Wow. Twenty years. That's how long we've been publishing Best of Boise. in 1994, everybody was talking about Tonya Harding, who had her ex-husband kneecap her rival, Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. NFL star/actor O.J. Simpson led Los Angeles police on a slow-speed chase before being tried for the brutal murder of his ex-wife and her alleged lover. Schindler's List won seven Academy Awards. Kurt Cobain committed suicide. George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas. Green Day released Dookie, TLC released CrazySexyCool, Notorious B.I.G. released Ready to Die; and Weezer, Oasis and Korn all dropped their debut albums. Woodstock '94 devolved into an historic suck-fest. Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley. And maybe most important, the world learned how to browse the "World Wide Web" on Netscape Navigator.
Meanwhile, on July 13, 1994, 2-year-old Boise Weekly printed the results of the first-ever Best of Boise, providing a snapshot of the citizenry's likes and dislikes (see BOB 1994 at boiseweekly.com/bob94.pdf).
Among the highlights: House of Hoi Polloi won Best Local Band; Blues Bouquet was the Best Place to See Live Music; Tom Grainey's was voted Best Bar; and the Best Concert in the Last 12 Months was Nirvana, which performed at the Boise State University Pavillion in December 1993 with The Breeders and the Melvins.
Boiseans seem to have been harsher 20 years ago, too. For example, Best Place to Break Up With Someone? "Over the phone." Snottiest Sales Staff? "Bon Marche" (strangely, also Friendliest Sales Staff). Most Overblown Local Issue? "Gay rights." Ouch.
Obviously, much has changed in Boise since '94. For one thing, The Hole is no more. When BW's inaugural BOB published, local developer Rick Peterson had announced plans to build the 25-story Boise Tower on the site. Evidence of that project's progress was visible for more than a decade as a web of rebar and mess of concrete at the bottom of the pit.
Some things haven't changed, though. Looking back over 20 years of BOB, we see that Elizabeth Duncan--then with Channel 6--is the only person other than Channel 7 anchors Maggie O'Mara and Dee Sarton to take first-place in the Best Local TV Anchor category. (We also see that Dee Sarton doesn't seem to have aged a day since 1994). Channel 6's Scott Dorval won Best Local Weatherperson in 1994 and has had a lock on the category since 2007, after Channel 7's Larry Gebert took the title in '06.
Year after year, Idaho Shakespeare Festival has won Best Live Local Theater. As a matter of fact, it has won 19 times--sadly, not consecutively: ISF's perfect two-decade streak was broken in 2003 by Prairie Dog Productions. That pushes ISF's chance for a 20-year run to 2023.
Best of Boise's only perfect record? Drumroll... KTVB Channel 7 has won Best Local TV Station every year since 1994.
So it's with a nod to history that we begin this 20th anniversary edition of BOB with a few words from the first Best of Boise intro:
"Turn off the TV and gather the kids 'round the La-Z-Boy, because it's here. ... The oh-so comprehensive survey in which Boise Weekly readers tell us what makes Boise such a swell place to raise a dysfunctional family. In the elite journalistic circles we run in, surveys like these are called play-at-home journalism, and seeing the way our readers got involved gave us a warm feeling inside."