife were politicians or something, since they’d received so many calls. When McFarland texted that his wife was alive, Bailey said, he shouted the news to the newsroom and the gloom lifted.
THE OBSERVER NOTES ON THE PASSING SCENE
Gone to Alaska THE OBSERVER IS A GREAT FAN In that silence, he told of how as a very of anything with wheels. We spent our young man, before mortgage and marriage formative years up to our elbows in grease and duty, he and a friend had packed up his and automobilia in Pa’s dirt-floor shop, so Volvo in Arkansas on a whim and drove to we know our way around cars — cars of Alaska, eight days straight through, only 20 years ago, anyway, before they got so to wind up broke down and stranded damned fancy and electronic. So when on a beach in Valdez, victims of a bum a lawyer started talking about a car of alternator. He told of how they’d slept in his youth while we were camped at the the busted Volvo there by the ocean; of how courthouse during jury deliberations after the mosquitoes had come down in a black the Hastings trial a few weeks back, our ears swarm and gnawed them; of how they had perked up. Car stories are almost always fished for salmon and spent a whole, gypsy beautiful, whether they want to be or not. summer there. He told how, as the snows Don’t know who Hastings is? Doesn’t were threatening to bury them, he’d finally matter to this story, but you can find a passel walked to a tiny town’s Sears and Roebuck of information about it online, some of it mail-order outlet and ordered a car battery. written by Yours Truly. Feel free. Then, he said, he drove that alternator-less When the jury is out, the courtroom Volvo across Canada, pressing South until drains, left to silence and polished wood, the battery would damn near give out, at the judge’s bench and the old church pews which point he’d coast into the next little in the gallery vacated and the jury carton town and get another battery, proceeding in the corner empty of eggs. Most of the that way, over and over, all the way back to rest of The Observer’s scribbling brethren Utah and the bottom of his wallet, where his had decamped to the hard benches in the pride finally broke and he called his father. hallway. Once our flat beehind started It was easy for The Observer to imagine a feeling like fine Corinthian leather, much younger man there in a phonebooth however, The Observer went inside the next to his rusty Volvo, plugging dimes in quiet courtroom and found a more comfy the desert sunset of Mormonland. chair. The Observer is probably getting the The prosecutors were at their table, details wrong. Eavesdropping is an inexact talking, killing the bottomless hours. In the science. That said, given that we’d spent courtroom, built for acoustics, it’s easy to days looking at autopsy photos, one life overhear. John Johnson is the chief deputy taken and another spoiled, we found a lot prosecutor of Pulaski County. He’s hard to love in that story about wanderlust and not to like as a human being, though we’d freedom and cars and being young. We feel rather die on the lam than ever be forced honor bound to tell those kinds of stories to face him over that defendant’s table. as they come to us. The world is too full of He’s that kind of guy. The Observer was misery, as Mr. Johnson and The Observer watching “Casablanca” the first night of both know much better than most, and the Hastings trial and at a moment when courtrooms need all of those they can get: Humphrey Bogart frowned particularly stories that don’t end in shipwreck ruin for deeply at Ingrid Bergman, it occurred to someone or other. us that Bogie and Johnson have a similar There were times when we wish we’d face. Not twin- or even brother-similar. Just been a little more spontaneous in our something about the eyes and mouth. John own Good Ol’ Days before responsibility Bogart, distant cousin. — less worried, more faithful in our own At the prosecutor’s table, Humphrey ability to get there and back in one piece, Johnson was telling a story to his comrades more like that kid gone to Alaska: sure about a car: an ancient Volvo with a gas tank that there is always a way to get home. that leaked more gasoline than it held, in an That said, we’ve got car stories of our own, age when gas was so cheap that that sort each of them glowing like candy paint and of thing didn’t matter much. It was a story flaming backfire in The Observer’s mind. of The Good Ol’ Days, surrounded as they Everybody should have at least one good are by the golden glow of hindsight and car story like that, we think, if only to carry them through. knowing you survived them.
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his was bound to happen at some point. Arkansas was listless, lethargic, and pathologically unlucky Saturday night in a 30-10 loss to Florida, meaning that the Hogs’ 21-year stretch of win-free futility against the Gators in the SEC era continues. A young team with so many evident cracks in the hull finally just took on water, and didn’t even flail much before sinking. This was Brandon Allen’s first road start, which is hard to imagine given how much time he’s logged behind center the past two seasons, and it was predictably bad. Arkansas’s glaring paucity of receiving talent shows itself more each week, and while Allen is getting very capable pass protection much of the time, he’s clearly faithless when it comes to whom he’s targeting. It speaks to the larger fear that fans had about reverting back to a run-heavy offense, but when you look at the crop of receivers Bret Bielema’s staff is having to groom, the tarnish on the previous administration (we’re excepting John L. Smith here, for obvious reasons) becomes even more obvious. Did Bobby Petrino really feel like he had the next batch of Childs-Adams-WrightHamilton in tow, or on the way? We’ll never really know how Allen would be faring if he had Mekale McKay’s length on the edge, or Demetrius Wilson’s field-stretching ability on the opposite side. Those absences are being felt now, and hard, so much so that the return of D’Arthur Cowan from injury — a sophomore, mind you, who had all of three catches last fall — is being hailed as a significant and timely one. That’s not to pardon Allen for his youthful transgressions, as he’s thrown two ugly pick-sixes the past two weeks, neither of which could be viewed through any kind of positive prism. When Louchiez Purifoy snatched a terrible toss and scooted to the end zone unhindered Saturday, it altered the direction of the Florida game permanently. And that gaffe happened in the second quarter, and gave the Gators a whopping 10-7 lead, so that should adequately convey just how offensively challenged the Hogs were at the Swamp. This is not an electric team by any means. Even Alex Collins’ boffo start has been more or less a function of his shiftiness through traffic than his straight-line speed in open space. Jonathan Williams has all but fallen silent in the running game as the team struggles with its identity. We knew the rigors of scheduling would catch up to these kids, and that at some point the swoon would set in, but this was not necessarily the game where we might’ve forecast the
crumbling. After all, Florida’s junior quarterback, Tyler Murphy, was making his second start, and BEAU being asked to turn WILCOX a rather anonymous crew of skill players into something dangerous. It’s not hyperbole to state that these Gators were the least dynamic bunch that the Hogs have had the good fortune to face since they became league foes. When the Hogs sustained narrow defeats to Florida in 2003 and again in 2009, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, respectively, helmed those squads. Murphy sits an appreciable distance behind those two in terms of firepower, even if he does have some better-than-advertised abilities inside and outside the pocket. So that’s why a flaccid effort stings so much. Arkansas is nowhere near good enough to surmount a comedy of errors, either of their own making or those manufactured by another batch of suspect refs in Gainesville. And for all the dogged effort that the defense is giving, turnovers are still not being generated, certainly not to the degree required for an underdog to mitigate the favorite’s advantage. Will Muschamp may lack the cutthroat savvy of Urban Meyer, but he’s not going to pass up the chance to (a) run his supremely athletic front line directly at a sophomore quarterback or (b) deploy his quickest players (receiver Solomon Patton, specifically) onto the open green. Florida expanded its lead to 17-7 thanks to Patton’s long catch-andrun for six prior to halftime, and all that building optimism from the first hour or so was sucked away in a trice. The Hogs, therefore, sit on an unbalanced perch at the halfway juncture of the season. They are 3-3, with all the chaff behind and more wheat ahead, and even coming back to Fayetteville isn’t all that inviting when Jadeveon Clowney is staring you down, seemingly eager to put an underwhelming half-season in his personal rear view. South Carolina merits its high ranking but Steve Spurrier, complacent as he may have gotten over time, still seems irritated enough about his Gamecocks’ shoddy effort to date that they’re going to be detecting blood in the water. The Hogs are bruised right now, teetering near the ropes and still dreading a date in Tuscaloosa, so the prelude at home now assumes the kind of gravity usually found in a late November game. Bielema declared openly in December that he embraced what lay ahead, and his arms are certainly full now.
FARM TO TABLE DINNER PARTY SAT UR DAY, OCT OBER 19 th Join us for a family style feast featuring Arkansas products. Start the evening with a tour of Historic Arkansas Museum grounds, Little Rock’s oldest neighborhood with five original homes. Featuring chef Travis McConnell, who was a chef at Capital Bar and Grill and will soon open his own restaurant and butcher shop, Butcher & Public.
Welcome Tour: 6:00-7:00 ALL INCLUSIVE Dinner: 7:00-9:00 Includes drinks, food, and entertainment. Champagne, Wine & Goose Island Beer All Evening Entertainment by Stephen Koch, host of “Arkansongs,” syndicated on NPR affiliates across the state.
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IN S IDE R
The Huckabees: Like father, like daughter Former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, followed him into political work years ago, with work in Washington, for her father’s 2008 presidential campaign and as campaign manager for Sen. John Boozman. She now consults from a home in Little Rock. That work takes her to faraway places, but, despite her youth, she is not far away from pop on the leading civil rights issue of the day — gay rights. Sarah Huckabee turned up last week as the spokesman for a conservative super PAC, the American Principles Fund. Financed by a hedge fund executive, it bought advertising in Wyoming to trash U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney as being insufficiently anti-gay. Cheney, the former vice president’s daughter, has said she opposes gay marriage, but thinks the matter should be left to the states. She’s held back from full-throated homophobia at least in part because her sister Mary is lesbian. Family values would include loving your sister, wouldn’t they? Not to Huckabee Sanders. She said in a statement: “The unilateral truce on social issues within the GOP is bad for our party and wrong for our country — our core values are under attack, and we will stand for those who stand for what’s right.” (What’s right used to be a CONTINUED ON PAGE 13 12
OCTOBER 10, 2013
NO BUYERS: Except Exxon.
Location, location The dismal economic realities of the Northwoods subdivision after the Exxon spill. BY SAM EIFLING
he world knows Mayflower’s Northwoods subdivision as the sleepy, comfortable neighborhood that ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline blighted in a March 29 spill that blacked yards and streets with an estimated 210,000 gallons of heavy crude. The occupants of 22 homes were forcibly evacuated, while families in many of the other 40 homes in the subdivision fled the toxic fumes that erupted from a bus-length gash in the pipe. News crews, workers and gawkers flooded the streets right behind the oil. But life goes on, even if many residents have moved out or are aiming to. Once again, it’s a quiet neighborhood. It’s still just a 20-minute commute from the downtowns of Little Rock and Conway. Lake Conway and the Arkansas River are still right around the corner, when you want to wet a line. Anyone wanting to move in would certainly have her pick of homes these days.
Immediately SPECIAL after the spill, REPORT Exxon offered to buy the 22 homes that families were required to leave, at pre-spill prices. According to county records and the company, Exxon has closed on five Northwoods homes. At last count, another dozen owners in the subdivision had put their homes on the market. In all, counting the homes Exxon has offered to buy, about half the subdivision is for sale. After everything the neighborhood has been through, it may yet be a decent place to park your truck, cut your grass and let kids bike in the streets — all nor-
mal stuff, all still happening in Northwoods. But though the benzene fumes have dissipated, there’s a cloud hanging over the place. “We’re in an ambiguous situation that’s never happened before,” said Glen Rega, a Crye-Leike real estate agent in Conway who’s representing the sellers of two Northwoods homes. “I’m sure once the first buyer goes in there and doesn’t have any issues, then more will see the value that’s there. We’re putting our best foot forward. I think it’s going to rise above itself.” But for now, nobody but Exxon is buying in Northwoods. In fact, no one’s buying much of anything anywhere in Mayflower (though that’s not unusual for a small town where people tend not to move, according to the Faulkner County assessor’s office). In the six months since the Good Friday spill, 10 homes have sold in the town of 2,200 people, and half of those were the homes Exxon bought, each for between $151,000 and $177,000. There are still reasons to recommend Northwoods, and Mayflower. The homes are pleasant — brick facades, big garages, high ceilings, fenced-in backyards, built in the past 10 years — and tend to be more house than you could get for the same price in a suburb closer to Little Rock, real estate agents and home owners said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 20
WHEEL DEAL: THE SOUTHWEST TRAIL
Here’s an idea that practically everyone is on board with: Creating a bike trail from Little Rock to Hot Springs over old Rock Island Railroad right of way. Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, Saline County Judge Lanny Fite, Garland County Judge Rick Davis, and mayors of the towns along the River Market-to-Gulpha Creek trail and others announced the project, on a route they’ve dubbed the Southwest Trail and estimate will cost between $17 million and $25 million to create, last week. Planning got into high gear last year when a group from Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas approached Villines about the idea. Villines estimates the trail will take between five and 10 years to build. BACA vice president Mason Ellis created an interactive map (arktimes.com/southwesttrail) to illustrate the trail, which will roughly parallel, until it veers west toward Hot Springs, the historic Southwest Trail that was once the route to Texas.
2 BRYANT SHANNON HILLS
2 Hilaro Springs
3 Hot Springs bridge
Highway 70 and Kacy Lane
INSIDER, CONT. woman taking her husband’s name and forsaking the maiden one, but it helps to advertise the brand.) The American Principles Fund’s mission, according to its website, is an “integrated conservatism” meant to “break the unilateral truce on social issues within the GOP by demonstrating that social issues are winning issues, especially when combined with an economic message that addresses voters’ most urgent concerns.” The former governor is not directly involved, but his daughter said he may yet get involved. It’s right up his alley. Particularly if it comes with a payday.
Crown Mark Martin
Tune in to the Times’ “Week In Review” podcast each Friday. Available on iTunes & arktimes.com
Matt Campbell, a lawyer who also runs the Blue Hog Report blog, continues to face a dogged defense from Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office to full compliance with a series of Freedom of Information Act requests Campbell has made. It began more or less around Martin’s practice of hiring outside attorneys — without the legally required approval of the attorney general. Campbell got one expensive outside counsel removed, but now continues to battle Martin’s staff attorney, Martha Adcock, over full access to papers in the office. Martin is fighting the request, charging Campbell for copies and generally making a mockery of open government. But Campbell really got a hoot at a filing last week to further delay the proceeding. In it, the office claimed Martin was entitled to governmental immunity for all acts in his official capacity and entitled to sovereign immunity for all of his acts and the acts of his employees. As Campbell and others have pointed out, the Freedom of Information Act was drafted specifically to give the public a means of suing public employees who don’t follow the law. There’s even an avenue to get attorney fees when successful. You don’t have immunity if you violate the law, because law violation isn’t an official act (even if it is commonplace for some). Campbell probably should mull a frivolous complaint motion against Mark Martin and his legal eagles. A trial lies ahead. Campbell, by the way, is the guy the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette persists in labeling a “liberal blogger,” as opposed to citizen. It doesn’t call Mark Martin a conservative Republican wackjob, which would be fair and balanced. www.arktimes.com
OCTOBER 10, 2013
SUFFER THE TEACHERS Without an infusion of cash and a structural overhaul, the public school employee insurance plan won’t survive.
BY BENJAMIN HARDY
n January, the cost for Scott Wahlquist to insure his three children and wife will rise to nearly 40 percent of the gross income he makes teaching in Conway. Wahlquist and his family moved to Arkansas 13 years ago to help his aging fatherin-law run the family poultry farm in Drasco, a small community in Cleburne County. Since 2006, he’s taught German at Conway High School and a Conway middle school while tending to the chickens in the evenings and on the weekends. Each of the Wahlquists’ three boys has suffered a different major medical condition since childhood. The oldest son, who is now a student at Arkansas Tech, must take regular insulin injections and other medication to cope with Type 1 diabetes. The middle son has Asperger’s. The youngest, 16, suffers from ulcerative colitis, a painful and sometimes devastating auto-immune disorder of the bowels. Similar to Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis can require extended hospital stays, a lifetime regimen of medication, and eventual surgical removal of the colon, which the family finally
OCTOBER 10, 2013
was forced to resort to after years of struggle. “It’s fortunate the hospital stays have been spread out over so many years,” Wahlquist said of his youngest son, “but we counted it up and if you stacked them on top of each other day by day, he spent eight months of his life in the hospital before he turned 9 years old.” All three of the boys are now managing their conditions reasonably well, but at a sizeable cost. Prescriptions alone would run over a thousand dollars each month if the family had no insurance. “We’re all relatively healthy within our own little chronic illness realms,” Wahlquist said with a slight smile. However, one member of Wahlquist’s family is not insured: his wife, Michelle. Last year, the public school employees’ plan that covers Wahlquist and his sons raised its rates by about 20 percent. Wahlquist said the cost to cover both his wife and his children just didn’t work with their household budget. “It was either pay for insurance for Michelle or put food on the table.” They now pay for Michelle’s basic care and prescription drugs out of pocket and hope for the best. Wahlquist’s current
premium for himself and his children is about $580 per month. If his wife were included as well, the monthly premium would be $1,030. But that’s a bargain compared to what’s scheduled to happen in three months. In August, the Employee Benefits Division (EBD), the arm of the state revenue department that manages both the teacher insurance pool and a similar plan for state workers, announced a massive increase in premiums for public school employees. As of Jan. 1, Scott Wahlquist will begin paying $870 per month in premiums to insure himself and his children. If Michelle were to rejoin her husband’s plan — and soon she must buy insurance of some kind somewhere or pay a penalty, as required of all citizens by the Affordable Care Act — the total premium would rise to an incredible $1,540 every month. Wahlquist earns about $4,100 per month as a veteran teacher in the Conway Public School district, pre-tax; this means that to insure his wife and kids in 2014 on his current plan he will have to contribute 37 percent of his gross income for the cost of premiums alone.
ahlquist has plenty of company. Out of the nearly 70,000 public school employees in Arkansas, about 48,000 are insured by their employer and will face insurance hikes of up to 50 percent as of Jan. 1. Most of the rest get cheaper insurance elsewhere, such as through a spouse — a fact that is of crucial importance in understanding the crisis. Since the beginning of the summer, teacher insurance actuaries have been warning that insufficient funding in the school employees’ plan, combined with an unusually high claims year in 2012, threatened the system with insolvency. More money is required either from public coffers or teachers’ pockets. Because the Employee Benefits Division has no power to appropriate more funding — that is the job of the legislature — school employees are the ones who will have to pay more. If the numbers above sound daunting on an Arkansas teacher’s salary, bear in mind they also apply to non-teaching staff as well: cafeteria workers, janitors, bus drivers and the other “classified” support staff who toil for low hourly wages to keep school facilities functional. The price tag also depends on the kind of insurance the employee chooses. The choice ranges between buying an expensive “Gold” policy that is extraordinarily generous — no deductible, small co-pays — or a cheaper “Bronze” policy that is much stingier — high deductible, generally higher co-pays. A second-tier “Silver” plan is somewhere in between the two in terms of price and benefit quality, but attracts few participants. The Gold is intended primarily for families with long-term health needs, like the Wahlquists, or older individuals at greater risk of illness, while Bronze is a good option for younger, healthier people unlikely to rack up high medical bills in the near future. But as premiums rise, more and more families that desperately need good insurance coverage feel they have no choice but to shift to Bronze. Wahlquist said he’s considering downgrading plans. “I’ve played with the numbers a little bit, and if everything stays status quo with my family’s health, knock on wood, the [Bronze] plan will require about $4,000 or $5,000 more out of pocket than the Gold did. Now, my premiums will go down, that’s true. But that also means at the beginning of the year, in January and February, I’d have to come up with $5,000 myself over a two-month pay period just to meet our monthly medical bills before the deductible.”
