The AMERICANA MUSIC ASSOCIATION revealed its initial performer and presenter lineup for its 14th annual HONORS & AWARDS SHOW at the RYMAN AUDITORIUM, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16th, hosted by … more
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Arkansas will become the nation’s 45th open carry state on August 15th of this year. This result arises from the Arkansas legislature’s enactment of HB 1700, a bill sponsored by Representative Denny Altes (R – Fort Smith) which amended Arkansas Code § 5-73-120 (Carrying a weapon).
Frustration over the Trayvon Martin case boils into a protest at 12th and Jefferson.
by David Koon
Nobody has to say it, but the timing couldn’t have been worse.
Two days after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of all charges in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, with black America boiling over with frustration about the justice system, a Little Rock police officer shot and killed 26-year-old Deon Williams near the corner of 12th and Jefferson.
According to a LRPD release, just before noon on Monday, Officers Grant Humphries and Terry McDaniel saw a Chevy Suburban on 12th Street that they believed to be stolen. (Officials would later confirm that the truck was, in fact, not stolen.)
When the officers pulled the SUV over, police say, the driver jumped out and fled. McDaniel pursued on foot, while Humphries took off in the squad car, trying to cut Williams off. As McDaniel chased Deon Williams into the backyard of a house on Adams Street, a gun fell out of Williams’ waistband, according to the police. When Williams stopped to pick up the gun and turned toward McDaniel, the police narrative says, McDaniel feared for his life, and fired three times. Williams, who was paroled in May after serving two years in prison on charges of possession of a controlled substance and robbery, was pronounced dead at UAMS at 12:17 p.m.
McDaniel, a black officer, has used deadly force at least once before. He fatally shot a man who pulled a gun on him when interrupted during a daytime home burglary on Thayer Street last year. The burglar had earlier fatally shot one man and wounded another at the home.
Information about the shooting spread through social media. At 1 p.m., someone tweeted that the person killed by the police had been an 11-year-old boy, shot nine times in the back. A crowd of angry people began to gather at the Hess gas station on 12th street, just across from the crime scene.
By 1:30 p.m., the biggest swell of the crowd had grown to at least 200, simmering under the July sun. Dozens more watched from the parking lots of businesses and the yards of nearby houses. Several of the protestors closest to the sidewalk, where the police soon lined up in a black wall of uniforms, held signs that called for justice for Bobby Moore, the teenage burglar who was shot by LRPD officer Josh Hastings in August 2012 as Moore tried to flee a West Little Rock apartment complex. Hastings’ manslaughter trial in the case ended in a hung jury last month.
As the protest grew, crowding into the rectangle of shade under the awning of the gas station, the clerk at the station came to the door, ushered the last customers out, then locked it behind them, followed by a set of heavy steel bars. Soon, the neon beer signs in the windows went out, along with the lights inside. A man came to the doors and tugged on them. Another splashed ice tea against the glass, then threw the can against the doors. Kids with cell phones filmed him, waiting for something worthy of YouTube to happen, but instead he just walked away in disgust, disappearing back into the crowd.
Overhead, a state police chopper circled the intersection of 12th and Jefferson at 300 feet. At the edge of the crowd, people cursed it, many of them screaming obscenities at the sky and flipping the bird with both hands, trying to telegraph their anger and frustration to the pilot.
Ernest Franklin, president of Say Stop the Violence, was there, sweating into a suit coat as he walked among the crowds of angry young people in tank tops and shorts. He said he had talked to police on the scene, asking them to close 12th Street to keep curious drivers from driving by. Soon after we spoke, the street was blocked to most traffic.
“I’ve asked them to get somebody down here other than the police officers,” he said. “Right now, the whole nation, no matter where you go, they’re mad at the police. We do understand that the police officers have to do their job, but people are out here looking for justice and to get justice served, whatever that is going to take.”
The police brought in more squad cars, running them in almost bumper to bumper in the eastbound lane of 12th Street. “Nobody goes into the crowd,” an officer standing in the street said, and the word went on down the line. One man taunted the cops, saying, “What if it was your kid going down the alley? Y’all ain’t perfect.” Another man shouted, “Fuck America! That’s how I feel.”
