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Spuds & Duds, 2008 

The Good, The Bad and the Half-Baked

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano or the ringing of bells in front of grocery stores, certain times of the year are marked by specific rituals. Around Boise Weekly headquarters, we know that yet another year is wrapping up when Bill Cope wanders in with more than just his weekly column.

Over the course of each year, Cope saves up his favorite news tidbits that either had him clapping his hands with joy or had actual steam coming out of his ears in anger, kind of like a Looney Toons cartoon character.

He then translates that joy or frustration into creating what has become a hallmark of the holiday season—Spuds and Duds. It's a sarcasm-filled romp through the last 365 days of the things that set 2008 apart from every other year.

Whether it's political floundering, public embarrassments, surprise happenings or quirky personalities, they're in there. And while they may be outnumbered, Cope even has some positive notes on the year, marking the people and events that bettered our community.

So here, is the promised review of 2008 as only Boise Weekly and Cope can tell it. We can't wait to see what fodder 2009 brings us.

­—Deanna Darr

Dud: Dudish Lawrence Denney

If there was ever a doubt the Idaho Legislature has fallen into the hands of self-righteous, time-wasting, priority-impaired weenies, let us review the case of House Speaker Lawrence Denney vs. those reporters who didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance in a manner he thought proper. In a statement that leads us to suspect he's inventing new rules as he goes, Denney claimed, "Being on the House floor is not a right, but a privilege ... there's a certain decorum you must follow ... if you're going to be on the floor at the prayer or the Pledge, you follow it."

We are left to wonder if Denney was dutifully addressing the flag during the Pledge like he thinks you're supposed to, how'd he know those reporters weren't?

Dud: Coo-Coo Curtis Bowers

Something must be in the water in Canyon County. Year after year, the looniest ducks in the state come flapping out of Nampa or Caldwell or Sunnyslope, dead set on convincing their John Bircher buddies that something-or-other is leading America straight to hell in a handbasket. The latest—Republican Rep. Curtis Bower, who was appointed to fill a vacant House seat by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter—claimed to have dressed up like a hipster in 1992 and infiltrated a communist cell in Berkeley, Calif. As a freelance spy, he uncovered the conspiracy the Reds had devised to destroy America—lock, stock and family unit. It would involve a combination of feminism, environmentalism and rights for gays. Now, said Bowers, that perfidious plot's execution is almost complete. "When we see mainstream politicians and activist judges with the same agenda that just 16 years ago was that of communist strategists, it is time for patriotic Americans to wake up and get involved," he wrote in the Idaho Press Tribune. Two questions: Did Bowers actually go to Berkeley and infiltrate the commies, or did he just imagine he went and infiltrated the commies? Secondly, Butch, where'd you find this guy?

Spud: Healthy Margaret Henbest

After 12 years of working for reforms in the condition of Idaho's general health care, Boise Democrat Rep. Margaret Henbest retired from the Legislature. Among the things all Idahoans have to thank her for: pushing for more affordable access to health insurance for small businesses, a state review of children's deaths, improvements in the licensing of nurses, and a more precise definition of what qualifies someone to be a pharmacist. She won some, she lost some, but nobody from either side of the political divide would say she didn't give it her all.

Dud: Concealed Weapons on Campus

It appears every politician in Idaho feels that at least once a year, they must make a blood sacrifice to that savage beast-god, the National Rifle Association. This year, the virgin was tied to the stake by Nampa Republican Rep. Curt McKenzie when he introduced a bill that would effectively deny universities and other schools the option of deciding for themselves whether concealed weapons would be allowed on campus. Not that it will do any good, but McKenzie should know that there are never enough bullet-riddled corpses to fill the NRA's voracious maw. Besides, why stop at the university level? Where in the Constitution does it say preschoolers shouldn't be allowed open-carry privileges at day-care centers?

