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Festival Staff

Don’t Miss


Executive Director


Festival Director


Vendor Coordinator


Little Rock Pride Parade! Saturday, October 20 • 1pm




Riverfront Amphitheater and Pavilions

ade Sat.,


Saturday, October 20 • 12-7pm


Opening Remarks: Executive Director Zack Baker, Grand Marshall Tippi McCullough, and host Rhiannon Cortez

Opening Drag Number




Interrupter Coordinator






Headliner Laith Ashley




Graphic Design Intern

PRIDE FEST 2018 | Schedule of Events




Awesome DJ


Family Zone Coordinator

Parade Coordinator

12-2pm Oct. 20 • 1




Volunteer Coordinator

Beverage Tent Coordinator






THE MISSION OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS PRIDE is to celebrate the history and culture of our community through pride events and programs that inspire, strengthen, and unite.

Stage Manager

Drag Performances featuring Chloe Jacobs

Drag Performances featuring Blaze Duvall and JCRios


Headliner CeCe Peniston

Drag Performances featuring Melanie Masters. Valentino Victoria, Roxie Starlite, and Mason Whinesend

Dog Show


Byron and Crew

5:15 Dylan


Drag and Circus Acts


OCTOBER 18, 2018


RIVERDALE 10 VIP CINEMA ARKANSAS’S SOURCE FOR NEWS, POLITICS & ENTERTAINMENT 201 East Markham Street, Suite 200 Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 @ArkTimes




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ARKANSAS TIMES (ISSN 0164-6273) is published each week by Arkansas Times Limited Partnership, 201 East Markham Street, Suite 200, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201, phone (501) 375-2985. Periodical postage paid at Little Rock, Arkansas, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ARKANSAS TIMES, 201 EAST MARKHAM STREET, SUITE 200, Little Rock, AR, 72201. Subscription prices are $150 for one year. For subscriber service call (501) 375-2985. Current singlecopy price is 75¢, free in Pulaski County. Single issues are available by mail at $2.50 each, postage paid. Payment must accompany all single-copy orders. Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents without the written consent of the publishers is prohibited. Manuscripts and artwork will not be returned or acknowledged unless sufficient return postage and a self-addressed stamped envelope are included. All materials are handled with due care; however, the publisher assumes no responsibility for care and safe return of unsolicited materials. All letters sent to ARKANSAS TIMES will be treated as intended for publication and are subject to ARKANSAS TIMES’ unrestricted right to edit or to comment editorially.



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Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival benefitting Argenta Arts District

Friday, Nov. 2nd 6-9pm $25 Adv • $35 Door

On 4th Street in between Main and Popular in Downtown NLR (Argenta)

Join the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau tent and find out about the Locally Labeled Passport Program — your ticket to learn about and enjoy Little Rock’s 11 craft beer breweries, two wineries and historic distillery

Visit the Ale Trail tent to experience the Ozarks’ finest craft brews! The Fayetteville Ale Trail gives visitors and locals alike a glimpse into the unique craft brewery culture of Northwest Arkansas.

Live DJ with Dance Party! Food Trucks (available for purchase):

Riceland Mobile Café, Reggae Flavas, Say Cheese, Wok N Roll, K&T Hot Dogs, Loblolly Creamery, Black Hound BBQ and more!

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OCTOBER 18, 2018


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Good stories

I frequently disagree with the extremes of your politics. I do usually enjoy your columnists’ positions if for no other reason than simply to read another opinion on an issue. Further, I am often impressed with the width and breath of some of your investigative articles. However, two terrific stories contained in your Oct. 11 issue, to wit, “Fast Forward” by David Koon and “Goodbye to LR’s Bushel Basket” by Rebekah Hall, deserve more than passing notice. Both were extremely interesting and offered unique perspectives on subjects not typically found in the Arkansas Times (or anywhere else). Now, if we can find some middle ground on our politics … . Porter Brownlee Little Rock

The American Uncivil War

America’s second Civil War started 155 years after the first. What started in Charleston Harbor at Fort Sumter, S.C., on April 12, 1861, was a battle that would become the American Civil War. The South would win this first battle only to lose the larger war four years later. The abolishment of slavery was the overriding cause of Southern states seceding from the union and it ultimately led to the conflagration that followed.

COMMENT On Nov. 8, 2016, our second Civil War was oncilable differences in their respective launched. Its adversaries are not defined values: civility vs. incivility. Reason vs. by states, but by something far more comoutrage. Thoughtfulness vs. rashness. pelling: their core values. These include Truth vs. alternative facts. Love of hate respect for and adherence to civility in vs. pristine love. Those who favor rephuman relations, discourse and goverresentative democracy vs. those who nance. Ending slavery has been trumped are bent on hate-filled, autocratic rule. by efforts of the new Uncivil War comThose willing to defend our Constitubatants to perpetuate racism, misogyny tion vs. those who deliberately subvert it.  and xenophobia. To add insult to outraIf you count yourself among Amergeous behavior, additional efforts to disica’s civil majority, help stop the solve our democracy are underway and Uncivil War on Tuesday, Nov. 6. are supported by claims that our media is Vote. the enemy of the people and that governHarry Herget mental agencies should be dedicated to Little Rock serving the needs of our chief executive, not the citizens of the United States. Our legislative branch has already capitulated I guess the Republicans in our state its authority to the White House, and our are jumping for joy at this [Medicaid roll] judicial branch will soon surrender its news. Another 4,100 “lazy bums” thrown constitutional authority of checks and off the “public dole.” Meanwhile, they balances and fall in line with Congress continue to feed at the public trough to become another instrument of autothemselves. Wake up, Arkansas voters, or cratic rule, not democratic governance. prepare to live through another few years Divisiveness is their goal and hate is their of being screwed over by these crooks. weapon. “Lock her up” is the anthem of hatred that unifies the uncivil minority Wannabee conservative and its practiced cadence reverberates throughout the arena at their rallies, aka “In a report released Monday morning, events where love of hate and propaganda the state Department of Human Services prevail. Pageants of power now trump said it had terminated the health insurance traditional political campaign rallies. of another 4,109 Medicaid recipients ... .” Marriages, families, friendships, busiSo in just one month another 4,109 ness partnerships and more have ended of our fellow Arkansans along with or been severely estranged due to irrec-

Comments from the web

another 4,353 the previous month no longer have affordable health insurance. They will still have the same health issues, but instead of getting them treated, this will result: 1) No visit to the doctor means many medical issues will go untreated and get worse, resulting in far more expensive treatment somebody will have to pay. 2) When they HAVE to go to the doctor or an ER because their medical problem has reached a critical point, the bills will go unpaid. Hospitals will suffer the losses or raise prices for everyone else to cover their costs. 3) Rural hospitals living on the edge financially will be forced to close. That lwill impact everyone in the surrounding communities, and result in more deaths for those facing true medical emergencies. 4) If the medical issues involve communicable diseases, guess who will then get them? The rest of us. 5) It means the tens of millions of federal government dollars that pay 93 percent of the cost of expanded Medicaid (current federal fiscal year beginning 10/1/18) are no longer part of the state’s economy. Way to shrink the state’s economy and cost us jobs, Asa. Sound Policy OCTOBER 18, 2018




The Washington Post published on Oct. 14 a lengthy investigation of Little Rock Police Department practices, focusing especially on the arrest of Roderick Talley, who was injured when the LRPD blasted open the door to his apartment during a “no-knock” search warrant. He was then arrested, even though police found only a tiny amount of marijuana in the apartment — not cocaine, as the search and seizure warrant said was believed to be in Talley’s residence. Prosecutors later dropped a charge of drug trafficking against him for lack of evidence. After the arrest, Talley checked the personal security system he’d installed in his apartment — due to a history of break-ins and packages being stolen at the complex — and viewed the video footage of the raid. “It was at that moment that I realized I would be able to do something that a lot of black men in America aren’t able to do, and that’s prove that the police lied on me.” Talley filed a pro se federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Little Rock and LRPD officers in December. Civil rights attorneys Mike Laux and Ben Crump announced Oct. 15 they were representing Talley in his lawsuit. The Washington Post also found questionable use of no-knock search warrants, an unreliable informant, s u sp e c t t e s t i mony by of f icer s , constitutional violations in search warrant issuance, dangerous tactics, unjustified arrests and a pattern of emphasis on black suspects.

More work requirement cuts

The state Department of Human Ser v ices ha s terminated t he health insurance of another 4,109 Medicaid recipients due to Governor Hutchinson’s work requirement for 6

OCTOBER 18, 2018


certain beneficiaries of Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion prog ra m for low-income adults. Those people are now barred from Arkansas Works until Jan. 1. That’s in addition to the 4,353 beneficiaries trimmed from (and subsequently locked out of ) the Arkansas Works program in September, meaning the work requirement has cut insurance for about 8,500 Arkansans thus far. Back in June, when the requirement was put into place for the first subset of benef iciaries, DHS estimated that about 69,000 people eventually would be required to report their work activity hours. The mandate has now eliminated over 12 percent of that initial number. Because the new requirement is being phased in on a rolling basis, it is likely that coverage losses for November and December will be comparable to those in September and October. Beneficiaries are kicked off if they fail to report sufficient work hours for three months (consecutive or not) in a given calendar year. The 4,100 who just lost coverage were in their third month of noncompliance. (The DHS report said another 4,841 were in their second month of noncompliance and 7,748 were in their first month.)


Police misdeeds chronicled

expansion — 138 percent of the federal poverty line — but it may also be due in part to DHS policies that cancel people’s insurance because of returned mail or failure to respond to minor paperwork. Arkansas has seen a larger percentage decrease in its Medicaid population over the past 18 months than any other state that expanded Medicaid.

Ballot rulings

Independent of the losses directly attributable to the work requirement, t he latest Medica id enrollment numbers from DHS show Arkansas Works is shrinking for other reasons as well. On Jan. 1, there were about 286,000 people enrolled in t he program. On Oct. 1, there were about 253,000. The decline may be due in part to a strong economy that has lifted some beneficiaries’ income above the eligibility threshold for Medicaid

The Arkansas Supreme Court has turned down two challenges to the proposed constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling in the state. It also has reversed a circuit court ruling that the current voter ID law was unconstitutional, meaning it will remain in force in November. In the voter ID case, the court voted 5-2 to reverse Judge Mackie Pierce’s ruling that the current voter ID law added an unconstitutional additional barrier to voting. The court majority opinion, written by Justice Robin Wynne, accepted the state’s argument that the rule was a permissible change to the part of the Constitution pertaining to voter reg istration, though the Constitution says only that someone must be a citizen, aged 18 and registered to vote.

In the news. Or not.


ome recent news, not all fit for immediate print in the state’s largest newspaper: *REEFER MADNESS: Credit the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for publicizing a secret videotape made by Ken Shollmier, a Hutchinson administration insider and unhappy spurned applicant for a medical marijuana cultivation permit. He wangled a private meeting with Marijuana Commissioner Carlos Roman, who’d given Shollmier a high score, but not high enough to offset other low scores. It appears Shollmier thought he could catch Roman taking a bribe. It appears Roman thought that’s what was afoot. No bribe changed hands. Roman notified the FBI. Where this leads as a police matter isn’t certain. But we do know from the video that Roman helpfully met privately with an applicant and, by Shollmier’s account, may have pro-



vided some propri- etary information from other applications. At a minimum it was another black eye for the inept, politically corrupt start-up of medical marijuana regulation. The cultivation permit scoring should be redone by an independent outside judge. *LEGISLATIVE ETHICS: No credit to the Democrat-Gazette for ignoring Democrat Jon Comstock’s steady exposure of ethical failings by Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R-Rogers), who Comstock is attempting to prevent from adding four more years to her 16 in the legislature. He’s pointed out how Hutchinson connections have added up to almost $500,000 in taxpayer payments for the Bledsoe clan, including a $182,000 unadvertised job for Bledsoe’s previously retired husband and a $173,000 payment to her son, Gregory, as surgeon

