- WELL THAT HAPPENED: Escaping Neverland
- Photo contest garners stirring moments
- MUSIC BOX: Get weird with Peelander-Z
- GET OUT: Motley crews command the desert
- FEATURE STORY: New American Anthem
- Riotous sequel pokes more fun at Jackson life
- FEATURE STORY: The Journey to Jackson
- MUSIC BOX: Sodapop’s Bottomless Well
- FEED ME: World’s best street food is made in Wilson
- GUEST OPINION: Climate Change is my fault
Best of Jackson Hole 2013 Editorial Picks
Best true athlete: Joe Casey
Nothing against Travis Rice or Crystal Wright or whatever big mountain skier/rider was voted Jackson’s best “athlete,” but an athlete has to have an opponent or else it’s not a sport and therefore he or she is not an athlete. And, no, a ski hill is not an opponent.
Imagine the latest Red Bull-sponsored mountain hotshot busting “Toyota air” or a “Rusty Trombone grab” while five other snowboarders were trying to beat the snot out of him.
Joe Casey, who died suddenly last month, played hockey for the Jackson Hole Moose. He was a collegiate standout at Denver and landed a paying job with a Texas minor league hockey team in addition to his playing days with the local U.S.A. Hockey Association Senior A club. For those unfamiliar with the sport, hockey is the most physically and mentally demanding of the major four – hockey, football, baseball and basketball. It’s not even close.
What Casey did to keep himself physically fit to play at age 37 was impressive. Youth is served in the speed game of hockey. Any strong-skating 17-year-old with decent skills can make a 30-year-old professional look foolish. Casey trained and worked out to keep his body fit for the rigors of the game. He had thighs like beer kegs.
At 5 feet 8 inches tall, nearly everyone on the ice was bigger than Casey. But he was in shape and he was smart. He took advantage of leverage and had a keen understanding of the game. He had amazing anticipation. But what Casey had in abundance at every level of the game and why he is Jackson’s best true athlete, was his high-motor drive. He never quit. He kept coming and coming, and sooner or later, he was just going to outwork you. – Jake Nichols
BET START BUS DRIVER
Most Jackson partiers have travelled the “Further Bus,” as it’s known to some. Driver Peter Romaine logs the late shift mainly because it frees up his days for skiing. He’s also been known to jam the Grateful Dead on Sirius Radio most nights.
The easygoing driver has few rules when it comes to keeping order on the party bus back from the Village. “If you are gonna puke, pull the stop request cord and I will pull over for you,” Romaine says.
In the 20 years he’s been driving for START, Romaine has handled his share of the overserved. He’ll make a decent attempt to revive you if you’re passed out but beyond that he’s calling the cops. He doesn’t mind chit chat from the front seats on most nights, especially if it gives him a chance to offer up suggestions on where to eat or what to see while in town.
Inclement weather is no problem for Romaine; in fact, he says he’d rather have the roads snowy and icy than be bored with clear track. “The ‘windy mile’ [on the Village Road] is now the windy half-mile with the new Shooting Star development,” Romaine says, disappointedly. New technology in buses today also helps make Romaine’s job easier. “They are like computers and limousines now compared to 1992.”
Romaine has never had an accident while driving the bus, though he was criticized by the unofficial START Bus handicapper Capt. Bob Morris.
“He told me once, ‘Peter, you don’t need to give the bus so much gas when you are coming up to a red light,’” Romaine remembers.
“I love Capt. Bob.” – Jake Nichols
Best dressed visitors
Las Vegas strippers at The Bird
The best dressed in Jackson is always a difficult category to judge. Casual active wear dominates the fashion scene in the town center, from Pearl Street Bagels to Teton Mountaineering. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the Town Square – Shades and Betty Rock – the style is more retro-meta-urban-Seattle-funk. After the 2012 Little Horsethief fire, some suggested firefighter bunker gear is fashionable. Others say it’s too brown, the fluorescent striping too visible, loud, and lacking the self-indulgent nuances of Patagonia or prAna tags (also placed on the outside where everyone can see, but subtle enough so one can pretend it’s not intentional). Camo has increased in popularity with the pseudo-redneck set. Once the exclusive domain of bow hunters, it has, like climbing clothes, expanded in appeal to those who feel the need to make a public expression about who they are. Personally, I find the idea of rednecks needing to make a fashion statement demoralizing. Plainly, best dressed is a slippery category and since Mary won’t let me nominate the nude models at Center for the Arts, I choose the Las Vegas strippers The Bird invited to their Super Bowl party. Now that’s a fashion statement we can all live with!
