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Arkansas Literary Fest preview

Arkansas Literary Fest preview

April 19, 2018

Vol 44 • No 33

Read the print version

A Q&A with Monica Clark-Robinson

Giving children their agency.

2018 Arkansas Literary Festival Schedule

Some of the highlights.

A Q&A with Trina Robbins

On Yiddishkeit and fishnets.

A Q&A with Carmen Maria Machado

It'll be raining.

A Q&A with Hanna Al-Jibouri

On Poetic Justice.

The Arkansas Literary Festival is back

¡Viva el libro!

The many sides of Lou Reed

Anthony DeCurtis' biography of the rock hero goes beyond the myth.

A Q&A with Michelle Kuo

What about now.

Stormy shaming

Can we talk about Stormy Daniels? More specifically, can we talk about how we talk about Stormy Daniels?

Mex for the people

Cantina Cinco de Mayo hits the right notes in downtown LR.

Ballinger, King square off for Senate District 5

The firebrand vs. the happy warrior

Week That Was

After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency.

Redefining candidate quality

Despite what national party organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee say, conventional definitions of candidate quality are not leading to progressive wins in 2018.

I need me one of those autographed Michael Jordan posters

Also, the Whistle Blower Act deactivated, Griffen v. the high court and more.

Griffen v. the ASC


Dave Van Horn has had some fine baseball squads in his tenure as Arkansas's head coach. He took over for the well-regarded Norm DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving bunch in Omaha the next spring, and then took the Diamond Hogs back to college baseball's Valhalla three more times over a seven-season span from 2009 to 2015. But what happened in 2016 might well have proved his genuine value to the athletic program at large.

Brad Paisley & Co. at Verizon Arena

It was a 'hell of a night.'

'Isle of Dogs'

The Observer is a big fan of the director Wes Anderson, so there was around zero-point-zero chance of our missing his new flick "Isle of Dogs" the weekend it opened.

Ian Moore returns to White Water Tavern

Also, Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, winners of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, perform at Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse

Trump and Comey

In the Bizarro World of the Trump administration, it's only fitting that the president serves as publicity director for James Comey's big book tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bizarro World was an upside-down reality where wickedness was virtue and vice versa.) Supposedly, Trump's stomping around the White House and various golf courses red-faced with anger, emitting smoke from his ears.

Get discounted tickets to the Arkansas Times Margarita Festival today

Time is ticking for you to get the best deal on tickets to the Arkansas Times Second Annual Margarita Festival, presented by Don Julio, the world's first ultra-premium tequila.

Friendship charter school to seek LR's Garland building after first charter withdraws

The second charter is Friendship Public Charter Schools, which was planning to open its first campus in Little Rock for the 2019-20 school year in a different location. Now, Friendship appears to instead be aiming to open this August — that is, in time for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.

Wild, wild country

Southeast Arkansas Weather passes along on Facebook a photo of a massive alligator along Highway 165 between DeWitt and Gillett in Arkansas County.

New development at old Sears site firms up

In the next year and a half to two years, the 16 acres at the northwest corner of University Avenue and Interstate 630, the old Sears site, will transform into a development featuring retail, restaurants and a hotel — or two — called The District at Midtown.

Revolution to close its restaurant, but music continues

Owner-operators Chris King and Suzon Awbry announced yesterday that while live music venue Rev Room will remain open, they will close the restaurant portion of Revolution, the taco lounge at 300 President Clinton Ave. in downtown Little Rock's River Market area.

UA Little Rock responds to "racially insensitive incident" involving video of fraternity and sorority

A video uploaded to Facebook shows members of the  Chi Omega sorority and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity singing along to the song "Freaky Friday." The white students repeatedly shout along to the n-word.

East Arkansas judges halt state's ban on dicamba as AG readies appeals

At least four separate legal challenges to the state's ban have now been filed by groups of farmers in four northeast Arkansas counties — Phillips, Mississippi, Greene and Clay — who want to use the herbicide

Fayetteville and University of Arkansas advocate for Oklahoma wind energy project

The University of Arkansas and the city of Fayetteville announced today their support for the Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project, an Oklahoma panhandle wind farm that will deliver power to Northwest Arkansas.

