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8th Circuit refuses to reconsider


The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declined to revisit its decision upholding Governor Hutchinson’s order that Arkansas stop allowing Planned Parenthood to participate in the Medicaid program. Federal District Judge Kristine Baker, citing precedent in other courts, had blocked the state from stopping funding. But a three-judge panel overturned Ba ker. The decision a f fec t s some $50,000 worth of medical services annually — not abortions, but health screening and family planning and other medical services. Hutchinson ordered participation in the program stopped because of reports in other states — debunked in every investigation that has been mounted — of improprieties in some other Planned Parenthood clinics in providing fetal tissue for medical research. Patients in Arkansas said federal law required the state to allow them to use medical providers of their choice. The 8th Circuit, notoriously conservative and anti-abortion, said that right was “ambiguous,” even through four other U.S. circuit courts decided it differently. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the difference between circuit court rulings is now a possibility.

Intrigue on the hill Leading up to last week’s meeting of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, multiple sources told the Arkansas Times that several members of the board have been pressing for the removal of University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Athletic Director Jeff 4

NOVEMBER 16, 2017


Long, in part, but not only, because of the poor record of Bret Bielema’s football team. The board met for more than three hours in executive session on unspecified personnel matters without taking formal action or commenting on what was discussed. Long sat quietly outside the meeting room as the board met with Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. Since then, there’s been official silence. A campus spokesman referred questions to the Board of Trustees, whose members have said they couldn’t discuss private session matters. The campus also declined a comment to the Times’ question of whether Steinmetz expected the same leadership to be in place in athletics at this time next year. If board approval of the status quo in athletics at Fayetteville was the result of the meeting, Steinmetz, System President Donald Bobbitt or someone likely would have said so forcefully. Instead, silence. That leads to the conclusion that there will be a transition in leadership, in a time and manner determined by the leader of the campus, and not following a public dictate of the Board of Trustees.

There are many complications. One necessary to meet standards of the is the football coach. Bielema, doing SEC Network. poorly in his fifth year, seems unlikely to survive absent an unlikely finish to this season. He has a contract through 2020, but can be terminated with a First Orion, a company that buyout estimated at more than $5 developed sof t wa re to block million. The timing of such a change unwanted phone calls, will build is important, because recruiting is a headquarters on Main Street in ongoing, and this year the NCAA North Little Rock. The company, now is allowing its first early signing located in the River Market district in period for football prospects, in early Little Rock, is led by Charles Morgan, December. Several board members the former Acxiom CEO. It employs don’t want Long choosing a successor. about 90 people in Little Rock, but Future schedules, another by the time it expects to open its new prerogative of the athletic director, headquarters in January, Morgan said are also up in the air, particularly the it would have 180 employees based future of games in Little Rock. Long there. had been lobbying the board to end Monday, the North Little Rock City the games in Little Rock, including Council also approved appropriating the single game planned for 2018. $4 million for the Argenta Plaza, a Governor Hutchinson, however, has long-planned development on Main taken War Memorial Stadium on as Street between Fifth and Sixth a project. He told Long he wants the streets. The project plans include game next year to be played in Little water features, an audiovisual screen Rock and Long reportedly got the wall, and a “front porch” area with message. In return, the governor has porch swings along Main Street made assurances that he’ll provide between Fifth and Seventh streets, the money, perhaps $3 million or so, along with a performance stage and to wire War Memorial Stadium with design inf luenced by the nearby camera gear, digital cable and studio Arkansas River.

Argenta makes moves

Swamp smell



he Arkansas Democrat-Gazette “confidence” to OK taxpayer-financed has been ravaged by the industry- junkets for 14 legislators and assorted wide decline in circulation and bureaucrats to get a look at the work advertising, but it continues to invest in being done by the important state Capitol reporting. would-be consulA good example came last Sunday, tant, Solution Tree. when veteran statehouse reporter Solution Tree Michael Wickline delved further into wanted to get a a no-bid education consulting contract contract for its that had raised at least a few legislative “professional learn- MAX BRANTLEY eyebrows. ing community at The push for the contract came from work” program. Sen. Bill Gossage, deputy chief of staff to Gov- Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock), a ernor Hutchinson and a former legisla- former teacher, said this is just a euphetor. He is also an alumnus of another mism for team learning for teachers. powerful lobby, the good-old-boys club Nothing wrong with the concept, but of school superintendents that forms Solution Tree is neither the inventor one of the Capitol’s most powerful lobby nor sole seller of such programs. groups. They’ve even defeated the WalForget Chesterfield, who may be ton charter school lobby a time or two. a teacher but who is also a Democrat That isn’t easy. and they are not in power currently. Gossage put in a good word for the With a push from Gossage, the House consultants with House Speaker Jer- speaker and Hutchinson’s education emy Gillam (R-Judsonia). Gillam said czar, Johnny Key, the deal was done. Gossage’s endorsement gave him the Solution Tree got approval from the leg-

Another fox


s “draining the swamp” a national joke yet? Owing to the virility of the swamp, which commonly describes corporate influence on government bureaucracy and Congress, it may never be laughable. It was not persuasive that Donald Trump got the crucial votes of working stiffs by promising to drain the swamp and lift the heavy hand of Wall Street, pharmaceutical giants and other corporate interests in Washington. But he still makes a limp effort to keep up the charade. Tweeting from Asia on Monday, the president said he was appointing a new secretary of health and human services to crack down on the big pharmaceutical companies that have jacked up drug prices to unconscionable levels. He was appointing Alex M. Azar II, who he said would be “a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!” After seeing all the Goldman Sachs honchos take charge of financial regulation in the Trump administration and the lobbyists and agents from polluting industries take over environmental protection, public lands and agricultural policy, who could be shocked? But Alex Azar II? A few Arkies remember him. He was Kenneth Starr’s

first hire in 1994 when he took over the federal investigation of Bill and Hillary’s little mountaintop land purchase with Jim McDouERNEST gal in remote DUMAS Marion County in 1977 that The New York Times deemed suspicious. Azar had been a young political bulldog at Starr’s Washington law firm. He left the Whitewater hunt after a couple of years, but it wasn’t until the special prosecutor’s final report in 2002 that it admitted Starr and Azar had found no evidence the Clintons even knew about McDougal’s misdeeds in running a savings and loan company years after the real-estate flop. Since then, as a deputy director at Health and Human Services in the second Bush administration, Azar collaborated with Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin and others to protect the big drug companies from any government effort to rein in skyrocketing drug prices. Then he ran the U.S. division of the drug giant Eli Lilly, which was accused of drug price-fixing. Tauzin, you may recall, immediately left Con-

islature for a $4 million pilot project this reminded of my drives in the humid year and another $8.5 million worth of evenings through the coastal marshes consulting work next year. of my boyhood home in Louisiana. The Education Commissioner Key was at decomposition of organic matter was work with Solution Tree on implementa- ongoing. It created a persistent stench. tion before the legislature had approved We called it swamp gas. the contract (over scattered objections). Swamp gas comes with absoKey, a veteran legislator, had to know lute power in a political ecosystem, this pie was prebaked. Key pushed back too. Strong leadership can combat it. aggressively when Ed Armstrong, the Hutchinson, who I’ve heard might have state procurement director, bravely sug- even raised questions about a no-bid gested some other vendors might be deal, seems unwilling to act when his able to provide the same sort of consult- appointees demonstrate a lack of fitness. ing. Perhaps some competing proposals Gossage isn’t the first. I also note that should be sought.  With a gubernatorial the governor — who professes a belief deputy chief of staff behind the deal in Arkansas’s ability to match the world and the governor’s hand-picked edu- in technology — often seems to find an cation czar expressing “frustration” at out-of-state consultant necessary for the holdup from procurement, how- advice, whether the subject is health, ever, Armstrong got the message. He lottery, insurance or education. went along with a “sole source” proPS: Do a Google search on Solution vider contract. Tree and the Professional Learning Putting all this together was a great Communities at Work program it just piece of reporting by Wickline, though sold to Arkansas. It has supporters and such deals tend to be clouded by all the critics. Nobody thinks collaboration details. Straight reporters can’t always among teachers to share strategy is a connect the dots without appearing to be bad idea, but many factors can influence opinionated. I have no such impediment. the results. Arkansas is about to put its Whenever I read a story like this I’m model to a $12.5 million test.

gress upon passage in 2003 of the Medicare law that shielded drug companies from price regulation and took a job, reportedly for $2 million a year, lobbying for the drug industry. Azar could turn out to be a scourge of Big Pharma. He certainly will say that he’s going to work for cheaper drugs. And, unlike so many people taking crucial jobs in the administration, like Rick Perry and Betsy DeVos, he has some familiarity with the government health programs he will run, including Obamacare, which he will be expected to undermine. Only weeks ago, Trump was saying that the big drug companies were “getting away with murder.” At one point he had joined the chorus that Medicare should negotiate with drug suppliers for discounts on widely used drugs and criticized President Obama for not including that in Obamacare. But the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, for which Azar was the chief apologist, prohibited Medicare from negotiating discounts with drug companies or from establishing a drug formulary. It would have reduced drug costs by billions of dollars a year. What are the chances that Azar will take up that cause seriously? In his last year at Lilly, he spent $5.7 million lobbying Congress and the agency he

will head to prevent transparency in drug pricing. During Azar’s last three years running Lilly, its popular diabetes drugs Humalog and Humulin went up 20.8 percent, 16.9 percent and 7.5 percent. Azar will succeed Tom Price, who was forced to quit six weeks ago after Politico reported that he had spent more than a million dollars of the taxpayers’ money in a few months on chartered jets to spots around the world while Trump was telling the country that Price was getting drug prices under control and wrecking Obamacare. (Actually, he did a pretty good job of the latter.) Trump had put Price in charge of regulating the pharmaceutical industry in spite of the insider-trading scandal reported by his favorite paper, the Wall Street Journal. An Australian biotech firm trying to introduce a multiple sclerosis drug in the U.S. market secretly fed then-Rep. Price stock at 18 cents a share, just before it shot up more than 400 percent. He introduced legislation to prevent regulation of a medical-device maker that he had bought stock in and that had given him a big campaign donation. Trump thought those experiences made Price a good man to drain the swamp. Alec Azar has similar credentials. Foxes who guard henhouses just need better PR.

Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog NOVEMBER 16, 2017


Trust in Putin

T presents…

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The Arkansas Times has joined the nonprofit news organization ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, a collaboration with newsrooms across the country to track hate incidents that might otherwise go unreported. The project aims to create a comprehensive database of where hate crimes are happening and what groups are being targeted. If you have an incident to report, submit it at Information provided will not be shared with law enforcement or to anyone outside the group working on the project.


