BEST LITERARY SEX SCENE TAKING PLACE ON J.R. SIMPLOT'S POOL TABLE
The Great Somoan Novel
Okay, it isn't exactly Jack's billiard bench that is being buggered in local author Bo Donovan's satirical fantasy The Great Somoan Novel. It belongs to his fictional doppelganger, potato baron "Dominick English," one of many familiar characters in the book who reside seven-tenths in reality and three-tenths in Donovan's warped take thereon. Donovan's tale of a self-loathing drug sponge named Kid Courage is so rife with revised Idaho history, sorta-truths and blatant falsehoods that by the end a reader doesn't know who to root for anymore. A great read for anyone who loves the motherland enough to mock it into oblivion.
BEST CONCERT TO EMPTY THE BIG EASY IN UNDER AN HOUR
Maybe it was the ear-splitting guitars repeating the same droning note for 20 minutes. Maybe it was the equally loud baritone sax player who preferred shrieks and honks to anything resembling a note. Maybe it was the wall-sized panel of strobe lights pulsing behind the seated silhouette of Britain's favorite symphonic noise-pop composer Jason "Spaceman" Pierce. Actually, we're pretty sure it was the lights. In any case, less than 100 passed through the gate to witness this monumental stop from one of the world's loudest bands, but less than 10 made it all the way to the encore performance of "Walking with Jesus." Those of us who did left confident that we won't witness a show of equal power, pain and obscurity in this town for a very long time.
BEST TIME WARP
Believe it or not, 11 drive-in movie theaters are still in operation across the state of Idaho. Alas, none of them reside in Ada County, but the two within an hour's drive-The Parma Motor-Vu and Caldwell's Terrace Drive-In-still offer double features at least three nights a week in a laid-back, tailgate party atmosphere. If breathing recycled Megaplex air feels akin to suffocation; you're not alone. Parma owner Karen Cornwell packs a near-capacity number of families with each showing and calls post-Y2K her theater's "golden age." Better out than in!
BEST MISNOMER CONCERT
Given that two-fifths of the legendary Motor City Five have been dead for a decade, and given that those two-fifths included both the lead singer and lead guitarist, the band unleashed a surprisingly powerful set at Neurolux on July 6. The once-house band for the infamous White Panther Party has grayed considerably since those heady, late-1960s days when they were under constant surveillance from the FBI, but Wayne Kramer and Co. sounded no less pissed off and idealistic. Guest singers Mark Arm and Evan Dando loosed some memorable shrieks at the tiny crowd, while picker Marshall Crenshaw kept up with Kramer lick-for-livid-lick. If walking-dead versions of Journey or REO Speedwagon are your only idea of what a reunion tour looks like, you missed out big time.
BEST COMIC RELIEF
The Funny Bone
It's not the only comedy gig going on in Boise, but it is the biggest, most respected and consistently worth your dollar. The Bone has been working the crowds for over a decade now and is still settling into swank new digs. Every week they offer a nice buffet of drinks, open-mic nights, improv shows, and professional comics from around the nation. The performances are very polished, and the staff is one of the friendliest around. So if you're tired of hoping Saturday Night Live will get funny again, try the Bone on a Tuesday.
BEST GALLERY EXHIBIT
Kevan Smith's richly painted works on Alumalite combined minimalist form and abstract expressionist technique in his ongoing project of revisiting the modernist aesthetic in depth. He explored complicated spatial and formal relationships in what were a series of moves and countermoves using a variety of techniques, done with flair and formal ingenuity. Generously applied, the saturated colors and fluid pigment kept inviting you back. Also in the running were Cate Brigden's show at J. Crist, and Stewart Gallery's The Fine Art of Prints.
