Year in review12/26/2012
Newspapers have three primary functions: The first, obviously, is to report current events; the second is to entertain and inform readers; and the third is to keep a record of time and history for a society of people. The latter is the reason so many newspapers, Cityview included, historically adhere to the annual tradition of a “Year In Review” issue at the dawning of a new year — a look back at the stories that were printed in the paper over the last 12 months that we thought were important. This time the year is not just “in review,” but we’re taking the opportunity to also offer updates about turn-outs, conclusions and next steps on the exceptional, entertaining or oddly interesting stories that appeared in Cityview in 2012.
Remember Forey Jacobson? The barefoot, kilt-wearing runner/dancer/witch and all-around Renaissance man’s presence in the Des Moines metro makes you wonder if he’s mastered the science of human cloning. The guy is everywhere.
On the night of Nov. 6, 2011, he was at Johnny’s Hall of Fame when he was brutally assaulted to the point of hospitalization. Over the course of the next several months, Jacobson underwent reconstructive surgeries to his face and rehabilitation, while an innocent man, Stuart Wholford-Wessels, was falsely accused, arrested and jailed for the crime.
By the time Jacobson was released from the hospital and started to walk and exercise again, Wholford-Wessel’s name had been dragged through the mud of media, including in Cityview (“Peace Love Loincloth,” Jan. 12). We printed a story about what happened to Jacobson, because we were impressed and inspired by the creation of the group Friends of Forey, which planned Forey Fest, an event that raised $10,849.59 to help pay his medical bills. At that time, Wholford-Wessel was professing his innocence as willful injury charges were pending. His name was eventually cleared.
Fortunately the real culprit then turned himself in: Benjamin Vogl, 32, of West Des Moines, pleaded guilty to serious assault causing injury, according to Des Moines Police Sgt. Jason Halifax.
Miraculously Forey is back on his feet and running again with no hate in his heart. Among other races he’s participated in, he was the honorary starter at the IMT Des Moines Marathon back in October.
Keep on lovin’ life, Forey, because life loves you.
Often the funniest stories are true, and sometimes the fact that they are true also makes them sad. Such was the case with “The Pressure of Love,” (Feb. 9), when Cityview staff writer Amber Williams confessed her own personal love life pitfalls after reading the book “Stop Calling Him Honey and Start Having Sex.” Weeks away from her 30th birthday, the book, written by authors Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis, left Williams pondering the universal riddle of love: What is it? How do you know when it’s real? What are its imposters?
Almost 30 and never married, Williams reluctantly unfolded a slew of slightly cynical private confessions — personal tales of love lost, abandoned, rejected, buried in a hole in the back of her heart — accentuated by F-bombs and other colorful language we couldn’t print. “Save the first draft for ‘Penthouse,’ ” her editor said. He wasn’t the only one with feedback. We received letters, phone calls and emails from ladies who “loved the story, thought it was hilarious,” while the men could no longer look her in the eye. But among the responses came Williams’ favorite, a letter from Daniel Pape of Ames (“Holy Criticism,” Your View, Feb. 23) that suggested she learn about love from The Bible.
Eleven months later, and she’s still toiling through Genesis. Poor thing. But we’re keeping the faith, Mr. Pape.
Chad Taylor’s first Cityview cover story debuted last March featuring unique, two-piece Iowa band The Twelve Cannons (“Loose Cannons,” March 8). The band was notable not just because of the two men’s talent as musicians and songwriters, but the situation that left them with no choice but to collaborate and record in separate locations: Justin Norman from a studio; Jim Durocher from a mental institution.
Life has continued to be difficult for Durocher.
“Jim got moved to Julien Center (in Dubuque County) then moved from there to a place in Ottumwa, where he is now,” said Norman. “I wasn’t able to visit him for quite some time, because he kept on violating the rules” — a trend in Durocher’s past that apparently has cemented his present and future.
“We (got) started on a new album and had recorded a couple of songs. But that’s been slow going because every time he got moved, the restrictions on recording would change,” Norman said. “Now, in his own words, he’s gotten too depressed to write or work on the new stuff that he’s already written.”
Norman has, for the most part, moved on from The Twelve Cannons.
“I’ve shifted focus from music to short films,” he said. “I did a half-hour film with a small group of friends, and we’re putting together 15 episodes of a show that we will air on YouTube in January.”