A LOOMING CRISIS
CONTINUED ON PAGE 16
f you know someone who works in an Arkansas public school, there’s a good chance they’ve mentioned their insurance crisis in conversation or on social media. Working in a school is a difficult, frustrating, and often thankless job, and school employees everywhere are seriously wondering if they should change
OCTOBER 10, 2013
professions — or move. From Paragould to Texarkana, they’ve been meeting with superintendents, elected officials, and union representatives. “They’re upset,” said E.C. Walker, interim director at the Arkansas Education Association. “And it’s understandable. They’re hurting because of this.” “I’ve never dealt with an issue that’s generated this much comment,” said Rep. James McLean (D-Batesville), chairman of the House Insurance and Commerce Committee and a third-term representative. McLean says that immediate action to address the problem is necessary. “If we keep on heading down this track, we can’t get quality people to teach.”
education committee with almost 6,000 signatures asking for a change. And this was a year ago, when the rates increased 20 percent — long before we knew about this new jump.” “I started a Facebook group and started going to EBD meetings over the summer, which was just a barrel of fun. And I watched these people in the meetings and I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s gonna get worse.’ ” When it did get worse — when the new rate hikes were announced in late August — Smith said she floated the idea of a rally with her online group. “Within an hour, people were saying ‘I’ll bring this! Or, ‘Oh, I’ll do that!’ and the next thing I knew I was filling out paperwork
of grew out of there. We don’t even have a name — we’re not an organized group, we’re just a grassroots thing.” Legislators are listening, but the General Assembly is not in session. Sen. Johnny Key (R-Mountain Home), the chair of the Senate Education Committee, has been sounding the alarm about teacher insurance underfunding for years, but during a joint interim meeting of Education and Insurance and Commerce on Sept. 9 he reminded the room that “we have little power — well, no power — to enact new laws.” The ability to re-convene the legislature rests solely with Gov. Mike Beebe, and he has taken that extraordinary action only once during his seven years as
would need $54 million from the legislature. That sounds massive, but the sum is actually feasible at the moment because Arkansas accumulated a large surplus in fiscal year 2013. Thanks to some one-time tax events this spring, we currently have about $150 million burning a hole in our collective pocket. A draft legislative memo released on Oct. 4 suggests pairing a $35to-$45-million infusion from the surplus with a smaller rate hike for employees of 10 to 18 percent. But such a surplus is not likely to happen again in future fiscal years. And there’s also a bigger problem — the cash infusion would merely stabilize the current rates for 2014, not prevent future hikes from happening. Almost everyone agrees with Beebe that a short term bailout without a structural fix would be foolish. “Nobody in their right mind is going to do that,” said Sen. Uvalde Lindsey (D-Fayetteville). “The bucket’s got a leak in it, and you can pour water in it all you want to, but it’s not going to do any good. So before you do anything, you need at least some idea about how to patch the bucket.” Finding a consensus on the patch is what’s currently at stake.
Shelly Smith, a veteran teacher in the tiny Stone County community of Fox, has a ready laugh and a solid grasp of the intricacies of insurance. Motivated by personal frustration and her colleagues’ stories of medical hardships, she has been thrust into the role of activist over the past year. Last fall, she wrote a column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the untenable premiums faced by school employees; she received responses from dozens of teachers around the state. “Then someone suggested we start a petition,” said Smith, “so I said, ‘I could do that’ and the next thing I knew I was sending out petitions, and sheets were coming back in the mail. We took it to the 16
OCTOBER 10, 2013
and sending it in.” School employees are planning to assemble on the Capitol steps on the morning of Oct. 12. Smith said she has no idea how many people will show up, but the Facebook group she started, which is called “AR School Employees Health Insurance,” now has over 9,000 members. “Most of us don’t know each other,” Smith said. “We’re all over the state. If it wasn’t for the Internet, none of this would have happened. We just don’t see each other, we’re kind of isolated, but thanks to social media we’re able to connect. It’s not AEA, it’s not any particular group, it’s just that I came up with the petition and this Facebook group and everything kind
chief executive, in 2007. The Senate chair of Insurance and Commerce, Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow), has written a letter to Beebe urging him to do just that. McLean agrees that it is a necessity. “I’d be shocked if we don’t have a special session,” he said. But Beebe has said repeatedly that he will call a special session if and only if lawmakers first “reach a majority consensus on solutions for both the short-term funding problems and long-term systemic issues with the Public School Employee Plan.” A short-term solution is easy to visualize: Inject a substantial amount of money into the fund and teachers’ premiums no longer have to rise by 50 percent. To keep rates at current 2013 levels, EBD
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
o understand what’s happening with school employee insurance, it’s helpful to consider it alongside the other group plan managed by EBD that exists in parallel: the Arkansas state employees’ (ASE) plan, which covers anyone who works directly for the state. Aren’t teachers also state employees, one might ask? Not in the eyes of the law. Funding for their salaries originates from the state treasury, but they’re still considered employees of their individual school districts. The distinction seems arbitrary, but it’s the basis of the difference between how the two groups are treated. (It’s also worth mentioning that there are many times when districts, and teachers, are vocal advocates of local control of schools rather than state control, so the distinction is not entirely unreasonable.) Both the school employees plan and the ASE plan offer the same three coverage options of Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Both are overseen by a single board at EBD. Both have a similar pool of employees with similar rates of illness and utilization of insurance. They should be the same. But a state employee who covers her family with the Gold plan will pay $419.62 per month in 2014, compared to $1,500 for an average teacher or school janitor. Why?
The short answer is that the employer contribution for school employees is too small. This creates a phenomenon called adverse selection. When buying insurance costs a great deal, the only people who will purchase it are the ones who need it the most and are therefore the most medically expensive. Over time, this pattern will make an insurance system crash and burn. Arkansas state law obligates the government to pay for the bulk of its employees’ insurance costs, which works out to about $410 per month per state employee. A similar statutory requirement for school districts sets a flat employer contribution rate of $131 per month per school employee. This spring, legislators increased that amount to $151, an uptick that barely puts a dent in a problem of this magnitude. The discrepancy is further compounded by the fact that the state allocates money to the state employee plan per budgeted position and money to the teachers plan per participating employee. Let’s say a hypothetical school district has 100 employees, and 15 percent of them choose not to buy insurance at all. The state pays its $151 subsidy only for the 85 people insured. Not so for a hypothetical state office with 100 positions but 85 employees participating; the state would pay the obligated $410 into the state employee fund for all 100 slots. The net result is that school employees face much higher employee contributions for health insurance than other state employees. Everything hinges on this detail, because the stability of an insurance plan is all about participation levels. At the moment, less than 65 percent of Arkansas school employees choose to participate at all in the group plan. Again, many teachers have spouses with employers that offer better insurance than the school provides and so they choose to join that policy instead. Others who are healthy and young may choose to go without insurance at all (remember, low-wage classified employees are included in this pool, who may be earning little over the poverty line). Over the years, more and more employees have left the system, creating an ever-smaller and ever-unhealthier pool and driving premiums upwards. So, say there’s a moderate rate increase — and periodic rate increases are simply a fact of life, since health care costs in general have risen each year for decades — in our hypothetical school district. The employer contribution stays flat at $151, and employees have to contribute more. That 15 percent of people opting out might rise to 20 percent. The people who opt out tend to be the healthiest and youngest and therefore the cream of the crop, from an
What about Obamacare? When insurance is not affordable, people don’t buy it. This is the root of Arkansas’s public school employee insurance crisis, and it’s also a big part of why so many Americans in general are uninsured. To make teachers’ insurance affordable, their employer’s contribution must increase. The Affordable Care Act’s subsidies fill much the same role as an employer contribution: Obamacare covers part of the cost of buying a private policy for low-to-middle-income people who don’t currently have insurance. Uninsured individuals can now buy private insurance via the exchange that just opened on Oct. 1, and the amount of their monthly premium covered by the government depends on their income. For families at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line, the full cost of health insurance will now be borne by the feds (thanks in part to Arkansas’ unique “private option”). Employer contributions and ACA subsidies are both “car-
rots” to entice people to participate in an insurance pool. But the ACA also has a “stick” — the “individual mandate,” which is the requirement that all individuals buy a decent insurance policy or else get fined. So, Obamacare has a twofold strategy to get Americans insured: financial assistance for those families who can’t afford monthly premiums and the threat of an annual penalty to nudge uninsured people into taking action. If this carrot-and-stick approach works, millions of currently uninsured Americans will get health insurance. This is the goal of the ACA. Could a “stick” be a part of a teachers’ insurance fix as well, in the form of a mandate for all employees to participate in the group plan (and not, say, their spouse’s insurance)? It’s possible, but politically unlikely. Nonetheless, the ACA’s individual mandate may still boost participation in the public employee plan somewhat.
Affordability and the “family glitch” Most Americans get their insurance through their employer, and the ACA won’t directly affect most of these people. However, the ACA establishes criteria for affordability that (along with income) determine whether an individual is eligible for subsidies to purchase a plan on the exchange. If an employer offers a decent insurance plan that costs an employee less than 9.5 percent of his or her salary, the employee is expected to go with the employer’s plan and is thus ineligible for the federal subsidy described above. Some school employees are paying upwards of 30 percent of their income for insurance. Should they therefore be eligible for subsidies? Unfortunately, no, for the most part. Because of an apparent mistake in the ACA’s language, the 9.5 percent af-
insurer’s point of view — they’re most likely to pay into the system without incurring hefty medical bills. Those left behind in the pool are the employees more likely to need health care — those with children, those who are older, those who are sick. Actuaries will then determine the new, smaller pool is riskier and will raise premiums to cover the increased risk. When the next year rolls around and the higher premiums hit, the percentage of employees who decide it’s time to opt out in our hypothetical district might climb to 25 percent. The pool shrinks, and the rates climb higher. ◆◆◆
ut of the nearly 70,000 public school employees in Arkansas, only 48,000 currently participate in the plan. When the new rate hikes hit this January, thousands more will head for the exit, leaving behind only those employees who
fordability threshold only applies to individuals, not to families. For most school employees, the Bronze plan offered by EBD does cost less than 9.5 percent of income for an individual. For a family, though, it’s far, far more than 9.5 percent. This frustrating error in the ACA is being called “the family glitch” and needs to be corrected with legislation, but that is a virtual impossibility considering the state of Congress at the moment. One bright spot: The poorest of classified employees may now be eligible for a plan on the ACA marketplace and not have to pay premiums at all, via Arkansas’s “private option.” People at or below 138 percent of the poverty line are eligible for the “private option” regardless of whether their employer offers affordable insurance.
most desperately need insurance. This vulnerable pool will be even riskier to insure than before, which means rates in 2015 would therefore shoot even above the high figures put forth for 2014. This is the endgame of adverse selection, a crisis situation that health care experts call a “death spiral.” It is the danger of this very scenario that explains many of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare (see above). Meanwhile, almost 90 percent of state employees choose to participate in their plan. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a great deal. Some school employees are tempted to blame their state counterparts for getting better coverage. But that would be a mistake, said Walker, the AEA head. “We don’t want to pick a fight with the state employees. We would hate for the solution to involve reducing benefits to state employees...that’s a bad solution.” Still, that may be part of the package that lawmakers develop. The draft memo released
on Oct. 4 suggested a decrease in the contribution to state employees from $410 to $390, which would free up about $5 million to put towards school employees. The teachers’ plan has been headed towards a crisis for years, but it’s come to a boil at the moment partly because of an anomaly in 2012. Last year, eight school employees statewide incurred catastrophic claims of well over a million dollars each due to situations ranging from premature births to terminal cancer. A fiscally sound plan could absorb such a shock without a problem — that’s the point of insurance, after all — but in its fragile state, the teachers plan could not. Thus the rate hike, without which it would simply go bankrupt. At the committee meeting on Sept. 9, Sen. Lindsey asked EBD official Doug Shackelford if the plan could limp along without the 50 percent hike until the legislature convened for its scheduled fiscal CONTINUED ON PAGE 18 www.arktimes.com
OCTOBER 10, 2013
session in February 2014. No, Shackelford replied; actuarial projections say that the plan will have only a few hundred thousand dollars in reserves by the end of the year. How long would it take to reach insolvency at that point? asked Lindsey. “With a pool of 48,000 subscribers,” said Shackelford, “we’d have hours left.”
TRAGEDIES OF THE COMMONS
here is another, similar set of perverse incentives at play here as well, this time resulting from the way school districts are funded. How much exactly an employee pays for insurance depends on the district that employs the
districts in the state chip in extra, with Little Rock contributing the most, at $358. Others contribute nothing above the base $151, including some well-off districts with high-performing schools such as Conway and Fayetteville. This is not merely a case of stinginess, Jerry Guess, superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District, explained. “When the state sends new money to districts, there’s a lot of things you can do with it. You can use it to improve operations. You can buy new buses. You can put in a new roof. But most superintendents try to use that money to give raises. You can put that into either a bigger insurance contribution or an increase in take-
Pulaski County puts in $142 above the minimum $151. In part, this is a matter of employees exercising their political will in a more intentional way. Brenda Robinson, the current president of AEA and an employee of the PCSSD, said when the teachers union was still intact in the PCSSD, it always bargained for greater insurance contributions.
ACCUSATIONS AND SOLUTIONS
ith an issue this complicated, there are plenty of opportunities to spread blame. State employees are resented for their stellar insurance.
worker. Every district runs on a garbled mishmash of funds from state, federal and local sources. The vast bulk of the money comes from the state in the form of “foundation funding” — a certain amount allocated per student in the district. Other state monies cover particular programs, like special education, and federal grants such as the National School Lunch Act are geared towards helping students living in poverty. Finally, districts levy local property taxes in the form of millages. While the district is the entity that actually employs a teacher, funds mostly originate from the state. Again, state law requires districts to pay an employer contribution towards insurance of at least $151 per participating employee. But about 20 or 25 18
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home pay. I used to be superintendent in Camden. The participation rate in the insurance plan in Camden was 50 percent. Now, because 50 percent of the people in Camden are on insurance and 50 percent are not, if you put it on insurance you’re not helping the other 50 percent who don’t have insurance. So in a lot of those cases, school boards will agree to use it as a raise — that way everyone gets the additional take home pay. There’s been the perception that schools just deliberately don’t use it on insurance, but the politics of the thing on a local level is that you try to help the most people that you can with the money that you get.” But, as Guess points out, the choices districts make on what to contribute vary.
Districts are suspected of misappropriating funds. Legislators are reviled as hypocrites. Teachers are accused of being greedy. Everyone wants to blame Obamacare, although that’s simply untrue; the most salient accusation one can level at the ACA is that it’s not as helpful as it should be (see sidebar on page 17). One point that just about everyone can agree upon is that EBD itself has made some questionable choices in its management of the policies. The Gold option offered to both teachers and state employees is among the most generous policies in the state, private insurance included. It contains no deductible. “There’s no denying it’s an incredibly rich benefit,” the EBD’s Shackelford told the Times. “We have actuaries right
now trying to get data on restructuring our plans, looking at different options.” But why has this not happened already, before the dam began to burst? Walker said that teachers would be willing to consider a reduction in the Gold plan and other benefit adjustments. Most school employees interviewed by the Times agreed; in fact, some are discovering now that the Bronze plan is genuinely a better option for their families than is the Gold. There are other options as well that would not require extra cash. The state could accept bids to privatize the insurance pool — maybe BlueCross could do a better job of managing the plan. Some workers or their families may be able to buy insurance on the new ACA exchange eventually. But Walker also argued that the root of the issue is money and the root of the responsibility lies with the state. “In our view, the problem is caused by underfunding by an employer, whether you want to say the state’s responsible for the extra funding or the school districts are. As far as I’m concerned, the school district is a creature of the state and it’s the state’s responsibility to provide public education. That includes salary and benefits for employees. The fact that they’ve chosen to meet that responsibility by establishing school districts and giving [the districts] tax authority does not relieve [the state] of its constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate and equitable education.” Broadly speaking, there are three actors that are being called upon to make sacrifices: the state, the districts and the teachers. Beebe has made it clear that his preferred solution would ask for a third of the pain to be borne by each. Meanwhile, the governor announced that EBD would be pushing back its open enrollment date for 2014 from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1. Lawmakers, superintendents and teacher groups are now scrambling to reach a draft consensus by Oct. 15. “That’s the drop dead time,” said Key, the Senate education committee chair. “That’s the timeline we’ve been tasked with by Speaker [Davy] Carter and Sen. [Michael] Lamoureux [the Senate majority leader] and I know they’ve been talking to the governor. And it has to be more than just concepts — we have to have these ideas valued by actuaries. That takes time. Four or five of us could run out there with draft bills, but until we get actuaries to look at it, it doesn’t mean much. We need something put into people’s hands soon, in order for EBD to run calculations to get everything in place and up on their website for Nov. 1. So we don’t have any wiggle room at all, really.”
At first, it makes sense to imagine an equal three-way compromise between the state, the district, and the employees. As stated above, legislators are discussing a premium increase between 10 percent and 18 percent. But questions of fairness aside, there is a fundamental problem with this proposal: adverse selection. If only 65 percent of teachers are participating in the plan right now at current 2013 premium rates, and if that diminished participation feedback loop causes premiums to spiral upward, won’t any increase in out-ofpocket costs for teachers only drive more employees away and make matters worse? “It’s hard to know where that’s going to land,” said Key in response. “There’s also uncertainty because of the ACA, and the mandate that everyone have insurance. We can also incentivize participation in other ways, by some combination of state and district contributions to health savings accounts. But that’s a legitimate concern.” Shelley Smith said that proposal won’t fly with teachers. “If the governor gets his way with that thing where the state pays a third, employees pay a third, and local districts pay a third? Then you’re going to hear people really start to scream about going on strike. Because that’s means we’re going to be paying more than we
already are, and we can’t pay at  rates. That’s not going to solve the problem at all. Participation will keep going down. It’s just throwing money towards something that’s desperately broken and needs to be fixed.” Smith said emphatically that she herself has no intention of ever striking or advocating for a strike. But, she continued, an increasing number of threads on the Arkansas Public School Employee Health Insurance Facebook group were rumbling in that vein. “I’m certainly not their leader. I’m not going to tell them what to do. ... People have to be able to feed their families, and pay their student loans, and have a place to live. The longer this goes, the more testy things get, the more people talk about leaving — either striking, or just finding another job.” As for the contribution from the state and the districts, there are a variety of proposals for shaving off a few million in extra cash here and there: a set-aside for operations and utilities, the windfall a handful of districts get from the 25-mill local property tax requirement, professional development funds for teachers, even school poverty money intended to close the achievement gap. (Most legis-
lators are not a fan of that idea, nor are teachers or superintendents.) “There’s not one silver bullet out there we’re going to find. It’s going to be a pieced-together package,” said Key. Most of those possibilities come from within the money already allocated for public schools; what about going outside of the education budget instead? What about, for example, repealing some of the regressive tax cuts passed in the 2013 session, as Beebe initially suggested? When those cuts are in full effect in 2016, they will cost the state $161 million annually — and they tend to benefit Arkansans with higher incomes and investments. “I don’t see that as realistic,” Key responded. “The General Assembly won’t go back on that.” Almost everyone agrees that that’s the case. There might well be a wave of new local millage proposals, though, as districts struggle to come up with their own piece of the solution. The fact is that someone has to pay. ◆◆◆
here’s great disagreement today about what’s needed in the public schools — charters, vouchers, school choice, Common Core standards
— but everyone proclaims a belief that education should be a top priority. It’s equally accepted that attracting and retaining good teachers must be at the heart of any decent education system. Arkansas has made tremendous gains in public education in the past decade; the state can’t afford to lose sight of that now as it considers how much of a health benefit it should be offering its educators. Each of those three actors — state, districts, and employees — has to make concessions, but not necessarily equally. As Scott Wahlquist pointed out to the Times, there’s a lot more at stake here than the 48,000 employees on the insurance plan. “I’m going to throw in a fourth player. That’s the public, that’s the taxpayers. They’re going to benefit from having good schools. If they’re going to get all those statistical things — relatively lower crime rates, better job opportunities, all those things that go along with better schools — they’re the fourth player that has to consider the possibility of putting in a little extra. Because if we chase away a lot of good teachers who can’t afford decent insurance, how good are those schools going to stay?”
