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2007 Public Eye Editors' Picks 

Editors' Picks

Best Landscaping

Simplot Hill Dick Drawing

Oh, it was the landscape art to end all landscape art: a rendering, in dead grass, of a giant herbivorous schlong, appearing in the wee hours one summer morning, right there on Simplot Hill. The potato billionaire's former mansion (now the unoccupied governor's mansion) had heretofore been nothing more than a giant lawn-mowing arena, and the best ice-blocking territory around. But now it was ... art! When BW first broke the story, we spoke with chuckling police officers, chortling garden store experts and others who could barely contain their high-school-level merriment over the big bluegrass boner.

click to enlarge Public Art? - SHEA ANDERSEN
News of the alteration quickly got out, with TV anchors expressing shock, shock at this "crude" act. Some local radio wags pondered if the drawing was really of a golf club. You know, like, a ... wood? Despite the best efforts of the local landscapers, the turfy etching persisted, causing double-takes from drivers on Bogus Basin Road, and no doubt infuriating greenskeepers. The drawing persisted for a month. What do you put on such a thing to repair it? Vigoro?

Best Place to Go For a Possible Famous Person Sighting

Hotel 43

When the rich and famous come to Boise, they have to stay somewhere. Happening hotels abound in downtown, so hanging out in the lobby of any of them might garner you a glimpse of a rock, film or sports star.

click to enlarge Hotel 43 - JOSHUA ROPER
Hotel 43 with its perfect downtown Boise location, beautiful rooms full of amenities and unique high-end furnishings is just the kind of place we'd stay if we were, say, Val Kilmer or the coach of the Denver Nuggets. Or someone even more famous than that.

1314 W. Grove St., 208-424-8244

Best Thing to do With the Boise Tower Hole

Nothing

We've wanted to fill it with cheese or chocolate and make it the world's largest fondue pot, in which we could take a swim in saturated fat and lick calories from each and every finger one at a time. We've proposed a doggy park on top of a double decker Sephora. In last year's Best of Boise, we made a simple suggestion that every time you people walked by the hole, you threw in a handful of dirt. However well-intentioned we may have been, the idea just never caught on. It's apparent that Boise just doesn't want to fill the gaping, steel-mangled hole. So we say: don't. Instead, our suggestion is to throw in a few more steel girders, weld together a "roof" and fashion a cage. What, you ask, shall we display in this very public prison? More like who, we answer. Boise Tower's original developer Rick Peterson would be an obvious candidate (what's that saying about making your bed and lying in it ... literally). We'll even throw in Boise Place developer Gary Rogers (Boise Place became the hole's name after Charterhouse Boise Downtown Properties got involved). Passersby could heckle the prisoners for leaving an unsightly wound so long in downtown Boise.

Best Grudge Match

Idaho State Police Alcohol and Beverage Control vs. Downtown Boise Bars

It's a relationship that coined a new term—Bikinigate.

It will also go down as the best undercover assignment a cop could ever ask for. The boys of ABC spent months holed-up in some of the finest "gentleman's clubs" in the valley, jotting down notes about inappropriate goings-on in between lap dances. Apparently, what went on in the Kit Kat Klub was a decades-old mystery. Whew, good thing that one's solved.

The result of the diligent investigation were threats to revoke the liquor licenses of eight establishments, including The Big Easy, which hosted a male revue one night.

Add this to a previous shutdown of wine service in galleries on First Thursdays and an all-out attack on The Flicks for serving wine and beer in a place open to minors (seriously, isn't that what happens in nearly every restaurant ...), and it's an old-fashioned feud.

Tensions have eased a bit in recent months, but we're just waiting for the next blowup. Maybe this time it will be a sting on bloody mary brunches or a SWAT attack on Oktoberfest.

