2005 Public Eye Editor's Picks

Editors' Picks

Best "D'Oh!"

"Made In China" bracelets at the Dalai Lama

This "D'oh" could also qualify for the "Best of the Galaxy" issue. It involves a certain Tibetan religious leader visiting Hailey, where his thrilled American supporters decided to commemorate his stay with heaps of rubber bracelets embossed with the simple message "Compassion" ... and the totally screwed-up message of "Made in China." You don't have to know much about the Dalai Lama to see how--regardless of his actual response--how he'd be perfectly justified in dismissing the entire Western Hemisphere for something like this. We've since received posts on our Web site claiming that the His Holiness the Dalai Lama Visits Sun Valley Organizing Committee intentionally went to China for the bracelets in the name of political goodwill. Until we receive a stack of signed affidavits, we're going to stick with: Shyeah right!

Best Local Triumph We're Not Actually Proud Of

Third-Largest Town in Northwest

We just love the smell of cheap-ass infill housing in the morning, don't you? Eat our ever-growing amount of car exhaust, Tacoma and Spokane! You guys think you're so big, with your so-called "cultural attractions" and "non-identical housing," but we've showed you who's boss.

Best Online Girlfriend that is Neither a Girl Nor a Friend

Boise Police Department

Real teenagers take heed: Just because your online girlfriend or boyfriend says she's your age doesn't mean it's true. She or he could be a creepy fifty-something typing one-handed in an office somewhere. Or she or he could be a I'm-only-acting-creepy-in-the-name-of-justice police officer, who's only chatting with you to see if you're the creepy fifty-something. That's right, Boise detectives are on the cyber-beat, and they're getting more convincing all the time--heck, they occasionally even use their own childhood pictures as bait! And just because your little thang agrees to chat with you repeatedly doesn't mean squat. Detectives carried on a sexual online relationship with a 51-year-old Montana Mormon Church stake president for six weeks last fall before luring him down to Boise with a box of lingerie and a digital camera. We can't believe we're going to say this, kids, but ... wouldn't it be safer for you to go smoke cigarettes and play Grand Theft Auto instead?

Best Pun-Worthy Local Landmark

Boise's Smoking Crack

Technically, artist Alison Sky's contribution to the side of the Grove Hotel at Capitol Boulevard and Front Street goes by the name of "River Sculpture." But due to the shape, the steam erupting from it, the circa-1987 colors ... we've always preferred the name "The Smoking Crack." And since this particular smoking crack is a public art project made possible by the Boise City Arts Commission, it could accurately be labeled "Boise's smoking crack." Let's say that all together now: "Boise's smoking crack." Try to use it in conversation: "'How's Boise?' 'Boise's smoking crack.' 'Oh, I see ...'" And what about the poor guy who has to make sure the steam-fluid tank is adequately stocked? Wouldn't he be ... Boise's crack smoker?

Best One-Day News Story

Fairy Shrimp

It seemed too good to be true: A new species is discovered south of Boise. It looks eerily like the larval version of Alien, and is nearly as mean. It devours its own family members, holds live victims against its spine-covered abdomen for days before killing them and--get this--its young can survive being buried in the desert floor for years before hatching. We were ready to make the fairy shrimp our new mascot. Then like a dust devil, the story was gone, never to be discussed again. But we haven't forgotten. We still love you, you ugly, nasty little bastards.

Best Penmanship by a Local Prisoner

Harlan Hale

We were tickled pink when, in April, we received a handwritten letter from Idaho's premiere felonious media darling, Harlan Hale. He was temporarily in the clink for some minor charges like attempted murder and aggravated assault (he would soon escape), but took the time to tell us how he objected to being labeled a "Fashionable Super-Thug" on our True Crime page. How do we know he took time? His handwriting--we're talking curly-Q's, loop-de-loops, every letter measured out at precise angles and identical lengths. A masterpiece! We're hesitant to use the word "dainty," but "painstakingly elegant" is quite appropriate. Keep it up, Harlan. Win two "BW Golden Nib" awards in a row and we're liable to give you your own column. As for the dozens of prison pen-pal candidates we receive each month ... better luck next year.

Best BW Quote that Somehow, Someway, didn't get an Idaho Politician in Trouble.

