Latest from The Spokesman-Review
February 12 in a still-snow-buried Spokane passed quieter than the Denver Broncos locker room after Super Bowl XLVIII. Did you notice? Did you care? I did. I’ll admit I even held my breath a time or two as the Big Day approached because, well … You never know. Which is the point, naturally. Nobody can know – especially the boobs who put out that titillating and trashy online tale last fall that began like this: “The next mass shooting will take place on February 12, 2014, in Spokane, Washington.” Remember? I forgive you if you don’t. Memory loss, I’m convinced, is an unavoidable side effect of our so-called Information Age. Day-by-day. Hour-by-hour. Minute-by-minute/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
When I heard that a Spokane bar was serving “Date Grape Koolaid,” I knew the morons running this joint would eventually need my help. And sure enough, the Daiquiri Factory, 121 N. Wall St., is now in trouble up to its highballs. I’m not talking about the blowback from the many good people who are rightfully aghast that a business would be so callous and cavalier as to sell an alcoholic drink that makes sport of sexual assault. No, the real threat to the Daiquiri Factory comes from Kraft Foods representatives. Seems the corporation takes a dim view of having their iconic Kool-Aid brand associated with a sick play on the words “date rape”/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
I couldn’t help but experience a phantom twinge when I heard that Dr. Robert West was including me in a book he’s writing about his many years as a deputy coroner and the coroner for Kootenai County.
Dr. West did give me a vasectomy, after all.
Not as a coroner, fortunately. The Harvard-trained MD and vascular surgeon had a well-established private practice in Coeur d’Alene, too.
I only bring up my misery to show how the man had his hands in, well, a lot of sensitive arenas during his long and respected career.
West is 78 now. He retired as coroner in 2011 and stepped away from his private practice about eight years prior to that .
During a phone call the other day, the good doctor assured me that he was intending to quote from one of my columns and not from my medical charts.
So why would a county coroner write his memoirs? Doug Clark, SR
Do you enjoy reading memoirs? Got a favorite?
Here’s what Doug Clark observed on Friday, when he took a State of the (Spokane) Downtown tour.
- 11:03 a.m. – Barely away from the newspaper, my travels lead me to two large and foot-flattened piles of excrement (Human? Wildebeest?) plopped in the middle of the sidewalk on Lincoln Street, across the street from the Agave restaurant. Is this City of Choice material? Don’t think so.
- 11:05 a.m. – Heading east on Riverside Avenue, I pass a urine-stained doorway and arrive at the corner of Post Street and Riverside in time to chat with an amiable security guard. “You should have plenty to write about, believe me,” he says, when I tell him what I’m up to.
- 11:10 a.m. – The words barely leave his lips when an obnoxiously loud young woman in bright blue drools the world’s longest loogie onto the sidewalk. It’s a bad choice in any civilized culture, but none of her loitering pals, about a dozen hard-looking street toughs, seems to mind. Full column here.
Question: Do you avoid downtown Spokane, if you can help it?
So 88-year-old Delbert “Shorty” Belton was really a lowdown Spokane crack dealer. And not only that … The old World War II veteran was a crooked crack dealer who tried to chisel Kenan Adams-Kinard and Demetruis Glenn, the two 16-year-olds who are accused of robbing and beating Belton to death outside the Eagles Club one night last week. Yeah. That’s the ticket. I’ve heard plenty of shaggy dog tales over the years. But this one? This is the flag waving at the summit of Mount Absurd. Tell you what, though. I don’t have a crystal ball. So, if there’s any truth to this hateful accusation, I’ll put on a pink tutu and take a long, slow walk of contrition through River Park Square holding a sign that says, “Boy, was I wrong about Shorty.” Maybe some cops will join me/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Joyce Stefanoff is retiring at the end of summer, although she’ll concede to anyone who asks that she’s not sure if she’s quite ready to hang it up. The problem is that Stefanoff loves her job and all it entails. She loves driving her candy-apple red Lexus downtown each day from her home on the South Hill. She loves riding one of the Lincoln Building elevators up to her office on the fourth floor. She even loves getting the coffee brewing for Berge Borrevik, her employer. And if that doesn’t sound all that newsworthy, consider this. Stefanoff turns 90 on Aug. 10. This trim woman has worked for New York Life Insurance Co. agents in Spokane since 1955, back when Eisenhower was president and some guy named Willard Taft was mayor/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: How do/did you know when it was time to retire?
WARNING: This video is painful to watch and hear. Its only saving grace is that this exercise helped raise money for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Let's hope this duo does not reunite. The political pro of Street Music Week remains — sorry, mayor and council president — Mary Verner.