BEST JAZZ CLUB
BEST SURREAL KARAOKE MOMENT
Warm Lake Lodge
Imagine this: Somewhere semi-deep in the Idaho wilderness sits a semi-pristine lake. On its shores is a century-old log cabin lodge. In that lodge are a group of rough and tumble, backwoods Idahoans, sucking back brewskies, complainin' about the gub'ment. Suddenly, over the sound of flannel rubbing against denim comes a high-pitched howl. Wolf? Cougar? Naw, it's the plaintive wailings of a drunk ATV recreationist singing the Linda Ronstadt version of "Blue Bayou." Friday and Saturday nights at the Warm Lake Lodge, one can listen to the off-key keenings of locals as they caterwaul their way through the karaoke classics.
BEST IMPROV UNDER PRESSURE
Boise Little Theater's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
In the world of live theater, especially musical theater, it is impossible to avoid the occasional "flub" (a.k.a. sudden amnesia, stutters and physical follies like falling off the stage). Sometimes it's really hard to shake off and the audience can taste the embarrassment, but other times, the actor turns scars into stars and uses the blunder to his advantage. Just such a power play occurred in Boise Little Theater's summer production. The lovely young women who played Heady LaRue got her pink stiletto stuck in the stage during a conspiratorial scene with another actor. Rather than downplay the crisis or struggle to remain composed, she made a show of yanking the shoe from the crack without skipping a beat, and the audience went bananas. Kudos, young lady. Kudos.
BEST PLACE TO GET ARRESTED
6th and Main
Every Monday morning, the folks at work gather round the ol' computer and check out Ada Sheriff's Web site to see who got arrested over the weekend. The lesson learned here is that if you get arrested, your mug is gonna look ugly on the Web site no matter how cute those jeans were when you left home. The cure is to get arrested where everyone will see you so they know that you are indeed cute, not just another heinous DUI.
BEST PLACE TO WATCH BIZARRE MOVEMENT
After hiring the drum circle bands that would otherwise have played on the sidewalk at its entrance, Reef has opened the floodgates so inner hippies can now emerge from their bottled up frat boy bodies. Get a little Mexican lemonade in those lads and they're shaking like Ricky Martin on the high seas.
BEST PLACE TO GET DRUNK FOR FREE
The routine is the same for everyone. Getting free drinks at furniture stores, galleries and other such downtown locales is so easy it feels naughty. To combat the guilt of going into these establishments, you hang around, lingering and looking, pretending to care about their merch. They know why you're there, and they love watching you fakers. So keep up the good work and they'll keep pouring the wine.
BEST EMERGING ARTIST
Since Karen Woods' arrival on the Boise gallery scene in 2000, her small-scale oils have continued to impress. Her subjects are usually nondescript, sometimes bleak locales around town that she somehow transforms into memorable pearls that capture the essence of our surroundings, demonstrating an innate rapport with her medium. Despite the fact that she works from photographs, Woods' rendering of light and the fresh, brisk feel of her paintings, give her art a plein-air look. It is raw, unfiltered and honest, invigorating the local landscape genre.
BEST EXHIBIT AT BOISE ART MUSEUM
Pat Steir and Till Freiwald
Two concurrent shows of paintings at BAM this year win this category for several reasons. The artists, both individually and together, presented beautifully rendered, monumental work that demonstrated how alive painting is today, in abstraction and realism, despite what some would say. Though residing in opposing stylistic camps, both Steir and Freiwald take a conceptual approach to the issue of representation, giving them more in common than first meets the eye. Occupying half the museum, together they made for a tour de force of this often maligned art form.
BEST OF BOSCO
William Lewis/Charles Gill
At the risk of offending the more egalitarian-minded members of Boise Open Studios Collective Organization (BOSCO), the stand-outs during the open studio weekend in June were Charles Gill's quietly dramatic paintings of single male figures, reminiscent of Spanish portraiture and Thomas Eakins; and William Lewis' evocative, multimedia paintings that excavate and contemplate society's substrata of discarded systems, beliefs and technologies. Both artists walk an independent path in their art, flaunting conventional notions of composition and subject, and share a knack for identifying the realm of possibilities dwelling within the commonplace.
