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Best of Local Folk

Just Folks


Best Cheerleader for Gay Pride
Mike McKee

You can count on Mike McKee to show up to the city's annual Gay Pride Parade, often wearing a biblically inspired sackcloth and ashes and waving homemade posters promising eternal damnation to gay people, the Independent, Barnes and Noble and the Urban League. Last year, one fellow cozied up to McKee and tried to give him a kiss. Apparently the fellow thought McKee was one of them. -- cd

Best Sherpa
Jang bu Sherpa
Employee at Everest Nepal Restaurant, 28 E. Bijou, 473-3890

Perhaps you caught a glimpse of him in the famous IMAX film, Everest. He was the one without the oxygen, gracefully assisting and guiding the climbers over canyon-sized crevices and through winding, snowy pathways. Or perhaps you've seen him up close and in person, at our local Everest Nepal Restaurant. He's dashing, debonair, has summited Mount Everest multiple times, and in his free time serves up some of the tastiest Napali food around. --sb

Best Conscience of Colorado Springs
Steve Handen, advocate for the homeless

Steve Handen jumped into the 1960s as a Catholic priest who wanted to change the world -- to fine-tune world peace and racial justice and to eliminate poverty. He left the priesthood after eight years, and a wife, at least 14 children and decades later, Handen has never abandoned his principles. He was key in opening the Marian House Soup Kitchen in the 1970s, and helped run the Bijou House for the homeless for 30 years. He continues his work with the homeless on a smaller scale, and still finds time to speak out -- clearly and passionately and respectfully and critically -- about the politicization of homelessness and other issues close to his heart. He is our hero. -- cd

Best Dr. Evil

County Commissioner Tom Huffman

Two years ago, Tom Huffman kicked Betty Beedy's bottom out of office. We bemoaned the demise of our favorite punching-bag county commissioner, whose statements about "normal" white Americans and single moms being "sluts" made national news. Our mourning was premature. In the last year alone, Huffman orchestrated a takeover of the Board of Health, got the former health department director ousted and has become the No. 1 critic of government-funded health programs for the poor, which he terms "socialized medicine." Refusing interviews with the daily newspaper, Huffman has also enraged the county's elected treasurer and assessor, not to mention a citizens' watchdog group that monitors the county. "I don't care if I'm re-elected, and that makes me dangerous," he says. --cd

Best Pizza Hut Customer
City Councilman Charles Wingate

We lay awake some nights wondering what type of pie inspired such a craving to make Charles Wingate risk his entire political future, not to mention his house, his bank account and allegedly the city's massive utilities budget. Was it the Chicken Supreme? The Meatlover? The Veggielover? Those adorable little personal-sized pizzas? And is he a thick, thin, traditional or stuffed-crust kind of guy? Or did the extra cheese do him in? -- cd

Best Arts Curmudgeon
Atomic Elroy

While subtlety is not one of his virtues, the aptly named Atomic Elroy (Tom McElroy) deserves an award for his entrenched bad attitude about boring art and Colorado Springs' infamous cultural apathy. And you've won it: Best Arts Curmudgeon. Spurn it or burn it -- you earned it. --nb

Best Gazette Suck-up
Editor's Choice Award

Best Reporter /Columnist
Readers' Poll Winner

Rich Tosches

At the end of a summer of hellacious drought, the daily newspaper's "humor" columnist reported a special deal between The Broadmoor and the city-owned utilities company, wherein the five-star resort's golf course had been drenched with drinking-quality water. Meanwhile, Tosches noted, the city's parks were in such bad shape that sports for school kids might have to be cancelled. In a stunning two-part editorial attack, The Gazette pummeled Tosches for needlessly scapegoating their advertiser, er, The Broadmoor, and variously accused him of "making Broadmoor-bashing a popular sport," being "misleading," blowing the whole issue out of proportion, and being "unjustified, counterproductive and needlessly divisive." Tosches inexplicably took -- or was given -- the next few days off. And, notably, there's been no whiff of Broadmoor bashing since. Tosches, by the way, has in the past poked fun of the Independent in his columns, dismissing the paper as a crazed group of pot-smoking futon salespeople. So his win this year as best columnist in town by Indy readers must be doubly embarrassing for him.

As for his bosses, we have no idea what they might have been smoking. -- cd

Best Mom's Club
Rocky Mountain Moms Club or 277-6675

Anybody who says being a stay-at-home mom is easy has never cleaned up poop from a mobile 3-year-old, had their 4-year-old throw the biggest tantrum of their life in a public park or gotten yelled at by the president of the PTA. When you're a mom, you need other moms. And your kids need other kids. Rocky Mountain Moms can give you all that and more. They've got playgroups, children's activities and parties, meals for moms, moms' night out, a family picnic, couples activities, and a chance to make friends with people who don't think it's odd that you know all the words to the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song. --mbp

Best Curator We'll Never See Again
Scott Snyder

Former curator at the Fine Arts Center

Like a honeymoon, it was short and sweet. Between the rabid eclecticism of the Colorado 2002 show, the "lets-get-caught-up-to-the-'90s" installations, or the "can-the-advance-PR-quiet-the-controversy?" of the current exhibition Lateral Thinking, Scott Snyder dared to do what so few FAC curators have done: challenge the way Colorado Springs arts patrons think about art. We'll miss you. --nb

Best Grande Dame of the Arts
Eve Tilley
Pikes Peak Arts Council, 475-2465,

For 22 years, Eve Tilley (aka "Our Lady of the Hats") has tirelessly brought the arts to the people of Colorado Springs. As an actor, director or producer, Tilley has delighted audiences of countless Star Bar Players productions and many others around the city. In 1996, Tilley took the helm as president of the Pikes Peak Arts Council and since then has lobbied City Council, staged arts festivals and, most recently, has single-handedly published the PPAC's excellent newsletter The Palette. Here, in addition to providing exhaustive listings of upcoming arts events in the region, Tilley editorializes in support of the arts, reminding us of the role of the arts in learning, in civil society and in developing hearts and minds. Tilley brings style and humor to her all-important role of arts mama, reminding us ceaselessly what a drab place this would be without outlets and means of artistic expression. -- kce

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