Best Evidence We're Not Out of the Stone Age Yet

No Safety Standards for Day Care

This year, a House committee stopped legislation that would have required minimum safety standards for day-care facilities and criminal background checks on employees. The reason: Mothers need to stay at home. "What can we do to keep mom at home?" said Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Iona) in an article published in the Spokesman-Review. "There is no substitute, there is absolutely no substitute, for families taking care of children."

What can we say but—wow.

Best Market Mover on Housing Prices

Micron Layoffs

When the big boys in town swept nearly 1,000 people off the well-padded payrolls of Micron, we could hear the printers at Kinko's pumping out resumes from here. As engineers and other tech geeks looked for new work, we noticed for-sale signs plopping into yards across the city. "Honey, we're headed back to Silicon Valley. Daddy's got a new job, and it ain't in the Gem State." Local realtors noticed that the softening Boise real estate market wasn't helped by the news of Micron's layoffs, as buyers suddenly felt like their time had come.

Best Face Lift, Courtney Love Style

Garden City

Garden City has always been Boise's red-headed stepchild, but the wild one is finally becoming more socially acceptable. Gone are the strip clubs, adult bookstores and seedy bars. OK, there are still a few seedy bars, but there's just one bookstore.

The little city has washed its face, put on a new dress and prettied itself up with a new arts and cultural district, high-end housing development and grand plans for a shiny new downtown.

No other area in the Treasure Valley has the combo of run-down trailer parks and junkyards next door to new homes and business parks. While most people think "meth lab" when they think Garden City, the reality is that the town is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the valley.

But just like Courtney Love, no matter how you dress her up, there's still a little bit of the bad girl just under the surface. Again, we come back to that one little adult bookshop ... And there's that high concentration of registered sex offenders and that unusually high number of abandoned cars. But, hey, we still love it, no matter how many stints in rehab it does.

Best Not in My Backyard

Boise Condemns Atlanta Gold Mine

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has never been one to shy away from speaking his opinion, and last February was no exception. When Canadian-owned Atlanta Gold announced plans to start a large cyanide heap leaching gold mine near Atlanta, near the headwaters of the Boise River, public outrage was quick to follow. Around Boise, we really don't have many issues with Canadians (although, sorry, but that's not bacon. That's ham). But when it comes to our drinking water, well, we can get a little riled up. Bieter and the Boise City Council passed a resolution against the proposed mine. We say "Huzzah" to this clear example of putting the good of the public over money. Too bad the resolution was merely nonbinding.

Best Ironic Press Release

Idaho State Board of Education

The Idaho State Board of Education issued a press release in early July titled "Board to Continue Trustee Selction Process for CWI." Sigh. Makes us glad we went to an out-of-state school.

Best Unfortunate Coincidence

BoDo means what?!

Late last year, we received an e-mail from an international visitor to our fine city that made our week.

"Dear BW,

"Hi, the name's Perlin Chow and I'm a native of the Republic of Singapore, a small island country/state/city at the southernmost point of continental Asia.

"So my fiance and I had just left the Bouquet pub after a friend's band had played in downtown Boise. It was about this time when I looked out the car window and started laughing out loud when I saw something that caught my eye.

"Splashed on a renovating development area along Broad Street (I think), like a huge mural on plywood were the letters "BoDo," which according to what I was told, stands for "Boise Downtown." My fiance looked at me as though I had gone crazy as I continued my hysterical laughter.

"Here's the funny thing. When you say it out loud, it is pronounced like the Malay word for 'stupid,' or 'foolish' (if you don't believe me, look up the Malay word, 'bodoh'). I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but it tickled me to a certain extent (obviously)."

Best BW Cause and Effect

Bill Sali pays up

After using Boise Police officers as security for a campaign fundraiser, U.S. Rep. Bill Sali got a bill from the city, as is customary. And he sat on it. And sat on it. Finally, after several weeks, BW got wind of the unpaid bill and wrote a short news story about Sali's unpaid bills. Don't you know, the BPD reported that just two days after the story ran, they got their $4,400 check they'd been waiting for. What, we don't get a finder's fee?