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LOCATION, LOCATION, CONT. Despite Exxon’s best efforts to keep the subdivision’s housing market from crashing, the uncertainty brought on by the spill is likely to linger for years in Northwoods. “Exxon’s taking care of everybody, but nobody knows about the future,” said Kim Burks, a Crye-Leike agent representing another Northwoods seller. “When Exxon does buy people’s homes back, we don’t know if they’re going to sit on them for a while or slowly put them back on the market. “Out of all places to break, why did it have to happen in that beautiful neighborhood? It had beautiful resale value before, one of the only areas in Mayflower with nice, new homes like that.” ◆◆◆ Faulkner County hasn’t reduced its assessed value of Northwoods properties. “It’s a tough one because there’s not a whole lot for us to look at where it’s happened before,” Angela Hill, the Faulkner County assessor, said. “There are lots of spills out there, but not in residential neighborhoods.” Without a comparable situation elsewhere in the country, Hill said, the county’s waiting for private buyers to determine the homes’ market value. At least one concrete indicator suggests the homes have not, in fact, held their former value. Citing the uncertainty created by oil contamination and lawsuits against Exxon, lenders are quietly reluctant to issue loans for Northwoods properties. Homes with that much baggage don’t appeal to investors who buy up mortgages. If you want to buy here, bring cash. “It would be hard to sell that loan on the secondary market,” said Doris Watkins, a loan originator at First Security Bank in Conway. “Because in the appraisal it’ll probably be noted, what happened. Plus it made national news. If I had [a house] there, I’d probably take the Exxon deal and get out.” The Exxon deal — the “Property Purchase and Price Protection Program,” in the company’s alliterative appellation — breaks down like this: Exxon has offered to buy any home in Northwoods at its appraised value as if the spill hadn’t occurred. If a home was among those that faced mandatory evacuation, then Exxon will buy it directly. If a home was outside that zone, the owner first must try to sell the home on the open market. If after 120 days it hasn’t sold, Exxon will buy it at a pre-spill price. If an owner gets an offer lower than the appraised price, Exxon will close the gap. For anyone wanting to remain in the neighborhood, Exxon will provide “a onetime payment for potential diminished property value,” according to the documents Exxon sent to residents in May. The program also provides for closing costs and moving allowances, aid to tenants, and help 20
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with marketing homes. The offer stands “Once that work is done, the focus is to oil company. until May 2016 and will extend to anyone excavate any contaminated soil and replace “That’s why a lot of us are cashing out,” who buys into the neighborhood, as well, it with fresh dirt. For the near term, it will he said a few days after closing the sale on a safeguard against the market in the sub- be just green space.” He added that the Aug. 15. “What if it’s six more months of division completely crashing. company is “discussing next steps” with this? I don’t really want to live by this.” He As for what Exxon’s going to do with the owner of the third uninhabitable house, was chagrined at how slowly the process the homes it buys? “We are still evaluat- which sits beside the rupture site. moved — having to make five mortgage ing our options,” spokesman Aaron Stryk Allen Dodson, the Faulkner County payments since the spill made him feel wrote in an email. “That said, ExxonMobil judge who heads Unified Command, said as if he “threw $6,500 into a black hole.” will maintain the properties it purchases he expected five of the 22 mandatorily County records show that Mobil Pipe Line Co. paid him $165,000 for in a manner that will be considerate of the evacuated homes to be occupied by the his 1,818-square-foot house, with its value of the neighboring properties and the end of last week. “In general, we’ve had rest of the subdivision.” a lot of clean-up happening,” he said. “It 502-square-foot garage, on the quarterThe company specifies that partici- can’t get here soon enough.” acre lot. It pained Senia to part with the house. pating in the program doesn’t preclude a But just because Unified Command resident from suing. At present at least 19 cleared a home didn’t mean residents He reminisced about the parties he could wanted to move back. During the sum- throw, as a single guy, with a yard and a big former and current residents and evacuees of the subdivision, from six Northwoods mer Exxon has wavered on how soon it garage and blocks of free parking outside. homes, have filed a class-action suit against expects families to return to those homes He eyed the little garden in front of his Exxon (Finton et al v. ExxonMobil Pipe- that have been declared safe. porch and noted, “The rose bush needs line Co.). Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to be trimmed back.” Strands of grass had The lawsuits could also disrupt the has supported the right of families not to begun encroaching on his Russian sage, return. He quipped on “The Rachel Mad- his orange and lemon thyme, his lilies and title process for any potential buyers, said Tom Poe, who manages Lender’s Title dow Show” in late August that “there is his celosia. Of those, only the yellow roses in Conway. “If there’s lawsuits pending,” no safe level of benzene to have in my liv- were blooming with much enthusiasm. ing room.” Poe said, “of course clear title could not Two things, specifically, prompted him be delivered.” In his 26 years selling real While that may be true in the McDaniel to sell. The first was the persistent presestate in Faulkner County before he began household, the Environmental Protection ence of oil beneath the foundations of at Lender’s, Poe never saw anything dis- Agency has established permissible levels the homes on his block, the north side of rupt the county’s property like the Pega- of benzene and other aromatic hydrocar- North Starlite Road that caught the brunt bons that filled the homes in and around sus break. One buyer he served at the title of the oil’s flow. The second was his doubt company closed on a home in Northwoods Northwoods when the pipeline broke. The that buyers other than Exxon would ever the very afternoon of the spill. “Within an Arkansas Department of Environmental feel compelled to pay sticker price for a hour of them buying the house,” he said, Quality and the Center for Toxicology & home in Mayflower, of all places, that had “they were locked out.” Environmental Health, a North Little Rock been through such havoc. At the time a reporter reached Jerry Hill, environmental testing firm, are monitoring “If there’s not a severe discount on any a broker with ERA Henley Real Estate in the air and gave the all-clear when those of these properties, why buy it?” he said. Conway, the home she was trying to sell levels dropped below that threshold. “It’s like selling a salvaged car — nobody wants to buy it. You’re going to be holdin Northwoods had been on the market The Arkansas Department of Health for nearly three weeks, and she’d received is so satisfied with the low levels of toxins ing onto that thing forever, so it’s a serious no calls. that its concern is shifting somewhat to commitment to buy this house. “It’s going to be really, really difficult to “People that live on the pipeline right the long-term psychological effects of the sell those houses because the underwriters evacuation itself. At a recent public pre- over there? Can they sell their house? Only won’t underwrite those houses,” Hill said. sentation at the department, Dr. William time’s going to tell. In my mind, a lot of “Selling them is almost impossible at this Mason, the physician who represented people are going to say, ‘There’s no way in point in time. ... I’m hopeful that my seller the Department of Health within Unified hell I’d touch that.’ But I could be wrong.” will get out of this without being hurt. We’ll Command, spoke of his worry that peoAs he was talking beside the house just wait and see.” ple who lived in Northwoods at the time he had just signed away to the world’s ◆◆◆ of the spill could develop post-traumatic most profitable corporation, Senia finAn ongoing feature of Exxon’s com- stress disorder. ished munching on a peach. He pitched munity bulletins about the progress of “When these people were evacuated, the pit toward the back yard and called out, “Peach tree.” Northwoods has been to emphasize how it was done rapidly,” Mason said. “They many of the 22 homes have been officially had to leave everything behind, figure out His throw fell short. The pit rattled labeled safe for return, or, in the parlance, where their children were going to go to squarely in the gutter and stuck. Senia was school: ‘Am I safe? Can I go back and get “cleared for re-entry” by Unified Command let down. “I was kind of hoping there’d be — which includes Exxon, the Arkansas my belongings?’ I think there will be some a peach tree there in a couple of years,” Department of Health, the Environmen- of that element that will occur.” he said. ◆◆◆ tal Protection Agency, Faulkner County and the Arkansas Department of EnvironHalf a year after the initial spill, all that mental Quality. All but three homes have visibly remains for crews in Northwoods This story is part of a joint investigabeen cleared. to do is dig up and swap out oil-tainted tive project by the Arkansas Times and Of the three homes Unified Com- dirt from the backyards around the rup- InsideClimate News. Funding for this ture site. The persistence of the cleanup mand hasn’t cleared for reentry, Exxon project comes from individuals who and the uncertainty around lingering oil has bought two and torn them down. “We donated to an ioby.org crowd-funding determined demolition was an efficient were enough to convince Ryan Senia, a campaign that raised nearly $27,000 way to remove and excavate any oil that mandatorily evacuated resident who isn’t and from the Fund for Investigative was beneath the foundations,” Stryk said. suing Exxon, that he should sell to the Journalism.
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Arts Entertainment AND
FAIR WEATHER, FRIENDS T
he fever of summer finally appears to have broken, which means it’s that time again: The Arkansas State Fair, 10 days of some of the best people-watching, prize pigs, mile-long corn-dogs and carnie ride fun to be had all year. It all kicks off on Friday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children over 6. Parking is $5. This writer missed the Arkansas State Fair only once, when I was sick as a dog at 8 years old. I haven’t forgiven myself since. As with many things I learned to love as a child, the State Fair is an idea that has its own shelf in my heart, packed as it is with smells, colors, lights, flavors and bags full of freebies from the Hall of Industry. I kissed a girl there, once. Once, I found $34 dollars on the midway, worried into a roll tight as a cigarette, then spent part of it on a turkey leg, a jumbo lemonade and a two-minute look at a giant horse — a dun gelding with gentle eyes big as baseballs and a head that seemed as long as a kayak. Once, when I was 12 years old, an ancient woman stopped me there on the midway between the tilt-a-whirl and the spook house as I was walking with my friends, beckoned me close to whisper some secret of the ages, and informed me — to the shame and horror that only 12 year olds can possess — that my fly was down. At 19, I glimpsed the underpants of a young, short-skirted and altogether lovely performer in the freak show, at which point she smiled radiantly at me — a peek that I quickly convinced myself was intentional on her part, stud that I was — and in that moment, I loved her and wanted to buy her a cottage with a garden and live with her there, surrounded by books and the smell of gardenias. Ah, memories! There are plenty of opportunities to make your own slightly weird memories at this year’s Arkansas State Fair. There will be 58 carnival rides on the midway this year, with 12 of them new for 2013 (PRO TIP: If you plan on riding a lot, go to any Walgreens and buy a $22 ride pass, which entitles you to unlimited rides on one day of the fair except Dollar Day, Oct. 14). If you’d rather stuff your 22
OCTOBER 10, 2013
face, there’s plenty of opportunity for that, too, with more than 150 different food items available. Currently in the lead as must-haves for 2013, based just on the names alone, are the gravy fries with pork, the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger, the jumbo yard dog (a bacon-wrapped hotdog on a bun), fried Rice Krispy treat on a stick, funnel cake a la mode, apple pie funnel cake, fried Jell-o on a stick, the fried banana split, and something called “sausage cream cheese nacho balls.” Portable defibrillator sold separately. Bonus: every weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is “Lunch at the Fair,” with free parking and gate admission. The Arkansas State Fair runs Oct. 11-20. For much more information, visit the Arkansas State Fair website at arkansasstatefair.com. Below are a few of the other highlights. Unless noted, all events are free and open to anyone who pays a gate admission. CHARLIE DANIELS BAND: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11. Wendy’s Main Stage near the Hall of Industry. Free admission. Will they play “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”? Yes. Will they play it again? Hopefully. PRIZE RABBIT EXHIBITION: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Rabbit building. Fluffy? Check. Big ears? Check. We’re hoping Bugs Bunny will take a wrong turn at Albuquerque and show up, just for giggles. .38 SPECIAL: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Wendy’s Main Stage. No matter how hard they rock, hold on loosely to that corndog, kid. Don’t let go. MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY: 11 a.m. to close Tuesday, Oct. 15. Free gate admission for military and immediate family with valid military I.D. KARK/SALVATION ARMY FEED THE NEED: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15. Donate two canned foods and get a child’s gate admission, four canned goods for an adult admission. Then donate an order of gravy fries to yourself. SHOW-ME SWINE RACERS: Every day in the “Extreme Zone” near the main gate. Shows at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Who doesn’t love pig racing?
The Arkansas State Fair returns, with thrills, spills, and plentiful opportunities for gluttony. BY DAVID KOON
KSSN 96 and TOM-FM LADIES NIGHT: 6 p.m. to close Tuesday, Oct. 15. Free admission for women 18 and over. 100.3 THE EDGE COLLEGE NIGHT: 6 p.m. to close Wednesday, Oct. 16. Free gate admission with valid college I.D. BRUNO’S BENGAL TIGER SHOW: Every day in the “Extreme Zone,” near the main gate. Shows at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. An idea for next year: make the tigers race the pigs. NOW you’ve got a race, my friend. PBR BULL RIDING: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18-19. Tickets: $10-$25. Just before they open the gate, somebody should whisper in the bull’s ear that if they get ridden for the full eight seconds, they’ll become tomorrow’s batteredbeef-on-a-stick. ARKANSAS STATE FAIR CHILI COOK OFF: 2:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. Arts and Crafts Building. There’s some pretty good chili chefs in Arkansas. Best to stay away from the ones who decorate their table with severed squirrel tails, though. THE SOUND OF THE MOUNTAIN: Monday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m., Wendy’s Main Stage: Winner of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase rocks the midway. K9 TRICK DOG SHOW. Every day, with shows at 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Acrobatic, Frisbeecatching dogs. Can the dogs teach the tigers and the pigs to catch Frisbees? I’d pay to see that. GINUWINE: 8 p.m. Fri., Oct. 18, Wendy’s Main Stage. Will he sing “Pony”? Yes he will. Beyond that, I’m out of the demographic. Stay off my lawn, you crazy kids! RODEO QUEEN HORSEMANSHIP COMPETITION: 10 a.m. Sat. Oct. 19, Barton Coliseum. Horse and rider, flying together as one. It’s beautiful enough to make you weep right into your pork chop milkshake on a stick. EVERCLEAR: 8 p.m. Sat. Oct. 19, Wendy’s Main Stage. Yes, they’re a long way from Top 40 radio superstardom, but nothing can bring back a memory like a song. “Santa Monica,” anyone?
ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog arktimes.com
A&E NEWS IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANKIND, has there ever been a more appropriate way to express the limitless, undying romantic love you feel for that special someone in your life than by taking them out on Valentine’s Day for an evening on the town highlighted by a performance from noted ventriloquist Jeff Dunham? As anyone who has ever been in love can testify, the answer is a resounding, “No!!! Duuuuh. ...” Well it looks like in 2014 Arkansans can finally show their true loves just how much they care, as Dunham will be performing at Verizon Arena at 8 p.m. on Feb. 14. Tickets are $44 each (plus applicable service charges). Remember, nothing says “I love you” like getting to see Achmed the Dead Terrorist in person.
7th & Thayer · Little Rock · (501) 375-8400
Thursday, OcTOber 10
Friday, OcTOber 11
saTurday, OcTOber 12
Thursday, OcTOber 17
Kevin Gordon (Nashville, TN) check out additional shows at
2013 UCA STUDENT ACTIVITIES BOARD PRESENTS
LITTLE ROCK RADIOLOGIST and former “Jeopardy!” champ Shane Whitlock is one of five candidates looking to recapture former glory by appearing on the show’s upcoming “Battle of the Decades” tournament, with a shot at $1 million. To do it, though, he needs your online vote. In 1996, Whitlock won the “Jeopardy!” College Championship, taking home $32,800 in his first appearance. He’s since competed in two other “Jeopardy!” tournaments. Whitlock met his wife after she came asking for advice before trying out for the show and they’ve since had a kid. Sadly, they didn’t name him either “Alex” or “Double Jeopardy.” If Whitlock gets in, he’ll be up against possible-cyborg Ken Jennings — who is clearly the Johnny Lawrence of the game show world — but you never know. Whitlock’s clearly a smart guy, and might have some kind of form-of-a-question crane-kick stuff up his sleeve. You can vote for Whitlock to be on the show by visiting arktimes.com/whitlock, or by tweeting #jeopardyvote and “Shane Whitlock.” THE WILLIAM F. LAMAN PUBLIC LIBRARY awards a grant of $10,000 every year to an Arkansas writer to support them in his or her work. Previous winners include Mara Leveritt, author of “Devil’s Knot,” about the West Memphis Three, and other books and a former editor at the Arkansas Times; historian Grif Stockley; novelist Kevin Brockmeier and, this year, poet Davis McCombs. If you’d like to join that illustrious number, you must apply by Nov. 15. To be eligible, you must be a current Arkansas resident who has been published (excluding vanity or self-publication) a full-length work of fiction, poetry or non-fiction and is likely to publish again in the United States or is under contract to a commercial American publisher to write such a work. The winner will be announced after the first of the year. For more information, go to lamanlibrary.org.
OCTOBER 21, 2013 @ 8 PM REYNOLDS PERFORMANCE HALL $10 W/UCA STUDENT ID (AVAILABLE 9/30) $15 GENERAL PUBLIC (AVAILABLE 10/2)
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OCTOBER 10, 2013
BY ROBERT BELL
KING BISCUIT BLUES FESTIVAL
King Biscuit time is upon us, dear readers. For the faithful, blues-loving throngs, that means it’s time once again to head over to Phillips County to set up camp, soak up the sounds, have a little fellowship with your peers and maybe take down a smoked turkey leg and an ice-cold lite beer or three. And hopefully the weather will be a bit more cooperative this year than it was in 2012. That Saturday last year was just downright unpleasant, what with the rain and cold and wind and general December-y bluster there in mid October. I was told by some Dutch KBBF regulars that last year’s was the weirdest weather they’d seen in their 17 years of festival-going. As of Sunday night, the weatherman was forecasting partly cloudy and upper 70s-ish for the Thursday-Saturday time frame in the Helena-West Helena area, which is about the best you could hope for. The lineup is pretty great too, with headliners Marcia Ball, Robert Cray and Gregg Allman, plus longtime festival faves such as James Cotton, Paul Thorn, Cedell Davis, Bobby Rush and so many others.
MIDNIGHT RIDER: Gregg Allman headlines Saturday night at the King Biscuit Blues Festival.