Asa Muhammad was standing at the corner of 12th and Jefferson, watching investigators work across the street. A member of the Nation of Islam, Muhammad was at the Pulaski Country courthouse during the Josh Hastings trial.
“The police brutality and the police actions toward our people is not justice,” Muhammad said. “It doesn’t take the police gunning down our people to make an arrest or stop a crime … one shot or a taser to the leg could take a man down, but not a deadly force bullet to his heart or in his back to kill him. They’re professionals. They have tasers. They’re taught to shoot a weapon. But unfortunately, just like Bobby Moore was shot, this gentleman was shot. Another loss for our community.”
Muhammad said a lot of the anger on display had to do with the economic conditions many blacks find themselves in. “If our economic situation was better, and our people were afforded jobs to do better for themselves, then the vast majority of this wouldn’t be. But unfortunately, in this area, the vast majority of the people you see are unemployed. That has a great effect on what’s going on.”
More cops came. A roaring line of black and white Harley-Davidsons. A lumbering SWAT truck. Dozens of cops stretched their line down the turn lane of 12th Street, just behind the row of squad cars. Someone threw a can of soda, which sailed over the line and landed in the street.
Schwanda Daugherty was there in the edge of the crowd. “This is a community thing,” she said. “I’m here to support them even though I don’t know the young man. We’re out here, we’re going to protest, we’re going to show that we care. … There’s a lot of frustration. It’s happening, and we want everybody to know it’s happening. It’s a racial issue. It never went away, and it’s never going away. But we’re going to stand up and fight.”
As the afternoon wore on, tensions rose. At times, the crowd pushed forward toward the patrol cars, at others, they shrank back to the shade. A woman tried to get others to hold hands and form a human chain along the street, but was ignored until she gave up. Another woman in a gray halter-top shouted over the angry din of the crowd: “All we are to them is monkeys and dogs.” Someone threw a brown bottle that thumped in the grass on the other side of the street. The helicopter buzzed overhead, forgotten now that there were plenty of terrestrial cops to hate.
Then, walking along the edge of 12th Street, supported by friends, came a sobbing woman named Shemedia Shelton. Shelton was the owner of the Suburban Williams had been driving, and identified herself as Williams’ wife.
“You didn’t have to kill him,” she screamed. “Trayvon wasn’t enough? You didn’t have to fucking kill him. You didn’t have to kill him. You didn’t have to fucking kill him.”
Chastity Duffy, the woman supporting Shelton, said that they’d just picked Williams up from Tucker Penitentiary two months before.
“He was just trying to do what was right for his wife and kids,” Duffy said. “He didn’t do nothing.” At Duffy’s elbow, clinging there, shambling along in the sun toward the protest, Shelton wailed variations on a single sentence: “Can anybody tell me what I’m supposed to tell my kids?”
The heat came down, broken by periodic clouds. For three minutes, a burly cop stood in the door of a cruiser and spoke into a loudspeaker, telling the crowd to disperse, that they were participating in an unlawful assembly, that they would be arrested if they didn’t comply, saying it over and over like a machine. The crowd roared back at him, drowning him out with taunts and curses. There was a sense that something was going to happen. Eventually, the officer on the loudspeaker stopped, his voice replaced by that of a man who said he wasn’t a police officer, that he wanted to lead them to a park where they could continue the protest, that there would be a candlelight vigil that night they could attend. The crowd clenched into a fist before him and shouted him down too. Though a peaceful vigil would be held that night at the State Capitol, that moment was too angry and hot for talk of peace.
Police Chief Stuart Thomas appeared, along with City Manager Bruce Moore, both standing in front of the Family Dollar store across the street. Behind them, the shooting investigation started to wrap up. Police tape came down. A flatbed came for the Suburban Williams had been driving. Soon, the line of Harleys fired up and roared away, followed by most of the squad cars, some making a slow U-turn in the street.