Simpson on Craig

It started so simply. Late last year, Nicholas Collias was covering a public hearing at Taco Bell Arena, where Idahoans who believed their struggles with cancer were caused by nuclear fallout from explosions at the Nevada Test Site spoke to a panel from the National Academy of Sciences. Idaho's governor and delegation were there for most of the day, too (although Dirk kicked out right about Days of Our LIves-o'clock). Collias talked to Larry Craig, to Butch Otter, and then he saw Mike Simpson wandering outside for a smoke break. Collias followed, and asked a simple question: "Congressman, Larry Craig says the United States needs a nuclear arsenal to 'prevent another 9-11.' How do you feel about that reasoning?"

"That's just bullshit," Simpson replied, pointing directly into the recorder. Then he said it again. "The United States will not use nuclear weapons unless we are bombed with nuclear weapons. The reality is we'll never use a nuclear device." Such a dirty mouth for a dentist! Let's just hope you're right, Congressman.

Don't believe us? Check the story (BW, Feature, "The Low-Use Segment," Nov. 17, 2004) on www.boiseweekly com.)

Best Place to Express Your First Amendment Rights and Have Nobody Care

8th Street

Just pull out a guitar, plunk down in front of the Bittercreek, Pollo Rey or Dawson Taylor, and watch everyone avoid you like grim death. Isn't democracy great? A close second: the benches outside of the Flying M.

Best Case of Darth Vader Having a Change of Heart and Throwing The Emperor Into the Flaming Core of the Death Star.

What's that you say? All four of Idaho's congressional delegates voted against President Bush's pet legislation, the Central American Free Trade Act? This particular bill, the economic equivalent of an Imperial Star-Destroyer strafing Idaho's sugar-beet fields, faced tough opposition from legislators of all stripes. But don't start dancing with Ewoks and rolling the credits just yet--it still passed. On the upside, now that your Star Wars T-shirts are being made by starving 10-year-olds in the Dominican Republic, you'll be able to buy them for a few cents less.

Best Slap in the Face of Local Government

Art Night

Just how much press did Erotic City's use of a perceived loophole in the "serious artistic merit" clause of Boise's nudity ordinance get? The BBC--yes, that BBC--called up BW news editor Nicholas Collias for an exclusive live interview about the full-nude "Art Nights" scandalizing the Bench. For a few precious days, it seemed the whole world was pointing and laughing in our general direction. And then ...

Best Disease We Didn't Know was a Disease Until Channel 7 Told Us It Was Disease

Meth Mouth

Not that we give them credit for having either the imagination or the research skills for unearthing this fantastic alliteration. They just said it with more of a threatening tone than anyone, save your grandparents, could manage with a straight face. Is "meth mouth" tragic? Sure, but we were always perfectly content with the label, "Hey dumbass, yer damn teeth are all fallin' out 'cuz you sold your toothbrush during that 14-day runner."

Best Case of Local Government Squishing an Annoying Little Insect

Bye-bye, Art Night

Erotic City owner Chris Teague really thought he had pulled one over on the ol' City of Trees. Turns out, according to BPD spokeswoman Lynn Hightower, "If you read the ordinance, it does allow for dance theaters and things with serious artistic merit, but it clearly states that the exception does not apply to adult businesses." D'oh! Apparently, the coppers had just been staying their judicial hand, mercifully choosing not to bring the hammer down on a bunch of barely legal strippers who were all equally liable to the guy really behind the illicit drawing class. But come April, the hammer fell and three dancers and Teague were charged. It was fun while it lasted, gals. But in hindsight, we still have one question: Was the crowd made up more of stripper fans who were interested in art or local artists looking for an excuse to go to the strip club?

Best Place to Avoid a Natural Disaster

Exactly where you are standing right now

According to Forbes magazine, the only place less likely than Boise to feel the effects of "extreme weather" is Honolulu. Good for you, you bunch of lei-wearing pork-roasters--at least our football team totally kicked your football team's ass! Of course, these climate-based rankings probably change every ice age or so, but for now, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your time in God's blind spot.

Best Lemming Behavior by Boiseans

Driving the Wrong Way on One-Way Streets

It's easy to blame this phenomenon on cell phones, but that explanation just doesn't cut it anymore. Since BW's offices moved onto the corner of Sixth Street, we see someone--regardless of age, gender, phone-iness--roll up the down road nearly every day. The frightening spectacle replays regularly on Main, Idaho, Capitol and 9th so commonly, we're left scratching our heads and spinning otherworldly conspiracy theories. Maybe aliens have inhabited our brains and are trying to thin the herd before the invasion. Maybe our hyper-computerized automobiles have begun rebelling against their masters. Or maybe ... just maybe ... our poor decision-making is the expression of profound evolutionary guilt over all the species we've eradicated over the last century. Hear that dodo, Boise? It squawks for thee.