– Clyde Thornhill
Best dressed female
On any given night in Jackson Hole, something special is happening: a gallery opening of contemporary paintings, a performance on the Center for the Arts’ stage, or even girls’ night out at a favorite white-tablecloth restaurant. And at all of these events or hot spots, women can be found dressed to the nines, negotiating the boardwalk in teetering heels and catching the bar light with glittering accessories. However, one woman often stands out from the rest, effortlessly blending high style and comfort. Whether attending a NYC ballet performance or a Fourth of July parade, Heidi Ramseur is sleek, sophisticated and stunning. She brings simple glamour to the table, without over-trending, over-thinking or over-complicating. Flattering skirt lengths, appropriately plunging necklines and well-fitted materials ensure Heidi’s completely put-together look. She is a Diana Vreeland-breath-of-fresh air in a world polluted with Kardashian T&A. – Christian Burch
Best dressed family
Mark Sullivan, Nona Yehia and children, Wyatt and Lucy
Four unique styles jammed into one household could result in a clashing cluster of circus-like undefined style, but not in the Sullivan/Yehia home. Father, Mark, sports understated and classic muted colors: usually dark denim paired with a blazer, leather shoes and a scarf. In contrast to Mark’s scruffy coolness, Nona fancies sky-high shoes and clothing with architectural shapes and bright colors that, if you listen closely, you can actually hear popping when she enters a room. Son, Wyatt, is streamlined in skinny jeans and tees, resembling the bygone days of the skinny British bad-boy rocker. When asked about her style, youngest daughter, Lucy, quipped, “My clothing choices are based on themes, color, mood, or type of event … although if I could, I’d always wear a party dress, day or night.” We agree, Lucy. It’s always nice to be ready for the party. – Christian Burch
Best place to get your indoor sweat
Revolution Indoor Cycling
Revolution Indoor Cycling is ahead of the rest when it comes to working up a sweat. You might think that in order to sweat – the sloppy wet kind that pools up on your brow and drips from your body, you have to either sit in an unbearably hot sauna or work so hard it hurts. If so, you have not worked out at RIC. From state-of-the-art Schwinn bikes, Indo-Row rowers, and a variety of motivational instructors, it’s definitely a serious group workout, but there’s a fun factor, too. As Bryan McDearman, a former college football player and avid skier and bicyclist says, “It’s not Zumba. It’s row.” Sure there’s music. Eighties hair bands are owner Julie Guttormson’s favorite, but each instructor has a unique playlist. With disco-type lights – the same found at the Bellagio – that change color and can even flash in rhythm to the beat of the music, the workout scene has a Vegas-vibe which is what Guttormson wanted. “At the end of the day, it has to be fun,” she says. And with all this fun going on, you might forget you are working out. McDearman, who works an 8 to 5 job during the week, says he likes working out at RIC because it helps him build and maintain strength and endurance for weekend sports. As for me, I love to row with the group. We’re in sync, but we all work at our own power and pace. McDearman says he burns at least 700 calories in any class he attends, while this author is happy burning 300. Clean white towels are stacked near the entrance. Don’t forget to grab one. You will never sweat so good. – Teresa Griswold
Best use of commute time
Radio and reflection
Whether schlepping in from either valley – Star or Teton – or somewhere along the outlying fringes like Kelly or Red Top Meadows, commuters need something to do besides driving. Are you a competent enough driver to handle a “distractionary” task? Probably not, judging from the dead wildlife piled up along the road, but here goes.
Radio is the old standby. It’s still free and, after listening to the local choices, it’s obvious why. Still, depending on your routine, NPR offers radio for those who don’t mind learning something. “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Talk of the Nation,” and “Science Friday” turn your truck cab into a rolling classroom.
Audio books and podcasts are another way to drown out tire hum while keeping your mind occupied. Some people swear by them. Others find they can’t concentrate on the story while watching the road or vice versa. Always wanted to learn French? How about a Rosetta Stone session while driving away the hours? The longer your commute, the more multilingual you might become.
Lastly, the half-hour or so spent driving to and from work could be used productively as a means of self-reflection. You can get as new age as you want with it, but creative visualization builds muscle memory. Athletes practice the method all the time. A golfer, for example, may visualize the perfect stroke, the perfect shot over and over the night before he has to play a big tournament.
On the way to work, meditate on what you want to get accomplished that day. On the way home, review the day and how you might have made it better.– Jake Nichols
Best place to be spotted
Hipsters flock to Williamsburg in New York, to the Pearl District in Portland, to The Mission in San Francisco, and to Silver Lake in Los Angeles. In fact, hipsterism has become so hip that it’s inhibiting its own hipness. (Urban Outfitters, anyone?) So where do you go in Jackson if you’re too hip for hipster? Gaslight Alley. The shop-lined block has evolved into its own teeny-tiny beacon of style and culture. The pillar of the “alley” is Valley Bookstore, Jackson’s legendary independent bookstore, offering the latest reads in all of their tactile glory. Grab a cup of coffee at one of two coffee shops, and browse the small “mom and pop” shops such as Shayne Skincare, Bet the Ranch, Habits, and MADE. Summer brings “miniature festivals” with artists showing their wares, screenprinters demonstrating their skills, and shop owners investing in, not only their own businesses, but the culture of our town. – Christian Burch
Best drive-thru sugar buzz
Turtle Pecan Blizzard at Dairy Queen
I once ordered the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard when I felt a need to obtain my recommended daily amount of saturated fat. While the servers treated me with civility, I can assume their disdain at my untutored palate would be similar to that of a Westbanker ordering red wine with fish. Thankfully, age has brought me wisdom (as well as a few pounds in the gut). I now order only the Turtle Pecan Blizzard, which is my nominee for Best of JH in the corporate, nationally franchised drive-thru category. The TPB has real pecans and a flavor that is more subtle than the Peanut Butter Cup, more sophisticated if you will, providing a more rewarding, more refined experience. As a bonus, the Turtle Pecan Blizzard offers important vitamins, as well as calcium. As for the questionable content in fast food “ice cream” – the various mono and diglycerides, celluloses, carrageenan, calcium sulfates, disodium phosphate and artificial additives – when you die, the chemicals keep you from rotting so fast!