Across the street, Chief Thomas spoke to the press, pulling further back when the chants of “fuck the police” became loud enough for the mics to pick them up and spoil a quote. “As we were working the case, a lot of information got out,” Thomas said. “People were a little bit misinformed about the circumstances … it just kind of built up from there. There are a lot of other issues at play, both locally and nationally.” A minute later, someone shouted “Look out!” as a full plastic bottle came out of the crowd, over the street, and over Thomas’s head — a hail-Mary lob that would have done any quarterback proud. The bottle splattered eight feet away in the parking lot, next to a snarl of police tape.
“It is what it is,” Thomas said of being the target of the bottle. “It’ll calm down when we’re out of here.”
Soon after, the last of the cops pulled away, and the crowd soon did as Thomas had predicted. By the time the TV stations did their 5 p.m. live shots from the corner of 12th and Jefferson, there was just a single man in a white T-shirt, holding a sign. Once the cameras turned off, he disappeared, too.
Standing on the corner, watching people buy gas at the Hess station and 12th street roll full of cars again, it was hard to believe the anger of the day had ever happened. Then a woman pulled up to the herd of TV trucks and rolled down her window. “What is it,” she asked, “open season on black people?”
Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Capitol/UME will release a The four-CD, one-DVD set of The Band live at their peak. The concerts are from the last week of 1971 and is entitled ‘Live at the Academy of Music 1971′ (Sept. 17) From Ultimate Classic Rock “The four-CD, one-DVD set gathers 56 performances from the group’s […]
Transformers: The Last Knight
I’m about five years too old for the Transformers brand to mean anything to me. By the time the toys and cartoons became popular in the 1980s, my concerns were elsewhere.
I have neither true affection nor any expectation from the films other than a good time at the theater.
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While I have no nostalgia for the property, I do like well-made sci-fi, fantasy, and action movies as much as anyone. Though it’s certainly not a classic, I enjoyed the first “Transformers” for what it was. Yes, it was overlong, and overwrought, but it was fun to watch giant robot vehicles smash into each other to certain degree. However, at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks. For me, it kicked in well before the recently released fifth movie.
I liken watching director Michael Bay’s latest robot opus “Transformers: The Last Knight” to those final seconds on the Tilt-a-Whirl ride that every traveling carnival boasts. For a while, the ride is a thrill, but by the end, all you want is to get off before the whirl makes you hurl.
The movie does feature some fantastic-looking CGI effects and as much action as can be packed into a two-hour and 20-minute movie.
The old slogan for the Transformers toys was “more than meets the eyes.” However, with this movie, what you see is what you get. There is little to no character development to provide an emotional foundation for the movie, despite the fact that several characters return from the previous films.
One of the characters is Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg, who has said this is his last “Transformers” flick. That’s good because Wahlberg has worked himself into being a more-than-serviceable star, who should spend his time working on better material like last fall’s “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriots Day.”
The same, of course, is true of Bay.
All that said if you liked the two or three “Transformers” movies that preceded this one, you might like this one, too.
(PG-13) 2 hr. 28 min.
47 Meters Down
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
June should be prime real estate for movie studios. Theaters should be filled with the most entertaining fare of the year with kids out of school and the family vacation-season underway.
That’s not necessarily the case this week. It’s a sad state of affairs when the best of three recently released films is the one that was slated to be a video-on-demand release when originally conceived.
Director-co-writer Johannes Robert’s “47 Meters Down” was planned to be just another summertime shark-exploitation VOD release until two factors prompted Entertainment Studios to gamble on opening it in theaters on the 42nd anniversary of the week that “Jaws” opened wide in 1975.
First, “The Shallows,” which featured a gigantic shark plaguing injured surfer Blake Lively, scored relatively big at the box office last summer.
Second, Mandy Moore’ star began to shine once more, thanks to her role on NBC’s fine ensemble family drama “This Is Us.”
Opening the movie in theaters has already proved profitable, with the film earning $13 million in less than a week with only a $5 million production budget.
