Friday, June 21, 2024

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Des Moines Forgotten

The Bock Stops Here


It’s the busiest time of the year at the CITYVIEW offices with our annual BEST OF DES MOINES winners being announced. I thought it would be fun to dive into some of the past BEST OF DES MOINES winners, which means taking a walk into the deep dark tomb that is under the CITYVIEW headquarters.

To find out about past CITYVIEW lore, I had to enter a dark cave filled with booby traps before I found an underground cliff. I walked to the edge and stared into the dark abyss, wondering if man was ever meant to see the bottom or if whatever lived beneath the surface had ever seen the clouds in the heavens. I tied a rope to a boulder and descended into darkness. The further I descended, I saw the remains of an untamed world: a horoscope column by Brock Wommack, an advertisement for Babe’s Brewery with the slogan “The Bock Stops Here” and the most upsetting of all… a Coldwell Banker real estate ad for a four-bedroom, two-story home with a three-car garage for $175,900 in West Des Moines. What madness is this?

When my feet touched the cold floor, I realized that not since the Knights Templar had man set foot into this hollow tomb of CITYVIEW back issues. I cracked open the lid of the coffin that may have been carved by the same blacksmith who forged the tomb of Dracula. Inside, wrapped in shroud, were the hardbound copies of CITYVIEW dating back to the 1980s. I pulled one out, and it is all the issues from 1993, the year “Jurassic Park” was released in theaters and the year the great flood destroyed our downtown.

On Feb. 24, 1993, CITYVIEW No. 8, Vol. 2 was released with the announcement of the 1993 Best of Des Moines Hall of Fame. I turned the page and saw what I would call the ghosts of the 515. BEST KARAOKE – Billy Joe’s Pitcher Show, BEST PLACE TO RENT A VIDEO – Movies to Go, and BEST ASIAN-CHINESE – Café Su (RIP King). I didn’t live in Des Moines in 1993, and I had only checked out Billy Joe’s a few times back in 2007 when I attended a midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I did love Café Su when it was in Valley Junction, but my heart will remain with Kwong Tung Restaurant, which would later win BEST ASIAN-CHINESE in 2009. 

The actual history of the BEST OF DES MOINES is a little spotty but dates to the 1980s. That 1993 edition did mention it was the 10-year anniversary but, unfortunately, we believe those issues may be lost to the gods of time. It did include the 1992 BEST OF DES MOINES HALL OF FAME, which included Sears for Best Place to Buy Exercise Equipment for you to hang your laundry on, KGGO’s Lou & Larry for BEST RADIO PERSONALITY / TEAM, and the 1992 Greater Des Moines Ruan Grand Prix as BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO DES MOINES.

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Taking a dive into the 2009 BEST OF DES MOINES, I started to see some more familiar names. Along the way, the categories received a massive expansion including BEST PLACE TO CHOW AFTER 2 A.M., BEST ADULT STORE, and BEST PLACE FOR A $5 LUNCH, which has clearly phased out due to inflation. Movies to Go had been long gone by this point and was replaced by BEST PLACE TO RENT A VIDEO (which simultaneously won BEST LOCALLY OWNED STORE). Since 2009, KFMG Radio has consistently taken home the BEST LOCAL RADIO STATION and BEST VOICE TO TURN YOU ON (paying homage to the great Dic Youngs). In regard to BEST ADULT STORE, I was hoping to see Des Moines come in and support the local mom and pops, but instead they have consistently voted for Romantix, probably due to name recognition.

As I crawled out of the tomb of forgotten CITYVIEW back issues, I turned and sealed it once again. I saw a lot of local heroes now forgotten as I flipped through those pages. I want to say congratulations to all the winners for 2024 BEST OF DES MOINES. Ten years from now, I hope to dust off these pages and tell tales about you to whatever generation is paying attention then. ♦

Kristian Day is a filmmaker and writer based in Des Moines. He also hosts the syndicated Iowa Basement Tapes radio program on 98.9 FM KFMG. 

Instagram: @kristianday Twitter: @kristianmday

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