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Love, Arkansas style

Love, Arkansas style

February 13, 2014

Vol 21 • No 51

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Arkansans talk candidly about what works, and doesn't, in their relationships

All you need is love

First, a rehearsal marriage

But like Barbie and Ken, this couple is for keeps.

Baby boom

Crazy in love for 14 years and married for 13, now Gerry Bruno and Jennifer Ruud-Bruno are expecting kids — plural. 

Jess and the city

As the perpetually single friend, Jessica Wurst has been on a lot of dates. Sometimes she gets swept off of her feet. Sometimes things get strange. Sometimes both. We asked the Alma native, who now lives in New York, to tell us about her most memorable Arkansas dates.

31 days of dating

Melissa Kordsmeier gains insight during her 'Open Dating Month.'

Bobby meets Destiny

On and off, but together forever.

'She touched my hand'

And that's how Kat Wilson and Emily Lawson fell in love.

The legislature at work on private option

Efforts to re-enact the private option version of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare are continuing in the Arkansas legislature.

Tenta B and the R.T.P., 'Player Lover' (1995)

Here's the Rock Candy anthem of the week, courtesy of '90s Arkansas rap group Tenta B and the R.T.P.

Democrat Joe Jett puts hold on UCA budget over Baker fund-raising

Rep. Joe Jett puts hold on UCA budget over Republican legislative fund-raising by taxpayer-paid lobbyist Gilbert Baker.

Reid calls for cloture vote on Jay Moody judicial nomination

UPDATE on the Republican obstruction to judicial nominations, particularly as it relates to the nomination of Circuit Judge Jay Moody to a seat on the federal eastern district court bench in Little Rock.

Arkansas Advocates: private option amendments are "bad public policy"

Progressive groups in the state have already begun pushing back against the amendments to the private option (actually special language attached to the appropriation) approved by a legislative subcommittee today. 

NYPD Pizza: A satisfying slice of The Big Apple in Little Rock

A good slice of NYC in Little Rock? It may seem like a rather tall order. There’s a certain aura and ambience that unquestionably heightens the pizza-eating experience when walking the streets of New York City—something impossible to reproduce here in Arkansas—but that’s not to say that a decent NY-style pie can’t be had for those interested.

Love notes

For our Valentine's Day issue this week, we heard many tales of love, loss and lust. Here are a few tidbits: marriage, divorce, sex and some memorable pickup lines.

Miranda July comes to UCA

Also, Jeff Dunham at Verizon, Lanterns! at Wildwood, For the Love of the Wu at White Water, the Cedric Burnside Project at White Water, Sebadoh at Stickyz, the Good Vibes Hip-Hop Showcase at Juanita's, 'The Call Me Trinity' at Vino's and Hoop for Kids' Sake at UALR.


Vines surround a window at Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack in Little Rock.

'Lego Movie' is built for everyone

'One of the funniest, most madcap animated movies of recent memory, and perhaps ever.'

Reasons for optimism for Hogs

God-awful weather notwithstanding, last week wasn't so bad in Razorbackland.

As me no thans

They don't go together like a horse and carriage.

John Willis' good cheer, hooks carry him to finals

Round three coming Thursday.

Sad breakfast at Ozark Country Restaurant

Let down in every way.

Oil transport by rail carries risks in Arkansas

Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff along transport routes.

It was a bad week for Martha Shoffner

It was also a bad week for Michael Lamoureux and driving in Central Arkansas. It was a good week for Tim Griffin, legislative ethics and a long due arrest.


It has recently come to The Observer's attention that the city of Conway has canceled this year's iteration of its most profound and widely beloved annual tradition: Stuck on a Truck, held each May at the city's Toad Suck Daze Festival.

It's camera time, state Senate

As much as Arkansans should take the opportunity to come to the cramped galleries on the top floor of the state Capitol to watch their senators at work, it's simply not feasible for hundreds of thousands of them significantly affected by some of the votes cast there. But because the presence of cameras in the Senate chamber and committee rooms has been fervently resisted, as this publication has noted across the years, Arkansans are unable to see their elected officials at work.