NOVEMBER 16, 2017


he more Donald J. Trump talks walking the Russia nonsense halfway about Russia, the harder it is to back. Meanwhile, Clapper — a retired Air believe he’s actually loyal to the Force general and the recipient of two United States. He’s dedicated to his Bronze Stars — issued a strong rebuttal: money and his grotesquely inflated ego. “The president was He enjoys pomp and parades. The end. given clear and Otherwise, Americans cannot count indisputable eviupon this president to protect and defend dence that Rusthe U.S. Constitution any more than they sia interfered in could trust him alone with their wives or the election. His GENE daughters. To Trump, patriotism is a one- own DNI and CIA LYONS way street running from his deluded vot- director have coners to his grandiose sense of entitlement. firmed the finding in the intelligence It’s all about him; it’s not about you, community assessment. The fact that or me, or the United States of America. he would take Putin at his word over What’s more, deep down almost the intelligence community is unconeverybody knows it, apart from Trump’s scionable.” dwindling cohort of diehard supporters. The CIA said that (Trump-appointed) Consider last weekend, when the guy Director Mike Pompeo “stands by and Kevin Drum derisively calls “the great- has always stood by the January 2017 est negotiator the world has ever seen” Intelligence Community assessment … declared that regarding Russia’s mas- with regard to Russian election medsively documented efforts to sabotage dling.” That assessment concluded that the 2016 U.S. elections, he puts his faith Kremlin hackers and spies working for in Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin had done everything in Trump even impugned the patriotism their power to elect Donald J. Trump. of former CIA Director John Brennan, So the big dope started crawfishformer director of national intelligence ing. Trump explained that the Russian James R. Clapper and fired FBI Director strongman — a one-time KGB colonel James Comey. whose political opponents often end up “I mean, give me a break, they are dead in the street — had gotten his little political hacks,” Trump said. “So you feelings hurt. “You can only ask so many look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, times,” Trump alibied. “He said he absoyou have Clapper and you have Comey. lutely did not meddle in our election. He Comey is proven now to be a liar, and he did not do what they are saying he did.” is proven now to be a leaker. So you look “I really believe that when [Putin] tells at that and you have President Putin very me that, he means it. I think he’s very strongly, vehemently says he had noth- insulted, if you want to know the truth,” ing to do with them.” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force Never mind that these three men One. At a press conference in Hanoi, he have a combined history of more than put further sideways spin on his remarks. 90 years of public service at the highest He only meant to affirm Putin’s sincere levels vs. Donald J. Trump’s glorious 10 belief, the president said. months as president. To him, they’re “As to whether I believe it or not,” he bunglers and prevaricators, while the said, “I’m with our [intelligence] agentrustworthy Russian dictator’s denials cies, especially as currently constituted.” should be taken at face value — volumi- Whatever that means. nous evidence notwithstanding. Just give this egotistical buffoon a big How can anybody be surprised? After military parade and a couple of flattering all, Trump is a guy who believed (or pre- toasts and he rolls over on his back like tended to believe) that “Barack Obama a lost puppy. Would you like to scratch was born in Kenya and was aided in my belly? ” becoming president by a massive conTo believe that Putin has America’s spiracy involving his deceased parents, best interests at heart, said Sen. John the director of Hawaii’s bureau of vital McCain (R-Ariz.) “is not only naive but statistics, and a copy editor for the Hono- also places our national security at risk.” lulu Advertiser in 1961.” Of course, a darker possibility also exists: It was quite funny to see people hold- that Trump isn’t so much naive as frighting up “Welcome to Kenya” signs when ened about whatever Putin has on him, the president recently touched down in and about the possibility Americans will Honolulu. But I digress, and pointlessly. find out. Cultists cannot be persuaded by reason. Which, the way things are going, Within 24 hours, Trump was already appears quite likely.

The line


ell, it looks like we found the line. We found the line drawn by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other GOP members of Congress to separate acceptable and unacceptable behavior from an elected official. It seems splitting up families with deportation, overt racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bragging about sexually assaulting women, sending treasonous letters to Iran and lying about middle-class tax cuts are all acceptable. Grown men cruising the mall for teenage girls and allegedly groping them, thankfully, is a bit too much for the party of family values. Whew. It always comes back to religion, especially in the South. Literature, history, politics, science. Nothing in the South exists outside of the lens of religion. Frederick Douglass called religion in the South “a dark shelter” and a “mere covering for the most horrid crimes” when describing the cruelty of slaveholders in the Southern states. While not much outside death can begin to compare to the horrors that Douglass endured, the same religioncloaked justifications for misdeeds lives on. Indeed, to many of us who are on the outside of Southern right-wing evangelicalism, either because we have fled from it or we were never a part of it in the first place, it seems as if no deed is too foul to bring the powerful down as long as the perpetrator claims to be a Christian. Earlier this week, a letter in support of Roy Moore, Alabama Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, who is the subject of the allegations of sexual assault against teenage girls, resurfaced with the signatures of more than 50 Alabama pastors. A couple have now distanced themselves from the letter and claim it was written before these allegations surfaced, when Moore was known outside Alabama only for ignoring the Constitution, promoting prejudice against Muslims and fighting against equality. The others seem to still be proud of their support of Moore. I’m glad we’ve discovered that there is at least some behavior too cruel, too depraved for McConnell and friends. It seemed as if he and the majority of the GOP had decided kicking people off health care and giving tax cuts to their wealthy buddies and donors were more important than basic humanity. Now to see whether the prominent preachers in the South follow suit. Earlier this year, there was so much outrage among this group over imagined bathroom dangers and marriage equality they came together and prayed and issued the despicable

“Nashville Statement” in which they criticized Western culture for allowing such “sins.” Let’s see how they react to AUTUMN the abuse of teenTOLBERT age girls by one of their heroes. I’m not holding my breath that this group, mainly comprised of men, will turn on a conservative white male from Alabama. Their congregants may be another story. Since this news hit, I’ve seen a lot of conservatives remain silent on social media. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even though the ideal situation would be public and swift condemnation. But silence may indicate a shift. While the loudest voices continue to defend Moore, what we thought might happen with Trump might actually happen now. Much of the religious right may be so disgusted they quietly stay home on Election Day. It also may signal a shift that progressive Christians have been pushing for the past few years: a shift to seeing politics through a religious lens that is not focused on the hateful and inconsistent rules of Leviticus, but more on the actual teachings of Jesus. A politics of inclusion and compassion instead of exclusion and retribution. When I was a child, I attended a church where women had limited roles and were not allowed to preach to men. I remember watching some of the women in class or at women’s gatherings and thinking that, although I did not always buy into their message, they were so much more inspiring and knowledgeable than the men I heard on Sunday mornings. Why should they be limited in sharing their gifts? I see more and more women questioning these sexist rules and moving to churches where they are seen in an equal light to men. I dare say this exodus may be sped up by the male evangelical support of Donald Trump and now Moore. I may be allowing my optimism to run a bit rampant here. Maybe Moore stays in the race and wins. Maybe evangelicals in Alabama flock to the polls in support of their former district attorney who worked to either impress or intimidate young girls by constantly reminding them of his power and position. Maybe we are fighting a losing battle against those who choose party over people. I hope not. I hope the line McConnell has drawn holds. If not, I’m afraid all is lost and there literally is nothing shocking.

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Beaten down


ot many expected Arkansas to challenge LSU in Baton Rouge over the Veterans Day weekend, but there were enough odd variables in play that might have suggested a dogfight was to ensue. One, Arkansas was going to have the services of quarterback Austin Allen back after a lengthy absence, as he was cleared not only to play, but start over Cole Kelley (we’ll get to him later). Two, LSU was again coming off the traditionally physical contest against Alabama, in which the Tigers acquitted themselves fairly well but succumbed to the unbeaten Tide. Three, this was the first 11 a.m. kickoff in Death Valley in six years, and therein, the common mythology of the dreaded night game in Red Stick would not apply. The Hogs were sluggish offensively but gamely competed against a rather tepid Tiger offense for a good stretch. Impressively, the Razorback defensive line made its presence felt early, finally getting a crack at a quarterback in Danny Etling who couldn’t dart around them with relative ease. When Allen was finally able to settle in and make a couple of fine passes, the Hogs breached the end zone for the first and only time all day late in the second quarter and went to the locker room with the usual false confidence of being close in a road game against a far superior team. And let’s not undersell LSU because the Tigers have lost three games in their first year under Ed Orgeron, who is all too casually written off by pundits as this doddering buffoon who lacks the focus and mental acuity to realize sustained success. Yet, here he is, with a 7-3, ranked team that still lacks dynamic quarterback play and struggles to string together drives. I’ll remind you that Dabo Swinney also used to look like an idiot until he had an electric quarterback, and Tahj Boyd and Deshaun Watson clearly changed the perception of Clemson’s head coach. At any rate, the Tigers showed their potential after halftime, with Etling uncorking the second of two long throws to wide receiver D.J. Chark and the LSU running game led by Derrius Guice just grinding away at the Hogs’ hapless front. LSU’s defense amped up its game, and that 7-7 score after the first 30 minutes predictably turned into a 33-10 rout. Kelley came


NOVEMBER 16, 2017


into the game late, and was hideous, then ended up apparently and fittingly drunk once he got back to Fayetteville, having been picked up for careless driving and DWI early Sunday morning. Orgeron, it is now worth noting, has handed Bret BEAU WILCOX Bielema two losses by a combined 71-20 over the past year, so if anything is an indictment of the imperiled Arkansas coach who is likely doing his final paces up and down the Razorback sideline, that’s a big one. Losing five straight times to Kevin Sumlin, another coach who may well get fired, is a big one, too. And let’s not forget second-half failures as an overarching theme. Butch Jones has just been jettisoned by Tennessee one year after he won nine games. Vols’ fans were never truly enamored with the amiable but out-of-place guy from Cincinnati, and he had five years of modest but ultimately unsustainable achievement there despite quality recruiting efforts. It is the East Division mirror image of what’s transpired in Fayetteville over the exact same span, and Bielema’s sub-.500 record and woeful SEC mark both fall well short of Jones’ records. With Jones and Jim McElwain already out the door, and the possibility that Sumlin, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and Ole Miss’ interim coach Matt Luke will all be relieved of their duties soon enough, there is no logic in keeping the Bielema charade going, and the buyout issue is irrelevant. Arkansas has a $200 million stadium expansion to justify and pay for, and a fan base in full teeth-gnashing mode. A few outstanding coaching options are being bandied about, and one in particular makes so much sense that it probably will not materialize, given the tortured history of this program. Bielema, for being gentlemanly and endlessly optimistic, does deserve to ride out these last two games against Mississippi State and Missouri, to be fair. But he can coach those games with the knowledge that his employment is soon to end, and with the decisionmakers making inroads to the successor. If the Hogs fail to reach bowl eligibility, which now seems a certainty, then there is zero harm in giving Bielema the courtesy.