7:30 p.m. Christ Episcopal Church. $20-$35.
Wow, this is a big get, Little Rock. Mavis Staples is up there with the greats of gospel (with a career spanning seven decades), and she also has also one of the most expressive and distinctive voices in soul ever committed to tape. Of course, many will be familiar with the singer via her years with Stax hitmakers The Staple Singers, whose “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself,” and “Let’s Do it Again” were among the biggest hits of their era. Staples is no stranger to venturing out on her own however, having cut her first solo album in 1969. Her two most recent discs — 2010’s “You Are Not Alone” and this year’s “One True Vine” — were both produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. They’re also both excellent, with the former winning a Grammy for 24
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best Americana album. There are some interesting choices of material on the albums, including selections by Low, Allen Toussaint, Nick Lowe, Rev. Gary Davis and Randy Newman, among some traditionals, a few Tweedy tunes and some gospel-era Staple Singers numbers. Covering early Funkadelic is a risky gambit for anyone (“Funkadelic” through “America Eats Its Young” is as good a four-album run as any in pop music, IMO), but Staples’ and her crew’s cover of “Can You Get to That” is mostly faithful to the original, though it sticks out just a bit amidst the slightly more subdued material that makes up the rest of the set. But if I had to guess, I’d venture that a Mavis Staples concert is anything but a somber affair, likely to be equal parts soul fireworks and spiritual firepower. What better venue could you ask for? Don’t skip this one y’all.
8 p.m. South on Main. $45.
din’ Molly Serious or any of this “twerking” nonsense, so we probably shouldn’t give it too much thought either. He’ll still be bringing down the house with the ass-
Now, see, there’s this young pop singer name of Molly Serious or something (her dad was a one-hit wonder country mullet-doofus back in the ’90s), and recently she went and acted foolishly on an awards show. She had some full-figured ladies dancing with her and she herself attempted to shake what the Good Lord had given her. I guess she thought it’d be clever, but it was kinda pitiful, really. Still, people got all in a high tizzy about it, as they are wont to do. “Twerking” I believe is the style FOLKFUNK: Bobby Rush performs at South on Main Friday night. of dance they call it, but it’d probably look familiar to anyone who’s seen a show by Bobby Rush and shakin’ rhythms and sweaty funk grooves his dancers, including the beautiful Mizz long after ol’ whatsername has moved Lowe. You know Bobby Rush ain’t studon to doing whatever she ends up doing.
The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet performs a part of the 10 x 10 Art Series, Walton Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., $10. Proggy hardcore heroes Norma Jean bring the madness to Revolution, 8:30 p.m., $12 adv., $14 door. Singer Jeron Marshall performs at The Joint, 9 p.m. The Good Time Ramblers rattle the rafters at White Water Tavern, 9:30 p.m. The Little Rock Wind Symphony’s “Dancing Flutes” program will be hosted at Second Presbyterian Church, 7:30 p.m., $8-$10.
LOVELY FREDA: “Good Ol’ Freda” screens at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, which kicks off Friday night.
FRIDAY 10/11-SUNDAY 10/20
HOT SPRINGS DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Various times. Arlington Hotel. $5-$175.
A couple of weeks ago, Times honcho Lindsey Millar offered a peek at the lineup for the 22nd annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, which he called “surely the festival’s best lineup ever. Multiple
award winners from the likes of Sundance and Hot Docs are on the bill. A biographical look at Arkansas-born football legend Bear Bryant called ‘Mama Called’ will make its world premiere. The Bryant film is part of the festival’s new sports documentary series, which also includes ‘The Big Shootout: The Life and Times of 1969,’ about the storied national championship game between Arkansas and Texas. The festival’s
biggest draw might be ‘Good Ol’ Freda,’ a portrait of The Beatles longtime secretary and fan club manager, Freda Kelly, who’ll be in attendance on opening night.” There are so many awesome-sounding films to be screened. My picks: “Antenna,” about the legendary Memphis venue; “Tiny: A Story About Living Small,” about the small-house movement; and “Punk in Africa,” which sounds utterly fascinating.
ping up your apparel: For the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s “Halloween Spooktacular,” concertgoers are encouraged to wear their terrifying, funny, or terrifyingly funny costumes to the show. The orchestra itself will be decked out in Halloween finery, and the program will include some spooky sonic treats, including Roy Parker Jr.’s
“Ghostbusters” theme; Danny Elfman’s “Edward Scissorhands: Main Title”; John Williams’ “Jaws: Main Title” and “Jaws: First Victim”; the theme from TV’s “The X-Files”; Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”; Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”; Elfman’s “Music from Spider Man” and more. The ASO also performs the program Sunday at 3 p.m.
worry or concern you might have had a few minutes prior. But there’s also something satisfying about not doing that, and instead watching some other chump endure pure misery in pursuit of glory and prizes. I once watched a dude eat 45 jalapenos in 5 minutes. I know jalapenos are fairly pedestrian by the standards of today’s pepper arms race (“Whooooaaaa maaaaan, this Uruguayan silver death pepper clocks in at eleventy zillion Scoville units!”) But still,
jalapenos are pretty dang hot and this dude ate a whole bunch of them. His prize? A bottle of tequila. Now, the peppers that the fine folks at The Root Cafe and Dunbar Garden’s Doug Smith have lined up will be substantially hotter than good ol’ jals. The lineup starts relatively innocuously, but builds in intensity, culminating with such terrifying sounding creatures as the bhut jolokia (ghost pepper), Trinidad scorpion and the Carolina reaper.
ASO: ‘HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR’
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $18-$59.
Outside of “Beethoven & Blue Jeans,” your typical evening at the symphony calls for dressing it up a bit. But this performance really calls for step-
2ND ANNUAL HOT PEPPER EATING CONTEST
4-6 p.m. The Root Cafe.
There’s something really satisfying about eating a fluorescent-colored, wrinkly, weird-looking pepper that immediately engulfs your entire face in a scorching halo of jet-engine blast pain, you know? The searing, mind-erasing heat really purifies as it cuts away every other thought or
Over at Stickyz, Youngblood Brass Band, of Wisconsin, brings in the funkand punk-inspired brass band sounds, 9 p.m., $8 adv., $10 day of. The Weekend Theater’s production of “Nora” continues, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $12-$16. The “Arkansas Chamber Singers Fall Concert: Love’s Soaring Spirit” features American composer Stephen Paulus’s new work “The Furnace of Love’s Fire,” St. James United Methodist Church, 7:30 p.m., $10-$15. Nashville rockers Modoc return for a show at Maxine’s with Open Fields. Modoc also plays at Bear’s Den Pizza in Conway on Saturday.
Singer/songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov performs at Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $12 adv., $15 day of. Up Cabot way, there’s Cabotfest, a family-friendly event with live music, a zip line, vendors, food and more. It’s going down at various locations in downtown Cabot, including the Cabot Community Center, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece” features performances from poetry group The Foreign Tongues, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 6 p.m. Little Rock indie faves Whale Fire play at White Water Tavern with Open Fields, 9 p.m., $5.
The costumed Nu metal dudes in Mushroomhead bring their mosh-inducing chuggery to Juanita’s, 8 p.m., $15 adv., $18 day of. The Little Rock Touchdown Club hosts should’ve-been Razorback legend Mitch Mustain, Embassy Suites, 11 a.m., $20 members, $30 non-members.
Political Animals hosts Gene Foreman, former editor of the Arkansas Democrat and the first Visiting Distinguished Professor of Ethics in Journalism in the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas. Lunch will be served, Governor’s Mansion, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., $20. www.arktimes.com
OCTOBER 10, 2013
AFTER DARK All events are in the Greater Little Rock area unless otherwise noted. To place an event in the Arkansas Times calendar, please e-mail the listing and all pertinent information, including date, time, location, price and contact information, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Main Thing presents “Arkansanity.” Original two-act comedy play lampooning life in Arkansas. The Joint, 8 p.m., $20. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501-372-0205. thejointinlittlerock.com. The Sandman. The Loony Bin, 7:30 and 10 p.m., $12. 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-2285555. www.loonybincomedy.com.
THURSDAY, OCT. 10
“Angels and Demons.” The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra with Philip Mann conducting. Argenta Community Theater, 7 p.m., $20. 405 Main St., NLR. 501-353-1443. argentacommunitytheater. org. Brian and Nick (happy hour), Tragikly White (headliner). Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 and 9 p.m., $5 after 8:30 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-375-5351. www.cajunswharf.com. Brick Fields. George’s Majestic Lounge. 519 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-442-4226. Good Time Ramblers. White Water Tavern, 9:30 p.m. 2500 W. 7th St. 501-375-8400. www.whitewatertavern.com. “Inferno.” DJs play pop, electro, house and more, plus drink specials and $1 cover before 11 p.m. Sway, 9 p.m. 412 Louisiana. 501-907-2582. Irish Traditional Music Sessions. Dugan’s Pub, 7-9 p.m. 401 E. 3rd St. 501-244-0542. www. duganspublr.com. Jeron Marshall. The Joint, 9 p.m. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501-372-0205. thejointinlittlerock.com. Jim Dickerson. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room, through Oct. 31: 7 p.m. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. www.sonnywilliamssteakroom.com. King Biscuit Blues Festival. With Marcia Ball, Robert Cray and Gregg Allman headlining. Various times and venues, www.kingbiscuitfestival. com for more information. Downtown Helena. Cherry and Main Streets, Helena. Krush Thursdays with DJ Kavaleer. Club Climax, free before 11 p.m. 824 W. Capitol. 501-554-3437. Little Rock Irish Song Session. Dugan’s Pub, second Thursday of every month, 7 p.m., free. 401 E. 3rd St. 501-920-8534. www.celladawnmusic.com. Little Rock Wind Symphony: “Dancing Flutes.” Second Presbyterian Church, 7:30 p.m., $8-$10. 600 Pleasant Valley Drive. Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Part of the Center’s 10x10 Art Series. Walton Arts Center, 7:30 p.m., $10. 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-443-5600. Michael Eubanks. Newk’s Express Cafe, 6:30 p.m. 4317 Warden Road, NLR. 501-753-8826. newks.com. Norma Jean. Revolution, 8:30 p.m., $12 adv., $14 door. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501-823-0090. revroom.com. Open jam with The Port Arthur Band. Parrot Beach Cafe, 9 p.m. 9611 MacArthur Drive, NLR. 771-2994. Paul Morphis. The Afterthought, 8 p.m. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. www.afterthoughtbar.com. Rena Wren and The Good Guys. Laman Library, 7 p.m. 2801 Orange St., NLR. 501-758-1720. www. lamanlibrary.org. RockUsaurus. Senor Tequila, 7-9 p.m. 10300 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-224-5505. www.senortequila.com. The Solar Federation. RUSH tribute band. Maxine’s, 9 p.m. 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs. www.maxinespub.com. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 7:30 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. www.capitalhotel.com/CBG. 26
OCTOBER 10, 2013
Ballroom Dancing. Free lessons begin at 7 p.m. Bess Chisum Stephens Community Center, 8-11 p.m., $7-$13. 12th & Cleveland streets. 501-2217568. www.blsdance.org. Salsa Night. Begins with a one-hour salsa lesson. Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $8. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228. www.littlerocksalsa.com.
OLD-TIME SOUNDS: Pokey LaFarge performs at Oxford American’s South on Main Saturday, 8 p.m., $15 adv., $20 day of; and at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville Sunday night, $13. UCA students’ opera. Students will perform solo arias, duets, trios and large ensembles from various operas. University of Central Arkansas, Snow Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m. 201 Donaghey Ave., Conway.
Chonda Pierce presents “Girl Talk.” Geyer Springs Baptist Church, 7 p.m., $18-$25. 12400 Interstate 30. 501-455-3474. www.gsfbc.org.
Art of Motion: Tango. Arkansas Arts Center, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., $10 for non-members. 501 E. 9th St. 501-372-4000. www.arkarts.com.
46th Annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference. With keynote speakers Kevin Brockmeier and Jim Donovan. ozarkcreativewriters.com for more information. Best Western Inn of the Ozarks. 207 W. Van Buren, Eureka Springs. 479-253-9768. www. innoftheozarks.com. “Tap Takeover.” The brewery will serve beer from the Evil Twin Brewers of Denmark and Brooklyn, NY. Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery. 329 Central Ave., Hot Springs. www.superiorbathhouse.com. “You’ve Earned a Say” AARP discussion. Discussion led by AARP on the future of Medicare and Social Security. Wyndham Riverfront Hotel, 9:30 a.m. 2 Riverfront Place, NLR. 501-371-9000. www.wyndham.com.
Joyce Meyer Conference 2013. Christian minister will lead four sessions, each with different message. Verizon Arena, 7 p.m. 1 Alltel Arena Way, NLR. 501-975-9001. verizonarena.com. Paul Wachtel. Distinguished professor in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at CUNY. Clinton School of Public Service, 6 p.m. 1200 President Clinton Ave. 501-683-5239. www.clintonschool.uasys.edu.
FRIDAY, OCT. 11
Alison Self, Tilford Sellers. Vino’s. 923 W. 7th
St. 501-375-8466. www.vinosbrewpub.com. Arkansas Chamber Singers Fall Concert: Love’s Soaring Spirit. Performing American composer Stephen Paulus’ new work “The Furnace of Love’s Fire.” St. James United Methodist Church, 7:30 p.m., $10-$15. 321 Pleasant Valley Drive. 501-225-7372. www. stjames-umc.org. Bobby Rush. South on Main, 8 p.m., $45. 1304 Main Street. 501-244-9660. Club Nights at 1620 Savoy. Dance night, with DJs, drink specials and bar menu, until 2 a.m. 1620 Savoy, 10 p.m. 1620 Market St. 501-2211620. www.1620savoy.com. Friday night at Sway. Sway, 9 p.m. 412 Louisiana. 501-907-2582. Jeron Marshall and Dell Smith. Club Trois, 10 p.m., $10. 4314 Asher Ave. 501-663-7803. King Biscuit Blues Festival. See Oct. 10. Mavis Staples. Christ Episcopal Church, 7:30 p.m., $20-$35. 509 Scott St. 501-375-2342. Modoc, Open Fields. Maxine’s. 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs. www.maxinespub.com. Randall Shreve and The Sideshow. Live DVD filming. George’s Majestic Lounge. 519 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-442-4226. Richie Johnson (happy hour), Big Stack (headliner). Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 and 9 p.m., $5 after 8:30 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-375-5351. www.cajunswharf.com. Sno White. Zodiac: Libra edition, also with Lawler, Wht Grlz, Bdubs and Blade. Revolution, 8 p.m., $8-$15. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501-8230090. revroom.com. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 9 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. www.capitalhotel.com/CBG. Thread. Thirst n’ Howl, 8:30 p.m. 14710 Cantrell Road. 501-379-8189. www.thirst-n-howl.com. UCA students’ opera. See Oct. 10. Velvet Kente. White Water Tavern, 10 p.m., $7. 2500 W. 7th St. 501-375-8400. www.whitewatertavern.com. “YOLO.” Featuring four DJs and beach volleyball, 18-and-older. Flying DD, $5. 4601 S. University. 501-773-9990. flyingdd.com. Youngblood Brass Band. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 9 p.m., $8 adv., $10 day of. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707. www.stickyz.com.
46th Annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference. See Oct. 10. Arkansas State Fair. Rides, live music, food and more. Arkansas State Fairgrounds, Oct. 11-20, $4-$8. 2600 Howard St. 501-372-8341 ext. 8206. www.arkansasstatefair.com. Friday Night Flights: Southwest by West. Winesampling, discussion of Southwest and West, Luis Jimenez’s “Vaquero” sculpture. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 5-7 p.m., $24 members, $30 non-members. 600 Museum Way, Bentonville. 479-418-5700. crystalbridges.org. LGBTQ/SGL Youth and Young Adult Group. Diverse Youth for Social Change is a group for LGBTQ/SGL and straight ally youth and young adults age 14 to 23. For more information, call 244-9690 or search “DYSC” on Facebook. 800 Scott St., 6:30 p.m. 800 Scott St. Main Street Food Truck Fridays. Capitol and Main, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Main Street. “Tap Takeover.” See Oct. 10.
22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. World-class film festival with filmmakers, workshops, panel discussions and other events. 501-538-2290 or www.hsdfi.org for more information. Arlington Hotel, Oct. 11-20, $5-$175. 239 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501-623-7771.
Joyce Meyer Conference 2013. Christian minister will lead four sessions, each with different message. Verizon Arena, 7 p.m. 1 Alltel Arena Way, NLR. 501-975-9001. verizonarena.com.
Equinox Magazine launch party. Celebrating UALR’s student-run literary journal. Cox Creative Center, 5-9 p.m. 120 River Market Ave.
SATURDAY, OCT. 12
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra “Halloween Spooktacular.” Performing pieces by Wagner, Berlioz, Liszt and more. Robinson Center Music Hall, Oct. 12, 8 p.m.; Oct. 13, 3 p.m., $18-$59. Markham and Broadway. www.littlerockmeetings.com/conv-centers/robinson. Bright Like the Sun, Stella Bizzare, Harlo Maxwell, My Brother/My Friend. Vino’s, 8 p.m., $5. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466. www.vinosbrewpub.com. Cabotfest. Family-friendly event with live music,
PARTY AT OUR PLACE!
zip line, vendors, food and more. At various locations in downtown Cabot. Cabot Community Center, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. 204 N. First St., Cabot. Casey Donahue. George’s Majestic Lounge, 9 p.m., $23. 519 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479442-4226. The Cleverlys. Part of the second Saturday music in the park series. Basin Spring Park, 5 p.m. Downtown Eureka Springs, Eureka Springs. Club Nights at 1620 Savoy. See Oct. 11. Cons of Formant. The Afterthought, 9 p.m., $7. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. www.afterthoughtbar.com. DJ UNK. With DJ/VJ G Force, Lawler, Enzo and Bobby Kuta. Discovery Nightclub, 9 p.m.-5 p.m. 1021 Jessie Road. 501-664-4784. www.latenightdisco.com. Gregory Alan Isakov. Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $12 adv., $15 day of. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-3721228. www.juanitas.com. JD Wilkes and The Dirt Daubers, England in 1819. Maxine’s, 8 p.m. 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs. www.maxinespub.com. Jet 420. Thirst n’ Howl, 8:30 p.m. 14710 Cantrell Road. 501-379-8189. www.thirst-n-howl.com. Just Cuz (happy hour), Grand Theft Auto (headliner). Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 and 9 p.m., $5 after 8:30 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-375-5351. www.cajunswharf.com. King Biscuit Blues Festival. See Oct. 10. K.I.S.S. Saturdays. Featuring DJ Silky Slim. Dress code enforced. Sway, 10 p.m. 412 Louisiana. 501-492-9802. Modoc. Bear’s Den Pizza. 235 Farris Road, Conway. 501-328-5556. www.bearsdenpizza.com. Pickin’ Porch. Bring your instrument. All ages welcome. Faulkner County Library, 9:30 a.m. 1900 Tyler St., Conway. 501-327-7482. www.fcl.org. Pokey LaFarge. South on Main, 8 p.m., $15 adv., $20 day of. 1304 Main Street. 501-244-9660. Singer/Songwriters Showcase. Parrot Beach Cafe, 2-7 p.m., free. 9611 MacArthur Drive, NLR. 771-2994. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 9 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. www.capitalhotel.com/CBG. Tricia Reed. Presented by Natural State of Music. W.T. Bubba’s Country Tavern, 9:30 p.m. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-244-2528. Whale Fire, Open Fields. White Water Tavern, 9 p.m., $5. 2500 W. 7th St. 501-375-8400. www. whitewatertavern.com.
