Top 12 of 2012: A Look Back at the Top Stories of the Last Year and Where They Might Lead 

From politics to entertainment, 2012 was a big year

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click to enlarge JEREMY CONANT

Treefort Music Fest

Perhaps it was because similar efforts had fizzled in the past, but much of Boise seemed unprepared when the city's long-simmering music scene finally came to a boil with four days of March music madness.

Deliberately scheduled the weekend after Austin, Texas' SXSW festival to catch bands on the road, Treefort Music Fest packed Boise clubs, streets and hearts with more than 140 bands playing shows accessible with a single wristband.

It wasn't just Boise that was buzzing. Media came to the festival from Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City and more. A photo of headlining act Of Montreal was published in Spin magazine.

When Portland, Ore., band Point Juncture, WA played at Visual Arts Collective the weekend after Treefort, its guitar player Wilson Vediner said that Treefort was all anyone in the City of Roses had been talking about.

And for good reason. The festival sold more than 2,000 four-day wristbands and around 1,000 single-day passes.

Not too shabby.

And now everyone wants in on the action in the previously dark spot on the musical map.

"We've been getting contacted from a lot of artists that want to get involved," said Treefort press liaison Matt Dalley.

Exactly which of those artists made the cut won't be announced until mid-January 2013 at the earliest, but Dalley said that the festival is likely to expand this year in terms of total number of bands and venues and in the prominence of the artists.

"I can say that we're looking at expanding venues but as far as details, I can't say how deep that goes," he said.

So far, only a dozen acts--less than one-tenth of the total lineup--have been announced, all which fall into the "emerging artist" category. The list so far includes Foxygen, Radiation City, Wooden Indian Burial Ground, Japanther and Unknown Mortal Orchestra--names that will likely turn the heads of only the most dedicated audiophiles, though they might turn their heads pretty far. The rest of the acts will be announced on a rolling basis beginning in early 2013.

But back in October, before even that small smattering of names was announced, early bird passes for the festival sold out in 17 minutes. Dalley said that sales for regular admission passes are better than they were at this time for last year's festival. Clearly, Boiseans are invested.

Dalley said Treefort organizers are also investigating the possibilities of expanding the festival to include a film component and to potentially add more panel discussions.

Though the nature of Boise as a small market does cap how much Treefort can expand to some degree, considering that a significant portion of attendees came to the festival from out of town--Dalley said Salt Lake City and Seattle had the strongest representation--there is still plenty of room for the festival to grow before it hits that cap.

click to enlarge LAURIE PEARMAN


When it rains it pours. And in the case of the Boise suds scene, it pours an effervescent gold with a persistent hoppy head.

Over the last year, the craft beer market in the Treasure Valley has undergone a revolution. Though the City of Trees has long boasted a handful of restaurant/brewpubs--Tablerock Brewpub and Grill, Highland's Hollow Brewhouse, Sockeye Grill and Brewery--2012 saw the proliferation of production-focused microbreweries like Payette Brewing Company, which opened in May 2011, and Crooked Fence Brewing, which opened in February.

"Even five years ago here, it was still a domestic-dominant market. But over the last five years, it's definitely snowballed into a more open-minded market," Crooked Fence head brewer Kris Price told Boise Weekly.

In addition to slinging their beers at area bars and restaurants, Payette and Crooked Fence also started bottling their brews. Payette began filling cans in late July, and Crooked Fence started cranking out 22-ounce bombers, which can be purchased at area Albertsons stores, Whole Foods and the Boise Co-op.

Boise isn't the only locale pushing the local craft beer scene forward. Slanted Rock Brewing Company is slated to have its grand opening in Meridian Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 5 p.m.-1 a.m., and Crescent Brewery recently opened a taproom in Nampa.

Another beer trend in 2012 involved even smaller operations: nano breweries. Kilted Dragon, a small three-barrel brewery, set up shop in Garden City. Co-owners Cory Matteucci and Jeremy Canning held a grand opening celebration Dec. 15.

"We don't have the volume that Payette has, we don't have the volume that Crooked Fence has, at least not initially," Matteucci explained. "So we're probably going to be catering to more of a niche market."

