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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Thong man’ split Coeur d’Alene 25 years ago

‘Thong man’ shook up Coeur d’Alene 25 years ago. (Courtesy of Kerri Thoreson)
‘Thong man’ shook up Coeur d’Alene 25 years ago. (Courtesy of Kerri Thoreson)
By Dave Oliveria The Spokesman-Review

Believe it or not, it has been 25 years since a skinny piece of cloth shook up Coeur d’Alene residents – and later their City Council.

In June 1993, the Lake City was introduced to “Thong Man” by several letters sent to then-City Clerk Susan Weathers, complaining about his habit of sunbathing on or near City Beach clad only in a thong bikini. The letters began a long cultural slog through the city bureaucracy and the local newspapers, before the council decided on a split vote that it was OK for Thong Man to bare buns.

The social battle was launched when Tim Bowman, of Coeur d’Alene, wore a thong near a church group waiting for a cruise at Independence Point in downtown Coeur d’Alene, according to the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Bowman wrote at the time that he’d been wearing a thong on city beaches for three years, and claimed in a letter to the Press editor that most tourists and locals either supported or accepted his decision to don his thong. The tourists, he said, “enjoy the non-stuffy atmosphere here.”

But two local women wrote to the Press that Thong Man’s show was more appropriate at the French Riviera or in California. Ron Rankin, the late conservative gadfly, suggested at the time that the anti-thong crowd collect 2,962 signatures to place the matter on the ballot. A petition drive didn’t happen.

In the end, Thong Man became a local celebrity sought out by college kids for group photos – and Coeur d’Alene moved on.

Ornery critter

In a recent Huckleberries column, you learned about a close encounter between a Kellogg police officer and a marmot cornered in a car’s engine compartment. The officer decided not to pursue the varmint in tight quarters. Now fast-forward to nephew Will Oliveria on Milton Avenue in Coeur d’Alene. Recently, Will discovered a marmot sitting on the engine of his Toyota sedan after being warned by a neighbor who saw the critter climb aboard. Will summoned his father, Ray, who tried to scare the marmot off with a three-quarter-inch dowel, only to have it chewed and broken in two. So, Ray jumped in the car and raced around the neighborhood, hoping to shake the unwelcome passenger. It was gone by the time he returned home. End of story? Not quite. Later that night, Ray’s wife, Lisa, thought she heard the scratching of tiny claws atop the shelves in the garage. Later, she and Will found animal spoor on the floor. Will the Punxsutawney Phil wannabe eventually move in with them? Stay tuned.


Poet’s Corner: Packed with nutrients/so incredible,/it’s quite a shame the/stuff’s not edible – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Liver”) … The Catawampus Crawfish Chowder for $10 is an enticing appetizer offered at the popular Crafted restaurant in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The small print on the menu adds to the spicy ingredients: “Ron Burgundy says this 10 times fast to warm up in the morning” … Bumpersnicker on a Washington Toyota parked near North Idaho College recently: “Apathy is the best whatever.” But a second snicker indicates the driver isn’t all that apathetic: “Make the scary Republicans go away” … Gail Curless hasn’t seen a porcupine around her native Dover, Idaho, for years, but she knows they’re around. She pulled two quills out of her “guardian dog” Bruno’s nose this week … Adam Mayer, KHQ’s intrepid North Idaho reporter, rode 40 miles in the rain recently to work on his mental toughness for the approaching Ironman Coeur d’Alene competition. He was cold, drenched, and maybe suffering from slight hypothermia afterward. Was it worth it? Absolutely, he said. Sounds like he’s ready … A sign in the Coeur d’Alene Library Tuesday urged patrons to answer this question: “If there was a book about you, what would the title be?” Two best responses? “My Ghost Writer Deserves More Credit.” And: “90% Instant Noodles, 50% Anxiety, and 100% Bad at Math” … Director Jeff Conroy of St. Vincent de Paul in Coeur d’Alene spotted this sign inside a Jimmy Johns eatery: “The one thing that unites all human beings – regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background – is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are all above average drivers.”

Parting shot

At the commencement exercises for the 2018 Coeur d’Alene High senior class, Interim Superintendent Stan Olson meant to say that he was presenting the class to School District 271 on behalf of the Idaho State Board of Education and others. But it came out “Ohio State” Board of Education. The large crowd jammed into the school gym laughed appreciatively. After all, Idaho is usually confused with Iowa. Ohio State, at least, has a good football team.

You can contact D.F. Oliveria at

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