Heart of the city


he Observer pulled a gun on a guy told him to get down on his belly. Later, in my driveway Saturday night. It my wife and son told me I roared the was the first time in 43 years that words at him, though I don’t rememI’ve ever pointed a firearm at another ber it that way. The world, by then, had human being on purpose. My father contracted to a dim bubble containing always told me never to aim a gun at only me and the man I was prepared to anything you aren’t prepared to kill. I kill, if his hands reached for a pocket or was prepared to kill a man. It is a very his beltline. dark intersection to pass through. It was my wife saying my name from Our cars have been getting tossed on the porch, her voice afraid for me, that the regular at night. Items stolen, stuff pulled me back to earth. I realized I’ve thrown around, our doors left open so never been that scared in my life, and the dome lights run the batteries down. suddenly wondered what the hell I Four times in the past month. Saturday thought I was doing. I told the guy to night just before midnight, I looked out, get up and go, to never come back. I told and there was a guy sitting in my wife’s him to run. He jumped up and ran all Honda, door open, him rifling through the way down the block with his hands the car. up, and kept them up as he rounded the I have owned a Mossberg 12-gauge corner and disappeared. pump shotgun with a pistol grip for I don’t tell you any of this to brag. I all the years we’ve lived in our little did something incredibly foolish that house in the heart of the city. It sleeps could have wound up with me or a in a secret hidey hole I made for it, so stranger dying in a driveway, maybe it doesn’t wind up where a lot of guns both. I’m honestly a little ashamed of previously owned by law-and-order myself. But after almost two decades owners of firearms do: in the hands of of living in this town, having my house some idiot kid who decided to break robbed four times, having the pitiful into my house for a look-see. A few years little engagement ring I bought for my back, a guy here in Little Rock was killed wife when I was working a roofing crew doing exactly what I was about to: going and couldn’t afford any better stolen, out with a gun to confront somebody having the first computer my son built who was burglarizing his car. It’s a mad by himself stolen, having our dresser world out there. I thought of that guy drawers rifled through while we were as I opened the door. at work, having our cars gone through When I loomed up out of the dark, more times than I can count while we wearing only jeans, a hoodie and my sleep, I came to a decision there with son’s shoes, and racked the shotgun to the door knob in one hand and a shotmake the guy look up from the glove box gun in the other. In that moment, it of my wife’s car, I’m sure the business wasn’t a man out there in that car at end of that Mossberg looked very big all. It was this city. I didn’t want to get in the streetlights. From the distance hurt. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I’m I was to him, an 18-inch barreled shot- sure that’s what they all say when shit gun throws a pattern of double-ought goes sideways in the dark. buckshot about as big as a dinner plate. That may have been enough for me. I never took the safety off, but my thumb After our son graduates from Central was on the funny slide-safety Mossbergs High next spring, we’re talking about have on their rump the whole time. getting out of Little Rock. Not far away, The guy in my wife’s car put his but far enough. My frustration with this hands up slowly and crept out slowly, town could have gotten me or a guy tosshunched, an older man in a shabby ing a car for loose change killed Saturday coat and a ratty baseball cap. He said night, had things gone slightly differhe didn’t take anything. Said he was ent. And even though I love this place, only trying to get something to eat. I no place on this earth is worth that.

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Benton backs med bud sales


enton voted this week to about the medical marijuana law, the allow medical cannabis dis- medical marijuana industry, how to pensaries and cultivation sign up for medical marijuana and centers to be permitted and con- community impact. structed within city limits. Ordinance Arkansas’s first big cannabis 52 of 2017 allows the facilities to be industry expo is coming to Little built in retail areas. Under the ordi- Rock in December, and will feature a nance, dispensaries and cultivators host of local and national companies aren’t to be located close to schools, that hope to cash in on the opportunichildcare centers and churches. ties the dawn of medical cannabis and Though the board passed the ordi- industrial hemp will bring to the state. nance, Benton Mayor David Mattingly Hosted by Imperious Expo and said he opposes the facilities, telling Directory, the Arkansas Cannathe board, “I still don’t think this bis Industry Association and other is the way we should be going. If I sponsors, the Imperious Ark-La-Tex had greater inf luence or had been Cannabis Business Expo will be held asked, I would have said, ‘Why aren’t Dec. 6-7 at the Statehouse Convenwe doing this in pharmacies with all tion Center at 101 E. Markham St. The the other kind of drugs? Why have expo has over 35 vendors and comwe created a whole new industry?’ “ panies committed to attend, includOn July 24, the board had voted to ing firms involved in all facets of the put a 90-day moratorium on issuing industry, from seeds to publications permits for any new dispensary and to retail packaging. Tickets for both cultivation center applications. days are $50, and can be purchased The Arkansas National Guard through the Imperious website at has issued a video warning soldiers they can still face military punish- tex2017. ment for marijuana use, even if they Speakers who will present talks at are prescribed the drug by a doctor. the expo over the weekend include The video, posted Nov. 13 to the Neil Juneja of Gleam Law, a cannabisArkansas National Guard Facebook focused law firm based in Washington page, directs soldiers to a July 7 and Oregon that counts Snoop Dogg memo outlining the Guard’s strict and several large cannabis-related policies on marijuana use by soldiers, companies among its roster of clients; written by Maj. Gen. Mark H. Berry. Arkansas pharmacist Josh WinningThe video begins with a graphic say- ham of PhytoPharm.D, a cannabis coning, “Marijuana use is not compatible sulting firm; Random Vaughn, a Washwith military service,” before warn- ington cannabis cultivator and seller ing: “Arkansas soldiers and airmen who will speak on marijuana retail, will still face administrative action or including merchandising, franchising military justice for any marijuana use.” and branding; medical-grade cannaThe text is accompanied by a still shot bis cultivation expert Eric Brandstad of arms in fatigues wearing handcuffs. of Forever Flowering Greenhouses The video ends with another graphic in San Joaquin County, Calif.; Jan that says: “Take care of your career. Bartlett, director of the Southern CenDon’t smoke marijuana recreationally ter for Cannabis Research, which partor medically.” ners with universities to study canWho would have thought in years nabis and the hemp industry; author past that one day you could go to the and reporter Keiko Beatie, a board Central Arkansas Library’s Main member of NORML who is also conLibrary to hear Arkansas Department tributing writer at Edibles List Magaof Health spokesmen talk about medi- zine; Andy Joseph of Ohio, president cal marijuana? But that’s what you can of Apeks Supercritical, which builds do from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. industrial hemp oil extraction sys18. Joining the health department for tems; Jason Martin, CEO of Tree of the Medical Cannabis FAQs will be Life Seeds, who serves as a member the Drug Policy Education Group of the National Cannabis Industry and the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association; Arkansas pharmacist Dr. Association; all will answer questions Rhonda Beck and others.

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With dispensary and cultivation applications pending, hundreds of Arkansas entrepreneurs are sitting on go for a medical cannabis gold rush. How will it pan out? BY DAVID KOON


NOVEMBER 16, 2017



here are several decades of data to suggest that the coming of medical cannabis to Arkansas will bring relief from pain and freedom from over-reliance on dangerous opiates to residents suffering from some of the most debilitating and life-threatening diseases known to medicine.

It’s anybody’s guess, however, how the dollars-and-cents side of things will gel up, as dispensary and cultivation licenses are awarded and ancillary businesses like delivery services and testing labs boot. Like it or not, medicine is a business, and that includes medical cannabis.

What is known is that a lot of people are looking to get involved. Though the application process had been open since June 30, most of those seeking a license to operate one of the state’s 32 dispensaries and five grow centers waited until the Sept. 18 deadline to apply. When they did, the paperwork came at the state in an avalanche: 322 applications, most of them highly detailed and routinely over 1,000 pages long. Some prospective retailers and growers waited overnight outside the offices of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in lawn chairs, camped out like they were waiting for concert tickets, so they could be the first to drop off their papers on deadline day. Each dispensary applicant paid $7,500 just to apply. Potential cultivators paid $15,000. Of those fees, half the money will be refunded if the application is rejected. The state now suggests it may be spring before it can work through the often-gargantuan applications and decide who gets a spot in the vanguard of the state’s green gold rush. All applicants can do is wait and hope. Seeking to get their business plans as

concrete as possible so as to wow the medical cannabis trade groups in the state’s minty new Medical Marijuana state; the other is the Arkansas Medical Commission, the applicants already have Marijuana Association. On Dec. 6-7, the big-ticket items like real estate and key ACIA will host the region’s first cannabispersonnel locked down and waiting out related trade show, bringing speakers on in the state. Many we talked to are sitting medical cannabis and over 50 businesses on piles of cash, waiting for a phone that serve all areas of the industry to call from the MMC, which may or may Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention not come, so they can pull the trigger Center. on equipment purchases and new hires Nolan said his group has fielded “a Those who have studied medical deluge” of questions from both patients cannabis rollouts in other states — as and would-be entrepreneurs so far, well as the often treacherous labyrinth of especially since the application period banking and taxation pitfalls that come ended. Until the Medical Marijuana with growing and selling a substance Commission makes its decisions, still considered an illegal narcotic by the however, answers are scarce. “Now it’s federal government — caution that the kind of hurry up and wait,” Nolan said. start-up years may not bring the flood of “Everyone who applied for those is just new jobs and quick fortunes many may kind of sitting around with the real have envisioned. That doesn’t seem to estate tied down, and are just anxious be stopping entrepreneurs from trying to hear back early next year about how to get in on the ground floor, however. the commissioners graded everybody.” Nolan said his group estimates there will be 500 new jobs in the state torm Nolan is the president directly related to the cultivation and of the Arkansas Cannabis dispensaries pretty much as soon as Industry Association, which was licenses are awarded. It’s a number he established in March. It’s one of two expects to grow exponentially from


there, in addition to hires for related businesses like delivery companies, potency testing labs, cannabis-focused law and accounting firms, security firms and the like. “For Arkansas, that’s going to grow into a fair little industry,” Nolan said. One of the primary goals of his organization, Nolan said, is educating those looking to get involved. That has included educating Arkansans on a major potential stumbling block: the Internal Revenue Service’s Section 280e. Enacted in 1982 to help convict high-volume cocaine dealers in federal court, 280e, in a nutshell, says that those directly involved in the creation and selling of narcotics, including marijuana, even if it’s legal in their state, may only deduct from their federal taxes the “cost of goods sold” — solely those expenses directly incurred while creating the product. Cultivators, Nolan said, won’t be hit as hard by 280e, because they’ll be able to deduct expenses like water, seed, fertilizer and the like. But dispensary owners can deduct almost nothing when tax time rolls around, including most of the cost of staff, brick-and-mortar storefronts, warehouse space, all the way down to printer paper, paperclips and pens. “For dispensaries, much less percentage of their expenses can be attributed to cost of goods sold,” Nolan said. “That’s where it really hits. Even if on paper you’re showing $100,000 profit, that doesn’t mean you still don’t have a tax bill on top of that.” Though 280e doesn’t apply to ancillary businesses like delivery services or doctors who NOVEMBER 16, 2017



