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COMMENT

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From the web In response to an Arkansas Blog post about Secretary of State Mark Martin’s failed bid before the state Supreme Court to compel Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray to rule in a suit that claims the state’s voter I.D. law is unconstitutional: Secretary of State Martin caused his own problem. This was bad planning and timing on his part. Being disrespectful to Judge Gray and the courts was a dumb thing for him to do. Martin needs to be a man and stop blaming others for his mistakes. ShineOnLibby With all due respect, Mr. Couch Esq. [David Couch, Judge Gray’s lawyer, who noted that Martin could have asked for an expedited hearing when the case was filed], well not really, what a crock of shit. Secretary of State Martin’s attorneys had nothing to do with the delay. Your filing suit in February 2018 for a law enacted in August 2017 is the cause. This suit and the song and dance you are providing is nothing more than a calculated catalyst for creating turmoil for this election now that the Republican Party is the majority party. All you and your ilk want is an “aha” moment to set the stage for 2020 election rhetoric. I was served a copy of your filing and it contains a lot of irrelevant verbiage and exhibits in a pathetic attempt to link the provisions of the current law with the previous one in 2014. Rather than be forthright and truthful, you piled it on to create confusion for the less informed. For example, Mr. Haas’ affidavit complains his 2014 provisional ballot was not counted and the ACLU’s two-cents worth refers to the number of 2014 ballots not counted. You totally ignored the cure contained in the current law, which I am pleased to have been a part of having included. The ACLU liked it when the bill was being considered; now has buyer’s remorse. I spent eight hours adapting the state board poll-worker-training PowerPoint to Jefferson County workers and cannot go final because we won’t know until the Supreme Court rules what will be asked for in May. This is not about counting votes. That safeguard is built into the act. It is about keeping 75 county election commissions off balance not being able to complete preparations, have printing done or training poll workers and seeing how much ink you can get with the hope of pushing your agenda in the General Election and in 2020.

R azorblade In response to an Arkansas Blog post on a John Bolton’s super PAC’s use of information acquired by Cambridge Analytica from Facebook to benefit U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton’s 2014 campaign: It’s not too early to start campaigning against Cotton. I don’t know who it might be, but there’s someone out there. Tom Cotton stole your information on Facebook. Ideally there is a veteran, enlisted, non-officer type, who can put a certain spin on what military officers can be like. And it can be put in an ad. It’s easy to do ugly with Tom Cotton. Start in on him. Now. Vanessa Hey, maybe senator “war hero” will find enough character to disavow and return campaign donations tainted by the shady use of unsuspecting Facebook users. Naw! “Psychographic messaging”: Bolton is certainly a psycho who will likely have us in about three wars at one time. Tsallenrng In response to a story in the March 29 issue of the Times about the sale of the Donaghey Building to owners who say they’ll convert the office building to residential use: I believe the Donaghey Building was originally given to the University of Arkansas as a funding source. Now that it has come out the trustees sold it for $599,000 and a second owner sold it for over $5 million just 17 years later, one wonders if the trustees knew what they were doing? Especially when there was no improvements made after the original purchase. I don’t think Mr. Donaghey would be happy with the results of his generous gesture to the college. concernedinheber

In response to Jacob Rosenberg’s story on the difficulty of former inmates to renew their driver’s licenses so they can go to work and a new law that provides help through Arkansas Community Corrections: It’s almost like we don’t want these folks to be successful in their attempts to re-enter our communities and society. Maybe we should consider putting a hold on the collection of past fines, etc., so that getting a job and housing


will come first. Then pay back the fines over time without putting them deeper in the hole. wannabee conservative

The ACC re-entry program was a blessing for me, as well. I was at the Covenant Recovery Center in Malvern and it helped me prepare for life on the outside. My ACC parole officers in Greene County also do a lot to help parolees in many different ways. They really make it easy for a person like I used to be to change into the person I am today. Roderick Fitzke In response to former Times reporter David Koon’s writing in The Observer column that he has taken a new job (but will continue to contribute to the newspaper): Don’t tell me you are going to law school, David. That’s what a lot of newspapermen do when they get the middle-age crazies. I have really enjoyed all of your work, and with all of your communication skills, you would make a good lawyer in the mind of this former newspaperman turned lawyer and now retired. plainjim

In response to the Times’ review of Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Beer Garden in Hot Springs: This is the best line I can remember reading in a dining review: As for the pie, the Dire Wolf was the Joe Pesci of pizzas — compact, brawny, menacing. Big Fun In response to an Arkansas Blog post about President Trump’s claim that he will “make it up” to farmers hurt by his trade war: Farmers helped elect him. They think he was talking about them when he said, “Mexico will pay.” Wonder how long it will take them to realize he’s not good with the truth. Maybe when their crops rot in the fields because he has destroyed the market and ability to harvest with his immigration policy. Jhudd Trump uses the smart pill scam. A traveling salesperson travels the country selling smart pills guaranteed to make you smarter. A customer buys a bottle of the pills and immediately takes some. Spitting out the pills, he says, “That must be rabbit poop,” to

which the salesman replied, “You’re getting smarter already.” Traitor Trump is feeding the farmers a bunch of s**t. Tariffs were a major cause of the 1929 depression. Going for the record In response to the Arkansas Blog’s mention of Little Rock lawyer David Couch’s preparation of a new amendment to the state Constitution that would allow the recreational use of marijuana: Thank you, David Couch for what you do. I have no interest in smoking pot or eating calves liver or running a marathon or practicing autoerotic asphyxiation while Mag’s at work, but I’m fine with other people who like these things. Having spent a decade in the GetYou-Drunk industry, I’ve seen the dangers of alcohol first hand. Since having seen my first joint at the U of A in 1972, I have not seen the dangers of marijuana over the last 46 years. The only danger associated with pot is the danger of being arrested if you’re caught with it. No one has died due to the effects of marijuana. No wife was beaten to a pulp because her hubby was high as a kite. It does make driving hazardous. It does make me appear to be a Parkinson’s patient in the final stages if I smoke the stuff. It was never fun for me and it was never my thing … rum and Coke please! The Money Addicts running our state ought to be for the full legalization of marijuana in Arkansas. Legalized, regulated and taxed, the marijuana industry would bring billions of dollars into the treasury while reducing the prison population. It says timber is Arkansas’s number one cash crop, but everyone knows pot sales each year dwarf the earnings of the timber industry. One would think in this Trump Cash Grab era, every state in the union would be passing marijuana legalization bills. And if a population ever had a good reason to get high and stay high ... now is the time! Mandatory pot smoking for people flying the Confederate flag in 2018 ought to be the law of the land! Smoke ’em if you got ’em! Deathbyinches Last week’s cover story mistakenly reported that there was a Moms Demand Action information table at Henderson State University in 2017 after the Women’s March.

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5


WEEK THAT WAS

Quote of the week “I support the death penalty for people who are dealing in fentanyl. They’re imposing a death sentence on the young men and women in our societies.” — U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton during a press conference in which he talked about legislation he has co-sponsored that would increase federal mandatory minimum sentences for possession of fentanyl. The bill does not — yet — include the death penalty as an available punishment to fentanyl dealers. President Trump floated the idea in a recent speech.

Paris pleads guilty

High court sides with counties, cities The state Supreme Court denied Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s request that a prosecuting attorney representing the state be mandated to withdraw from a lawsuit filed against opioid makers and distributors by a coalition of cities and counties. Two separate lawsuits with the state as a party, filed in two different counties, will now proceed in state court (in both cases, the plaintiffs hope to avoid being kicked to a federal court in Ohio that is handling hundreds of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers). Rutledge’s petition was the first public shot in a turf war that has been brewing for months between the attorney general’s office and the coalition of local governments over litigation strategy, with potentially 6

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millions of dollars in damages at stake. The dispute was whether a coalition of cities and counties could include the state as a plaintiff even though Rutledge is declining to participate in their lawsuit. The coalition of local governments, now with all 75 counties and 15 cities as co-plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit in Crittenden County Circuit Court on March 15 that names more than 60 defendants, including major pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, as well as retailers, pharmacists and medical providers (the counties and cities also filed a separate lawsuit in federal court). For strategic reasons, it is advantageous to file this particular lawsuit in state court, where it will remain only if the state is a plaintiff. According to the coalition, it made a good faith effort to negotiate with Rutledge and have her be involved as part of a united front, but she stonewalled them, determined to act without them and to file her lawsuit first. They charge she “abandoned” the cities and counties and tried to sabotage their efforts. Once it became clear she would not join their lawsuit, they brought in Scott Ellington, the prosecuting attorney for the Second Judicial

BRIAN CHILSON

Oren Paris III, president of Ecclesia College in Springdale, pleaded guilty last week to fraud. Federal prosecutors allege that Paris paid kickbacks to former state Sen. Jon Woods and former state Rep. Micah Neal, also of Springdale, in return for state General Improvement Fund grants to the college. Neal pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count in early 2017. Paris was scheduled to go to trial this week alongside Woods and Randell Shelton, a consultant who prosecutors say served as a pass-through for the kickbacks. During jury selection Monday for the trial, potential jurors were told that potential witnesses in the trial include state Auditor Andrea Lea, state Treasurer Dennis Milligan and state Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb.

CORRECTION: The New Gallery is being built at the corner of 17th and Scott streets. The Times gave the wrong address for the building in last week’s issue.

District of Arkansas, to bring the claim awarded to the state. on behalf of the state. Rutledge filed her own lawsuit on behalf of the state against three major opioid manufacturers in Pulaski The Walton Family Foundation County Circuit Court on March 29. has announced it is putting $300 milShe then asked the Supreme Court to lion into readily available, lower-cost force Ellington to withdraw from the loans for charter schools, including in local governments’ lawsuit. She argued Arkansas, to purchase or build school that the Crittenden County lawsuit buildings. Just two years ago, $250 million of with Ellington as a party representing the state could threaten the success of Walton money was pumped into charthe state’s separate lawsuit in Pulaski ter schools in 17 cities, including Little County, and jeopardize millions of dol- Rock, to give them access to capital for lars in potential damages that could be building or acquiring new facilities.

More money for charters


OPINION

On the attack

“H

appiness,” wrote Jonathan But then mere Swift in 1704, “is a per- reality counts for petual Possession of being little in Trump well Deceived.” If so, the United States world. Consider under the blundering misrule of Don- the president’s ald J. Trump should be the happiest na- near-meltdown tion on earth. But instead, many of his over news that FBI GENE LYONS warmest supporters appear consumed agents dispatched with anger and tempted by preposterous by the Republican make-believe. U.S. attorney for the southern district of None more than the president him- New York raided the office, home and self, of course. hotel suite of his personal attorney/fixer When it comes to delusion, Trump is Michael Cohen. hard to top. Just last week, he informed “It’s an attack on our country, in a true a West Virginia audience that “in many sense,” Trump blustered. “It’s an attack places, like California, the same person on what we all stand for.” Because what votes many times. … They always like to we all stand for isn’t the rule of law — say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not prosecutors have to jump through mula conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and tiple hoops to secure a search warrant to raid any attorney’s office, much less millions of people.” Needless to say, adepts of this cult- Trump’s attorney — but for the president like belief — Trump included — have and his cronies. never produced a particle of evidence. Because Trump is America, and Democrats struggle to get much of their America is Trump. And if America wants to launder forconstituency to vote at all, much less eign loot to pay hush money to a porn multiple times.