Tractors stolen from Scottie Pippen's farm

"No Tippin' Pippen," Midtown Billiards, and me.

Ten Commandments monument returns to state Capitol next week, Rapert says

A new Ten Commandments monument will be erected on state Capitol grounds next week, Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) reports on his Facebook page. Rapert sponsored the enabling legislation and created the American History & Heritage Foundation to pay for it.

Police arrest another suspect in Power Ultra Lounge shooting

The Little Rock Police Department has issued warrants for a Memphis man in connection with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting.

Belated Thursday open line

We're down some staff and had to skip the video headlines today.

DHS warns of end to entire at-home services program for disabled and elderly if court enjoins rule on allocation of hours

Both parties are seeking summary judgment on the ARChoices case, and Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said he would issue a written ruling within the next ten days.

Residency disputes in House races: GOP seeks to remove Morgan Wiles from ballot, Democrats seek to remove Rep. Marcus Richmond

Disputes over residency are erupting in a few House races, with each party's attorneys bringing a lawsuit this week aiming to try to oust an opposing candidate from the ballot.

Isaac Henry faces controversy over residency in state House race in North Little Rock

Another residency dispute: Isaac Henry, a candidate for House District 37, has connections to two homes, one owned by his uncle in the district and one owned by his wife in another district, where he and his family appear to live a significant amount of the time.

Arkansas's unemployment rate holds steady in March; still slightly below national figure

Department of Workforce Services data for March shows the state's unemployment rate remained low at 3.8 percent, the agency reported.

Guitarist Ed Gerhard's lyricism lands on spellbound ears at The Joint

Gerhard's delivery is au naturale; he sits in a chair atop an elevated riser, surrounds himself with his guitar, his Weissenborn and a few accoutrements - a small mixer, an electronic tuner, a hot microphone and a nail file for mid-show maintenance of the long, acrylic-capped fingernails that double as picks on his right hand.

Federal judge halts Cantrell Drug's distribution business until remediation plan complete

The order prevents the compounder from "manufacturing, processing, or distributing drugs until they comply with specific remedial measures."

Jon Woods tried to direct marijuana money to Ecclesia College

The bombshells continue in the federal corruption trial against former Sen. Jon Woods, who federal prosecutors allege took kickbacks from from state money he guided to Ecclesia College and a mental health agency. Testimony yesterday confirmed previous reporting from the Arkansas Blog that Woods tried to steer marijuana cash to Ecclesia College.

Fayetteville students participate in national school walkout day

Around 30 students gathered in front of the Washington County Courthouse for National School Walkout Day, a protest against gun violence on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

State's pre-K enrollment beats national figures but stagnant funds threaten future

The report, distributed by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, shows 50 percent of 4-year-olds and 35 percent of 3-year-olds in Arkansas are enrolled in state-funded pre-K, Head Start or special ed programs.

Gallery guide: New shows, Argenta Art Walk

Tonight's the third Friday of the month, which means that you can see lots of art on and off Main Street in Argenta, which is holding its after-hours Art Walk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

Walmart tests new dress code, will allow employees to wear blue jeans at some stores

Walmart is experimenting with a new dress code at a small number of stores, Bloomberg reports.

Popular Brinkley barbecue restaurant busted for suspected video gambling machines

Gene's Bar-B-Que & Restaurant in Brinkley has been raided by special agents with the First Judicial District Drug Task Force on suspicion of illegal gambling. Ten video arcade machines and cash were seized from the popular barbecue joint.

No Small Talk, Ep. 14: Jasmine Blunt of "The Influence"

This week, we talk with Jasmine Blunt about  her work on The Influence Radio, highlight some arts and entertainment news and make some recommendations for your weekend.

The Wendell Griffen News Cycle Edition

Embattled Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, a group of UA Little Rock students repeatedly shouting the n-word while singing along to a popular song, the federal corruption trial of former Sen. Jon Woods and more — covered on this week's podcast.

The Friday 4/20 open line

Have a good weekend, folks.

Attorney general again rejects David Couch's proposed ballot initiative to alter redistricting process

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today rejected a proposed ballot initiative brought by David Couch to enact changes to the process by which the state redraws congressional and state legislative districts. It was the second time that Rutledge has rejected the proposal. Couch's proposal would give both parties, as well as nonpartisan actors, a role in redrawing the maps, effectively reducing the total control that Republican officials, including Rutledge herself, would have over the process in 2020.