Best Google Search

Aaron Stanton

If you spent enough time surfing the Internet this spring, you probably heard about Aaron Stanton. Back in February, when the Boisean was knocking on Google's front door asking for a few minutes to pitch an idea, tens of thousands of people were logging on to CanGoogleHearMe.com to read Stanton's blog. His efforts garnered him international attention, but in the end, not a deal with Google. These days, the project has a life of its own, and Google factors much less in Stanton's overall project equation. His blog is still up and running. Check it out.

Best PR disguised as news

Dee Sarton's interview with Steve Appleton

Wow. Next time we screw up and ruthlessly fire a pantload of good employees all because we don't know how to manage a going concern in a rough market, we know whom we're calling to spill the beans.

Dee Sarton of KTVB scored the interview with Micron CEO Steve Appleton all right, a bona fide coup in a town full of reporters just salivating for a scoop. Now we know why. Sarton's on-screen grilling included such hardball shots as, "Do you feel good as the CEO that you've been able to do as much as you can for the employees who are leaving at this time?" Reeling from that journalistic blow, Appleton somehow rebounded in time for her next zinger: "It's hard being in your position to be in touch with everyone out there working for you, but how would you assess morale?"

Uh oh, here she comes with another jab: "What is it like to go to the grocery store at a time like this?" Yeah, Steve: When you get to the orange juice aisle, do you buy country style or pulp-free? No, wait, we've got the real giant-killer: Paper or plastic, Steve? Huh? Well? Yeah, answer that one, bucko!

We're not typically in the business of feeling sorry for other newspapers, but we imagine the guys at Idaho Business Review must have been gagging on their press passes while watching that interview.

Best Ineffective Campaign Slogan

Jim Tibbs: "What makes Boise so great is its surrounding communities."

OK, let's get this straight. You're running for mayor. Of Boise. Not Meridian. Not Eagle. Not Kuna. Boise. Just a hint here, you should probably focus on the city you're hoping to lead, not the surrounding ones.

Not to take anything from lovely communities surrounding Boise, in fact some of us here at BW grew up in them. But just as our coverage is usually limited to the restraints of the city from which we got the name of our publication, so too should Boise mayoral candidates limit their scope of influence.

We know Jim Tibbs is trying to set himself apart from his competition—incumbent Mayor Dave Bieter—who has occasionally raised the hackles of neighboring community leaders. But seriously, there's got to be something good you can say about the capital city rather than playing the shell game and diverting attention away from it.

Best Vocational Name

Officer Hancuff

He's received a BOB before for his name, but as this particular public servant is still on the job and his name is still no less funny. Ladies and gentlemen, Boise Police Officer Casey Hancuff.

Best Reason to get up on a Wednesday morning

Amy Atkins on 103.3 KISS FM

click to enlarge Amy Atkins, Hooker and Chad in the morning. - FRANCIS DELAPENA
Every Wednesday morning, just as BW hits the streets, our A&E editor, Amy Atkins, hits the airwaves with 103.3 KISS FM's Hooker and Chadillac. Smart, funny, and fast, if you were to look up "Morning Zoo" in Webster's dictionary, you'd probably see a picture of these two animals. They heap a lot of abuse on Atkins, but she says they force her to stay sharp.

The Other Best Reason to get up on Wednesday morning

Shea Andersen on 94.9 FM The River

Every Wednesday morning, right around 8:15 a.m., the smooth talkers Ken Bass and Tim Johnstone allow BW Editor Shea Andersen in for a few minutes of rapping about this week's issue.

Unless, that is, they decide to zero in on, oh, you know, the foibles of a certain U.S. senator in a Minneapolis airport bathroom stall. (We loved the musical prelude to that segment: Bass and Johnstone cued up Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" just as Shea was about to appear on the air.)