The pathetic fallacy

W

hat do you call an idea that grows in popularity the more it is proven wrong? Let’s steal John Ruskin’s literary term, “the pathetic fallacy,” because it is more descriptive than his use of it. The prevailing pathetic fallacy of our time is the idea that the key to economic development — the creation of business and the movement of people — is lower taxes. Despite numerous experiments with the idea, in Washington and a number of states, including Arkansas, it almost never works out that way and often makes things worse, as we have seen recently in Louisiana, Kansas, West Virginia and Oklahoma. But there’s always the next time. We are in the midst of the next time in Arkansas. Legislators, with the governor’s blessing, are looking at the tax laws, including exemptions, to see which taxes to cut and which exemptions to keep ( just about all of them, you can be sure). Tax studies are a staple of the legislative diet. The other day, I pulled my dusty copy of “Accelerating Economic Growth in Arkansas” off the shelf. It had been 50 years since I studied the 186-page tome, written in 1964 by the Arkansas Economic Expansion Study Commission, a blue-ribbon group of

11 conservative businessmen and a country lawyer commissioned by the legislature and the governor to find out why Arkansas lagged far behind other states in economic growth and what to do about it. The commission was staffed by the Un i ve r s i t y o f Arkansas College of Business ERNEST (this was before DUMAS Walmart bought it) and economists at the Industrial Research and Extension Center. Here is what they concluded about taxes: The level of state and local taxes are never a significant factor, neither in where a company locates nor where people choose to live. They cited economic research plus common sense. Arkansas had always been at the bottom or near it in state and local taxes but had suffered net outmigration for most of the century and benefited little from the movement of industry to the Sun Belt. Industry often located in states with higher taxes, they said, because low taxes “may indicate a low level of the community’s services [including welleducated people] that are necessary for industry to be profitable and successful.” They suggested much greater use of

star, that’s none of Special Counsel Rob- against Mueller, nobody’s fool, odds ert Mueller’s business. “So they find no are the president would learn that it’s [Russian] collusion,” the president added already too late. “and then they go from there and they say, So where does that leave Trump/ ‘Well, let’s keep going.’ ” America denialists? Many resemble the Except it wasn’t Mueller who per- extremely virile fellow I noticed insultsuaded a federal magistrate that prob- ing a journalist friend on Facebook: able cause existed that evidence of seri“Here’s the deal my diminutive lispous crimes would be found in Michael ing friend, [Real Americans] don’t ever Cohen’s papers. It was the U.S. attor- care if Trump gets any legislation passed, ney. Legally speaking, it’s a heavy lift. we don’t care about his political work, Even removing Mueller — should we just want him to continue to frusTrump risk setting the U.S. Constitu- trate people like you … so that you run tion ablaze to create a political smoke- around like chickens with their heads screen — wouldn’t cause the investiga- cut off, your panties in a bunch and hystion of Cohen to go away. terically flailing Your Arms. Trump has It’s also false for Trump to claim that a knack for scaring snakes like you out the Mueller investigation has found no of the grass and forcing you to lose your evidence of collusion with Russia during credibility.” Snakes in the grass wearing panties, the 2016 campaign. More than 70 separate meetings have been documented running around like chickens and wavbetween Trump staffers and Russian ing their arms! These Real Americans operatives — many of which the prin- have a gift for vivid imagery! cipals initially denied. There have been But he’s broadly right; it’s all culture multiple indictments, and several guilty war. Trump may look like a flabby old poseur to you, but to millions he’s a virpleas. Most observers expect further bomb- ile he-man. shell indictments, possibly sooner rather Putting the wood to Stormy only than later. Should he make a move proves it. personal and corporate income taxes at the state level and wider authority for cities, counties and schools to raise property taxes and levy new forms of taxes. The state lagged far behind in education, public health and transportation and the state had to invest heavily in those services if it were to ever prosper. Most of the book was devoted to raising the educational achievement of people. A few of its recommendations were adopted in the next two decades, including a system of community colleges and technical schools. “We cannot advance economically without the leadership of education,” the study concluded. “We, therefore, call for the highest priority in the commitment of public and private support to our education system.” It recommended that 90 percent of general revenues above $127 million each year be earmarked for public schools, colleges and technical schools. The state was dedicating a little more than 50 percent of general revenues for education. Now, it is far less. Yes, they invoked a founding father, the Virginian Thomas Jefferson: “Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that … the tax that will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid … if we leave the people in

ignorance.” The report scoffed at the popular excuse that spending a lot of money on education was futile, partly because it would take many years to bear fruit. One man who took the report to heart was Winthrop Rockefeller, who as head of the new Arkansas Industrial Development Commission had been responsible for such development as the state had experienced the past decade — a bunch of cut-and-sew and other factories that paid minimum wage. He ran for governor four times to implement the study’s solutions: a raft of tax increases to upgrade education and health care, the latter by taking advantage of the new federal Medicaid law. He had given his own money to build a new school in the nearby town of Morrilton and a medical clinic in the hamlet of Perryville. The heavily Democratic (132 to 3) legislature defeated all his taxes, in a regular session and again at a special session. His income tax bill would have raised the top rate from 5 to 12 percent for rich men like him. He left office in 1971 in bitter defeat, remorseful that he had failed to deliver his goal of transforming his adopted state into an educated and prosperous populace. Now, nearly every politician’s dream is to cast votes to cut taxes, the more the better. It is an end unto itself.

Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog

arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

7


On institutions

A

merican conservatism has taken many often contradictory, but more often overlapping forms over recent decades. The libertarianism of Ron and Rand Paul, the Christian conservativism of the Moral Majority and its successors, the Koch brothers’ focus on limiting regulation and cutting taxes, the noblesse oblige of the Rockefellers, the neoconservative foreign policy of Dick Cheney and his acolytes and the federalism of 10th Amendment loyalists all made claim to the label. Donald Trump fails to fit neatly in any of these conservative traditions. Instead, like a clunky jazz musician, he steals from several of these traditions, depending upon the day of the week and the issue of that day. A final branch of American conservatism is one that puts tremendous faith in formal and informal American institutions to provide the persistently protective “guard rails” in American life and law. If there is anything consistent in a Trumpist ideology, it is a consistent rejection of this articulation of conservatism. He regularly disrespects such institutions and their guiding principles, from his dismissiveness of “so-called” federal judges who rejected his unconstitutional ban on travel to the U.S. from certain primarily Muslim countries, to his ongoing attacks on the FBI, to his tweeted assaults on certain media outlets that perpetuate “fake news.” This anti-institutionalism climaxed (for the moment) in a disconcerting statement from the Oval Office on April 9 in reaction to the raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s law office, home and hotel room carried out according to the clear defined investigatory rules and appropriate court oversight: “It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.” As Julian Zelizer argues in a recent, excellent essay in The Atlantic, such anti-institutionalism makes perfect sense in that Trump is deeply reflective of the 1970s, the moment when many longstanding American institutions were under complete assault, often because of self-inflicted wounds like Vietnam and Watergate. Many argued that the institutions could be bettered through essential reforms such as enhanced transparency (such as new oversight of the CIA) and changes to lessen potential for abuses (such as limiting the term of the director of the FBI). Others settled into a more fundamental distrust of institutions. Zelizer con-

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ARKANSAS TIMES

cludes that Trump took the latter path: “Trump has taken the message of distrusting institutions to heart, stripped away all the messages that coupled skepticism with the need for institutional reform, and promoted a brand of political nihilism that polarizes the nation.” As a child of the 1970s, socialized by a family deeply distrustful of such institutions, I get JAY BARTH the dangers of unquestioned loyalty to social and political institutions. We need to remain constantly on watch for how those institutions could be made healthier, be clear on how innovation is stifled when our faith in them is too strong (as is the case with certain constitutional originalists), and appreciate that, without oversight, institutions can abuse the real power they have. But, we also have to recognize that they have been and remain a stabilizing force in America dating back to its founding. Indeed, a renewed celebration of the value of institutions is pulling together those who, until the rise of Trump, would have separated themselves into differing political camps. As Republican strategist and MSNBC commentator Steve Schmidt said immediately after the FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s properties that had elevated the rule of law above the interests of the man in the White House: “If you listen carefully tonight, you can hear the faint applause of the Founding Fathers in Heaven.” (Yes, I know there is irony in the fact that Schmidt bears some responsibility for the rise of a consummate antiinstitutionalist, Sarah Palin, in 2008). A few days before, Schmidt’s counterpart in the 2008 campaign, Obama strategist David Axelrod, warned those who show a desire to shortcut the process and move to impeachment of the president without dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s: “If impeachment becomes a political tool instead of the end result of a credible investigation, then you are as guilty as Trump, in some ways, of taking a hammer blow to institutions.” We know that this is a realigning era in America politics. Much of that realignment is geographical and demographic. But, a sharp division on the value of institutions in American life is also at the heart of this transformative moment in our politics.


BOOKS FROM THE ARKANSAS TIMES

THE UNIQUE NEIGHBORHOODS OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS Full of interesting voices and colorful portraits of 17 Little Rock and North Little Rock neighborhoods, this book gives an intimate, block-by-block, native’s view of the place more than 250,000 Arkansans call home. Created from interviews with residents and largely written by writers who actually live in the neighborhoods they’re writing about, the book features over 90 full color photos by Little Rock photographer Brian Chilson.

Also Available: A HISTORY OF ARKANSAS A compilation of stories published in the Arkansas Times during our first twenty years. Each story examines a fragment of Arkansas’s unique history – giving a fresh insight into what makes us Arkansans. Well written and illustrated. This book will entertain and enlighten time and time again.

ALMANAC OF ARKANSAS HISTORY This unique book offers an offbeat view of the Natural State’s history that you haven’t seen before – with hundreds of colorful characters, pretty places, and distinctive novelties unique to Arkansas. Be informed, be entertained, amaze your friends with your new store of knowledge about the 25th state, the Wonder State, the Bear State, the Land of Opportunity.