Annual Fall Community Unity Pride PIcnic. Games, kids crafts, free food, music and more in pavilions 7 and 8. Murray Park, 1 p.m. Rebsamen Park Road. Argenta Farmers Market. Argenta, 7 a.m.-noon. Main Street, NLR. Arkansas State Fair. Rides, live music, food and more. Arkansas State Fairgrounds, through Oct. 20, $4-$8. 2600 Howard St. 501-372-8341 ext. 8206. www.arkansasstatefair.com. Falun Gong meditation. Allsopp Park, 9 a.m., free. Cantrell & Cedar Hill Roads. Farmer’s Market West. Fall market selling local produce from four farms. The Promenade at Chenal, 1-7 p.m. 17711 Chenal Parkway. 501821-5552. chenalshopping.com. Hillcrest Farmers Market. Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd. International Observe the Moon Night. Chili supper and program on lunar observing. River Ridge Observatory, 6-10 p.m. 45 W.Southridge, Bigelow. www.caasastro.org. Little Rock Farmers Market. River Market Pavilions, 7 a.m. 400 President Clinton Ave. 3752552. www.rivermarket.info. Magic Screams Halloween. Park open 4-11 p.m. on Saturdays and 4-9 p.m. on Sundays with rides, trick or treating, haunted house and more. Magic Springs, through Oct. 27:. 1701 E. Grand Ave., Hot Springs. 501-624-0100. www. magicsprings.com. South Main Vintage Market. Vintage and antique goods for sale. The Bernice Garden, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 1401 S. Main St. www.thebernicegarden.org. “Tap Takeover.” See Oct. 10.
22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. See Oct. 11.
Art Talk: Demystifying Symbols with Andy Warhol’s Hammer and Sickle. Led by museum educator Sara Segerlin. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 3:30-4 p.m. 600 Museum Way, Bentonville. 479-418-5700. crystalbridges.org. Joyce Meyer Conference 2013. Christian minister will lead four sessions, each with different message. Verizon Arena, 10 a.m. 1 Alltel Arena Way, NLR. 501-975-9001. verizonarena.com.
“Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece.” Featuring national poetry group The Foreign Tongues. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 6 p.m. 501 W. 9th St. 501-376-4602. www.mosaictemplarscenter.com.
Rocky Horror Derby Show. Doubleheader with Central Arkansas Roller Derby’s vs. Mo-Kan Roller Girlz. Skate World, 7 p.m., $10. 6512 Mabelvale Cut Off. University of Arkansas vs. University of South Carolina. $55. 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
46th Annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference. See Oct. 10.
Barnabas House Monster Dash. 5K run in Halloween costume. Benefits the Barnabas House social work and counseling center. UALR, 8 a.m., $10-$50. 2801 S. University Ave. 501569-8977. CONTINUED ON PAGE 28
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The Main Thing presents “Arkansanity.” Original two-act comedy play lampooning life in Arkansas. The Joint, 8 p.m., $20. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501-372-0205. thejointinlittlerock.com. The Sandman. The Loony Bin, 7:30 and 10 p.m., $12. 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-2285555. www.loonybincomedy.com.
Dance Workshop. With professional performers and choreographers Bill Hastings and Kathy Calahan. theafoundation.org to register. UALR, 9:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m., $25. 2801 S. University Ave. 501-569-8977. Little Rock West Coast Dance Club. Dance lessons. Singles welcome. Ernie Biggs, 7 p.m., $2. 307 Clinton Ave. 501-247-5240. www. arstreetswing.com.
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Made from Scratch: Classic Italian. Cooking demonstration with Arkansas chef and restaurateur Mark Abernathy. Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $80. 1 Rockefeller Drive, Morrilton. 501-727-5435. www.uawri.org.
Family Funday with sculptor Danny Campbell. Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 1-3 p.m. 701 Main St., Pine Bluff. 870-536-3375. www.artssciencecenter.org. Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony class. Presented by UCA’s Confucius Institute. Seating is limited; 501-327-7482 to register. Faulkner County Library, 2 p.m. 1900 Tyler St., Conway. 501-327-7482. www.fcl.org.
SUNDAY, OCT. 13
Arkansas Chamber Singers: “Love’s Soaring Spirit.” Clinton Presidential Center, 7 p.m., $10-$18. 1200 President Clinton Ave. 370-8000. www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra “Halloween Spooktacular.” Performing pieces by Wagner, Berlioz, Liszt and more. Robinson Center Music Hall, 3 p.m., $18-$59. Markham and Broadway. www.littlerockmeetings.com/conv-centers/ robinson. Cas Haley. Juanita’s, 8 p.m., $12 adv., $15 day of. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228. www.juanitas.com. Cynthia Clawson. Second Baptist Church, 4 p.m., $10. 222 E. 8th St. 501-374-9284. www.2bclr.com. Hot Springs Concert Band Fall Concert. Woodlands Auditorium, 3 p.m., $10. 1101 De Soto Blvd., Hot Springs Village. 501-922-4231. www.hsvwoodlands.com. Michael Eubanks. Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon, 7 p.m. 10901 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-227-8898. www.lonestarsteakhouse.com. Pokey LaFarge. George’s Majestic Lounge. 519 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-442-4226. Reggae Sundays with First Impressions. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 7:30 p.m., $5. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707. www.stickyz.com. “Three Men and a Baby...Grand.” Trinity United Methodist Church, 6 p.m. 1101 North Mississippi St. 501-666-2813. www. tumclr.org. Wendell B and Willie P. IV Corners, 9 p.m. 824 W. Capitol Ave.
The Sandman. The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m., $8. 10301 N. Rodney Parham Road. 501-228-5555. www. loonybincomedy.com.
2nd Annual Little Rock Hot Pepper Eating Contest. $10 registration for contestants. Sign up at The Root Cafe. The Root Cafe, 4-6 p.m. 1500 S. Main St. Arkansas State Fair. Rides, live music, food and more. Arkansas State Fairgrounds, through Oct. 20, $4-$8. 2600 Howard St. 501-372-8341 ext. 8206. www.arkansasstatefair.com. Bernice Garden Farmers Market. The Bernice Garden, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 1401 S. Main St. www. thebernicegarden.org. “Live from the Back Room.” Spoken word event. Vino’s, 7 p.m. 923 W. 7th St. 501-375-8466. www. vinosbrewpub.com. Magic Screams Halloween. See Oct. 12.
22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. See Oct. 11. 28
OCTOBER 10, 2013
AFTER DARK, CONT.
“Jews and Gentiles in Early America.” Historian William Pencak will read from his book and lecture on relevant paintings in the museum. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 3-4:15 p.m. 600 Museum Way, Bentonville. 479-418-5700. crystalbridges.org.
MONDAY, OCT. 14
Mushroomhead. Juanita’s, 8 p.m., $15 adv., $18 day of. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228. www.juanitas.com. Night Jazz. The Afterthought, through Oct. 28: 8 p.m., $5. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. www.afterthoughtbar.com.
Arkansas State Fair. Rides, live music, food and more. Arkansas State Fairgrounds, through Oct. 20, $4-$8. 2600 Howard St. 501-372-8341 ext. 8206. www.arkansasstatefair.com.
22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. See Oct. 11. “Big Sur.” Part of the GATHR film series, a fictional recounting of Jack Kerouac’s visits to Big Sur. Market Street Cinema, 7 p.m., $10. 1521 Merrill Drive. 501-312-8900. www.marketstreetcinema.net.
Little Rock Touchdown Club: Mitch Mustain. Embassy Suites, 11 a.m., $20 members, $30 nonmembers. 11301 Financial Centre. 501-312-9000.
Finding Family Facts. Rhonda Stewart’s genealogy research class for beginners. Arkansas Studies Institute, second Monday of every month, 3:30 p.m. 401 President Clinton Ave. 501-3205700. www.butlercenter.org.
TUESDAY, OCT. 15
Heather Dale and SJ Tucker. Gallery 360, 7 p.m., $15. 900 S. Rodney Parham Road. 501-663-2222. Jim Dickerson. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room, through Oct. 31: 7 p.m. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. www.sonnywilliamssteakroom.com. Lucious Spiller Band. Copeland’s Restaurant of Little Rock, 6-9 p.m. 2602 S. Shackleford Road. 501-312-1616. www.copelandsrestaurantlittlerock.com. Open Mic Night. The Joint, 8-11 p.m., free. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501-372-0205. thejointinlittlerock.com. Ricky David Tripp. Rocket Twenty One, 5:30 p.m. 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-603-9208. www.ferneaurestaurant.com. Tuesday Jam Session with Carl Mouton. The Afterthought, 8 p.m., free. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. www.afterthoughtbar.com. Wayne Haught. Faulkner County Library, 7 p.m. 1900 Tyler St., Conway. 501-327-7482. www.fcl.org. Wind Ensemble/Symphonic Band Concert. Reynolds Performance Hall, UCA, 7:30 p.m. 350 S. Donaghey, Conway.
“Latin Night.” Revolution, 7:30 p.m., $5 regular, $7 under 21. 300 President Clinton Ave. 501823-0090. www.littlerocksalsa.com.
Arkansas State Fair. Rides, live music, food and
more. Arkansas State Fairgrounds, through Oct. 20, $4-$8. 2600 Howard St. 501-372-8341 ext. 8206. www.arkansasstatefair.com. Little Rock Farmers Market. River Market Pavilions, through Oct. 26: 7 a.m. 400 President Clinton Ave. 375-2552. www.rivermarket.info. Tales from the South. Authors tell true stories; schedule available on website. Dinner served 5-6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Call for reservations. Starving Artist Cafe, 5 p.m. 411 N. Main St., NLR. 501-372-7976. www.starvingartistcafe.net. Trivia Bowl. Flying Saucer, 8:30 p.m. 323 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-8032. www. beerknurd.com/stores/littlerock.
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22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. See Oct. 11.
Terry Shook. Award-winning urban planner. Clinton School of Public Service, 6 p.m. 1200 President Clinton Ave. 501-683-5239. www.clintonschool.uasys.edu.
“Informing the News: The Need for Knowledgebased Journalism” reading. Author Thomas Patterson will read from and discuss his new book. Children’s Library and Learning Center, 6:30 p.m. 4800 W. 10th St. www.cals.lib.ar.us. “One Summer in Arkansas” book reading. Marcia Kemp Sterling will read from her new novel. South on Main, 7 p.m. 1304 Main St. 501244-9660.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 16
Acoustic Open Mic. The Afterthought, 8 p.m., free. 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-663-1196. www. afterthoughtbar.com. Bright Light Social Hour. George’s Majestic Lounge, 9 p.m., $10. 519 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-442-4226. Chris DeClerk. Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m. 2400 Cantrell Road. 501-375-5351. www.cajunswharf. com. Jim Dickerson. Sonny Williams’ Steak Room, through Oct. 31: 7 p.m. 500 President Clinton Ave. 501-324-2999. www.sonnywilliamssteakroom.com. Lincoln Durham. Juanita’s, 9 p.m., $8 adv., $10 day of. 614 President Clinton Ave. 501-372-1228. www.juanitas.com. Ricky David Tripp. Rocket Twenty One, 5:30 p.m. 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-603-9208. www.ferneaurestaurant.com. Rodney Block. South on Main, 7:30 p.m. 1304 Main Street. 501-244-9660. St. Paul and The Broken Bones. Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 9 p.m., $8 adv., $10 day of. 107 Commerce St. 501-372-7707. www.stickyz.com. Ted Ludwig Trio. Capital Bar and Grill, 7:30 p.m., free. 111 Markham St. 501-374-7474. www.capitalhotel.com/CBG.
The Joint Venture. Improv comedy group. The Joint, 8 p.m., $5. 301 Main St. No. 102, NLR. 501372-0205. thejointinlittlerock.com. Standup Open Mic Night. Hosted by local come dians of the comedy collective Comedians of NWA. UARK Bowl, 9 p.m., free. 644 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville. 479-301-2030. uarkbowl.com.
Little Rock Bop Club. Beginning dance lessons for ages 10 and older. Singles welcome. Bess Chisum Stephens Community Center, 7 p.m., CONTINUED ON PAGE 30
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Arkansas State Fair. Rides, live music, food and more. Arkansas State Fairgrounds, through Oct. 20, $4-$8. 2600 Howard St. 501-372-8341 ext. 8206. www.arkansasstatefair.com. “Calling Down the Fire Revival.” Revival with three nights of lectures and sermons. Bethel AME Church, Oct. 16-18, 6:30 p.m. 600 N. Cedar St., NLR. 501-374-2891. Political Animals: Gene Foreman. Former editor of the Arkansas Democrat will speak. Lunch will be served. Governor’s Mansion, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., $20. 1800 Center St. 501-377-1121.
22nd Annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. See Oct. 11.
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Wednesday Night Poetry. 21-and-older show. Maxine’s, 7 p.m., free. 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs. 501-321-0909. maxineslive.com/shows. html.
THIS WEEK IN THEATER
“4,000 Miles.” A 21-year-old college dropout named Leo and his 91-year-old communist grandmother find a way to live together in her Greenwich Village apartment. Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios, through Oct. 13: Thu.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m., $10-$24. 505 W. Spring St., Fayetteville. 479-443-5600. theatre2.org. Auditions for “A Christmas Story.” Casting parts for adults and children 5-12 years old. Royal Theatre, Sun., Oct. 13, 4:30 p.m.; Mon., Oct. 14, 7 p.m. 111 S. Market St., Benton. “Dial M For Murder.” A whodunit inspired by the Hitchcock thriller starring Grace Kelly. Murry’s Dinner Playhouse, through Oct. 27: Tue.-Sat., 6 p.m.; Wed., 11 a.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., $15-$35. 6323 Col. Glenn Road. 501-562-3131. murrysdinnerplayhouse.com. “Nora.” Ingmar Bergman’s interpretation of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.” The Weekend Theater, through Oct. 19: Fri., Sat., 7:30 p.m., $12-$16. 1001 W. 7th St. 501-374-3761. www.weekendtheater.org.
NEW EXHIBITIONS, EVENTS
New exhibits in bold-faced type. ARKANSAS CAPITAL CORP. GROUP, 200 River Market Ave.: “Visual Tales: Visual Stories from Artists Jason Smith, Diane Harper and Dominique Simmons,” reception 5-8 p.m. Oct. 11, 2nd Friday Art Night. 374-9247. BUTLER CENTER GALLERIES, Arkansas Studies Institute, 401 President Clinton Ave.: “Native Arkansas,” early Arkansas through the writings of early explorers and Native American artifacts, including Mississippian period, Caddoan and Carden Bottoms objects, Oct. 11-Feb. 22; “Abstract AR(t),” work by Dustyn Bork, Megan Chapman, Donnie Copeland, Don Lee, Jill Storthz and Steven Wise, through Nov. 23; “MidSouthern Watercolorists 43rd Annual Juried Exhibition,” through Oct. 27. Open 5-8 p.m. Oct. 11, 2nd Friday Art Night. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 320-5700. COX CREATIVE CENTER, 120 River Market Ave.: “Equinox,” works by artists published in UALR’s journal of literature and art, open 5-8 p.m. Oct. 11, 2nd Friday Art Night. 918-3093. 30
OCTOBER 10, 2013
GALLERY 221 & ART STUDIOS 221, Pyramid Place: Paintings by EMILE, Kathi Crouch and others, open 5-8 p.m. Oct. 11, 2nd Friday Art Night. 801-0211. HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM: “Figurations: works by Stephen Cefalo and Sandra Sell,” Oct. 11-Dec. 8, open 5-8 p.m. Oct. 11, 2nd Friday Art Night, with live music by Bonnie Montgomery. 324-9351. M2GALLERY, Pleasant Ridge Town Center: “Metamorphosis,” photography and artwork by Kathy Lindsey, with Matthew Gore, Taylor Shepherd, Dan Holland, Ryder Richards, Chris King and others, opens with reception 5-8 p.m. Oct. 12, show through Nov. 12. 225-6257. MOSAIC TEMPLARS CULTURAL CENTER, 9th and Broadway: “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piece,” 6 p.m. Oct. 12, 683-3593 for reservations. OLD STATE HOUSE MUSEUM, 300 W. Markham: Screening of “Pillow,” with Q and A with directors Miles and Joshua Miller afterward, 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 11, 2nd Friday Art Night; “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!”, the state’s ties to Hollywood, including costumes, scripts, film footage, photographs and more, through March 1, 2015; “Things You Need to Hear: Memories of Growing up in Arkansas from 1890 to 1980,” oral histories about community, family, work, school and leisure, through March 2014. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun. 324-9685. UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT LITTLE ROCK, 2801 S. University: “Nocturne,” silverpoint drawings by Marjorie Williams-Smith, Gallery II, Oct. 10-Nov. 24, reception with musical performance by Dr. Robert Boury 5-7 p.m. Nov. 16; “FuN HoUSe,” work by Zina Al-Shukri, Chuck and George, Dustin Farnsworth, Heidi Schwegler, Gallery I, Oct. 15-Dec. 10. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat., 2-5 p.m. Sun. 569-3182. CONWAY HENDRIX COLLEGE, 1600 Washington Ave.: “2013 Small Works on Paper,” Trieschmann Gallery, through Oct. 29. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.Fri. 501-450-1423. HOT SPRINGS BLUE ROCK STUDIO, 262 Hideaway Hills: “Hanging by a Thread,” group show and felting workshops in Barbara Cade’s studio, Oct. 12-21. 501-262-4065. NATIONAL PARK COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 101 College Drive: “Small Works on Paper: 2006-2011,” through Oct. 25. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fri. 501-760-4222.
CALL FOR ENTRIES
The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum is accepting entries for its “Portraits of Hope” exhibition Oct. 24-Nov. 30. All proceeds from sales will benefit the Ozark Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Entries will be accepted through Oct. 13. Call 479-784-2787 for more information. The Palette Art League is accepting entries from artists of all ages to Yellville’s annual Turkey Trot Festival’s art show and competition. Entries will be accepted between noon and 5 p.m. Oct. 10 and will be exhibited until 4:30 p.m. Oct. 12. There will be an entry fee. For more information go to www.paletteartleague.org or call 870-656-2057. The Art League is also inviting quilters, artists and artisans to take part in the 1st Annual Quilt and Artisan Bazaar to be held throughout November at the P.A.L.’s Fine Art Gallery, 300 Hwy. 62 W in Yellville. Applications,
AFTER DARK, CONT. available on the website, are due by Oct. 15. The Thea Foundation has opened registration for Thea scholarships for high school students in visual arts, creative writing, film, poetry, performing arts and (a new category) dress design at www.theafoundation.org/scholarships. A total of $80,000 in scholarships will be awarded to 30 students. For more information, call 375-9512.
ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER, MacArthur Park: “50 Works / 50 Weeks / 50 Years,” Alice Pratt Brown Atrium, through 2013; “Ryan Sniegocki: Museum School Ceramic Artist in Residence,” pottery; “Interwoven,” works on paper and crafts from the permanent collection, through Nov. 17. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 372-4000. BOSWELL MOUROT FINE ART, 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd.: “Familiar Places, Unknown Destinations,” paintings in acrylics and pastels by Elizabeth Weber and Virmarie DePoyster, through Nov. 2. 664-0030. CANTRELL GALLERY, 8206 Cantrell Road: 4th annual Arkansas League of Artists juried exhibition, through Oct. 29. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.Sat. 224-1335. CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 509 Scott St.: Paintings from the Arkansas League of Artists and Local Colour. CHROMA GALLERY, 5707 Kavanaugh Blvd.: Work by Robert Reep and other Arkansas artists. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. 664-0880. THE EDGE, 301B President Clinton Ave.: Paintings by Avila (Fernando Gomez), Eric Freeman, James Hayes, Jerry Colburn, St. Joseph Thomason and Stephen Drive. 992-1099. ELLEN GOLDEN ANTIQUES, 5701 Kavanaugh Blvd.: Paintings by Barry Thomas and Arden Boyce. 664-7746. GALLERY 26, 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd.: “Mapping the Darkness,” photographs by Ray Chanslor and Rita Henry, photographs and drawings by Betsy Emil, through Oct. 26. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Sat. 664-8996. GALLERY 360, 900 S. Rodney Parham Road: “Edgy & Goofy,” collage and mixed media work by Amy Edgington and Byron Werner, through Oct. 19. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. 663-2222. 360gallery.blogspot.com GINO HOLLANDER GALLERY, 2nd and Center: Paintings and works on paper by Gino Hollander. 801-0211. HEARNE FINE ART, 1001 Wright Ave.: “Visions of 7 Self-Taught Artists,” works by Melverue Abraham, Clementine Hunter, Sylvester McKissick, W. Earl Robinson Clemente Flores, Alonzo Ford, and Kennith Humphrey, through Nov. 19. 372-6822. LAMAN LIBRARY, 2801 Orange St.: “Recovery: The World Trade Center Recovery Operation,” 65 photographs and 56 recovered artifacts from the 911 attack, from the New York State Museum, through Dec. 1. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.Thu., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. 758-1720. PAINT BOX GALLERY, 705 Main St., NLR: Oneyear anniversary celebration with work by Anne K. Lyon, Tad Price, Phil Leonard, Maura Miller, Dan Bowe and Ali Stinespring, prints from Rogers Photo Archives. 374-2848. STEPHANO’S I, 5501 Kavanaugh: Paintings and sculpture by new gallery artists by Morgan Coven and Marianne Hennigar. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. 664-7113. THEA FOUNDATION, 401 Main St., NLR: “Drawing a Line: 30 Years of Cartoons and Illustrations by John Deering,” through Oct.
18. 379-9512. BENTONVILLE CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, One Museum Way: “This Land: Picturing a Changing America in the 1930s and 1940s,” 44 paintings, prints and photographs with digital audio tour featuring musical selections by Fayetteville Roots Festival director Bryan Hembree, through Jan. 6; permanent collection of American masterworks spanning four centuries. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon., Thu., Sat.-Sun.; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wed.-Fri. 479-418-5700. CONWAY UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS, Baum Gallery: “Nature/Nurture,” photographs by Jennifer Shaw; “Angle of Repose,” photographs by Maysey Craddock; “Artistic Eye: Works from the Personal Collections of the Art Faculty,” through Oct. 27. McCastlain Hall 143. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10-7 p.m. Thu., 1-5 p.m. Sun. 501-450-5793. HOT SPRINGS ARTISTS’ WORKSHOP GALLERY, 810 Central Ave.: John Keller, oils; Jim Oberst, watercolors, through Oct.. 501-623-6401. BLUE MOON GALLERY, 718 Central Ave.: “A la France et de retour,” photographs by David Rackley, through Oct.. 501-318-2787. GARVAN GARDENS, 550 Akridge Road: “Traditional Art Guild Art Exhibit,” through Oct.. $10 adults, $9 seniors, $5 children, $5 dogs on leash. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. 501-262-9300. JUSTUS FINE ART, 827 Central Ave.: Work by Rene Hein, Dolores Justus, Emily Wood and others. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. 501-321-2335.
ONGOING MUSEUM EXHIBITS
CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL MUSEUM VISITOR CENTER, Bates and Park: Exhibits on the 1957 desegregation of Central and the civil rights movement. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily. 374-1957. CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER, 1200 President Clinton Ave.: “And Freedom for All: the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” photographs by Stanley Tretick of the 1963 march, through Nov. 17; “Oscar de la Renta: American Icon,” designs worn by Laura Bush, Jessica Chastain, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and others, and other couture pieces, through Dec. 1. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun. $7 adults; $5 college students, seniors, retired military; $3 ages 6-17. 370-8000. ESSE, 1510 S. Main St.: “What’s Inside: A Century of Women and Handbags (1900-1999),” purses from the collection of Anita Davis, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun., $10-$8. 916-9022. HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM, 200 E. Third St.: “Reflections from the Monday Studio Artists,” work by Hot Springs Village artists Shirley R. Anderson, Barbara Seibel, Sue Shields and Caryl Joy Young, through Nov. 3; “Heeding the Call: The Firefighter Collection of Johnny Reep,” through Jan. 5; “Jason A. Smith: Stills”; “Arkansas Made,” ongoing. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun. 324-9351. MacARTHUR MUSEUM OF ARKANSAS MILITARY HISTORY, MacArthur Park: “The Colors That Bind: Regimental Flags of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry and the 37th Arkansas Infantry,” through Oct. 19. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-4 p.m. Sun. 376-4602. MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY, 500 President Clinton Ave.: “Wiggle Worms,” science program for pre-K children 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. every Tue., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun., $10 ages 13 and older, $8 ages 1-12, free to members and children under 1. 396-7050. www.arktimes.com
OCTOBER 10, 2013
‘GRAVITY’: Sandra Bullock stars.
Gravitas Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’ is the rare film that’s worth the price of an IMAX ticket. BY SAM EIFLING
OCTOBER 10, 2013
ravity,” the worst NASA re- doctor with six months’ astronaut training, cruiting video ever conceived, only remotely prepared for a mission gone transports the old-fashioned wonky. Clooney’s the veteran hand, hopeful shipwreck tale to low orbit around Earth. that he might break a spacewalking record, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are calm and direct in the face of chaos. (In astronauts and float about as they run a bit that helmet he also looks eerily like Buzz of Hubble telescope tech support. Then, Lightyear.) The rest of the seven-person disaster strikes, and all they want is to get cast is heard but never really seen. To block home, somehow. It is a story concept that shots that look this Pixar-perfect, Cuarón dates back at least to Homeric epics, even if and director of photography Emmanuel “Gravity” owes more to “2001: A Space Odys- Lubezki, a master of the unbroken take, sey.” It is as wondrous as either. Emotionally required exceptionally rigid choreography. wrenching and visually exultant, “Gravity” You can hear the rehearsal, alas. At times, borders on a masterwork. Let these words it sounds stiff, in the way that video game be spake not lightly: This is the rare film dialogue might, or any time you drop human actually worth the exorbitant splurge of an faces and voices into what is, essentially, an IMAX 3D ticket. animated movie. The visuals, for starters, are miraculous. The rest of the production more than Rarely in cinematic history has so compensates. Steven Price’s spare, tense convincing a lie been committed to the score crescendos during moments of high screen. You know, logically, that this movie disaster, screwing tight the tension as was not shot in outer space, because movie Cuarón lets the vacuum of space swallow budgets do not yet run into the hundreds of any sounds that aren’t transmitted through billions of dollars, and who could cater that a glove or a suit. After the punctuations of set, anyway? And yet! How else to explain chaos, silence and emptiness move into the weightlessness? For “Gravity,” director/ the screen and let the tiny humans fill the producer Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of remainder. Clooney’s fine here, and he Men,” “Y Tu Mamá También”) opted not serves his purpose capably, but the show for the “Apollo 13” technique of yo-yoing his belongs to Bullock, who reveals that her life crew up and down in a freefalling Boeing. on Earth makes space feel almost cuddly Instead he invented and appropriated, over by comparison. As she grapples with new despairs and the past five years, a system of harnesses and lights and computers and cameras and old, she becomes our Odysseus, the brave sets that could scarcely be more convincing. and clever home-seeker, leaving a ruin of Even as Google Earth has dulled the awe of ships behind her. As she descends into overhead planetary shots, the panoramas of her heart’s darker corners, running out islands and isthmuses and storms and cities of air and heat in a yawning void, your and aurora borealis from space are nothing space epic finds its meaning: a single shy of mind-bending. The combination human life weighted against the oceanic of physics and optics makes “Gravity” an heavens, a speck in a hurricane. With its instant technical touchstone, a waking utterly convincing simulation of space, dream. “Gravity” leverages beauty to convey beauty, To a spellbound brain, dangers seem collapsing the immensity of the planet and more real, and as dangers seem real, so too the universe into that windblown speck. do characters’ fears. Cuarón wrote the script, Somehow it achieves the sort of visceral along with his son, Jonás, to be as austere astonishment that drew humans to space as Hollywood conventions would permit. in the first place. It is, in sum, no small Bullock is an introverted Midwestern wonder.
‘BESHARAM’: Ranbir Kapoor (right) and Pallavi Sharda star.
The Rave goes Bollywood ‘Besharam’ the latest to screen. BY GUY LANCASTER
or a few years now, the Rave theater in Southwest Little Rock has, without much fanfare, been playing the odd Bollywood blockbuster, making our fair city a small part of the 21st-century growth of Indian cinema into international markets. Among the films to which Little Rock has been treated are “Ra.One” (2011), a 3-D science-fiction adventure probably best described as “Terminator 2” meets “The Lawnmower Man,” with a healthy dose of slapstick comedy, song, and dance
thrown in; “Chennai Express” (2013), the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, a romantic action-comedy that highlights the beauty of rural India as well as the musical abilities and choreography of its inhabitants, and my personal favorite, the international espionage-action-romance flick “Ek Tha Tiger” (2012), featuring India’s answer to James Bond punching, shooting, kicking, exploding, singing, and dancing his way across the world. The latest Bollywood installment to
hit Little Rock is “Besharam” (“Shameless”), starring Ranbir Kapoor as Babli, a stylish (and eponymously shameless) car thief whose criminal enterprises help underwrite the orphanage where he was raised and still lives as an adult. Hired to nab something nice for underworld boss Bheem Singh (played with considerable menace by Javed Jaffrey), Babli unknowingly swipes the Mercedes owned by Tara (Pallavi Sharda), a professional businesswoman whose heart he is determined to win, no matter the class and cultural differences that separate them. As Babli attempts to correct his mistake and do something right for the first time in his life, he and Tara find themselves pursued not just by Bheem Singh and his henchmen, but also by police officers Bulbul and Chulbul Chautala (actor Kapoor’s real-life parents, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh), an old married couple constantly lamenting their childlessness. You see where this is going, don’t you? That rough description does not do the film justice. If there is something that defines Bollywood, it’s mixing genres like the guy at your party who thinks that playing bartender means pouring a lot of random liquids into the same glass. “Besharam” is a romantic comedy in which seeming opposites find themselves in love after a coincidence-filled sequence of events. “Besharam” is also a roaring action film in which bad guys casually carry rocket launchers and average joes fight like Jackie Chan would if he ever stepped into the Matrix. “Besharam” also has enough (literal) toilet humor to make an Adam Sandler movie seem subtle by comparison. “Besharam,” as should be expected, is also a musical. The U.S. doesn’t produce a whole lot of musicals these days aside
from adaptations of already well-known theatrical fare, such as “Chicago” or “Les Miserables,” or the odd animated Disney film. Bollywood films, however, are musicals by default — song-and-dance sequences simply constitute a cinematic convention, not unlike the montage in American cinema. And the numbers in “Besharam” are absolute stunners, even if they do feature more pelvic thrusting than an Elvis highlights reel. However contrived the plot or two-dimensional the characters, when Kapoor and Sharda hit the dance floor, they are wonderfully charming, from the song “Tere Mohalle,” which constitutes a gamboling battle of the sexes, to “Aare Aare,” an amazingly choreographed piece that seems to use more extras than did Peter Jackson in “The Lord of the Rings.” Our American sensibilities aren’t really equipped to deal with the fantastic spectacle, genre-bending, and odd non-sequitur that apparently defines much of Indian cinema. (Why does Inspector Chautala suddenly, in the midst of a shootout, develop superhuman breath that lets him exhale the bad guys away? Don’t ask me. Perhaps anything is possible if you live in a world where an entire village can break out into coordinated song at the drop of a hat.) But whether you go to see this film or another Bollywood flick, you will find something in it for everyone, for Bollywood films are a bit like Arkansas weather — if you don’t like what you are watching, wait five minutes, and it will change. In this respect, “Besharam” seems fairly representative, a sample platter of genres and motifs that prioritizes big-screen beauty and spectacle over some contrived verisimilitude of plot. Sure, at times the movie can be a little baffling, but it’s never dull — never, ever dull.
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(501) 324-1414 117 East Broadway, North Little Rock
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OCTOBER 10, 2013
Dining WHAT’S COOKIN’ A REMINDER: The Arkansas Times has organized another farm-to-table dinner, this one featuring Butcher & Public’s Travis McConnell, former chef at the Capital Bar and Grill. It’s Oct. 19 at the Historic Arkansas Museum, and it starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $95 for food and drink aplenty, plus Arkansas music. You need to reserve by Oct. 16. Menu: Lamb tartare and pickled deviled eggs; fire roasted lamb with chilies, herbs and olive oil; pumpkin and shiitake mushroom stew; Arkansas dirty brown rice; local mixed greens with carrot and buttermilk and black pepper dressing; miche rustic bread from Arkansas Fresh Bakery, and Loblolly Creamery Ice Cream. Champagne, red and white wine and Goose Island Beer will be served all evening. Call or email Kelly Lyles at 492-3979 or email@example.com to reserve a seat. SPEAKING OF MCCONNELL, his Kickstarter to raise $8,000 to help him open Butcher & Public as a retail butcher shop and restaurant is in its final days. For a link and more on McConnell, go to arktimes. com/mcconnell. SUPERIOR BATHHOUSE BREWERY AND DISTILLERY on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs is turning over its taps the Oct. 1012 for a special event by Evil Twin Brewing of Denmark and Brooklyn. For three days — and three days only — 10 different Evil Twin beers will be on tap, with the Superior kitchen offering a special menu of items best paired with flights of Evil Twin beers. Ratebeer.com seems to like Evil Twin brews quite a bit, and — like many craft brewers — they seem to have a hell of a sense of humor. A little Soft Dookie Burning Asshole Edition, anyone? Evil Twin is a little unique because the company has no actual home brewery. Instead, founder Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø is a so-called “gypsy brewer” who creates unique beer recipes, then hands them over to other small breweries for the mass production. A former schoolteacher who parlayed his love of home brewing into a beer-geek success story, he’s definitely living the dream. During the Evil Twin Tap Takeover of Superior Brewery, two reserved seatings will be offered at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m each night. Designated drivers will be offered unlimited craft root beer, and the Arlington is offering a special room rate — the “Tap Takeover Special” — of $80 per night. For more information on the event, call 501-624-2337. For the special room rate at the Arlington, call the hotel and ask for the “Superior Bathhouse Brewery Rate.”
OCTOBER 10, 2013
Fonda a welcome entry into crowded Mex scene Small authentic menu full of tasty fare.
t was not long after the now-deceased Bumpy’s Tex-Mex on Bowman closed its doors that another Mexican establishment slid in to take its place. But with the coming of the new Fonda Mexican Cuisine, you’d be wrong in assuming that we’re just seeing another mediocre, uninspired take on Americanized Mexican dishes. In Little Rock, it seems that a new Mexican restaurant crops up about once a week and it’s understandable if you’re less enthusiastic about the opening of another. But Fonda, in fact, is probably something worth getting excited about. After perusing through its menu, you’ll soon realize, Fonda isn’t Tex-Mex. It’s got a bit more authenticity than its predecessor, and while it still manages to maintain that sense of familiarity we Americans have come to enjoy in our Mexican options, there’s enough intrigue and originality to keep your taste buds on their toes, so to speak. Fonda’s menu is rather petite, especially compared to the novellike constructions you might find at other Mexican establishments. A small handful of appetizers, a dozen or so entrees. You’ll find dishes such as pollo con mole, which uses authentic family recipes, the mole a conglomeration of “nineteen ingredients in a silky sauce.” There’s guisado de Puerco, pork shoulder diced and simmered in an oven-roasted tomatillo sauce. The “chef’s favorite” utilizes slow-roasted lamb, pulled from the bone and stewed in a chipotle broth. You’ll begin with a complimentary serving of warm salsa and freshly fried corn chips. The salsa is a blend of stewed tomato, jalapeño, and onion. It’s not the first warm salsa we’ve been served, but this brand is certainly in the minority among local Mexican restaurants. It was flavorful, bright, and hearty, but we would have liked a bit more spice. Still, the
STRONG STARTER: Fonda’s queso fundido.
Fonda Mexican Cuisine
400 N. Bowman Road 313-4120
QUICK BITE By offering a wide selection of more authentic Mexico City style fare, Fonda breathes new life into the once struggling space on Bowman Curve. As you enter, look for a display of the day’s specials on an entryway table. Many of them are on the menu already, but you’ll save a few bucks by going the “special” route. Service is still finding its feet on busy weekend nights, but the food’s worth waiting for. HOURS 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. OTHER INFO Credit cards accepted, full bar.
chips were flawless. They cracked delicately when bitten into but managed to maintain enough resilience to support the weight of our sizable scoops of salsa. We were first enticed by the queso fundido ($8.38), also labeled on the
menu as “the people’s choice.” Knowing that “the people” are rarely misleading in their choices, we went with it. The appetizer takes a substantial serving of shredded Chihuahua cheese — a soft, white Mexican variety — and throws it on a scorching cast iron plate. To this, diners can add chorizo; mild, roasted Poblano pepper strips or sauteed mushrooms. The whole dish is served alongside freshly made flour tortillas. The entire process is a beautiful thing to behold. Hot plate meets cheese, the soft white substance gives way under the heat, melting and bubbling as it arrives at the table. It quickly forms a thin layer of slightly burned fried cheese at the base, a crispy, caramelized layer that’s not to be overlooked. As you eat, you simply scrape the contents of the plate up with a spoon and spread on a tortilla or corn chip. It’s greasy, salty and absolutely splendid. We opted for chorizo, which imparted a wonderful spicy note to the cool creaminess of the cheese. We next decided upon the guisado de res ($13.99). We’re particularly
Information in our restaurant capsules reflects the opinions of the newspaper staff and its reviewers. The newspaper accepts no advertising or other considerations in exchange for reviews, which are conducted anonymously. We invite the opinions of readers who think we are in error.