Spud: Leaving Rafters, Canoers and Kayakers Fee-Free

What do you do? On one hand, you have non-motorized boats not making any noise, not making any waves, not making any oil slicks in the water and not making any hydrocarbon fumes in the air. So why should they pay the same registration fee as the guy in the Chris Craft who just about ran over your stick-retrieving black Lab because he was trying to eat buffalo wings while teaching his girlfriend to wakeboard? On the other hand, you have non-motorized boats, using the same access facilities, the same search and rescue operations, all the same services as the guy with the Evinrude. So why shouldn't they cough up like all the other water-lovers? Well, because they already pay use fees that build and maintain launch and parking areas enjoyed by everyone.

Spud: 2C Emissions Testing

Anyone who has ever shelled out $15 bucks for the emissions test on their vehicle and had a carbon-belching heap from Canyon County putt by as the driver grins and waves will appreciate this one. Meridian Republican Rep. Mark Snodgrass and Boise Democrat Sen. David Langhorst co-sponsored a bill that would allow "airshed-wide testing," which means that if one town's fumes (say ... Nampa or Caldwell) have a way of crapping up another town (say ... Boise or Meridian), then the Department of Environmental Quality can test auto emissions in the former town, even if their air quality passes the sniff test. Now, if they would just extend it statewide, then those cheap yahoos who would rather register their jalopies in Valley or Boise counties than pay to have it tested in Ada, where they live, would no longer be able to duck out of our common responsibility.

Dud: Party Favors

Here are the facts. Nothing but the facts. Thursday morning, Feb. 28: Big-shot Eastern Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot is pushing a bill in the Legislature that would benefit his business. Thursday afternoon, Feb. 28: 10 Republican legislators, nine of them from Eastern Idaho, who want to attend a Lincoln Day fund-raising party in Idaho Falls, board a Learjet owned by VanderSloot and another plane owned by VanderSloot's business partner. They fly to Idaho Falls. They go to the party. After the party, they get back on the two planes and return to Boise. Friday, Feb. 29: All 10 state-hopping legislators vote to pass the bill VanderSloot had been pushing. When asked about the relationship between the events of Feb. 28-29, the common response is, to paraphrase, "Wha'? Don' look at me like that. I weren't nowhere near no quid pro quo!" Those are the facts. You be the judge.

Spud: Kristin Armstrong

We're thinking about changing our name to Armstrong and getting a bike. On second thought, Boisean and University of Idaho grad Kristin Armstrong's stunning victory at the Beijing Olympics probably has more to do with years of intense training and dedication than her name. She's been America's top woman cyclist since coming in eighth at the 2004 Olympics, but at 35, she was not expected to do so well in China. She showed 'em. In the women's road race time trial she beat her nearest competitor by 25 seconds.

Spud: Corruption Fighter Kate Kelly

With political corruption turning into one of Idaho's few remaining growth industries, we must appreciate the legislation Democrat Sen. Kate Kelly introduced to put a lid on it. She and Republican Rep. Lynn Luker introduced a bill early in the legislative season that would toughen penalties against officials who steal or in other ways "misuse" public money. As to the previously mentioned legislating-snakes-on-a-plane incident, Kelly was quoted, "The basis of effective government is public confidence. This sort of 'blurring of the lines' undermines the public's confidence in their legislators and undermines the integrity of the office."

Dud: The Big, "Why-Do-They-Bother-To-Leave-The-Farm-And-Come-To-Boise?" Collection

Each and every member of the Idaho Legislature gets $16,116 a year from the taxpayers of Idaho, not counting up to $147 for daily living and travel allowance. Following is a list of things they did not accomplish in the 2008 session to earn that money:

• They did not take a fresh look at the tax exemptions allowed by the state, in spite of a strong recommendation by an interim committee that those exemptions need to be re-evaluated.

• They did not address the issue of prisons so over-crowded that the state must send almost 700 inmates to hoosegows in other states, or the projection that Idaho will be 2,000 prison beds short by 2012. Thankfully, they rejected a proposal to hand our entire prison system over to a private corporation—a scheme being pushed by Gov. Otter even though it has been shown nationwide to be, as the Twin Falls Times-News put it, "inadequately supervised, infrequently monitored and subject to conditions that the Idaho Department of Corrections would consider unacceptable."

