A year in review
A look back at the people, places and events we covered in 2010
By Jared Curtis and Matt Miller
Another year has come and gone, and as we enter a new decade we look forward to all that will take place in 2011. But we also celebrate how we arrived here by looking back at the events in 2010.
We started the year with our Legislative Preview, serving the hot button issues that will be on the minds of the fine folks at the statehouse. News Editor Matt Miller discovered that budget cuts were a big topic along with state tax credits and gun rights. It will be interesting to see what new Gov. Terry Branstad pushes forward with during his time in office.
In the second week of the month, Arts & Entertainment Editor Jared Curtis took us into his film buff mind as he chose the Top 10 Films of the Decade. It’s a rare chance to put together the decade’s best, and Curtis delivered with a must-see list (“High Fidelity,” “Wonder Boys,” City of God,” “25th Hour,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “A History of Violence,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” The Fountain,” “Once” and “Children of Men”) full of unique and outstanding films, honorable mentions and the five worst film offenders of the decade (we’re looking at you Uwe Boll).
The Cityview editorial staff combined forces to create its annual Winter Arts & Entertainment Guide, an informative look at fun things to do in the frigid months. Activities included concerts, art openings, theater performances, films to see, food celebrations and sporting events. The Winter Guide offered plenty to do to help keep central Iowans warm until the snow melted.
The last week of the month brought an interesting and up-close look at the tragedies in Haiti during the massive earthquake. Freelancer Anne Mathey shared insight through the eyes of her father who was in Haiti at the time on a humanitarian trip. The story brought the devastation to the readers of central Iowa like no other periodical could, and we’re glad Mathey survived the ordeal, helping as many as he could before leaving the country.
We tied February together with a cover story from freelance writer Douglas Burns about the connection of a Drake professor and a new book dedicated to the iconic 1998 film “The Big Lebowski.” Professor Craig Owens wrote a chapter about The Dude’s favorite drink, a White Russian, for the book “The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies.”
We celebrated Valentine’s Day during the second week of the month with a story about love by News Editor Matt Miller. He took a look at the book “Cherries Over Quicksand” by author Rhonda Ricardo, which featured more than 70 short stories full of advice for woman who have gone through a break-up. We also joined in the fight between a hilarious skit aired on WHO TV’s “SoundOFF” — entitled “Little Lick, Lotta Bite,” about walk-on player and former coach’s son John Lickliter — and University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta. As the year progressed, we’re sure Barta wishes he would have left this debacle alone.
The third week of February meant it was time for our Annual “Best Of Des Moines” issue, sharing readers’ votes on a plethora of categories (176 to be exact) ranging from dining, to shopping to sightseeing and nightlife. The readers responded as a new record of votes (6,743) were cast. The party at Prairie Meadows was a huge success, and voting has already started for this year’s edition (www.dmcityview.com). Vote before it’s too late (voting ends Feb. 1). As celebratory as “Best Of” was, there was also sadness in the air as Des Moines business icon John Ruan passed away at the age of 96.
We finished the month sitting on the pot. A&E Editor Jared Curtis wrote a flushing tale of some of the best and worst toilets in the metro. We scoured the bowls of the metro and received praise from some owners and hatred from others. In the end, the story proved beneficial as a number of the places cleaned up their acts.
March started off with a war — a weather war. News Editor Matt Miller took a look at the “TV Weather Wars” and the debate over which local news station has the “most accurate forecast.” WOI claimed victory thanks to its involvement with WeatheRate weather tracking technology, but that was disputed by both WHO’s Ed Wilson and KCCI’s John McLaughlin. Or maybe they just tell us it’s going to rain so they can get a good tee time. Either way, we’d like to see these three duke it out in a snow and ice covered arena.
Was it luck of the Irish? Or drunk of the Irish? We covered both in our celebration guide to St. Patrick’s Day. Filled with all the party info readers could handle, the guide let people know where to see the parade, where to find traditional Irish cuisine and where to discover the most people puking green beer. Cheers! Skinny got into the swing of things as well, dropping knowledge on failed gubernatorial candidate Jonathon Narcisse and the disappearance of “Food Guru” Peter Harmon from Graze at West Glen.