B Breakfast L Lunch D Dinner $ Inexpensive (under $8/person) $$ Moderate ($8-$20/person) $$$ Expensive (over $20/person) CC Accepts credit cards
3501 Old Cantrell rd
DINING CAPSULES fond of guisados or Mexican stews. When done right, the slowly cooked meats are rendered soft and tender, and, bathed in a blend of peppers, tomatoes and other spices, the meats are extremely flavorful when ready to be served. Fonda’s version uses chunks of stewed sirloin in a roasted tomato, chipotle and bay leaf blend. The results were marvelous — everything you’d expect from a fine guisado. The stew surrounds a mound of soft, flavorful rice. The concoction may be enjoyed on tortillas, scooped up in corn chips, or simply alone on a spoon. Our side of black beans also deserves mention. These were prepared in a manner similar to other “refried” beans — soft, slightly mashed, and probably laden with lard for flavor and richness. They were simply wonderful, but we only wished we would have been served more of them. Next, we sampled the “Razorback Burrito” ($10.78). The burrito was (not unexpectedly) filled with a generous helping of shredded pork shoulder, white cheese, more of those wonderful black beans, seasoned rice, and a fresh pico de gallo. The meat itself was excellent — slow-roasted, dripping with rich, porky flavor, and quite tender. The inclusion of freshly diced tomato, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño was a smart move, as it countered the rich meat and salty beans and cheese perfectly. We ended with one of their few dessert offerings, the stuffed churros with chocolate sauce ($4.99). These long, star-shaped strands of fried dough get filled with a ribbon of hot dulce de leche. Ours were a bit over-cooked, the dough coming to us a bit too hard and crunchy. The accompanying chocolate sauce was a small drizzle of generic store-bought chocolate syrup. While they were edible, by this point in the meal we expected better. One thing is clear, though, the folks in the kitchen at Fonda are confident in their ability to recreate the flavors of Mexico. It’s undoubtedly an improvement on what was being served by prior tenants. One can only hope that Fonda finds its place in a city that is already seemingly over-run with Mexican options. But truth be told, only a rare few are as tasty as Fonda.
Check It Out
LITTLE ROCK/ N. LITTLE ROCK
4 SQUARE CAFE AND GIFTS Vegetarian salads, soups, wraps and paninis and a broad selection of smoothies in an Arkansas products gift shop. 405 President Clinton Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-244-2622. BLD daily. ALL AMERICAN WINGS The downtown location of a small chain of wing shops that feature 13 flavors of wings, from hot to not. 801 W. Markham. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-3750000. LD Mon.-Fri., D Sat. 7706 Cantrell Road. No alcohol, All CC. $. 501-223-3355. Serving LD Mon.-Fri., D Sat. APPLE SPICE JUNCTION A chain sandwich and salad spot with sit-down lunch space and a vibrant box lunch catering business. With a wide range of options and quick service. Order online via applespice.com. 2000 S. University Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-663-7008. L Mon.-Fri. (10 a.m.-3 p.m.). ARGENTA MARKET The Argenta District’s neighborhood grocery store offers a deli featuring a daily selection of big sandwiches along with fresh fish and meats and salads. Emphasis here is on Arkansas-farmed foods and organic products. 521 N. Main St. NLR. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-379-9980. L daily, D Mon.-Sat., B Sat., BR Sun. ARKANSAS BURGER CO. Good burgers, fries and shakes, plus salads and other entrees. Try the cheese dip. 7410 Cantrell Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-663-0600. LD Tue.-Sat. ASHLEY’S The premier fine dining restaurant in Little Rock marries Southern traditionalism and haute cuisine. The menu is often daring and always delicious. 111 W. Markham St. Full bar, All CC. $$$. 501-374-7474. BLD Mon.-Sat. BR Sun. BELWOOD DINER Traditional breakfasts and plate lunch specials are the norm at this lostin-time hole in the wall. 3815 MacArthur Drive. NLR. No alcohol, No CC. $. 501-753-1012. BL Mon.-Fri. BEV & GUY’S FISH & CHICKEN Seating is limited to eight, so customers might want to consider the carry-out option. This restaurant specializes in fried catfish fillets and chicken and all the trimmings. 3319 John Barrow Road. No alcohol, No CC. $. 501-224-2981. L Fri.-Sat. D Thu., Sat., Sun. BRAVE NEW RESTAURANT The food’s great, portions huge, prices reasonable. Diners can look into the open kitchen and watch the culinary geniuses at work slicing and dicing and sauteeing. It’s great fun, and the fish is special. 2300 Cottondale Lane. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-663-2677. LD Mon.-Fri. D Sat. BRAY GOURMET DELI AND CATERING Turkey spreads in four flavors — original, jalapeno, cajun and dill — and the homemade pimiento cheese are the signature items at Chris Bray’s delicatessen, which serves sandwiches, wraps, soups, stuffed potatoes and salads and sells the turkey spreads to go. Arkansas Fresh Breads supplies the bread; the olive oil sourdough is an exclusive. You can buy CONTINUED ON PAGE 36
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OCTOBER 10, 2013
DINING CAPSULES, CONT. ADVERTISEMENT
hearsay ➥ BOX TURTLE has some great new stuff on the shelves, including new jewelry by local designers Brix & Loft. All pieces are up cycled and one of a kind. You should also check out the new designs from Sseko’s handbags with interchangeable accessories. The handbag line began as a way to generate income for young women in Uganda to continue their education, and the project has been successful: Every woman who has graduated from Sseko is currently pursuing her college degree or has graduated from university. ➥ The FLOATING LOTUS YOGA STUDIO AND SPA now has a special rate for new customers: enjoy a Swedish massage or biodynamic facial for just $50. ➥ Craft beer fans should check out the mischief brewing at the SUPERIOR BATHHOUSE BREWERY & DISTILLERY on historic Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs when it hosts the Evil Twin Brewers of Denmark and Brooklyn in a “Tap Takeover” on Oct. 10-12. During the event, the Superior will serve 10 kinds of Evil Twin beers, along with a special menu of Evil Twin-inspired appetizers and entrees, paired with flights of Evil Twin beers to complement the flavors. While you don’t need a reservation, where will be two reserved seatings at 6 and 8 p.m. each night. For more information, call 501-624-2337. ➥ Speaking of the Spa City, if you’re in town for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, don’t forget to stop in to look at all the beautiful pieces stocked at LAURAY’S THE DIAMOND CENTER – it’s guaranteed they’ll have a sparkler you’ll fall in love with. ➥ Also in Hot Springs, Magic Screams is the annual MAGIC SPRINGS Halloween event with family fun and fright for guests of all ages, Oct. 12-27. Saturday hours are 4-11 p.m. Sunday hours are 4-9 p.m. and include Hot Springs haunted houses for the entire family and a Hot Springs Trick-orTreat Trail. Theme park rides including: X-Coaster, The Gauntlet, Wild Thang, Big Bad John, Ozark Mountain Taxi Co., Razorback Roundup, the Carousel and kiddie rides will also be open. ➥ LULULEMON ATHLETICA fans will have to trek out west to get their gear after Oct. 12. The high-end purveyor of athletic clothes and accessories is closing its test showroom in the Heights and will open a fullblown store at The Promenade at Chenal. Also open at The Promenade is BELLE & BLUSH, a locally owned cosmetic store. 36
OCTOBER 10, 2013
loaves, too. Petit Jean supplies the ham and peppered beef. Breakfast features cinnamon rolls and muffins. 323 Center St. Suite 150. No alcohol, All CC. 501-353-1045. BL Mon.-Fri. CAPITAL BAR AND GRILL Big hearty sandwiches, daily lunch specials and fine evening dining all rolled up into one at this landing spot downtown. Surprisingly inexpensive with a great bar staff and a good selection of unique desserts. 111 Markham St. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-3747474. LD daily. CAPITOL BISTRO Serving breakfast and lunch items, including quiche, sandwiches, coffees and the like. 1401 W. Capitol Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-371-9575. BL Mon.-Fri. CATERING TO YOU Painstakingly prepared entrees and great appetizers in this gourmetto-go location, attached to a gift shop. Caters everything from family dinners to weddings and large corporate events. 8121 Cantrell Road. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-614-9030. Serving meals to go: LD Mon.-Sat. CATFISH HOLE Downhome place for wellcooked catfish and tasty hushpuppies. 603 E. Spriggs. NLR. Beer, All CC. $-$$. 501-758-3516. D Tue.-Sat. CIAO BACI The focus is on fine dining in this casually elegant Hillcrest bungalow, though excellent tapas are out of this world. The treeshaded, light-strung deck is a popular destination. 605 N. Beechwood St. Full bar, All CC. $$$. 501-603-0238. D Mon.-Sat. CRAZEE’S COOL CAFE Good burgers, daily plate specials and bar food amid pool tables and TVs. 7626 Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-221-9696. LD Mon.-Sat. CUPCAKES ON KAVANAUGH Gourmet cupcakes and coffee, indoor seating. 5625 Kavanaugh Blvd. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-664-2253. LD Mon.-Sat. 11525 Cantrell Road. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-224-2253. LD Tue.-Sat. DEMPSEY BAKERY Bakery with sit down area, serving coffee and specializing in gluten-, nutand soy-free baked goods. 323 Cross St. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-375-2257. Serving BL Tue.-Sat. DIXON ROAD BLUES CAFE Sandwiches, burgers and salads. 1505 W. Dixon Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-888-2233. BLD Mon.-Sat. DOE’S EAT PLACE A skid-row dive turned power brokers’ watering hole with huge steaks, great tamales and broiled shrimp, and killer burgers at lunch. 1023 W. Markham St. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-376-1195. LD Mon.-Fri., D Sat. EJ’S EATS AND DRINKS The friendly neighborhood hoagie shop downtown serves at a handful of tables and by delivery. The sandwiches are generous, the soup homemade and the salads cold. Vegetarians can craft any number of acceptable meals from the flexible menu. The housemade potato chips are da bomb. 523 Center St. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-666-3700. LD Mon.-Fri. FILIBUSTER’S BISTRO & LOUNGE Sandwiches, salads in the Legacy Hotel. 625 W. Capitol Ave. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-374-0100. D Mon.-Fri. FIVE GUYS BURGERS & FRIES Nationwide burger chain with emphasis on freshly made fries and patties and over 15 toppings for you to create your own burger. 13000 Chenal Parkway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-225-1100. LD daily.; 2923 Lakewood Village Dr. NLR. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-246-5295. LD daily. FLYING FISH The fried seafood is fresh and crunchy and there are plenty of raw, boiled and grilled offerings, too. The hamburgers are a hit, too. It’s self-service; wander on through the screen door and you’ll find a slick team of cooks and servers doing a creditable job of serving big
crowds. 511 President Clinton Ave. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 501-375-3474. LD daily. GRUMPY’S TOO Music venue and sports bar with lots of TVs, pub grub and regular drink specials. 1801 Green Mountain Drive. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-225-3768. LD Mon.-Sat. HOMER’S Great vegetables, huge yeast rolls and killer cobblers. Follow the mobs. 2001 E. Roosevelt Road. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-374-1400. BL Mon.-Fri. 9700 N Rodney Parham. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-224-6637. LD Mon.-Sat. IRONHORSE SALOON Bar and grill offering juicy hamburgers and cheeseburgers. 9125 Mann Road. Full bar, All CC. $. 501-562-4464. LD daily. J. GUMBO’S Fast-casual Cajun far served, primarily, in a bowl. Better than expected. 12911 Cantrell Road. Beer, All CC. $-$$. 501-916-9635. LD daily. JIMMY’S SERIOUS SANDWICHES Consistently fine sandwiches, side orders and desserts for 30 years. Chicken salad’s among the best in town, and there are fun specialty sandwiches such as Thai One On and The Garden. Get there early for lunch. 5116 W. Markham St. No alcohol, CC. $-$$. 501-666-3354. L Mon.-Sat., D Mon.-Sat. (drive-through only). K. HALL AND SONS Neighborhood grocery store with excellent lunch counter. The cheeseburger is hard to beat. 1900 Wright Avenue. No alcohol, CC. $. 501-372-1513. BLD Mon.-Sat. (closes at 6 p.m.), BL Sun. KRAZY MIKE’S Po’Boys, catfish and shrimp and other fishes, fried chicken wings and all the expected sides served up fresh and hot to order on demand. 200 N. Bowman Road. Beer, All CC. $$. 501-907-6453. LD daily. LE POPS GOURMET ICE LOLLIES Delicious, homemade iced lollies (or popsicle for those who aren’t afraid of the trademark.) 400 President Clinton Ave. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-554-3936. L Mon.-Sat. LOCA LUNA Grilled meats, seafood and pasta dishes that never stray far from country roots, whether Italian, Spanish or Arkie. “Gourmet plate lunches” are good, as is Sunday brunch. 3519 Old Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-663-4666. BR Sun., LD Mon.-Fri., D Sat. MILFORD TRACK Healthy and tasty are the key words at this deli/grill that serves breakfast and lunch. Hot entrees change daily and there are soups, sandwiches, salads and killer desserts. Bread is baked in-house, and there are several veggie options. 10809 Executive Center Dr., Searcy Building. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-223-2257. BL Mon.-Sat. OYSTER BAR Gumbo, red beans and rice (all you can eat on Mondays), peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell, addictive po’ boys. Killer jukebox. 3003 W. Markham St. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-666-7100. LD Mon.-Sat. OZARK COUNTRY RESTAURANT A longstanding favorite with many Little Rock residents, the eatery specializes in big country breakfasts and pancakes plus sandwiches and several meat-and-two options for lunch and dinner. Try the pancakes and don’t leave without some sort of smoked meat. 202 Keightley Drive. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-663-7319. B daily, L Mon.-Fri., D Thu.-Sat. PURPLE COW DINER 1950s fare — cheeseburgers, chili dogs, thick milk shakes — in a ‘50s setting at today’s prices. 8026 Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-221-3555. LD daily, BR Sat.-Sun. 11602 Chenal Pkwy. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-224-4433. LD daily, BR Sat.-Sun. 1419 Higden Ferry Road. Hot Springs. Beer, All CC. $$. 501-625-7999. LD daily, B Sun. THE RELAY This grill offers a short menu, which
includes chicken strips, French fries, hamburgers, jalapeno poppers and cheese sticks. 12225 Stagecoach Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-4559919. LD daily. THE ROOT CAFE Homey, local foods-focused cafe. With tasty burgers, homemade bratwurst, banh mi and a number of vegan and veggie options. Breakfast and Sunday brunch, too. 1500 S. Main St. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. BL Tue.-Sat., BR Sun. SALUT BISTRO This bistro/late-night hangout does upscale Italian for dinner and pub grub until the wee hours on the weekends. 1501 N. University. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-660-4200. L Mon.-Fri., D Tue.-Sat. SANDY’S HOMEPLACE CAFE Specializing in home style buffet, with two meats and seven vegetables to choose from. It’s all-you-can-eat. 1710 E 15th St. No alcohol, No CC. $. 501-3753216. L Mon.-Fri. SCALLIONS Reliably good food, great desserts, pleasant atmosphere, able servers — a solid lunch spot. 5110 Kavanaugh Blvd. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-666-6468. L Mon.-Sat. SHAKE’S FROZEN CUSTARD Frozen custards, concretes, sundaes. 12011 Westhaven Dr. No alcohol, All CC. $. 501-224-0150. LD daily. SHIPLEY DO-NUTS With locations just about everywhere in Central Arkansas, it’s hard to miss Shipley’s. Their signature smooth glazed doughnuts and dozen or so varieties of fills are well known. 7514 Cantrell Rd. No alcohol, All CC. $. 501-664-5353. B daily. SHORTY SMALL’S Land of big, juicy burgers, massive cheese logs, smoky barbecue platters and the signature onion loaf. 1100 N. Rodney Parham Road. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-224-3344. LD daily. SLIM CHICKENS Chicken tenders and wings served fast. Better than the Colonel. 4500 W. Markham. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-9070111. LD daily. SONNY WILLIAMS’ STEAK ROOM Steaks, chicken and seafood in a wonderful setting in the River Market. Steak gets pricey, though. Menu is seasonal, changes every few months. 500 President Clinton Ave. Full bar, All CC. $$$. 501-324-2999. D Mon.-Sat. STAGECOACH GROCERY AND DELI Fine po’ boys and muffalettas — and cheap. 6024 Stagecoach Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-455-4157. BLD Mon.-Fri., BL Sat.-Sun. TABLE 28 Excellent fine dining with lots of creative flourishes. Branch out and try the Crispy Squid Filet and Quail Bird Lollipops. 1501 Merrill Drive. Full bar, CC. $$$-$$$$. 224-2828. D Mon.-Sat. TERRI-LYNN’S BAR-B-Q AND DELI High-quality meats served on large sandwiches and good tamales served with chili or without (the better bargain). 10102 N. Rodney Parham Road. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-227-6371. BL Tue.-Fri., BLD Sat. (close at 5pm). WEST END SMOKEHOUSE AND TAVERN Its primary focus is a sports bar with 50-plus TVs, but the dinner entrees (grilled chicken, steaks and such) are plentiful and the bar food is upper quality. 215 N. Shackleford. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-224-7665. L Fri.-Sun., D daily. WINGSTOP It’s all about wings. The joint features ten flavors of chicken flappers for almost any palate, including mild, hot, Cajun and atomic, as well as specialty flavors like lemon pepper, teriyaki, Garlic parmesan and Hawaiian. 11321 West Markham St. Beer, All CC. $-$$. 501-2249464. LD daily.
A.W. LIN’S ASIAN CUISINE Excellent pan-Asian with wonderful service. 17717 Chenal Parkway. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-821-5398. LD daily.
DINING CAPSULES, CONT. CHINA INN Massive Chinese buffet overflows with meaty and fresh dishes, augmented at dinner by boiled shrimp, oysters on the half shell and snow crab legs, all you want cheap. 2629 Lakewood Village Place. NLR. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-771-2288. LD daily. CHINA PLUS BUFFET Large Chinese buffet. 6211 Colonel Glenn Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-562-1688. LD daily. CHINESE KITCHEN Good Chinese takeout. Try the Cantonese press duck. 11401 N. Rodney Parham Road. No alcohol, CC. $-$$. 501-2242100. LD Tue.-Sun. CURRY IN A HURRY Home-style Indian food with a focus on fresh ingredients and spices. 11121 North Rodney Parham. Beer, Wine, No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-224-4567. LD Mon., Wed.-Sun. HANAROO SUSHI BAR One of the few spots in downtown Little Rock to serve sushi. With an expansive menu, featuring largely Japanese fare. Try the popular Tuna Tatari bento box. 205 W. Capitol Ave. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 501-301-7900. L Mon.-Fri., D Mon.-Sat. LEMONGRASS ASIA BISTRO Fairly solid Thai bistro. Try the Tom Kha Kai and white wine alligator. They don’t have a full bar, but you can order beer, wine and sake. 4629 E. McCain Blvd. NLR. Beer, Wine, All CC. 501-945-4638. LD Mon.-Sun. MIKE’S CAFE VIETNAMESE Cheap Vietnamese that could use some more spice, typically. The pho is good. 5501 Asher Ave. Beer, CC. $-$$. 501-562-1515. LD daily. MR. CHEN’S ASIAN SUPERMARKET AND RESTAURANT A combination Asian restaurant and grocery with cheap, tasty and exotic offerings. 3901 S. University Ave. $. 501-5627900. LD daily. NEW CHINA A burgeoning line of massive buffets, with hibachi grill, sushi, mounds of Chinese food and soft serve ice cream. 4617 John F. Kennedy Blvd. NLR. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-753-8988. LD daily. 2104 Harkrider. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-764-1888. LD Mon.-Sun. PHO THANH MY It says “Vietnamese noodle soup” on the sign out front, and that’s what you should order. The pho comes in outrageously large portions with bean sprouts and fresh herbs. Traditional pork dishes, spring rolls and bubble tea also available. 302 N. Shackleford Road. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-312-7498. LD Mon, Wed.-Sun. ROYAL BUFFET A big buffet of Chinese fare, with other Asian tastes as well. 109 E. Pershing. NLR. Beer, All CC. 501-753-8885. LD daily. SEKISUI Fresh-tasting sushi chain with fun hibachi grill and an overwhelming assortment of traditional entrees. Nice wine selection, also serves sake and specialty drinks. 219 N. Shackleford Road. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-221-7070. LD daily. SHOGUN JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE The chefs will dazzle you, as will the variety of tasty stir-fry combinations and the sushi bar. Usually crowded at night. 2815 Cantrell Road. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-666-7070. D daily. TOKYO HOUSE Defying stereotypes, this Japanese buffet serves up a broad range of fresh, slightly exotic fare — grilled calamari, octopus salad, dozens of varieties of fresh sushi — as well as more standard shrimp and steak options. 11 Shackleford Dr. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-219-4286. LD daily. WASABI Downtown sushi and Japanese cuisine. For lunch, there’s quick and hearty sushi samplers. 101 Main St. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-374-0777. L Mon.-Fri., D Mon.-Sat.