Such good news


ealth care has moved to the top of people’s concerns this election year even as the “good” news keeps coming. The question is, how much more good news can people stand? First there was the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA Lite, which the president bragged was going to punish Canada and Mexico for abusing the prescription-drug market. It punishes them by giving the giant U.S. pharmaceutical companies a monopoly on many new drugs for 10 years, banning competition from lower-priced generic alternatives, which often came from Canada and Mexico. It will drive up drug costs in Canada and Mexico and, over time, in the United States by protecting monopolies and blocking lower-cost and lifesaving medical options. Trump was being criticized because the administration and Congress plundered the Affordable Care Act last year to end health insurance for many people and drive up the premiums for others in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. But now, despite those efforts, the premiums in the exchanges are about to go down slightly this winter while premiums and deductibles for nearly everyone else — people in employment

plans outside the Affordable Care Act — are rising sharply. But the president promised ERNEST DUMAS that he was going to go after Big Pharma and make them lower their drug prices. Big Pharma naturally was cheering after the NAFTA deal, but last week the administration revealed its strategy. It is going to adopt rules requiring pharmaceutical companies to mention prices somewhere in all their medicine commercials. Man, that will show them. Hold your breath until drug prices fall. The investiture of Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court this month was treated as great news in some quarters because it seemed to ensure that fresh challenges to the Affordable Care Act will succeed in the federal courts now that an anti-Democratic majority on the Supreme Court will be reviewing the law in the next two years. Arkansas’s attorney general filed an intervention with other Republican states urging the courts to repeal the law. That would end all protections for people with pre-existing conditions, end medical coverage for some 300,000 Arkansans and reduce Medicare benefits for

general (an office without a real office), tive reporting last weekend on tactics though he has another full-time job at by the Little Rock police SWAT and a hospital. Comstock also reported that undercover drug units. Radley Balko Bledsoe, one of the enablers of the Eccle- of The Washington Post documented sia College scandal, bought a house in dozens of unjustified no-knock raids, Little Rock, where most of Bledsoe Inc. complete with explosive door breaches, work is done. Does she really live in mounted on the strength of an unreliRogers, as required to run for Senate? able informant and questionable police *GOBBLE GOBBLE: Some good testimony. It appears innocent people news was overlooked by the state- have been victimized, a disproportionwide newspaper. The Yellville Turkey ate number of them black. Trot was held last weekend without It was another black eye for a police the annual ritual of dropping terrified force accused before of racially dispadomestic turkeys from airplanes and rate policing. It’s no wonder the force is buildings. Corporate sponsors finally viewed warily by minorities. The majorfled last year after continued exposure ity of the majority white force lives outby animal rights activists of the barbaric side the city — often driving home in citypractice. The local Rotary Club took subsidized police cruisers. The suburban over, insisted on no turkey drops, and cops say they fear crime and putting their a good time was still had by all when kids in the city’s (majority black) schools. rain didn’t interfere. A big parade with Police and public safety should be high school bands and horses. A beauty THE issue for the candidates for mayor. pageant. A street dance. A beer garden. A broadening of an existing lawsuit by Smoked turkey legs and funnel cakes. one drug-raid victim who’s persevered The Turkey Trot passed Rotary’s four- with his complaint against enormous way test. The event was beneficial for institutional odds now seems likely to all, particularly turkeys. force more public discussion. The city’s *ROGUE COPS: The D-G barely silence to date is deafening. I’d say it’s mentioned a huge piece of investiga- worth a news article.

tens of thousands of Arkansans. For of the regular jobs that are just waiting many, particularly a Republican con- for them. Besides that, not having to tingent in the Arkansas legislature, that subsidize their medical care and drugs will be a stellar triumph. will save the state some money, $7 next It also will put many community hos- year for every $93 that the federal treapitals in jeopardy. Because the state sury spends in the state on their treattook advantage of the expanded Med- ment and medicine. icaid coverage in the Affordable Care A fairer explanation is that thouAct, not a single Arkansas hospital has sands of people couldn’t navigate the folded since the law was passed. Texas wall of paperwork and computer methand other Southern states that rejected odology that the state bureaucracy has the coverage for poor people have not erected for them to continue to get medbeen so lucky. Ten have closed in Texas, ical care. Many don’t know they’ve lost unable any longer to bear the costs of coverage. They’ll find out when they try uncompensated care. Uncompensated to pick up their prescriptions or go to costs are inching up in Arkansas, includ- the emergency room. ing the state medical center, as the state Hutchinson said no tears should be has been lopping off tens of thousands wasted on the people who have lost from subsidized coverage under the coverage. They wanted it that way. Affordable Care Act exchange. He said many have been getting jobs That brings us to the latest “good” as a result of the state’s adopting the news. The state Department of Human “work requirement” for keeping covServices boasted Monday that it had erage early this year and others will been able to cancel Medicaid cover- land jobs as soon they find they’ve lost age for another 4,100 poor Arkansans, coverage. bringing to 8,500 the number who have If that were the case, we should be lost coverage this fall. Another 30,000 seeing a sizable increase in the state’s or so will be uninsured by spring after labor force, the number of Arkansans the state applies its “work requirement” working or seeking work. But the to younger indigents. Arkansas labor force, according to DonThis is all good news, Governor ald Trump’s Department of Labor, has Hutchinson explained, because it been declining steadily for the past year. means all these people have left the Nearly every month, fewer Arkansans state, gotten a job and maybe acquired are working or seeking work. Go figure. insurance, or else they just don’t want It could be just an overabundance insurance enough to go out and get one of good news. Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog OCTOBER 18, 2018


The mob


Photography & Film: The Immigrant Experience Arkansas -> America



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OCTOBER 18, 2018


o hear some people tell it, America stands at the edge of a dangerous precipice. No less an authority than Donald J. Trump, the nation’s leading exponent of racial grievance theory, fears for the safety of the republic. Marauding bands of women in silly pink hats have the commander in chief spooked. “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist,” he told his fans at a Kansas rally the other day, “and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob — and that’s what they’ve become.” Democrats, he means. Two years ago, Trump supporters who once called themselves the “Tea Party” turned up at polling places toting AR-15s. The candidate urged crowds to punch protestors who showed up at his campaign events. Some took his advice. Now the threat of majority rule has Trumpists up a tree. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed horror at the “moblike tactics” of sexual assault victims who confronted GOP senators over the Brett Kavanaugh nomination — a pivotal event in which senators representing 44 percent of the American people pushed through a U.S. Supreme Court justice nominated by an unpopular, president who failed to win the popular vote and who is mistrusted by majorities in opinion polls. Nothing quite like that has happened before. It may also have finalized the evolution of the Supreme Court into a wholly partisan institution — dangerous to the rule of law. GOP Senate stalwarts Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah) have also resorted to the “mob” trope in recent days. Deep thinkers at the Heritage Foundation are quoting one Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian political scientist who feared “the tyranny of the majority” and viewed monarchy as the ideal form of government. King Donald the First. How does that grab you? I prefer Donald the Unready. Either way, the glories of the Electoral College are suddenly all the rage in Republican circles. Originally invented to protect the slave states, it’s being repurposed by GOP thinkers, writes Joel Mathis in The Week — less to prevent the majority from trampling minority rights than to rationalize minority rule. If they were wide receivers instead of senators, you might think these boys were hearing footsteps. Older and whiter than the rest of the country, Republicans either need to broaden their demographic appeal or lose power. Hence the attempt to depict the opposition as illegitimate.

Even if it makes their president sound like a big crybaby. GENE Hence too their LYONS attempts to restrict minority voting rights from sea to shining sea — another timeless GOP stratagem. But I digress. Having already persuaded much of the Fox News/Republican base of an absurd conspiracy theory in which the FBI conspired against Trump by probing his 2016 campaign’s ties to kindly Uncle Vladimir (only to have then-FBI Director James Comey drop the hammer on Hillary), the president and his minions have now discovered a shadowy Chinese threat. During a radio interview National Security Adviser John Bolton made ominous noises about an alleged Chinese plot against the integrity of U.S. elections. A veteran alarmist, Bolton pronounced himself “very worried about Chinese interference” in U.S. elections and vowed vigilance. “I think the United States needs to stand up, frankly, to any foreign government that thinks it’s going to interfere in our politics,” he said. “We are a self-governing people. We will govern ourselves. We don’t need international institutions to tell us how to do it. And we particularly don’t need foreigners trying to exert undue influence over us.” Noble, if tardy sentiments. My man Charles P. Pierce of Esquire, however, suspects that mischief is afoot. More than campaign rhetoric, he writes, statements like Bolton’s may be “part of a national mechanism that is being created to delegitimize a Democratic sweep should it happen next month. It will be Chinese meddling, or sneaky “Illegals.” And they will sell it hard to those people most likely to believe it. And the country likely will catch on fire.” I tend to be more sanguine. Two reasons: First, the principle of majority rule is too firmly established in the national mind to be dislodged by Heritage Foundation apologetics. Second, while there’s little doubt that Trump would prove the sorest of losers, I also suspect that his hardcore cultists are more a phenomenon of social media than the three-dimensional world. In my experience, the angriest curses and threats invariably come via email — where anonymity can be assured. To most GOP voters, the Trump administration is basically a reality TV show. Otherwise, they’d be forced to take their hero’s endless lies seriously, which they do not. His endless rallies are like pro-wrestling shows: exciting, but not quite real.

Still a contender


ere we go again. U.S. Sen. Eliz- maceutical bill. Sen. AUTUMN abeth Warren (D-Mass.) just Kamala Harris TOLBERT released a video addressing (D-Calif.), a tough her belief she that she is a descendant and brilliant contender, defended both the of one of the tribes of indigenous people death penalty and the three strikes rule of the Americas, also known as Native and fought against transparency in police Americans. In the video, Warren explains shootings in her role as California’s attorher mother had told her that she eloped ney general. Beloved Sen. Bernie Sanders with Warren’s father because his family (I-Vt.) has a history of mixed votes on gun disapproved due to her Native American control and stood by for many years while ancestry. The video shows Warren’s GOP private prisons flourished in Vermont. family members talking about how ridicu- Then there is that creepy story he wrote lous it is that President Trump made fun about rape fantasies. Rounding out the of Warren’s claims by repeatedly calling frontrunners is former Vice President Joe her “Pocahontas.” Warren also includes Biden, who some younger progressives interviews with those who hired her may only know as the cool sidekick to over the years in an effort to push back President Barack Obama. Many are only against claims she exploited her perceived just now learning about his very problemheritage to further her career. Turns out, atic questioning of Professor Anita Hill according to the DNA test, Warren has a during the Clarence Thomas confirmation distant relative who was Native American. hearing. The point is all politicians are The science shows the lineage is not what problematic. It’s the nature of the game. Warren believed, but it also demonstrates And we all know that the winner of electhat her mother wasn’t a liar. Like many, tions these days is the candidate with the including me, she had believed her fam- most money or the best messaging. Trump ily’s version of her history. Remember, knew that. He is a master of using racism she had this belief before DNA tests were and classism to create the narrative that commonly used. All was she had was her he is the best man for the job. And now mother’s word. we learn he has a $100 million dollars in After the video’s release, Warren his campaign war chest. The person who reminded Trump that he promised to runs against Trump better be able to get donate a million dollars to charity if she out the vote with their narrative because could prove she did have Native American his bankroll will be hard to beat. heritage, or, in his words, was an “Indian.” What I admire in Warren is her willShe called his bluff, took the test and told ingness to bring the fight to Trump, Wall him to send the million-dollar check to the Street and big corporations. Sure, her National Indigenous Women’s Resource policy positions are not perfect. She will Center. Trump, of course, will never pay. surely be blinded by her white privilege It isn’t his style to pay his debts. He has again. But at the end of the day she has called for another DNA test performed a strong progressive voting history. It’s by him. obvious she scares Trump and those who And there is the problem. Warren’s want to keep dark money in politics. They release of the results to quantify her heri- will do everything they can to turn the tage was deeply offensive to many, includ- left against her, including ignoring her ing the Cherokee Nation. “Tone deaf” is heartland upbringing and focusing on the term I’ve seen most used. There is her career as an “elite.” They will call no arguing that it was misguided. War- her shrill. They will call her crazy. They ren should apologize. However, the left will try to distract from her history as an should also recognize that Warren is one experienced fighter against corruption in of the few politicians to consistently push a time when we have an incredibly corback against Trump. She knows that the rupt administration. time for going high is over. Before she is Until a magical candidate emerges that disqualified from running for the Demo- is pure as the driven snow, Warren should cratic presidential nomination in 2020 remain a contender. What the country over this current fiasco, the left should needs to see is the tough working mom take a look at the other frontrunners. Each from Oklahoma who was raised in a midis problematic in his or her own way. dle-class, military family contrasted with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.Y.), despite the pussy-grabbing, racist trust funder being a consistent voice for social jus- who lives in a golden tower. That’s a nartice, cast a controversial vote on a phar- rative that the left can take to the bank.

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Fall Festival

Back to Work Job Fair !

OCTOBER 26, 2018 • 10AM-7PM

Join us for a “Fall Festival” themed job fair. We are hiring for professional and industrial positions. We will have a DJ, Crave Fuel food truck, Games and Prizes.


10901 Financial Centre Parkway, Little Rock, AR 72211 OCTOBER 18, 2018



Back to the Future… with Grant County Democrats Saturday, Oct. 27th 6:30PM Prattsville Community Center Highway 270 West, Prattsville, AR

Fundraiser Bar-B-Que Dinner

(catering by Uncle Henry’s) Tickets are $25 each. Reserve your ticket now.