Oh, Steve King. We could dedicate pages to you and your crazy antics every issue, but for one week we made you the focus. Freelance writer Douglas Burns delivered a sad but true look at the craziest congressman this side of the equator, choosing 20 (that’s all we had the space for) of his greatest hits including when he said Iraq was safer than Washington D.C., and that terrorists will be “dancing in the streets” if Barack Obama was elected president. Thanks, Steve, for keeping the crazy scene alive!
We wrapped up the month with a look at Wells Fargo Arena and how even in tough economic times, the arena is operating beyond projections, bringing plenty of entertainment for all ages to town. This was also the week the University of Northern Iowa shocked the world, defeating the then No. 1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Basketball tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16. And excitement began to build around Ryne Sandberg’s Iowa Cubs managerial skills. That worked out well, didn’t it?
April was a great time of year as the weather began to warm up and the thoughts of the blistery cold winter started to fade away. It was also a fun time for us at the office as we published our annual April Fool’s issue. This year we took on the idea of legal prostitution to help the budget shortfalls. As always, we received plenty of calls asking if this story was real, and surprisingly, we also got plenty of support from readers on the topic. Hey, it worked for Nevada. We also took a jab at the “Jersey Shore” craze, creating our own guido-riffic bar on the Easter Lake Shore called The Ark in “Belly Up,” and nudists’ weekly naked bowling events at the Beaver Bowling Alley in “Locker Room.” Also, check the video store for one of the finest action/horror hybrids you’ve never seen, “George Washington: Werewolf Hunter.”
It’s tough to follow up on the April Fool’s issue, but we did it the best way we knew how with humor, satire and a bit of truth. Freelance writer Douglas Burns’ cover story on “The 25 People Not Running For Governor (but should)” created a huge buzz, as readers hailed our picks. Sure, they included Hayden Fry, Kevin Cooney, Ashton Kutcher and Slipknot member Shawn Crahan, but any of them may have been a refreshing change.
As mouths watered for the next batch of Templeton Rye to be released (even though it was released a few weeks ago, we couldn’t snag a bottle… C’mon fellas, help a newsroom out), freelance writer Douglas Burns informed whiskey enthusiasts, thanks to a new rule, that the Iowa Distillery could sell product on site. But don’t get your hopes up, it’s only two bottles a day. We also found out — much to the demise of Iowa Republicans — that Michael Gartner was still alive thanks to an “Ask Us” column in the Mason City Globe Gazette.
Finishing the month, we took a look at the time-honored tradition of the Drake Relays. The weather was great, the athletes competed, alumni got drunk and Dogtown turned into a small city for a week. The city also received praise from Forbes magazine, ranking Des Moines the best place for business and careers. The metro’s low cost of living and doing business, educated work force and employment growth kicked the city up seven spots to the top destination.
A&E Editor Jared Curtis kicked off May in a big way as he triumphantly ate his way across the metro in our version of the popular TV show “Man V. Food” months before the cable TV show visited town. Out of four competitions — The Fatty Challenge (4 lbs. of food in 30 minutes) at Fanatic’s Grille & Bar, The Belly Buster (54 ounce steak) at Rube’s Steakhouse, The Showdown Challenge (the hottest sandwich you have or will ever eat) at Cactus Bob’s BBQ Corral and The Big Max Burger (4 lbs. burger) at Grandma Max’s Restaurant — he finished all but The Fatty Challenge. Curtis walked away from that challenge with photos on the wall and three new T-shirts to add to his collection.
From busting pants to busting crooks, News Editor Matt Miller took over our annual “Busted” issue, sharing a look at a week of criminals in the metro. This is one of our favorites to write and read, but we can’t say the same for the people who show up in the issue.
The following week we looked at the business of booze as A&E Editor Jared Curtis took an informative approach to the consumption of alcohol sales in Iowa’s 99 counties. We found out spirits are big business in Iowa, no matter where you live. Sadly, we also had to say goodbye to another Iowa political force, Ed Campbell. Every other Democrat in the state said goodbye, except for Chet Culver who was at a fund-raiser.