The plot centers on Lisa (Moore) who invites her sister Kate (Claire Holt) on a trip to Mexico after her boyfriend dumped her and bailed on the trip. On the trip, they meet a couple of men who ask them to join them on shark cage outing. Lisa is apprehensive, but Kate talks her into the iffy proposition.
Of course the outing goes awry. The cable holding the shark cage frays and breaks, stranding the Lisa and Kate “47 Meters Down” in shark-infested waters.
The movie isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, but it is surprisingly effective for such a cheap movie. The dialogue is pedestrian, the performances are only serviceable, and the bulk of movie is predictable.
However, Roberts does show some directorial flair with several jump scares that work even though you know they are coming. He also does a nice job building tension throughout the movie, and the CGI sharks are convincingly savage.
The movie has a sadistic twist, and your feelings about that turn of events will likely color your opinion of the entire movie.
I wouldn’t recommend a trip to the theater to see the movie unless you just have an undying love for killer shark films. That said, when “47 Meters Down” makes it to cable, it has enough B-movie scares to be worthwhile.
(PG-13) 1 hr. 29 min.
“Rough Night” is an aptly titled film. It was a rough night watching this unfunny stinker.
Barrowing the plot from the 1998 black comedy “Very Bad Things,” the movie features five college friends on a bachelorette trip where things go awry when a male stripper is hired and accidently killed.
Not a bad plot for a raunchy comedy, unfortunately the movie just isn’t very funny despite deploying the skills of several talented performers.
Scarlett Johansson stars as Jess, the uptight senatorial candidate who is attempting to negotiate the run-up to her wedding while also running for office.
Johansson has proven her dramatic chops in films like “Lost in Translation,” and she also shines among the super-hero set as Black Widow in Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise. However, she seems very uncomfortable as the straight women in this film. I’m not sure I’ve seen a less effective performance by the actress.
Likewise, Kate McKinnon, who has proven her comic durability and likability for years on “Saturday Night Live,” is strung out to dry by unfunny bits of business that land with a thud in her role as the outlandish Aussie friend, Pippa. McKinnon, who was one of the bright spots in last summer’s “Ghostbusters” reboot, flails about with the movie’s lackluster material and seems less and less funny the harder she tries.
Zoe Kravitz, a spurned trophy wife, and Ilana Glazer, a hard-core social activist, fare a bit better in their roles, but Jillian Bell suffers horribly from the script’s poor choices and unfunny antics as the needy friend Alice.
It’s difficult to watch such talented performers work so hard, but fail so miserably in the film directed by Lucia Aniello. “Rough Night” is one of my least-entertaining movie-going experiences of the year.
Off hand, the only movie I’ve liked less this year is “Fifty Shades Darker.”
(R) 1 hr. 41 min.
While the recent batches of movies haven’t been great, the summer is still young. Films like “Baby Driver” (June 28), “Despicable Me” and “The House” (June 30), “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (July 7), “War for the Planet of the Apes” (July 14), and “Dunkirk” (July 21) are just over the horizon.
Maybe it is a little odd to suggest a movie about a teacher in the middle of summer, but “Conrack” is an excellent movie no matter what time of year.
The movie is about the difference empathetic teachers can make not only on the lives of their students but also on the communities where they work. However, it’s also about the consequences of rocking the boat too hard, even when it needs to be done.
The 1974 film, directed by Martin Ritt from a screenplay by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, stars Jon Voight as the young teacher Pat Conroy. The story is biographical, taken from Conroy’s 1972 novel “The Water is Wide.” Conroy’s later novels “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini” were adapted into Oscar-nominated films.
Conroy’s teaching assignment is on rural” Yamacraw Island” off the coast of South Carolina, where the population is predominantly poor and black. Set in the 1960s, the people on the island are isolated and backward and too afraid of change to make an effort to better them.
Working out of a two-room schoolhouse, Conroy, whom the children call “Conrack,” comes into conflict with his principal Mrs. Scott (Madge Sinclair) who takes a spare-the-rod, spoil-the-child approach with her students.