We are still getting calls and emails asking where Bullets Bar is located, because Belly Up readers had trouble finding it on GPS and online maps. That’s because it doesn’t exist. Come on people, a bar where you get a free shot of whiskey if you bring your gun? That’s the stuff of fiction, as is everything else you read in our annual April Fools issue, (“Coal Rush Des Moines,” March 29). April Fools comes around every year, and every year we go against all journalism ethics to bring you our annual issue of spoofs, satire, parody and just plain B.S. that we spent hours thinking up.
Along with the gun-friendly saloon and the cover story that might have gotten some of you considering digging for coal in your own backyards, we also lied about a Wal-mart coming to the Des Moines Riverfront development, the gold-plated dome at the Statehouse set to be repainted bi-partisan puse and a Rapsheet full of our own employees posing as Polk County inmates. We got you — at least some of you — and we’ll probably try again in 2013, so be ready.
Not long after the burlesque scene was investigated by Des Moines police for “wardrobe malfunctions,” we decided to take a curious look for ourselves (“Grin and Bare It,” May 31). Since her appearance on our cover, Phoenix L’Amour has relocated from Ames to Des Moines, she’s also seen her five apprentices graduate from her Iowa School of Burlesque, and she’s selected her next five.
She’s working with the Des Moines Social Club and has been performing all over town. She credits Cityview for an increase in interest in the art form.
“I definitely received a lot of positive feedback from the story,” she said. “I got a lot of emails about the school, future performances. I don’t think a lot of people even knew there was burlesque in Des Moines, because (the story) was the first time anyone has really looked at it.”
And the show goes on.
With a growing list of karaoke events appearing weekly in our calendar of things to do, we decided to explore the karaoke culture of Des Moines. We followed the inseparable crazy karaoke duo, Pam Aldrich and “Ninja” Mary Bonstetter. Although they continue to tear up the stage with hip hop hits and remain loyal to their favorite karaoke spots including Trophy’s, Heroes and Jeanie’s Bottle, both have advanced the hobby into more professional avenues.
Bonstetter competed in Karaoke Idol at Billy Joe’s Lounge and placed in the top five. Unfortunately votes were based on one vote per drink/food item bought, and Bonstetter’s friends didn’t pry their wallets open quite far enough.
“When I didn’t make it on, all the judges came up to me and said they would change the rules next year because of it,” Bonstetter said. “So the following week I went to Prairie Meadows for the KaraokeStar contest. At the semifinals I made the top 13 out of 40.
“I even did the robot during a music break in the song. I got to do the next round of semi-finals at the State Fair in the Susan Knapp amphitheater. Didn’t make it but had a great time.”
The duo continue to carouse different karaoke spots to keep it fresh but have found a special love singing with karaoke band Party! Party! at Fat Tony’s on Thursday nights. Bonstetter is currently rehearsing with local band Flipside and was even asked to sing the national anthem at the MCC fights in Des Moines, though she wasn’t able to because of work conflicts.
Check out the Pam and Mary Show at Jeannie’s Bottle, where Aldrich now handles DJ/Karaoke duties.
Last summer we got readers rooting for Ms. Wheelchair Iowa, Jayde Henry, as she vied for the national title (“Ms. Wheelchair Iowa,” July 26). Supporters and friends pulled together to help Henry raise enough money to make the trip to Rhode Island for the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant in August. While she wasn’t crowned champion, she still considers the trip a success.
“I didn’t place in top five, but it was a busy week with leadership workshops,” she said.
Henry has continued to stay busy with pubic speaking engagements and with her pet cause to implement better fuel pumps at gas stations that are more accessible for the disabled. In November, Henry was featured in a WHO story on the subject and has continued to be a vocal champion for ADA compliance.
“I’m more determined than anything to get it done,” she told WHO.
Henry plans to continue the fight in 2013.
Central Iowa Shelter and Services made our cover story last summer (“Seeking Shelter,” Aug. 9), as the 18-year-old building on 15th Street had grown too overcrowded and outdated for the needs and services CISS offers. We provided 2010 homeless statistics for Iowa (23,000) and for Des Moines proper (5,100) and compared that number to the shelter’s maximum bed capacity (94). Serving as many as 1,500 clients per year, the need for a new building became obvious. So construction began across the street at 1420 Mulberry offering new, bigger, wider, cozier and more accommodating solutions.
“We opened on Sept. 24, and since then have been serving a larger number of people,” said Tony Timm, executive director of the shelter. “Our emergency beds are in an overflow situation, and we have 30 to 40 people a night in chairs in addition to our 150 emergency beds.”