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APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

he three major men’s sports many fans away from War Memorial on the University of Arkansas Stadium for the first Red-White game campus recently made waves for in that venue in 30 years, but those myriad reasons. We’ll start on a low note, who shook off the which unsurprisingly is the one that crappy weather for emanated from a basketball program a couple of hours that’s practically besotted with turbu- were treated to what lence after a sketchy close-out of 2017-18. Chad Morris’ staff No sooner than freshman wunder- promises to bring. kind Dan Gafford has affirmed his intent Six quarterbacks BEAU WILCOX to return for a sophomore season via played, and while social media did rumors begin to swirl none of them showed great accuracy, about two of the Hogs’ other expected it was evident that Ty Storey and Cole returnees. The message boards were Kelley may end up competing for the alive with speculative-seeming posts starting job given how much field time about Darious Hall and C.J. Jones the former actually saw. Once deemed departing for other programs, and it was a bright prospect who became a bit of a puzzler, to be sure: Why would two an afterthought, Storey was a modest guys, particularly a Little Rock product 7-for-14 throwing it, but seemed pretty like Hall, think of bolting when they’d comfortable at the helm of the twoassuredly play a major role next season, back offense and fired a 53-yard score given the departures of six seniors? to tight end Cheyenne O’Grady, who The rumblings died a bit and then himself craves a redemption year after exploded when Mike Anderson con- struggling to be a consistent weapon in firmed the two swingmen were indeed his sophomore campaign. headed to new locations undisclosed. Kelley was capable enough, 10-forAs is typical of the online rumor mill, 19 with a pretty scoring toss to LaMithere was unsubstantiated but healthy chael Pettway, but the really encourconversation about Hall wanting to aging part of the scrimmage was the take his athletic frame to Memphis to tailback rhythm that developed with play for the Tigers’ new coach — and returning starter Devwah Whaley, who onetime NBA star-turned-high school appeared a bit lighter and a lot quicker coach — Penny Hardaway. The jury’s en route to a game-high 62 yards on the out on what Birmingham, Ala., product ground for the White. Maleek Williams, Jones, who played sparingly as a fresh- who appeared set to contribute last fall man before becoming a more-or-less but was thankfully able to redshirt when everyday bench producer as a soph, will grad transfer David Williams (no relaend up doing. tion) shined in his lone year after coming Ultimately, the venom directed over from South Carolina, also made an toward these young men by some will impression with 61 yards on the ground look silly. While players commonly and a short touchdown run. The defense was fairly salty, despite transfer from program to program, it’s a little unsettling to see two guys with forcing only a single turnover. That bright futures leave so quickly. You came by way of a strip-sack from Jamamay recall that when Nolan Richard- rio Bell of Storey, and Bell is yet another son secured Chris Jeffries from the West player who has a prime opportunity to Coast roughly 20 years ago, he left after a rediscover himself in this new regime. promising freshman season to get closer Recruiting services once heaped praise to home at Fresno State, where he even- on the Junction City prospect, who tually parlayed an all-conference season arrived with four stars but no defined into a spot at the back end of the first position. After he shifted to tight end round of the 2002 NBA Draft. Jones and then linebacker for a spell, the maybe wasn’t all too comfortable being rangy and quick 6-foot-6 defensive end a spot scorer in Anderson’s offense, but appears at home as a down lineman, and Hall’s departure after one encourag- his progress will be a source of intrigue ing if erratic season is mind-boggling. as spring ball wraps up. And it only casts another cloud over Lastly, and best of all, Arkansas’s the terminus of the Hogs’ Jekyll-and- baseball squad popped off another home Hyde 2017-18 season and the onset of sweep, this time against No. 15 Auburn, to shake off the bad memories of three the following one. The news on the gridiron is, for a one-run losses over the past two weekchange, better. Nasty conditions kept ends away from Baum Stadium.


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THE OBSERVER NOTES ON THE PASSING SCENE

Friday, May 4, 2018 7 pm- 10 pm

Home place

E

ven though it up and sleeted gift to the Old Man when Yours Truly April 7, a sight so odd that even was but 15 years old. Blew it apart one Junior looked up from his phone weekend while he was gone fishing, for a second, this time of year gets The scrubbed out the grime with a toothObserver thinking about the old home brush and a can of thinner, and then place out Congo way, that big white soaked her down with implement paint. house with the red roof that dear Pa Baby never made more than 3 miles an and Ma rebuilt from a leaning cracker hour in her life, so as a joke we stenciled box with their own hands. licks of hot-rod flames in orange and That house and the 20 acres it sat red onto her hood, pouring back from on is gone on to other owners now, the finned radiator cap to the steerthe great oak at the back corner of the ing wheel. Pa dearly loved that tractor, house rent by a lightning strike some even after the incident one winter in 20 years back, the woods which he tossed a tube of where Pa taught us the Now that we’ve been super glue into the steel difference between hickseat pan after fixing a ory and white oak mostly everywhere, we miss cracked distributor cap logged off these days, if and then promptly sat on the Googlebird’s satellite it like you wouldn’t the tube, only discoverview is any judge. Still, ing during the dismount that old place still calls to believe. that he had managed to us, with its 1,000-bale hay glue his coveralls, jeans, barn and saddleback trees, its woodland tighty-whities and a sizable chunk of junkyard of beloved jalopies rusting in his left asscheek to the seat. Never have peace. Like the man said: You can’t go we seen our dear Ma laugh as hard as home again. But still, we find it in our she did while attempting the careful dreams from time to time. May you scissor work necessary to separate man have a place like that to dream of from from machine. Other than, of course, time to time, Dear Reader. how hard she laughed during that last, We think of the old home place mighty, teeth-gritted jerk he gave to around April because it is coming time finish the job. to start putting plants in the ground: Oh, how The Observer would love to casting the seed or dropping a handful be there on the old home place again, at a time in the top of a careful mound; with summer coming on. We often poking a hole in the turned dirt with hated it there, ready to be elsewhere. a good-sized stick, then plopping in a Now that we’ve been everywhere, we fledgling ’mater plant no bigger than miss it like you wouldn’t believe. Soon, a finger that will be putting out cat- July will be here, adorned in velvet head-sized Better Boys by high summer, green and wheat yellow. Soon, the like the world’s slowest magic trick. Pa blackberry vines will be heavy with always planted a big garden down at jewels. Soon, the crookneck squash will the bottom of the hill below the house, be creeping across the ground, laden in a football-field-sized rectangle gone with gold, and the watermelons will be black and fertile from a million years of hiding their scarlet hearts among the Boot Creek floods. The ground at one leaves. Then, the farmer will lean on the end was shaded by another huge oak fender of his cooling tractor. He will sip where he’d hung a porch swing on 50 a little water from the Army canteen feet of chain so he could sit and survey. he keeps in the toolbox, and survey Around this time of year, he would that little Eden he has made while the turn the dirt with a disk pulled behind crickets in the tall grass sing the oldBaby, his 1952 8N Ford tractor, liveried est hymns. And then he will think to in dove gray and red. The Observer himself: Ain’t this heaven? Ain’t this a painted that tractor as a Father’s Day kind of heaven, right here on Earth?

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Arkansas Reporter

BRIAN CHILSON

THE

‘DRIP, DRIP, DRIP’: Tracey-Ann Nelson, executive director of the Arkansas Education Association, said divestment in public schools in Arkansas has been “death by a thousand cuts.”

Watching walkouts

aries. In West Virginia, Kentucky and do anything. … This is an organization Arizona — all solid Republican states driven by its members. Our goal is to — underpaid, overworked teachers are listen to them and hear what their conpushing back. cerns are. … From there, we have a board What about Arkansas? meeting two weeks after, and we will The Arkansas Education Associa- share the data from the town hall with tion was scheduled to hold a statewide the board.” meeting of its members this week to The retrenchment of public educadiscuss the national wave of walkouts tion budgets is a story that’s played out and what it means for teachers, AEA across the country, Nelson said. “What As strikes spread across red states, Arkansas Executive Director Tracey-Ann Nelson has happened to all of our states over teachers are paying close attention. said. The organization has heard from time is a divestment in public schools, a number of members “inspired by the and the impact is starting to show. … In BY BENJAMIN HARDY actions taken by their colleagues across Arkansas, we see the drip, drip, drip the country,” she said. effect of that happening. It’s death by he massive teacher walkout in come up with billions in new revenue It’s definitely a topic on the minds a thousand cuts.” Oklahoma continues as educators to make up for years of declining school of AEA members, Nelson said. “I think Oklahoma’s experience differs pressure the state legislature to funding and long-stagnant teacher sal- we have to hear from them before we from Arkansas’s in several key ways.

T 12

APRIL 12, 2018

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Tune in to our “Week In Review” podcast each Friday. Available on iTunes & arktimes.com

The Oklahoma budget is suffering from a deadly combination of deep tax cuts and stunted revenue collections brought about by low oil and gas prices. Arkansas has cut taxes in recent years, too, but not as steeply — at least, not yet — and state revenue isn’t nearly as dependent on the economic fortunes of the petroleum industry as its neighbor. Collections remain strong, buoyed by an unemployment rate at or near record lows. Then there’s Lake View, the landmark school funding litigation case that requires the Arkansas legislature to boost education spending every two years to ensure the “adequacy” of public schools. As the legislature has become increasingly conservative, its annual adjustments have gotten stingier, departing significantly from the adequacy recommendations made by independent researchers. (Because of inflation and a regular increase in the number of students, school budgets require more money each year just to maintain the same level of services.) The school fiscal situation in Oklahoma is “much further along” than the one in Arkansas, Nelson said. She noted that Arkansas teachers did receive an $800 increase in the salary schedule in 2017 (spread across two years) as a result of adequacy recommendations. The average teacher’s salary in Oklahoma may be the lowest in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Arkansas’s Bureau of Legislative Research, the agency that prepares the adequacy recommendations for the legislature every two years, also compares average and minimum teachers salaries in Arkansas with those of its neighbors and other states. In 2015-16, the bureau found Arkansas’s average teacher salary was $48,220 — less than Texas and Tennessee, but more than Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi. (Oklahoma’s was $44,921 that year.) Arkansas ranked 11th out of the 16 states in the Southern Regional Education Board for average salary and 12th for minimum salary. When adjusted for Arkansas’s relatively low cost of living, however, the state’s ranking moves up to ninth. The 2016 salary report is the bureau’s most recent; it will prepare a new one this summer in preparation for the adequacy report in advance of the 2019 legislative

THE

BIG PICTURE

Inconsequential News Quiz:

The Joke’s on Poo Edition

Play at home, while thinking hard about that “catfish” you had for lunch last week. 1) The Arkansas Bureau of Standards has been cracking down on a fake item being sold to some consumers in Arkansas. What’s the fraudulent item? A) “Protho Junction Is for Lovers” T-shirts. B) Knockoffs of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton’s signature cologne, “Goiter.” C) Catfish, with DNA testing showing that a few restaurants across the state have served a fish species imported from Vietnam known as Pangasius, which is reportedly more prone to bacterial infections because the fish are often raised in “waste and sludge.” D) Turkey bacon made from strips of recycled rubber, with the fraud coming to light after customers noticed the much-improved flavor. 2) Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took to Twitter recently to share a “joke” based on an experience he’d had that day. Which of the following is a real element the Huckster included in this allegedly humorous interlude? A) It was about his colonoscopy. Take all the time you need to process that image. B) He likened getting a camera shoved up his butt to “Russian meddling.” C) He joked about being anesthetized with the same drug that killed singer Michael Jackson, and then doubled down by saying: “I MOON-walked right out of the hospital!” HILARIOUS! D) All of the above. And if you’re not frowning in horror right now, get a CAT scan, STAT. 3) There was some potentially good news for critters recently. What was it? A) The Yellville Chamber of Commerce announced it will no longer sponsor the annual “Turkey Trot” festival, which has drawn international bad press for years over the grotesque tradition of dropping live turkeys from an airplane, with some of the terrified birds falling to their deaths. B) Activists with PETA successfully busted into a North Little Rock lab and freed all the mangy, urine-colored opossums used to test Donald Trump’s line of hair care products. C) Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola announced that a temporary peace deal has been brokered with the 36-foot-long, hyper-intelligent iguana that lurks in the sewers of Hillcrest. D) The ivory-billed woodpecker has been found. It was reportedly delicious! 4) A popular bagel shop in Maumelle closed earlier this month, and is reportedly seeking a new owner. Why, according to police, was the restaurant closed? A) They ran out of holes for the bagels. B) A bovine mudbutt outbreak in Wisconsin has caused a historic cream cheese shortage. C) The owner could no longer deal with the constant online bullying from archrival Pierre’s Croissant Hut. D) The co-owner of the business was arrested on a felony charge of attempted arson after, police say, the Maumelle Fire Department discovered someone had rigged his house with gasoline bombs hooked to timers with the apparent goal, according to a spokesman, to “detonate the house.” 5) Recently, officers with the Little Rock Police Department arrested a man after they say he attempted a rather novel method to evade the cops trying to apprehend him. What, according to police, did the man do to try to dodge the long arm of the law? A) He threw down a smoke bomb and shouted “NINJA VANISH!” but was quickly apprehended while trying to crawl out a window. B) He allegedly poured an acid-based drain cleaner called “Liquid Fire” into his mouth and spat it on the cops, burning officers and his own mouth. C) Led police on a high-speed chase through West Little Rock that — other than the lights and sirens — was indistinguishable from ordinary high-speed traffic on Chenal Parkway. D) He tried to bribe them with a Dorito Loco taco and 400 skee-ball tickets he’d won at Dave & Busters. ANSWERS: C, D, A, D, B

