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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.