Best Humiliation that is Still Just Around the Bend

Idaho Legislature: The Movie

Last year, Frederick Wiseman, legendary documentary filmmaker and founder of the American version of the "cinema verité" movement, collected 130 hours of footage of Idaho's State Legislature. The resulting flick--all four-plus hours of it--was expected to be released "sometime" in 2005. We're not counting the minutes. After all, as a grand farewell gesture to the film crew, state Reps. Gerry Sweet and Henry Kulczyk held a full-auto shooting spree south of town in order to show them "what Idaho is really like." (Shudder.) But when this political nature film finally does come out, be sure to keep an eye out for BW's own Nicholas Collias. He's the one in a mesh PBR hat and overalls, firing a MAC-11 Uzi at a burned-out TV set.

Best Demographic We're Really, Really Nervous to Act as Advocates For

Teenage "Rapists"

Don't get us wrong--by all commonly held definitions, we're not advocating anything resembling rape. But check out the first definition listed in Idaho law: "Where the female is under the age of eighteen (18) years." That leaves open not only consensual sex between two underage lovebirds, but also, thanks to Idaho's definition of "sex," any fooling around (beyond second base) that takes place between any two Idaho teens of any age. Hmmm ... makes you wonder how many of our neo-con leaders were once technically rapists in their own home state, doesn't it? Sure, such cases probably very rarely result in prosecutions, but is that justification for antiquated laws to remain on the books? (We're thinking of "fornication" and "sodomy" as well here.)

Best Uniting of Church and State In the Name of Scheduling

Kempthorne Stands with "Those Who Believe"

Right after we learned of the scheduling conflict, National Day of Prayer volunteer Jim Hughes told BW that the governor's office had generously offered to "help us straighten this thing out." What that means we can only guess, but at the ensuing NDP event, Kempthorne made clear whose side he was on. "Today I choose to side with those who believe, because I do believe," he cooed to the faithful thousands. Then his predecessor, former Gov. Phil Batt used this (thankfully) rare public speaking opportunity to insult--in a prayer, no less--the "liberal judiciary" and those evil "activist judges." Holy crap!

Best Congressional Misdirection Trick

Down With Noble, Up With Dogma

It's really nice that Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey took it upon himself to end State Sentor Jack Noble's career. Noble screwed the proverbial drunken pooch when he wrote a bill to reduce the distance required between a school and a liquor store by a few feet. However, the jury's still out on whether his gaffe is more shameful than a legislature and governor who signed the same unconstitutional legislation into law three freaking times! Oppose abortion all you want, boys, but your version of "parental consent" is not one that will be allowed in Idaho. Ancient Mesopotamia, maybe. The district court that deflated the latest version--and then banned the legislature from passing any more dunderheaded consent laws--put it nicely when it wrote in the ruling, "[The law's] chilling effect could be substantial enough to cause the mature minor to forego the emergency procedure even if it threatened her life." Don't the words "chilling effect" just fill you with faith in our political system?

Best Local Story We Went Way, Way Out of Our Way Not To Cover

Sarah Johnson Murder Trial

Local TV stations, the Statesman and every other Idaho paper, CNN and Court TV--you guys can have this one. No need to thank us. But the thing that really got us about this case was ... ah, fergit it.

Best Story We Gave More Attention Than It Deserved

Atheists take the capitol steps

Five months later, we can admit that maybe, just maybe, the scheduling snafu surrounding the Idaho Day of Equality: Equal Rights for Atheists and Others, also known as the National Day of Prayer, didn't warrant four separate news stories. Idaho Atheists, Inc., reserved the front Statehouse steps, the NDP folks got angry and called the Gov., the atheists threatened to sue, so the godlies moved to the west steps and reserved the front steps for the next thousand years. Simple, right? Then again, what were we to do? Leave the story to the Statesman, who used deceiving camera angles to imply that only four or five or atheists showed up at the event? Or Channel 7, who portrayed the legitimate scheduling conflict as a terrorist-style takeover of hallowed ground? The hell with that! Let's write even more about it, starting right now:

Best Reason to Move to the Sticks

Cell-Phone Ringtones

How did we ever live without the ability to play a different top-40 hit for each of our friends and colleagues? We'd like to find out, by moving out where the reception ends (about a 10-minute drive from Boise). That said, when Jebus finally calls to announce his second coming, we've almost got the ring picked out: either Strauss's "Also Spracht Zarathustra," or 50 Cent's "Candy Shop."