LISTEN UP

CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

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session. (It should be noted that aggregate figures can mask large disparities within a state. Teachers in Northwest Arkansas or Pulaski County are in a much different position from those in shrinking Delta towns.) The bureau tracks salaries in neighboring states in part because what happens in Oklahoma affects Arkansas and vice versa. One of the many reasons for Oklahoma teachers’ unhappiness is that chronically low pay helps fuel extraordinarily high turnover. Stiffing teachers gives them an incentive to seek better-paying jobs in neighboring states — including Arkansas. A University of Oklahoma professor found in a survey of 250 former Oklahoma teachers that they earned around $19,000 more on average after leaving the state. (Such problems tend to compound one another: Instability in the teaching corps of a given school makes life harder for those who remain and results in a less functional school in general.) If Oklahoma teachers succeed in winning the raises they’re seeking, Arkansas will have some catching up to do if it wants to stay competitive. That’s something Arkansas legislators will need to consider heading into the 2019 regular session. Arkansas also may not be ripe for a teacher walkout for the simple reason that its legislature is not in session. In Kentucky and Oklahoma, teachers are leaning on lawmakers while they’re gathered in one place to craft their state budgets. In Arkansas, the General Assembly just wrapped up its brief 2018 fiscal session and legislators won’t return to the Capitol until January 2019. On the other hand, most Arkansas legislators are up for re-election this fall, Nelson pointed out. “I see pressure not just in the form of direct action by educators, but also the choices they make at the ballot box,” she said. Direct action is a tool that has to be applied carefully, she said. “You really have to plan. You can’t just wake up and say ‘OK, we’re going to walk out!’ In West Virginia, that was a three-year plan. They made sure superintendents were supportive, they made sure families were supportive, they made sure there was going to be childcare for kids [when schools closed].” “You have to have all your ducks in a row so you don’t create anger in the community,” Nelson said. At the same time, the AEA must pay close attention to the mood of its members. Teachers in West Virginia made the decision to walk out in defiance of

union leaders, who advocated a more conciliatory approach. In the end, the “wildcat strike” resulted in a 5 percent pay raise for teachers — a huge victory. “That’s why it’s important to keep your members engaged, so you’re hearing your voices,” Nelson said. The last time teachers mobilized en masse at the Arkansas Capitol was in 2013, when health-care premiums skyrocketed and the state’s underfunded public school employee health insurance system nearly collapsed. (The legislature eventually found enough money to stabilize the system, though not enough to truly fix the problem; teacher health benefits remain uncommonly expensive in most districts across the state.) Shelley Smith, an educator in Stone County, was among those who organized her colleagues to demand action from legislators. In 2013, she created a Facebook group to gather stories and inform teachers about what was happening with their health care. That group remains active today and has over 10,000 members. Smith said events in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky were being watched closely by teachers across the state. She recently posted a survey attempting to gauge the level of teacher discontent and asking whether they feel respected by their communities. As of last week, 881 teachers had responded — a self-selected sample, but a significant group nonetheless. About 80 percent of teachers said they usually felt respected by their colleagues. About 66 percent of teachers said they usually felt respected by their students. About 48 percent said they usually felt respected by school administrators. But only about 8 percent said they felt respected by state legislators. About 16 percent said they felt respected by the state Department of Education. Ninety-five percent responded “no” when asked, “Do you feel your thoughts, opinions, and expertise are valued by decision-makers at the state level?” Smith said she felt a strike in Arkansas was unlikely, “unless something drastic happens” in regards to public education. She acknowledged a number of respondents used the word “strike” in responses to the survey’s final, openended questions, which asked teachers for next steps. But, she noted, there were many other suggestions among the hundreds of responses, from paid incentives for continuing education, to funding the state’s dyslexia instruction mandate, to simply boosting pay and benefits.


GUEST COLUMN

No different

Werner Herzog’s

“FITZCARRALDO”

W

e were leaving Southwest alive if that situation happened today. Little Rock heading north Because of the growing number of on Interstate 30. There were these types of incidents, I’m sharing four of us — four black male teenagers. my experience for two reasons. First, I I was in the backseat. There was a BB want to be clear to anyone who knows gun that resembled a handgun inside me that I wasn’t much different from the car. One of the passengers waved those individuthe gun around, making it visible to als identified in any car that passed us on I-30. It was the unfortunate supposed to be a joke. The passenger headlines in your then pointed the gun at the driver as if Faceb o ok a nd he were acting out a hostage situation. Twitter feeds. As ANTWAN The driver played along. This panto- I’ve said before, I PHILLIPS mime only lasted for a few seconds. By wasn’t different; Guest Columnist the time we made it to the river bridge, my opportunities the joke had ended and the BB gun was were. So irrespective of the labels I no longer in sight. have or will obtain and irrespective of We did not know that someone had the circles I have or will enter, years called 911. I can only assume that the ago I could have been the subject of person told the operator, “I just saw the story of a black male injured or a hostage situation on I-30 involving killed in an officer-involved shootfour black males. One of them had a ing. Who knows what labels or titles gun.” would have been obtained by Stephon After we crossed the river bridge, Clark, Michael Brown, Travyon Marwe noticed the lights and sirens of what tin or Tamir Rice if the police handled seemed like three or four police cars. their situations in the same way those We pulled over near the I-30/I-40 split. officers handled mine. The officers immediately exited their Second, our police departments cars with their weapons drawn. I viv- should have ongoing cultural and deidly remember hearing them say, “Get escalation training requirements. I your hands up! Get your hands up!” I know that the LRPD has started in this complied. As they circled the vehicle direction. For example, it was recently they yelled: “Where is the gun?” and reported that the department will con“Who has the gun?” With their guns tinue its annual diversity training for still pointed at us, the officers then 2018. The training will culminate in instructed us to slowly exit the vehi- a “Culture IQ” test. This is encouragcle. We complied. We were eventu- ing, but as an attorney I’m required ally handcuffed while sitting on the to obtain continuing legal education side of the road, as they removed the hours to maintain my law license; othBB gun from the vehicle. The officers erwise I could face suspension or a contacted our parents and the officers fine. With regard to cultural compeinstructed us on the danger and stu- tency and de-escalation tactics, police pidity of our actions. We knew that we officers should have a similar duty to were about to receive the worst pun- obtain annual training hours to remain ishment ever from our parents, but we on duty. This is essential to ensure were uninjured and alive. that officers are prepared to handle I do not remember those officers. In complicated and dangerous situations fact, I do not remember if they were (such as a report of four teenagers with with the Little Rock Police Depart- a gun) and resolve those situations ment or Arkansas State Police, but I without incident. do know that they handled a terrible Obviously, the officers who encounsituation appropriately. In a manner tered my three friends and me handled of moments, they evaluated and de- the situation correctly, and I’m forever escalated the situation. To be clear, grateful. This type of training and the there is no question that our actions mandate of independent investigations were objectively wrong, but they did of police-involved shootings would not justify injury or death. not only turn the page, but start a new After learning of the Stephon Clark chapter in community-police relationstory, one of the more recent examples ships. of an unarmed black man being a victim in a police-involved shooting, I do Antwan Phillips is a lawyer with the not know if I would be uninjured or Wright Lindsey Jennings firm.

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15


BRIAN CHILSON

INNOVATIVE LEARNING: Kendle Carter (standing) gives art instruction to students from Little Rock Preparatory Academy Middle School.

Heading the Hub

Decades after he left Arkansas, Pine Bluff native Christopher Jones has returned with the perfect resume to lead the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. BY LINDSEY MILLAR

C

hristopher Jones always access to fully equipped carpentry and Rodney Ferguson said of the Hub’s planned to come home. metal shops and a range of other tools, role within the broader scope of More than 20 years and five including 3D printers, laser cutters, Winrock. “I think we found someone degrees later, after spending CNC routers, garment printers, an [in Jones] who has a deep passion time at NASA, getting mentored by etching press, screen printing stations for community development, skills former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernie and all sorts of computers (there’s a day development, the maker space and for Moniz and working as a dean at the rate, too). Thousands of schoolchildren addressing economic disparity. I think Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have come through the space since it it’s a wonderful next step forward for Jones, 41, is back in Arkansas and opened. Last year, the Hub merged with the Hub.” heading up the nonprofit Arkansas Winrock International, the Little RockJones’ resume suggests he will be Regional Innovation Hub. based development nonprofit. up for the challenge. He has bachelor Founded in 2013 and based in “Winrock is about creating economic of science degrees in physics and math downtown North Little Rock, the advantages for the most economically from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Hub is a place for people to learn and disadvantaged people around the world. master of science degrees from M.I.T. create things and start businesses. … We believe that same mission applies in nuclear engineering and technology Members, who pay monthly fees, have right in our backyard,” Winrock CEO and policy, and a Ph.D. in urban 16