certify that patients have a condition cannabis in Arkansas. On the patient care side, Hunt’s approached me afterwards and he that allows them to purchase medical As established in his group’s mammoth group hopes to set up a “clinical” said, ‘I was here to tell you guys not to cannabis, this very expensive regulatory dispensary application, which Hunt said dispensary, with eight different methods come here, but I’m going back to my quirk has caused many dispensary and it’s been working on since December, of administering medical cannabis to congregation and telling them what this dispensary related businesses to fail in the Natural State Healthcare plan is those who can’t or don’t want to smoke is really about.’ ” other states, the owners socked with a to set up shop in the small Crawford cannabis. It’s a program that Hunt said is Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter said huge tax bill they can’t pay. County town of Mulberry, where it will unlike any other in the cannabis industry, that Natural State Healthcare’s winning “People will get excited about owning construct a 10,000-square-foot facility and one that he hopes can be franchised a license would be a definite shot in the a dispensary and starting a dispensary,” that will hire 10-15 people immediately to other states if the group’s application arm for the community and the area. Nolan said, “then 280e is just one of those if the license is awarded. Hunt hopes is successful. Construction of a facility there will raise kind of coming-to-reality moments. You his unique business model gives him a For Hunt, part of preparing for the the tax base and hiring will help the realize that, sure, there’s probably going leg up on the competition for one of the possibility of getting one of the coveted local economy. “This fits right in with to be a lot of revenue there. But when 32 licenses. dispensary licenses has been bringing Mulberry having a healthy community you cover all your expenses and then “[Dispensaries] can process the the town of Mulberry around to the idea and wanting to be promoted as a healthy on top of that have additional income cannabis flower — the buds and leaves of cannabis as medicine and helping the community,” he said. “When people are taxes that you can’t deduct, it just makes — into oil, and then they can take that town see Natural State Healthcare as a prescribed this medication — medical being profitable that much marijuana — it will give harder.” people a quality of life that One of those hoping to they didn’t have because avoid the pitfalls involved of the state identified in getting in on the ground ailments. We’re all about floor of medical cannabis helping people.” While in Arkansas is Corey Baxter said there are still Hunt. The co-founder of a some holdouts in town group called Natural State who oppose the plan, most Healthcare, which has understand that medical applied for a dispensary marijuana is medicine license, Hunt came to and take a compassionate Arkansas from Oklahoma line. Asked whether in 2007 to help expand his the town has extended family’s cell phone repair any tax breaks to entice business in the state. He Natural State Healthcare started looking into to locate there, Baxter said cannabis as medicine in incentives were neither 2013, when his girlfriend’s asked for nor offered mother died of breast by the city. “We try to cancer. Eventually, he took promote Mulberry as a a trip to Colorado and met great place,” Baxter said, with patients being helped “and these businesses by cannabis treatments. that come in, like Natural “I met a little 4-yearState Healthcare, they see old kid who was taking it as such an advantage of cannabis oil, and it was being here that they don’t treating his cancer. I ask or even want any type started meeting other of tax incentives. They STORM NOLAN: The head of the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Industry Association predicts 500 growing and dispenpatients — patients with really, truly want to be a sary jobs. PTSD, little kids who community partner. That’s were having hundreds of seizures a day oil and make usable products,” he said. valuable addition to the town. To that the type of people we want. We want and then they didn’t have seizures any “They can then sell those usable products. end, Hunt said he’s worked with the partnerships.” more after taking cannabis oil. I said, That’s where the upsell is. That’s where local police and city government since the money is. The money is in the extract. February, and has held a number of ‘Something has to be done about this.’ ” Soon after returning from Colorado, They can then sell vape pens, topicals, patient forums there, bringing in experts avid Couch, who helped Hunt started a website and Facebook edibles, to patients, caregivers or — to talk about the health and safety spearhead the effort to win the group called “Illegally Healed.” The here’s the kicker — other dispensaries. benefits of cannabis. They have been ballot initiative that brought Illegally Healed Facebook group is now So what Arkansas has done is to set up met with what he called “tremendous medical cannabis to Arkansas, said he the biggest cannabis patient-focused 32 wholesalers. In our operation, we’re support,” Hunt said, though some were believes the state’s fledgling cannabis group on the social media site, with setting up a 10,000-square-foot facility initially reluctant. That includes, Hunt regulators are, so far, doing “certainly over 400,000 likes. There and at Hunt’s to take care of patients in the Ozarks, in said, a local pastor who came to hear way better than any other state that’s website, he publishes interviews and Mulberry. We’re going to take care of a lot about the Natural State Healthcare plan ever rolled out any sort of marijuana short video content about medical of patients, but the bulk of our product after his congregation asked whether program.” cannabis. This month, Hunt also is going to be going out the back door, they should oppose the effort. “He came Also a co-founder of the Arkansas launched a new print magazine called not the front door, legally, to the other to our meeting, heard us out, heard Medical Marijuana Association, a trade what we wanted to do,” Hunt said. “He industry group that counts talk show host Ounce, which will focus on medical dispensaries.”



NOVEMBER 16, 2017



Montel Williams and former Arkansas cannabis industry in the state. Because He’s currently brokering relations with House, who has researched the issue Attorney General Dustin McDaniel as cannabis is still considered illegal by the a local bank, which he refused to name extensively, said there are around 380 members of its board, Couch said the federal government, many banks won’t at its request, and knows of another banking institutions nationwide that state has done a good job of making sure allow marijuana-related businesses to group that’s working with a credit do business with cannabis-related the Arkansas cannabis industry will be hold accounts. In many states that have union. “They are putting together their companies. Accounts aren’t cheap, primarily run by Arkansans. It’s a goal adopted medical cannabis, the lack of policies, procedures, people, plans and though. “There’s lots of record keeping, helped along by a stipulation Couch banking partners has led to dispensary so on to go into this business,” House lots of background checks, audits,” wrote into the law that requires 60 and cultivation center owners forced to said. “Their business model in both House said. “Banks will be expected percent of the leaders of each company carry hard cash around in duffel bags and instances is to contact the people that to know their customers’ operations to be Arkansas residents. Couch also stash it in secret hiding places. House have submitted license applications. inside and out. That’s a time-intensive, notes that dispensaries and grow centers manpower-intensive task. A checking will help some of the most desperate account could very well cost $4,000 to areas of the state, with applicants who $6,000 a month, and I’m told that some propose bringing their facilities to banks charge 2 percent just to count cash. economically depressed areas getting Hopefully they can work it out where two extra points when commissioners people can start paying with bank drafts score their applications. There are, for or credit cards.” example, eight applications that hope House has also explored the to situate vast cultivation operations in possibility of what he called “Plan B” Couch’s hometown of Newport. should efforts to find common ground “Jefferson County, Jackson County, with commercial banks in the state fall some of the counties in the lower part through: what’s known as The Ohio of Arkansas primarily, are economically Plan. Pioneered in that state, the plan depressed,” Couch said. “In a highly allows cannabis-related industries competitive process like this is going to and customers to deposit money with be, the winners might be separated by the state. “It will be credited to your a point or two. Those two points may account, and then you can authorize make a difference.” drafts against that with a dispensary,” Couch said he didn’t set up the law he said. The Department of Finance and to be a sales tax boon for the state of Administration “tells me they do have the Arkansas, but said the state is already software that would support that, but reaping rewards just from application they’d rather not get into the business fees. He said the plan was to make the of banking if they can avoid it.” program “revenue neutral” so opponents House said that remains to be seen of the referendum wouldn’t be able whether the Trump administration will to attack it as a burden on taxpayers. continue the hands-off approach the “In fact, it’s going to generate [revenue] Obama administration established when probably, maybe $5 [million] to $10 it comes to states with medical marijuana. million in extra sales tax revenue over the “We don’t know what [Attorney General cost of the program,” he said. “But you Jeff ] Sessions is going to do, or we don’t look right now: Assume there are 50,000 know what the president is going to tell card holders in the state of Arkansas, him to do,” House said. “I’m hoping he’ll which I think is a fair assumption. At say, ‘Leave it to the states and they’ll $50 a card, that’s $2.5 million. You’ve enact legislation to do that.’ But so far got five cultivation facilities that have they haven’t.” fees of $100,000 apiece. That’s a halfAs for whether medical cannabis will million bucks.” pan out as a tax revenue boost to the state, Though the regulation of ancillary House is skeptical. “It’ll take us probably business isn’t spelled out in the statute, three, maybe four years to recoup the Couch said he believes those businesses amount of taxpayer dollars we’ve had to will be “purely market-driven” and will expend just getting it set up and running self-regulate, with the best business PHARMACIST BRANDON THORNTON: Cannabis testing lab CEO says a national bank — the enforcement part of it and all that. severed ties with his company, Steep Hill, so he knows banking is an issue. model coming out on top. “Who has I think the crossover point is four or five the best testing lab, who has the best years away.” New Mexico, which House delivery service, who has the best sees that possibility in Arkansas as a When the applications are approved, said is comparable in size and scope to production facility?” he said. “That’ll threat to public safety, which is a big part that’s who they’ll go talk to. They’ll talk Arkansas, took three and a half to four drive that. That’ll be pure capitalism. of why he’s been working on solutions. to those folks privately. They’re using years to get into the black from setting Even Republicans gotta love that.” “I’ve gone from dread and terror of money nondisclosure agreements — you don’t up its MMJ program. But, House said, While initially a skeptic about medical being carried into malls and courthouses tell anybody where you bank, we won’t he’s been “terrible at predicting numbers” cannabis, Republican Rep. Doug House and grocery stores and things like that, to tell anybody you’re our customer — and when it comes to medical cannabis. (R-Little Rock) has been working to desperation, to hope,” House said. they have asked me in both instances “I thought maybe 30 people would apply find a solution for the often-complex He’s finally reaching a level of to keep their identity confidential. I’ll for cultivation centers, and it was 100,” problem of banking for the coming confidence that a solution will be found. honor that pledge.” he said. “I thought maybe 100 firms NOVEMBER 16, 2017



would apply for the dispensaries and it because there’s no federal oversight for “We started doing all the trade shows, everybody goes into the business and was 200. I thought they would be ready cannabis, it’s up to the states to regulate all the seminars, all the stuff across the thinks they’re going to get rich quick,” to issue licenses by Christmas.” that.” country, large conferences, stuff like that he said. “It’s simply not the case. We’ve Brandon Thornton, a pharmacist who Thornton said Arkansas is helping back at that point in time,” he said. “Five been doing this since 2012, and it’s serves as CEO of the Arkansas branch of lead the way for medical cannabis in years ago, this was a very, very different probably one of the highest fail rates of the California medical-marijuana testing the South and in red states. He believes business than it is today. Five years ago, any industry because of all the legalities firm Steep Hill Labs, knows how quickly that will lead to “huge opportunities” most of the people in the business at that go along with it … This is not an the banking rug can be pulled out from in coming years. “The conditions here that time were people who were in easy business to make money in right under a cannabis-related firm. “We’ve in Arkansas for growing are going to be the business prior to legalization. Now, out of the gate.” already had issues with banking here,” he pretty similar to the conditions in the it’s very different. You have people Martin said the state’s work to set said. “We had a banking relationship that rest of the South. Maybe when some from all walks of life, from corporate up its medical cannabis system is one we were told to leave. So we’re definitely other states start opening up and voting America, who are wanting into this of the most transparent processes he’s running into financial issues, but mainly in medical cannabis, Arkansas is going industry because of the green rush.” The seen. But the delay in processing the because it was a national bank. They to be in a really good spot as far as what company now has operations in Nevada, applications has many on edge. Martin just didn’t feel comfortable. And I get we know and what we’ve learned.” Oregon, Washington and Colorado and said he and his partners worked on their it. I totally get it.” Thorton identified Another veteran of the medical has industrial hemp farms in Kentucky applications, both of which topped 700 the bank as BancorpSouth. He said he marijuana industry hoping to gain a and North Carolina. The company pages, for all of 2017, taking their focus understands why banks don’t want to foothold in Arkansas is Jason Martin, has submitted applications for both off other businesses in order to meet the feel like they have “a target on September deadline. Now it their backs” when it comes to will likely be spring — maybe the feds. later — before the applications “We’ve talked to some banks, are reviewed and the license and I feel like the banks are being winners are announced. pretty choosy on who they want “There’s really no end set to work with,” he said. “I know a when that delay is going to be lot of dispensaries and cultivators over,” he said. “Is it going to be who applied [for accounts] were first quarter, second quarter, really vetted. The bank people third quarter of next year? really wanted to see their business All these [potential license plans and really wanted to know holders] have money set aside. who was involved and that they If you have liquid assets and had the assets to do it.” they’re sitting aside for a With operations in six states project, they’re kind of frozen and additional research facilities right now. To the billionaires in Israel and Jamaica, Steep Hill, that put money into this, it founded in 2008 in Berkeley, tests probably doesn’t affect them for both contamination and active very much. But if you went compounds in cannabis samples down, opened up a bank that lend different medical account and stuck $500,000 aspects to various strains. When into it, that $500,000 is really the Arkansas arm of Steep Hill is LEARNED THE BUSINESS ELSEWHERE: Jason Martin of Arkansas consulting firm Natural State of Kind just sitting there. When does up and running, Thornton said, says he got a “master’s degree” in the medical cannabis industry in other states where the business was that end?” more established. it’ll employ about 10 people. Martin said it’s his belief that “Arkansas requires us to go get the federal government will do samples from growers, so logistically co-founder of the medical cannabis a dispensary license and a cultivation something to alleviate the issues with it’s going to be hiring people to go out consulting company Natural State of license. If approved, Natural State will medical marijuana taxation and banking in and actually get those samples,” he said. Kind. As the name suggests, Natural grow cannabis in warehouse space the short term, possibly as soon as the next “But then also we’ll have a lab director, State of Kind started in Arkansas, in the in Newport and operate a dispensary 24 months. The income being generated chemists, people that are proficient in months before the first effort at passing in Conway. It’s also applied to grow in states like Washington and Colorado reading the test results that come off medical marijuana in the state failed. industrial hemp in the state. If its is simply too great for the government the machinery. As far as a financial When the initiated act failed, Martin said, dispensary and cultivation center to keep ignoring the issue. As for those commitment, it’s probably close to a his group decided to go where medical licenses are approved, Martin said, looking to get involved in medical cannabis million dollars in equipment.” marijuana had been made legal, start the company plans to be a “one-stop industry in the state, Martin cautions that Thornton said that the state has a company and learn everything they shop,” growing, processing, extracting, there is a worse fate than living by dog done a good job so far in setting up the could about the industry. While initially manufacturing and packaging under years: living by cannabis business years. requirements for testing, growing and disappointing, the failure of Arkansas one banner. “It’s easily 10 to 1,” Martin said with a selling medical marijuana. Other states voters to pass medical marijuana on the Though many people looking to chuckle. “One year in a regular business sometimes stumble there. “It’s kind first go-round was actually a blessing get into medical cannabis see the is 10 years in a cannabis business. It moves of tricky with cannabis. In any other in disguise for Martin and his partners, industry as a kind of gold rush, Martin at the speed of light. It’s kind of like being industry, the federal government would allowing them to get what he called said there’s myriad ways to fail, most in the tech industry: If you’re not always have some oversight,” he said. “The FDA “a master’s degree” in the industry by of which new operators don’t see learning, always studying and always or the EPA would have rules when it taking their freshman knocks in more coming until trouble finds them. following up on the leaders, you’re going comes to how to test, what to test for. But established states. “Initially,” he said, “anybody and to get passed by very, very quickly.”