Whoever came up with the supermarket “impulse buy” had a sucker like me in mind. I can’t stand in a checkout line without grabbing a candy bar or a tube of lip balm or another box of mints from the goodies that have been put there to tempt the weak and simple-minded. That’s how I wound up owning a copy of “Red Dawn,” the documentary about Spokane being invaded by North Korea. It was in a box of “previously viewed” DVDs that was located suspiciously close to my checkout line. A few minutes later, I was $7.99 poorer and cursing my lack of willpower/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: What unnecessary product displayed near a checkout counter are you most likely to buy?
A river of emotions ran through me on Sunday. Foolishness. Humiliation. Shame. That about covers them. My return to fly fishing after a 30-year absence wasn’t what anyone would describe as triumphant. “It looks like bait,” exclaimed my lovely wife, Sherry, between gasps of laughter at my catch of the day. I can’t understand it. The movie in my head had me hauling a monster trout out of Black Lake after a prolonged, Hemmingwayesque battle. Reality, as you can see from the photograph, turned out to be a sardine that, judging by its stunted growth, was probably a smoker. True, it probably didn’t help for me to yell “Fish ON!!” like an excited little girl/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
DFO: The first and last time I flyfished was during the first week after my arrival in Kalispell, Mont., a guest of the last newspaper publisher C. Patrick King. We did so behind the Hungry Horse reservoir in Northwest Montana. Fun day. Got in some huckleberrying, too.
Question: When did you last flyfish?
Not to frighten any of you, but I predict the entire region will soon be clobbered by a tsunami-sized crime wave. And all because of what’s been going on at Airway Heights Correctional Center, the horndog hoosegow of Eastern Washington. Mark my words. Criminals will be getting themselves purposely arrested so they can get in on some of that Airway action, and who can blame them? For the second time this spring, one of the prison’s female staff members has been accused of having carnal relations with an inmate. So much for prison as a deterrent/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Huckleberries can't figure out why prison staffers would get entangled with prisonsers. Can you?
SR columnist Doug Clark writes of Spokane's brush with a Boston Marathon carnage during the 2011 annual Martin Luther King Jr. march:
Three years ago, Spokane had its own brush with a backpack bomb and human evil. A novel I read recently spoke of how life and death are sometimes separated by the thinnest of circumstances. That was certainly the case here on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17, 2011. I shudder to think how different things would have been for us were it not for three temporary workers who were pulling a shift for the city’s Public Utilities District: Mark Steiner, Brandon Klaus and Sherman Welpton. Ring a bell? Didn’t with me, either. More here.
Question: Have you ever narrowly escaped death?
I always knew I’d one day have to step in and do the mayor’s dirty work. Not that I’d characterize helping a charity as dirty. But when Spokane Mayor David Condon wimped out, The Salvation Army emailed me to ask if I would “serve as Mayor Pro Tem” in its annual red kettle Ring Off against Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem. Who am I to dodge the Army? Well, except for the time I ran off to college in 1969, that is. So mark your calendars for Dec. 15. That’s the day you’ll want to stop by the Spokane Fred Meyer store on Thor, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. I’ll be there along with a soon-to-be-named “Dream Team” of yuletide jingle-janglers. … Meanwhile, over in the Lake City, Bloem and her minions will be ringing away at the Fred Meyer. The less said about the opposition the better. The contest is simple: Whoever raises the most money wins bragging rights/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Who do you think'll win?
Time now, adventure lovers, for another episode of Misner Madness. But first, let’s pause a moment to absorb the following shocker. Bill Misner, the Spokane ultrarunner who has logged more mileage than Madonna’s bedsprings, has decided to hang it up. “I’m retiring,” announced Misner during a morning phone call. “That’s it. “Oh, I’ll still run for fitness,” he added after a moment. “But to get into that national level of competition … “It’s a full-time job.” Flashback to Moab, Utah, earlier this month. The 72-year-old captured the gold medal for his age group in what is dubbed the “mother of all marathons.” Which means that Misner’s going out on top, something few champs have the common sense to do/Doug Clark, SR. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: What's your strategy for going out on top?