As it appeared Chet Culver was already defeated no matter whom his upcoming opponent would be, freelance writer Douglas Burns took a look at the Republican showdown brewing between Terry Branstad, Bob Vaander Plaats and Rod Roberts. We all knew Branstad would come out victorious, but who knew Vander Plaats would be such a sore loser? After being defeated, Vander Plaats used out-of-state money to take down those who voted to approve same sex marriages, leading the way in disappearance of progression in Iowa.
We ended May and started June with our Annual Summer Arts & Entertainment Guide. The issue was filled with pages of things to keep you entertained all summer long from concerts and films to outdoors events and art openings, to celebrations of food. It’s a task bringing all the information together, but our readers love it, and we love to provide them with an easy-to-read guide filled with activities to do all summer long.
News Editor Matt Miller brought readers a heartbreaking tale of a life taken too early as the family members of Steve Davidson — who tragically died when a building collapsed on Court Avenue 40 years ago — shared their story. With so many questions that will most likely never be answered, it was a powerful story, and we were proud of the Davidson family for sharing it with our readers.
June was chock full of activities, so why not highlight one of the biggest — The Hy-Vee Triathlon. We shared stories from a number of competitors from first timers to cancer survivors and how the event has grown into one of nation’s premier events. Along with the triathlon, another event, Pridefest, took over the streets of Des Moines, giving everyone an opportunity to be equal, no matter what Bob Vander Plaats says.
Summertime is the best time to enjoy a cool, adult beverage, which is exactly why we published our annual Summer Bar Guide. It offered a full listing of all the bars in and around the metro and highlighted five of the best patios in town. We gave readers all the ingredients to a perfect day of relaxing fun.
We ended June with an interesting story on the way kids are using technology, among other things, to cheat in school. No longer are kids cheating like “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (the tiny notes hidden in your sunglasses), kids are now using spy-esque tactics to earn the grades, and we were amazed at some of the ways they were getting away with it.
There’s a reason why Osama bin Laden is the most wanted fugitive in the world. Gary Faulkner seems to understand that, too. The Colorado resident appeared in our “Good Bad Ugly” after he gained national attention for personally financing a one-man espionage trip to hunt down the al-Qaeda leader. Maybe it was the $25 million reward, or maybe Faulkner just wanted the attention; whatever it was, Faulkner deemed he was ready to find bin Laden, armed with a pistol, sword and night-vision equipment. The former construction worker, who allegedly grew out his hair and beard to fit in, was detained after he was found in the woods of northern Pakistan.
Freelance writer Michael Swanger featured Ingrid Michaelson, who played at the Simon Estes Amphitheater for Nitefall on the River. The singer-songwriter busted onto the music scene with hits like “The Way I Am,” and “Maybe.” Considered by many as an independent artist, Michaelson jumped onto to the charts, reaching No. 4 on the overall iTunes chart and landed on the Billboard Top 200 multiple times.
As always, the big summertime event in the metro is Cityview’s annual Brewfest, a festival of all-things-beer at Principal Park. A&E Editor Jared Curtis previewed the event that showcased samples of more than 375 beers. A positive change to this year’s Brewfest included stronger beers, thanks to the passing of the Iowa Beer Equality Law. The new law, which was passed March 10, now allows Iowa breweries to produce beer containing up to 15 percent alcohol by volume. The previous law was approximately 6 percent. A few thousand people braved the hot summer day, making it a success in every aspect.
A&E Editor Jared Curtis was hyped about the new release of “The Runaways,” but he says the film, starring Kristin Stewart and Dakota Fanning, never took off. Based on the singer Cherie Currie’s book, “Neon Angel,” the new release had its moments, but ultimately didn’t deserve an encore performance.
We rounded out July by introducing readers to Jonathan Narcisse. The former Des Moines School Board member took center stage with his announcement to run for governor and to encourage citizens to vote “None of the Above” in regard to candidates Gov. Chet Culver and Terry Branstad. Narcisse vowed, if elected, to bring a new way of government by using an executive flow chart where he would appoint people who knew how to organize and manage others from a top-down structure. It was a valiant fight as he gathered enough signatures to be on the Nov. 2 ballot, but ultimately we found out that Narcisse snacked around the state and was a man with more bark than bite.
