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When Huckleberries last checked in on Local Boy Making Good Ben Clark in January, he and his Seattle band were about to release their first album on the Columbia Records label and appear on Craig Ferguson's late, late show. Since the release of "Get it," The Lashes have been on tour. Ben? He's the lead singer of the sextet, son of S-R columnist Doug Clark – and a far cry from the tyke who shared his "Star Wars" toys with my son, Seth, both dressed in Underoos. Molly Yanity/Seattle Post Intelligencer caught up with "Ben Lashes" during a break in his tour and proclaimed: "The Lashes could be the next big thing to emerge from the Seattle music scene." She also contended that Ben has the "it" factor and that "The Lashes power-pop sound is catchy" – a sentiment repeated by other gushing interviewers up and down the West Coast. Time will tell if The Lashes are the next Nirvana. Either way, Ben Lashes has come a long way since Ferris High when he and his first band got exposure by playing halftime gigs for the girls' soccer team.

Smiling on the outside
A week ago, CdA blogger Phil Corless/A Family Runs Through It was walking his kids to a soccer photo shoot when he noticed a little girl skipping along the sidewalk toward him. When she saw The Family Corless, she smiled "the kind of smile that you can't help smiling back at and thinking, 'There's one happy kid.' " And then it hit Phil. The girl with the 100-watt smile was Shasta Groene, the 9-year-old who survived the horrors of being kidnapped last spring and having three members of her family murdered. The encounter made Phil stop and hug his two children. When his son asked why he'd teared up, Phil forced out a short explanation: "I just wanted you to know that I love you." Later, Phil blogged: "I really truly hope that (Shasta) keeps that happiness on the inside as well. Nobody can imagine the pain she's gone through, but if she can smile like she did at me and my family in the park, then maybe she's going to be okay." A lot of people in this area are praying that Phil's right.

Blast from the past
I dug through my files of old e-mails after learning Aryan Nations sympathizer Vincent Bertollini had been run to ground in New Mexico. He and multimillionaire buddy Carl E. Story arrived late on the local racism scene. But they made nuisances of themselves, nonetheless, bankrolling fliers, videos and posters to promote their Christian Identity religion. Occasionally, when he wasn't propagandizing or driving drunk, he'd fire off an e-mail to me. On Aug. 20, 2000, he e-mailed: "Our work is just beginning, and (we're reaching) more and more households in this Great Northwest (98 percent White Adamic Aryan in demographics – for the record, that is why we are here and do what we do because this is truly the last stronghold in America against the nonwhite blight instigated and perpetuated by the wicked JEWS)." Nutty stuff. But typical of the online correspondence several S-Rers received from Bertollini and his ilk back in the day. You didn't miss anything if you weren't living here then.

Speaking of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and KKKers (oh my), North Idaho College instructor Tony Stewart was confronted by a red-faced redneck Wednesday evening as he was en route to Schuler Auditorium to be honored for his work as an educator, host of a long-running public TV show, Hospice volunteer and human rights activist extraordinaire. "I'm from the people's republic of California," the North Idaho immigrant hissed. "And you're trying to turn this area into another people's republic of California." Tony's too polite to utter the words that I would have: "And your point is?" … Poet's Corner: "Although his brain/is but a dot,/the pigeon flies/while you cannot" – The Bard of Sherman Avenue ("The Pigeon") … Bumpersnicker (on a white Honda in CdA): "My other car is a pair of walking shoes" … Any "Lord of the Rings" fans should enjoy the short post by blogger Kristin Hoppe/Not So Fast re: her struggle in adjusting to daylight-saving time: "I hates it, tricksy sun!" … Go ahead and laugh at us Idaho rubes, Tater Tot Breath, but mobile device users picked quirky Idaho-based "Napoleon Dynamite" as the crème de la crème in two Screentone Awards categories, including best overall. Gosh!

Parting shot
"That idiot is just an absolute idiot. … He doesn't have one ounce of empathy in his whole frickin' body, and you can put that in the paper" – House Speaker Bruce Newcomb as reported by Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise re: state Rep. Bill Sali, R-Kuna, following a dust-up during the abortion debate on an informed consent bill. Now, there's something you don't hear a Speaker of the House say every day about another elected rep. Remember this when you're considering Sali's qualifications as you cast your ballot in the GOPrimary horse race for the congressional seat being vacated by Butch Otter.

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Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.