He said 37 of the 38 section apartments are filled as well as 16 of the 19 veterans units (perhaps more as of press time, considering the current weather conditions). And, as always, CISS is always in need of help from those who can lend time, labor, money or materials.
“We are always in need of personal-sized toiletries, hats, gloves and coats,” Timm reminded. “We also need financial support to keep the operations running and meet the needs of those in our community that need help. We are very much focused on being an opportunity center for individuals in need and provide them the pathways back to self-sufficiency.”
Call (515) 284-5719 or visit the website at http://centraliowashelter.org for more details.
It’s too soon to tell exactly what kind of effect the changes to Des Moines Area Regional Transit routes will have on the city. The route adjustments outlined in Cityview (“Two Weeks on the Bus,” Sept. 13) took place over Thanksgiving weekend, so most of the information that Public Information Officer Gunnar Olson has is anecdotal.
However DART also opened its new, state-of-the-art, central transfer station downtown and is rolling out improvements to the website soon as well.
“We are hoping to go live with the trip planner early next year,” Olson said. “The route planner has a mobile version — it wouldn’t be an app, per se — so those are both things that are coming down the pike. We’ve been kind of rebuilding the whole foundation (for DART), and now we’re building upon that.”
One thing DART has been cognizant of, is the need to decrease trip times: The trip outlined in the story — from Franklin Avenue to Jordan Creek Mall — has been shortened from one hour, 52 minutes, down to 55 minutes flat.
Polk County residents faced an environmental conservation measure on their Nov. 6 election ballots this year — the $50 million Water and Land Legacy Bond. We discussed the details of the measure, as proposed by the Polk County Conservation Board, and its pros and cons (“Turn It Over,” Oct. 18). To some voters’ surprise, the measure passed with 72 percent of voters approving the bond issue.
Now the PCCB will determine a series of projects to tackle during the next three years.
“Right now we’re trying to get better cost projections with more specifics and details in addition to a timeline for at least years one through three,” explained Kami Rankin, Polk County Conservation community outreach supervisor. “Once we determine that, we’ll take a board-approved list to the county supervisors at the end of January, and the Board of Supervisors can determine which projects they want to bond for at that time.”
The total approved bond amount shall not exceed $50 million over a 20-year period, Rankin said. Polk County residents can expect a preliminary decision on how to start allocating the funds by mid January, she said.
“We knew there was a general support for this issue, but we were overwhelmingly excited about the 72 percent,” she beamed.
This year the 10th annual Wild Rose International Film Festival (“Coming Up Roses,” Nov. 15) saw a robust attendance at the Fleur Café and Cinema. Artistic Director Kimberly Busbee reported more than 1,000 paid attendees, along with a couple hundred comped filmmakers and staff.
This year’s winners were thick with Iowa connections, including Best Feature Film award winner, “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,” starring Iowa native Tanna Frederick, as well as Distinctive Achievement award winner “I (Heart) Shakey,” featuring Iowa native Rylie Behr.
There were also a number of panels and workshops at this year’s event, with the acting workshop lead by veteran character actor Tom Bower being especially well received.
“We’ve talked about inviting Tom back to town to lead another workshop, because the actors who attended were so impressed with the experience,” Busbee said.
But, as always, the festival’s continued success relies on growth.
“We need more Des Moines area people to get involved,” said festival manager John Busbee. “A lot of people come into town for the festival, but getting the city involved is key.”
One of our traditional holiday issues comes every Christmas, in which our staff contributes individual stories explaining heartwarming tales such as our most memorable gifts, movies and albums involving Christmas. But this year, those truths turned out to be more heartbreaking and gut-wrenching, (“Nightmares of Christmas,” Dec. 13) — so much, in fact, that the authors of each story felt a bit more comfortable writing them semi-anonymously. We confessed true stories of dogs eating the Christmas presents, tree and/or turkey, a Grandma who had her last supper on Christmas Eve and drunken punks who destroyed Christmas with dog urine… good times?
One new addition to the issue this year was the colorful contributions of a few of our readers as well. With the help of Facebook, we found a few of you who were willing to share amusing, tragic and/or hilarious nightmares of your own. It was a welcomed change to this annual idea. So thanks to those of you who shared, and thanks to all of you for reading. Here’s to another year of stories to tell.
Happy New Year. CV