CHIP’S BARBECUE Tasty, if a little pricey, barbecue piled high on sandwiches generously doused with the original tangy sauce or one of five other sauces. Better known for the incredible family recipe pies and cheesecakes, which come tall and wide. 9801 W. Markham St. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-225-4346. LD Mon.-Sat. DIXIE PIG Pig salad is tough to beat. It comes with loads of chopped pork atop crisp iceberg, doused with that wonderful vinegar-based sauce. The sandwiches are basic, and the sweet, thick sauce is fine. Serving Little Rock since 1923. 900 West 35th St. NLR. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-753-9650. LD Mon.-Sat. PIT STOP BAR AND GRILL A working-man’s bar and grill, with barbecue, burgers, breakfast and bologna sandwiches, plus live music on Friday and Saturday nights. 5506 Baseline Road. Full bar, No CC. $$. 501-562-9635. BLD daily.
EUROPEAN / ETHNIC
CREGEEN’S IRISH PUB Irish-themed pub with a large selection of on-tap and bottled British beers and ales, an Irish inspired menu and lots of nooks and crannies to meet in. Specialties include fish ‘n’ chips and Guinness beef stew. Live music on weekends and $5 cover on Saturdays, special brunch on Sunday. 301 Main St. NLR. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-376-7468. LD daily. ISTANBUL MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE This Turkish eatery offers decent kebabs and great starters. The red pepper hummus is a winner. So are Cigar Pastries. Possibly the best Turkish coffee in Central Arkansas. 11525 Cantrell Road. No alcohol, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-223-9332. LD daily. LAYLA’S GYROS AND PIZZERIA Delicious Mediterranean fare — gyros, falafel, shawarma, kabobs, hummus and babaganush — that has a devoted following. All meat is slaughtered according to Islamic dietary law. 9501 N Rodney Parham Road. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-2277272. LD daily (close 5 p.m. on Sun.). L E O ’ S G R E E K C A S T L E Wonderful Mediterranean food — gyro sandwiches or platters, falafel and tabouleh — plus dependable hamburgers, ham sandwiches, steak platters and BLTs. Breakfast offerings are expanded with gyro meat, pitas and triple berry pancakes. 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd. No alcohol, CC. $-$$. 501-6667414. BLD Mon.-Sat., BL Sun. (close at 4 p.m.). NEXT BISTRO & BAR Mediterranean food and drinks. 2611 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. 501-663-6398. D Tue.-Thu., Sat. TAZIKI’S GREEK FARE Fast casual chain that offers gyros, grilled meats and veggies, hummus and pimento cheese. 12800 Chenal Parkway. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 501-225-1829. LD daily.
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Grow Fresh Papa’s Pizzeria & Pub
21 West End
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CAFE PREGO Dependable entrees of pasta, pork, seafood, steak and the like, plus great sauces, fresh mixed greens and delicious dressings, crisp-crunchy-cold gazpacho and tempting desserts in a comfy bistro setting. Little Rock standard for 18 years. 5510 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-663-5355. LD Mon.-Sat. CIAO ITALIAN RESTAURANT Don’t forget about this casual yet elegant bistro tucked into a downtown storefront. The fine pasta and seafood dishes, ambiance and overall charm combine to make it a relaxing, enjoyable, affordable choice. 405 W. Seventh St. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-372-0238. L Mon.-Fri., D Thu.-Sat. GRADY’S PIZZA AND SUBS Pizza features a pleasing blend of cheeses rather than straight CONTINUED ON PAGE 38
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OCTOBER 10, 2013
DINING CAPSULES, CONT. mozzarella. The grinder is a classic, the chef’s salad huge and tasty. 6801 W. 12th St., Suite C. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-663-1918. LD daily. IRIANA’S PIZZA Unbelievably generous handtossed New York style pizza with unmatched zest. Good salads, too; grinders are great, particularly the Italian sausage. 201 E. Markham St. Beer, Wine, All CC. $-$$. 501-374-3656. LD Mon.-Sat. THE ITALIAN KITCHEN AT LULAV Comfortably chic downtown bistro with excellent Italian fare. 220 A W. 6th St. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-3745100. L Mon.-Fri., D Mon.-Sat. MELLOW MUSHROOM Popular high-end pizza chain. 16103 Chenal Pkwy. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-379-9157. LD daily. PIZZERIA SANTA LUCIA A mobile pizza oven, imported from Italy, that churns out fine pies. They’re on the smaller side and not topped to excess, but quite flavorful. 1401 S Main St. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-666-1885. Various times. ROMANO’S MACARONI GRILL A chain restaurant with a large menu of pasta, chicken, beef, fish, unusual dishes like Italian nachos, and special dishes with a corporate bent. 11100 W Markham St. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-2213150. LD daily. U.S. PIZZA Crispy thin-crust pizzas, frosty beers and heaping salads drowned in creamy dressing. 2710 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-663-2198. LD daily. 5524 Kavanaugh Blvd. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 501-664-7071. LD daily. 9300 North Rodney Parham Road. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-224-6300. LD daily. 3307 Fair Park Blvd. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-5656580. LD daily. 650 Edgewood Drive. Maumelle. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-851-0880. LD daily. 3324 Pike Avenue. NLR. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-758-5997. LD daily. 4001 McCain Park Drive. NLR. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$-$$$.
501-753-2900. LD daily. ZAFFINO’S BY NORI A high-quality Italian dining experience. Pastas, entrees (don’t miss the veal marsala) and salads are all outstanding. 2001 E. Kiehl Ave. NLR. Beer, Wine, All CC. 501-834-7530. D Tue.-Sat.
BROWNING’S MEXICAN GRILL New rendition of a 65-year institution in Little Rock is a totally different experience. Large, renovated space is a Heights hangout with a huge bar, sports on TV and live music on weekends. Some holdover items in name only but recast fresher and tastier. Large menu with some hits and some misses. 5805 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-663-9956. LD daily, BR Sat-Sun. CANON GRILL Tex-Mex, pasta, sandwiches and salads. Creative appetizers come in huge quantities, and the varied main-course menu rarely disappoints, though it’s not as spicy as competitors’. 2811 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-664-2068. LD daily. CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL Burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and salads are the four main courses of choice — and there are four meats and several other options for filling them. Sizes are uniformly massive, quality is uniformly strong, and prices are uniformly low. 11525 Cantrell Road. All CC. $-$$. 501-221-0018. LD daily. COTIJA’S A branch off the famed La Hacienda family tree downtown, with a massive menu of tasty lunch and dinner specials, the familiar white cheese dip and sweet red and fiery-hot green salsas, and friendly service. 406 S. Louisiana St. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-244-0733. L Mon.-Fri. EL CHICO Hearty, standard Mexican served in huge portions. 8409 Interstate 30. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-562-3762. LD daily.
LAS MARGARITAS Sparse offerings at this taco truck. No chicken, for instance. Try the veggie quesadilla. 7308 Baseline Road. No alcohol, No CC. $. LD Tue.-Thu. LA REGIONAL A full-service grocery store catering to SWLR’s Latino community, it’s the small grill tucked away in the back corner that should excite lovers of adventurous cuisine. The menu offers a whirlwind trip through Latin America, with delicacies from all across the Spanish-speaking world (try the El Salvadorian papusas, they’re great). Bring your Spanish/ English dictionary. 7414 Baseline Road. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-565-4440. BLD daily. LAS AMERICAS Guatemalan and Mexican fare. Try the hearty tamales wrapped in banana leaves. 8622 Chicot Road. $-$$. 501-565-0266. LD daily. MAMACITA’S Serviceable Mexican fare in attractive cafe. 5923 Kavanaugh Blvd. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-916-2421. LD daily. MEXICO CHIQUITO MEX-TO-GO Some suggest cheese dip was born at this Central Arkansas staple, where you’ll find hearty platters of boldly spiced, inexpensive food to-go that compete well with those at the “authentic” joints. 11406 W. Markham. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-217-0647. LD daily. PEPE’S Better than average Tex-Mex. Try the chicken chimichanga. 5900 W 12th St. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-296-9494. LD Mon.-Sat. SENOR TEQUILA Cheap, serviceable Tex-Mex, and maybe the best margarita in town. 2000 S. University Ave. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-660-4413. LD daily. TAQUERIA KARINA AND CAFE A real Mexican neighborhood cantina from the owners, to freshly baked pan dulce, to Mexican-bottled Cokes, to first-rate guacamole, to inexpensive tacos, burritos, quesadillas and a broad selection
of Mexican-style seafood. 5309 W. 65th St. Beer, No CC. $. 501-562-3951. LD Tue.-Thu. TAQUERIA SAMANTHA II Stand out taco truck fare, with meat options standard and exotic. 7521 Geyer Springs Road. No alcohol, No CC. $. 501-744-0680. LD Tue.-Sun.
DENTON’S TROTLINE Saline county-ites love the buffet dining that, besides great catfish, offers shrimp, chicken, gumbos and snow crab legs. 2150 Congo Road. Benton. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-315-1717. D Tue.-Sat. ED AND KAY’S “Mile-High” pies topped with meringue and including coconut, chocolate and the famous PCP (pineapple, coconut, pecan) are dang good; plate lunches feature Arkansasgrown produce like PurpleHull peas and fresh garden tomatoes. 15228 Interstate 30. Benton. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. (501) 315-3663. BLD. TAQUERIA AZTECA The best authentic Mexican in the Benton/Bryant area. Try the menudo on Saturday. 1526 Highway 5 N. Benton. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-794-1487. LD Mon.-Sat.
FLYING FISH The fried seafood is fresh and crunchy and there are plenty of raw, boiled and grilled offerings, too. 109A Northwest 2nd St. Bentonville. Beer, Wine, All CC. $$. 479-657-6300. LD daily. TUSK & TROTTER It’s not just barbecue and pigs feet, despite the name. The dinner menu has everything from french fries (pommes frites) to burgers to duck confit. 110 S.E. A St. Bentonville. Full bar, All CC.
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DINING CAPSULES, CONT.
HOME PLATE DINER This teal-and-chrome soaked diner in Bryant has drawn quite a following for generous breakfasts, great lunches, big burgers and an ever changing range of desserts each day. 2615 N. Prickett Road. Bryant. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-8473331. B Mon.-Sat. L Mon.-Fri. TASTE OF D’LIGHT The dinner entrees are gigantic; the $8.50 Chicken Delight contains a full portion of General Gau’s, Chicken with Vegetables and Lemon Chicken and is easily enough for three people. Home of the fattest cheese rangoon in Arkansas (purportedly). 3200 N. Reynolds Rd. Bryant. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-847-6267. LD daily.
BEAR’S DEN PIZZA Pizza, calzones and salads at UCA hangout. 235 Farris Road. Conway. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-328-5556. LD Mon.-Sat. BLACKWOOD’S GYROS AND GRILL A wide variety of salads, sandwiches, gyros and burgers dot the menu at this veteran of Conway’s downtown district. 803 Harkrider Ave. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. 501-329-3924. LD Mon.-Sat. BOB’S GRILL This popular spot for local diners features a meat-and-two-veg cafeteria style lunch and a decently large made-to-order breakfast menu. Service is friendly. 1112 W. Oak St. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-3799760. BL Daily. CROSS CREEK SANDWICH SHOP Cafe serves salads and sandwiches weekdays. 1003 Oak St. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-764-1811. L Mon.-Fri. DAVID’S BUTCHER BOY BURGERS Burgers, fries, shakes and drinks — that’s all you’ll find at this new Conway burger joint. 1100 Highway 65 N. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. (501) 327-3333. DUE AMICHE ITALIAN RESTAURANT Stromboli, pasta, pizza, calzones and other Italian favorites. 1600 Dave Ward Drive. Conway.
No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-336-0976. LD Mon.-Sun. FABY’S RESTAURANT Unheralded MexicanContinental fusion focuses on handmade sauces and tortillas. 1023 Front Street. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-513-1199. L daily, D Mon.-Sat. 2915 Dave Ward. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-329-5151. LD Mon.-Sun. FU LIN RESTAURANT Japanese steakhouse, seafood and sushi. Good variety, including items such as yam tempura, Karashi conch, Uzuzukuri and a nice selection of udon. 195 Farris. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-329-1415. LD Mon.-Sun. HOG PEN BBQ Barbecue, fish, chicken 800 Walnut. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-326-5177. LD Tue.-Sat. HOLLY’S COUNTRY COOKING Southern plate lunch specials weekdays. 120 Harkrider. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $. 501-328-9738. L Mon.-Fri. LOS 3 POTRILLOS A big menu and lots of reasonably priced choices set this Mexican restaurant apart. The cheese dip is white, the servings are large, and the frozen margaritas are sweet. Try the Enchiladas Mexicanas, three different enchiladas in three different sauces. 1090 Skyline Dr. Conway. Full bar, All CC. $-$$. 501-327-1144. LD Mon.-Sun. OLD CHICAGO PASTA & PIZZA Pizzas, pastas, calzones, sandwiches, burgers, steaks and salads and booze. The atmosphere is amiable and the food comforting. 1010 Main St. Conway. Full bar, All CC. $$. 501-329-6262. LD daily. PITZA 42 You’ll find pizza made on pita bread and a broad salad menu here. 2235 Dave Ward Dr. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-2051380. SMITTY’S BAR-B-QUE Meat so tender it practically falls off the ribs, and combos of meat that will stuff you. Hot sauce means HOT. 740 S. Harkrider. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-327-8304. LD Mon.-Sat. SMOKEHOUSE BBQ Hickory-smoked meats, large sides and fried pickles among other
classics offered at this 40-year-old veteran of the Conway barbecue scene. 505 Donaghey. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $-$$. 501-764-4227. LD Mon.-Sat. WHOLE HOG CAFE The pulled pork shoulder is a classic, the back ribs are worthy of their many blue ribbons, and there’s a six-pack of sauces for all tastes. A real find is the beef brisket, cooked the way Texans like it. 150 E. Oak St. Conway. No alcohol, All CC. $$. 501-513-0600. LD Mon.-Sat., L Sun. ZAZA The Conway spin-off of the beloved Heights wood oven pizza, salad and gelato restaurant is bigger than its predecessor, with a full bar and mixed drink specials that rely on a massive orange and lime juicer. 1050 Ellis Ave. Conway. Full bar, All CC. $$-$$$. 501-336-9292. LD daily.
CAFE RUE ORLEANS Top quality Creole food and a couple of Cajun specialties (a soupy gumbo, a spicy and rich etouffee) from a cook who learned her tricks in Lafayette, La., and the Crescent City. Best entree is the eggplant Napoleon. Oyster bar downstairs to make your wait for a dining table pleasant. 1150 N. College Ave. Fayetteville. Full bar, All CC. 479-443-2777. LD Tue.-Sat., BR Sun. CORNER GRILL Hearty sandwiches, a tasty and inexpensive weekend brunch, friendly staff in new location away from Dickson Street. Highway 112. Fayetteville. 479-521-8594. BLD. DOE’S EAT PLACE This may be the best Doe’s of the bunch, franchised off the Greenville, Miss., icon. Great steaks, and the usual salads, fries, very hot tamales and splendid service. Lots of TVs around for the game-day folks. 316 W. Dickson St. Fayetteville. 479-443-3637. D. ELLA’S Fine dining in the university’s vastly reworked Inn at Carnall Hall. A favorite — it figures on the UA campus — is the razor steak. 465 N. Arkansas Ave. Fayetteville. 479-582-1400. BLD. HUGO’S You’ll find a menu full of meals and
munchables, some better than others at this basement European-style bistro. The Bleu Moon Burger is a popular choice. Hugo’s is always worth a visit, even if just for a drink. 25 1/2 N. Block St. Fayetteville. Full bar, All CC. 479-521-7585. LD Mon.-Sat. JAMES AT THE MILL “Ozark Plateau Cuisine” is creative, uses local ingredients and is pleasantly presented in a vertical manner. Impeccable food in an impeccable setting. 3906 Greathouse Springs Road. Fayetteville. Full bar, All CC. $$$-$$$$. 479-443-1400. Serving:D-Mon.-Sat. JOSE’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT Epicenter of the Dickson Street nightlife with its patio and Fayetteville’s No. 2 restaurant in gross sales. Basic Mexican with a wide variety of fancy margaritas. 234 W. Dickson. Fayetteville. Full bar, All CC. 479-521-0194. LD daily. PENGUIN ED’S BAR-B-Q Prices are magnificent and portions are generous at this barbecue spot with an interesting menu, a killer sausage sandwich, burgers, omelets and wonderful lemonade. 2773 Mission Blvd. Fayetteville. 479-587-8646. BLD. PESTO CAFE This nice little Italian restaurant in, yes, a roadside motel offers all the traditional dishes, including a nice eggplant parmesan. 1830 N. College Ave. Fayetteville. Beer, Wine. $. 479-582-3330. LD Mon.-Sun. POWERHOUSE SEAFOOD Build-your-own fried seafood platters, great grilled fish specials. 112 N. University. Fayetteville. 479-442-8300. LD. UNCLE GAYLORD’S The fare is billed as “variety,” but that description just gives the kitchen license to dabble in all of the great cuisines, and breakfast is fabulous, though the weekend offerings aren’t as elaborate as they once were. 315 W. Mountain St. Fayetteville. 479-444-0605. BLD. VENESIAN INN People swarm in for the Italian fare and feast on what may be the best homemade rolls in the state. 582 W. Henri De Tonti Blvd. Fayetteville. Beer. $$. 479-361-2562. LD Tue.-Thu., D Fri.-Sat. www.arktimes.com OctOber 2013 39 39 www.arktimes.com OCTOBER 10, 10, 2013
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