The children’s parents are also resistant to Conroy’s unorthodox approach, and he later finds himself at odds with the superintendent Mr. Skeffington (Hume Cronyn) as he attempts to broaden his student’s horizons.
The situation comes to a head when Conroy takes his students for a trick-or-treating excursion to the predominantly white town of Beaufort on the mainland.
The film is touching as Voight’s character strains to connect with his students in meaningful and productive ways. The movie is also heartbreaking when his teaching efforts threaten and are shunned by educational system in place on the island.
Photo : Walt Beazley / ArkansasRazorbacks.com
The countdown is just under 10 weeks until the Arkansas Razorbacks kick off the 2017 season. As a fan and close follower of the Hogs’ fortunes for longer than I’d like to admit, the next 10 weeks are some of the most difficult to get through.
Every June I start getting that itch for Razorback football. I’m sure a lot of you do, too.
When I start seeing the annual football preview magazines in grocery and convenience store newsstands, and when the Diamond Hogs bag up their bats for the year, I’m ready for football to start.
The seasons when the Hogs make it to Omaha for the College Baseball World Series are almost perfect because then there is only about a four- to six-week wait between the close of that event and when the Hogs report for preseason practice.
Those six weeks for me are like the weeks and days leading up to Christmas for a kid. It’s a form of torture, for sure, but the anticipation is part of the fun.
If you believe the experts, this isn’t going to be the best of seasons for the Razorbacks. I’ve read predictions of 5-7 on the low end. Some more generous souls predict the Hogs can do as well as 8-4 if everything goes well. That span seems about right.
I do think the Razorbacks will win more than five games. A five-win season would be disastrous. While the Razorbacks do have some serious questions concerning both sides of the football, I do believe coach Brett Bielema has established a firm enough foundation to produce at least six wins.
However, I do see why some have hard time imagining more than seven given the program’s history under Bielema.
If you throw out his first season as an outlier and look at the other three, you have a mixed bag. In 2014, the Hogs didn’t find their mojo until late in the season when they upset ranked Ole Miss and LSU teams to become bowl eligible.
In 2015 the Razorbacks stumbled out of the gates with unexpected home losses to Toledo and Texas Tech before winning six of their final seven games, including a Liberty Bowl win over Kansas State, for an 8-5 mark.
Last year, Arkansas appeared to be headed to an eight- or nine-win season despite having an awful defense and a poor short-yardage running game, but the Razorbacks blew back-to-back, double-digit, first-half leads to fall to 7-6 when 9-4 was possible.
The Razorbacks do play in the SEC West, the strongest division of the most competitive conference in college football. That does make it more difficult to accurately predict outcomes.
If you take Alabama out of the mix, truly anything can happen any week in the SEC. There are surprising upsets among the other 13 teams, but none are shocking. If a team plays poorly in the SEC, it might not just lose but also get blown out.
So prognostications are difficult, particularly in June before the first practice and before attrition of injuries start wearing on team’s depth.
How flimsy are preseason predictions?
Auburn is predicted to be a top-10 team this year. Many feel Gus Malzahn’s Tigers will challenge the Crimson Tide for supremacy in the SEC West this season.
All those projections are tied to Baylor quarterback transfer Jarrett Stidham having nearly as much impact on the program as Cam Newton. Well if not Cam, then at least as much as Nick Marshall.
Stidham may end up being great for the Tigers, but pinning a projection on him performing up to that level is relying on a lot of hope.
But, I digress. Our topic is the Razorbacks.
A key factor in the performance of any team is its schedule. No matter how good or bad a team is expected be, who, when, and where it plays is always a major consideration.
I’ll just say it. Arkansas’ football schedule is a little odd this season.
The Razorbacks open the season on a Thursday when they host Florida A&M at Little Rock in War Memorial Stadium and end it on a Friday when they host Missouri for the Battle Line Rivalry at Razorback Stadium on Nov. 24.
If that’s not differnt enough, Arkansas’ open date is Sept. 16. That’s the third playing date of the season. The Razorbacks then play 10 consecutive weeks in the toughest division of the most competitive conference in the nation. That’s a concern.