• They did not take a stand against the outrageous atrocities occurring in Darfur by refusing to keep investments in companies that do business with the genocidal regime in Sudan.

• They did not come to any agreement on how to fund the urgent transportation needs of our state, refusing to raise transportation-related fees and gas taxes or allow municipal governments the option of raising funds for local projects through limited sales taxes.

• They did not provide for public pre-kindergarten education, as they have not so many times in the past, insisting in their backward, The Hills Have Eyes: Idaho Edition way that pre-kindergarten is just another way government has of breaking up the family unit.

• They did not institute a review of child deaths, remaining the only state in the union without such a procedure.

• They did not change the rules so that day-care centers with 12 or fewer kids would be regulated, even to the level of having to do background checks on their employees.

• They did not come to any settlement on what to do about teacher pay, deciding only that Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's iSTARS plan was lunacrappy.

Spud: Anna Sali

While her father has received many duds over the years, we've got to hand it to Anna for being a class act and a true professional. After BW ran a quip critical of a national award she won in our Best of Boise issue earlier this year, we got an earful from Bill Sali's office, which apparently forgot who it was representing. But Anna turned the other cheek and accepted an invitation to perform at BW's annual Cover Auction in November. Her sweet voice and musical talent was a hit, but we were most impressed by her attitude and maturity—attributes sure to take her a long way.

Spud: Hero Girls

We here at BW are split as to whether there are such things as superpowers. But we all definitely believe in superheroes. And while we don't have the room to mention every doctor or cop or EMT or counselor or nurse or soldier who has saved a life over the course of 2008, we must point out a couple of teenage supergirls, without whose quick wits and bravery there would be two less children in our world today.

• In April, 17-year-old Brooke Garcia witnessed a rollover on I-84. The car burst into flames upon landing upright, and Brooke burst into action. As the car filled with smoke, she used her elbow to clear the broken glass from a window, then snaked inside up to her waist in order to unbuckle a toddler and pull him to safety.

• Less than a month later, Jessica Moncrieff, 14, was playing soccer when a Little Leaguer collapsed in an adjoining field. Jessica had taken a course on CPR and quickly began mouth-to-mouth. She kept it up until the EMTs told her it was OK to stop.

Girls, we salute you. It's people like you that make us proud to be humans.

Dud: Aspiring To Be the Source of PTSD

A large, colorful, easy-to-spot dud insignia should be part of the required uniform for whichever member of last year's graduating class of the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy came up with the class slogan "Don't suffer from PTSD—go out and cause it." The incident happened so late in 2007 that it didn't make last year's Spuds and Duds issue, but like a dose of real PTSD, it reverberated well into this year. We may assume this bird—should he actually get to be a law enforcement officer—has decided in advance which niche of the good cop/bad cop team he plans on filling. Let us hope he finds other employment—something that doesn't involve a gun strapped to his hip, perhaps.

Dud: The Windmills Over Wildlife Affair

Last summer, David Parrish, supervisor at the Idaho Department Fish and Game's Magic Valley office, offered his opinion in the Twin Falls Times-News that a massive wind farm proposed for an area south of Twin would have a detrimental effect on several species of indigenous wildlife, including antelope and sage grouse. Oakley Republican Rep. Scott Bedke saw this opinion and ratted Parrish out to the Governor's Office, which has established a policy that Gov. Otter has final say over what state workers can say to the media. Within a month of voicing his concern, Parrish had been reprimanded and demoted by his boss, IDFG Director Cal Groen.

By all rights, Groen should receive one personalized, three-pronged dud all to himself for, 1) cravenly bowing to lick the boot of Otter; 2) putting pissy state politics over his professional duty to the health and welfare of Idaho's wildlife; and, 3) not sticking up for Parrish. Bedke should receive another for using his position to get an honest man punished for merely speaking the truth. But as we are concerned that we may run short of duds before everybody who deserves one gets one, Bedke, Groen and Butch "The Clamp" Otter will have to share this one.