It’s a good day, Spokane. There’s no snow in the potholes, the river’s still running and Karl Thompson Jr. is already ensconced in a federal lockup on the other side of the state. Sorry, but you won’t find me joining the gripers and grousers who are sore about the ex-cop getting just 51 months for his unwarranted and vicious attack on Otto Zehm six-plus years ago. I’ve been beating this drum too long for that. I remember too well the lonely days when our do-nothing county prosecutor, Steve Tucker, refused to touch this case as if it were radioactive. I remember, too, that the city’s official and shameful position was that Thompson did nothing wrong and that Zehm was to blame. I was just some kook columnist ranting in the paper about a lost cause and giving away 5,000 Otto buttons to keep people from forgetting. Oh, boy, do I remember/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Being a stodgy traditionalist, I’ve groused and griped plenty about Washington’s vote-by-mail system. Sure, I realize our impoverished postal system needs to sell every stamp it can. But the long, slow trickle of ballots by mail can’t compare to the joys of going to the polls on Election Day. Not to mention that the smiling ladies who ran the polls would always give me a cookie. But that’s the way life crumbles, I guess. It’s time to stop complaining and focus on the many benefits that come from having two weeks to hunt for where you put your damn ballot so you can fill it out and get it in the mail on time. To help out I have spent literal minutes creating the Top 10 Advantages of Voting by Mail/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Do you think the control freaks running the Idaho Republican Party would ever allow vote-by-mail and risk the possibility that they might attract more voters by doing so?
The tipster called me midday Friday with two eye-popping political developments, namely that 4th District state legislative candidate Amy Biviano appeared topless in a 1995 Playboy magazine spread. Five words immediately came to mind. “Well, it’s about damned time!” (Contractions don’t count.) See, I’ve been around politics a long time. And the mantra of every politician is that they have “absolutely nothing to hide.” Which always turns out to be an utter falsehood when candidate so-and-so is found to be heavy into cross-dressing or addicted to toilet stall sex in airport men’s rooms. And those are just Republicans. So this is the first time in my recollection that a candidate really does have NOTHING TO HIDE!/Doug Clark, SR. More here. And: Previous thread: Topless photo? confidence building
Other SR weekend columns:
- George Will: Presidential debates dumb, but expected/Editor Gary Graham
- Spin Control: Times political ads might not be money well spent/Jim Camden
- The Slice: Classic tale of 2 viewpoints/Paul Turner
- Eye on Boise: Education reform opposition slams propositions/Betsy Russell
- 3-step plan to eliminate scourge of political malarkey/Shawn Vestal
- Smart Bombs: Fair pay skirts the bind/Gary Crooks
- Eastern's two-QB system works wonders/John Blanchette
- Outdoors: Fish survey not linked to liberalized limits/Rich Landers
Question: If you had the right stuff to pose for Playboy/Playgirl, would you?
There are probably quicker ways to wind up in the poorhouse or on a psychiatrist’s couch, but running a restaurant has to be right up there. Research shows that three out of every five eateries will close in the first three years of operation. And in the past week or so, we’ve seen two Spokane restaurants call it quits: Beignets, a relative newcomer to the downtown dining scene, and C.I. Shenanigans, a fixture here for 30 years. But today’s column isn’t about dishing out grim news. This story is about celebrating a Spokane restaurateur who beat the odds and has the ulcers to prove it. His name is Jim Rhoades. He emailed me the other day to proudly announce that Rock City, the grill he owns at 808 W. Main Ave. with his wife, Rose, will turn 20 on Friday/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Any of you out there ever try to run a restaurant — and lived to tell about it?
The Spokesman-Review’s most oft-repeated headline reappeared the other day on our Business page. “Avista seeks hike in rates.” This time it’s our North Idaho friends who are getting the treatment. But it doesn’t matter where you live in this great Ingrown Empire. Avista love is spread around pretty much equally. In fact, in the last 100 or so years, a small forest has been chopped down just to make the newsprint needed to carry this headline and variations like it, including … “Soaring Avista rates beat Rover to Mars.” And … “Avista CEO salary hits new record; any guesses who’s gonna pay?” No research has been done to calculate how many gallons of ink have gone into printing these rate hike headlines/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Are you as tired of Avista rate hikes and rate-hike requests as columnist Clark?
The latest hiccup in the quest to turn up Jimmy Hoffa fell flatter than a Keebler elf in a trash compactor. No moldy Hush Puppies or bits of decomposed leisure suit were tweezed from the dirt dug out of a backyard in suburban Detroit. I couldn’t be more relieved. The whereabouts of the missing union boss is one of America’s most cherished unsolved mysteries, and I’ve been holding my breath ever since these snoops started digging. Frankly, I enjoy guessing where Hoffa wound up after he disappeared from outside a restaurant back in July 1975. Was he offed by a hit man and then buried unceremoniously under a freeway or sports stadium? Did the Mafia stick him under a Veg-O-Matic and then feed the pieces to the fishes off Long Island? Or is Hoffa hiding out in a rest home somewhere, playing canasta and swapping yarns with Elvis and JFK?/Doug Clark, SR. More here. (1957 AP file photo of former Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa)
Question: How many rememberJimmy Hoffa?
