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Jan 05, 2012
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2011: year in review

By Jared Curtis and Amber Williams

Another year has come and gone, and we look forward to all that will take place in 2012. But before we get too far into the New Year, let’s look back at the memorable events that graced our pages in 2011.


We kicked off the year with our Legislative Preview, which focused on a wide variety of topics including gun rights, substance bans, a budget crisis and same-sex marriage. Scene Scribe gave readers a first look at the Gas Lamp, which took over the old location of Blues on Grand and has developed into a popular watering hole and music venue.

The second week of the month offered readers a look at what was happening throughout the metro with the annual Winter A&E Guide, showing there was plenty of cold-weather fun to be had in our fair city.

Arts & Entertainment Editor Jared Curtis took readers on a journey through the ever-changing culture of comic books. Interviewing local collectors, comic book shop owners and artists, the story included history and hyped Des Moines’ appearance in “Superman” issue 707.

We ended the month with a cover story on 20 innovative ideas for cities. Political Mercury writer Doug Burns offered numerous examples of ideas cities have put forward, which has helped their city grow. Iowa leaders were hopefully paying attention. We also hyped the annual Groundhog Day celebration at the High Life Lounge in Belly Up.


News Editor Matt Miller started off the month with a story focusing on Evelyn Davis. Trouble had been occurring around her namesake park, leaving many people to know her name but not her story. We shined a light on what an amazing woman she was. Civic Skinny took a look at hemorrhoids, rings, Deace, Oscars and Iowans for Tax Relief.

The following week, Arts & Entertainment Editor Jared Curtis dug into the dilapidated Southridge Mall. He spoke with local residents, city officials and mall officials about how the mall could improve. The story caused some brainstorming as the mall announced it would house the Iowa Barnstormers practice facility and an indoor soccer complex. We’re glad to see somebody is doing something with that chunk of real estate. Belly Up focused on Kung Fu-Tap & Taco, one of the most unique bars in town.

Doug Burns was at it again profiling Joe Slade White, an Iowan who rose through the ranks to become one of the best in the political advertising field. Art Pimp looked at two shows taking over the metro including the popular work of artist Anselm Reyle.

We ended the month with our biggest issue of the year, the listing of winners in our annual Best Of Des Moines list. More than 6,000 votes were cast for a variety of categories including Best New Restaurant (Baru 66), Best Local Clothing Store (Raygun), Best New Bar (Mullet’s), Best Live Music Venue (People’s Court), Best Outdoor Sporting Event (Iowa Cubs) and Best Local TV Anchor (Kevin Cooney). Voting for 2012’s Best Of Des Moines is happening now (ends Jan. 20), so vote today.


News Reporter Amber Williams joined the staff and kicked off March with a story on free medical clinics in the metro. She also highlighted a polar plunge event to benefit the Special Olympics in Locker Room. Scene Scribe previewed an upcoming show by Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses, who gained notoriety for co-writing music for the film “Crazy Heart.” His show at the Vaudeville Mews sold out so quickly, it was moved to People’s Court, a bigger venue.

Jared Curtis previewed anything Irish with his look at what would be happening around the city on St. Patrick’s Day. Although the story focused on the music being played that day, it still featured plenty of places to celebrate. Curtis also highlighted “Faster,” an action-packed thrill ride starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his weekly DVD Reviews.

When it was announced that a 13th constellation would be added to the Zodiac and the signs would change, people panicked. But Amber Williams dug into the truth and discovered the new sign had been there all along. Political Mercury offered advice on how NPR could learn from “Jersey Shore” star Snooki. We were surprised to learn it didn’t have anything to do with spray tans, alcohol or stuffed crocodiles. Food Dude Jim Duncan talked up the kitchen in the newly opened Kirkwood Lounge.


We kicked off the end of March/beginning of April with our annual April Fools issue. We focused this year on the strange occurrances of the bed bug epidemic, from their actual growth to people keeping them as pets. We’re itching just thinking about it. We also took jabs at the sport of topless roller derby, a new DVD called “Black Tron,” a popular video game “Call of Doodie: Bathroom Break” and what was playing at the Cannon Theater. Belly Up also focused on Sky Bar, where patrons can do anything they want because “In the Air, There are No Rules.”