We opened a beautiful August month by breaking out the lawn games. News Editor Matt Miller visited Cup ‘O Kryptonite to check out Kubb, an outdoor game gaining popularity in the metro. Kubb, (pronounced “koob”) is known as “Viking Chess” as teams of two, ranging from one to six players on each side, must toss their wooden batons or “throwing sticks” underhand across the field from behind the baseline and attempt to knock over the opponent’s five kubbs. The Des Moines Kubb group found so much success among participants, a “Learn to Play Kubb” event was held later in the month.
Brian Duffy provided artwork describing unsuccessful gubernational Republican candidate Bob Vander Plaats’ effort to unseat three state Supreme Court justices. Vander Plaats is depicted holding a torch and saying, “I consider it a ‘cleansing.” Supreme Court Justice Marsha Ternus is pictured tied to a wood pile that Vander Plaats was going to set on fire. During the Nov. 2 election, Vander Plaats led the charge to unseat three of the court’s seven justices — Ternus and associate justices Michael Streit and David Baker — whose terms expire Dec. 31. Vander Plaats is now calling for the remaining four justices to resign. Duffy’s cartoon was the tip of the iceberg for a decision that will impact Iowa for many years.
We celebrated mid-August by publishing our annual “State Fair Fashion” issue. This year’s cover, entitled “Shrewd, Tattooed and Semi-Nude,” featured in pictures what we love best — some of the state’s most outlandishly dressed individuals walking around the 12-day Iowa State Fair. We’re talking facial hair, tube tops, mustaches and more.
Who says there’s nothing to do during fall in Iowa? Our yearly “Fall Arts & Entertainment Guide” was packed with ideas including music, theater, outdoors, film and art. The 68-page issue exemplified that there’s more to central Iowa that many of us realize.
Educating tomorrow’s youth is important to us, and it’s nice to know others feel the same. This week’s “Good Bad Ugly” highlighted the accomplishments of Molly Boyle, who was honored with the 2011 Teacher of the Year award given by the Iowa Department of Education. The 37-year-old Waukee third-grade teacher has taught for 15 years.
We kicked off the second week of September with “Des Moines’ Ultimate Sandwich Tournament,” a bracket-style format where local chefs selected 64 of the best local sandwiches, grouped into eight groups of eight. Next, Cityview readers voted on their favorite sandwich. Our cover story narrowed it down to the Final Four — Tasty Tacos, B & B Deli, Uncle Wendell’s and A Taste of Italy. After two months of submitting, and more than 2,000 votes, Cityview readers voted B & B’s pork tenderloin as champion of “Des Moines Ultimate Sandwich.” John and Joe Brooks are a part of an amazing family tradition as B & B Deli has been open for 88 years.
“Big.” That’s one way to describe talk radio host Steve Deace. The WHO-Radio host let News Editor Matt Miller pick his brain and give readers an in-depth look at the man behind the microphone. Deace grew up in Des Moines, didn’t graduate from Michigan State University, was a porn addict, eventually found Christ and turned his life around. Many consider Deace a controversial Christian (just ask Sen. Matt McCoy), but he said he’s simply speaking the truth. Love him or hate him, Deace isn’t afraid to spout his opinion, and that’s why listeners tune in to hear what he has to say.
Food Dude Jim Duncan’s column allowed readers to peer into Jethro & Jake’s, a second store that opened between I-80 and Prairie Meadows. The new place seats 170, and its smoker can hold 1,400 pounds of meat at a time, twice that of the Drake venue. Duncan said patrons to the restaurant will find everything the like in Altoona: sports bar class television, large portions of food and a variety of good sauces.
Cityview prides itself on covering a variety of topics, including a weekly book review submitted by Beaverdale Books. The last issue in September featured “Room,” written by Emma Donoghue. “Room” tells the story of Jack and his mother who are trapped in a room for seven years and are trying to escape Old Nick. The novel is heartbreaking and exhilarating, but also shows the sacrifice that parents and children make for each other.
