|BEST MAINSTREAM PUNKS
Can you still be considered a “punk” zine if you’ve been publishing for 20 years? Salt Lake Underground (isn’t that technically just SLU?) proved “fuck yeah” this year by celebrating two decades of monthly decadence with nary a slip in quality or attitude—in fact, the mag is printing some of its best material these days, and has a potential superstar columnist in the irascible Mike Brown (provided he doesn’t start giving a damn or using words like “irascible”). But, if you’ve been a part of the local landscape since 1989, you’ve officially joined The Mainstream. Sorry, SLUGgers.
BEST FANTASY SERIAL IN A PERIODICAL
Anti-gay columns by Orson Scott Card
Long gone are the days when newspapers could afford to allot space to serial fiction—and more’s the pity; it’s how luminaries such as Mark Twain and Armistead Maupin got their starts. But when Mormon Times needed a writer to produce agitprop justifying the LDS Church’s involvement in a last-ditch California ballot measure to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying, it turned to sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card. It was money well spent—who but Card could have come up with such imaginative arguments against equal marriage as the idea that it would mark “the end of democracy in America”? To give his prose something of a steampunk flavor, Card resurrected long-outdated, quasi-scientific theories to explain that the very existence of gays and lesbians is due to “tragic genetic mixups” and “sex-role dysfunctions.” The only thing that detracted from his sweeping, dystopic vision was that the ballot measure failed—which, unfortunately, meant that Card’s paid rants were limp, sellout failures that will haunt him the rest of his life. His fan base was not impressed.
BEST NEWSPAPER REPORTER
Ted McDonough, City Weekly
Ted McDonough joined City Weekly in 2004, after a decade at Idaho’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News. His weekly news features and Hits & Misses set the editorial tone for this paper as do his cover features which invariably light a fire under our readers. Competing against reporters at the Trib and Deseret News, McDonough was chosen 2007’s Best Reporter at the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists competition. Whether it’s reporting on the demise of Sugar House or an upheaval at KRCL community radio, McDonough’s knack is finding stories that others may not consider significant and then writing the hell out of the stories.
2. Eric S. Peterson, City Weekly
3. Robert Gehrke, Salt Lake Tribune
BEST BLESSED BLOG
Seriously, So Blessed!
Finally a blog that captures the satirized soul of the young, Mormon, wanna-be housewife. Seriously So Blessed! chronicles the parodied (right?) trials and tribulations of young Mormon housewife TAMN (Tiffany/Amber/Megan/Nicole) wife and hubby JJWT (Jordan/Jason/Wes/Taylor). TAMN, with a penchant for acronyms and EXCITED capitalization, shares with the blogosphere her adventures in staying peppy and convincing her DTD (Down-There-Doc) that she’s actually “preggers.” “When I called for an appt, I had to spell it out for the poor receptionist who bless her heart was NOT very sharp. I had to keep saying things like “I’m preggers!” and “Preggo my eggo!” and “My oven has a bun in it!” and “I’m nourishing JJWT’s righteous seed in my fertile gardenbed!” The hilarity of her wishful pregnancy and other calamities like having her hair-stylist BFF fix a bad haircut: “We basically made hair-miracle lemonade out of hair heartbreak lemons, so don’t worry, now I’m hot again. SO greatful for product, and prayer,” have made us at the City Weekly truly heart this blog and we’d be so greatful if this BOU made us BFF’s.
BEST BLOG BATTLE
Trib’s Glen Warchol vs. Rep. Steve Urquhart
Snarky coverage of the Mark Walker bribery debacle by Tribune columnist Rebecca Walsh and blogger Glen Warchol set off Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, who criticized the Trib writers on his blog: “I reviewed the, um, reporting of Glen Warchol and Rebecca Walsh, until I felt I had lost 40 IQ points,” wrote Urquhart, adding, “They lobby hard for their tax-exempt status, because they act (cue “God Bless America”) in the public good.” Warchol fired off his own retort in a July 9, 2008, entry entitled “Hallelujah, I’m Biased!” writing: “First, I am biased. I make that clear every day. Second, I am passionate. Finally, I am a blogger. Yes, I work for korporate media, but I am a creature of the blogosphere just like you.” Warchol ended his rant: “If it seems like I spend more time picking on Republicans, it’s because they are The Power in this state,” and with that cued a video to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power!” Political blog-brawls don’t get much better, yeeaaah boy!