It’s been inspiring watching Wazzu revitalize itself. Images of rioting students and Dumpsters ablaze from years gone by have all but faded from public memory. Gone, too, are the days when Washington State University made the list of the nation’s top party schools. New coach. New attitude. Cougar days are here again. There’s just one blemish left for Cougdom to take care of. Just a thought: I’d like to see university officials take some of the money they’re pumping into those cheesy “Wave the Flag” commercials and put it into a gravity awareness program. Similar to getting a driver’s license, every fraternity and sorority member would be required to study hard and take an oath vowing to not break the law of gravity/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: How do you account for all the students who have fallen from fraternity windows and roofs at WSU and UIdaho?
Today we’ll examine the importance of the “bug-out bag” and how much Spam you’ll need to cram into it in order to survive the coming collapse of civilization as we know it. Before getting to that, however, I feel I owe an apology to any dead Mayans who may have been offended when I scoffed at their predictions that the world will end shortly before Christmas to avoid the rush. All that 2012 doomsday hocus-pocus seemed silly when I wrote about it last spring. Enough troubling events have happened since then to make me think that those long-gone Mayans maybe knew something. It’s been one sign of the apocalypse after another this summer/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Do you see signs that the apocalypse is almost upon us?
Dick Wandrocke, former “mayor” of Fighting Creek, welcomes the Idaho Potato Commission's giant potato to Post Falls Friday afternoon. (Duane Rasmussen photo special to Huckleberries)
Ever since the Dawn of Man (or, for you feminists, the Dawn of Chicks), human beings have created mysterious, larger-than-life wonders that were meant to endure the mildew of time. The Great Pyramid. Stonehenge. Oprah … And now, the brainiacs at the Idaho Potato Commission have rolled out a spectacle to behold. The “Great Big Idaho Potato Truck.” Picture, if you will, a gleaming red semi hauling a flatbed trailer that is topped with a 28-foot-long, 11.5-foot-tall potato replica. When I heard this tuber tumor was coming to Spokane, well, I knew I had to put aside my usual deep thoughts and go take a gander. And so on Friday morning, I pulled my aged Jaguar into the Yoke’s parking lot on North Foothills Drive – and gasped. There it was in all its brown bulbous glory. The last time I saw anything so rotund, Gregory Peck was attempting to harpoon it/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Let's have a show of hands. How many out there saw the giant potato rolling through PostFalls into Silverwood Friday and Saturday?
Sunday was one of those rare, picture-perfect hot summer days in Spokane, the sort of day you dream about when December rolls around and you’re cold and shivering and trying to remove the snotcicles that are dangling out of your nose. At least I heard that Sunday was great. I have little firsthand knowledge due to the fact that I was stuck in the cobwebby recesses of my dimly lit basement, preoccupied by things like empty pill bottles that were issued in 1967 to my grandmother, now long departed. “How’d we end up with these?” I asked my lovely wife, Sherry. The answer, alas, is as lost as the current whereabouts of Amelia Earhart. In our near-40 years of marriage we have managed to accumulate an unholy amount of Clarkian crapola. Because of this, we spent sunny Sunday in a sweaty subterranean cleaning frenzy/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Are you a hoarder?
Posing at the Ron Paul visit to Spokane during his presidential campaign earlier this month, are Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, Spokane Valley legislator Matt Shea, a Paul campaign aide, and Idaho. Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. Shea has been charged with weapons violations in an alleged road raid incident.