Best Oscar-Worthy Performance

Boise Police Union

If we had a little golden statuette to hand out this year, it would be wearing a badge.

From the grand pageantry of a staged picket line to the climax of a public accusation of personal vendetta against a public official, the Boise Police Union turned in a sensational performance during this year's police contract negotiations. It had all the great elements of a Hollywood blockbuster: cops and politicians facing off; a seasoned political spin doctor like Mike Tracy pulling the strings behind the scenes; dirty politics; public outrage; enraged local officials; scandal; alcohol; money and guys with guns.

We loved it! Special kudos to the cast of extras on the picket line—the scene wouldn't have looked nearly as impressive without the members of the local carpenters' union. Nice job, guys.

Best Idaho Publicity

Eldon Anderson's rant against Britain

For years, Idaho has been trying to get the message out that we're not just white supremacists any more. Unfortunately, the comments of one Boise resident did little for international relations. "You guys better get on board and that whole damned country of yours along with the rest of Europe. You are going to go merrily sucking your thumb like you did in World War II. We don't need your damned help. We need your cooperation, that's all we need out of you guys. It's hard even to get that. We know you can't shoot, move and communicate, but we'd sure as hell like to have your cooperation anyway," said Eldon Anderson in response to a British reporter's effort to find out the identity of an American pilot involved in a friendly fire incident in Iraq. We're guessing that's not the line the tourism board was after.

Best Encouragement of Drunk Driving

Forcing people to walk further to taxis

It's a simple fact—the shortest distance between the bar and home is often your car, since taxis have been moved further from the main party corridor in downtown Boise. Face it, regardless of what honorable intentions you may have had at the beginning of the evening, after an excess of liquids that can be substituted for paint thinner, you're less likely to want to weave your way down the sidewalk to find a taxi when your own car is just a block away. Now don't get us wrong, we at BW are in no way condoning a rampage through downtown in your Honda while seeing nothing but fuzzy outlines. We're just saying it would be nice not to have to walk so far to get a sober ride home.

Best Alcohol Rehabilitation

Forcing people to walk further to taxis

This one can be interpreted one of two ways.

One: By making sloppy drunks walk a few blocks to get a ride home, maybe they won't be so sloppy by the time they make it to the taxi—a fact a few taxi drivers are sure to appreciate.

Two: By placing taxis a little farther away, it brings only the most dedicated drinkers out. Those whose hearts aren't really in it may just decide to hold off on that last drink so they can safely drive home, or maybe just elect to stay home altogether, because bed is just a stagger away.

Either way, the City of Boise's decision to move all taxi pickup to one central location seems to have had an impact on the downtown hullabaloo. Taxis and riders are now used to the location, and the city is even talking about adding a few more taxi stops to increase use.

Best Party Supporter

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter raising the call to take back the city

We've got to hand it to good ol' Butch. Nobody rallies the Republican hard-liners like him. Earlier this year, Otter vowed to return Ada County and Boise to the control of the Republican Party and away from those nasty little Democrats. "The party's alive and well and vibrant and doing good, and we need it, especially in Ada County, especially in Boise," he said. "There's been some inroads there that I think just shouldn't be." As part of his spiel to the party loyalists, he urged them to become more involved in the race for Boise mayor, a race that pits incumbent (and Democrat) Dave Bieter, against City Council member (and buddy to Republicans) Jim Tibbs. "We need to resolve to make a difference in the next election," Otter said. "We need to take Ada County back because it belongs in the Republican portfolio." Funny thing is, the mayor's race is supposed to be non-partisan. We're just saying.

Best Random Parade

Deanna gets stuck in the Northwest Motorfest parade

Sure, no one wants to sit back and just watch the parade of life go by, but it's also nice to be a willing participant in the parade. While innocently wandering downtown after another highly successful BW event, News Editor Deanna Darr suddenly realized the usually busy streets of downtown Boise had become populated completely with classic and custom cars. While Darr thoroughly loves her 1995 Toyota 4Runner, she knows it doesn't quite meet the criteria of either classic or custom. Somehow though, it's hard not to get into the spirit when you find yourself blocked in by road barriers and surrounded by a crowd. The only thing left to do is wave to the crowd and get staff writer Rachael Daigle to sweet-talk the cops into letting you park along a parade route.