Former Hutchinson staffer Vu Ritchie moving from federal CMS to Tom Cotton's office

Andrew "Vu" Ritchie is departing his job as senior counselor at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take a position as counsel in Sen. Tom Cotton's office, Cotton's spokesperson Caroline Tabler confirmed.

Arkansas Advocates poll finds strong support for pre-k and earned income tax credit

A new poll from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families found strong public support in the state for public investments in education and health care and targeted tax relief for low-income Arkansans.

Second March for Science held in Little Rock

Demonstrators gathered in downtown Little Rock this afternoon to march to the steps of the Capitol as part of the second annual "Arkansas March for Science."

Don't eat romaine lettuce open line

It's yours.

More documentation of the Razorback Foundation's fiction of independence

Another big report from the D-G's Eric Besson this morning with more evidence of the Razorback Foundation's fingerprints being all over the activities of the University of Arkansas. That's no surprise to readers of this blog, but Besson unearthed new supporting details, including documentation that Razorback Foundation officials directly participated in university athletic department job interviews.

Finally, a memorial to the 21 boys who were burned to death at Wrightsville in '59

It has been 59 years since 21 teen-aged boys incarcerated at the so-called Negro Boys Industrial School were burned to death in their locked dormitory. The Times wrote about the event in 2008, after the brother and mother of one of the boys approached the Times looking for someone to remember the event, and headlined the story "Stirring the Ashes." But on Saturday, a monument to the boys was placed at Haven of Rest Cemetery, where 14 of the boys were buried.

New poll finds Asa Hutchinson with sizeable lead over Jan Morgan, plus support for continuing Medicaid expansion among Republican primary voters

A new poll from Talk Business finds that Governor Hutchinson has a substantial lead over Jan Morgan, the hog-riding, Muslim-banning, gun-toting, airbrushing, RINO-busting gadfly from Hot Springs. And in a doozy of a finding, a substantial plurality of likely voters in the Republican primary now support the Medicaid expansion program.

Jan Morgan and Rep. Dan Sullivan slapped with ethics complaint

While anti-establishment outsiders might be more likely to be clumsy or amateurish enough to actually get caught, it's worth noting that mainstream candidates have a fully legal version of the scam that Sullivan and Morgan are accused of running.

Climate change and the leadership vacuum

Arkansas Times columnist Billy Fleming has an op-ed with co-writer Katie Randall for Earth Day in the Houston Chronicle today.

Earth Day open line

Your turn.

UA Little Rock response to "racially insensitive incident" prompts discussion on campus

An update to the imbroglio at UA Little Rock over a brief video of fraternity and sorority students singing along to a racial slur in rap song.

The yawning teacher pay gap between Arkansas school districts

Before Arkansas congratulates itself for outpacing Oklahoma on teacher pay, we should take a look at the huge disparity in salaries within the state. New teachers in Bentonville may make almost $46,000 a year, but new teachers in many other districts will start the 2018-19 school year earning $31,800 — less than the starting salary in Tulsa.

Anonymous Harding University students relaunch LGBTQ publication, campus security removes copies

A group of anonymous Harding University students on Friday published an "HU Queer Press 2.0" zine, covering issues of gay rights at the private, Churches of Christ-affiliated campus in Searcy. A similar publication, "The State of the Gay at Harding University," set off a firestorm of controversy at Harding seven years ago. Shortly after the publication was distributed, campus security officers began gathering the copies of the zine and throwing them in the trash.

Hepatitis A outbreak in NE Arkansas's Clay County

Health department tells customers of a fast food restaurant in Corning to get vaccinated.

Chelsea Clinton to come to Little Rock for Clinton School talk

Chelsea Clinton will come to Little Rock Sunday, May 20, to talk about her new children's book, "She Persisted Around the World." It's a companion to her bestselling "She Persisted." The location is still to be determined. She'll be interviewed onstage and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will do a reading of the book.

Monday's headlines and your open line

A new poll finds Asa Hutchinson with sizable lead over Jan Morgan; Anonymous Harding University students relaunch LGBTQ publication, campus security removes copies; a memorial to the 21 boys who were burned to death at Wrightsville in '59.