Dud: Micron As Embodied in Steve Appleton

Think of it this way: Let's suppose we here in the Treasure Valley are just one big, big, happy family in which Micron is the daddy who brings home the money, state government is the mommy who can't buy school clothes and food for the dinner table or anything else unless daddy gives her money to do it with and all of us are the kids who depend on daddy and mommy to keep our household clicking. Now, if Micron is the daddy, then Steve Appleton is daddy's brain, and daddy's brain is being secretive and all moody and pissy when he gets his nose out of joint over something some local news source said. And he is not telling Mommy and all of us kids how many of us he has plans to lay off, or what it means is that daddy is starting another big, big happy family in far-away Singapore. And if daddy doesn't plan on staying around until we grow up and deserts his Treasure Valley big, big, happy family sometime in the near future, well, then it's hard to remain a big, big, happy family, isn't it? And it doesn't help our feelings of insecurity one little bit that daddy's brain will only talk to the people at KTVB Channel-7 about it because even we kids know that the people at KTVB are only good at one thing: softball. And that's not going to help with this family crisis even a little bit. Not unless Mark Johnson or Dee Sarton wants to be our new daddy.

Dud: Idaho Tax Commission

We wouldn't even known about this had whistle-blower Stan Howland not blown the whistle: The Idaho Tax Commission has been cutting deals with corporations that do business in-state so that if they protest their tax bills, they often don't have to pay all they owe. What's more, the agreements—which are costing the state millions—not only don't have to be disclosed to the pubic, but it's against Idaho law to even identify which companies are getting away with this backroom backscratch. Hell, why don't we just change the state motto to "Idaho: Just Whisper In Our Ear That You're In Business and We'll Bend Over." It'd probably sound better in Latin.

An accompanying spud must be granted to Stan Howland. He has been a Tax Commission auditor for 28 years and in May put together a report in which he accused the Tax Commission of this routine practice, which he said is illegal. In Howland's words, "I have one goal ... and that is to get an independent investigation into the Tax Commission." You da man, Stan.

Dud: Tamarack's Downhill Run

We went through all that legislative hoopla over GARVEE dough to widen that road north so Dirk Kempthorne could get to his condo quicker, and it looks like we're going to end up with a high-end shanty town outside of Donnelly.

Please, would the next big-talker with plans to build something huge in Idaho do us all a favor before he craps up another mountaintop, lakeshore or downtown block with a construction project he doesn't have money to complete? If you would, big mover-and-shaker guy, please get the damn money to finish the project before you start it.

Dud: Male Dominance in State Administration

Maybe it's because our state affairs are influenced so greatly by a religion that isn't exactly renowned for putting its women on the same pedestal it likes to put its men, but sheesh! Even Utah has a higher percentage of women appointed to top state jobs than Idaho. So that must not be it. Yet, there's got to be a reason Idaho is 47th on the list ranking states by what portion of the top jobs go to women. Less than one management position in four is held by a woman down in the government district, so maybe a few gals oughta get together and ask the governor why that is. Hey, Butch, do we have to get married to you to get any attention around here?

Spud: Preserving Idaho

Getting wilderness set aside for posterity has never been easy in Idaho. Just ask Cecil Andrus and James McClure. But lately, the attempt has been coming from what in the past would have been unlikely sources—Republicans still in office. And in line with our policy to give credit where credit is due, the following spuds go to:

• The conservation groups and timber people who settled on a compromise for which portions of our remaining wildlands shall remain roadless. Out of the 9.3 million acres of roadless Idaho land, the timber industry gets more than 400,000 acres on which they can build roads to their hearts' content. Wilderness advocates get the rest. And it must be noted that the process was set in motion by Jim Risch during his mini-stint as governor.