The second week of April brought another annual issue, Busted. Every week we highlight Des Moines criminals, but once a year we expand the column for readers and offer a whole week of crimes taking place in our city. We also looked at the Iowa Crush, a women’s football team based in Des Moines. Brian Duffy took a cartoony jab at the new district realignment, and Belly Up featured Quinton’s, an Iowa City staple, opening a new bar in the East Village.

Freelancer James Strohman offered an interesting view on how President Barrack Obama could turn out to be a one-term president. Amber Williams previewed the upcoming Iowa Cubs season in Locker Room, and Jared Curtis took readers inside the new Saints Pub & Patio in Beaverdale in Belly Up.

The cover story, “Who’s Packing,” listed more than 5,000 Polk County residents who had applied for a permit to carry after the law changed in January. This became our most controversial story (if a list is a story) of the year. The piece was factual, showing how many people had already applied for a permit, but it was met with much hatred from the national gun community.

Amber Williams pedaled her way through a profile on the new 25-mile-long High Trestle Trail and Bridge, a favorite of the local bicycling community. Guest commentary writer Herb Strentz offered an interesting take on the Iowa Caucuses, and the Food Dude highlighted three restaurants that have kept the business going for years including Noodles, Olympic Flame and Rice Bowl.


Doug Burns discussed living forever with his cover during the second week of the month. Focusing on the work of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jonathan Weiner, Burns dug deep into aging research and how some scientists look at aging like a disease with plans on creating a cure. Scene Scribe previewed the vinyl release party by local rockers The Jitz. And Center Stage looked at the theatrical performances in the month including “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” presented by The Repertory Theater of Iowa, “Young Frankenstein” at the Civic Center and “The Shadow Bow” presented by Tallgrass Theatre.

Jared Curtis brought readers into the lives of The Corporation Scooter Club, a local club that rides scooters including Vespas and Lambrettas. The story also focused on the club’s weekend-long rally called “Hostile Takeover,” which brought scooter clubs and enthusiasts to Des Moines from all over the U.S.

Curtis stuck to the road as he previewed road construction projects coming up during the summer months. He predicted Court Avenue would be a mess, and it was. Let’s just be glad it’s cold out now, and the road construction season has slowed down — but warm weather is only a few months away. We also highlighted the 10th anniversary of The Lift, a downtown bar staple on Fourth Street.

We ended the month with one of our biggest issues of the year — the Summer A&E Guide. Packed to the brim with fun things to do, readers got a chance to plan their summers with in-depth listings of concerts, films, outdoor events, theatrical performances, art shows and attractions. In the “Good, Bad, Ugly” column we highlighted Des Moines’ own version of “The Simpsons” cat lady, as a resident who was yelling at people from her balcony and threw her cat at a 6-year-old. Way to stay classy, Des Moines.


We kicked June off with our annual Bar Guide, an in-depth look at the wide variety of bars located throughout the metro. From sports bars to dive bars to dance clubs, we highlighted them all. Along with the drinks, we focused on some of the most unique bar food in town including items found at The Keg Stand and the High Life Lounge. Soundcheck reviewed two CDs from local acts Poison Control Center and Bonne Finken with both receiving praise and deserving of their continued success. Food Dude highlighted the new Drake neighborhood sushi joint, Haiku.

With farmers’ markets in full swing throughout the metro, Amber Williams looked at the process of bringing farm-fresh products to the masses. Civic Skinny continued to break news in the city and highlighted a specific example of how the local daily picked up some Skinny, but forgot to mention, “as first reported in Cityview.”

The third week of the month, freelance writer Bret Voorhees profiled Gov. Branstad’s goal of creating 200,000 new jobs. Many unemployed Iowans are still waiting. Belly Up took a look at neighborhood bar Pal Joey’s.

We ended the month with a profile of the upcoming 80/35 Music Festival. Returning for its fourth year, the festival brings a wide mixture of popular acts and up-and-coming artists. Locker Room highlighted the Guns ‘n Hoses charity football showdown between the Des Moines Police Department and Des Moines Fire Department. And in Belly Up we highlighted Double Shot Bar & Grill, which moved into the former location of Twisted Parrot.


