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Best of Local Folk: Just Folks: Best 

click to enlarge Colorado College President Dick Celeste: Our newest claim to fame. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Colorado College President Dick Celeste: Our newest claim to fame.

Best New Celebrity

Editorial pick Richard Celeste

Dick Celeste, former governor of Ohio, former ambassador to India, former Rhodes Scholar, and now president of Colorado College, is not exactly a shy, scholarly, cloistered academic. Like Vartan Gregorian, the former president of Brown University, Celeste is gregarious, sophisticated, bizarrely energetic and terrifyingly smart. He knows how to throw a great party, how to raise money by the bucketful, and how keep CC's fractious, quarrelsome faculty reasonably happy. He's a 71-year-old with more drive and spirit than most men half his age. And if you go to a party at Stewart House (the president's home), take a look at the family photos on a side table; there's Bill Clinton and there's Hillary, and -- Omigod -- there's ... well, you'll see. -- JH

Best Civic Leader, Best Role Model, Best Sane Politician

Readers poll winner Richard Skorman

In a place where the average voter still bemoans the loss of the Lawrence Welk Show, Skorman was pretty sure five years ago that his ponytail wasn't going to help him get elected to City Council. So he cut it off, put on a nice suit and got the votes. Lucky us. Now the village's vice mayor, Skorman worked hard to preserve the Stratton Open Space and Red Rock Canyon. He is a tireless champion seeking a solution to our long-standing affordable housing crisis. He constantly seeks ways to combat domestic violence. He is the loudest voice for the enactment of intelligent growth management policies. Five years after being elected to City Council, we can overlook the ponytail-cutting thing. -- RT

Best Public Fool

Readers poll winner Douglas Bruce

click to enlarge Real Estate Mogul Buck Blessing has never met a committee he wasnt willing to chair. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Real Estate Mogul Buck Blessing has never met a committee he wasnt willing to chair.

To win in this category in Colorado Springs is no easy feat. Not winning, for example, were county commissioners Tom "Hey Voters, Bite Me" Huffman and Jim "The Paperboy" Bensberg. Also not winning in this category was Mayor Lionel "Speaking My Thoughts, As Soon As Focus on the Family Tells Me What My Thoughts Are" Rivera. Tax-slasher and rental property owner Bruce, who hates government and also hates his tenants when they complain about the rodents, vaulted over all of his fellow politicians to win this coveted award. The reason was obvious: Homer Simpson wasn't eligible. -- RT

Best Print Journalist

Readers poll winner Rich Tosches

Tosches won this award a couple a times when he was the metro columnist at the Gazette. We'd take that opportunity to blast him because he'd occasionally mock The Independent. Now he works for us and occasionally mocks the Gazette. We -- and he -- like it better this way. We also like the fact that on the weeks he writes about Focus on the Family, the Broadmoor or our village's utilities department he refuses to accept his paycheck. He says a person shouldn't be paid to have that much fun. Since writing this little blurb, he has been instructed to write about Focus on the Family, the Broadmoor or our village's utilities department -- every week. --RT & CD

Best Real Estate Mogul

Editorial pick Buck Blessing

Buck Blessing is 40 years old, owns a gazillian dollars worth of real estate and wears mod glasses. When he wants to raise a little money for cancer, he jets off to Costa Rica for a grueling test of endurance, hiking, biking and rafting his way across the treacherous landscape. That's just the kind of guy he is. Here in Colorado Springs, Buck has virtually never met a commission he didn't chair. Think we're joking? The Fine Arts Center, local Better Business Bureau, Business of Art Center Board of Directors, Colorado State Real Estate Commission, Community Development Advisory Board, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, EDC Foundation for Colorado Springs' Future. Air Force Academy Foundation -- the list goes on and on. And on. Despite his millions, Buck is the antithesis of the greedy developer; if more local wheeler-dealers learned a thing or two from him, this world would be a better place. -- CD

click to enlarge Betty Morris from Bennys knows how to serve em up. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Betty Morris from Bennys knows how to serve em up.

Best Radio DJ

Readers poll winner Vicky, KRCC's Morning Freeform DJ

Known to strangers and fans alike as "your friend and neighbor," Vicky may well be the happiest person in town. How she keeps up her demeanor is a wonder -- they must serve some good coffee at KRCC. Consistency is reassuring and it is a pleasure to be enveloped by Gregor's voice each morning as she runs through her 9 a.m.-to-noon freeform show, faithfully spinning an eclectic selection of tunes, remembering obscure oldies along with presenting innovative new artists. -- WY

Best Newscast

Readers poll winner KOAA News First 5/30

KOAA's News First team produces their program three times a day, and lo! -- they actually broadcast at times when people are home from work. Readers can't get enough of Best Local TV Anchor poll winner Lisa Lyden, who, with fellow evening co-anchor Rob Quirk, gives the low-down on what's going on in Colorado Springs. Add to that Georgiann Lymberopoulos, an outstanding weather crew and a user-friendly comprehensive Web site (www.koaa.com). -- KL

Best Neighborhood Bartender

Editorial pick Betty Morris

Benny's

click to enlarge Lori Chambless from Murphys Tavern knows how to serve em up. - GAVIN EHRINGER
  • Gavin Ehringer
  • Lori Chambless from Murphys Tavern knows how to serve em up.