NOVEMBER 16, 2017



The Times seeks to measure sexual aggression in Arkansas


Inconsequential News Quiz:

BIG Repeat Offenders PICTURE


Play at home, while wearing one flip-flop and your boyfriend’s drawers.

1) A man in Hot Spring County who was recently arrested for attacking a woman with a chainsaw was found to have had an alarming prior run-in with the law. What was it? A) A conviction for a 1974 Texas chainsaw massacre, along with his cannibal cult family. B) He once chainsaw-carved a tree in front of Arkansas State Police headquarters into a giant wang. C) He’d previously told officers that the 1983 film “Scarface” was “his favorite comedy.” D) He was out on parole after serving time in prison for attacking another woman with a chainsaw. 2) A Little Rock woman was arrested on charges of burglary and disorderly conduct after, police say, she broke a window of the Kroger store in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock and went inside. What was she wearing at the time? A) The rear half of a horse costume. B) Confederate flag bikini. C) Donald Trump mask and an “I’m With Stupid” T-shirt. D) Men’s “tighty whitey” underwear, one flip-flop and a sweater that was unbuttoned in the front. 3) According to a witness and police, which of the following happened after the woman in the previous item broke into the store? A) She attempted to steal bandages. B) She grabbed register receipts and rubbed them all over her body. C) She allegedly told police that she and her boyfriend have a sexual fetish that involves filming themselves throwing dirt on each other. D) All of the above. BRIAN CHILSON

n Greek mythology, Cassandra, the daughter of the King and Queen of Troy, was tempted by the god Apollo to have sex with him in exchange for a gift — the gift of perfect prophecy. But she rebuffed his advances, and so he punished her: No one would believe what she said, though she spoke the truth. With the growing revelations of sexual assault of women by movie stars and media moguls, and the national #metoo movement that has allowed women to say they, too, have suffered abuse, the Arkansas Times is seeking to learn what sort of inappropriate behavior Arkansans — of both sexes — have been subjected to, through what we have named The Cassandra Project. The Cassandra Project will begin with the establishment of an online tool for Arkansans to report, confidentially, instances of sexual aggression, such as suggestive remarks in the workplace, inappropriate touching, forceful touching, attempted rape or rape. We want to know if refusal of advances has cost someone his or her job. The Times hopes to collect tips to both better understand the scope of abuse and to investigate and expose the perpetrators. Though the survey asks for name and contact information, respondents need not answer those questions. The survey asks about the details of the incident and whether it happened to the respondent, someone the respondent knew or was something the respondent saw. The survey asks whether the perpetrator was a workplace supervisor, family member, pastor, educator, client or other, and in what setting the incident occurred, such as school or home. The only question the respondent must answer is whether the Times, while withholding the respondent’s name or identifying details, can publish the account. Like all news tips the Times receives, we will not publish information about a specific incident without verifying it first. Our goal is to help others understand the problems people face who experience abuse. It also requests that knowledge of abuse of a minor be reported to the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children hotline. The online tool also includes a link to the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s crisis intervention centers. This coalition of individuals and organizations works to eliminate of sexual violence and advocates for sexual assault victims’ rights and services. ACASA provides cohesion, vision and resources to members while working to change public attitudes and beliefs surrounding sexual violence issues.


4) The board that oversees the Junction Bridge, a pedestrian and bike span between Little Rock and North Little Rock, recently decided to ban something from the bridge. What was it? A) U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, with extra patrols on prom night. B) Trolls. C) Elephants, llamas and Fouke Monsters. D) “Love Locks,” the signed padlocks latched onto bridge railings there as a romantic gesture by couples. 5) Lindsay Scott, an alumna of the University of Arkansas, set a Guinness World Record recently. What was the record for? A) The record for the most Roy Moores, Louis C.K.s and Harvey Weinsteins punched in the scrotum in under one minute. B) Longest toss of a hog hat and a Razorback football season ticket. C) Largest student loan debt. D) Putting on and taking off a wetsuit, which Scott accomplished in 43.13 seconds, well under her 1-minute goal. Answers: D, D, D, D, D

The Cassandra Project NOVEMBER 16, 2017


Arts Entertainment AND

The Missing Chapter Elaine’s history resurfaces in a documentary, 100 years later. BY JACOB ROSENBERG



NOVEMBER 16, 2017


that. As the 100th anniversary of the Elaine massacre nears, Wilson is in production on a documentary about the events of 1919 and their continued reverberations. He and a crew of local multitalented artists, including Joshua Asante and Phillip Rex Huddleston — both musicians who also work as visual artists — spent time in Elaine last October and are hoping to go back in 2018 to complete the film in time for

was initiated because of a threat to a capitalist class in Phillips County.” Black writers at the time certainly saw the event as the result of a connection between labor and white supremacy. Ida B. Wells, who famously wrote about Elaine and the sentences of death imposed on 12 black men, wrote sarcastically that the “terrible crime these men had committed was to organize.


n the dedication of the Elaine Legacy Center last February, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen asked people not to forget context. The September 1919 Elaine massacre — in which an estimated 200-plus African Americans were killed, another 285 were arrested and 12 men were sentenced to death — was not an isolated incident. It had come just months after World War I and at the end of a bloody summer in 1919 in which labor organizing by blacks was met with violent opposition by whites. In response to union organizing in Phillips County and fear of having to pay fair wages to black sharecroppers, action by police and lawmakers led to the death sentences of black men without due process. It was the deadliest race riot in U.S. history. That did not make it an outlier, though, by any means, Griffen reminded the crowd. “Please, young people, remember the dots,” he said. Because those fights still rage on: the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the killings of black men by the police, an unfair justice system. But how many young people are even taught that the dots exist? “The thing about Elaine is that I didn’t learn about it growing up,” Michael Wilson told me over the phone. He now lives in San Francisco and is a filmmaker, but grew up in Little Rock and attended Central High, graduating in 1988. “I learned nothing about it [at Central], and I learned nothing about it at Hendrix [College], and it was just shocking to me that what I would consider, at this point, the most important event in Arkansas’s history was consciously and unconsciously suppressed.” Wilson wants to be part of changing

UNCOVERING THE CONTEXT: Cinematographer Jeff Dailey, Director Michael W. Wilson and Elaine resident James White examine a previously unknown grave site during production for an upcoming documentary.

the anniversary in 2019. A key part of the effort will be to include the context that Griffen said is needed. “One of the key fa ilures in understanding, or framing, the Elaine massacre is in failing to talk about the fact that this was, in fact, a labor battle,” Wilson said. “The entire massacre

“The colored men who went to war for this democracy returned home determined to emancipate themselves from the slavery which took all a man and his family could earn, left him in debt, gave him no freedom of action, no protection for his life or property, no education for his children, but did give him Jim Crow cars, lynching and

disfranchisement,” she wrote. This disenfranchisement, scholars have pointed out, is often ignored in general history education. Instead, the standard narrative is of a struggle beginning in the mid-1950s and ending in the mid-1960s, couched into a singular series of events called the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the central figure, imagined continually giving an “I have a dream speech” — calling only for peace — with discussions of unionization and his assassination while organizing a worker’s strike gone. The focus on capitalism’s effect on black lives is almost always absent, as is a history of activism that stretches back much farther, especially events that occurred in the early 20th century, like the 1927 lynching of John Carter in Little Rock. Failing to recognize those episodes as part of a continuation of a long civil rights movement, risks undermining the impact of modern-day iterations like Black Lives Matter. “It’s important to not think of this as just an isolated event, but to really talk about how labor and class organization in the Delta was a fixture. And that it was violently suppressed multiple times,” Wilson said, putting the event in a wider context and tracing its effects to the present moment. Because, he said, “we haven’t come as far as we think we have.” A fundraiser to benefit the completion of the documentary on Elaine is set for 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at the White Water Tavern, with performances from Silver Anchors, a new project from film crewmember Phillip Rex Huddleston; Princeaus; and DJ Yumamerle. For more on that performance, see page 22.

ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog

A&E NEWS “FINDING FRANCES,” the biting season finale of Comedy Central’s “Nathan For You,” doubled as a tour through downtown Little Rock, with stops at The Studio Theatre, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport by way of a plot device that started with Nathan’s discovery of a 1957 yearbook from the Desha County town of Dumas (and prompted the inclusion of the song “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas” and an imagined sequel to Jeff Nichols’ “Mud,” called “Mud 2: Never Cleaner”). Nathan Fielder sets out on a quest to help fledgling Bill Gates impersonator Bill Heath (who plays himself) locate a lost love, Frances Gaddy. The way “Nathan For You” straddles the line between humor and desperation is reason enough to check out “Nathan For You,” but there are some real Easter eggs in the finale for Arkansas natives, too: an arcane reference to the 1969 Texas vs. Arkansas Cotton Bowl Classic faceoff; a drive by Central High School; a Downtown Wigs & Fashions cameo. The entire 83-minute episode is available to stream at shows/nathan-for-you.