Best Prepared Spokesman

Ray Stark, senior vice president at Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce

Here's a sure sign that you've given one too many television sound bites—when you actually say your punctuation out loud. Stark, a usually well-spoken and professional man, actually said the word "comma" during an appropriate pause in his seemingly scripted quote about the new community college. Thanks, but we'll handle the punctuation if you don't mind.

Best Hide The Editors

BW Staff hiding from the Advice Goddess

Like hundreds of other papers, BW used to run a syndicated column called The Advice Goddess. And we got tired of it. Wanted more local material. So we asked our readers if they cared if we canned it, and almost nobody said yes. So, late last year, we got rid of The Advice Goddess. And didn't think much of it. Then we went to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies conference in Portland, and who do you think was there, selling her column ideas? Amy Alkon, the fiery redhead who writes the column. She was also pigeonholing any newspaper editor she saw and all but bullying them into carrying her column. So imagine BW's Shea Andersen and Amy Atkins trying very, very hard to blend into the hotel wallpaper whenever she came by, her eyes scanning nametags looking for the miscreants who dared to cancel her column.

Best Boise Weekly Ad

"Our bagels are like vaginas ... what's not to love?" —River City Bagel and Bakery

click to enlarge Breakfast anyone? - BOISE WEEKLY

If we had a buck for every person who talked about that ad, our publisher could retire. Funny thing is, it wasn't even our brainchild (we wish it was, but some ad agency out of California gets the kudos on that one). Apparently, it escaped most people that the ad ran in BW in support of the Vagina Monologues at Boise State—maybe that was because River City Bagel and Bakery slated the ad to run a week after the Vagina Monologues, but whaddeva.

Best Reason Not To Take Public Transportation

Burning Bus on Main Street

Nothing says "drive yourself" like the sight of a bus catching fire on one of downtown Boise's busiest streets. We imagine that ridership on city buses, already not exactly overwhelming, went down a wee bit when, late in March, a bus burst into flames while it was idling in front of the Grove Plaza. Nobody was on the bus, nobody was hurt, but did anybody notice an uptick in commuters the next week? More bikes on the road, perhaps? Hey, Boise, we know you're trying to do the right thing, but let's face it, when you've got a bus that redefines the phrase "clean burning," right there in front of commuter central, it's hard to sell the hoi polloi on getting on board. Especially when they're just not sure whether their city bus will spew low-fume emissions, or a mushroom cloud.

Best Excuse to Get a Really Good Mojito

BW's Cuba coverage

I mean, really. How do you expect us to truly understand the culture of Cuba if we're not editing our Cuba series over some really tasty mojitos, say at Bittercreek? When our reporter Nathaniel Hoffman brought back a bottle of rum from the island nation, you bet your sweet sugar cane we made some of our own, too.

Best Quote

"They're on dope and dog food."

And you wondered why Boise City Councilor Alan Shealy wasn't going to run for the U.S. Senate this year? It's not just because the race will be peopled by political heavyweights or because fundraising is a bear. It's in part because of the above bomb, dropped by Shealy to BW Editor Shea Andersen in an interview about the Boise Police Union negotiations with the city.

Shealy definitely has a way with words, as befits a man with degrees from both Harvard and Oxford. You can sometimes almost imagine a V-neck sweater draped over his shoulders as you listen to his plummy voice discuss the issues. Never mind the fact that he's a diligent pursuer of budget information, and has a razor-keen mind for details on city contracts. If he's not careful, he could wind up nothing more than a footnote in city politics. The dope and dog food quote was a classic example of Shealyisms. He was referring, of course, to the scorched-earth "negotiation" tactics employed by the BPD's lead union representative Kip Wills, who himself isn't shy about slandering city leaders.