No rules in court of public opinion

My absolute favorite tabloid newspaper headline ever appeared in something called the Weekly World News: "3-Breasted Gal Joins Clinton as His New Intern." I still have a copy somewhere. Supposedly, the former president hired the "three-bosomed bombshell" after Hillary got caught cuddling with a space alien.

Bad judge!

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The life of the law has not been logic: It has been experience." He might have added that the life of the law has not been doggy doo, either. He may have assumed people already knew that.

Why majority rule is legal

Would more uncertainty about whether the legislature will slay the private option for Obamacare bother anyone? Let's try anyway.

'Adult World' plays Ron Robinson

Also, King Vidor's "Hallelujah" at the Old Statehouse.

Yon Tim: lean, hungry, dangerous

It's easy to go Shakespearian on Tim Griffin. He's an ambitious and dangerous man, as anybody who's been on the receiving end of his "unleash hell" political war room tactics can attest. Ask Al Gore.

Bad senator!

A staff without a boss is like the infamous bridge to nowhere. It's outrageous that public money should be spent on such things

Arkansas income: Unequal and getting worse

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has issued a new report on how income inequality hurts Arkansas.

UPDATE: Kansas returns to the 1950s with law to refuse service to gay people

I hestitate to report this, for fear of giving Arkansas Republicans any ideas. Nontheless:

Tim Griffin big-foots GOP opponent in race for Arkansas lieutenant governor

I wrote Sunday that it was definitive that Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin would enter the lieutenant governor's race.

Child injured in hit-and-run on way home from school

The Little Rock police says a 12-year-old child was hit by a car while walking home from school at Baseline and Oman Roads yesterday.

Joint Budget passes newly amended private option appropriation

After special-language amendments to the private option appropriation were approved yesterday in a subcommittee, the appropriation is before Joint Budget committee this morning.

Thursday To-Do: Miranda July

Miranda July will be at UCA Thursday night for a public reading and book signing at the College of Business in Room 107.

Fatty and Feezi Redd see spirits on 'Dark Angels'

Little Rock rappers Fatty and Feezi Redd talk nightmares and paranoia over a cloudy, sinister beat by North Little Rock producer Nawf.

Ron Howard to direct movie about Arkansas's most notorious drug smuggler, Barry Seal

Ron Howard has signed on to direct “Mena,” based on a script by Gary Spinelli that tells the story of Arkansas’s most notorious criminals, Adler "Barry" Seal.

Sweet on Treatsie

Local company enters into the internet "box" game with artisanal snacks, treats, and other goodies. It's a Valentine's Day extravaganza!

Crystal Bridges installs Jeff Koons' "Hanging Heart"

Acquired directly from the acclaimed pop artist in 2013 and hung in time for Valentine's Day.

Crystal Bridges has a heart

Just in time for Valentine's day. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is installing an enormous gold heart by Jeff Koons.

Former Arkansan, Jane Chu, named to head National Endowment for the Arts

Thanks to professional Arkadelphian Rex Nelson for a heads-up on a former Arkansan making good.

New Memphis music doc highlights several Arkansas natives

Anyone in Memphis tonight should check out the screening of the new documentary "Meanwhile in Memphis: The Sound of a Revolution" at the Studio on the Square theater, 7 p.m.

OBU grad named to head NEA

Jane Chu of Kansas City.

Joe Jett, UCA President Tom Courtway meet on Gilbert Baker politicking

Democratic State Rep. Joe Jett of Corning said University of Central Arkansas President Tom Courtway was at the Capitol at 8:30 a.m. this morning to talk to him about his complaint of campaign finance bundling activities by former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker, who now makes $132,000 a year as UCA lobbyist and executive assistant

House will vote on private option appropriation on Tuesday

The House will vote on the Department of Human Services appropriation, including the private option, on Tuesday, according to House Speaker Davy Carter.