Nashville Waffle House shooter in police custody

Reinking allegedly shot up the restaurant with an AR-15 rifle, but the attack was halted by Waffle House patron James Shaw, Jr., who seized the weapon from the shooter when he evidently paused to reload.

State Supreme Court rejects casino group's petition challenging AG on ballot measure hurdles

In a response filed Friday, the attorney general's office said its rejection of the measure was warranted. The court appeared to fully agree.

The marijuana business hits Manhattan

Someday in Arkansas?

Attorney General Rutledge rejects full marijuana legalization ballot initiative

Speaking of weed, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today rejected a proposed ballot initiative to fully legalize marijuana in the state.

Bob Dorough dies at 94

Bob Dorough, native of Cherry Hill, Arkansas, had a decades-long career in jazz.

Lake View mandate on school funding 'probably' still stands despite sovereign immunity ruling, lawmakers told

The Supreme Court's recent ruling on sovereign immunity probably won't undo Lake View, attorneys from the Bureau of Legislative Research said. But it could halt future cases on education funding, depending on what precedents the court sets in the coming months.

Trump's popularity among Arkansas Republicans remains overwhelmingly high

In a recent survey of 676 likely GOP primary voters, the pollsters found 86 percent said they approved of Trump's job performance. Only 10 percent said they did not, and 4 percent said they didn't know.

Text messages presented at Woods trial show alleged conspirators' successful efforts to grab GIF cash from multiple legislators

Former Sen. Jon Woods and former Rep. Micah Neal were able to nearly double their own contributions in the alleged kickback scheme through the help of at least eight of their colleagues. While Woods and Neal are the only lawmakers who have been charged or implicated in the scheme, Ecclesia was able to get by with a little help from their friends.

New "Rock the Culture" podcast: How you gonna fight that?

In this week’s episode of our new podcast, host Antwan Phillips and guest host state Rep. Charles Blake offer perspective and conversation on the “Freaky Friday” incident at UA Little Rock, ongoing campaign finance issues at city hall and diversity and de-escalation training for police officers. They also discuss the state teachers union and the looming battle for the preservation of state teachers’ retirement fund with guest Tracy Ann Nelson, the executive director of the Arkansas Education Association.

Man sentenced to 30 years in prison for drive-by slaying of 2-year-old girl

Deshaun Rushing was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in prison for the murder of a 2-year-old Little Rock girl in a 2016 drive-by shooting, the D-G reports.

Sen. Rapert paints Jan Morgan as 'Jezebel,' prompting social media blowback from right

"You know the Governor’s water boys have hit desperate times when the 'christian' senator, a pastor, calls me Jezebel and a 'spirit ' putting a spell on Arkansas men who support me," Morgan wrote in response to Rapert's comments.

Former Garland County sheriff's sergeant pleads guilty to theft

A former investigator at the Garland County sheriff's office pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing from the Arkansas Narcotics Officers Association, the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record reports.

Tuesday's headlines and your open line

Trump's popularity among Arkansas Republicans remains overwhelmingly high; Lake View mandate on school funding 'probably' still stands despite sovereign immunity ruling, lawmakers told; Text messages presented at Woods trial show alleged conspirators' successful efforts to grab GIF cash from multiple legislators.

Schoolhouse Rock genius Bob Dorough dies at 94

In case you missed the news yesterday from Stephanie Smittle over on our Rock Candy blog, Arkansas native Bob Dorough, the jazz pianist and arranger who wrote many of the classic songs on he cartoon series "Schoolhouse Rock!", has passed away at 94.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre to suspend operations immediately

“The inability to reach its projected goals for charitable giving and ticket sales, and the change in the theatre landscape in Little Rock have created a perfect financial storm for The Rep,” Board Chair Brian Bush said. “The Rep’s ticket sales have been on a downhill slope for several years. Our community is on the verge of losing an amazing arts organization and tremendous asset to our city. Closing The Rep will have a devastating impact on the redevelopment of Main Street and the creative corridor.”

Kratom sales in Oklahoma continue while drug remains banned in Arkansas

Though the plant is banned for sale in Arkansas, it's still legal in Oklahoma, the Times Record reports. That means the substance can still be purchased over the counter at some stores, including one in Roland, just over the state line.