BEST FREE MOVIE SELECTION
Boise Public Library!
The Library! is a beautiful thing. There's not a store or friend's house around where you're allowed to walk in, examine their stuff in peace and then walk off with an armful of their goods for a week. If you're late, you owe like a buck. Still cheaper than any video store-plus if you're feeling schizophrenic, include in your armful a tour of Brazil, a how-to on potty training and Guys and Dolls.
BEST UP-AND-COMING ART PROFESSIONAL
In her first major curatorial post, BAM's Associate Curator Heather Ferrell has put together some of the museum's most interesting exhibits of late. She can be both feisty and self-effacing, which has served her well, whether dealing with art-star prima donnas, charming prominent critic Arthur Danto into agreeing to jury the 2004 Triennial, or securing Boise as the site for the 2006 Western Museum Association conference. She also puts considerable energy into community art projects and got BAM involved in BOSCO. This summer, in recognition of her talent and industry, Ferrell was nominated for, and accepted into, the Getty Leadership Institute's program "Museum Leaders: the Next Generation." We're lucky to have her.
BEST NEW PUBLIC ART
Penny Postcard is an eye-catching new addition to Boise's growing public art collection. Mark Baltes historical, well-designed work was installed this past February outside City Hall facing Idaho Street. Penny Postcard is a porcelain enamel on steel collage of cool antique postcards depicting municipal buildings and street scenes from the early 20th century. Looking at the piece from the east, the viewer sees a totally different scene than from the west, making the piece the best complimentary, two-for-one art experience in town.
BEST LOCAL CIRCUS
Invaders of the Heart
Hulahoopers, strongmen and fire-dancers, oh my! Get your fix of creative tricks from Idaho's premiere do-it-yourself performance troupe. Three cheers for Boise's Invaders of the Heart, Post-Apocalyptic Renegade Circus Show! Tumbling out of the North End, the variety act entertains friends and families of all ages while raising money for worthwhile causes. Check out their next shows, October 8 and 9 at 7 p.m., on the corner of North 7th and Eastman Streets. Five dollar suggested donation. For more information, call 353-4149.
BEST "BEST OF BOISE" BLURB
As blurbs go, this one is super. There is much enthusiasm in this blurb. This blurb has it all. I love this blurb. This blurb puts all other blurbs to shame because it is the one pure blurb. If we didn't think this blurb was the best blurb we would not call it the best blurb, nor would we even look at it or think of it. This, therefore, is the best blurb.
BEST GALLERY SHOW BEYOND BOISE
At the Edge of Science, Sun Valley Center for the Arts
Jennifer Gately of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts put together an original and engaging show when she grouped an international cast of talented artists whose works are all related to methods and mindsets normally associated with science. Normally we associate art and science with very different, even opposing forms of evidence. At the Edge of Science showed the human relationship between the two fields. It became clear that in both art and science, we are asking the universe to reply. Sometimes that reply is both scientific and aesthetic.
best new film festival
It may not be Idaho's first regional film festival, but it is certainly the most stylish. The posters showing a low-top Chuck Taylor with a spur on the back were a bit enraging (why didn't we think of it first!?) but we couldn't stay mad after seeing all the cool and exclusive features coming to town. Like pre-Sundance screenings of the documentary Trudell or Who Killed Cock Robin? Or movies that would never show in Idaho otherwise, like An Injury to One or the post-apocalyptic buddy picture Ever Since the World Ended. Or even pictures that were made in Idaho, but that we'd probably never see, like the freaky and fabulous short film Bliss. The bar for next year's version has been set pretty high, but we've heard that the festival bigwigs are already planning to increase the regional emphasis by letting local filmmakers submit feature-length flicks. Very cool. Oh yeah, and we got to hobnob, albeit briefly, with Neve Campbell. For those of us still nursing a Party of Five jones, that meant more than we'd like to admit.