The open line: Picking on Cotton

The line is open. Last thoughts:

Little Rock Horror Picture Show announces first round of screenings

The Little Rock Horror Picture Show, which will be held from March 20-23 at the Ron Robinson Theater, announced its first two screenings today.

Anti-private option holdouts not swayed by Bell's amendment

The gist of Rep. Nate Bell’s pitch yesterday to opponents of the private option: there is no responsible political endgame to a defund strategy in the 2014 fiscal session, so Bell wants to get what he can and fight the private option in 2015.

ZaZa gets a new look, still tastes great

Heights mainstay gets a makeover, and things are looking good.

Morning report: Marriage equality, jobless benefits, climate change, police shooting

A federal judge has struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage, a ban the attorney general there declined to defend.

Washington D.C. comes to Little Rock in minority blockade of Medicaid spending

That's not the Potomac you can view rolling by from upper floor windows (and the rooftop, if you're a favored Republican) of the Arkansas State Capitol.

Mad Nomad wins Round 3 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

Little Rock's Mad Nomad swept Round 3 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase last night.

Republican to announce for Pulaski County judge

Steve Teske, a Lutheran pastor in Alexander and an archive assistant at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, dropped boy today to deliver a news release that he'll announce next week as a Republican candidate for Pulaski County judge.

Ethics and the Tea Party 9: Missy Irvin rakes in lobby cash during session

Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, one of the Tea Party 9 intent on undoing Medicaid expansion and throwing 100,000 Arkansans off their new health insurance, lives a comfortable life on her own time.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with a new track from Pepperboy

Little Rock rapper Pepperboy sent out a Valentine to the world this morning in the form of a weird and sensual new single, "My First One," with a beat by Uptown Greg.

ASU names "Delta Small Prints" winners

Annual show has 55 works, 44 artists.

Food Feedback Friday: Sweethearts edition

Alright all you lovebirds, what do you got for us this week?

Judge strikes down state's new effort to make execution method legal

David Goins of Fox 16 Tweets the breaking news that a Pulaski circuit judge has struck down the state's new lethal injection law because it gives too much to discretion to the Correction Department in application.

Mark Pryor rips opponent Tom Cotton on Medicare record

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor gathered 12 Arkansas older people around him today to blast Republican Rep. Tom Cotton's record on Medicare.

Judge grants separate trials for charges facing former treasurer Martha Shoffner

Federal Judge Leon Holmes today granted a defense motion to separate two groups of charges filed against former Arkansas treasurer Martha Shoffner.

Friday To-Do: For the Love of the Wu

The night will feature MCs 607, Osyrus Bolly, Bobby, and Bolly Black Star, with live instrumentation provided by the Funkanites and a DJ set by Joshua Asante of Velvet Kente and Amasa Hines.

Writers argue that the battle for marriage equality has been won

Here's an interesting though from writers in Slate: It's just a matter of time.

The Valentine's Day open line: Tom Cotton on love; Dumas on a way around the private option impasse

The week is over and the line is open. Some final notes include a college esssay on love by Rep. Tom Cotton and more on the historical case that a 75 percent vote for appropriation bills isn't necessary.

Friday To-Do: King Vidor's 'Hallelujah' at Old State House Museum

The Old State House Museum will screen "Hallelujah," the first sound film by King Vidor, the great Hollywood Golden Age director

The No Good Nine Edition

The no-good nine and Nate Bell who’re working to destroy the private option, Gilbert Baker’s fundraising for Republicans, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin’s entrance into the lieutenant governor's race and the growing support for marriage equality across the country

Sen. Irvin on in-session fund-raising: No policy at issue

Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View never responded yesterday to my questions about her decision to hold a lobbyist-studded campaign fund-raiser at a luxury high-rise condo in Little Rock during the middle of the current legislative session, but she did respond to an Arkansas Fourth Facebook inquiry. Defensively, of course.