A dramatic reading of the time Jason Rapert compared Jan Morgan to Jezebel on Facebook — and Morgan fired back

Jason Rapert's impassioned takedown of Jan Morgan in a Facebook comment didn't go unnoticed by the gubernatorial candidate. We provide for you this dramatic reenactment of the face-off.

The Rep suspends operations, canceling final production of season

Stephanie Smittle, the Times' Arts and Entertainment editor, has the details over at our A&E blog, Rock Candy.

Declining ticket sales and "capital needs" contribute to The Rep's suspension

In upcoming months, a committee of board members and past board members will evaluate The Rep's future, and “fundraise for and conceptualize a reimagined Arkansas Repertory Theatre." “Everything is on the table,” Board Chair Brian Bush said.

"A new bubba for our team": Testimony at Woods trial details role of indicted superlobbyist Rusty Cranford in alleged healthcare nonprofit kickback scheme

Yet more from the federal corruption trial against former state Sen. Jon Woods: Rusty Cranford, Preferred Family Healthcare, an overpaid job allegedly gifted to Woods' fiancee, and an attempted $4.7 million deal for a private company with connections to PFH.

Update: Elected officials set to get another pay bump

The Independent Citizens Commission, created by Amendment 94 to the Arkansas Constitution — the so-called "ethics amendment" approved by voters in 2014 — granted 3-percent pay bumps for all constitutional officers, judges, prosecutors and lawmakers, the D-G reports.

Arizona Republican wins special election for House seat, but by relatively slim margin

Lesko's 5 percent margin of victory was far smaller than the 21 percent margin by which Donald Trump won the district in 2016.

Ten Commandments 2.0 dedication ceremony to be held Thursday at Capitol

The press release says the Foundation "invites all interested Arkansas citizens to join them for a brief dedication" tomorrow. It does not say when the monument itself will be installed.

Grill PULCO candidates on Saturday

The politically-minded will want to attend a Pulaski County Candidate Forum from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Philander Smith College to hear what candidates facing primary challenges have to say and to submit their own questions to them.

State Supreme Court asks federal appeals court to halt lawsuit from Wendell Griffen

The seven Supreme Court justices petitioned the Eighth Circuit for a writ of mandamus, which says U.S. District Judge James Moody "committed clear legal error in denying dismissal" of Griffen's complaint.

Cardiologist gives UA Little Rock $800,000 for student support services

Dr. Bruce Murphy, president and CEO of the Arkansas Heart Hospital, has donated $800,000 to UA Little Rock's Student Success Initiatives Fund.

Audubon Arkansas to host candidate forum on environmental issues this evening

Candidates from five statehouse races and the Pulaski Co. clerk race will be in attendance

Wednesday evening open line

Today's video news roundup is running late but should be on its way.

Supreme Court stays judges' orders on dicamba ban, again halting use of herbicide

The orders — from Judge Tonya Alexander in Mississippi County and Judge Christopher Morledge in Phillips County — prevented the state from enforcing a ban on the controversial herbicide which was put in place by the State Plant Board. With the Supreme Court's latest action, the ban remains firmly in effect.

Turkey Trot festival has new sponsor, but only if no turkeys are dropped from planes

The days of dropping live turkeys out of planes in Yellville could be over.

Legislative task force to look at raising grocery tax, adding EITC relief for low-income workers; revenues from nixing sales tax exemptions slated for tax cuts

The legislative task force on taxes, reviewing possible changes to the state tax code yesterday, okayed a motion yesterday to study the possibility of raising the grocery tax and creating an income tax credit to provide targeted relief to low-income workers.

Ten Commandments rise again at Capitol, but Satanic Temple says Arkansas law is on its side

An interview with Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple on the Ten Commandments, Jason Rapert and why the fight over religious symbols on the state Capitol grounds is worth it.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson deflects criticism of proposed rent hikes on visit to Little Rock

Carson and Hill claimed the proposed HUD rent hikes wouldn't affect the elderly in Parris Towers. Others dispute that.

Weed and work in the Woods: The Senator's hijinks took advantage of Ecclesia's rare designation

I suspect I am not the only one who had no idea what a "work college" was until it turned up in the news.