After a few in-your-face gambits by Wills, Shealy had had enough. "If they think that's going to help their cause, they've got another thing coming. I think they're on dope and dog food," Shealy said. The story, written by News Editor Deanna Darr, made the rounds of talk shows, blogs and eventually other media outlets, eventually resulting in a "reader's opinion" by Shealy in the mea culpa pages of the Idaho Statesman. Round here, councilor, we believe in not mixing our drugs and our pet kibbles, and we advise you to do the same before talking to reporters.

Best Infanticide

Thrive goes bye-bye

We're drowning in crocodile tears around here.

The giant, sclerotic fluffy bunny that was Thrive(!), didn't. Created in a blatant attempt to sink the mighty dinghy that is the BW, the Idaho Statesman-generated B.S. machine finally went belly up this spring.

And lo, there was a wailing and gnashing of teeth. What would we do to get our fix of gleeful, narcissistic positivity every week? Whether it was the sunny-side up articles about new restaurants, the shiny-happy-people focus on local personalities or the canned movie reviews, there was so much to brighten our work week.

Thrive(!) lasted about five years, begun by the monster newspaper chain Gannett, which sold the Statesman to Knight-Ridder, which in turn handed the hot potato off to McClatchy.

Word of Thrive's demise had been in the offing for weeks. Statesman editors avoided our calls like the plague when we tried to confirm the rumors. Reports of grumbling Thrivers trickled back.

Finally, ad salespeople began telling their clients that the jig was up. In so doing, salespeople said that Thrive(!) had become a duplicate of Scene, by re-running the same articles, photos and calendar items. (We were especially fond of the triple-recycle maneuver they pulled from time to time, running the same article in Scene, Thrive(!) and in the Statesman's Life section.)

We don't really know what Thrive(!) might have been, had they let their obviously talented writers actually do some thoughtful work. Now we'll never know. And we're OK with that.

Perfect, we ain't. Still kicking, we is.

Best Snow Job

National Wildlife Federation taken in by Avimor PR machine

We're as impressed as the next media outlet by the public relations juggernaut that is Avimor, the swanky sprawlathon of homes now under construction up Highway 55 outside of Boise. They hit a coup, earlier this year, when they got the National Wildlife Federation to recognize the development for "incorporating environmentally-enhancing stewardship concepts into their landscape design plans."

Uh huh. We hear, through the PR machinery, that Avimor was commended for "its vision to incorporate native landscaping principles to preserve the natural environment of the land being developed." Except, um, gosh: Maybe if they didn't build the damn thing, there would be more room for wildlife, fewer cars, less pollution, and fewer fenced-in yards. Just a thought. Kudos to the NWF for being the latest sucker to the circus. We'll toss that next donation solicitation.

Best Reunited, And It Feels So Good

Chris Kelly and Jon Duane back on the air at KFXD 630-AM

We admit to shamelessly loving the return of radio's best odd couple, Chris and Jon in the mornings on the new 630-AM. Although we hear the complaints from the fans of classic country music, which used to play on the signal, there's nothing like having longtime pros behind the mics talking about local doings. OK, here's our giant conflict of interest, up front: They regularly allow BW folks, from Editor Shea Andersen to Arts and Entertainment Editor Amy Atkins, to come onto the show and talk about what's going on around town and in the pages of this paper. Now, if we could only stop Jon from accusing Amy of coming in to do the show hung over on Friday mornings, we'd be even more enthusiastic about their show. Until then, all we can say is, watch your back, fellah.

Best Lost Deal

Otter loses Cuban potato contract to North Dakota

After all that fuss over Otter's trip to Cuba to talk about selling Idaho products to those dirty communists, he got the rug yanked out from under us by some wily North Dakotans.