To Honor our Rich Democratic Heritage in Grant County

Get tickets at


OCTOBER 18, 2018


The waiting


he late, inimitable Tom Petty mem- through a careerorably penned, then belted out, this best four field goals, refrain in his classic “The Waiting”: and it appeared that “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart/ would keep Ole Miss The waiting is the hardest part.” at bay. The Hogs led I miss Tom Petty and his music greatly. 33-24 in the fourth BEAU WILCOX I miss Razorback football finishing out quarter after the games even more so (remember, Pearls last of Limpert’s kicks, and that margin gestates from the skewed, jaded per- would’ve been safe for a healthier, conspective of a Hog fan, rather than some fident team. Instead, Rebel quarterback detached cynic). Jordan Ta’amu, on the way to a 528-total Over the Razorbacks’ last 21 games, yard explosion, kept exploiting the Hogs’ they have registered all of five victo- beleaguered defensive front by dashing ries. That fact alone is garish enough to through wide lanes and firing quick-strike cause anyone’s cardinal blood to boil, but passes. His 387-yard passing performance here’s the real ugly part: In those 16 losses, was big, but the 141 yards he made on Arkansas led or was tied in the second half 17 runs were far more damaging to the of exactly half of those, and they also had a Hogs in the end. Because John Chavis’ chance to knot things up with Texas A&M defense could never adequately draw a in the final minutes this season despite bead on the shifty Ta’amu until he was trailing the entirety of that game. yards downfield. Though the Hogs were Arkansas lost its killer instinct at a pre- able to smother dangerous tailback Scotcise point in time: the day after Thanksgiv- tie Phillips, he plunged into the end zone ing 2016 against lowly Missouri — Black with 42 seconds left to give Ole Miss a Friday, indeed — and the waiting on the comeback win, 37-33, that was made offirecovery has gotten stale. Bret Bielema cial when Kelley air-mailed a desperation and staff were soon excommunicated, throw for an interception moments later. although ironically, the Hogs’ one conferThis, ostensibly, was the game that ence win in 2017 came at Ole Miss, and it could have reversed the course of Arkanrepresented the largest comeback ever for sas’s seemingly lost season. The second the program in an SEC game. Bielema left half of the schedule was ripe with poswith, at least, a 4-1 record against the Reb- sible opportunities to string together a few els, and oddsmakers and fans felt like this wins and regain respectability. Instead, momentum Arkansas was slowly building after LSU rebounded masterfully from a in respectable showings against Auburn, loss at Florida to thoroughly club GeorA&M and Alabama was enough to again gia, and Mississippi State has stayed in get past the Rebels, who entered 4-2 over- the rankings despite a couple of stumbles, all and 0-2 in the SEC. those games look like sure defeats. MisAfter a fast 17-3 start buoyed by souri didn’t embarrass itself at Tuscaloosa, Rakeem Boyd’s explosive 69-yard touch- either, and Vanderbilt had Florida on the down run and a pretty scoring toss from ropes for three quarters before things quarterback Ty Storey to tight end Chey- came unraveled, so really, this is not an enne O’Grady, the hard field surface and easy trip down the final stretch for the conditions exacted their toll on a team Hogs to take. already bereft of depth. Storey first got We saw how demoralized they were drilled on an ill-advised throwback play, after losing at Colorado Springs in week sat briefly, and Cole Kelley would come two; the ensuing return to Fayetteville for in hot with a 39-yard scoring strike to the North Texas fiasco showed a team La’Michael Pettway in the second quarter ill-prepared to overcome a collapse, parthat stretched the Hogs’ lead back to 24-10 ticularly one that decimated the Hogs’ (It would reach 27-10 before the Rebels personnel so much. Instead of this being cut that to 27-17 just seconds before half- a glorious rebirth of conference clashes time). From there, though, Storey was at War Memorial, it was a rainy, chilly gimpy and got mauled again on a later, mess of a denouement after a notably harder hit that left him sidelined the rest good week on the recruiting side of things of the night. Boyd also sustained a back (Hudson Henry committed on Thursday, injury on a hard tackle in the first half, and and the Hogs’ 2019 class ranking continDevwah Whaley’s return to action ended ues to rise to nearly unprecedented levels up being short-lived, too, as he appeared according to most services). to turn an ankle late in the game. And so, the waiting remains the hardEven with all that getting dinged est part. Even a win over a bad Tulsa team up, Arkansas (now 1-6, 0-4) still had might not be enough salve for the wounds Connor Limpert effortlessly knocking this team has suffered to date.


Fair to middlin’


he Observer and Spouse got out to the Arkansas State Fair the other evening thanks to a couple of free tickets and a parking pass we’d scored, the latter helping us bypass the $10 parking fee they’re now instituting just to get in the gate. Is sawbuck parking a new thing? The Observer’s mind is getting a little squishy in our old age, and we may have skipped the fair entirely last year, so we can’t quite remember. October being our favorite month, our dance card is usually full up to the point we’ve skipped the State Fair entirely a time or three. This year, though, Junior is off to college and his old gray-headed Pa and still-fabulous Ma are emptynesting it whenever he doesn’t decide to come home and clean out the cabinets like a starving refugee. With all the good stuff on Netflix long since binged and the cats brushed and the laundry caught up, we decided to do the grand tour of the Midway. The Observer has had a love affair with the fair since we can remember. Our Pa, a roofer who clung to the hem of respectability his whole life, used to let his wayward sons skip school sometimes to accompany him to the State Fair on a midweek afternoon, Pa chowing down on buttered popcorn and funnel cakes dunked in powdered sugar before stepping to the air-powered BB machine gun booth to cut out the red star from the paper card with surgical precision. While the guys stoked on Rambo movies would step to the line and loose an ear-splitting barrage, Pa trickled out a few shots at a time — ra-tat! ra-tat! ratat! — snipping out the star bit by bit, until not even the slippery carny who ran the place could talk himself into believing he saw a lingering speck of red. The Observer walked the midway with more than one big ol’ bear thanks to Pa’s skill with a shootin’ iron. The fair has changed and not changed in the intervening years, grown bigger but simultaneously smaller. To Yours Truly at 13, rushing through the Hall of Industry, collecting sacks of pencils, Rice Board stickers and pamphlets on the dangers of driving around railroad crossing gates, the fair seemed vast, colorful, beau-

tiful, maybe even a little dangerous to a kid being reared way out in the sticks of Saline County. These days, it’s only huge in The Observer’s mind. We mused as much to Spouse over lemonade and a foot-long corn dog after walking the Hall of Industry, packed with quackery, candy apples, fancy knives, rebel flags and earnest politicians. In our memory, that room is Walmart size, so big it had a horizon, concealing wonders. Today, we realize we could throw a bottle cap from end to end without much trouble. Such is the human condition, which you’ll find out soon enough if you don’t know it already: The past is huge; the present is so very, very small. When the Trumpies cry “MAGA,” that’s the impossibility they’re really asking for: Find a way to make my present as big as my past. Still, the Incredible Shrinking Fairgrounds notwithstanding, the cheerful couple strolled the damp, neon-lit dark, eating our overpriced fair food on a stick. We listened for the ra-tat! of the BB machine gun booth. We ogled the rides both of us are too chicken or too wise to ride, and watched the hearty backwoods youngsters shampoo and blow dry their competition goats under the yellow light outside the show barn. It was a grand old time. Once, as a boy, we told Spouse there in the dark, we paid a whole buck to see the World’s Biggest Horse at the State Fair. The guy running the tent was a stringy, sunburnt cowboy. As we walked around the tarp barrier that kept the curious from stealing a look for free, we were greeted with an elephantine, dust-colored rump that towered far over our head. “Turn around here so we can get a look at ya, Jimmy,” the cowboy said. At the sound of his name, the vast horse shuffled around in the tiny space, turning a head as long as the bucket of a steam shovel, and looked at Yours Truly with snow globe eyes. We can still remember that moment pure and whole: the boy from nowhere and the horse as big as God, regarding each other. Or can we? Can a horse even BE as big as the one in our memory, there on the magical midway? We’re not so sure anymore. But we’re also kinda glad we’ll never know for certain.

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Arkansas Reporter Running a ‘people’s campaign’

Mayoral candidate Vincent Tolliver wants to move Little Rock’s City Hall away from operating like a ‘private club.’ BY SETH BLOMELEY


hen Vincent Tolliver was growing up in the Southeast Arkansas town of Lake Village in the 1970s, he learned by example from a caring but tough grandmother what it takes to stand up for yourself and for others. He observed “verbal battles” in which his grandfather would make “thinly veiled threats,” only to be put in his place by his grandmother. “She advocated for herself and I saw it in action,” Tolliver recalled. “My granddaddy would be chopping wood, and I’d take his ax and hide it. ‘Did you move my ax, Scamp?’ They called me ‘Scamp.’ He’d get frustrated, and I’d get my grandmother and hide behind her. My grandfather would get his switch, and she’d say, ‘Leave that boy alone.’ My granddaddy would stop and go back outside.” Such childhood lessons are “very important” and meaningful today, Tolliver said. “I want to bring to this city a culture where people are treated with respect,” Tolliver said. “People in the city of Little Rock have been disenfranchised by the current leadership. City hall operates more like a private club than the people’s house. Hubris is commonplace in city hall. We need to reclaim city hall for the people.” Tolliver, 51, a writer who lives in the


Dunbar neighborhood, is one of five candidates seeking to replace retiring Mayor Mark Stodola in the Nov. 6 election. He’s branding his campaign “the people’s campaign” because he was taught to “treat people the way you want to be treated and make sure city hall does the same thing.” He’s running an all-volunteer campaign, has no website and just recently initiated a social media presence. Before an interview, he provided a 20-point list of issues and topics focal to his campaign. But one thing he doesn’t want to talk about is crime. “I’m not one to peddle fear,” Tolliver said. “We continue to talk about crime, but crime is not as bad as we’re pur- met her during a March of Dimes event porting it to be. There are people who he was involved in during high school. benefit financially from peddling fear. He said he later worked for a time as I don’t want to get into [who benefits].” executive director of the Korey Stringer Tolliver, who ran track and played Foundation in Atlanta, which works to football, graduated from Lakeside High prevent sudden deaths in football. School in Lake Village in 1985. He said Last year, he was one of 11 candihe jumped around a few colleges, start- dates seeking the chairmanship of the ing at Hendrix College in Conway. He Democratic National Committee. The transferred to the University of Southern Hill reported the DNC ousted Tolliver California, then to Morehouse College as a candidate after he was critical of one in Atlanta, and finally to Langston Uni- of his opponents, U.S. Rep. Keith Elliversity in Oklahoma City, where he said son, D-Minn. Tolliver said that Ellison’s he is one biology credit short of a degree. “being a Muslim is precisely why DNC He worked at the Rose Law Firm in voters should not vote for him. Muslims the early 1990s as a paralegal after he discriminate against gays.” said he received a recommendation from But Tolliver said recently that the real firm partner Hillary Clinton. He said he reason he got booted was because he said publicly that Clinton lost the presidency THE FIFTH AND FINAL PROFILE OF in 2016 because Tim Kaine was a poor chose for her vice presidential nominee. ROCK’S MAYORAL CANDIDATES. “That pissed off people,” Tolliver said. He said he makes his living as a writer,

OCTOBER 18, 2018


‘NOT HERE TO PEDDLE FEAR’: Candidate Vincent Tollver says crime in Little Rock has been overhyped.

and has authored a book called “Childhood Eyes” about growing up in the Delta. He’s most proud of his screenplay adaptation of “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. If elected, he wants to develop a program called “ART/ists” where artists of all kinds — such as musicians, drummers, skateboarders and writers — in each ward could showcase their works to people from other wards. This would promote “pride and communications” among different areas of the city, he said. He opposes the city’s electing at-large directors in addition to directors elected from a specific ward. He says this sys-



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tem “marginalizes minority communities.” He wants the city to partner with the Little Rock School District to add more “birth to pre-K” centers for childcare. He wants to start a program called “Black Boys r Brilliant” to increase community engagement among young people. Under this plan, the city would provide all parents and ministers copies of the 2018 street index to allow boys the opportunity to find their street and ward. They will then be told the names of their ward director and the police chief. To promote childcare, a livable wage and downtown business, he wants the city to incentivize businesses to pay their employees at least $15 an hour or to subsidize childcare costs. He said this would encourage daycares to sprout up in downtown Little Rock and lead to a more positive and productive work environment. He said he would determine later what type of incentives the city would offer. To promote health, he would expand the sidewalk network and connecting neighborhoods with walking trails that would include a city meeting place at War Memorial Park. To empower neighborhood associations, he would give them input on pots of money he would allocate to each city director to be spent in specific wards. He opposes the state takeover of the Little Rock School District and would work to see local control returned. He also said the city somehow needs to be helping the district raises teacher salaries. He wants to “reimagine” Rock Region Metro because many buses are “halfempty.” Instead, he wants a “fleet of shorter buses” for neighborhood use. He also wants to lead a ballot campaign for a strong-mayor form of government. He said city department heads should report to the mayor, not the city manager. “We got around the city, and we broke bread and talked to people in restaurants to find out what is important to you,” Tolliver said. “[As a baby], I was kicking and looking around. I’m still kicking and looking around.”


A photo that appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of the Arkansas Times with a story on Little Rock Crate & Basket misidentified the subject. The photo was of Dudley Swann Jr., owner of the business.


Inconsequential News Quiz:

BIG Giblet wrasslin’ edition PICTURE

Play at home while sorting through all the stuff you ripped off from the cops!

1) Officials with the Arkansas Department of Transportation were dispatched to the tiny North Arkansas town of Beaver (Carroll County) to inspect the historic and unique suspension bridge there for damage after a recent incident. What happened? A) The troll that lives under the bridge got whacked-out on an 8-ball of crank and went a little nuts. B) The Beaver-area chapters of the Sharks and Jets had a mid-bridge rumble. C) The White River Monster, in the area for a little fall leaf-peeping, forgot to duck while passing under the bridge. D) A 35-ton tour bus crossed the bridge even though it has a clearly-posted weight limit of 10 tons, causing the span to visibly sag several feet under the strain, as seen in video of the incident.