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES


experience was outstanding” and he loved being able to be a role model to students who could see “a teacher that looked like them.” He’s still in touch with a handful of the students he taught. From there, Jones returned to M.I.T. to get a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning and to serve as assistant dean in the graduate school, focusing on diversity. In the 10 years he worked at M.I.T., graduate applications from underrepresented minorities rose from 300 to 1,300 and enrollment doubled from 7 to 14 percent. Phil Thompson, now deputy mayor of New York, was Jones’ Ph.D. adviser. Thompson and the department put a lot of emphasis on “how do you take what you know and go out and make a difference and do something?” Jones said. Jones got the chance to put that into practice when he was tapped to head the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a community-based nonprofit in Boston founded in 1984 to reclaim a neighborhood blighted by divestment and arson. Thirty years later, thanks to the DSNI, the neighborhood had “several hundred units of permanently affordable housing, community school, urban gardens,” Jones said. Jones was hired to administer a $6 million Promise Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department. of Education. He worked to find partners to match that amount. From there, Jones joined BCT Partners as senior consultant, where he worked on several multimillion-dollar federal projects. *** The Hub will soon embark on a strategic planning session to determine what its future mission, vision and values should be, Jones said. He has some ideas of the challenges the nonprofit faces. “The innovation ecosystem in Arkansas is still very young, but I think it’s old enough now that the players are ready to come together. There’s not a long history of partnering in this space, and so, when you’re new to partnering, there are always bumps and bruises that are par for the course. But to me, it’s exciting.” Since the Hub opened, other groups with similar missions have started up, including the Conductor in Conway, BRIAN CHILSON

the implications [their policies had] studies and planning from M.I.T. He in nuclear engineering. As he got into that study, Jones got on technology and science. And too spent about a decade working as an assistant dean at the M.I.T. graduate more interested in energy systems and many people in science and technology school. He taught high school. He led the policy implications of technology, didn’t open themselves up to the a neighborhood nonprofit in Boston. so he added a second master’s in policy implication of what they were He said serving as executive director technology and policy. Ernest Moniz, developing.” for the Hub, a position he landed in the M.I.T. nuclear physicist who would After grad school, Jones spent a March, checks a lot of boxes for him. He’s been lucky to build upon experience every time he’s taken a new job, he said. “In this case: executive director, engineer, raising money, community connections.” Even better for Jones, who grew up in Pine Bluff? “I get to do that at home.” Jones and his wife, Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, and their three young daughters moved to Little Rock last summer after Dr. Jones got a job as an emergency room doctor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science and a faculty position in the school’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Fifteen years earlier, when they were dating seriously, Jones had floated the idea of returning to Arkansas to his wife, who grew up in Alabama but, like Jones, left after high school — to Howard University in Washington, D.C., and then Harvard Medical School. She didn’t flinch. Jones has fond memories of growing up in Pine Bluff. He did a summer science program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, an internship at the National Center for Toxicological Research and participated in a residential program at UAMS one summer. But like a lot of smart kids, he wanted to see and do beyond home. More specifically, he wanted to go to space. After he graduated from Watson Chapel High School, NASA helped that goal along when, based on his college application, the space agency provided him a CHRISTOPHER JONES: The Pine Bluff native returns to Arkansas after studies in engineering and full scholarship to Morehouse. a career in neighborhood development, teaching and overseeing diversity at M.I.T. Amid double majoring and serving as student body president his senior year — which put him on the college’s board of serve as President Obama’s secretary year teaching ninth-grade algebra at trustees, alongside the likes of alumnus of energy from 2013 to 2017, was his a high school, where about 90 percent Spike Lee — he got to work at NASA adviser. of the kids were African and Latino and centers around the country. His mentor The technology and policy graduate most were eligible for free and reduced at NASA, former astronaut Franklin program was established to address lunch. Teaching “pulls on you physically, Chang Diaz, encouraged Jones to follow a troubling divide, Jones said: “Too mentally and emotionally — it’s just a his path to M.I.T. for a graduate degree many people in policy had no clue huge investment.” But Jones said “the

arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

17


PHOTO COURTESY OF .....

MAKERS: New director Christopher Jones says the biggest challenge for the Arkansas Innovation Hub is choosing among all programming and outreach it could be doing.

the Little Rock Technology Park, the Venture Center and Startup Junkie in Northwest Arkansas. A number of business accelerator and incubator programs also have sprung up across the state, including a health care accelerator at the Hub sponsored by Baptist Health. All those players and experiences will figure into the Hub’s future vision, Jones said. Jones expects the Hub’s reach to extend beyond Central Arkansas. “I think we’ll find hubs popping up across the state and find ways to network all those hubs,” he said. North Little Rock investor and Hub founder John Gaudin based the nonprofit on several programs around the country, including the Cambridge, Mass., Innovation Center, which Jones was familiar with from his time at M.I.T. “He gets the idea, with his urban planning background, of developing and attracting talent through technology and 18

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

inclusion,” Gaudin said of Jones. the charge in tech in Atlanta.” Another “Whether it’s racial diversity or of his college friends runs the startup economic diversity or gender diversity, accelerator CO.LAB in Chattanooga, there’s a role for the Hub to play,” Jones Tenn. He knows the people behind Black said. “This is not to the exclusion of folks Girls Code. “The challenge is really showing the who are already here. No matter who you are and what your background is, I next generation of youth that this is a want you to feel welcome. It’s not lost space they can really be involved in,” on me that I’m an African-American Jones said. He cited the recent Marvel man with an engineering background, superhero movie “Black Panther,” where so I’d be remiss not to bring others into the hero rules an African country that is the fold. It’s not lost on me that I’m the far more technologically advanced than father of three girls, so I’d be remiss the rest of the world, as a positive step to not bring more gender diversity — toward changing perceptions. The biggest challenge for the Hub? though that’s already happening.” Some of the issue is a matter Jones compares it to his time in the of branding, Jones said. “I think administration of M.I.T.: “At M.I.T., people know it. It’s a really there’s an untold story of women and minorities in tech,” he said. He noted strong brand. Great folks. The challenge that his college roommate, Paul Judge, there was choosing. There were many finished Morehouse in three years, got directions to go. Here the challenge is his doctoral degree by the time he was choosing. What do you do today? What do 26, had started his third company by you want to be doing in five years? Because the time he was 30 and is now “leading there are so many good options.”

‘The innovation ecosystem in Arkansas is still very young, but I think it’s old enough now that the players are ready to come together.’


me to the yarn presents

me to the yarn presents

TRUE STORIES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT in collaboration with ACASA

April 19, at 2018 Get tickets centralarkansastickets.com 7:00pm Ron Robinson Theater

TRUE STORIES OF SEXUAL A in collaboration with ACASA April 19, 2018 7:00pm Ron Robinson Theater www.theyarnstorytelling.com/shows

www.theyarnstorytelling.com/shows

arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

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Arts Entertainment AND

Good ol’ boys

R v n a Y P S S r b 5 r a a m e m a

Joshua Brinlee examines masculinity in the South. BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE

W

e are all born with a body, and that talk, Brinlee and I caught up via for most of us, it isn’t too long email about the collection and what afterward that expectations inspired it. arise about what kind of person we will become, many of which are a direct You grew up in Louisiana and consequence of what box gets checked Tennessee, and now work in on that birth certificate next to “sex.” Mississippi, yes? Perhaps it’s because Those expectations tend to narrow as we I, like you, grew up in the South, but grow older, taking on all the nuances of when I see these images, I think, “I culture, family and — as anyone raised know that guy.” Did you have specific in the South can confirm — geography. people in mind as you worked? In his latest collection, “Masculine Projections,” artist Joshua Brinlee puts Yes. I moved from Morgan City, his own face and body at the center of La., to Franklin, Tenn., in the third Southern archetypal images of virility grade. I work in the art and art history and dominance. In “Self Portrait as department at the University of Provider,” Brinlee’s face peers earnestly Mississippi, where I also serve as the out from under a white cowboy hat, foundations coordinator. I currently live with a torso clad in camouflage and in Memphis with my partner of 18 years. an extended right hand that offers a These were the men I was expected freshly caught fish, its mouth gaping to become. They were my brother, open. In another, “Self Portrait as friends, strangers, relatives, enemies Good Ol’ Boys,” Brinlee’s baseball cap and lovers. Most of the images reference is turned backward, his shirtless torso a particular experience I had in my past. concealing most of a Confederate flag on Some of the experiences were good, the wall behind him. The images share some were bad. I think the familiarity a disjointed “cutout” effect, distancing comes from the conformity found in the subject from its original silhouette. Southern masculinity. To be part of the Brinlee explains in the artist statement “Boys Club,” you have to be one of the accompanying the show: “As a man who boys. doesn’t prescribe to the heteronormative I think what’s so intriguing about societal expectations of Southern masculinity, I utilize my body as the these images is their immediate, screen and subject. My attempt to ‘fit in’ visceral relevance to this moment. to these types is a performative illusion. There’s a lot of conversation — some Areas of the projections are unaligned, peripheral to the #metoo movement, pixelated and disproportionate, while some peripheral to conversations other areas blend perfectly with the around gun violence — about the ways appropriated imagery.” The imperfectly in which masculinity can be aligned superimposed images are symbolic, for with political and social systems that Brinlee, of “a struggle to conform to perpetuate sexism and inequality. traditional notions of masculinity, while Are those types of conversations at the same time attempting to reject what sparked this idea for you, or them.” did it come from somewhere totally “Masculine Projections” is on display different? at UA Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art + Design through April 27, and Yes, you hit the nail on the head! I Brinlee visits Little Rock to discuss the started this series at the end of 2015. The work at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in conversations that you mention are the Windgate Center Room 101. Ahead of same conversations that I have had with 20

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

‘PROVIDER’: In Joshua Brinlee’s “Masculine Projections,” Brinlee’s body serves as both screen and subject.

myself most of my life. I think we have all had these conversations, or at least I hope we have. It’s only now, in this moment, that they have been brought to the surface. I believe it’s a direct result of the words, actions and tweets of our current president. Toxic masculinity is worn as a badge of honor. Another thing that makes these images come alive for me is the sense of empathy in them. It’d be very hard for someone to look at these and assume they were one-note parodies of a certain type of person — most obviously because you’ve placed your own face in them. Why did you put yourself in there? Growing up gay in the South, you learn quickly how to perform

masculinity. I learned at an early age how to read a room. Knowing who was friend or foe was a matter of survival. If I could blend into my surroundings and play the part, my secret would be safe. My homosexuality would not be weaponized against me. I want the viewer to experience my struggle to conform to these men. I want them to feel the weight of masculinity that I and others have felt. Is masculinity toxic? I would have to say yes and no. Masculinity can be toxic, but it also can be intoxicating, endearing and respectable. I tried to capture this in the images. They represent positive and negative depictions of Southern masculinity.

“T T W r A f p N a in c a c a a ju g

M T t in B t H H a

I a t M c 6 w M M a o


ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog arktimes.com

A&E NEWS RIVERFEST, REVIVED AS RiverFest by Universal Fairs of Memphis after Arkansas organizers called it quits in July 2017, announced a portion of its headlining lineup last week: Young Thug, LANY, Young the Giant, Margo Price, Levelle Davison, Kip Moore, Highly Suspect, Jamie Johnson, Rachel Potter & Steel Union Band and Echosmith. A press release says the festival, to be sponsored by Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, will include 50-plus acts across two stages over Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. Also featured are: a “Ford Family Fun Zone … for kids of all ages, with carnival rides, a Baggo tournament, a banana derby and talented performers and artists, such as street performers and magicians.” Tickets range $45-$490 online and are available at riverfestarkansas.com.

Sean FreSh and the

naStyFreSh Crew

Friday • april 13 7 p.m. • $10

CalS ron robinSon theater, 100 river market ave.

arkanSaSSoundS.org

“THE ORGANIZER,” A FILM from Nick Taylor and Joey Carey, depicts the life of Wade Rathke, the Vietnam vet and welfare rights organizer who founded ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) in Arkansas in 1970. After premiering in New Orleans and Woodstock, N.Y., in October, the film will be screened at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Ron Robinson Theater. In a statement, the directors called the film “partly a cautionary tale, but also a hopeful one. At a time of great political uncertainty, it gives an example of how a political force for the poor, marginalized and forgotten was built ... and how it might just be built again.” For details, visit theorganizerfilm.com. MULTIDAY BLUEGRASS JAM Hillberry: The Harvest Moon Festival has announced the full lineup for its Oct. 11-14 fest, including Railroad Earth, Trampled By Turtles, Sam Bush, The Wood Brothers, Big Smith, Lettuce, The Infamous Stringdusters and more. Hillberry takes place on The Farm, 1 Blue Heron Lane, in Eureka Springs. For passes and details, see hillberryfestival.com. IF YOU’VE YET TO visit the exhibit, here’s a reminder that “Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville will close April 23, after which the more than 60 murals, paintings, sculptures and other works in the show, curated by the Tate Modern of London, moves to the Brooklyn Museum. Tickets are $10, free for members and youths 18 and under. See crystalbridges. org for details.