After they took a junket to Cuba of their own, a group of North Dakota agricultural leaders walked away with a deal that dwarfed the symbolic victories of Otter's trip. That state is now finalizing a deal to sell 100 tons of North Dakota potatoes to Cuba. That's not all.

According to the North Dakota state agriculture department, the Cuban government is expected to sign an agreement to purchase 10,000 tons of North Dakota hard spring wheat. And they were in negotiations to sell soybean products, barley malt and lentils, too. So somebody tell us again what the heck Otter was doing out there?

Best Campus Speech Advertisements

BSU College Republicans Fliers

The whiz kids who run the Boise State College Republicans wanted to hype their upcoming speech by Canyon County xenophobe Robert Vasquez, so they seized on some chewy immigration imagery: Both a poster and Web site advertised, "Win dinner for two at a local Mexican restaurant! Climb through the hole in the fence and enter your false ID documents in the food stamp drawing!" The restaurant was Chapala's, a campus-area Mexican restaurant whose owner didn't think it was real funny. They even gave Boise State President Bob Kustra a chance to slap their wrists, in a letter to faculty and staff. "Unfortunately, a handful of students have engaged in offensive and insulting behavior," Kustra wrote. "I was shocked when I first heard what was on the flier and assumed they would take immediate steps to rectify the situation. That they have refused to do so, other than to apologize to a restaurant because they like to eat there, is unconscionable." Even that guy that used to be our senator, Larry Craig, weighed in on it, calling it "ill-advised." Ya think? But Jonathan Sawmiller, one of the leaders of the merry little band of young Republicans, said it was the Thought Police moving in on campus. "Any time we take a position on an issue, we're called racist, homophobic, or whatever the appropriate ad hominem attack is," he said. In this case, Jonny, the first term is probably the most useful one.

Best Foreign Bureau

BW goes to Cuba

For a newspaper that seldom sends a reporter so far as Mountain Home, this was a first. After Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced he was taking a trip to the rogue island nation of Cuba to talk about potatoes and Communism, we were intrigued. But with every other newspaper and media outlet in Idaho getting told to fuggeddaboudit, we weren't so sure it would even be possible, let alone legal, to send someone to Castro Country. So when BW freelancer Nathaniel Hoffman said he might be able to pull it off, BW Editor Shea Andersen said, "Sure!" thinking he wouldn't really have to worry about it. Then we got word back: Hoffman had gotten in, the Cuban government would give him a visa, and we were about to launch our first foreign reporting escapade, the only Idaho paper to do so in Cuba. We just wish we could have been there when Otter and his entourage walked into the lobby of the Hotel Nacional in Havana and saw Hoffman, representing BW, waiting for them. For the next several days, Hoffman beat the streets of Havana, toured the countryside with the sunburned Idahoans and reported it all back for BW's pages. Soon enough, Andersen was getting calls from local media outlets who wanted to know how it was that he was so smart. And what do you know, he didn't work really hard to correct those notions. In the end, we got great stories, Hoffman picked up a few new stamps in his passport, and Otter just might have become a reader, for at least one issue.

Best Example of a Media Outlet Behaving Like An Overprotective Stage Mother

Idaho Statesman on behalf of Trevor Hattabaugh

Earlier this year, 11-year-old stand-up comic Trevor Hattabaugh was banned from performing at the Funny Bone. Not because he didn't have the comedic chops, but because the Alcohol Beverage Control arm of the Idaho State Police said he couldn't perform there anymore. Why? Because the Funny Bone Comedy Club—hold your hats—IS A COMEDY CLUB! People go to comedy clubs to chain-smoke, get good and liquored up and laugh their asses off at the dirty jokes. A comedy club is not a place for grade-schoolers regardless of which side of the invisible fourth wall they're on. Hattabaugh stated that while he was in the club, his parents were always with him and he didn't drink. Fine, but I think that's the same thing Drew Barrymore said at the premiere party for ET and look what happened to her. So, young Hattabaugh was forced out of the club and back to the world of chalk dust and construction paper. Word gets out: Hotshot comedian Eddie Brill decides to do a show with the kid, and taxpayer money is wasted on a proposed "Trevor Bill," which would allow youngsters to perform in a bar, er, um, comedy club. Big deal, right? Apparently, it is a big deal to one local media outlet, which decided to take on the role of Hattabaugh's knight errant by running the story no less than three times: March 23, on the front page of the Life section, March 23 middle spread of Scene and the March 20 cover story in Thrive.