Our weekly “Belly Up” columns feature a number of drinking establishments around the metro and open readers’ eyes to new places. One of those appeared in the first October issue with Mars Café. Although known for its coffee, Mars Café, 2318 University Ave., also offers a mix of beer and wine (by the glass or bottle) and a Happy Hour with more than 15 beers in stock.
Fall is filled with a number of recreational opportunities, and one that pushes participants to their limit is The Flatland Multisport Series. News Editor Matt Miller previewed the last event in the series — the Spooky ’Cross competition held at Living History Farms. The cyclo-cross event is a form of bicycle racing where athletes must conquer steep hills, wooded trails sand other obstacles.
Call it scary or not, but “Rapsheet” underwent a layout change to showcase more of the metro’s dumbest criminals in “Name That Crime.” The new format allows readers the chance to guess what charges go with what six suspects.
We wrapped up October with A&E Editor Jared Curtis looking at five small businesses in the Des Moines area that compete against corporate giants. Entitled “The Little Guy,” Curtis visited Jay’s CD & Hobby, The Dairy Zone, Beaverdale Books, Java Joes Coffeehouse and The Varsity Theater. While these were the businesses highlighted, there are still plenty of others in central Iowa that also pride themselves on customer service, something rarely found in today’s society.
How does a plunge into Big Creek sound this time of year? Just a couple of months ago, more than 40 individuals, including members from the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, took the plunge into the icy water. The annual Polar Plunge benefits Special Olympics Iowa. Currently there are 13 annual plunges around the state.
Threats that put people’s lives in danger aren’t a laughing matter, but a handful of students at local high schools thought so. Bomb threats happened at Ankeny High School and Dowling Catholic High School in mid-November. Charges were brought against those responsible. Hopefully that will teach students that threats like these are taken very seriously and have large consequences.
You must be living under a rock if you don’t understand that homelessness is a problem in central Iowa. According to the Iowa Institute for Community Alliances, more than 23,000 Iowans are homeless. Our cover story told the problem and how advocates were working to find a solution in the area. A&E Editor Jared Curtis also interviewed two former homeless individuals who turned their lives around — proving there is hope this holiday season.
In honor of “World AIDS Day,” News Editor Matt Miller told the gripping story of Tami Haught, an Iowa resident who was diagnosed with HIV 17 years ago and her everyday battle not to become just another statistic. Haught’s amazing story touched the lives of countless individuals inside and outside the HIV community. Miller also sat down with The AIDS Project of Central Iowa, the state’s largest HIV/AIDS service and prevention agency in Iowa. The organization serves more than 300 clients statewide, a majority of its clients in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties. While the story told of progress against the HIV/AIDS stigma, the numbers are still startling: As of June 1, nearly 1,800 people were living with HIV or AIDS in the state of Iowa, including 513 of them in Polk County.
Freelance writer Dean Robbins’ weekly “On the Tube” encouraged readers to tune in to “The Sing-Off,” a cappella competition on NBC. This season included Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town. Jerry, a 66-year-old singer/songwriter wowed audiences, and it’s clear that Robbins knows what he’s talking about when it comes to primetime television.
One of the favorite times of the holidays is spending time with family. During this time of togetherness, there’s certainly a movie to be shown. To get into the holiday spirit, our staff compiled its “Favorite Holiday Movies” with the likes of “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “The Muppet Christmas,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and more. It’s a time to be thankful for time off from work and movies. What’s your favorite?
If there’s one word to describe the Dec. 16 issue of Cityview, it’s definitely “sexy.” Our second annual issue featured 12 of Des Moines’ sexiest individuals in town including Andy Fales, Mark Hummel, Bonne Finken, Colleen Kelly and Ashley Tousley. Each of these individuals proved to be sexy in their own way, and we like that.
Where has the year gone? We concluded 2010 with a Christmas tradition — Robert Hullihan’s holiday classic. Brian Duffy’s illustrations complimented the story, and it was a great way to share holiday cheer. CV