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21


TO-DO

THE

LIST

BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE, OMAYA JONES AND LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK

THROUGH SUNDAY 4/22

‘ASSASSINS’

7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun. The Weekend Theater. $16-$20.

Given the difficulty of putting a Stephen Sondheim musical together, it’s pretty remarkable that we have two of them running concurrently this weekend, and from around the same time in the composer’s career; read on for details about Praeclara/ Wildwood Park for the Arts’ production of “Into the Woods.” “Assassins,” staged by The Weekend Theater, is a revue-style portrayal of nine men and women who carried out or attempted to carry out an assassination of a U.S. president. More broadly, it’s about the fame-obsessed culture that got them to a murderer’s psychology

in the first place — fitting thematic territory for a theater whose credo is to reduce “prejudice, cruelty and indifference through quality live theater.” John Hinckley, John Wilkes Booth, “Squeaky” Fromme et al. waft through a carnival atmosphere (“Shoot the President — Win a Prize!”) laced with spooky calliope music, demented cakewalks, twisted versions of patriotic anthems and distant Sousa marches, chasing the sort of notoriety that we so clumsily grasp at understanding every time another incident of gun violence scrolls across the news ticker. SS

FRIDAY 4/13

DEER TICK, JOHN MORELAND

8 p.m. Rev Room. $25.

When Deer Tick released a dou- its dates in the South with a set from ble LP last September — Deer Tick John Moreland, the tearjerker from Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, its first Tulsa who froze TV audiences in their record in four years — it was a way of seats when he sang an unadorned reconciling the two faces of the band “Break My Heart Sweetly” on “The and of allowing it to fully embody the Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in acoustic and electric sides of its sound early 2016. For devotees of songwritwithout feeling beholden to a sonical- ing — and probably for people whose ly united front. At that time, the idea ears can process heartbreak just as inwas to split its tour performances into tensely whether it comes in the loud two sets, and to open with a comedi- or the quiet variety — this one’s going an. Now, half a year later, it’s opening to stun. SS

THURSDAY 4/12

THELMA AND THE SLEAZE

9 p.m. Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack. $10.

The history of Thelma and the station food and Aqua Net since backSleaze includes tours in a church van yard wrestling matches helped a band called Snow Leopard — from which called Trampskirts morph into TATS’ they were known to produce a coffee revolving lineup, with guitarist/vocan and lighter fluid to MacGyver ta- calist LG (Lauren Gilbert) ever at the cos in the alleys behind venues — and center. The Craig Brown Band, a Dethey once name-checked Memphis troit-based six-piece honky tonk outMinnie and Tanya Tucker when an fit that’s been on the road with TATS interviewer from The Deli Magazine for a few weeks, warms up the crowd. asked for evidence of how “Southern” And, perfectly, our own power punk they were. Maybe more importantly, trio Spirit Cuntz opens the show though, the Nashville-based band’s with tunes from its latest, “Two Star been churning out trashy post-Riot Kinda Band.” SS Grrl punk rock that smells like gas

22

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

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INTERSECTIONS: Maryamsadat Amirvagefi’s “Don’t Touch Me” and Erin Lowries’ “Naked is normal” are part of a month-long art exhibition and performance series at Stage Eighteen and Fenix in Fayetteville.

THROUGH 5/2

‘INTERSECTIONS’

Various times. Stage Eighteen (18 E. Center St.) and Fenix (16 W. Center St.), Fayetteville. Free.

Behind the proliferation of p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Stage art enclaves in Northwest Arkan- Eighteen; a performance of Lausas are a bunch of talented, for- ren Gunderson’s “Natural Shocks” midable women — and in front of from ArkansasStaged, 7 p.m. Frithem, for that matter. Exhibit A: day, April 20, at Fenix; a Comedy this month-long series of events Showcase at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April and performances under the um- 24, at Stage Eighteen; the Inverse brella of “Intersections,” a collab- Performance Art Festival, 7 p.m. oration between ArkansasStaged, Sunday, April 29, at Fenix; and a a theater collective devoted to performance of Sue Coppernoll’s experiential (and experimental) “An Old Woman Speaks” from performance in unique spaces; ArkansasStaged, 7 p.m. Wednesthe Inverse Performance Art day, May 2, at Stage Eighteen. Festival; “Of Note” with Katy Following a fundraising model Henriksen, a two-hour classical of last year’s “Nasty Women” exmusic program on NPR affiliate hibitions in Northwest Arkansas, KUAF-FM, 91.3; the Trillium Sa- partial proceeds from the prolon Series; the Fenix Fayetteville gramming and art sales benefit art collective; and Stage Eighteen, Brave Woman, a movement that a downtown Fayetteville venue. partners with victims of domesComing up: a panel on “intersec- tic violence; and the Arkansas tionality, identity and the arts” chapter of Moms Demand Action called “Lip Service,” 4 p.m.-6 for Gun Sense in America. SS


IN BRIEF

NATALIE GINELE MILLER

THURSDAY 4/12

‘AMERICAN FLOWERS’: Birds of Chicago come in for a landing at South on Main Thursday night.

Lenny Schmidt goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Country superstar Brad Paisley lands at Verizon Arena, 7 p.m., $20-$100. Travis Meadows plays an intimate show at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Acclaimed champions of new music The Debussy Trio perform at Christ Episcopal Church, 7 p.m., $15. Mike Frazier, Nathan Perry and William Blackart share a bill at Vino’s, 8 p.m., $8. Maxine’s in Hot Springs hosts a rock show from Austin-based Peyote Coyote and San Antonio’s Holy Knives, 9 p.m. Also in Hot Springs: Don Marchand joins the Clyde Pound Trio at The Ohio Club, 7 p.m., and “Talk Nerdy to Me” focuses on communication and science, 5 p.m., Mid-America Science Museum. Andy Tanas kicks off the evening with a happy hour set at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, or come after dinner for a set from Mayday By Midnight, 9 p.m., $5.

FRIDAY 4/13 THURSDAY 4/12

BIRDS OF CHICAGO

8 p.m. South on Main. $25-$34.

If there is a balm for the cynic or an antidote for people who recoil from anything called “folk music,” it’s this music. Whether she’s wielding a banjo or a clarinet or the French refrain to “Baton Rouge,” Allison Russell conjures the sweetness, finesse and depth of predecessors several decades removed: Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez. The shared aesthetic between Russell and husband/bandmate JT Nero is one of optimism and empathy, as the couple’s explainer for their EP “American Flowers” reads: “Most

people in this country are good people. Most people in this world are good people. … There are arguments to be had, vehement ones, but we couldn’t say it any better than Billy Bragg, who reminded us this summer: Empathy is our currency. This has always been true, and it has never felt more so.” Little surprise it is that the members of Birds of Chicago felt musical kinship toward the man who wrote “The Milkman of Human Kindness.” This show is sure to be a welcome respite for what ails ya. SS

FRIDAY 4/13

2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT

5-8 p.m. Downtown galleries and other venues. Free.

It was Marshall McLuhan’s theory that the medium by Center (401 Clinton) to see its exhibition of drawings by which a message is conveyed — such as this one, in print — Howard Simon, an illustrator who did the artwork for the influences how the message is understood. He inspired a books of his first wife, Charlie May Simon; also hear DJ whole generation to think in terms of “hot” and “cool” me- Harlem James. Sulac’s “The Spider Who Didn’t Like Flies” dia and the comedians of the TV show “Laugh-In” to pon- is featured at River Market Books & Gifts around the corder, “Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin’?” Head over ner (120 River Market Ave.). Then back it up and head to to the Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St., to have the Marriott Little Rock on Markham to see work by The your own mediathink with the exhibition “The Medium Is Art Group Gallery and to the Old State House Museum for a the Message: Experimental Photography in Arkansas,” de- cheese dip social with Stone’s Throw Craft Beer and music constructed landscapes by Esther Nooner, wet plate ghost- by the Salty Dogs. If you can tear yourself away from the ing of Kristoffer Johnson, cyanotype on fabric by Helen dip and Dogs, you’ve got more stops: Gallery 221 and the Maringer, digital images translated to sound by Kaia Hodo working studios of Mike Gaines, Michael Darr and Larry and Polaroid emulsions by Grace Ann Odom. Brian Nah- Crane at Pyramid Place, Second and Center streets; Bella lan will perform on his medium, the guitar. Then progress Vita Jewelry at 523 Louisiana St.; and Matt McLeod Fine east on President Clinton Avenue, stopping at Nexus (301B Art Gallery at 108 W. Sixth St. LNP Clinton) for coffee or wine and art and then to the Butler

Sean Fresh & The NastyFresh Crew take the stage at the Ron Robinson Theater, 7 p.m., $10. Dickey-Stephens Park hosts Food & Foam Fest, with over 400 varieties of craft beer and wine, 6 p.m., $20-$65. Afterward, head to Four Quarter Bar for a set from Weakness for Blondes, 10 p.m., $7. Recognizer and Sabine Valley share a bill at Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse, 1637 E. 15th St., 8:30 p.m., $5. Randall Shreve plays a set at Kings Live Music in Conway, with Amber Wilcox, 8:30 p.m., $5. Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore duet at Hibernia Irish Tavern for a concert from the Little Rock Folk Club, 7:30 p.m., $20. That 1 Guy blends music with invention in a one-man show at South on Main, 9 p.m., $12. The Canvas People, The Dull Drums and Notice to Quit share a bill at Maxine’s, 9 p.m., $5. Grayslake, Ill., rockers Sworn In join locals Levels, All Is At An End, Past Comfort and Jonesboro’s Abimael for a show at Vino’s, 8 p.m., $13$15. Mayday by Midnight performs at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming’s Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m.; The Pink Piano Show at the casino’s Pops Lounge is at 5 p.m. Keep Derby weekend celebrations going with Earl N’ Them at The Big Chill, 8 p.m. Elsewhere in Hot Springs, poets Kai Coggin, Jessica Key and Crystal C. Mercer read from their work for “Poet Women of Color Speak,” 6 p.m., Landmark Building, 201 Market St. Nuthin’ Fancy takes the stage at Thirst N’ Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5.

SATURDAY 4/14 DJ Wick-It the Instigator drops the

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies

CONTINUED ON PAGE 25 arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

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THE

TO-DO

LIST

BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE, OMAYA JONES AND LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK

THE BURDEN OF DREAMS: Werner Herzog’s “Fitzcarraldo” is next up in the Arkansas Times Film Series.

TUESDAY 4/17

‘FITZCARRALDO’

7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $9.

