This year’s Best of Boulder™ was a record-setter, with more county residents casting their votes than ever before. That makes the results more fun — and the competition more fierce.
This year we not only had some new names in the winner’s bracket, but a few new brackets, too, like Best Chai Drink and Best Medical Marijuana Wellness Center. Just more proof that Boulder County is always evolving and growing, no pun intended. That doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten old favorites, like Best Music Venue and Best Sandwich, or that you guys have forgotten your old favorites, like Boulder Theater, McGuckin Hardware and Snarf’s, all winners again this year.
It would probably take even more than our 150 categories to completely capture the amazing range and quality of Boulder County’s outstanding restaurants, businesses, entertainment venues and cultural scenes, but we’ve definitely picked out the best of the best (with your help, of course). It’s no wonder that our little piece of prairie heaven ends up on lists like “Smartest U.S. Cities” and “Best Places to Live.”
Along with your picks, we’ve included some of our own “best of” winners, recognizing the ridiculous and the remarkable, from right here in Boulder to across the nation. The winners in these categories might not be too happy with their prize, but we think you’ll get a kick out of our take on the people, places and events that made this past year memorable.
From all of us at Boulder Weekly, we hope you enjoy this year’s edition of Best of Boulder™ and congratulations to all of the winners!
BEST EXCUSE TO GO SKIING
Just when we’d run out of sick days, personal days and distant “dying” relatives, nature and the cable news stations came together to give us one more air-tight excuse to ditch work and hit the slopes: swine flu. With panic over a new strain of super flu at a fevered pitch, most employers weren’t going to hassle possible plague carriers into showing up for their shift. A few sniffles on Wednesday, some hacking coughs on Thursday, and we got Friday off with no questions asked — Monday, too, for those who could do a good “sick voice” on the phone. And because hospitals encourage the diseased to stay home and isolated, we didn’t even need a doctor’s note. And for those who actually won the contagion lottery? Sorry, you missed some great powder.
ACTRESS IN A CORPORATE ROLE
Mary Lee Chin
When confronted by Boulder Weekly, Chin said, “It didn’t occur to me to [identify myself as a paid biotech shill]. I did say I’m a strong advocate of biotechnology.”
Prior to playing this role, Chin made numerous videos extolling the virtues of GM foods, at least some of which are posted on Franken-food giant Monsanto’s website. Already a multi-billion-dollar company, Monsanto stands to rake it in through the sale of Roundup-ready crops, first when farmers buy the seeds, and then when the farmers buy copious amounts of Roundup. Fortunately, the commissioners were not swayed by Chin’s “I’m just a concerned citizen with no hidden motive” routine. They tabled GM sugar beets, opting to study the matter for a year before making a decision.
BEST EXAMPLE OF DIRTY
Katie Witt’s supporters
BEST MISUSE OF POLICE RESOURCES
Boulder cops’ visit to Mall Crawl organizers
Last fall, about a month before Halloween, two local guys announced on Facebook that they were going to try to bring back the Mall Crawl, that rite of debauchery that used to be held on Pearl Street Mall every year on Oct. 31. But Boulder cops knocked on the doors of the two would-be organizers and reportedly told them that if they went ahead with their plans, they could face legal action and be saddled with any cost the city incurs dealing with the event. The good old ACLU jumped in and scolded the city for threatening the two citizens, saying something about the right to assemble and those pesky First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Still, the men backed off and changed the name of their Facebook group to “The Artist Formerly Known as ‘Bring back the Boulder Mall Crawl!’” But the point is this: don’t the police have better — and more important — things to do? The year before, the cops ticketed about a dozen people for putting pumpkins on their heads and frolicking naked across a city block. That night, assailants punched a man and questioned his patriotism because he was Asian American. A few blocks away, a woman was assaulted and gang-raped while walking home, the first of a slew of terrifying nighttime sexual assaults to happen in the following months. When will Boulder police focus more on preventing assaults and rapes in our neighborhoods and less on ticketing naked people and stopping peaceful gatherings on Pearl Street Mall?
One council member drowned out Brigham’s comments by rubbing his microphone, while another gestured to police to have Brigham removed and arrested. This lack of tolerance for criticism and public participatoin was consistent with a council that only a month earlier had discussed sending “regulars” to the back of the line during public comment periods. City officials later kinda sorta apologized and agreed not to press charges, but the damage was already done.
We know it can get really annoying listening to these kooky regulars who get some sort of sick satisfaction out of attending every single city council meeting, but, hey, that’s tough. It’s easy to listen to someone when they are complimenting you. The tough part — and the reason the First Amendment was created — is to listen to those who are critical of you, especially when you’re an elected official. There’s a basic reason why criticism of the government is one of the most protected forms of speech, and it’s not because Bush was so much fun to hate on. It has to do with that whole thing about having a government “by the people” and “for the people.” You’ve got to let the citizens speak out when their elected officials screw up — even if one of those citizens is wearing only boxer shorts.
EAST COUNTY RESTAURANT
The Pumphouse Brewery
You walk into The Pumphouse, located on Longmont’s Main Street, expecting bar food. But what you get is so much better. Its menu includes all the sports bar staples — burgers, hot wings, French fries — but even these choices are a cut above what you’ll find at most sports bars. Their nachos in particular stand out as perhaps the best in the county and are a B-dub staff favorite. Order them with the killer guac.