Kevin Templin et al, Red Rock Brewing Co.
Utah is perversely blessed with a high concentration of skilled beer makers and Beehive State drinkers have lots of high-quality suds to chose from. But those who appreciate handcrafted brew lovingly tended by the batch turn to Redrock, which consistently pumps out award-winning versions of classic and complex beer styles. This fall, Templin—Great American Beer Festival’s national “brewer of the year” in 2007—was among a handful in the country to get his hands on a shipment of expensive Amarillo Hops, dumping pound after pound into a floral, easy-drinking harvest ale. Any given year, Redrock brewers create 30 different styles of beer ranging from smoky schwarzbier to organic pilsner, to Dunkel, to Belgin white ale. Redrock also puts out very special, special editions. For Christmas ‘08 it was a Belgin trippel aged in oak casks and clocking in at 10.2 percent. Part of this year’s batch will be poured over Utah cherries and re-fermented for one year before the final product hits liquor stores.
254 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-521-7446; 1640 W. Redstone Center Dr., Park City, 435-575-0295, RedRockBrewing.com
BEST TORTILLA OF THE FUTURE DESIGN
Michael Dunn, BYU food scientist
Improve upon a tortilla? An ancient time-tested, nutritious food staple that has outlasted entire civilizations? Impossible, you say? Well, BYU food scientist Michael Dunn took up the challenge and not only learned how to make a better tortilla, but created a recipe that small Mexican tortilla mills can re-create cheaply and efficiently. Dunn took the already nutritious staple and examined it for its deficiencies: folic acid and B vitamins. Working closely with owners and workers of Mexican tortilla mills, Dunn and his research team developed a method that can fortify the tortillas with these missing ingredients and without changing the color, texture or taste of the tortilla. The new and improved tortilla is the culmination of four year’s research and development by Dunn and his team who are now seeing to the distribution of the recipe to rural tortilla mills all across Mexico. Felicidades!
As The Leonardo struggled in August 2008 to find a way forward, a new management regime led by consultant Peter Giles and local architect Allen Roberts fought valiantly to save the would-be arts and science museum from a final implosion. At that time, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker appeared disinclined to give the science museum further funding. At a city council meeting, architect and Leonardo board member Allen Roberts pinned its problems to the wall with a description of the previous management style as pithy as it was accurate: “the pathologically optimistic failure mode that got us nowhere.” Roberts and Giles finally managed to save The Leonardo from itself by winning Becker’s backing.
BEST BIBLE BELTER
While Christian singer Hilary Weeks is more likely to appear in Deseret News than City Weekly, that’s not to say Weeks doesn’t deserve our attention. The slender, much-traveled Utah-based singer has penned her own spiritual inspirations for the past 15 years. Her smoky timbre and soulful delivery makes even the most obvious Christian paean that much more palatable. You can’t help but wonder what she would do with a contemporary ballad that wasn’t soaked in Christian good graces, a Billie Holiday standard, for example. She’s certainly a pleasure to listen to, with a natural, disarming manner before the mic that quickly earns your admiration.
Bill Frost, City Weekly
Bill’s had a demanding year, what with helping birth our new Website, CityWeekly.net, while still finding time to pen a column. He also shepherds the monster Best of Utah into the light each year. He might be feeling somewhat bereft now that one of his favorite targets—private clubs—is on the way out. He doesn’t believe the days of print media are numbered, not quite yet. “You can’t sit on the can with your laptop,” he astutely points out. Well, not easily, anyway. It’s Bill’s acid-soaked wit we all keep coming back for, of course, as the enduring success and popularity of his True TV and Ocho columns attests. Bill’s not just the backbone of City Weekly—he’s our king of comedy, too. Long may he reign!
2. Robert Kirby, Salt Lake Tribune
3. Rebecca Walsh, Salt Lake Tribune
BEST RECORDER OF A BACK STORY BEHIND A MEDIA CLUSTERFUCK
Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune photographer
When hundreds of journalists descended on West Texas for two months to cover the state raid on the FLDS compound in El Dorado, Salt Lake Tribune chief photographer Trent Nelson kept careful account of the details on his blog Fly on the Wall (http://22.214.171.124/blogs/trent/). Nelson puts some of his best photos on the blog, as well as ironic and sometimes deeply emotional posts related to the stories he documents. His posts on the FLDS story illustrated the drama, as well as frequent boredom, that comes with hunkering down in a small town to cover a big story.