Nothing says “Welcome back from vacation, Doug” like a Road Rage Republican. So thanks to whoever gifted the newspaper with court documents about the firearms violations that were issued to Matt Shea after the Spokane Valley legislator’s dustup with another driver last November. Yeah, I realize this hubbub’s a bit long in the tooth. But you learn to settle for whatever you can get in this game. The sad truth is that we’ve been in a dry spell as far as ill-behaving politicians go. It’s a cyclical thing, I believe. A few years ago, for example, we were up to our fedora feather in GOP cross-dressers, toilet stall toe-tappers and city council psychos. It was a glorious time to be a columnist. Then something really disturbing happened: Many of our elected officials started behaving responsibly. Too many, if you ask me/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Today I’m offering ONE LUCKY READER the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m talking about a chance to ride shotgun in my 1967 Oldsmobile Vista Guzzler as we travel to wild and crazy … North Idaho. That’s right. At a mutually acceptable date, we will leave Spokane for this less-regulated land where Republicans outnumber the wood ticks. First stop is the bawdy hamlet of Stateline, where we will skip the strip joint and focus instead on a certain convenience store where I will buy my contest winner a jumbo box of that “banned in nanny Washington” Cascade dish soap. Then it’s off to Post Falls for a cheap booze run. (Sorry. Due to editor concerns, the winner must spring for his or her own hooch.) Once we’re loaded with suds and liquor, we will aim for Coeur d’Alene, where we will gorge on Hudson’s hamburgers. (Yep, I’m buying. Just don’t embarrass me by trying to order fries, or you’ll find yourself walking back to Spokane)Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: What do you think of Clark's itinerary for a road trip to North Idaho?
There has been a lot of finger wagging about the Spokane City Council devoting its Monday night meeting to a public outpouring over the state’s new gay marriage law. Some of my co-conspirators in the media argue that council members should stick to topics that are within the scope of their control. That’s one way to look at it. The wrong way, alas. Now I won’t argue the logic. I agree it’s a waste of time for the City Council to get bogged down in nonbinding resolutions like gay marriage. And that’s a bad thing, how? Look at it this way. For this one glorious Monday evening … No parking meter rates were raised. Not one more red light intersection camera was installed. While citizens wrangled passionately over the definition of marriage, our hamstrung leaders couldn’t come up with any new ways to pick our pockets/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Would you rather see your City Council get bogged down on nonbinding resolutions involving topics like gay marriage than to handle its usual business?
According to that fabled Mayan calendar, 2012 is the year when Planet Earth finally makes like Pamela Anderson’s acting career. But don’t worry. We have until December before the you-know-what hits the fan. In the meantime, my advice is to go to Amazon.com and pre-order your copy of an exciting new book: “Megacatastrophes! Nine Strange Ways the World Could End.” ($10.20, Oneworld Publications) From giant descending space chunks to malevolent microbes, the book – scheduled for release next month – offers an informed peek at the most plausible/possible cataclysms that would definitely screw up the ol’ holiday shopping season/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: So how do you think this all ends? Mayan calendar? Rapture & Armageddon? global warming? What?
Words you don’t often see in a Clark column: Great job, Spokane City Council! I couldn’t be prouder or more impressed by the council’s unanimous decision to just say NYET to Brad Thoma, the ex-Spokane cop who was fired following an off-duty drunken-driving arrest that saw him hit a citizen’s truck and then run like a chicken. This was not the usual City Council confab Monday night. This was “True Grit II.” No guns were blazing, but the rhetoric was worthy of anything Rooster Cogburn ever uttered. “I not only say, ‘No,’ but I say, ‘Hell no,’ ” fired council newbie Mike Fagan. I’ve heard the line before. But Fagan’s timing and delivery could get him some consideration at the next People’s Choice Awards/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Will you still think the city was wise to fight this settlement if it loses the $4M lawsuit that Thoma's attorney has filed?
In the latest example of your busybody government at work, Spokane’s City Council has decided to make outlaws out of we citizens who dare toss snow into the streets. Weird. I don’t remember snow fines being promised by any Council candidates during the recent campaign season. But in a 5-1 vote, the council ruled to charge homeowners 52 bucks for acts of slushy defiance. Well, bring it on, plowboys. I’ll come clean. I’ve been known to throw snow into the boulevard now and then. And I liked it. That’s because it was usually after some renegade plow jockey turned the Clark driveway into the iceberg that sank the Titanic. So no cheesy fine is gonna scare me. Besides, who’ll enforce this snow job?/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: When did you last throw a snowball at someone or something?
Happy Super Bull Sunday. This is the day when the dark forces of merchandising pull out all the stops to hypnotize us with images of hot chicks, prancing Clydesdales and talking babies. Man, those talking babies give me the creeps. Some of these super commercials will be hilarious, of course. A lot of them will be dumber than a box of socks. But every one of them will be designed to separate you and me from our hard-earned cash. Oh, yeah. There’s some kind of football thing going on today, too. But selling stuff to suckers is the real game being played today. Even Madonna’s halftime appearance is part of the National Undertakers Association campaign to promote the wonders of embalming/Doug Clark, SR. More here. (AP photo: This advertisement provided by Dannon Co,. shows a scene from the Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt Super Bowl commercial, starring Jessica Blackmore and John Stamos)
Question: So, which Super Bowl commercial was your favorite?