Best Re-Enactment of Caligula Ordering Hundreds of Ships To Be Tied Together So He Could Ride Across the Bay Of Naples On Horseback

Dirk Kempthorne's proposed four-lane Indian Valley highway, which cuts through an area where Highways 95 and 55 are 10 miles apart!

Best One-Week News Story

Boise River Alcohol Ban

Think back a few months ... remember how much you wished all that talk about banning alcohol on the Boise River would just go away? Well, it did. Maybe all the offenders were ticketed or locked up or hung by their thumbs or whatever the punishment was. We really can't remember, because after the first weekend (where no citations were issued), the topic never really came up anymore. We'd like to think that our guide to beating the new laws (BW, News, "New Booze Laws Apply to Dumbasses Only") had something to do with it.

Best Reason Not To Move To The Sticks

Super-dairies

Thirty years ago, according to statistics recently spouted by the Idaho Dairymen's Association, Idaho contained around 7,000 dairies, milking a little over 100,000 cows. Today, the numbers are less than 800 dairies, milking over 350,000 cows (that's 1,400,000 teats!). The Idaho Conservation League met with the dairymen earlier this year to increase accountability in the air emissions (ammonia, mostly) pouring out of these immense operations, but regardless--when you're talking 6,000 or more cows on a single farm ... "At'sa spicy manure pile!"

Best Sign that Idaho Is Creeping Hesitantly Into the 21st Century

Six words: Mounted police out, lesbian legislators in.

Best Sign that Idaho Is Clinging to the 19th century like a bloated tick

Still no ursula horribilis! And this despite the federal Fish and Wildlife Service's estimate that outside of national parks, a grizzly bear kills an American citizen only once every 53 years. Don't expect a change, though. All three of our upcoming gubernatorial candidates, Butch Otter, Jim Risch and Jerry Brady, have told BW they're unequivocally anti-griz.

Best Sign that Dirk Kempthorne Doesn't Know a Damn Thing About Idaho

Bassarack

Let's say you've finally met the girl of your dreams. She's that rare animal who makes your heart go pitter-patter, and who might, conceivably, pull some strings to get you the Cabinet appointment that will finally get people to stop talking about those shady campaign contributions you've been soaking up. Of course, you'd want to show such a fine lady that you are the master of your domain. As such, would you take her to, say, the nicest, most historic putt-putt golf course in town (Sun Valley), or would you take her to a putt-putt course that is only partially built, and where construction workers are more common than windmills? We thought so.

And let's say that after a rousing round of putt-putt, you decide to take your arm candy to the best Chinese takeout joint in town (i.e., take the president fishing). Would you order the Chef's specialty (Idaho trout), or would you order the ubiquitous cheeseburger that lurks, down by the kiddie dishes, on every Chinese menu (smallmouth bass)? Sure, you'll get a bite either way, but good luck getting a goodnight kiss with that cheap burger on your breath. As for rounding second--forget it, buddy!

Best Takeover of An Evil Empire by An Evil Empire

Knight-Ridder Mounts the Statesman

BW's editorial staff greatly appreciates the way so many of our readers have walked up to us in recent months and earnestly asked, "So ... whaddya think about ol' Knight-Ridder taking over the Statesman?" The answer is a half-hearted, "Meh." Faceless corporations controlling the news--they're not all basically cut from the same cloth. But we're thrilled about the jokes. After the first time one of us--Bill Cope, to be specific--mistakenly called Knight-Ridder "Knight Rider," we were ruined. Expect several Hasselhoff-themed covers in the next year.

Best New Idea for the Boise Tower Pit

This award is quickly becoming a tradition, and will continue as long as the empty hole at 8th and Main continues is a source of public humiliation for our city. Can't they at least take down the four-year-old banner telling us what's "going up" downtown with a picture of a building that will never be?

As for how to make use of this gaping monstrosity, we'd like to share an idea someone else told us. First, find a spoon. Carry it with you always. Then, every time you walk downtown, carry one spoonful of dirt from your garden, a park--wherever--and throw it in the hole. Using the logic that if everyone took an artifact or a rock from a National Park there wouldn't be anything left for everyone else, we might conversely be able to fill the hole by the time next year's Best of Boise rolls around.

Best Alternative Transportation

Roller skates

Four plastic wheels, leather boots and a stopper, baby--and no, we're not talking about blades. What, you thought we were going to pick recumbent bikes? Asinine Coke commercials aside, roller skating is one of the coolest ways to get from A to B. If you need proof, go to Rockie's Diner on Overland Road and dig on the skating waitresses. Not only do they wear polyester cheerleading skirts and shiny tights, they turn a mean corner with trays full of milkshakes without even breaking a sweat.