Workers reject unionizing Volkswagen plant in Tennessee

Workers voted 712-626 against unionizing the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, a blow to labor in the South. It was also a blow to enlightened management. Volkswagen executives quietly supported the union movement so that the company could create productive workers councils such as it uses in Europe. But Republican politicians and interest groups spent huge sums — and told a number of untruths — so that workers would override the wishes of company management.

KKK, but no black people, attend black history program in Harrison

Harrison is trying hard to erase its legacy as a "sundown" town where black people were unwelcome, but the presence of the Ku Klux Klan — however a small percentage its sympathizers may represent of the local population — makes it difficult. See a Southern Poverty Law Center report on a black history event last week at the Harrison library. No black people attended, but 14 "racial patriots" did.

Rapert's man in Uganda backs life sentences for homosexual acts

Uganda's president, often praised by Arkansas Republican Sen. Jason Rapert, says he'll sign legislation giving life prison sentences for homosexual acts. Does Sen. Rapert approve of this?

One dead, one wounded in shooting after SWLR 'prank'

The Little Rock police report one person was killed and another wounded by shots fired into a car that later stopped at a convenience store on Baseline Road. The shooter apparently was angered by "prank" played on him.

Going gaga for Geek Eats granola

Sweet, crunchy, and extremely addictive — this is what granola was meant to be.

The Saturday night line

Post no bills. Or do. The line is open. Do you use Facebook? Some rip-roaring discussions underway at the Arkansas Times Facebook page on Sen. Missy Irvin's sleazy fund-raising and opposition to the private option and the eternal divide over racial attitudes in Harrison, Ark.

Bill Clinton, Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton call the Hogs

Quite an evening at Bud Walton Arena last night with a University of Arkansas basketball win over LSU and a halftime gathering of former coaches, players and former president of the Unted States, Bill Clinton. It was a 20th anniversary remembrance of the Hog's national championship, which President Clinton attended.

State officials object, but will swallow Nate Bell's poison pill to keep private option secret

John Lyon of Stephens Media reports on the strong objections of top state officials to Rep. Nate Bell's successful amendment to prohibit state spending of any sort on efforts to inform the public about expanded health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act and Arkansas's private option version of the expansion of Medicaid provided by the federal law.

What would defunding the private option do to the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace?

If nine senators are successful in defunding the private option, the most immediate result would be to end coverage for more than 100,000 Arkansans.

Sunday To-Do: Sebadoh

Sebadoh will perform at Stickyz Sunday night, 8:30 p.m.

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe used to think it would be a “travesty” if Arkansans gained health coverage and then the state kicked them off

“We’re not going to put more than 250,000 people on our Medicaid rolls, then pull them off,” Sen. Cecile Bledsoe said once upon a time. 

Sunday open line

A North Little Rock man is dead and his roommate arrested in an early morning shooting in North Little Rock.

Another candidate awaits news on federal judicial nomination

Ernest Sanders Jr., a Little Rock lawyer who served most of a year as a circuit judge by appointment to fill a vacancy in 2010, says he also will seek the circuit judgeship held by Jay Moody if Moody's nomination to the federal bench is confirmed before the filing deadline for the office ends.

Legal thoughts on the private option on the state's legal holiday

Is there a legal way around the presumed 75 percent vote required for most appropriations, for now a roadblock to adopt the private option expansion of Medicaid in Arkansas?

Contest develops for Arkansas Supreme Court

At least one of two open seats on the Arkansas Supreme Court apparently will have an election contest. Tim Cullen, who lives in Maumelle and practices in Little Rock, announced via e-mail today that he'd be a candidate for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Justice Donald Corbin.

Cathi Compton commits to race for Moody judgeship

Cathi Compton today announced she's be a candidate for the circuit judgeship currently held by Jay Moody, who's been nominated for a federal judgeship and may get a confirmation vote during the filing period for his officeFeb. 24-March 3.