Other nano breweries, like Bogus Brewing and Cloud 9 Brewing, secured funding for their tiny operations via Bogus owner Collin Rudeen netted $30,992 for his "community supported brewing" operation, which offers folks the opportunity to purchase a share in the brewery, and Cloud 9 secured $30,231 for its nano pub in October.

"What's really cool about this idea is that it will give us the flexibility to have a ton of variety and experimentation. ... And of course, you'll be getting something new and exciting every month with your CSB membership," said Rundeen.

But not all Kickstarter campaigns have been successful. Woodland Empire Ale Craft--a proposed nano brewery from Boise transplants Rob and Keely Landerman, head brewer of Ranger Creek in San Antonio, Texas--didn't meet its funding goal.

That's not the only craft brew snafu this year. In August, Bend, Ore.'s 10 Barrel Brewing Co., which plans to open a satellite brewpub at 803 W. Bannock St. in downtown Boise, ran into some regulatory red tape.

"We have a situation that's revolving around getting a license for our retail establishment," co-owner Garrett Wales told Boise Weekly in August.

Idaho's Alcohol Beverage Control laws wouldn't allow 10 Barrel to continue shipping its beer from Oregon into Idaho while also operating a brewpub in Boise.

Thankfully, by early November, Wales said 10 Barrel had made some concessions and the issue had been resolved.

"We're giving up our certificate of approval," said Wales. "What that does is it prevents the concerns that are addressed by the laws that were causing the sticking point in the first place, bringing beer from out of the state."

10 Barrel plans to be open in Boise by spring 2013. And we're sure it won't be the only craft beer addition in the coming year.

click to enlarge GEORGE PRENTICE

Occupy Boise

The Occupy Wall Street economic protest campout began Sept. 17, 2011, in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. Effectively turning the zeitgeist into a symbol, it grabbed the attention of the Internet, and similar protests popped up worldwide.

When Boise State University student Christine Taylor started a Facebook group called Occupy Boise in late September 2011, she didn't have a larger plan. But the group grew exponentially, with more than 1,000 people joining in the first week.

Meetings turned into a series of marches and planning sessions, orchestrated less by Taylor than by whoever identified themselves with the movement and took the initiative.

But a protest campout in downtown remained a central goal. A lone protester, Geoff Burns, had already been arrested for staging a campout in Capitol Park on Oct. 15, 2011.

A large-scale encampment was installed Nov. 5, 2011, on the grounds of the Old Ada County Courthouse, across from the Idaho Capitol.

The fact that it was on state property made it the jurisdiction of state rather than city police. And because it was leased to the University of Idaho--which has a clause in its bylaws stating that anything that might be construed as an act of free speech should be protected--the encampment was legal, unlike many Occupy encampments.

Dozens of people set up camp, complete with a communal kitchen and library, woodstoves and solar panels, even donated Porta-Potties. The camp was a magnet for activism, the homeless and the scorn of conservatives. Two Canyon County Republicans parked cars in the encampment to protest it. Police were summoned numerous times for a variety of issues.

The camp annoyed state legislators to no end, both by the Occupiers' disruptions to the lawmaking process and by its continued existence. Republican members of the Idaho Legislature began an immediate attempt to evict the Occupiers.

Eventually the Legislature passed House Bill 404, which prohibited camping on the Capitol mall. The Occupy camp was left standing as a symbol, but Occupiers slept elsewhere to comply with the law.

But the state took issue with the empty tents as well, stating they were damaging the courthouse property and preventing crews from doing necessary maintenance. Though the Occupiers continued to fight in court, they began spending more time dealing with the lawsuit than other issues and eventually vacated the site on June 13, making it the longest running Occupy encampment in the nation. Manhattan's Zuccotti Park only lasted until Nov. 15, 2011.

To the casual observer, not much has happened since then. The 5,000-member-strong Facebook group has become a forum to share newsclips and memes instead of a place to plan actions. The @OccupyBOI Twitter handle has been silent since April. The Occupy Boise website is gone.