VERIZON ARENA ANNOUNCED concerts from Alan Jackson, Saturday, Jan. 20; Brad Paisley on Thursday, April 12; and classic rock mainstay Chicago, Saturday, May 13. For tickets and show details, visit IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ARKANSAS SOUNDS, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the Arkansas Times presents the first ever Central Arkansas Music Awards, a concert and ceremony of recognition to take place at the Ron Robinson Theater. With the help of an esteemed board, we’ve put together a list of nominees in 22 categories. Now, we need your help! Visit to add your favorite musicians to the list of nominees by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. We’ll combine your responses with those from our board, and our board will cast its final votes. Then, mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, where host Kevin Kerby and a panel of presenters will name the winners. Keep an eye out here and on the Times’ Rock Candy Facebook page for announcements about live performances from a few of Little Rock’s finest, and make plans to celebrate the changing landscape that makes up the Little Rock music scene.


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‘ALL-AMERICAN ROAD SHOW’: Chris Stapleton (above), Marty Stuart (right) and Brent Cobb land at Verizon Arena on Thursday night.



7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $36-$71.

It hasn’t been all that long since Chris Stapleton was in Little Rock as part of the 2016 Riverfest lineup, but something about the way a server at a downtown Little Rock eatery hummed and sang along with “Tennessee Whiskey” last week as she restocked sugar packets tells me it won’t matter. Stapleton’s take on that David Allan Coe tune was infused with rhythm and blues, and the version he did for the 2015 Country Music Awards with Justin Timberlake went gangbusters, cementing Stapleton’s place as a performer after years spent writing songs for other people. This year’s follow-up, “From A Room: Vol. 1,” released in May (Vol. 2 is expected Dec. 1), mostly borrows a somber attitude from Stapleton’s debut, but it’s tempered with lighter matters, as in “Them Stems,” a lament about a waning weed supply co-written with Arkansas native Shawn Camp. And, for the purists who think the songs Stapleton penned for Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan before stepping into the limelight are “part of the problem” of country music’s identity crisis, I’d dare them to deny the street cred of Stapleton’s compatriot on the tour, Marty Stuart. Stuart cut his teeth with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt in

the early ’70s until Flatt died in 1978 (incidentally, the year Stapleton was born and the era of country he cites as his songwriting compass), enjoying a decades-long career as a rockabilly pioneer. His new record, though, “Way Out West,” was produced by longtime Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, and reads like a “Hejira” for the bluegrass fan, vibrating with mysticism, prayer and reverb. Nashville songwriter Brent Cobb, who Rolling Stone called the “redneck Paul Simon,” opens the show. SS


DAKOTA DAVE HULL 7:30 p.m. The Joint Theatre & Coffeehouse. $25.

Toward the end of an ultra-nerdy video about guitars on YouTube (ultra-nerdy as in, the series is called “Trade Secrets!” and the exclamation 20

NOVEMBER 16, 2017


point is illustrated like a guitar neck), guitar repair sensei Dan Erlewine holds one of his palms up against one of Dakota Dave Hull’s to compare paws. Erlewine lets a barely audible “Gawd” slip out; Hull’s hands are enormous. Placing them at turns on a 14-fret flat top, a National Resonator, a baritone and a 3/4-size piccolo

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guitar, he picks cleanly and sweetly, taking advantage of his long fingers to do double stops and lightning-fast ragtime melodies, borrowing from the American songbook and from black stringband acts like Martin, Bogan & Armstrong. He doesn’t sing, but that doesn’t mean he’s shy with the microphone. For 20 years, Hull

hosted a radio show on MinneapolisSt.Paul’s KFAI-FM 90.3 and 106.7, in which he avoided playing the same tune twice in 12 months, and which he left in January 2017 to focus on live performance. Hull’s here as part of the Argenta Arts Acoustic Music Series, and this concert marks the end of the series for 2017. SS




The Seth Walker Trio expertly pairs disparate genres — jug band music and jazz, for example — at South on Main, 8 p.m., $10. Kevin Bozeman goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Pianist/vocalist Mark Binns returns to Little Rock for a show at The Lobby Bar, “AutumnSongs,” 7:30 p.m., free. Graham Wilkinson blends reggae and rock at The White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Author Jonathan Friesen gives a talk titled “Mental Health in the Spotlight: Our Chance to Be Human,” noon, Clinton School of Public Service, free. Brian Ramsey entertains for happy hour at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and at 9 p.m., Mother Hubbard takes the stage, $5.

FRIDAY 11/17

WE DISSENT: Brian Chilson’s “Don’t Kill the ACA” is part of a photography show at New Deal Gallery, which opens Friday with a reception.

FRIDAY 11/17

‘WE DISSENT: AN EXHIBITION OF PROTEST PHOTOGRAPHY’ 6 p.m. New Deal Gallery, 2003 S. Louisiana St. Donations.

If you’ve got any shred of doubt left that 2017 has been a year of tumult, find yourself a news clip from the pre-Trump era — or better yet, a “Saturday Night Live” sketch from 2013, when comedy writers were forced to resort to tropes: bar mitzvah jokes and songs about awkward home-forthe-holidays sex in your old childhood bedroom. Or, on a more sobering note, observe the cover of the Oct. 16 issue of the New Yorker, in which the name of each victim of the Las Vegas mass shooting appears inscribed on a bullet. Put modestly, it’s been a hell of a year, a year in which even people who never considered themselves political took to social media and to the streets to voice their dissent. Five local photographers — Brian Chilson (photographer for the Arkansas Times), Vincent Griffin, Rita Henry, Brandon Markin and Sydney Rasch — documented many of those acts of dissent, and their work is on display as a collection at the New Deal Gallery, a cozy space near the Governor’s Mansion that’s become known for hosting

concerts and art exhibitions that might be underrepresented elsewhere. Work contributed to the exhibit was not restricted by content or perspective, but all photos have been taken since January 2017, when the project was conceived at the Women’s March of Arkansas, and features “people expressing their beliefs in a public forum,” a press release reads. “From the ‘Rally to Stop the Death Penalty’ to a march in Hot Springs to preserve Confederate monuments, an interesting cross section of voices was represented.” Griffin, for example, observed Antifa protestors distributing bottles of water freely during a protest on a particularly hot day, and protestors speaking with counterprotestors across metal barriers. “Over the course of the year,” Markin said, “I saw people showing up to express solidarity with movements they might have shied away from in the past, from the many families who came out to support a ‘Black and Brown Trans Women’s Rally’ to those who came to voice opposition to a travel ban.” This opening reception includes food donated from The Root and from Boulevard Bread Co., and the exhibition will be up for viewing from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19. The exhibit may be seen by appointment through Dec. 1. SS

The River Kittens unleash lovely three-part harmonies at South on Main, 9 p.m., $10. The Cate Brothers bring their tried-and-true blues to the Ron Robinson Theater as part of the Arkansas Sounds concert series, 7 p.m., $20. The human-machine hybrid that is Captured By Robots! returns to Low Key Arts in Hot Springs, 118 Arbor St., 9 p.m., $12. Just down the road, Recognizer, Ginsu Wives and Notice to Quit share a bill at Maxine’s, 9 p.m. John Neal brings his rock ’n’ roll set to Vino’s for an all-ages show, 8 p.m. The Good Time Ramblers good-time it at Kings Live Music in Conway, with an opening set from Chris Tarkington, 8:30 p.m., $5. Delta pianist Doug Duffey brings his “slammin’ multi-international band” Louisiana Soul Revival to White Water, 9 p.m. Richie Johnson kicks off the weekend with a happy hour set at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, Donna Massey performs, 9 p.m., $5. At Revolution, “red dirt” country singer Wade Bowen brings his twangy tenor to the stage, 9 p.m., $16-$18. Clusterpluck returns to Four Quarter Bar with its rowdy bluegrass blend, 10 p.m., $7. The Big Dam Horns get loud at Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 9:30 p.m., $8. The 2017 Cosplay Con & Anime Experience lands at Verizon Arena, 2 p.m. Fri., and at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat., $15 day pass, $25 weekend pass, $100 VIP tickets. The John Calvin Brewer Band fires up a set at Silks Bar & Grill at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., free.

SATURDAY 11/18 Freeverse takes its feelgood jams to the stage at Kings Live Music, 8:30 p.m., $5. Bryan Borland, poet and


Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies NOVEMBER 16, 2017








make the amateur cook feel like a scientist without all that expensive schooling. Sometime this winter — if we get one — check out Once, when living in the Quapaw Quarter, his recipe for pressure cooker chili, in which I decided to try Alton Brown’s recipe for beef the required 30 tortilla chips are dumped reckjerky — the one where you emulate a dehydra- lessly into a pot with everything else, eventualtor by sticking slices of marinated flank steak ly disappearing and thickening the whole conbetween air filters and tie the whole rig up to coction until it’s fantastically rich and sturdy. a box fan for half a day. To all my neighbors: And if the promotional material for this show I’m sorry I made the parking lot smell like is fair representation, Brown will put that beasmokey mesquite that weekday afternoon, but kers-and-test tubes approach to grub onstage I’m #sorrynotsorry I tried it. Brown’s recipes Saturday night. SS

7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $43-$125.

SATURDAY 11/18 AT GREG THOMPSON FINE ART: Artwork by Carroll Cloar (pictured) and others can be seen during Argenta Art Walk.

FRIDAY 11/17


5-8 p.m., downtown North Little Rock galleries.

University of Arkansas at Monticello Associate Professor Scott Lykens and Professor Tom Richard will be on hand for the reception for their show, “Under the Influence,” which opens Friday at the Argenta Branch of the Laman Public Library, 420 Main St. They work in dissimilar mediums — Lykens is a potter and Richard paints and draws — but both delight in drawn, sometimes whimsical, figures (Lykens even borrowed Richard’s favorite yellow Peeps for a platter), though Richard’s images have a touch of menace. Core Brewery, 411 Main St., opens a show of religion-referencing art, “Path to Enlightenment,” by the Latino Art Project, and the Thea Foundation is exhibiting “Astro Pulp,” cosmic comic-inspired illustrations by Chad Maupin in Thea’s renovated exhibition space at 401 Main St. The 400 block is really rocking for this Argenta Art Walk: Argenta Gallery’s exhibition “Glitch” features “digitally moshed” photographs by Jake West, 413 Main St.; sister gallery StudioMain continues with “VI Machina,” artist, educator and architect David L. Murphree’s visions of “anthropogenic climate disruption correction”; and Greg Thompson Fine Art’s “Best of the South,” work by regionally acclaimed artists, continues, 429 Main St. In the 500 block of Main, the North Little Rock Heritage Center, 506 Main St., is showing work by Jake Jackson and Mugs Cafe will be open. Barry Thomas Fine Art & Studio at 711 Main St. will also be open. LNP

MASS OF THE CHILDREN 7:30 p.m. Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive. $20.

Unrestricted by the sequential and scriptural demands of the liturgy, John Rutter’s 2003 “Mass of the Children” marries poems by Bishop Thomas Ken and William Blake. The composition includes Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience,” a title that could just as aptly describe this work, written for baritone, soprano, orchestra and two choirs: a four-part adult choir (i.e. the voices of “experience”) and a three-part children’s choir (voices of “inno-


JAMIE LOU & THE HULLABALOO, JOHN BURNETTE 9 p.m. Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack. $6.