2) Officials with Arkansas’s PBS affiliate AETN recently announced the station will begin broadcasting something on the network for the first time this November. What’s the addition? A) Short, “Schoolhouse Rock”-style cartoons featuring catchy songs about basic compassion, ethics and morality, made specifically for Arkansas Republican legislators.

B) “Bigelow City Limits,” a call-in talk show in which Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Trumplethinskin) whines for an hour each week about the sacrifices he makes as a legislator and repeatedly hangs up on his critics.

C) Championship high school football and basketball games. D) “Sesame Street 2018,” in which Elmo, Bert and Ernie get forced out of their rent-controlled apartments and wind up living on the steam grate outside the Starbucks that used to be Hooper’s Store.

3) Other than a little rain, the Yellville Turkey Trot Festival went off without a hitch earlier this month even though it was missing an element that has brought the festival international headlines in recent years. What was missing? A) A Donald Trump look-alike contest, which caused a rash of projectile vomiting in 2017. B) Man-on-man giblet wrasslin’. C) The Miss Turkey Neck Pageant. D) Live turkeys dropped from a low-flying airplane, some plummeting to their deaths every year, the change thanks to sponsors who said they’d pull funding for the festival in the future if local scofflaws continued the cruel and gruesome “tradition.”

4) Officials with the War Memorial Stadium Commission recently gave an unexpected gift to football players for Benton and Bryant high schools after an Aug. 25 incident in which both teams and over 38,000 fans on hand for the annual “Salt Bowl” Benton/Bryant matchup rushed for the exits of War Memorial in a panic after someone mistook a loud noise as gunfire. What was the gift? A) A lifetime supply of decaf coffee. B) Tickets to the recent Arkansas-Ole Miss game at War Memorial. C) A bulletproof, man-sized hamster ball for each player. D) Jock holsters, so every team member can carry a concealed handgun to protect himself on the field. 5) Central Arkansas recently has seen thieves targeting unlikely victims. What is being stolen? A) Work boots. B) Alarm clocks. C) “Writing a Resume for Dummies” books. D) Police gear, stolen from marked patrol cars of the North Little Rock Police Department, Arkansas State Police,

Pulaski County Sheriff’s office and other agencies, including department-issued handguns, rifles, Tasers, badges and bulletproof vests.

Answers: D, C, D, B, D





The legacy of the 1992 ‘Save the River Parks’ campaign. BY ERNEST DUMAS

ROAD FOE BEN COMBS: During a visit to Donald J. Tyson’s home overlooking the Arkansas River, the poultry magnate told Combs he’d pay for litigation to stop the city’s road plans, and that Combs had to keep it a secret.


OCTOBER 18, 2018



ancy Clark, a bicycler and self-proclaimed tree-hugger whose home perches on a bluff above the Arkansas River, was walking Snooky, her beagle, along the lonely Rebsamen Park Road below her home near the Murray Lock and Dam on a frosty morning in February 1988 when she noticed a row of fluttering orange pennants on either side of the trail and stretching to the west toward Interstate 430’s distant river crossing. She ducked into the Army Corps of Engineers office on the dam and asked a man what all the little flags meant. Oh, he explained, that’s where the highway is going. A bridge will be built over yonder across Jimerson Creek and a new highway along the river will connect with Highway 10 west of Interstate 430 and run down the river to Riverdale near downtown. It would provide east-west traffic relief to Cantrell Road. People out west would get back and forth much faster to the tall towers downtown and the growing Allied Telephone corporate campus in Riverdale. Clark felt a clutch of gloom. She walked back outside and gazed at the dense hardwood grove clustered against the river bluff and back across the meadows and parkland out to the quiet river and thought: All this solitude, so close to the city bustle, and this refuge

for hikers, bicyclers and birdwatchers will be gone forever. She had long since become an activist — she was the environmental chair of the League of Women Voters — so she spread word of what was happening. People alarmed about the riverside highway swelled to a crowd: the league, neighborhood residents, joggers, bicyclers, the Audubon Society, several lawyers, an advertising executive. They called themselves the Coalition of Friends to Save the Parks and decided to take on city hall, the Corps of Engineers, the Highway and Transportion Department and the business establishment. With the help of two federal courts, a state court and an exercised city electorate, they eventually won, both in court and at the ballot box when city voters adopted an initiated act rejecting the project. The city planned to build in spite of the citywide vote and the judicial setbacks, but Mayor Jim Dailey, a former bicycle racer, said the people had spoken and he cast the deciding vote killing the road development. The city had already built the road, but Dailey’s vote stopped pursuit of the vehicle bridge over Jimerson Creek that would have opened it to commuter traffic. It has been 26 years since that November day. Hardly anyone, even among those who fought for the project, harbors any regret that it lost. Even without the commuter highway, and likely owing to its absence, transformative change came to the riverside, some of it in the form of development, but more as what it already was, an ecological and recreational sanctuary in the heart of the metropolitan region. Six years after the commuter road was stopped, at the spot where the two sections of road were to be linked, work began on the Big Dam Bridge atop the Murray Lock and Dam, the longest purpose-built pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the United States. Two miles to the west, the Two Rivers Park Bridge, another pedestrian and bike span, further expanded the River Trail system, which was completed miles to the east with the conversion of the old Rock Island Railroad bridge at the Clinton Presidential Center into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The new Broadway Bridge, completed last year, included bicycle and pedestrian lanes that linked to the trail system on both sides of the river. Nothing like it exists anywhere else, an 88-mile riverside trail con-

necting some 20 scenic and recreational parks from Little Rock and North Little Rock to Maumelle and Conway. The cities promote it as a quality-of-life attraction. The people who banded together to stop the project only recently began to assimilate the broad social impact of what their little against-all-odds political scrap had wrought. *** Riverdale, as the Little Rock side of the river between the north and south bluffs came to be called, provided one of the first great vistas recorded by explorers. Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe marveled at the 200-foot sandstone bluff on the north side as he paddled up from the Mississippi River in 1722 and claimed the territory for the French. The bluffs, the beginning of the Ouachita Plateau, were the first outcroppings the explorers encountered since leaving the Mississippi 121 miles to the southeast. Twenty million tons of the Big Rock on the north side were quarried and carried away in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but the bluffs on the south remained pristine, except for the Union Pacific railroad line that hugged the bluff. Both the top of the southern bluffs, which became known as Pulaski Heights, and the lower terrain at the foot of Cantrell Hill developed together early in the 20th century, although with some class and race dissonance. An African-American community known as West Rock sprang up at the bottom of the hill. Its residents mainly served the affluent white homes at the top. The black residents started a cemetery around Jimerson Creek three miles up the river, which was rediscovered when the city started work on the commuter road. The first upscale development in the area was the Riverdale Country Club, whose golf course offered stunning views of the river and the Big Rock. It was developed in 1947, but flooding was a problem, as was the squalid drive through the West Rock slum. The West Rock Urban Renewal Project in the 1950s razed 91 African-American homes and other structures and made way for highrise apartments and a food and entertainment district. The Corps of Engineers built Murray Lock and Dam, which brought flood control to the area in 1965, and in 1968 the Riverdale Country Club moved from the river out to the western edge of the city to become the Pleasant Valley Country Club, still leaving the city-owned

riverside Rebsamen Park golf course. Understanding Riverdale’s huge commercial value, the Winthrop Rockefeller companies had built Pleasant Valley Country Club in exchange for the Riverdale Club property so that it could be developed. Two miles west of the dam and Jimerson Creek, the state highway department built the Interstate 430 bridge in 1970. In 1972, the city leased land below the dam to form Murray Park, with picnic areas, playing fields and a dog park. The virgin hardwoods became a birdwatchers’ haven. Farther south, where the river widens and bends eastward toward the twin cities’ downtowns, Rockefeller’s Pleasant Valley Inc. in 1974 developed multifamily housing and office and light industrial buildings that took advantage of the sweeping river views. It was then, in 1975, that the drive to build an east-west thoroughfare along the river began. The highway department planned to bridge Jimerson Creek and extend Rebsamen Park Road, which ran from Cantrell Road around the bluff to the dam, for the two westernmost miles to Interstate 430. It would give the burgeoning Riverdale developments a link to the city’s western precincts and relieve traffic on Cantrell Road. Since it entailed building a bridge over Jimerson Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River, the state got a permit from the Army Engineers. Short of money, the state never built the bridge or the road, and the permit expired. Allied Telephone Co. built its seven-story headquarters on the riverfront in 1981, and as the company grew and became the global communications company called Alltel, the corporate campus expanded. Other corporations built office parks, apartments and residential developments in Riverdale. The human and vehicle population multiplied. The city reincarnated the Rebsamen Park throughway in 1987 when it planned a $39.1 million bond issue to finance a multitude of capital improvements. Voters at a special election would have to approve the bond issue, continue two expiring levies on real and personal property, and increase the tax on real property to retire the bonds. City Director Floyd G. “Buddy” Villines, a dreamer and man of deeds in every political office he held, was the chief architect of the big capital plan. Julius Breckling, the longtime city parks and recreation director, pro-

moted the extension. He had always talked about a trail of parks along the river stretching from Pinnacle Mountain to downtown. Breckling thought the westward extension of Rebsamen would give people on the western side of the city ready access to Murray Park and the golf course and provide a scenic drive along the most spectacular vistas in Central Arkansas. But that part of the capital program got little attention. City Manager Tom Dalton and all the city directors, except J.W. “Buddy” Benafield, eventually signed on to the plan and referred the bond issue to a special election in October 1987. People voted on 12 separate proposals, the first of which was some $19.7 million for major street improvements. While the ballot did not list the specific street improvements, the Rebsamen Park extension was on a list of probable projects. In addition to the major street improvements, voters would separately approve bonds for a new branch library, work on the Robinson Center Music Hall, improvements to the Arkansas Arts Center and the Museum of Science and History in MacArthur Park, park improvements, a new police precinct station in Southwest Little Rock, two fire stations, improvements to the Metrocentre Mall and a variety of other projects, including neighborhood streets. The campaign for the 12 bond-supported programs was a symphony for civic improvement. It attracted little public opposition, except for the usual grousing about taxes and wasteful government spending. All 12 proposals passed. When the city began to implement a few of the plans the next winter, it dawned on a few people that the street improvements included one that would affect an unusually pleasurable part of their lives. Nancy Clark seems to have been the first when she spotted the surveyor’s pennants flapping along the trail at the Murray Dam. She lived in Sherrill Heights, the neighborhood perched on the first bluff that river travelers faced coming up the Arkansas River. Sherrill Heights dwellers feel a keen purchase on the great vista and its solemnity. The idea of relentless speeding traffic, tailpipes and horns below their porches galvanized them. Joining Clark and the League of Women Voters in opposition to the road were neighbors, joggers and bicyclists, led by David Gruenewald, Alice Andrews and Bob McKinney. Others OCTOBER 18, 2018


hold a meeting at the Rebsamen Park clubhouse where people could vent their feelings and ask questions. An overflow crowd squeezed into the clubhouse. Corps and city officials explained the roadway plans and the road’s benefits to commuters and those who frequented the parks and golf course. McKinney asked why an environmental impact statement had not been prepared as federal law required when projects had a serious effect on the environment. The project did not rise to that seriousness, they replied.

ers and others whose leisure pursuits often connected them with the river and its shoreline amenities — but they began to coalesce. “We were getting nowhere with the city board,” McKinney recalls, “and at one meeting Director Benafield said, ‘You people need to get out of here, because this is a done deal.’ ” Villines and city parks and street employees promised that the throughway would not become a heavily traveled highway but simply a pleasurable drive. It should not discourage or endanger the recreational activity BRIAN CHILSON

got involved: Barry Haas, majordomo of the Audubon Society of Arkansas and an environmental and social activist; Ben Combs, an advertising and public relations executive whose offices were at the foot of Cantrell Hill; a couple of lawyers at the Rose Law Firm, including Webb Hubbell, a former mayor of Little Rock and a pal of Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary; Gene Pfeifer III, a businessman and bicycle enthusiast; Kenneth Gould, a law professor at UALR and bicyclist; and Scott Trotter, an energy lawyer who was chief spokesman for

THE RIVER TRAIL: What the city envisioned as a road to help commuters from the west get downtown is now an unspoiled route for hikers and bicyclists and served as the impetus for other recreational amenities along the Arkansas River.

the coalition for a while. Richard Allin, who wrote the popular and widely read “Our Town” column for the Arkansas Gazette and whose wife, Carol, was a park enthusiast, began to weigh in regularly against the project. Little Rock advertised for bids for the Rebsamen Park roadwork, but in the spring the city was pressured to 16