But according to Dean Gunderson, a police liaison and legal observer for the camp, that doesn't mean it has gone away, just changed.

"We had a great opportunity to share ideas for seven months and that served its purpose," Gunderson said. "A lot of people that felt very disenfranchised got a lot of hope. They're doing now what they would have done if they weren't so broken by the times."

Much like the members of Occupy Wall Street, the larger collective has split into smaller groups working for various causes like the Move to Amend group, working to overturn Citizens United; The Broad Coalition, which focuses on women's issues; and New Vistas Gun and Shovel, a club focusing on "back to the land" style self-reliance.

Occupier Shavone Hasse told BW she is working to get churches to set aside a parking place so families who live in their cars can sleep in peace.

Members of Occupy Boise also visited Sun Valley to protest the Allen and Co. conference, an annual who's who of the 1 percent.

Gunderson said he is still fighting the lawsuit against HB404 with three other members of the camp.

"I don't think the majority of people in Idaho know how many of their rights they had stolen [with HB 404]," he said. "You want to tailgate? Too bad."

Though Gunderson said he doesn't know of any plans to disrupt the upcoming session of the Legislature, he wouldn't rule it out.

"Especially since the new speaker of the House [is] Scott Bedke, who introduced 404," he said.

But as Gunderson--and nearly any other Occupier--points out, no one person speaks for the group. The night BW interviewed Gunderson, a meeting of Boise Occupiers was happening at the Boise Main Library.

"No, I didn't know about it," Gunderson said. "But I don't need to."

Alan Heathcock

Everything's coming up Alan Heathcock. Not long after the Chicago-native and Boise State University professor released his first collection of short stories, Volt, in March 2011, the accolades started rolling in.

On March 25, 2011, Donald Ray Pollock of The New York Times Sunday Book Review gave Volt some gushing praise:

"Frankly, there is little to fault in any of the eight stories that make up this collection. Undoubtedly, there is much grit and violence in this world, but there is also an abundance of tenderness and compassion. Heathcock displays a generosity of spirit that only those writers who love their characters can summon, and Volt is galvanizing proof of his talent."

But it didn't stop there. Volt was highlighted on many Best of 2011 lists, including Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune and Salon. Heathcock was also called "the next Cormac McCarthy" in GQ Magazine and was crowned one of 40 National Endowment for the Arts 2012 Literature Fellows, which carried with it a $25,000 prize.

In 2012, the Heathcock high-fives continued. Heathcock was one of 10 authors nationwide awarded a prestigious $50,000 Whiting Award. Both Heathcock and Idaho native Samuel Hunter were honored at a ceremony in New York City on Oct. 23, which featured remarks by former Whiting recipient Jeffrey Eugenides.

Heathcock is also serving as a literature fellow for the State of Idaho.

This year, it was also announced that two of Heathcock's stories are being adapted into short films: "Fort Apache" by director Addison Mehr, was shot in upstate New York, and "Smoke" by local filmmakers Stephen Heleker and Cody Gittings.

Heathcock's rising literary stardom sent other ripples through the local community. Heathcock was named Best Living Idaho Writer by readers in BW's 2012 Best of Boise competition. And in June, one of Heathcock's stories, "Streetlamps," was turned into public art by local artist Grant Olsen. Heathcock's words, "He worked hanging power lines across the high desert prairie. Towns bloomed with electric light," now adorn the exterior walls of the Oliver Russell "I Love You" building downtown.

In November, Boise songwriter Chad Summervill took it a step further, adapting four stories from Volt--"Freight," "Fort Apache," "Smoke" and "Lazarus"--into Americana ballads brimming with Heathcock's imagery. The songs have been released as digital downloads on Summervill's website,

In the midst of this high-Volt-age acclaim, Heathcock accepted a 30-day residency in Marfa, Texas, in July, with accommodations provided by the Lannan Foundation.

"They feel authors need a place of sanctuary to do their work and concentrate in an uninterrupted way," Heathcock told Boise Weekly. "You can't bring your family and you can't have visitors. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I'll just be writing."

Here's hoping that time spent focusing on his craft propels Heathcock's momentum into 2013 and beyond.

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