• Sen. Mike Crapo, who has scrapo-ed together a coalition of ranchers, local officials, outfitters and environmentalists to come up with the Owyhee Public Land Management Act, which will—when and if it gets through Congress—protect more than 500,000 acres and 315 miles of rivers in Idaho's southwest corner.

• Rep. Mike Simpson for his Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act which could, if passed, make 319,000 acres of the Boulder-White Clouds safe from the ravages of development. Let us wish both Simpson and Crapo the best as they try to get their bills through the new Democratic administration.

Dud: The Fischer/Swindell Shake-Down

It's a shame. For all the gut-churning, teeth-gnashing, eyeball-bulging irritation Bryan Fischer and Brandi Swindell have caused the citizens of Boise, they only had to pay a paltry $10-thousand-plus for the legal bill incurred during that Ten Commandments to-do a few years back. We regular citizens should have brought a class action suit against them for making us collectively sick to our stomachs. Still, we award a spud to the City of Boise for making the Brandi-Bryan team cough up what they owed, in spite of the deluge of caterwauling from their fans. And since we didn't bring that class action suit against the unholy duo, let us award them a heartfelt dud for being whiney pains-in-the-ass. Oh, and as to Brandi's publicity stunt at the Olympic Games in Beijing? For that she gets neither a dud nor a spud. It wasn't worth the ink. But we're thinking of taking up a collection to send her to Saudi Arabia so she can protest religious repression there. And after that, Afghanistan. Then maybe Somalia. Someplace where there aren't so many cameras.

Dud: The Joy of Giving a Dud to a Nampa Prude

Doesn't Nampa Public Library patron Randy Jackson know that history is never kind to book banners? Maybe he would if he read more books. Two years ago, he attempted to get The New Joy of Sex and The Joy of Gay Sex tossed from the Nampa library, but failed. Since then, two people more sympathetic to Jackson's taste were appointed to the library board. In a June vote, the stacked board voted to hide the books behind the counter. As his primary objection seemed to be with the gay sex tome, Jackson explained why he felt entitled to dictate what folks can read: "This is not a freedom issue so much as an issue of what is in this book."

Thanks for clearing that up, Randy ol' boy. We were beginning to think you were just a censorious moron. The board later rescinded its decision when threatened with a lawsuit by the ACLU.

Spud: Caucus Crowd

In our considered opinion, caucuses are chaotic, incoherent, cacophonous, inconvenient, quaint and just generally cuckoo. They're like trying to decide the fate of a nation during an earthquake drill. With that said, we were mightily impressed not only with the turnout at the Ada County Democrats' caucus in February, but that the Ada County Dems pulled it off with relatively few glitches. In years past, the caucus could have been held in an EconoLodge broom closet and had room left over for a wet bar. So no one could have foreseen that in the most Republican of states, more than 8,000 people would show up at the Qwest Arena to be counted. In spite of the rumbling horde, organizers managed to think on their feet and make it happen. Well done. Now, can we get a presidential primary, instead?

Dud: Beastly Behavior Over Wolves

They say you can never fully tame a wild animal—that it will always retain just enough of its savage nature to be dangerous. OK, we'll have to take Jack Hanna's word on that. But one thing we know from our own wildlife observations, you should never turn your back on anyone with strong emotions over wolves in Idaho.

Take Ron Gillette, please. First, Idaho's most mouthy wolfophobe started yelling at wolf activist Lynne Stone when he found her alone on a Custer County road. When she took pictures of Gillette in all his rabid glory, he became unhinged and tried to wrestle the camera from her. He lost the wrestling match, but managed to do some damage to Stone's wrist. She filed charges, and he was arrested for assault and battery.

Then there's the slam-down between the architect and the commissioner. In a late 2007 meeting, Hailey architect Jon Marvel—who has also made a name for himself as the director of the Western Watersheds Project by fighting anyone and everyone with a penchant for grazing on public lands—got into an alleged hands-on piss-off with Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Wayne Wright over the state's role in wolf management. Wright claims Marvel shoved him and has a witness. Marvel claims he never touched the commish, and has two witnesses to that effect. We don't know who's telling the truth, but we're pretty certain that to get rational decisions made on any issue, the deciders have to act somewhat rationally.