OCTOBER 18, 2018


“If we connect this road to Cantrell,” Clark told the city officials, “we are going to get what every big city has, and that’s a messed-up riverfront.” She said the city had inadequately publicized that the bond money would build a riverfront road. Opponents then were a disparate group — neighbors of the project, picnickers, bicyclers, runners, birdwatch-

along the river, they said. Anyway, the bond vote authorized the project and it could not be stopped or the plans altered. City Attorney Mark Stodola said the city had to build the road and bridge as originally planned or be subject to a lawsuit for illegal exaction. The city applied to the Army Engineers for a permit, which was required because Jimerson Creek was a tributary of the river. The Corps sought evaluations from the public and from state and federal agencies, including the state Highway and Transportation Department, Game and Fish Commission, Pollution Control and Ecology Commission and the Parks and Tour-

ism Department. Parks and Tourism endorsed the project on the conditions that a 35-miles-per-hour speed limit be posted, that the vehicle lanes be distinctly separated from bicycle and pedestrian paths and that a jogging path be developed. Opponents were not mollified. They organized as the Coalition of Friends to Save the River Parks and included bikers, the Audubon Society, Ozark Society, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters and Arkansas Wildlife Federation. They lobbied the Corps to hold a public hearing in July 1990 and about 225 people showed up. Thirty-six people spoke: 22 opposed the project, 12 supported it and two were indifferent. Written comments to the Corps heavily opposed it. Haas, one of the most outspoken critics of the city plan, said calling the plan a “park road” was an oxymoron. “We’re not aginners,” Haas said. “We love parks. But I’ve lived off Rebsamen Park Road. It’s a speedway already.” The Corps commissioned an independent traffic study, which only slightly exceeded the traffic forecast in the city’s own analysis. The city said traffic on the existing Rebsamen Park Road averaged about 2,900 vehicles a day and predicted that the extension and bridge would increase it to 4,500 to 5,000 a day and ultimately to 8,000 a day. Independent consultants for the Corps estimated that traffic would increase to 9,000 vehicles a day. The Corps, however, approved the permit and issued its formal environmental assessment, which concluded that the project would have no material impact. It appeared to precisely contradict the Corps’ earlier concerns and findings, as well as its own independent assessment that the road would significantly increase traffic through the recreational areas. That internal conflict would prove decisive. In December, the city appropriated the money and work on the road soon began. The Save the River Parks coalition realized that litigation and a voter petition and election would be the only ways to stop or slow the road on environmental grounds. Environmental suits on public projects like highways were costly and typically lasted for years. A concomitant strategy was to get the issue before voters in hopes they would show the government that the community did not want the road. None of the groups had assets to pay for the litigation. Gathering sig-

natures and running an initiative campaign also would be costly. “That’s when a few of us got calls from Ben Combs requesting our attendance at a meeting in his office to discuss the project,” McKinney said. “We were all blown away by Ben’s announcement that a lawsuit would be filed and that an unnamed individual had agreed to pay the legal expenses.” A neighbor of Combs on River Ridge, Donald J. Tyson, who had built Tyson Foods into a global conglomerate, invited Combs over one day to sit on his deck and talk about the issue. Tyson lived in Springdale but spent so much time in the capital that he acquired a home with a panoramic view of the river valley, which afforded him one of the loveliest scenes in the state. It was quiet back there, except for the occasional rumble of a train along the bluff’s base or the horn and chugging of a tugboat approaching the lock at Murray Dam. Tyson thought it would be terrible if city bustle replaced the pastoral scene and chased away its habitués — hikers, bikers, dog walkers and birdwatchers. Combs said litigation and/or an election would be long and costly and that Save the River Parks didn’t have the money. “Well,” Tyson said a few days later, “let’s do both. If you’ll shoulder the referendum costs, I’ll pay for the litigation, whatever it costs — on one condition.” It was that Combs would tell no one that Tyson was funding the litigation for the suit while he was alive. He thought that his not being a primary resident of Little Rock might hurt the effort, but mainly he thought it might not go over well if a part-time resident was trying to dictate a policy for Little Rock. Tyson died in 2011. “Without Don Tyson’s vision, certainly without his commitment, there would have been no litigation or election. His gift will endure for generations,” Combs said. A petition campaign and environmental litigation would give their cause two chances to win. Hubbell and Brian Rosenthal at the Rose Law Firm led the litigation effort and, assisted by Jess Askew and Jack Druff, drafted the petition to place the Rebsamen Park Road issue on the November 1992 ballot. The suit was filed in federal district court in January, just as the road construction began. It named the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas, Alice B. Andrews, David F. Gruenewald, Barry H. Haas and Robert

McKinney as plaintiffs, and the Corps of Engineers, the city of Little Rock and Mayor Dailey as defendants. The case was assigned to Judge George E. Howard Jr., the lone African American on the federal bench. He issued a temporary restraining order on the bridge construction until a hearing on the merits could be held. At the hearing, Judge Howard wished to visit the place in person to familiarize himself with the terrain and conditions that the witnesses were testifying about. The trial recessed while he visited the dam

and the road. He walked to Jimerson Creek, the site of the proposed bridge, where he found an old man sitting on the creek bank fishing with a cane pole. They talked for a few minutes. Hubbell couldn’t overhear them, but he wondered whether the old man said something that struck a chord with the judge. Howard mentioned in court that he had found that senior citizens and women used the area a lot. The judge suggested that the two sides settle out of court by compromising on what exactly the road would entail — the traffic flow, strict speed

limits and the like. The city said no. The road had to be built exactly as the city had outlined it in the list of street projects, with no caveats. The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the Corps had not supported its own decision of record, which the federal law required it to do. The Corps’ record showed unaddressed findings on traffic and also inconsistent internal decisions on whether the permit should be issued. The inconsistencies in the Corps’ decision-making became the critical issue. The consulting engineers that OCTOBER 18, 2018


the Corps hired to study the impact of Rebsamen traffic on the riverfront had concluded that while the through traffic on the road might not be high at first, it would eventually increase to the point that it would deter recreational vehicles from using the whole riverside. The decision to issue the permit omitted even the Corps’ own recommendations on traffic limitations. The Corps’ resident engineer had recommended that the road not be built because the high commuter traffic would threaten security at the lock and dam and cause traffic problems. In April, Judge Howard granted summary judgment that permanently enjoined the Corps from implementing its permit until an Environmental Impact Statement (a more exhaustive environmental evaluation than the Environmental Assessment) was delivered. He noted the discrepancy between the Corps’ finding of negligible environmental impact and its own earlier findings and traffic study. The city appealed to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, as nearly all such environmental cases do, involved interpre-

argued that all that Judge Howard was supposed to have done under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) was to be sure that the Corps of Engineers had taken all the procedural steps that the law required and that he could not substitute his judgment for the Corps’. The court disagreed. It said the Corps had to undertake the far more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement. It was a decision of national significance, Rosenthal said recently. The decision had consequences for environmental litigation across the country for the next quarter-century. It has been cited favorably in 29 other federal cases. Audubon Society of Central Arkansas v. Dailey is likely to be cited again in the event a lawsuit is filed over the massive 30 Crossing project in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. The city was not deterred. It expected the Corps to undertake the EIS and it intended to complete the throughway, although it might take another year or two. Meantime, the Save the River Parks coalition had gathered signatures on a petition asking the city to call an DON TYSON JR.: Agreed to foot the litigation bill if the Save the River Parks organization would oversee a referendum to get voter support to halt the extension of Rebsamen Park Road.


OCTOBER 11-28 #TSTEvilDead @studiotheatrelr 320 W. 7TH STREET- DOWNTOWN LITTLE ROCK


OCTOBER 18, 2018


tation of a federal law that requires a hard look and a reasoned review of capital projects affecting the public’s environmental interests. The law sets a high bar for plaintiffs, because the courts typically give heavy weight to the discretion and expertise of government agencies. “While the [Corps] might have been taking a ‘hard look,’ the [Corps] ultimately chose to ignore what it saw,” Judge Howard wrote. The Court of Appeals took up Audubon Society of Central Arkansas v. Dailey and, on Oct. 13, 1992, unanimously upheld Howard. The city had

election and put the issue before the voters. The law required at least 6,870 valid signatures of voters. They filed 8,200 signatures with the city clerk. On the advice of the new city attorney, Tom Carpenter, the city said the petition was invalid because it illegally challenged an administrative function that the city was required to perform under the bond ordinance. Carpenter instructed the city clerk not to count the signatures. The coalition filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking an order for the city to count the signatures and put the matter on the ballot. In September, two months before the election, Judge John Ward said the city had to count the signatures and to put the issue on the ballot if they were sufficient. The petitions were found to be sufficient and the issue was placed on the ballot, the same one with Bill Clinton for president. The coalition made sure that the many endorsements opposing the road were publicized. The campaign promoted the idea “A chain of parks,

yes; a chain of tailpipes, no.” Fifty-five percent of the voters — 23,418 to 19,358 — said “no” to the extension of Rebsamen Park Road and its pending connections to Cantrell. Every ward except Southwest Little Rock opposed it. Some on the city board and others in the government wanted to continue the fight by following through with an Environmental Impact Statement and by building the vehicle bridge once that EIS was completed. The city board tied. Mayor Dailey, who often rode his mountain bike along the road, sided with the environmentalists. He said the public had spoken and it was time to move on. He cast the deciding “no” vote. The city regrouped. What about building a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the creek at riverside but designing it in such a way that it could not be used for regular vehicle traffic? Could the bridge be large enough to accommodate an ambulance or police vehicle as long as it couldn’t be used for regular through traffic? The city obtained $220,000 in federal grants and put up another $200,000 of city money for the final phases of the project. It had already spent more than $1 million on the westward extension of the road. All the consequences of the legal and electoral victories could not have been predicted. Villines left the city board in the winter of 1991 to become county judge, where he shortly began the long enterprise of building a spectacular pedestrian bridge across the Murray Dam over the Arkansas River, which would enhance the recreational potential of the river and begin to link all the parks along the river from the future Clinton Center to Toad Suck Park at Conway. He acknowledged later that the bridge, now so popular with hikers, bicyclists and tourists, could not have been built, at least in all its dimen-

sions, if the Jimerson bridge had been built. Neither could the later Two Rivers Bridge with its alluring nighttime lighting, two miles west of the Big Dam Bridge. No one at the time factored the heavy future growth in the western reaches of the county, which increased traffic on Cantrell by threefold or more and which would have shunted more traffic to the riverside drive. The Save the River Parks campaign and its succeeding bridge projects along the route were also factors in the conversion of the old Rock Island Bridge adjacent to the Clinton Presidential Center into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The William J. Clinton Foundation thought the old bridge would just be a continuing eyesore, but the argument that turning it into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge would further the dream advanced by the Save the River Parks campaign prevailed. Because of its proximity to the Big Dam Bridge, the river trails and parks on both sides of the river, Jim Jackson acquired shore property in North Little Rock downstream from the bridge and developed Riverside at Rockwater, a high-end apartment complex and marina. Environmentally conscious groups like Winrock International set up headquarters on the Little Rock side. Pfeifer, owner of the North Business Park and an avid bicycle advocate, gave an easement to North Little Rock across more than a mile of his land along the river from the Big Dam Bridge to Burns Park for a link in the River Trail.  The Arkansas River Trail and its dependencies — the Big Dam Bridge, Two Rivers Bridge and Park, Clinton/Rock Island Bridge, and bicycle-pedestrian lanes on the new Broadway Bridge — are the substantial and incidental benefits flowing from the closing of the road to vehicular traffic.


2018 Environmental Policy Summit Friday October 26, 2018 8:15am - 1:00pm UA - Pulaski Technical College, 3000 W Scenic Dr., North Little Rock AR, 72118 includes lunch

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A DIVERSE COALTION: The group fighting the Riverdale highway plan included the League of Women Voters, the Audobon Society, cyclists, neighborhood residents, lawyers, an advertising executive and a poultry magnate.