Oscar nominated short films show at Market Street this week

The 2014 Academy Award nominated short films will be showing at Market Street Cinema this week.

Dumas explores the legal options if legislature won't provide 75 percent vote for private option

Ultimately, an unpredictable court would be the arbiter on complicated questions of interpretation. But Ernest Dumas makes a strong case that a vote up or down on only the wholly federally funded private option expansion of Medicaid — separated from the larger DHS appropriation bill that includes expenditure of state money — would require only a simple majority vote.

Voter approval of private option depends on label

The City Wire rounds up some polling results that could well be a proxy for political races in the fall. Call it just the "private option," or an expansion of health insurance, and more Arkansans favor it than don't. Call it "Obamacare," and the numbers go in the toliet.

Willie 'Beaver' Hale, 'Groove-On' (1980)

Willie Hale grew up in Forrest City, Arkansas, where they called him "Little Beaver." I read it was because of his teeth. If people know him at all, they know him for the music he made in Miami, where he was a session guitarist for people like Betty Wright, Blowfly and Swamp Dogg. He also made a handful of solo records, mostly under the name Little Beaver, that were sporadically great.

George Washington's open line — apartments burn, Marion Berry smoking about Pryor criticism and is Jane English flipping on private option?

An apartment fire at Chenal Parkway and Highway 300 was among a few headlines on Monday, a state and local holiday for Washington's Birthday. More hot stuff: We also reprint Marion Berry's stout defense of Mark Pryor.

Americans for Prosperity appears to endorse Nate Bell approach on private option, will not "score" appropriation vote

Conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity spent around $1 or $2 million on legislative races in Arkansas in 2012. Read what they have to say about the coming private option appropriation vote...

Democrat announces to oppose Nate Bell

Rep. Nate Bell, the extremist Republican from Mena, will have Democratic opposition in his effort to win a third term. A young, fifth generation Arkansan and Mena college student, Chase Busch, promises to serve with "honor," as have the "great men" who served the area in the past. Don't think he's talking about Nate.

Arkansas Family Council questions Blue Cross coverage of legally married same-sex couples; makes it an issue in Obamacare debate

The Arkansas Family Council, playing on embedded ill feelings toward gay people in the Arkansas legislature, has now raised same-sex marriage as a possible complication to adoption of the private option expansion of Medicaid. If coverage is extended to same-sex couples legally married in other states, the Family Council doesn't like it one bit.

Outlines emerge of path to approval of the private option in Arkansas: A deal for Jane English

Reports have emerged for a path to approval of continued appropriations for the private option expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. It's a sop of some sort to Sen. Jane English, until now a rigid Tea Party-style opponent of bigger government. She's been persuaded to make a billion-dollar exception in the name of winning a workforce initiative dear to her heart.

Undercover among the 1 per centers: book recounts Warren Stephens in a rebel cap

New York magazine provides a book excerpt from a man, Kevin Roose, who went undercover in the secret initiation rites of a Wall Street fraternity — the 1 percent of the 1 percent. Shades of Mitt Romney, the sights he saw at the dinner in January 2012. They included Little Rock tycoon Warren Stephens singing new lyrics, tailored to Wall Street, to "Dixie." The performance was captured on audio.

Government files more details on former Treasurer Shoffner's use of campaign money

The U.S. attorney's office yesterday filed more details of evidence it hopes to introduce into former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner's trial on taking money for state bond business. It details her alleged illegal use of campaign money for personal expenses, plus gifts from a favored broker.

A private option supporter, a doctor, from opponent Missy Irvin's district

It won't likely affect her vote, but here for Sen. Missy Irvin, an announced opponent of the private option expansion of Medicaid coverage, is a video testimonial to the private option program from a resident of her district, Dr. Bill Wells. He's hoping for its continuation for all the patients it's helped.