Best Awkward Thumbs-Up

Dissing the competition, to the competition

We're all for enthusiastic endorsements, and we love good timing. Consider the example of both, demonstrated by a certain state senator who has begged us to let him remain nameless. At a public event last winter, BW Editor Shea Andersen brought along one of our interns, to show her around the scene. When Certain State Senator met her, he said, "Oh, an intern! Well, at least you're at the good paper." Trouble is, Kevin Richert, the editorial page editor for the Idaho Statesman, was standing directly behind him, listening to every word. Well, that ought to make the next endorsement interview interesting.

Best Witness Relocation Program

Bingo Barnes moves to Alaska

People still ask us how Bingo is doing. These days, we say, "Cold, and watching out for moose on the highway." That's because, people, whether you noticed or not, he hasn't been on the BW masthead for almost a year, and has moved to Anchorage, Alaska, to be the publisher of the local alternative newspaper there, the Anchorage Press. We hear the weather is fine and the mosquitoes plentiful.

Best Insider Insult

Cope calling BW Staff drunken sluts

Man, we know writers are sensitive. And our infamous columnist Bill Cope is a fine, fine model of the scribbling species. But boy, you give a guy a little editing and what do you get in return? A Cope-ious amount of spleen, that's what:

"So Thursday morning, I call down to the Boise Weekly office, hoping to find someone who wasn't drunk, out screwing around, or both, and asked, 'What the hell happened to my sidebar?' See, I just naturally figured they'd lost it under a pile of pornography or behind a case of whiskey or something. You know how those newspaper people are."

OK, part of it is true; when Cope wrote a long feature about religion, we neglected to run a small sidebar, a companion article about books on progressive religion. And man, did we ever hear about that. But then, in true Copely fashion, he relented. Then apologized.

He still talks about it, seeking some form of redemption. Cope, all is forgiven. Can we get back to our drinking and sleeping around now?

Best Politician's Quote About His Ex-Wife

Butch Otter on why he scored with Simplot's daughter

The Statesman story was pretty bland material, about high-tech funding in Idaho. Ho hum, we said, until we got to the end, where Otter talked about the importance of the former Boise Junior College, now Boise State, to the state's future.

And that's where he let slip that his grades were lousy, but they let him in anyway, because he married into the right family.

"I played football well enough that they kind of looked the other way," Otter said of the school administration. "It also didn't hurt that I married Mr. Simplot's daughter, who was one of their great benefactors. It shows you the extent of what any Idaho kid will do to get an education."

Best Number Change

Gretchen Anderson's cell phone snafu

Poor Gretchen Anderson. The PR person for Bogus Basin Ski Resort sent reporters a world-weary message last winter, to inform us that she'd gotten a new cell phone number.

"Not by choice—but out of trying to keep my sanity." It turns out that tax preparers Jackson-Hewitt picked a number that was just a couple digits off from Anderson's to use for their toll-free tax prep phone service. "I've already heard from a dozen, miss-dialing, (not-so-nice) customers who want to know where their tax returns are—AND THIS IS ONLY FEBRUARY!!!" Anderson wrote.

The techies at Verizon Wireless kindly offered her a new phone number, and Anderson, who may or may not have good tax advice to offer, got to get back to the business of hyping the skiing at Bogus.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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