517 W. Colorado Ave., 634-9309

Betty could kick your butt. But, bless her heart, she may also give you an affectionate hug and a pitcher of beer. This favorite bartender has worked at the beloved dive bar Benny's for nearly nine years and has the legions of fans to prove it. This year, for her birthday, the joint was at its most hoppin', with a rockabilly band, a cake, and most notably, Betty in a tiara. Reports are that the while the birthday celebration was a great success, it wasn't without a bit of accidental bruising and tiara mishaps. All booze-slingers should be so lucky to be so loved. -- KL

Best Neighborhood Bartender

Editorial pick Lori Chambless

Murphy's Tavern

2729 N. Nevada Ave., 634-9196

Like Tom Cruise's character in Cocktail, Lori lays down shots, drafts and mixed drinks with flair, flash and flirtiness. A perpetual-motion machine, she dances while she pours, juggles bottles into the trash, and hands out hugs to locals who've had a bad day, week or life. Male or female, she'll charm you out of your last buck, which you will gladly tip her before she scoots you out the door at closing time. (P.S. Murph's prices are right out of the 1970s and its decor, the 1950s). -- GE

Best Turntablist

click to enlarge Marcus Redden, aka DJ ANDIREXIT, named Best - Turntablist. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Marcus Redden, aka DJ ANDIREXIT, named Best Turntablist.

Editorial pick Marcus Redden, aka DJ ANDIREXIT

332-7689

In this era of the superstar MC, the person behind the turntables can get lost in the background. Occasionally a DJ stands out as a star in his or her own right, laying down head-nodding beats, mixing together classic breaks and scratching with fingers faster than hummingbirds fly. Enter Marcus Redden, aka DJ ANDIREXIT of the F.O.S. Crew, fusing records together with the proficiency of a master welder and scratching with the artistry of a bebop-era Coltrane. Whether he's providing the backdrop for Black Pegasus and Strife's rhymes that leave the crowd sweaty or dropping his own mix tapes and CDs, DJ ANDIREXIT's skills refuse to be ignored. Word up. -- SG

Best Piercing Artist

Editorial pick Marcea Flowers

Holey Rollers

332 E. Colorado Ave., 577-9943

You thought you knew what you were getting into when you signed that sheet of paper to get a piercing. But now that you're sitting on the table, waiting for the needle, well, you're starting to feel uneasy. The piercing artist, Marcea, uses a cotton swab to rub aromatherapy oil under your nose and you take a few deep breaths. Ahhh, that helps. She explains what she is going to do with those foreign-looking instruments on the tray. You feel yourself loosening up. And suddenly there is a needle poking through your body. She effortlessly slips the ring through behind the needle and cleans the wound. You think, "Hmmm, that hurt, but not too much." -- SG

click to enlarge Jon and Jasin from Gertrudes House of Hair give one helluva haircut and show. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Jon and Jasin from Gertrudes House of Hair give one helluva haircut and show.

Best Metaphysical Diviner/Psychic

Editorial pick Beverly Spencer

Wild Rice Nutrition , 1900 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-5596

Ever been just a little curious? All those dark, crystal-filled rooms in the backrooms of Manitou Springs stores aren't just for show. But if you vibe with less crystal ball and need a bit of insight into your life or health, try a session with Beverly Spencer. She reads energy, including body chemistry, and touches on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of the body. Beverly's the best, because she's accurate. You won't find any guessing games: Before you reveal much to her, she'll read you and speak for about 20 minutes, then you get another half hour or so of Q-and-A it'll blow your mind. Just sit down, close your eyes, and relax. It's kind of like getting a weather report for the soul while uncovering past connections to current ailments. -- MS

Best Haircut And a Show

Editorial pick Jon and Jasin

Gertrude's House of Hair

31 E. Bijou St., 442-6769

These guys cut and color some of the best hair in town. Their banter is unsparingly merciless, and their wit -- wickedly funny, brutally honest -- is as sharp as their scissors. Here's the type of exchange you'll hear at Gertrude's: Stylist: "Do you want color?" Client: "Do you think I need color?" Stylist: "Well, you're the one who has to walk around looking like that." Here's another: One day a man, a perfect stranger, with a really bad mullet walked into the salon and asked if he could get his hair cut that day. Without missing a beat Jon shot back, "Honey, not if you plan on keeping that style." And don't forget to trim your own bangs before your next appointment. Jasin really, really gets a lot of mileage out of that one. -- CD

Best Custom Jeweler With An Edge

Editorial pick Matthew Crawford Designs, 313 N. Tejon St., Suite 1, 630-1605

If you're the mix-n-match, design-your-own type of person who refuses to settle for the prefab, swing by Matthew Crawford Designs. Matthew creates anything you can dream up for any occasion. He spans the entire spectrum of metals, stones, precious gems, fine diamonds, platinum and art wear. Everything is designed and created by hand, and you can be guaranteed not to bump into your twin somewhere -- your gift will be one of a kind; like artist, like product. -- MS

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