‘FEMI-SOCIALITE’: Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo (pictured) joins John Burnette at Stickyz Saturday night.

SILVER ANCHORS The crew for an upcoming documentary on the 1919 Elaine massacre, which the Ency-

NOVEMBER 16, 2017


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This show is the sonic equivalent of the 1977 Instagram filter: Two of the dreamiest, haziest voices in the state are on one bill, and it’ll cost you roughly $3 to hear each of them. For a primer, check out the lilting “Blue Step” from Burnette’s debut: “Me and Jolene picked a player piano/To share our favorite song/She played with my hair and corrected my grammar/Sayin’ ‘Sorry if I come on strong,’ ” or the foggy, slow crescendo of Jamie Lou Connolly’s “When Someday” from her latest, an EP called “Femi-Socialite”: “I’m frozen still/Tryin’ to pull the sun into the shade.” SS


9 p.m. White Water Tavern.


cence”). Under the direction of Bevan Keating, this concert blends the Praeclara Vocal Company, the UA Little Rock Community Chorus, the adult and youth choirs of Second Presbyterian Church and the Mount St. Mary Academy Concert Belles. Before the “Mass,” the vocalists of Praeclara will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ rapturous “Serenade to Music,” a meditation on music itself adapted from a passage in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice:” “The man that hath no music in himself/Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds/Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils/The motions of his spirit are dull as night.” SS

clopedia of Arkansas calls “by far the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and possibly the bloodiest racial conflict in the history of the United States,” has already complet-




Live: 1.875" x 5.25"



Trim: 2.125" x 5.5" Bleed: none"

Brand: Stella Artois Item #: PSA2017003


Job/Order #: 298161 Operator: cs


Closing Date: 9/18/2017

Publication: Arkansas Times

Host a cut above


ed a few dozen interviews and gotten some footage. More is needed to complete the project, though, and that comes down to money. Director Michael Wilson, a Central High School graduate working as a filmmaker in LA, is raising funds to complete the project with help in Arkansas from local crewmember Phillip Huddleston. To that end, Huddleston premieres Silver Anchors, a sort of super group of local Little Rock musicians that began about three years ago when Huddleston’s housemate Mark Thiedeman told him he was making a film based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights” — an early short story from the famous Russian misanthrope about a lonely man falling in love. The film needed music. But, not just any music: dance music. “The movie required a lot of club scenes,” Huddleston said. “And I don’t go to many clubs.” Huddleston began racking his brain, asking himself: “What are songs I love to dance to at a house party or when I’m hanging out with friends?” ABBA and Eurythmics came to mind, so disco popped in his head. Originally intended to be just a few songs, the project “quickly turned into a whole album.” Now, with that album done, Huddleston wants to use the work to benefit local causes with each show, and the Elaine documentary seemed a perfect opportunity to do that. It is, he is the first to admit, an odd combination: disco music to benefit a documentary about the Elaine massacre. But it’s also about leveraging community relations for a good cause. “Although the benefit reminds us of the tragic violence that has been and continues to be a part of our history, it is also a joyful opportunity for our community to come together to raise money for our fellow Arkansans,” he said. Silver Anchors are joined by Princeaus, winner of the Black Apple Award for Best Electronic Musician, and DJ Yumamerle (R.I.O.T.S., Brut Choir). JR

founding member of Sibling Rivalry Press, reads at Argenta United Meth-PRINT odist Church, 421 Main St., North Little Rock, as part of the Argenta Reading Series, 7 p.m., free. Discovery Nightclub features beats from Phillip Dixon and DJ Stellar in the disco-tech, and performances from drag artists Dominique Sanchez, Victoria Rios, Valentino Rios, Chloe Jacobs and Chanel Heffington on the main stage, 9 p.m., $10. Greg Madden plays for the happy hour crowd at Cajun’s, 5:30 p.m., free, followed by a set from The Shame, 9 p.m., $5. The Akeem Kemp Band brings its pulsing blues set to Four Quarter Bar, with an opening set from Cherry Red, 10 p.m., $7. Kalvin “Hot Sauce” Henderson headlines “360 Fight Club: Bad Blood,” an MMA, boxing and kickboxing show at the Clear Channel Metroplex, 7 p.m., $20-$125. Self-described “joyfunk” quintet CBDB lands at the Rev Room, 9 p.m., $10-$12. Jacksonville-based Eddie & The Defiantz take the stage at Vino’s, 8 p.m., $7. Mr. Happy performs at West End Smokehouse, 10 p.m., $7.

SUNDAY 11/19 Classical Indian dance styles are showcased in “Antar Yatra,” a performance at the Robinson Center Performance Hall, 5 p.m., donations. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra violinist and Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson performs a guest recital at Reves Recital Hall, Hendrix College, 3 p.m., free. Indie Music Night at Rev Room showcases hip-hop from Stephan James, Konyak, I.Am.Ueno and Ronel Williams, 8 p.m., $10. ENJOY RESPONSIBLY © 2017 Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A., Stella Artois® Beer, Imported by Import Brands Alliance, St. Louis, MO


‘PILLOW TALK’: Pine, of Ottawa, Ontario, brings tunes from its latest, “Pillow Talk,” to Revolution for an early show with I Was Afraid, Couch Jackets, Headcold, Mike Frazier and Quinn Cicala.


PINE, I WAS AFRAID 9 p.m. Revolution. 8 p.m., $8.

For those of us who, at some phase in our lives, could have subsisted on “Siamese Dream” and Cocteau Twins alone, there’s I Was Afraid, a local quartet “specializing in extraterrestrial riffs” and gaining a following outside the state for slow builds and counterpoint-laden guitar work: See the video for “pinholes” from the band’s latest four-song EP, “Lonely Frontier.” The quartet’s on tour with Pine, a shoegaze-ish pop quartet from Ottawa, Ontario, that, true to its name, pairs despondent, lovesick lyrics with layered, swimming reverb. Couch Jackets, Headcold, Mike Frazier and Quinn Cicala open the show. SS

Star of NBC’s “The Voice” Sarah Potenza brings the body positivity anthem “Monster” and other bluestinged rockers to White Water, with David Robert King, 9 p.m. Flying Saucer hosts “Stranger Things” and 1980s-themed trivia, 7:30 and 10 p.m., free.

WEDNESDAY 11/22 The Loony Bin and Arkansas Foodbank partner up to present Laughsgiving, featuring performances from Nate Williams, Andre Price, Carter Ashton-Fabre Bryant, Comedian De Sofunny and host Ronel Williams, 7:30 p.m., $10 or 10 cans of nonperishable food items. The Wildflower Revue hosts a Friendsgiving concert at South on Main, 8 p.m. An elaborate acrobatic holiday production, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,” shows for one night at Robinson Center Performance Hall, 7:30 p.m., $23-$102. Over at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse, The Joint Venture puts on its improv comedy show, 8 p.m., $8. Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies NOVEMBER 16, 2017




THE DAY AFTER Thanksgiving, when you’re tired of turkey, you’ll be able to gobble at a new place: Agāsi 7, the rooftop bar and kitchen atop the Hilton Garden Inn that opened in September at 322 Rock St. Agāsi means rooftop in Hindi; 7 is the floor the 150-seat restaurant will occupy. The name “reflects the culture of our ownership group,” food and beverage director Michael Skeen said: That’s the Pinnacle Hotel Group. Agāsi 7 will have rooftop patios outfitted with fire pits and further warmth will be supplied by the bar, which will open to the patios as well as the restaurant. The menu will be “wood firebased,” Skeen said, offering pizza, steaks, fish, salads, etc., and sharable items as well. Hours will be 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. SEEN AT THE Cox Center’s Bookends Cafe: Jimmy Weisman, founder of “Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches,” with a measuring tape. Central Arkansas Library System Director Nate Coulter said he’d like to get some “upgraded fare for our staff and patrons” and that Weisman seemed interested. “He’s kicking the tires,” Coulter said. The Cox Center is used for meetings and has a used bookstore as well as gifts. Coulter wants folks using the Cox Center to get good food “at the right price point.” BIG ORANGE, THE Yellow Rocket Concepts eatery that has two locations in Little Rock, asks via Facebook, “Orange you glad we’re finally open?” at its new Rogers location. The new Orange, at 2203 S. Promenade Blvd., has been created in a space that includes 5,000 pounds of reclaimed antique wood and reclaimed gymnasium floors, so it should feel broken in. Hours are daily starting at 11 a.m. THE “MAKING THE CUT” preliminary competition for the UA Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute’s Diamond Chef award narrowed 10 contestants down to six on Monday night in the second round of competition: Casey Copeland of The Avenue in Hot Springs, Coby Smith of the Arkansas Heart Hospital, Brandon Douglas of Green Leaf Grill, Joseph Salgueiro of the Pleasant Valley Country Club, Jordan Davis of the Chenal Country Club and Jamie McAfee of the Pine Bluff Country Club. The finale is in April next year. CORRECTION: WHAT’S COOKIN’ incorrectly reported a couple of weeks ago that Core Brewing Co. will open in the former space of the Escape Room. The Escape Room is open for business; Core will open in the former Rosen Music storefront, at 1214 S. Main St. 24

NOVEMBER 16, 2017


BREWSKI’S BEST: The Frito chili pie burger, a massive patty served open-faced.

More pub grub downtown Brewski’s does it right, mostly.


rewski’s Pub & Grub is going you can mix and match, but the lemon all in as a full-blown sports bar pepper wings were by far our favorite. — tons of TVs, all NFL and col• Frito chili pie burger ($11.76 with lege games spread across them; a large fries): Like all Brewski’s burgers, it’s a menu full of sports bar classics from massive half-pound patty. This one is queso to nachos to burgers to huge served open-face with melted shredsandwiches; daily specials that really ded cheese expanding out beyond the are special; and compelling happy hour size of the patty and crisping up nicely. deals, as well. A nice-size scoop of the excellent homeBrewski’s is accessible, too, open made chili, diced onion and sour cream a collective 75 hours across all seven completed the package. We guess the days, with weekday lunch on the horizon, kitchen was out of Fritos or forgot to which will add 16 more hours. throw a few on, but that didn’t detract A few weeks in, Brewski’s is getting much from the impressive flavor commost things right. We’ve found some bination. dishes we love, a few that are decent and • Chili ($3.76 for a “cup” and $5.76 a couple we won’t be revisiting. Let’s for a “bowl”): Those words are in quostart with the highlights: tation marks because the cup actually • Lemon pepper chicken wings ($7.76 is a bowl, and we can only imagine the for six pieces; $13.76 for 12; $19.76 for bowl is actually a vat. This blend fea18): The lemon pepper is subtle but tures large hunks of ground beef, big noticeable and the wings are very ten- pieces of cooked-down bell pepper and der. There are four flavors available, and onion, as well as plenty of cheese and

Follow Eat Arkansas on Twitter: @EatArkansas

sour cream. It’s quite a lot of really good chili for the price. • Pabst Blue Reuben ($11.76 with fries): This essentially is a classic Reuben, scrunched down on a panini press, then battered and deep-fried. It seemed more like it had been griddled to crispy, because this is the lightest batter and least greasy frying we’ve experienced. But no matter — the sandwich is at once crispy and gooey. We loved it. And we found that though the menu says “served with fries” you can get another side subbed at no cost. We had the home fries, and they were tender and well-spiced. • Jalapeno Popper Skillet Dip ($8.76): Cream cheese, other cheeses, flecks of bacon and finely diced jalapenos are baked to bubbling hot in a small iron skillet. The flavors worked together perfectly, though we could have used more bacon. Now for the “only OK” things: • Buffalo Chicken Dip ($8.76): Prepared like the jalapeno popper dip, this one needed more shredded chicken and distinctive spicing. • Grubby Nachos ($11.76): These nachos are so huge they are served in a sheet pan, but size turned out to be their strongest quality. The choice of cheese sauce vs. melted cheese detracted, the


Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas


501.379.9111 | 323 S. Cross St. | Little Rock


Little Rock’s Most Award-Winning Restaurant

MORE CHILI: More generous pub grub from Brewski’s.

