In the past 10 days, our modest village has been assaulted by an unprecedented barrage of out-of-state praise.
The Seattle Times published a fawning travel story: “Urban, hip Boise defies potato jokes and other Idaho stereotypes.”
The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman championed, of all things, our grocery stores: “Finding supermarket bliss in Boise.” The Austin writer even described Boise as “our hippie sister city to the north,” undoubtedly triggering mass celebratory shots of kombucha in Boise’s North End.
Most problematic, however, is Fred Savage. The former child star of “The Wonder Years” — now a frustratingly likable adult — has taken it upon himself to become Boise’s official ambassador. On TV’s “Conan” last week, Savage told O’Brien that he “had a great time” while in town researching his role for “The Grinder,” a Fox series set in Boise. “I went to minor-league games!” Savage marveled.
I’m worried about “our progressive, Basque-heritage mayor,” as the Seattle Times calls him. Specifically, Mayor Bieter’s head. Already inflated by the “best places to live” lists Boise constantly tops, it must be reaching life-threatening proportions.
Before things spin out of control, I feel that it’s my civic duty to share the truth: Boise really isn’t all that. Having spent most of my adult life periodically reminding everyone of this fact in the Idaho Statesman, I feel uniquely qualified to save us from the potential damage caused by this recent tidal wave of tourism syrup.
Before the entire state of California scarfs down one last In-N-Out Burger and hops in a U-Haul headed to Idaho, I present: a dozen uncool things about Boise.
▪ The inversion. Nothing says “Boise” like a blanket of depressing winter pollution. I’ll make you a deal, Mr. Mayor. If this column is causing you to wonder what it would be like to choke me, wait until winter and I’ll take care of it for you by stepping outdoors.
▪ Boy-see vs. Boy-zee. Savage pronounced our city’s name as “Boy-see” on “Conan,” making locals proud. Like many Boiseans, I pronounce it both ways, contingent upon the amount of local beer I’ve consumed. Either way, it’s lame that we fuss over it.
▪ The Boise Foothills. When not causing houses to slide off the planet, Boise’s picturesque geographical feature is literally not cool. During summer, it’s hotter than the Sahara Desert. But what about our beloved, spidery Foothills trail system, you ask? Watch your step; the popular Corrals trail is a minefield of dog crap.
▪ Boise = gone to the dogs. “My dogs are my kids!” gushes every childless adult Boisean, and half the ones with kids. Wrong. But in Boise, crotch-sniffing, four-legged children crowd the aisles of Home Depot and beg on every restaurant patio. By the way, my new cat’s name is Disco. That is so cool, right?
▪ The Boise Greenbelt. Want to take a leisurely bike ride on this paved path along the Boise River? Good luck. Is there any stretch — particularly through Garden City — that isn’t marred by bone-rattling tree-root cracks? Or any summer day when Quinn’s Pond swimmers aren’t blocking the Greenbelt by sprawling across it like it’s their personal, heated sunbathing beach?
▪ Confusing boundaries. Where exactly does the North End stop and this “West End” we keep hearing about start? Why do half the businesses in Garden City list Boise addresses? Hey, am I actually in Eagle right now? That would not be cool.
▪ Taste in music. No, I’m not talking about the radio stations. I’m talking about concerts. Here’s an example: You know the band that headlined this year’s Super Bowl halftime show in front of 115 million viewers? Coldplay brought its sold-out tour to the City of Trees back in 2003. The Bank of America Centre (now CenturyLink Arena) was only half full. Coldplay will never, EVER return to Boise. On the other hand, a touring male stripper show called Australia’s Thunder from Down Under sold out the Egyptian Theatre earlier this week in advance.
▪ The Tablerock cross. Forgive me, Father, for wasting electricity is a sin. (I do enjoy the glowing cross during Outlaw Field concerts, though.)
▪ Idaho-shaped T-shirt/cap slogans: God help me if I see another pretentious “Blue Girl, Red State” bumper sticker in Boise. My eye-rolling is going to cause me to crash my Idaho-4x4-gas-guzzler — probably into someone wearing a “The North End/The North Face” T-shirt.
▪ Potato pride. Try to convince yourself that the Idaho Potato Drop on New Year’s Eve fits any definition of the word “cool.” (Cold? Yes.) And now Kobe Bryant had to go and help save the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck from much-needed retirement, too. “The fireworks display after the Potato Drop is awesome,” Statesman editor Bill Manny gushes while I type this diatribe. “And I love the giant Idaho potato truck.” Anybody got a spud gun I can borrow?
▪ Smurf turf. Loathed universally outside Boise, Boise State’s blue football field used to be cool — to us. But now that fickle fans have noticed that the Broncos aren’t ranked? Not so much. Remember, green is the color of money.
▪ Good-ol’-boy-see laws. In a city ga-ga about local breweries, it’s ridiculous to not be able to pop a legal cold one while floating the Boise River. And who came up with Boise’s prudish nudity ordinance? We aren’t allowed to strip ourselves naked in bars? WHAT UP WIT DAT?
“You know what else is uncool? An ‘entertainment columnist.’ ”
You don’t say.
“Especially at a newspaper trying to act modern by calling itself a ‘media company.’ ”
You got me. Pile on.
I’ll save you the effort of emailing or calling. I’m out of the office. My parents drove 1,000 miles to come visit uncool Boise this weekend — all the way from super-hip rural Nebraska, where I grew up. Right now, I’m in the comfort of my mommy’s arms.
How cool is that?