Best Censorship, or Bestexample of an Idaho Legislator not knowing how to read

During the last legislative session, an Idaho representative from the even more conservative southeastern part of the state, took offense to our series of news stories about strip clubs and pornography in Boise. In what seemed to be another case of looking at a picture (in this case an illustration) or headline and making one's mind up about a story, this legislator (in a room where the majority is supposed to make decisions) was able to ban BW from the table where all the other pertinent regional publications are available to our representatives. Apparently this representative felt we were "promoting pornography," when, in fact, we were writing about the city's nudity ban and shedding non-judgemental light on an industry that is far too often treated like nothing more than a town's dirty little secret. In other words, Mr. Legislator, pornography needs no "promoting" among your or any other constituency. Meanwhile, over in the Senate, where people actually read, cooler heads prevailed and BW continues to be enjoyed.

Best Conspiracy Theory

Dateline Pocatello: TV weatherman Scott Stevens joins Erotic City, George W. Bush, the Dalai Lama and "The Scalper" as Idaho's top news exports to the rest of the world for 2005. His story: He announces on-air that Hurricane Katrina was intentionally inflicted on the U.S. by the Japanese Mafia, using Russian Cold War technology, as revenge for the bombing of Hiroshima. Well, duh! Tell us something we don't know! In recent days, Stevens has announced his resignation from KPVI-TV in Pocatello so that, as station manager Bill Fitch told the AP, "He could devote full-time to this." Be sure to tell us how that one pays, Scott. But don't worry, militant meteorology fans, Scott isn't set to blow off the face of the Earth just yet. His Web site, www.weatherwars.info, gives more free information about him, his theories and generally weird weather phenomena than you ever knew you couldn't survive without.

Best Democrat

There are some great Dems on the rise in Idaho, but one of the best and brightest has made it clear she is not interested in running for office. Blast. Her name is Maria Weeg, and she oversees the state Democratic Party with tremendous energy, style and smarts. Of course, she is only human, but her track record would suggest that campaigns go a lot better when she's involved. Take it from us; she is a powerful force in the political arena and a great lunch date. Now that's impressive.

Best Wakeup Call about the American Legal System

Jury Duty

The next time you get called in for jury selection, we challenge you to keep from standing up and screaming, "This is a farce!" When you fill out the personal information form, know that if you answer honestly to being any brand of thinking person, you are pretty much blackballed--but don't think you're off the hook. After that, you will go in every morning with 100 other drones and find yourself consistently in the last 10. This means you will sit for hours while trial lawyers spew rhetorical bilge to doe-eyed peons terrified of giving the "wrong" answer to queries like: "Have you ever been (long pause for effect) lied to? Tell me about that." In the end, the people who get picked are usually the ones who demonstrate malleability, and don't even get us started about the concept of a jury of our "peers."

Best Political Hissy Fit

Dirk loses it, then wins it

A day that will live in embarrassing infamy: March 31, 2005, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne unapologetically vetoed eight bills--without reading them--because the Idaho House of Representatives had not seen fit to approve his pet legislation, the controversial Connecting Idaho highway plan. His reasoning: "Approval of the above mentioned legislation merely hastens the adjournment of the House of Representatives before it would have an opportunity to affirmatively act upon an important matter of policy still before the House Transportation and Defense Committee, namely, Senate Bill 1183 (Connecting Idaho)." In other words, the Democratic process is well and good, but, "ME-WANTY! ME-WANTY!" (Or depending on your take on the guv's recent financial problems, "The company that has been contributing to my nonexistent re-election campaign wanty its special new four-lane highway-y.") The nixed bills covered topics ranging from seed regulation to commercial driver's license requirements to better reporting of child neglect and abuse, but that's not important. What's important is that after Dirk said, "As the House continues to deliberate over the next several weeks, I would encourage you to move quickly to consider Senate Bill 1183 and pass such without amendment," the weenies actually caved!

Best Christian Martyr

Tie: St. Sebastian and Brandi Swindell

Sure, Sebastian took a barrage of Roman arrows--and a deadly beating when that didn't work--for his faith. But Brandi Swindell, Idaho's own martyr-in-the-making and "pro-life" yelling, dead-baby-picture-toting, Ten Commandment-pushing, all-around Christian wingnut, went clear to Florida to cram food and water down Terri Schiavo's tube hole. Then, when even that didn't make Jebus to get up off his cloud and start rapturizin' ... she posed for the cover of Boise's premiere document of the End Days, Thr!ve.

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