What it took to buy Jane English's vote for Obamacare

It's official. Sen. Jane English, who ran for the Senate on an anti-Obamacare platform, has announced she will give the Beebe administration the 27th vote it needs in the Senate to continue to implement Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. She traded her vote for important influence on spending up to $24 million in workforce training money, quite a few pieces of silver.

Tuesday To-Do: 'They Call Me Trinity' (1970)

Vino's continues its great spaghetti western screening series tonight with E.B. Clucher's "They Call Me Trinity," a 1970 comedy starring Terence Hill and Bud Spencer.

At Vino's, some like it hot

Adding scorpion peppers to beer might seem strange, but Vino's brew master Josiah Moody has formulated a milk stout that brings the heat while still providing a rich, very drinkable beer.

Virginia adopts Arkansas model on implementing Obamacare

Virginia Republicans have decided to have all the pleasure of Obamacare without any of the guilt, just like Arkansas. They'll take the money the Affordable Care Act provides for Medicaid expansion. They'll direct it in a way to provide a windfall for the private insurance industry. But they just won't call it Obamacare.

Beebe comments on deal cut with Jane English for her vote

Gov. Mike Beebe met reporters this morning to explain the deal his administration cut with Sen. Jane English, previously an adamant opponent of Obamacare, to provide the critical Senate vote for continuing appropriations for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Arkansas for another year. The "reforms" English will claim she won in state workforce programs? AEDC Director Grant Tennille talked about them at the Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas last year. The Tea Party with which English has long been aligned will be back in 2015 to try to kill the program. In the meanwhile, she'll claim influence in spending $15 to $24 million a year in workforce training money. Perhaps Pulaski Tech in her backyard could put some of that money to good use.

Little Rock Film Festival adds category and award for 'Cinematic Nonfiction'

The Little Rock Film Festival announced today that the 2014 festival will include a new category devoted to "Cinematic Nonfiction," to be programmed by the filmmaker and writer Robert Greene, who will also present an award for “Extraordinary Achievement in Non-Fiction Cinema.”

House takes up private option appropriation

Our play by play of the private option vote in the House, which fell 6 votes short of the needed supermajority. They'll likely be trying again this week...

Arkansas House fails on first vote to pass 'private option' Medicaid expansion under Obamacare

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted 70-27 with one present to approve an appropriation bill to continue for a second year the private option version of Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. That was five votes short of the number needed. It will be brought up again. The vote followed a number of speeches, most from opponents, repeating familiar points. No Democrat spoke. The Senate may vote on the measure before the House votes again.

Right-wing publication runs into obstacles searching Clinton gubernatorial archives

The Washington Free Beacon, which received a lot of attention recently for mining the Diane Blair papers at the University of Arkansas for documents related to potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, hasn't had similar success with gubernatorial papers of Bill Clinton housed at an archive in downtown Little Rock connected to the Central Arkansas Library System.

Open line: New ad raps Asa Hutchinson; State trooper arrested; Harrison racial division reviewed

The night's open line includes: Democratic ads targeting Republican Asa Hutchinson; a criminal charge against a former state trooper, and a KUAF report on a racially divided public meeting in Harrison attended by local KKK.

House Speaker Davy Carter: "100 percent confident" that private option will pass

The private option fell five votes short of a supermajority in the Arkansas House today. Read what House Speaker Davy Carter, a Republican supporter of the policy, had to say...

Nate Bell on today's private option vote

Rep. Nate Bell's amendment to the private option was designed to pick up Republican votes but so far it's only picked up Bell's vote. Read his reactions to today's House vote.

Guardsmen training in NLR stir furor with photo of flag-draped coffin

The Wisconsin National Guard is reviewing how Guard members in training in North Little Rock came to stage what's apparently 'joke' photos of soldiers with a flag-covered coffin. They posted the photos on Instagram.

Focus on public schools

I have no idea who Leeann Bennett is, whose to the editor was published last week, but her extensive review of the problems with education in Arkansas hit the nail on the head!