BEST RELUCTANT MEDIA SPONSOR
St. George Spectrum & Daily News
According to event organizers, the Spectrum agreed to a $1,000 media sponsorship of the Southern Utah Pride Festival, to take place September 2008. Soon after, however, the newspaper apparently had a change of heart. While the Spectrum didn’t back out of its agreement, exactly—begrudgingly allowing its logo to be displayed on promotional material—it may have been the most sub rosa media sponsorship ever. That weekend, the paper’s event listings included an environmental expo, a book festival, an electronics-recycling program and a chili cook-off—but nary a peep about the festival, which attracted 2,500 participants to nearby Springdale.
|BEST UTAH BOY MAKES GOOD
Remember how our hearts ardently strived with this Murray High School student as he came closer and closer to being “the next American Idol”? Of course you do. His wide-eyed innocence and sweet demeanor summed up all those freshly scrubbed Beehive State values we all cherish (and betray, in our adorable, jaded, cynical Utah way). Remember the outrage we felt, just before the show’s late-May denouement, when New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones declared that “Archuleta’s woodland-creature routine feels increasingly forced”? And then, remember how the evil corporate music-industry bastards wielded Our Very Own Boy’s second-place contract to cancel the July “Fireside Chat With David” concert his dad planned as a “thank you” to all us dedicated fans? It just goes to show what you get when you sell out to The Man: treachery and $1,000,000.
BEST SPORTS-FOR-SEX EXTENDED METAPHOR
Western Urological Clinic
There may not be any easy way to market vasectomy services ... but this one’s a doozy. During the run-up to the Super Bowl in January, Western Urological Clinic pimped its male sterilization services by suggesting that it was the perfect time to get the procedure, because you’d have an excuse to lie around all weekend while you recover. Additionally, football lingo was sprinkled liberally throughout the text. No “unnecessary roughness,” they promised. And once you’re snipped, you could avoid having “too many men on the field.” It’s surprising that there was no reference to an “empty backfield.”
BEST IRONIC SPORTS SLOGAN
BYU football “Quest for Perfection”
It seemed like a good idea at the time: BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall and his troops rallying behind a motto that connected both to the institution’s religious goals and the possibility of an undefeated season on the field. But after a loss to TCU, BYU was left looking up in the Mountain West standings at rival Utah. And instead of BYU, it was another team from the state that went undefeated and headed to a BCS bowl game after defeating BYU during quarterback Max Hall’s “Quest for Interception.” Nothing like creating a motto that looks better on your opponent’s back.
BEST LOCAL BLOGGER
Heather Armstrong, Dooce.com
There’s a reason Armstrong is America’s favorite “mommy blogger,” experiencing more than 4 million page views per month and in demand for product endorsements. Here’s how a pregnant Armstrong opened a March entry about a trip to a blogger convention in Austin: “Last night, I was perched in a stall in a women’s restroom in Salt Lake International Airport, contorted, meditating intently on the idea of going pee, so panicked that I considered yelling out, “HELP! PLEASE HELP ME!” Dooce.com isn’t about cutesy, idealized diaper-changing stories. Armstrong’s writing is thoughtful, profane, honest and always entertaining. Dooce.com
2. Atropos, Radio From Hell (X96.com)
3. Gavin Sheehan, Gavin’s Underground (KUTV.com) UPDATE: Gavin's Underground now blogging for City Weekly!
BEST LOCAL PODCAST
Geek Show Podcast
What began as a randomly occurring segment on X96’s Radio From Hell in the ’90s is now a weekly freebie download, presided over by RFH’s Kerry Jackson from his basement. Doesn’t hurt to have a popular radio show as a promotional launch pad, but the Geek Show Podcast is more intensively geeky on all things sci-fi, videogames and comics than the old broadcast ever was—if the name Felix Gaeta stirs no seething in your loins, good luck keeping up. More universal are the monthly GSP
2. The Man Hour
3. A Damn Podcast movie double-features at Brewvies, where you can meet Jackson and his away team (Jeff Vice, Scott Pierce, Leigh George Kade, Derek Hunter, Shannon Barnson and a rotating cast of guests) in a casual environment of beer and bro-ship. So say we all!