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Arts Entertainment AND

RAH, RAH, HSDFF! Dana Adam Shapiro’s “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” closes out this year’s Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

liners and loud-and-proud LGBTQ pop- guitarists in America. ulations. (7 p.m. Thu., Oct. 25, Arlingis for Mark Thiedeman, ton 1.) Arkansas’s finest, most foris for “Hillbilly,” the opening ward-thinking filmmaker. After years night film. Its political, philo- of creating exquisite fictions, “Kevin” sophical and cultural deconstruction of marks his first foray into documentary. the dissimilarities between the Appala- The 74-minute portrait of Paragould chian stereotype and the complicated skateboarder Kevin Wands delights in realities of the region is one of the best boyhood, bodies and becoming and is films of the year, period. (7 p.m. Fri., Oct. presented as a free work-in-progress 19, Arlington 1.) screening. (7 p.m. Tue., Oct. 23, Arlingis for Ingrid Gipson, the former ton 2.) fashion designer who lit out for a is for “A Night at The Garden,” hermetic life as an artist in the Eastern the 7-minute short that made Oklahoma woods. “Ingrid” is a delicate waves online last year. The Intercept and impressionistic portrait of the icon- called it “the most terrifying movie you oclast. (5 p.m. Tue., Oct. 23, Arlington 1.) can watch this Halloween.” A year later is for Jen Gerber, the multi- and it still enters my mind weekly, at hyphenate writer, director, pro- least. (Before the 5 p.m. screening of fessor and now executive director “The Silence of Others,” Tue., Oct. 23, shepherding the stalwart Hot Springs Arlington 2.) Documentary Film Festival into its latis for Oscar contention. est incarnation and expanding it into an Because of the HSDFF’s timinstitution that’s both locally/regionally ing at the end of the festival cycle, Hot conscious and internationally formi- Springs plays a potentially consequendable. She’s crushing it, so if you see a tial role in amplifying the buzz around Jen-colored blur darting through the Best Documentary contenders. Look out fest, be sure to yelp a “thanks” toward for a little last-minute flame-stoking in its general trajectory. featured films “RBG” and “Won’t You is for Kopple, as in Barbara Be My Neighbor?” Kopple, the two-time Academy is for pitching. This year’s fesAward-winning documentary royalty tival features workshop opporwho began her career by, no biggie, mak- tunities for storytellers of all types. A ing two of the greatest nonfiction films pitch workshop hones that most founof all time in “Winter Soldier” and “Har- dational of filmmaker skills. And a mullan County, USA.” Her latest film, “A tiday, live storytelling workshop takes Murder in Mansfield,” follows the son participants from paper to stage over of a murderer as he finally confronts three class sessions. his father about his mother’s murder is for queer stories in all catego26 years earlier. (7 p.m. Wed., Oct. 24, ries. One of the most intriguing Arlington 2.) is in the sports films section: “Transis for Low Key Arts, the iron- former” follows a former football star, willed art and music venue/non- Marine, powerlifting champion and all profit tucked off Park Avenue, which around alpha-male as he transitions plays host to a couple of this year’s most into a female body while continuing to exciting after-parties. On Wednesday, competitively weightlift. (5 p.m. Sat., Oct. 24, after the screening of “Studio Oct. 20, Arlington 2.) 54,” it becomes a disco with the “Stuis for (R)evolution, as in “The dio 53 ½” dance party. On Sunday, Oct. Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution,” 21, the venue hosts Screaming Females, which considers the world of female the redoubtable New Jersey trio fronted chefs changing the pervasive back-ofby Marissa Paternoster, for years one house culture of toxic masculinity one of the single greatest road warrior rock restaurant at a time. Celebrated culi-


THE ABCS OF HSDFF 27 years of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival! 26 letters in the alphabet! You get the gist! We don’t have much space, so let’s go. BY JT TARPLEY


is for The Arlington. Since the festival’s leaving the historic Malco Theater in 2013, the Arlington Hotel has served as ground zero for all things HSDFF. is for “Borders & Boundaries,” one of this year’s many shorts blocks. This one features the intriguing “Earthrise” by Emmanuel Vaughn-Lee, a half-hour film of Earth as photographed in 1968 from Apollo 8. (Noon Wed., Oct. 24, and 9:30 a.m. Fri., Oct. 26, Arlington Cinema 2.) is for “Conway Pride,” the 22-minute short from Stephen Stanley, a Savannah College of Art and Design faculty member and former University of Central Arkansas documentary professor, about the fate of Conway Pride and the Pink House after the passing of its beloved founders, Robert Loyd and John Schneck. (Precedes 7 p.m. showing of “Gospel of Eureka” Thu., Oct. 25, Arlington Cinema 1.)




OCTOBER 18, 2018



is for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the subjects of this year’s closing night film, “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.” (6:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 27, Arlington 1.) is for “Eating Animals,” the documentary adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book about factory farming, animal abuse and mindful consumption. Feeling veg-curious after the UN’s climate report? This could be just the encouragement you need. (7 p.m. Mon., Oct. 22, Arlington 2.) is for Flat Earth, the totally awesome and completely credible scientific revolution exploding all around the globe. The movement’s brain trust is the subject of the warm-hearted and wonderful “Behind the Curve.” (7:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 20, Arlington 2.) is for “The Gospel of Eureka,” this year’s centerpiece film and, for our money, the one to watch. It examines Eureka Springs’ uneasy and colorful symbiosis of evangelical hard-















ROCK CANDY Check out the Times’ A&E blog

A&E NEWS Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson headline the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in the cotton fields surrounding Cash’s Dyess (Mississippi County) home this weekend. The three-day festival culminates in a concert noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1968 “Johnny Cash Show” tours. John Carter Cash will host and and Krauss, Johnson, Ana Cristina Cash, Suzanne Cox, Heather Berry Mabe, Ira Dean and others will perform. Tickets range $35-$100 and are available at johnnycashheritagefestival. com. The festival also includes “The Ties That Bind,” a symposium of film screenings and discussions from noon-4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, and public presentations from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, in the Dyess Colony Circle and visitor center. Those “ties,” the festival’s website reads, “embrace the Great Depression, New Deal and agricultural programs that brought colonists together; cultural touchstones that tied Dyess to other communities or to the 1930s-40s; influences such as the impact of earlier artists or contemporaries on Johnny Cash, or the influence of Johnny Cash on contemporaries or later artists.”

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A bronze bust of Arkansas musician Levon Helm was unveiled on the Fayetteville Square on Friday, Oct. 11. Helm’s daughter, Amy Helm, attended the ceremony, at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, and performed later that night at George’s Majestic Lounge. The bust, created by Little Rock sculptor and Arkansas native Kevin Kresse, will have a permanent home in Phillips County near Helm’s boyhood house in downtown Marvell, a structure that was relocated from nearby Turkey Scratch and added to the Arkansas Register of Historic Places in earlier this year. A University of Arkansas press release says the bust “will become the centerpiece for the Levon Helm Legacy Project in Marvell,” honoring the drummer and mandolin player whose seminal work with Bob Dylan, The Band and The EVENTS@CACHELITTLEROCK.COM Hawks put a place called Turkey Scratch on theRegional map. For more on the Legacy Specials, Monday through Friday • 4Bloody p.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Frida Enjoy Brunch Live Music, Mary and Mimosa EnjoySpecials Regional Brunch Specials, Live M Project, visit

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Little Rock native Chris Dumas — author of “Un-American Psycho: Brian De Palma and the Political Invisible” and a musician who’s performed in Reagan’s Polyp, Bitter Fruit and The Pine Box Boys (and son of Times columnist Ernest Dumas) — is among the zombie experts on a new series from AMC, “Eli Roth’s History of 425 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock Horror,” which premiered Sunday, Oct. 501-850-0265 | 14. Cable subscribers: Sign in at to watch the full episode, and keep an CacheLittleRock 425 President | CacheLittleRock acheRestaurant CacheRestaurant | 425 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock CacheRestaurant eye out for future| Dumas cameos. Clinton Ave., Little Rock | 501-850-0265 |

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Brunch served every Saturd OCTOBER 18, 2018








7:30 p.m. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. $30.

ACOUSTIC IN ARGENTA: Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Brooke Miller gives a concert at The Joint on Thursday night as part of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series.

The “Canadian blonde with guitar” descriptor alone is probably enough to understand why fingerstyle guitarist Brooke Miller reminds so many listeners of Joni Mitchell. A quick spin of Miller’s “You Can See Everything,” though, gives the comparison a little more musical substance. Like fellow Canadian songbird Mitchell, Miller picks with dexterity, chooses corner-turning chord changes and sings as someone who long ago abandoned the confines of a lyrical couplet, preferring instead to dance around the lines of text: “I’ve been singing about water/Without a second foot on dry ground/ You make swimming so easy I’m gonna drown/In your capping blues and greens/I mean who gets to feel this way?” Then again, she’s had plenty of time to have grown weary of predictable song structures; 36 years old, Miller’s been honing her husky alto and playing guitar since age 12, when she fronted a punk trio that toured the Maritimes. She’s since carved out a niche for herself with six studio releases, some of which have landed on television soundtracks (“You Can See Everything” was on Showtime’s “The L Word,” for one) and been adored by audiences in cozy theaters in Germany, where she toured last fall. She’s at The Joint as a guest of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series, and is the series’ penultimate performer this year. SS




6:30 p.m. Thu., 6 p.m. Fri., 5:30 p.m. Sat. Murphy Arts District, El Dorado. $60-$220.

It was this time last year that anyone keeping tabs on Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock’s respective cultural mecca points had to stop and ask, “Wait, what? El Dorado?” The oil boomtown’s been rebuilding its historic downtown area as an arts district, and has been home to shows from Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, Migos, Train and Brad Paisley thus far. This year, the Murphy Arts District is following up its 2017 launch lineup with sets from Toby Keith, George Clinton, 2 Chainz, Justin Moore, Gucci Mane, Sammy Hagar and The Circle, Sheila E and Morris Day & The Time, not to mention locals Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, Dazz & Brie, Trey Johnson and Rodney Block. Main Street El Dorado adds all kinds of free family activities downtown: “Visitors can enjoy a zip line, a ferris wheel, the Flight Crew Jump Rope team that appeared on NBC-TV’s ‘America’s Got Talent’, a NASCAR simulator, free music on the square, a mechanical bull, a rock climbing wall, food vendors and much more,” a press release notes. See for a full schedule, a map and links to buy tickets. SS



8 p.m. South on Main. $28-$36.

Robert Finley lost his marriage, his house and his eyesight one right after another, and if that isn’t fodder for some achingly beautiful soul, I don’t know what is. Finley’s career has been framed as a rediscovery: Though he’d been playing locally for decades at fish fries and in prisons, it was in 2015 that Timothy Duffy of the Music Maker Relief Foundation heard Finley busking on a street corner and whisked him off to make “Age Don’t Mean a Thing,” Finley’s debut on the Big Legal Mess label. Since then, Finley’s developed a partnership with The Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach, one that’s meant Finley’s sound — as we hear it on his latest, “Goin’ Platinum” — is couched in the likes of Preservation Hall horns, drummer Gene Chrisman, guitarist Duane Eddy and some of the most revered session musicians Auerbach could gather. “I didn’t ever have to play him any references, I just let him sing,” Auerbach said of the sessions. “He naturally did what the song wanted to hear. He was capable of doing it in this huge bark, this soft whisper, a falsetto. … I said, ‘Can you sing falsetto?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Why don’t you give it a shot and see what happens.’ And he sang ‘Holy Wine,’ ” just like you hear it on the record. We were all sitting in the control room and my brain short-circuited.” If, like me, you wandered around listening to the utterly A-list talent scheduled for the B-list performance spaces at King Biscuit Blues Festival earlier this month, maybe it’s not so surprising voices like Finley’s tend to get overlooked. Here’s a chance to hear such a voice shining brightly, on a stage befitting of its range and beauty. SS 22


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‘CAN YOU SING FALSETTO?’ Soul singer Robert Finley appears at South on Main as part of Oxford American’s Archetypes & Troubadours concert series.





8:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat. through Nov. 3, additional performance 8:30 p.m. Wed., Oct. 31. Club Sway. $20-$25.

Let’s be honest. It’s pretty difficult to make an alien-cannibal rock opera about a “sweet transvestite from Transexual Transylvania” boring, but time, repetition and community theater troupes full of straight people have unwittingly chipped away at the show’s bite, taming the selfsame elements that made the 1975 Tim Curry film such a pivotal queer oasis for countless high schoolers in suburban America who longed to express themselves outside the prescribed gender binary. Leave it to the campy whimsy of the Club Sway family to set the record straight (or rather, right) this Halloween season, as it’s done the last three years. Actor Brittany Sparkles is both director and Frank. N. Furter; the cast of Sway regulars, whose dead seriousness about dressing up/ making pageantry, will be the heartbeat of these 10 performances. Get tickets at, and spring for the extra $5 for a prop bag to score your audience participation points. Parties follow the curtain calls for Friday and Saturday night performances. SS



4 p.m. Lost Forty Brewing. $15-$30.

Recipe for Nighty Night, Lost Forty Brewing’s most-anticipated smallbatch beer of the year: Age an American Imperial Stout in rye whiskey barrels, bourbon barrels and red wine barrels until it positively oozes darkness. Recipe for Lost Forty Brewing’s Festival of Darkness: Release that dark concoction into the wild with a daydrinking party; invite a kajillion other Arkansas breweries, plus Loblolly Creamery, Slader’s Alaskan Dumpling Co. and Count Porkula food trucks; book Little Rock scene triumvirate-of-musical-venerables Dazz & Brie and The Emotionalz, Adam Faucett and Big Piph; get everyone to dress up like lumberjack zombies, give away swag and prizes, give a boozy Saturday night boost to Little Rock’s ridesharing economy. Pull out your walking dead-est lewks, call an Uber and see the Facebook event page for an Eventbrite ticket link, plus a full schedule by which to time your undead arrival. SS

Red Octopus Theater is back with its signature sketch comedy for “Straight Outta Coffin,” a Halloween show, 8 p.m., also 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. through Oct. 27, $8-$10. Funkanites and The Rios make a Thursday feel like a Saturday at the White Water Tavern, 8:30 p.m. Heights institution Ozark Outdoor Supply screens selections from the Telluride, Colo., Mountainfilm festival at CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 7 p.m., $15. Brass player Russell Scott and his outfit The Russ Liquid Test fuse funk with electronic production at the Rev Room, 9 p.m., $16-$20. Comedian JR Brow goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. National Parks Historian Emeritus Edwin Bearss gives a presentation on Confederate Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne for the Old State House Museum Associates “Annual Supper” fundraiser, 6-9 p.m., $125. Telecaster master Daniel Donato takes his “cosmic country” to Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 8:30 p.m., $8-$10. Memphis Yahoos land at Cajun’s Wharf, 9 p.m., $5, after a happy hour set from Brian Ramsey, 5:30 p.m., free.