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Quick bite

There are compelling daily specials, with the $1 tacos on Tuesdays among the best of those. (Regular price is $2.19.) Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and there are several food-and-drink combo specials offered, like nachos and a bucket of domestic beers for $20.



The New York Times

3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

Other info

meat-to-bean ratio could be higher. those essentials. Both times she disapAnd finally the ain’t-gonna-get-’em- peared for 15-20 minutes. The second again list: time we asked one of her colleagues • Loaded Queso ($7.76): “Signature about her and were told “she went to beer cheddar cheese sauce” is comple- the bathroom real quick.” The third mented, vs. loaded, with that good chili, trip we had a different waitress and but the main problem here is that the service was fine. dish was only slightly hotter than room Brewski’s has a regulation pool table temperature. — not the insert-your-quarters type — • Free Bird ($9.76 with fries): The and the best news is it’s free to play! grilled chicken was a bit overcooked, There is also shuffleboard and a variety dry and bland. of table games. One family was getting • Trio Dip ($7.76): Small bowls of very their over-sized Jenga on in a major way. watery, almost tasteless queso; passable We hope by now you’re wondering salsa; and decent, chunky guacamole the same thing we did — what’s up with that didn’t impress. This may be the first every price ending in 76 cents? Well, we time we have not finished cheese dip. learned that Brad McCray, who owns We had serious issues with our server Brewski’s along with Steven Velek (they our first two trips. Twice she brought also have Bear’s Den Pizza in Conway dishes to our table and walked away and Local Union in the Prospect Buildbefore we realized we had no napkins, ing), decided to pay tribute to the foundplates or silverware. Only when we ing of the good ol’ U.S. of A (1776, in case brought it to her attention did we get you forgot).

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‘REBUILD ALL YOUR RUINS’: Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Tom Hiddleston star in an irreverent “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Fight the horde ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is here to destroy the past. BY JACOB ROSENBERG


ow seriously do you take Led Zeppelin’s “Immi- installment in the “Thor” series and the approxigrant Song”? mately billionth in a series of films and TV shows If your answer is “dead seriously; I find no humor set in the Marvel Universe would take a radical in Robert Plant belting out about Valhalla, the ham- departure from the epic, if languid, version of “Thor” mer of the gods and his quest to fight the horde,” presented before. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is not then I have some very bad news: You’re probably the self-serious old god of thunder. He’s decidedly not going to like the new Thor movie. On the other jokey, playing with his lofty Norse god status with hand, if Zeppelin’s crusade cry — with its hybrid of winking glee. Much of the dialogue was improvised silliness and badassery — leaves you with a strange and Hemsworth can be caught smiling slightly at euphoria, then, ding-ding-ding, you’re going to love quips in the background, unable to hold a straight “Thor: Ragnarok.” It’s not because “Immigrant Song” face at times. Rightly knocked off his mountain, the is in the film’s trailer and used in the actual movie Thor of “Thor: Ragnarok” is enjoyably human. “We (twice), but because it’s been the root of the film basically just destroyed everything,” Waititi told from beginning. Vulture of the mythology of his Thor. In 2015, Marvel asked Taika Waititi — known Given all that, it’s not too surprising that the film’s as a director for intimate comedies set in his home plotline revolves around upending the old order country of New Zealand, like “Boy” and “Hunt for in hopes of creating a new world of joy, despite a the Wilderpeople” — to pitch as director for the bedeviling past. The central villain is Thor’s longnext “Thor.” He created a sizzler reel, arranging 20 lost sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), clad in all black or so clips from other movies, ranging from action as the goddess of death, returning home to reclaim sequences to heartfelt comedy. Underneath them the throne. In doing so she uncovers a history hidall: “Immigrant Song.” Executives loved the song den beneath the glories of the empire. Hela helped so much they decided right then to use it. At this Odin (Thor’s father, played with Shakespearean point, the film did not even have a story. range by Anthony Hopkins) conquer many realms, With those choices — of “Immigrant Song” and but when Odin wanted to stop, her thirst continWaititi to direct — executives basically decided on a ued. Odin locked her away. Now she’s back, scofffranchise reboot in everything but name. The third ing at Odin’s version of history that showcases the 26

NOVEMBER 16, 2017


valiant colonization of lands as peaceful. Odin left Hela, and her role as Odin’s “executioner” — in the movie described as a living instrument to brutally craft the empire’s manifest destiny — out of the pacified tomes. There’s a provocative political point, kind of, here about the way history glosses over the effects of colonization. It proves clunky, though; the story has to move about to make sure Thor is united with the Hulk, to set up the next battle sequence and to guarantee the next Thor movie can make sense. Even when the plot falters, glimpses of relevancy peak through: People talk of starting a revolution and a lordly slaveholder (Jeff Goldblum) insists that his servants be called “prisoners with jobs.” The burden of Marvel, in this movie and others in its vast repertoire, is the company’s greatest victory and its biggest curse. Tessa Thompson is hilarious, and undoubtedly a star, as a mythical warrior beating the crap out of people as fireworks explode. It’s everything “Immigrant Song” promises: the incredible thrill of action with a subtle nod to the ridiculousness of it. But, it can get a little tiresome. Yes, Waititi shows great skill in turning Thor into a comedy. But I’d rather him have hunkered down and use all those skills to create something other than a superhero movie. Because even as the newest edition of the “Thor” movies destroyed the superhero movies of the past, it will not necessarily create a better future. It’s already made a lot of money. That means it will be copied. Sans the capable hands of Waititi, what will the next superhero-movie-that’s-actually-a-comedy be? My guess: not revolutionary joy.

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5th Annual Santa Paws Holiday Party


We invite you to join us and share the holiday cheer for a great cause.

FRIENDSOFTHEANIMALVILLAGE.ORG All proceeds from the event will go towards helping take care of and find loving homes for the cats and dogs at the Little Rock Animal Village. Ticket purchase includes free microchipping for your pets! NOVEMBER 16, 2017


Holiday Gift Guide Holiday Season is Coming Up! Visit these local retailers to gear up for the holiday season of gift-giving.

Give the gift of family tradition

this Christmas season, when you give The Giving Manger, available at Rhea Drug now.

the perfect host gift

Colonial has for the holidays: the Gift Pack of Scotch Whiskies. The pack includes four 100 ml bottles of the following: Glenmorangie Original 10 Year Old, Glenmorangie Lasanta Sherry Cask Finished 12 Year Old, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Port Cask Finished 12 Year Old, and Glenmorangie The Nectar D’Or Sauternes Cask Finished 12 Year Old, all for $27.99.

Stuff your dog’s holiday stocking with all-natural homemade dog treats made by chefs with special needs! The purpose behind Biscuits is to help those with disabilities gain competitive employment. ICM clients help bake and package our biscuits, as well as greet and assist customers. This provides them the opportunity to not only enjoy customized employment, but also to experience community integration and enhance their life skills.

Jingle All the Way !

Rhea Drug Store

A Traditional Pharmacy

with eclectic Gifts. Since 1922

2801 Kavanaugh Little Rock 501.663.4131 28

NOVEMBER 16, 2017


take the hassle out

Let Edwards Food Giant at Tanglewood of your holidays! Not only does Edwards Deli have your party trays for any occasion, they can also make your Thanksgiving Holiday Dinner as easy as picking up the phone. Their side items are homemade right in the store. Order your Turkey Day sides at Edwards. Stay out of the kitchen and enjoy your holiday!


Craft Guild Showcase ~ Finds ~

Artist: Aaron Gschwandegger, Fallen Pine, LLC Artist: Tammy Sue Pope, Tammy Sue’s Critters

Tammy Sue’s

Artists: Jeannette Barry & Tom Wirries, Sew Ingenious Designs

Handmade bag,

tone Description: on tone with chocolate brown leather framing an embossed leather with inside and outside pockets and an adjustable handle. Made in our Little Rock studio.

soaps and Description: lotions are made with all natural ingredients. Her soap has coconut oil, responsibly harvested palm oil, shea and mango butter, as well as olive, sunflower and castor. Each bar is made with 25% fresh goat’s milk from her goats. She also offers lotions made from natural ingredients, including her goat’s milk. Use them and enjoy. Your skin will love it!


Description: small zippered bags; sewn together by the artist using originally designed prints inspired and created from his own photography. The artist also has pillows, notecards, prints and many other original items.




Wellness Mats, A Healthy Way of Life, from Krebs Brothers Restaurant Store

• Unmatched Quality and Comfort for your home • Customized Comfort and Personalized Support • 100% Made in the USA • 20 Year Warranty - “You stand on it, we stand behind it.”

Show off your love for your family/

friends with these new hand stamped cuff bracelets from Bella Vita. Can customize with Names, Dates, Initials, GPS Coordinates, Secret Messages, etc! Comes in sterling silver or brass. Order in person at our storefront or shop online! Now open Wednesday – Saturday.  

The Arkansas Arts Center invites everyone to come view and

purchase original artwork made by their very own Museum School faculty and students. Arkansas State Fairgrounds Complex - Hall of Industry! Member Only Preview Party - Friday evening November 17 from 6-9pm, Light hors d’oeuvres, wine and a first-hand look at this year’s sale items. You can purchase a membership at the door. Public sale is Saturday, the 18th from 9am-3pm. The best holiday gifts will be found here and you can even add to your personal art collection.

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AAMS presents Dakota Dave Hull Ian Moore Holiday Acoustic Tour Almost, Maine

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Four Quarter Bar



Four Quarter Bar




Latitude - An Evening of Stories and Songs Aaron Kamm and the One Drops The Studio Theatre

Studio Theatre 2017-2018 Season Pass The Weekend Theater

2017-18 Season Flexpass

Go to to purchase these tickets and more! Arkansas Times new local ticketing site! If you’re a non-profit, freestanding venue or business selling tickets thru eventbrite or another national seller – call us 501.492.3994 – we’re local, independent and offer a marketing package!


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Sean didn’t have to fight his rare blood cancer alone. Our experts were right there beside him. When Sean was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, he didn’t have to travel the globe to find world-class care. He found it at UAMS. As the state’s only comprehensive academic medical center, UAMS is also one of the largest centers in the world for myeloma and cancer research and care. After a clinical trial involving chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants, Sean has been in remission for years. We fought Sean’s cancer together, and won.

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NOVEMBER 16, 2017


Arkansas Times - November 16, 2017  

The Green Rush - Entrepreneurs all over the state are hoping to cash in on the dawn of medical cannabis in Arkansas. By David Koon

Arkansas Times - November 16, 2017  

The Green Rush - Entrepreneurs all over the state are hoping to cash in on the dawn of medical cannabis in Arkansas. By David Koon