Lastly, there was the initiative that would have taken the power to manage wolves away from the state and effectively put it in the hands of anyone with a rifle and grudge against Canis lupus, a la the Wyoming plan. Since Gillette was preoccupied with the assault and battery charges brought against him for the previously mentioned incident, the petition drive was organized by one Tony Mayer, the Twin Falls leader of an outfit called Save Our Elk. They managed to scrape out only 11,640 valid names, far short of the more than 45,000 required. Yet, in spite of overwhelming evidence that Idahoans on a whole want wolves to stay, the organizers vow to try it again.

Dud: Messing With The Hulk

We hope the low-life, scummy mutants who stole Bruce Banner—aka The Hulk—from the Outpost 12 comic book store last summer are proud of themselves. The 7-foot papier mache effigy was soon found, all beat up and dead, in a ditch like it had been gang-thumped by all Fantastic Four at once, plus the Silver Surfer and maybe even Superman. Don't you sometimes wish there really were a Batman or a Spiderman out there, tracking down evil, destructive dopes like these and sending them to Gotham General on a gurney?

Dud: The Kempthorne Chronicles

What do you suppose is in those governor's papers that Dirk didn't want anyone to see?

Could it be his record of accomplishment after six years of managing to accomplish little more than putting Idaho in over $1 billion of debt with GARVEE bonds? Could it be something to do with how he got his condo up at Tamarack? Or why Bush picked him as the run-out-the-clock secretary of interior? Whatever it is, he evidently didn't want us to know about it for at least a quarter century. His stated intent was to donate them to the University of Idaho and keep them sealed for 25 years. Maybe one of those crackerjack conservative lawyers he always surrounded himself with should've told him the law here in the state where he was governor requires him to bequeath his records to the Idaho Historical Society.

Dud: Lawsuit to Close Primary Elections

In spite of the heavily Republican Legislature's rejection of the idea, GOP berserker Rod Beck instituted a lawsuit against fellow Republican Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, which would require Idaho's primaries be closed to anyone but registered party members. Idaho Democratic Party leaders argue that not only should anyone be allowed to vote for whomever they please, but that such a restriction leaves out independents.

Since the issue was raised more than two years ago by Wayne Hoffman, who soon after became Bill Sali's spokesman, we have long suspected the driving force behind this absurdity was Sali, who has a long and sordid history of trying to scour moderates and smart people from his party. Well, it may have worked—particularly in Sali's case, as it took many Republican voters to help scour him from the halls of Congress.

Spud: Substitute Monkey for Addicts' Backs

Until recently, it was illegal in Idaho to provide methadone to addicts. We assume it was part of that "If it's something they do in big cities, we don't want no part of it" mindset that still controls so much of the Gem State. Fortunately, that law was repealed, and this year, Idaho's first methadone clinic opened in Meridian, allowing people hooked on anything from heroin to prescription pain killers to lead a normal life for a fraction of the cost of their habits.

Spud: Jack Van Valkenburgh

Oh, Jack, how we will miss the tousled hair, the boyish grin, the exuberant interviews, the press releases ... but alas, after 18 years as director of the ACLU's Boise office—after actually helping open that office in 1990; after growing the staff from zero to six; after seeing Idaho's ACLU membership increase sixfold during his time there—our Jack is moving on. We fear that eternal vigilance and the stalwart defense of civil liberties won't be the same without you, pal.

Dud: Risch the Debate Skipper

Frankly, we don't know who deserves this dud the most: political candidates so arrogant they feel they can cherry-pick which public forums they'll show up for or the voters who keep letting them get away with it by electing the bastards. When Jim Risch declined to participate in the 10 debates that Larry LaRocco and Rex Rammell proposed, or the League of Women Voters debate on Idaho Public Television, he was extending an old Idaho tradition of Republican candidates deciding their constituencies didn't deserve a full examination of who they were voting for. For the one debate he agreed to, he demand that the candidates could not address one another. Whazza matter, Jimmy? Did that mean ol' Larry guy make you nervous? But he won in a landslide. So if we willingly send small men to represent us in large institutions, whom do we have to blame?