Come Join Us! 2018 Little Rock Pride Fest

Riverfront Amphitheater Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 12 - 6 pm Parade starts at 1pm

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FRIDAY 10/19 Vocalist Bijoux joins forces with J.Phil for a show at South on Main, 10 p.m., $12-$15. Tim Anthony & Fela Vibez, Rodney Block and Katrice “Butterfly” Newbill pay homage to Fela Kuti with Afro-Jazz Night at Ira’s Restaurant, 9:30 p.m. Arkansas Circus Arts takes its cirque and sideshow theatrics to Argenta Community Theater for “Carnival Bizarre 2018,” 6:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $25-$50. Bluesboy Jag & The Juke Joint Zombies play a free show at the Park Avenue Food Court in Hot Springs, 6 p.m., 910 Park Ave. Big Red Flag and Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo share a bill at Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. Songwriter Bonnie Bishop takes the stage at Stickyz, 8:30 p.m., $15. Jerry Redd & The Snowmen return to White Water, 9 p.m. The Electric 5 rocks at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming’s Silks Bar & Grill, 10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., free. Death Bells, The Rios, Fabulous Minx and Joe Myside share a bill at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, 9 p.m., $7. Richie Johnson plays a happy hour set at Cajun’s, 5:30 p.m., free, or come after dinner for a set from Just Sayin, 9 p.m., $5. Clusterpluck jams at Kings Live Music in Conway, 8:30 p.m., $5. Hearne Fine Art will host a reception from 5-8 p.m. for Marjorie Williams-Smith, whose metalpoint show, “The Messangers,” is up at the gallery.


CONTINUED ON PAGE 25 Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies arktimes.comSEPTEMBER OCTOBER 18, 20, 2018







FRIDAY 10/19


THIRD FRIDAY ARGENTA ARTWALK 5 p.m. Argenta galleries. Free.

If this rain, rain, rain will go away, the Arkansas Innovation Hub will fly you to the moon telescopically for “International Observe the Moon Night,” starting at 7 p.m. The Central Arkansas Astronomy Society’s Bruce McMath will give a talk on astronomy for attending moonatics and UA Little Rock astronomer Dr. Tony Hall will bring meteorite samples for folks to handle and admire. In case of rain, the event will be held at the same time Saturday. But no matter the weather, the Hub (201 E. Broadway) will have “Make it Spooky” activities for children in its arts studios starting at 5 p.m. Also up: The Thea Foundation (401 Main St.) will feature artworks by patients of Arkansas Children’s Hospital at its after-hours event, with ACH artists-in-residence at

the reception; Core Brewery (411 Main) hosts a show called “Into the Blue”; Argenta Gallery (413 Main) opens an exhibition of work on paper by Lisandra di Liberto and other Puerto Rico-born artists; gallery neighbor studioMAIN (413 Main) celebrates unsung civil engineers; the Argenta branch of the Laman Library (420 Main) opens an exhibition by members of the Arkansas Pastel Society; and Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main) continues its “Best of the South” exhibition of works by regional and Arkansas artists. Impressionist artist Barry Thomas will demonstrate painting at his studio at 711 Main St. A new venue joins the October Art Walk: Thrive Argenta, the apartments at 501 N. Magnolia, is hosting a show of artwork by residents and staff in its courtyard. LNP

ARTWALK IN ARGENTA: Wander through the Argenta Arts District to Greg Thompson Fine Art at 429 Main St. to see works from “Best of the South,” like William Dunlap’s “Brand Loyalty on Parade.”

7:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Robinson Performance Hall. $16-$68.

It was inevitable. After playing signature riffs from all eight Harry Potter films and accompanying a screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with live orchestration, your neighborhood symphony is turning its sights on a tried-and-true chapter of the John Williams repertoire. With four decades of cantina ditties, Imperial Marches and battle themes to draw from — over 18 hours of music across the franchise — the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is performing “Star Wars” selections on the stage with trivia, a Star Wars-decorated Robinson Performance Hall and costumery. Audiences are invited to come dressed as their favorite Dewback/Rebel Alliance leader/galactic villain/spinoff character/Wookiee. Grab tickets at arkansassymphonyorg. SS

AT LOW KEY ARTS: New Jersey punk trio Screaming Females lands at Low Key Arts in Hot Springs on Sunday night as part of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival after-party nebula.

SUNDAY 10/21






Noon-6 p.m. Riverfront Park. $5 suggested donation.

10 p.m. Low Key Arts, Hot Springs. $10-$15.

Central Arkansas’s LGBTQ community’s annual parade and celebration of diversity is this weekend, and rainbow or shine, Riverfront Park is going to glow. Cece Peniston, the woman who brought 1992 dance anthem “Finally” to the airwaves, is paying a visit, as is actor and trans activist Laith Ashley. The William F. Laman Library sponsors Drag Queen Story Time with Melanie Masters, Charnay Cassadine, Roxie Starrlite and Blaze Duvall, and a Kids Zone features face painting, a bounce house and an obstacle course. With state Rep.-elect Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) as grand marshal, the parade begins at 1 p.m. at Markham and Louisiana streets, and progresses down President Clinton Avenue. See for details or to grab a VIP ticket for brunch with none other than songstress/“Dreamgirls” goddess Jennifer Holliday. SS

Marissa Paternoster devotees won’t need this inroad, but if you’ve yet to witness the marriage of the Screaming Females frontwoman’s virtuosic guitar prowess with her explosive voice — at turns a pulsating, soaring vibrato and a low, cavernous yowl — go cue up the Screaming Females’ cover of T. Swift’s “Shake It Off” for The A.V. Club Sessions. Then, follow the pathway backward to the New Jersey trio’s 2018 release “All At Once,” anchored by the claustrophobic “Glass House” and the deceptively bouncy “I’ll Make You Sorry.” Minneapolis trio Kitten Forever opens the show, and as the concert is an after-party for the concurrent Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, HSDFF passholders get in free. Everyone else, head to and search for “Screaming Females” for a link to tickets. SS

OCTOBER 18, 2018


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MONDAY 10/22


Noon and 7:30 p.m. Center for the Humanities and Arts, UA Pulaski Technical College. $30-$110 concert admission, free film admission.

The term “musical gumbo” gets thrown around with abandon, usually when we can’t find the words to talk about intermingled genres of sound properly, and especially when we want to emphasize that the intermingling doesn’t necessarily diminish the individuality of the sound’s individual components. Here, though, gumbo is probably as good an analogy as any. Like okra, shrimp and andouille, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ivan and Ian Neville, George Porter Jr., the Lost Bayou Ramblers duo, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, 79ers Gang and Terence Higgins appear together, the distinct qualities of their sounds unquestionably intact. Put simply, musical vibrancy is synonymous with New Orleans itself, and it’s artists like these that make it so. From the Lost Bayou Ramblers’ half-punk, half-preservationist approach to Big Chief Monk’s ambassadorship of the Mardi Gras tribal cultures to the funk torchcarrying of The Meters’ Porter Jr. and Dumpstaphunk’s Nevilles, the show is built to give the listener as much of a multi-generational sonic picture of New Orleans as she can ge in an hour or so. There is, admittedly, no substitute for being daydrunk, covered in glitter and surrounded by horns and mayhem at the corner of Canal and Rampart streets in the middle of February, but what the Pulaski Tech CHARTS show may lack in paradeadjacent chaos, it more than makes up for in scholarship. Catch a free noontime Monday screening of the concert film, “Take Me to the River — New Orleans!” followed by a Q&A with Higgins and members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Lost Ramblers Duo. No tickets are required for the noontime film; tickets for the evening concert range from $30 for standing room only ($10 for students), $65 and $85 for reserved seating and $110 for VIP seating and admission to the snacks and drinks in the Ben E. Keith VIP Room just outside the theater. SS

Blues heir and beast-of-a-drummer Cedric Burnside releases “Benton County Relic” with a show at White Water, 9 p.m., $10. Over at Four Quarter, it’s stellar pub grub and Jim Dandy to the rescue with Black Oak Arkansas, 9 p.m., $20. The Minks, Adam & The Figurines and Nightingail perform at Maxine’s, 9 p.m., $5. Rustenhaven returns to Cajun’s, 9 p.m., $5, or catch the I-30 Ramblers before dinner, 5:30 p.m., free. Waterseed performs at Kings, 8:30 p.m., $5. The B-Flats entertain at Hibernia Irish Tavern, 8 p.m.






SUNDAY 10/21 David Eshelman’s “Helaine and the Little War,” a new play set during Reconstruction-era Arkansas, premieres with a staged reading at the Old State House Museum, with a post-presentation Q&A and reception, 2-5 p.m., $15. John Fullbright, a star of a lyrist from the same town as Woody Guthrie, charms at South on Main as part of the Oxford American Concert Series, 7 p.m., $25-$34. New Chinese Acrobats fly high at UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall, $27-$35.


NOV. 9 • 7:30 PM NOV. 11 • 2:30 PM

$30 GENERAL • $50 VIP

MONDAY 10/22 Stef Bright, Kayla Esmond, Bair and Robyn Adair champion repro rights with fierce humor at The Joint for Arkansas Abortion Support Network’s Stand Up for Access Comedy Show, 8 p.m., $25. Randi Romo celebrates the release of her debut collection, “Othered,” at White Water as part of Dive Bar Poetry Night, 7 p.m.

TUESDAY 10/23 Puerto Rican ambassador/superstar Rita Moreno appears at Reynolds Performance Hall, 7:30 p.m., $15. Seraph Brass, a renowned women’s brass quintet, performs at Staples Auditorium at Hendrix College, 7:30 p.m. Pissin Comets, Stifft Beat, Shoe and Pumpkinseed share a bill at White Water, 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY 10/24 Appalachia-inspired rockers The Black Lillies perform at Stickyz, 8 p.m., $15. California quartet Mom Jeans performs at Vino’s with Just Friends, awakebutstillinbed and Retirement Party, 7 p.m. Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies OCTOBER 18, 2018



The Arkansas distillery scene is expanding like yeast. Last week in this space was a bit about Delta Dirt Distillery coming to Helena-West Helena. Another distillery, like Delta Dirt named to reflect its home, is Crystal Ridge, which Danny and Mary Bradley hope to open in February 2019. Danny Bradley knows something about how alcohol works because he’s a Ph.D. animal nutritionist whose job required him to learn about yeast. The idea to open a distillery “just started growing from there,” he said. “I’m really not a connoisseur; I’m a scientist.” He’s also a lover of Hot Springs history, so he plans for Crystal Ridge, to be located at 455 Broadway in the 15,000-square-foot building that housed The Old Country Store, to feature information on the Spa City’s past as a bootlegger’s paradise. Crystal Ridge will also feature information on how alcohol is made — making it sort of a museum/distillery. Bradley will distinguish Crystal Ridge with one of its products: white lightning. Because what constitutes moonshine, unlike bourbon and other spirits, is mostly undefined under federal regulations, Bradley can come up with his own concoction. “Right now I’m hoping to use Arkansas-sourced grain. So I’m looking at corn, of course, but what I want to do is a wheat-based moonshine,” with 50 percent wheat and a mixture of rice and corn. Bradley has not made spirits — that would be illegal, as Nixon said to the potted plant. He has, however, shadowed at distilleries and breweries, including Ole Smokey Moonshine and Sugarlands in Gatlinburg, Tenn. “I know there are going to be tricks of the trade that I’ve got to learn,” he said. Crystal Ridge will include a restaurant and events area; Bradley wants to appeal to the families who come to Hot Springs for vacations. Coming up noon-4 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 20: The eighth annual World Cheese Dip Championship, on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center. The event will feature a record number of 30 contestants vying for prizes ranging from $300 to $1,000. Tickets ($10 online, $15 at the gate, $8 military, law enforcement and EMTs) will provide both voting chips and edible chips from On the Border. There will be cheese-dip compatible eats and drinks — hot dogs, snow cones, soft drinks, margaritas and beer — and live music from guitarist Kevin Blake Goodwin and singer Kassi Moe to dip by. All sales benefit Harmony Health Clinic, 201 E. Roosevelt Road, which provides free medical and dental care to low-income patients. 26

OCTOBER 18, 2018


A MEAL TO JUMP AT: Fried pickles, fried frog legs and, for healthy eaters, grilled salmon.