How Bielema manages the team and its conditioning is going to be key, but of course, it always is regardless of when the open date is place. But, if I were Arkansas’ athletic director, I would have done just about whatever I could have to move the Nov. 4 game against Coastal Carolina to Sept. 16.
That’s not a criticism of Jeff Long. He may or may not have tried, and sometimes things just can’t be adjusted with scheduling.
Another unfortunate aspect of the schedule is that the Razorbacks only play one game on campus the first month of the season. The Hogs are hosting Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the Southwest Classic instead of at Fayetteville.
I like the fact that the Hogs play in the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium each year, but is giving up a conference home game every other season really worth it?
The idea was that Arkansas’ recruiting efforts in Texas would benefit from the exposure of playing the Aggies each year near Dallas, but that was before the Aggies joined the SEC.
It’s hard to tell if the Southwest Classic has had the effect that was hoped for when the plan was designed.
Arkansas’ schedule kicks into high gear in October with back-to-back trips to South Carolina and Alabama on Oct. 7 and Oct. 14. The Hogs then return home for a showdown with Auburn on Oct. 21.
As long as Malzahn is the Tigers’ head coach, the Auburn game is going to mean a little bit more to Hog fans. The Tigers plastered the Razorbacks last season, 56-3. That loss was embarrassing to Bielema and Razorback fans alike. Arkansas might not be good enough to get it, but the Razorbacks will be looking for some payback in that game.
The Hogs then head to Oxford, Miss., on Oct. 28 for a pre-Halloween showdown. It’s always an interesting game when the Hogs and Rebels tangle, but my biggest summertime question is whether Hugh Freeze will still be Ole Miss’ coach at that point in the season?
The NCAA hammer is expected to fall on the Rebels’ program. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Ole Miss has staunchly supported Freeze through the controversy, but Rebels fans aren’t known for patience.
That cupcake game with Coastal Carolina is on Nov. 4, and it will be a welcome respite before the Razorbacks head to Baton Rouge, La., for their annual Battle for the Boot with LSU. The Tigers are expected to be in the hunt for the SEC title with Alabama and Auburn.
Finally comes the sweet spot in the Razorbacks’ schedule with back-to-back home games at Razorback Stadium against Mississippi State on Nov. 18 and Missouri on Black Friday, Nov. 24.
Mississippi State and Missouri are usually games Arkansas fans feel good about, but the Bulldogs and Tigers have proven to be stubborn opponents. One or the other seems to upend the Razorbacks in recent seasons.
This year the Razorbacks might need to beat both of them if they hope to be bowl eligible.
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Jason Isbell showed The Late Show With Stephen Colbert audience that he had brought the rock back out for a spin. Fresh off the release of his more electric new album, ‘The Nashville Sound,’ the Alabama native and his band the 400 Unit unleashed a tight and spirited rendition of their lead single, “Hope the High Road” at Ed Sullivan Theater last Tuesday night.
Look for this level of greatness as Isbell and the 400 Unit will be on the road for theater, amphitheater, and festival dates until their sold-out residency at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in October.
Mark your calendar, and dry clean your fairy wings, everyone. It’s almost time for the Firefly Fling.
The family-friendly festival held annually at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, July 15.
The event includes tons of fun and interactive events for children, including fairy house building-stations, a photo booth, obstacle course, giant bubble stations, nature stations, craft-making activities, and more. Several garden and woodland fairies will be on hand for photo opportunities and wish granting.
There are also performances of kid songs by Shaky Bugs, storytelling shows, and more early in the evening.
As the sun goes down, there will be glow-in-the-dark performances and firedancing from Violetta Lotus Fireflies, and more.
Picnics are encouraged, but there will also be food trucks on hand with refreshments. There will also be a shop selling fairy wings, wands, glow sticks, and other items.
Tickets to the event are $11 for adults, $4 for kids 3-13, and free for kids under 3 in advance. They’ll also be available at the gate for $15 for adults, and $5 for kids 3-13.
For a bit more information, or to purchase tickets, visit bgozarks.org.