Spud: City of Trees Puts Trees First

We all must thank Velma Morrison, for everything her family has given our town. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Come the day BW erects its Spud Hall of Fame, Madame Morrison will get her own lifetime achievement wing. But as one of Boise's most generous benefactors, she should realize that even if we add up all of her family's contributions, then throw in contributions from the Simplot and Albertson families, it still doesn't measure up to what the Boise River has given to Boise. So our spud has to go to the Bieter administration for refusing to allow her to rip out some greenery so there might be a better view from her new building project. Look at it this way, Velma, you can still see the river. Just not the water part.

Dud: Craig/Crapo Dis Alt. Energies

Last winter, our not-so-dynamic duo of senators voted against a stimulus package that would have given tax incentives for the development of wind and solar power, once more proving that not only are they enemies of the Earth, they must not give much of a damn about their state's future potential in the energy grid either.

C'mon. In the southern part of the state at least, we have plenty of sunshine and plenty of wind, and developing alternative energies could be a gold mine for Idaho. Yet Larry Craig and Mike Crapo opted to stick with the old, and it's likely they did it for no other reason than to keep the Democratic Congress from accomplishing anything.

Dud: Black Widow E-mails

When Canyon County Commissioner Steve Rule forwarded an e-mail from his county account comparing soon-to-be first lady Michelle Obama to a black widow spider, he just couldn't understand why no one else seemed to think it was all that funny. The e-mail included comparisons like "a very wide backside," "black," and "hourglass-shaped markings on her belly." Most decried the message as racist, although some saw it more as a sexist jab against strong, intelligent women who must only be after something. Rule apologized, not for the e-mail, which he still contends is funny, but for forwarding it from his work computer. Some people will never get the point.

Honorary Spud Larry Craig and the Giant Hole

This summer, soon-to-be-ex-Sen. Larry Craig appealed his conviction for the Minneapolis airport incident, insisting he was wrongfully accused of soliciting gay sex from an undercover cop. As of this printing, he still refuses to admit he may have a homosexual bone in his body.

Also as of this printing, the giant hole at the corner of Main and Eighth streets is still a giant hole. It so desperately wants us to believe it will someday be the foundation for a lofty tower, a basement for swank downtown shopping and ritzy condos, the first muddy step to a glorious erection on the Boise skyline. But we know the truth, do we not? It is a giant hole, with nothing but giant holeness in its foreseeable future.

We here at BW hold that both Larry and the giant hole, through unbending consistency, dedicated denial and the unwavering persistence of character, have each earned an honorary spud­—which is at least one level above a regular spud. In spite of every pressure to conform, both remain as they were. Steadfast. Unyielding. True to themselves, if no one else.

Dud

To Death

It should have been a part of Spuds and Duds from the beginning of Spuds and Duds—a final nod to some notable Idahoans who won't be with us next year. But as in all things that concern our frail mortality, better late than never.

• William Studebaker, 61: All poets die too young, but Bill Studebaker went way too young.

• J.R. Simplot, 99: We may not always have liked the way he did business, but by damn, he did a lot of business. And a lot of Idaho benefited from it.

• Mary Ellen Ryder, 56: She perished in the terrible Oregon Trail fire, but she will be remembered for the score of years she taught linguistics, as well as the hole left at Boise State.

• Danny Peterson, 55: One of the more brilliant gems in the crown of Boise is Idaho Shakespeare Festival. This summer, Peterson, a co-founder of that institution, suffered a heart attack and died, one week before he was set to go on stage in MacBeth. "And what needful else that calls upon us, by the grace of Grace, we will perform in measure, time and place: So thanks to all at once, and to each one."

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