Or try the sesame-crusted tuna, the shrimp tacos or Greek salad. Salmon in a sports bar? Yes, and it’s delicious, as is the Caribbean pork tenderloin. And did we mention dessert? Make sure to leave lots of room. The Pumphouse also has a gluten-free menu for those with dietary restrictions, as well as vegetarian choices.
Is it worth the half-hour drive from Boulder? Without a doubt. And the wait time for a table isn’t quite as long as you’ll face at many of Boulder’s eateries.
So pack up your appetite and head down the Diagonal to give The Pumphouse a try.
BEST EXCUSE FOR
VIOLATING FIRST AMENDMENT
What is even more unconscionable is that CU faculty allowed it to happen. Apparently the administration has beaten them into submission so many times that they’ve gotten used to it. Or maybe the traditional university model, in which the faculty help run the place, is truly dead. Either way, another local media voice died, which is a shame. Other than the publication you are reading now, what’s left? Not much, other than the wire-heavy PostCameraDaily conglomerate, which
has turned recycling and repackaging the same local content over and over into an art form.
BEST EXAMPLE OF UNINTENDED
Firing of Colorado Amazon Associates
BEST REASON TO GO TO CSU
CU Raises tuition … again
BEST REASON TO
Masturbating deli worker
BEST REASON TO LIE TO YOUR DOCTOR
Medical marijuanaOf all things, you wouldn’t expect a rule-making hearing of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to have such a profound impact on Colorado’s political and economic landscape. But when the CDPHE made a technical ruling last summer on a couple of words in Amendment 20, which legalizes medical marijuana, they opened the door for an explosion of a fast-growth industry in Colorado: medical marijuana dispensaries. Now, as evidenced by a stroll on the Hill, dispensaries are sprouting up like, well, weeds. And since they’re legal (depending on whom you ask — they’re in the grayest of gray areas), never has Colorado been a more ganja-friendly place to be. But with all the cries of shady dealings, black-market connections, and oh-god-somebody-think-of-the-children, people are in danger of forgetting the real victim: drug dealers. Facing a dwindling customer base, your friendly neighborhood pot vendor faces much better stocked competition from an increasing number of legit, taxpaying businesses. Can one simple person compete with a dispensary that employs five people full time? Times are tough for pot dealers, but not if Denver Democrat Chris Romer has his way. Romer has proposed a pair of bills that, if passed, will make life much more difficult for dispensaries and most likely will force many of them out of business. So fear not, pot dealers: you have a friend in the legislature, and with any luck, business will be booming once again.
BEST DIRTY SCAM
The Fort Collins balloon boy
Wow, this was a humdinger, wasn’t it?And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that meddling kid. It was during a fateful interview with Wolf Blitzer when young Falcon Heene was asked why he didn’t come out of hiding when he heard his parents calling his name. His dad, Richard, had to rephrase the question for the boy, to which Falcon replied, “Um, you guys said that, um, we did this for the show.”
His mother, Mayumi, responded with a meek, “No,” and the gig was up.
If you had planned this, don’t you think you would have repeatedly rehearsed that part with the kid? “I was too scared to come out because I thought you would be mad at me.”
But for a few hours there, those of us glued to the live television coverage on that October day were genuinely sick to our stomachs, especially parents, thinking that the child might actually be in that balloon as it soared across the Colorado sky, out of control.
No real harm done, but talk about one of the most compelling breaking news stories of the year. It does make you feel sorry for Falcon, who is going to be known the rest of his life as “the balloon boy,” thanks to his idiot parents. Some people are just a few kernels short, you know?
FASTEST RESTAURANT SERVICE
South Side Walnut Café
BEST PROOF OF INSANITY
Pat Robertson’s Haiti earthquake theory
BEST DISPLAY OF SEXUAL
BEST REASON NOT TO TRUST
New Age guru James Ray
The ceremony was part of Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” retreat in Sedona, Ariz., that also included another ceremony stolen from American Indian culture: a “vision quest.” Participants paid a reported $9,000 each to participate in the retreat.
Ray had promised to push these people beyond their boundaries — and, apparently, he did. Three people were pushed so far past their boundaries that their spirits left this earth. As a result, Ray is facing manslaughter charges to which he has pled not guilty.
Some people have called for the regulation of sweat lodge ceremonies in the wake of this tragedy. Perhaps it would be more appropriate if they called for the regulation of white folks running ceremonies that don’t belong to them.
Of course, the latter is impossible.
Freedom of religion means that everyone has the right to pursue spirituality in the way that seems best to them, even if that means cannibalizing other cultures and running
ceremonies in ways they were never intended to be run.
BEST PROOF WHITE MAN CAN’T
All-American Basketball Alliance
BEST EXAMPLE OF RACIAL
U.S. Forest Service
We are not making this up. The Colorado Latino Forum quickly denounced the Forest Service warning, pointing out that it could put Hispanic campers in danger from gung-ho types — people who play country music, eat Wonderbread and drink Bud — who might see a can of Tecate and decide that hunting season has begun early.
The warnings were issued after the Forest Service found more than 14,000 ganja plants growing in Pike National Forest. Law enforcement said at the time that Latin American drug cartels may be smuggling people into the state in order to grow pot in remote parts of the mountains.
That might be true, but is a person’s choice of music, food and beer the best way to identify who’s working for a cartel and who isn’t? Are these the criteria used by the DEA and the FBI? If so, perhaps that explains why they’re not making headway against cartels.