First hop at frog legs

Flying Fish has ’em, and they’re good.


very time this reviewer eats at Flying Fish (which happens to be fairly often, especially with Catholic friends during Lenten fish Fridays), she can’t help but think about a missed opportunity: A member of her family who shall go unnamed was offered the chance to invest in the restaurant early on, and declined. Years later, we can appreciate just how deeply the family knack for poor investment decisions runs. People who live and work in downtown Little Rock are lucky that Flying Fish has solidified itself as a staple of the restaurant scene there. It’s unpretentious and kitschy with its neon beer signs, red-checkered tablecloths and huge mounted Big Mouth Billy Bass collection, equally as appetizing as a lunch

Follow Eat Arkansas on Twitter: @EatArkansas

stop as it is a dinner destination. We fast-paced behind-the-counter operawill say that we miss the old painted tion down to a science. The veggies, wooden menu sign that used to hang sliced zucchini and squash, were zesty over the fry kitchen. It’s now digitized. and the rice and beans didn’t disapWe’re always tempted to buy one of the point, either. T-shirts hanging on the wall: “We Catch The star of the show, the frog legs, and Release (into real hot grease).” came with the traditional and delicious Reviewer and friend tried to cover lone hushpuppy nestled at the botthe bases with our order: a basket of tom of the basket. Unfortunately, this fried pickles (a classic), a grilled salmon reviewer, having never eaten frog legs dinner plate with grilled vegetables before, did not have a reliable frame of plus rice and beans (an attempt at a reference, but was pleasantly surprised. healthier option), and six pairs of fried The legs tasted like chicken (it’s true) frog legs (perhaps not so adventurous and must have come off the back end to some, but a first for this reviewer). of some pretty large frogs. An $11.99 With the fried pickles, you can’t go order of six pairs was enough for four wrong: They were crisp, not disap- people to share happily as an appetizer. pointingly soggy. The generously sized Our dining companion, whose grandsalmon fillet was grilled perfectly by father was partial to a frog leg in his a team of cooks that seems to have its day, gave these her stamp of approval.


Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas

On a subsequent lunch visit, we Flying Fish 511 President Clinton Ave. checked in on Flying Fish’s bread and 501-375-3474 butter: the fried shrimp and catfish combo basket, served with fries and a Quick bite pair of hushpuppies. There are a vari- Wednesdays are All U Can Eat Fried ety of options available; we usually go Catfish for $15.99. for four shrimp and two catfish filets ($13.99). Hours There’s an Arkansas Times colum- 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday nist whose theory on catfish is that and Saturday. despite its prominence in Southern fare, it’s a dish without mystery. You either Other info get it hot and crunchy enough, or you Beer on tap and bottled, wine and don’t. And he’s right! Flying Fish is, too, margaritas. Credit cards accepted. when it comes to the bottom-feeder. The mainstay of the fried combination baskets is served in generously thick fillets, covered in a cornmeal blanket overlook, but shouldn’t: the grits and and fried at a temperature that renders gumbo ($8.50) and ceviche ($9.99). The it cleanly crispy every single time. The latter is a tureen of the Fish’s darkshrimp is fried in the same manner, rouxed shrimp and sausage gumbo covbut not before being butterflied and ering a fried block of creamy grits. It’s pounded thin, maximizing the surface the ideal comfort food. The ceviche is a area that can be covered in that glori- lighter favorite. It’s a mix of shrimp and ous cornmeal. Baskets are served with tilapia cured in lemon and lime juice, a little ketchup for your fries and a lit- with peppers, onions and a tomato-y tle tartar sauce, but a few squeezes of sauce. It works like a dip and comes lemon are condiment enough. ringed by fresh, fried tortilla chips. If you believe that everything is betOther options range from rainbow ter with a little heat, make sure and tell trout to salmon, shrimp and snapper. them at the register you want every- If you’re not in the mood for things thing “snappy.” That prompts a chorus that swim, you can get a hamburger, of “snappy!” from the kitchen staff and a cheeseburger or chicken strips. We pepper-y seasoning mix in the breading. didn’t partake on this occasion, but At lunch, our dining companions 18-ounce frozen margaritas are availwent with a pair of items that you might able for $9.

Seafood Boils and Catering! Book your event today! 1619 REBSAMEN PARK RD. 501.838.3888

Boos & Booze: SCREAM Tuesday, Oct. 23 6 p.m. $5

CATFISH AND HUSH PUPPIES: All you can eat for $15.99 on Wednesdays.

Ron Robinson Theater Library Square, 100 Rock Street OCTOBER 18, 2018


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A pirouette, with teeth In ‘Dracula,’ Ballet Arkansas shows its fangs. BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE

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Bijoux with

J. Phil

Friday Oct. 19 2018 10PM Bijoux is back and bringing J. Phil to the South on Main stage. Bijoux—a native of Little Rock – is a sultry soul singer adept in various styles. The daughter of West African parents, Bijoux grew up in a household exposed to differing genres of music including folk, classic rock and roll, makossa, country, and R&B. Her jovial spirit, endearing vocals, vibrant entertaining, and musical versatility make her concerts engaging and fun. Show begins at 10 pm. Tickets may be purchased for $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Tickets do not guarantee a seat, to reserve a table call (501) 244-9660.

1304 MAIN STREET LITTLE ROCK, AR 72202 501-244-9660


OCTOBER 18, 2018


WORLD PREMIERE: Michael Fothergill, Catherine Fothergill and Erin Anson Ellis collaborated with Cranford Co. in the ballet adaptation of “Dracula,” to be performed at Pulaski Tech’s CHARTS this weekend.


f the perennial “Nutcracker” is designed to showcase Ballet Arkansas’s glittery grace, “Dracula” is meant to show its fangs. To the soundtrack of classical music’s greatest creepy hits — Liszt’s “Totentanz” and Ciprian Porumbescu’s “Ballade” among them — Ballet Arkansas put on a world premiere to ring in its 40th anniversary, with original choreography by new executive and artistic director Michael Fothergill. Even before the first toe was pointed in the debut performance (at Reynolds Performance Hall on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway), fog curled out from under the curtain, hinting at sinister tensions to come. First things first: This premiere was a daring endeavor. Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel “Dracula” is a tangled web of transactions and betrayals, and making a ballet out of the thing was both a daunting task and a boss move. What plot points we didn’t get from dancers — or from the pristine costumery from the closets of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Ballet Arkansas — we got from intermittent expository text, doled out to us courtesy of Ballet Arkansas-

neighbors-and-collaborators Cranford Co., in that up-and-backward crawl the original “Star Wars” movie got us all accustomed to. (How else are you supposed to advance a plot that was originally told through ship logs and diary entries?) The rest was left to a few props and to Fothergill’s image-painting, a blend of modern and classical styles that Ballet Arkansas’s versatile dancers meshed seamlessly. Family-friendly as the ballet manages to be, those who know “Dracula” know it’s all about sex and power, and Fothergill’s choreography speaks in the lunging, lurching language of Stoker’s narrative. A quick glance through the list of dancers and their tenures suggested a cohesive company ethos, one that evidently inspires talented dancers like our protagonist Paul Tillman (playing Stoker’s Jonathan Harker, though casting alternates each night) to stick around for as many as nine seasons — a substantial swath of time in a dancer’s career. As Harker’s fiancee, Mina, much was asked of Deanna Stanton; the leading lady must act as well as she dances. Stanton delivered, telegraphing both Mina’s stately good nature

and her tortured conscience as her season dancer Lauren Bodenheimer Hill, loyalties waver. Stanton, too, always for one, with her fantastically theatrical seemed keenly aware of the “picture” face and expressions that translated with she was painting for the eye — draping clarity to the back of the hall. her long body over a bench to weep, for All that said, I admit one misgiving. example, creating an impossibly lovely Cranford Co.’s role in the production, still frame. in part, was to be a series of rich backStanton’s frequent counterpart, the drops against which the dancers’ proethereal Zeek Wright, played the titu- files could be seen. Those translated lar (and surprisingly emotionally mul- marvelously. The other part involved tidimensional) vampire, alternately a handful of close-up shots of the cosdecked out in a Sun Ra-esque robe and tumed dancer’s faces, put up on screen a crimson red shroud. Wright was, as for ... effect? For visibility from the nosethe curtain call proved, nothing short bleeds? Conceptually noble as the colof a delight to watch, managing to eke laboration and image integration was in (eek!) out audience empathy even as he theory, the close-ups — and their timing reduced his nubile victims to blood banks. — rarely served the production well in He’s somehow simultaneously athletic practice, often distracting the eye. I’d and willowy, and his bombastic height have been happy to take the 10 percent was an asset unto itself. When Dracula of my attention I spent on those images curled a menacing finger your way, it and hand it right back to Stanton, Tillfelt as if his arm might reach all the way man, Wright, et al., or to the more gorto Row M and around your throat, and geously symbolic video elements, like when he found himself surrounded by the distant moon or the wilting rose. his petite siren brides (Megan Hustel, Catch Ballet Arkansas’s “Dracula” at Lynsie Jo Ogden and Amanda Sewell, UA Pulaski Technical College’s Center seductively), the contrast in body scale for the Humanities and Arts, 3000 W. as he scooped them up in his arms was Scenic Drive, North Little Rock, 7 p.m. Tolkien-level cartoonish. Not to be over- Fri.-Sat., Oct. 19-20; 2 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Oct. looked were the ensemble members who 20-21, $15-$35. Get tickets at balletarprovided respite and texture — sixth- or by calling 501-812-2710.

Black Oak Arkansas Saturday, October 20 • 9PM The legendary rockers return to Four Quarter Bar!

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415 Main St North Little Rock • (501) 313-4704 • OCTOBER 18, 2018




The Studio Theatre Evil Dead - The Musical


La Terraza Rum & Lounge Anniversary Party


South on Main Bijoux with J. Phil

19 19

OCT 19-21 26-28

The Weekend Theater If/Then


Clinton Parking Grounds World Cheese Dip Championship


Riverfront Amphitheater 2018 Little Rock Pride Fest


Four Quarter Bar Black Oak Arkansas


Graffiti’s Italian Restaurant Wagner Wine Tasting


Ballet Arkansas Studios The Vampire Ball


Prattsville Community Center “Back to the Future...with Grant County Democrats”

20 20 20

nary figures Chef Anita Lo and Chef Edward Lee will attend and create food for the after-party. (7:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 21, Arlington 1.) is for “Southern Stories,” HSDFF’s block of films focused on the peculiarities and complications of the Southern experience, marks a new initiative by the Institute that further sets the festival above and apart from its coastal, metropolitan compeers. is for “This Changes Everything.” The latest from last year’s closing night filmmaker Tom Donahue is an investigative analysis of gender disparity in Hollywood. (4:30 p.m., Fri., Oct. 26, Arlington 1.) is for “United Skates.” Following the rise and fall of skate culture, the meaning of community in America and its implications for the black experience in America, this documentary was singled out by Jen Gerber as one of her favorites of the year. (7 p.m. Fri., Oct. 26, Arlington 1.) is for Virtual Reality. The HSDFF VR lounge will offer participants an immersive, 360-degree documentary experience. is for “Wheels on Reels,” the Friday night “United Skates”






after-party at Skateland on Higdon Ferry. No alcohol allowed (you can thank them for that later), but free skate rentals for pass holders and ticket holders looking to bounce, rock, skate and roll the night away. is for exciting and extra-special guests: The ubiquitous comedienne Missi Pyle is the closing night honorary chair; Billy Redden, the Banjo Boy in “Deliverance,” will attend the opening night screening of “Hillbilly”; Apatow Collective member Samm Levine supports “Freaks and Geeks: A Documentary”; and politician/attorney Bakari Sellers visits with “While I Breathe, I Hope.” is for the young documentarians who will be featured in the “AETN Student Selects” block, showcasing the best high school and college-created documentaries of the last year. (1 p.m. Tue., Oct. 23, Arlington 2.) is for the Zimbalist Brothers, whose latest, “Momentum Generation,” follows the iconic ’90s surf collective (2:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 27, Arlington 2), but it’s also for zzzzs, which, in light of the packed eightday festival, you’re going to need to stay up on.





23 27 27

Go to to purchase these tickets and more!

Arkansas Times 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!


OCTOBER 18, 2018


Arkansas Times

has a position open in Advertising Sales. If you have sales experience and enjoy the fast paced, crazy world of advertising sales we’d like to talk to you. We have a variety of print and web products as well as special focus publications that we publish and that translates into a high-income potential for a hard working advertising executive. We have fun, but we work hard. Fast paced and self-motivated individuals are encouraged to apply. If you have a dynamic energetic personality, we’d like to talk to you. PLEASE SEND YOUR RESUME TO PHYLLIS BRITTON, PHYLLIS@ARKTIMES.COM.




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Ward 1:


“As one who has been spent my life in public service of the people, I know what it means to prepare for an elected position. Before I ran for election, I studied, attended meetings, learned from those in office and actively served in our community. In other words, I was committed to being prepared. I have known Robert Webb for several years. Through that time I have watched and supported his growing into the person best to serve the people of Ward 1. When he started, he was impatient and passionate. He still is but is now informed by the invaluable political reality that neither impatience nor passion is a strategy. In other words, he has put in the time, the effort to grow into what I consider the most prepared candidate to represent Ward 1. I have reached this conclusion with no disrespect or disregard for any of the other candidates, but I know of no one who has taken the time to grow himself into preparedness as Robert Webb has. For example, he deeply understands the Board of Directors’ budgeting, planning and operational process. Further, he understands the history, culture, capabilities and demands of the Board and the needs of Ward 1.   Like a stately oak tree, Robert Webb will stand strong for you. He will be a fighter for District 1. But like a willow, he will bend to reach out to everyone in our city without undermining his commitment to Ward 1.  I am confident voting for Robert Webb is an investment in Ward 1. and Little Rock’s future. As one who loves our city, I consider it a privilege to endorse him and ask you to please vote for Robert.“ — Senator Joyce Elliott

ROBERT WEBB. Ready Day 1 to Serve Ward 1. 32

OCTOBER 18, 2018



Arkansas Times | October 18, 2018  

A River Runs Through It

Arkansas Times | October 18, 2018  

A River Runs Through It