We’re doing something different with the of Dreams.” The story is about Brian Sweeney Arkansas Times Film Series this year: We’ll “Fitzcarraldo” Fitzgerald, a man so driven by find a thematic thread in each month’s film his love of the opera that he decides to build and use it as the basis for the following month’s a fortune on rubber plants so he can fund the pick. March’s screening of “Bob Le Flambeur” construction of an opera house in the middle of has within it an element of fantasy and dreams, the Amazon where there’s no need or purpose and that’s what inspired the film for April: for one. Fitzcarraldo purchases a particular Werner Herzog’s 1982 film about improbable plot of land so remote no one else has thought dreams, “Fitzcarraldo.” Inspired by a true story, to attempt to farm it, but he has a plan. He “Fitzcarraldo” is about not just the dreams and pilots a boat up a calmer part of the river with passions of its protagonist, but of the director a plan to use a system of pulleys to then move himself. Herzog spent years trying to get the the ship, whole, over a mountain to access his film made. The entire process is documented plot of land. After several years of trying to get in Les Blank’s fantastic documentary, “Burden the project off the ground and losing months of

SATURDAY 4/14

SATURDAY 4/14-SUNDAY 4/15

ARKANSAS MADE-ARKANSAS PROUD MARKET

10 a.m.-7 p.m. War Memorial Stadium. $5 (ages 5 and under free).

Now is the time to load up on art, crafts, food and fashion made by our brethren and sistren, from Arkansaw Hog Sauce to Crooked House Herbals, OddBowlz Ceramics to Old Dog Pottery, Kyya Chocolate to honey from Lake in the Willows Apiari. Grilled brats, soft drinks, bloody Marys and screwdrivers will fortify shoppers as they make their way through the 100-plus artisans’ tents on the field. LNP 24

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

shooting due to the lead actor, Jason Robards, falling ill, and co-star Mick Jagger having to leave the production to complete other commitments, Herzog sought new financing to continue the pursuit of his film. When asked if he would be better off abandoning the doomed project, Herzog responded thusly: “How can you ask this question? If I abandon this project, I will be a man without dreams, and I don’t want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project.” Join us for the screening Tuesday night, and join us beforehand on our entertainment podcast, “No Small Talk,” for a conversation about the film. OJ

BEETHOVEN & BLUE JEANS

7:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Robinson Center Performance Hall, 7:30 p.m. Sat. simulcast, Arkansas Arts Center lawn. Free-$65.

Symbiosis between painters and orchestral musicians is as old as the term “classical” itself — a musical descriptor forever tied to its sister disciplines in Greco-Roman culture: architecture, sculpture, painting. Henri Dutilleux’s “Timbres, espace, movement,” for example, is subtitled after Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”; Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in

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the Park with George” was famously inspired by Georges-Pierre Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte”; and Stravinsky wrote an entire opera based on William Hogarth’s paintings, “The Rake’s Progress.” Consider this weekend’s concerts the localized version of that phenomenon. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the


IN BRIEF, CONT.

WEDNESDAY 4/18

JOHN WILLIS COVERS RADIOHEAD

8 p.m. South on Main. $10.

The words “John Willis covers Radiohead” are likely to pique the interest of anyone around here who’s a fan of either, and the mash-up is a dream if you’re a fan of both. Who else but Willis could pilot such an ethereal tenor through a sea of freakishly atmospheric minor IV chords? Like the other cover concerts South on Main owner Amy Bell has curated for the month of April at this SoMa spot, reading the event title itself inspires a wish list of favorite songs; here’s my vote for “Exit Music (For a Film.)” SS

SUNDAY 4/15 Video game creator, genre-pusher and country music heir Shooter Jennings lands at Stickyz, 7 p.m., $20$25. ArkansasStaged puts on Nassim Soleimanpour’s experimental play “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” at 21C Museum Hotel, Bentonville, 7 p.m., $5 suggested donation. River City Men’s Chorus hosts “The Beat Goes On: A Musical Tribute to the ’60s” at Second Presbyterian Church, 3 p.m.

A R K A N S A S F E S T I VA L B A L L E T

May 18-20 Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre T I C K E T S

>

A r k a n s a s D a n c e . o r g

501-227-5320 • info@arkansasdance.org

© Copyright Lyuba Bogan 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Rebecca Miller Stalcup, artistic director, p r e s e n t s

Get tickets at centralarkansastickets.com

m o c . y wa e t a g k r a z o . w w s|w d n u F l i c n u o C t s i r u o yT wa e t a kG r a dOz n sa d n u eF t a t fS no o i t a n i mb o haC t i rw o df i a dP A

ASO has put together an art-music collaboration called the “Canvas Festival.” In this installment of the festival, football player-turnedimpressionist painter Barry Thomas will paint as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra plays Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F Major,” the socalled “Pastoral” symphony, with the painting projected onto a screen behind the orchestra. Opening the concert is a set of four unbroken — but distinct — movements devoted to Mark Rothko’s color studies, by composer Adam Schoenberg (No, not that Schoenberg. That’s Arnold. No relation.) Sandwiched between those pieces is Ravel’s “Mother Goose” suite, five pieces for children meant to invoke the likes of Sleeping Beauty and Tom Thumb. Come as you are, as the “blue jeans” bit in the event title suggests, and come early for a “Beer & Brats Street Party” in front of the Robinson Center with music from the Episcopal Collegiate School Steel Band; your concert ticket gets you free admission for either day’s party (5:30 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. Sun.). And, if that tax return didn’t swing your way, pack a picnic and a blanket and catch the show for free Saturday night on the lawn of the Arkansas Arts Center, where it will be simulcast on a big screen, live painting and all. See arkansassymphony.org/bluejeans18 for tickets and details. SS

bass for “Exclusive” and other EDM riffs, 9 p.m., $10-$13. If you’re still looking to dance afterward, Dominique Sanchez, Chloe Jacobs, Chichi Valdez and Alura O’Shaunacy take the stage at Discovery Nightclub, 9 p.m., show at 12:30 a.m., $10. Songwriter Mark Currey, poet Justin Booth and special guests perform at Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro, 10 p.m. The Creek Rocks channel traditional Ozark folk songs at the White Water, 9 p.m. Fox 16 anchor Donna Terrell’s Yoga Warriors Fighting Colon Cancer event begins at the DoubleTree Hotel, 10 a.m., donations. Jaimee and Ron Jensen-McDaniel entertain at Round Mountain Coffee in Conway for “A Taste of Spring,” a benefit for the Arkansas Chamber Singers, 6:30 p.m., $50. Or, catch the Jensen-McDaniels with their band CosmOcean at Kings Live Music, 8:30 p.m., $5. Liquid Kitty performs at Thirst N’ Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. Canvas plays a happy hour set at Cajun’s, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, soul siren Charlotte Taylor takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5.

TUESDAY 4/17 Members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra follow up “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” with a “Beethoven Festival” program at the Clinton Presidential Center as part of the River Rhapsodies Chamber Music series, 7 p.m., $23. I’m With Her gives a concert at the Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, 7 p.m. Sportswriter Evin Demirel (“African American Athletes in Arkansas: Muhammad Ali’s Tour, Black Razorbacks and Other Forgotten Stories”) speaks at the Department of Arkansas Heritage office as part of its Pen to Podium series, 6:30 p.m., 1100 N. St.

WEDNESDAY 4/18 Jazz/neo-soul combo Off the Cuff performs for Jazz in the Park at the History Pavilion in Riverfront Park, 6 p.m., free. Houston rockers Blue October bring “Hate Me” and others to the Clear Channel Metroplex, with Flagship, 8 p.m., $30. At Verizon Arena, “Disney on Ice: Reach for the Stars” skates off, 7 p.m. Wed.-Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., $16-$51. Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies

arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

25


Dining WHAT’S COOKIN’

PUT WOOD-FIRED PIZZA and a full bar together and what do you get? Sauce(d), right? That was the idea of a group of Little Rock restaurant owners in the creation of a new eatery in the Market Place Shopping Center at 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road. Sauce(d) Bar and Oven, which is about a month out from opening, social media manager Abbey Rolfe estimated, is preparing a menu that will feature, in addition to pizza, gnocchi, mozzarellafilled “Meatballs in Purgatory,” burgers, sandwiches and salads. The full bar will feature 24 beers and eight wines on tap. Former food truck operatorsGeorgie Launet (Piccalo) will be chef and Gwen Jones (The Beast) will be operations manager. Sauce(d) will seat 123, including up to 20 people in the private dining room, where old beer kegs turned into lights will set the tone. The “long, beautiful” bar will seat 20 and there will also be outdoor seating at umbrella-topped picnic tables. Sauce(d) will open with dinner service first and expand to lunch and brunch at a later date. ARKANSAS GOT ITS second Saltgrass Steakhouse Tuesday, at 6040 Warden Road in Sherwood. The Landry’s chain restaurant, which originated in Texas and is named for a cattle trail on the Gulf Coast, tops its chargrilled steaks with garlic butter and Saltgrass seasoning. Also on the menu: chicken fried steak, barbecued baby back ribs, double-bone pork chop with jam, soups, salads and beer bread. The No Bull Lounge offers a full bar with weekday happy hours and a bar menu. There will be patio seating as well. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The first Saltgrass Steakhouse was built at 10 Anglers Way in Little Rock, next to Bass Pro Shops. COMING UP FRIDAY through Sunday, April 12-14, is the Tacos 4 Life Conway MobilePack. A thousand volunteers are expected at the Conway Expo Center, 2505 E. Oak St., to pack Tacos 4 Life’s MannaPack for the Feed My Starving Children organization. More than 500 meals will be packed. To volunteer, go to fmsc.lorg. The event will be the eighth in Conway, home to two Tacos 4 Life restaurants, at 716 W. Oak St. and 2235 Dave Ward Drive. SALON OWNER Alysha Johnson has announced on her Facebook page that Mr. Friendly’s Restaurant and Lounge at 14519 U.S. Hwy. 165 in Scott will hold a grand opening at 7 p.m. April 21, and comedian Tyler Chronicle will perform. The restaurant and bar will also host poetry readings. Derrick Dukes will be the chef and the menu will include chicken wings and different sauces, quesadillas, nachos, fries and a full bar. 26

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

COUSCOUS AND TILAPIA: An entree offered daily at Kontiki.

African destination Kontiki charms in Alexander.

B

een out to Alexander lately?