Jared Curtis kicked off the month previewing our annual Brewfest, which celebrated its fifth successful year in 2011, and Amber Williams hit the pavement trying to find the metro’s worst roads. With help from some of our readers/Facebook fans, we discovered that Des Moines’ south side suffers from some shitty roads, especially Watrous Avenue, as well as the inner city’s 19th Street, Ninth Street and Keo Way downtown. Des Moines Public Works Director Bill Stowe explained how streets are chosen for repair based on cost, need and traffic levels, but in the end, “it’s a trade off,” and we have to choose between rougher roads or higher taxes.

Our staff writers shared the month of July with two freelance contributors. Comedian Sean Cirone gave a humorous account of his effort to “kick the social media addiction,” as he gave up Facebook. Brett Voorhees laid down the financial facts to determine the status of the state’s treasury.


August proved to be another month packed with Cityview traditions, including the Fall 2011 Arts and Entertainment Guide and Records and Ranking, our annual look at the people, places and things that populate local lists, written by Marci Clark. From her research, we learned “Toy Story 3” was the top grossing film of 2010 at $4.1 million; Grinnell College was the most expensive to attend in Iowa at $32,290 a year; and the state’s oldest male divorcee was 93.

And, true to tradition, we also poked a bit of fun at Iowa State Fair goers in our “Fair Fashion Fever” issue, specifically searching for faces with mustaches. We found that not only were there more mustaches out there than we thought, but guys who rock the hairy upper lip couldn’t be prouder of it. It was a fitting fashion focus considering we also highlighted the Third Annual Moustache Brew Bash in our Belly Up section that issue.


Last year was the 10-year anniversary of 9-11. Who could forget? We talked to area residents about what they remember, where they were and what they thought about the event a decade later.

We also introduced former Des Moines Register sports columnist Sean Keeler to our freelance staff by kicking off his weekly column with a “College Football Preview.”

The newly-opened Zombie Burger + Drink Lab experiment in the East Village proved to be a big hit in its debuting months — save for the long lines and wait times. But the Food Dude said, “The burgers can’t get any better.”


If it isn’t already obvious to readers, Cityview loves to find what’s the best, most bitchin’ or ultimate anything and everything in Des Moines. On Oct. 13, it was decided by readers through an extensive voting process that Gusto Pizza served the most “ultimate” pies in the metro after winning “Cityview’s Ultimate Pizza Challenge.” After more than 4,000 votes were cast, Gusto beat runner-up Pagliai’s by only a few.

If that’s not crazy enough, the new Krazee Kafe opened, combining homemade bikini contests (worn mostly by exotic dancers from the neighboring strip clubs), live national music acts, a salon and a cereal bar all under one roof on Des Moines’ north side; several haunted houses and scare parks upped their games to terrorize the people of Des Moines just in time for Halloween; and, perhaps the craziest of all, the Iowa State Cyclones closed the month with a victory over Texas Tech… in Texas!


A snapshot of snapshots — that’s one way to describe November. Readers responded to a photography contest, with more than 200 submissions; and the Des Moines Sexiest People contest yielded more than 600 nominations of gods, goddesses and a few grandmas. Chewi Lockhart, manager of Val Air Ballroom, was crowned sexiest in 2011 by attendees at the Des Moines Sexiest People Party.

Speaking of sexy, sort of, Kim Kardashian’s whirlwind romance with pro-baller Kris Humphries received all the buzz when her new reality series touched on the fast break-up after only three weeks of marriage. Cityview’s new “Soundcheck” writer tore into Lou Reed and Metallica’s co-op album “Lulu,” calling it self-indulgent. And, freelancer Marci Clark found college professors who went on the record to call 1492 explorer Christopher Columbus “the scum of the earth” just in time for Thanksgiving.


Staff reporter Amber Williams got down and dirty, finding some of central Iowa’s oddest jobs, including interviewing a man who collects semen from a bull and another who cleans up after crime scenes.

Speaking of cleaning up messes, Cityview couldn’t let another blustery month pass without finding out why “the occupiers” were still camping in Stewart Square Park as part of the Occupy Des Moines movement. We tried to get to the meat of who they are, why they’re here and what they want. Heading into the New Year, they’re still waiting for sweeping global tax, economic and political reforms.

The New Year was celebrated by hundreds of service industry workers who partied at Cabaret West Glen on Dec. 18 for a New Year’s Eve all their own, with the first annual Service Industry Night New Year’s Eve party.

We’re sad that 2011 is over because it was an amazing year filled with triumph and tragedies. We can’t wait to see what’s in store in 2012. CV

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