There’s not an awful lot in this tiny town (pop. 2,901, astride the Pulaski and Saline county lines). Maybe you’ve swung through Alexander on the way to the Bass Pro Shops or the newish outlet mall, a couple of interstate miles away. Perhaps you’ve namechecked Alexander in the middle of giving directions to somewhere else. Alexander is, like many small towns, rarely thought of as a destination. With the arrival of Kontiki African Restaurant, owned by Sierra Leonean emigre Christian Domingo, prepare for that to change. It’s a place you’ll want to plan on finding. Kontiki is the new occupant of the building that used to house the Alexander Country Cafe, and the exterior still retains the “big front porch” feel

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of a place more likely to serve biscuits than plantains. The interior is smallish and cozy, with gentle African music and a simple, subdued atmosphere that doesn’t overwhelm. Our party of five (four adults, one child) was quickly greeted and seated by the friendly staff. The Kontiki menu is fairly limited — four appetizers and six entrees — and focuses on cuisine from Sierra Leone. We started with a plate of rice Akara ($2.99 for six), which resemble Arkansas hush puppies but were actually banana fritters made with rice flour and nutmeg, served with a savory side sauce. They were a giant hit with all, but especially with the young one at our table. She was somewhat more skeptical about the fried plaintains ($3.99 for six), served up sweet and hot, but they disappeared quickly with much approval. The roast meat skew-

ers ($5.99 for two), tender beef coated in African spices and a smooth peanut butter, were also delicious and shortlived at our table. The appetizer menu also includes a spicy pepper soup ($5.99 for eight ounces, $7.99 for 16 ounces) offered with russet potatoes, vegetables and either beef or chicken. West African food is known for being spicy, but our entrees were flavorful without being too hot. The cassava leaves and rice ($13.99, offered Wednesday and Friday-Sunday) were flat-out delicious — spinach-like in consistency and color, prepared with smoked fish, chicken, lima beans and onion, with a side of white rice. We also happily devoured the couscous with tilapia ($12.99, offered daily, also with a chicken option). The nicely seasoned couscous and the fish were accompanied by a somewhat standard side of steamed vegetables. Our table also ordered Kontiki’s Jollof Rice and Stew ($12.99, offered daily), served with white rice and made with beef or chicken, bell peppers, onions, West African spices and


BELLY UP

Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas

Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog Follow us on Instagram: ArkTimes

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Little Rock’s Down Home Neighborhood Bar Join us for live music, good times and more! (501) 375-8400 • 2500 W 7th St • Little Rock, AR 72205 www.whitewatertavern.com

WE’RE DONATING 10% OF POLLINATOR PIZZA PROCEEDS FOR HONEY BEES AND MONARCH BUTTERFLIES!

FRIED PLAINTAINS: The dishes of Sierra Leone have come to Alexander.

tomato paste. The dish was adventurous and hearty, though neither soupy nor traditionally stew-like. Finally, we sampled up the most ordinary-sounding item on the entree menu, an order of beans and plantains ($9.99, served daily). This consisted of a generous side of sweet plaintains, a bowl of black-eyed peas cooked in palm oil and a side of steamed vegetables. For a simple and relatively inexpensive dish, the beans and plantains were flavorful and filling. Other entrees include a traditional Fufu & Okra or Egusi ($13.99, offered Friday-Sunday). Fufu is made by pounding cassava and plaintain flour into a dough-like substance. Kontiki serves its fufu with either okra soup or egusi soup (traditionally made with various African grains, seeds, vegetables and seasonings). Peanut butter soup and rice is offered daily ($12.99) and served with chicken or beef. Kontiki does not offer alcoholic beverages or dessert, but does serve a house-made ginger beer. This beverage is, happily, nothing like any ginger beer we’ve purchased from the local grocery store. The Kontiki version is made with freshly ground ginger, cloves, sugar and water, and resembles a somewhat

Giving never tasted so sweet.

Kontiki African Restaurant 13420 State Hwy. 111 S Alexander 615-8504 facebook.com/kontikikitchen Quick bite

Limited menu and seating, and certain entree items are only available on particular days of the week.

North Little Rock | Conway

Hours

3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Other info No alcohol.

cloudy skim milk. Those who sampled it at our table enjoyed the sweet/ginger combo and agreed that a glass would be far too much for one person to consume alone. The verdict from our dining party: Alexander is home to a winner. Kontiki is a fine and welcome addition to the Central Arkansas dining scene. While the menu is limited, it consists of tasty choices that we hope will be joined by more selections as the restaurant grows and thrives. Our group looks forward to many return visits soon.

TOAST TOWN OF THE

FINALIST

arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

27


MOVIE REVIEW

OUTCASTS: Wes Anderson’s film about a pack of dogs trying to help a young boy recover his pet is his most surreal film to date.

O

ur nation’s most notorious assassins gather on stage to violently pursue a twisted American Dream. By developing the characters of historic assassins out of the slim biographical information found, “Assassins” prompts us to consider their motivation, confronts pain in order to cauterize the decay and heal the sicknesses which lurk at the core of our society.

Excommunicated

‘Isle of Dogs’ unmistakably Wes Anderson. BY SAM EIFLING

I

APRIL 6,7,8,13,14,15,20,21,22, 2018

DIRECTED BY ANDY HALL AND JAMIE SCOTT BLAKEY MUSIC DIRECTION BY JEANNIE SCOTT CROSS $20 ADULTS • $16 STUDENTS & SENIORS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT CURTAIN TIME IS 7:30 PM. SUNDAY AFTERNOON CURTAIN TIME IS 2:30 PM. Please arrive promptly. There will be no late admission. The House opens 30 minutes prior to curtain. Box office opens one hour before curtain time. For more information contact us at 501.374.3761 or www.weekendtheater.org OUR 25TH SEASON IS SPONSORED BY PIANO KRAFT

CentralArkansasTickets.com to purchase tickets and flex passes.

1001 W. 7th St. • Little Rock, AR 72201 • 501-374-3761 28

APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES

t’s easy enough to spot a Wes his coevals, seems to match. In 2009, Anderson movie, be it live or it was “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a rich, stop-motion. The sets are finely wry animal crime drama. In 2018, it’s embroidered in fanciful colors and “Isle of Dogs,” by a slim margin the styles. The actors deliver their lines longest stop-motion movie in history, drolly, portioning out emotions in and likely Anderson’s most political pinches rather than with scoops. and surrealistic film to date. It also The stories f lirt with magical real- has to be considered among his most ism. And generally, Alexandre Desplat gorgeous, a fiercely competitive catwill write original music that will be egory indeed. One reason: Everything has to be nominated for an Oscar. Something about Anderson’s style created from scratch in this miniature — instantly recognizable, unerringly world, set in the fictional Japanese precise — turns off Academy voters; he metropolis of Megasaki City. There, has been nominated just once, and lost, a generations-old feud between the for directing. Perhaps it is because he ruling dynasty (which loves cats) and tends to dim his performers, or per- the city’s many flu-stricken dogs has haps it’s because his tone and plots come to a dark end. The mayor decrees lean twee. Either way, his work trans- that all dogs will be excommunicated lates with surprising ease into stop- to an island of trash, starting with his motion animation, with a recogniz- own family dog, Spots (voiced by Liev ability that only Tim Burton, among Schreiber). Months of deportations


An Evening With...PAUL Monday, April 23

SAND

The night will also feature great music by Drew Jansen and Jimmy Martin! Doors Open at 6:00 PM Show Starts at 7:00 PM

CENTRALARKANSASTICKETS.COM

follow. Then one day a tight pack — voiced by Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and Edward Norton — notice a small plane fall out of the sky. The little pilot, as they come to call him, turns out to be the 12-or-so-year-old ward of the mayor, come to try to track down his dog and get him back to the mainland. Naturally, this being a Wes Anderson film, it all goes deeper: Scientists try to develop a serum only to have tragedy befall them; robot-drone dogs become tools of the state; student reporters and hackers are on the case of the whole tangle. Listen and you’ll recognize other voices: Frances McDormand as a translator; Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham and Tilda Swinton as other dogs; Yoko Ono as a character named Yoko-ono; and Scarlett Johansson as a wayward show dog who captures the heart of Cranston’s roguish stray. It’s in a line of her dialogue that you can hear what makes the entire film so particular:

The actress audibly smiles as she tries to convince the stray to help the little pilot, yet the miniature dog on-screen keeps her face expressionless. Anderson’s dialogue lends itself to the deadpan, and it’s only when someone hops those rails that you can see why his style translates so seamlessly into a realm populated by tiny puppet animals whose every microexpression has to be placed on it deliberately by other human hands. The whole movie, in fact, is so tightly woven that to pull it apart into strands is virtually impossible. It skews to darker shades as our ragtag band of diseased and injured heroes traverse a land of garbage. It will enthrall you with every set, every visual detail (and, yep, with lush Japanese drumming, courtesy of Desplat). And, if you love a dog, or several dogs, it will have you celebrating the thoughts of your dog. The heroic little pilot is just one, after all, of so many good boys in this film. arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

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APRIL 12, 2018

ARKANSAS TIMES


UPCOMING EVENTS

APR 13-15 20-22 The Weekend Theater Assassins APR 12-15 19-22 APR

18

APR

19

APR

20

The Studio Theatre Bridge to Terabithia Argenta Community Theater A Night at the Theater CALS Ron Robinson Theater MeToo: True Stories of Sexual Assault Four Quarter Bar Lagunitas 420 Party w/ Aaron Kamm and the One Drops

23

The Joint/Kaleidoscope Film Festival: An Evening with Paul Sand

APR 26-29

Community Theatre of Little Rock Moonlight and Magnolias

APR

APR

ARKANSAS TIMES MARKETPLACE TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SECTION, CALL LUIS AT 501.375.2985

LAWN CARE WORKERS needed in Little Rock. Salary based on experience. For more information call Ricky at 501-590-3051 or 501-297-4484

EAT MY CATFISH

Hiring Team Members for North Little Rock, Little Rock, Conway, and Benton locations. Join an amazing team where Infectious Enthusiasm and Positivity are REQUIRED. Full-time and part-time positions available. $8/hour + tips. Apply: www.eatmycatfish.com/careers

One of a Kind Arkansas Buffalo Rug

The Weekend Theater Six Characters in Search of a Play

29 Go to CentralArkansasTickets.com 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!

You won’t believe how soft this tanned, Arkansas buffalo hide is. Very durable, perfect for either a rug or even a bedspread. A friend has one in her ultra modern downtown tower condo. We have ours in our log cabin. It works in a surprising variety of home or office environments. $1,400 Buy Direct From the Farmer!

LOCAL TICKETS, ONE PLACE

Kaytee Wright 501-607-3100 kaytee.wright@gmail.com arktimes.com APRIL 12, 2018

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Non-Profit Recipient:

THURSDAY

downtown little Rock partnership

MAY 10 | 6-9pm river market pavilionS

presents

L A U N N A D N SECO

! E L A S R O F R E E C O L D C O RO N A B Food Available for Purchase from:

Join the fun as Don Julio, the world’s first ultra-premium tequila, presents the second annual Margarita Festival • Thursday, May 10 at the Little Rock River Market Pavilions •

It’s a salute to the perfection of a great margarita!

Sample variations of the classic cocktail from the city’s best bartenders and VOTE for your favorites! We will crown one margarita best of the fest!

Some of Our Competing Bars and Restaurants Doubletree’s Bridges Restaurant & Lounge Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill Revolution Taco and Tequila Bar O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor La Terraza Rum & Lounge Cache Restaurant Big Whiskey’s The Pizzeria Ernie Biggs 109 & Co. Loblolly Bleu Monkey Grill (Hot Springs) Taco Mama (Hot Springs) Ohio Club (Hot Springs)

La Terraza • Taco Mama

Latin Salsa tunes & Jimmy Buffett standards from: Club 27 Little Rock Salsa

EARLY TICKET PRICE STARTING APR. 5

$20

UNTIL END OF DAY APR.19

Ticket price includes 20 three-ounce Margarita samples. Cold Corona For Sale.

centralarkansastickets.com

And more coming...

Tickets are limited. Purchase early.

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ARKANSAS TIMES

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AN ES ARKANSAS TIM EVENT

Arkansas Times - April 12, 2018  

Homecoming - Arkansas native Christopher Jones has come back but is looking forward, to Arkansas's entrepreneurial ecosystem. By Lindsey Mil...

Arkansas Times - April 12, 2018  

Homecoming - Arkansas native Christopher Jones has come back but is looking forward, to Arkansas's entrepreneurial ecosystem. By Lindsey Mil...