– Clyde Thornhill
Best parking lots to poach
If the lousy economy has an upside it’s all the available parking. With so many businesses shuttered in and around town, the “parking lot poach” has been in full effect.
The old Bubba’s/Mojo’s poach is a favorite with the tow hitch crowd. River rats caught on to this sweet spot last summer, and tour buses occasionally figure out that the parking space provided by the combined emptiness of the two eateries on either side of Wendy’s at the five-way make for ideal spots for big rigs and haulers to hole up. Bonus: Plenty of turnaround space.
The front of Mojo’s has already turned into a used car lot (see Teton Gables) and out back more than one homeless person turned the lot into his own personal campground last summer.
The Teton Steakhouse lot has proved very handy for downtown parking overflow. Bank of Jackson Hole customers, Eddie Bauer shoppers, and those looking for a quick slice at Pinky G’s have all zeroed in on the unused lot at the old Sizzler.
The business du jour spot attached to the Teton Gables property has always been a great place to drop off your camper or trailer or boat for about four months. An absentee owner and non-existent management makes the former convenience store-tackle shop-fruit stand the ideal place to leave your rig to sell … or rot.
– Jake Nichols
Best use of a tip jar
The unassuming tip can on the counter at Copyworks has worked magic for our troops in Afghanistan. While Suzanne Richards’ son-in-law was stationed in Afghanistan briefly as a chaplain’s assistant, she got the idea to solicit spare change for some of the troops who have no family and are consistently passed over during mail call.
“When that jar fills up, and it does frequently, I go to the dollar store and buy them some things,” Richards said. “Just little things like energy bars, ping pong balls, matchbox cars, whatever I can get a lot of.”
Richards sends magazines, comics, and cards made by school kids during the holidays – little items from a home that seem so very far away for our fighting men and women. In less than a year and a half, the jar has been cashed in hundreds of times, according to Richards. In fact, Copyworks has sent so many care packages to the six bases in the Salerno region that the 1st Battalion, 501 Airborne awarded the small Jackson shop with one of the 10th anniversary flags that flew at Task Force 1-501 Geronimo headquarters to commemorate the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
– Jake Nichols
Best place to get the 4H scoop
Jackson Hole Feed & Pet Supply
Twin sisters Kelly (Hatch) and Kathy (Flickinger) might have just created the good ol’ girls version of the barbershop. The latest poop on Jackson’s ag industry can always be found down at the feed store on Carol Lane.
“People come to get the news, and we’ve also been referred to as Match.com for pets, too,” Flickinger said, referring to the wide array of critters the shop takes care of until they find their next home. In addition to the store mascot dog and cat, shoppers may find chicks, lizards, birds, or a tree frog for sale or giveaway.
Ranch-y types account for the bulk of the business at Jackson Hole Feed & Pet, but the owners say they are seeing more and more sustainable-living folks looking to feed their chickens or birds or other stock.
“A lot of our dog food business comes from customers who say they are ready to step up to something a little better than kibbles,”Flickinger said, bragging on sister Kelly who is an expert dietician.
The twins stress that, while they can work with dog and cat owners on the spectrum of foods, no one should ever feel the need to apologize for trying to save money. Special orders are no problem at the feed store, which features a massive attached warehouse. – Jake Nichols
Best bathroom experience
Thai Me Up
The unisex restrooms in Thai Me Up are decidedly decadent. That’s probably why it gets weird in there. They’re almost too spectacular to soil with a BM and plenty of dudes are intuitively more careful with their stream in such glorious water closets. Take a pass on number ones and number twos; these johns are tailor-made bone zones.
Maybe it’s the black-lighting or the Kama Sutra-like wall murals, but TMU’s luxurious loos have fast become a de facto boom-boom room for friskier patrons who can’t wait till later to “answer the call.” And that “courtesy flush” is made to mask her throes of ecstasy, not necessarily his bowlful of hot mess.
The wild wall art by Ben Carlson and Mark Dunstan is what puts the groove in Thai Me Up’s coed lavs and a little hanky-panky that leaves the facilities smelling like Barry White’s bedroom (or R. Kelly’s sheets to the younger generation) is something TMU staffers have probably gotten used to by now. Just be considerate of the next couple trying hard to hold it. – Jake Nichols
Best anything that’s pork
Owners Josh Governale and Fred Peightal have centered their restaurant so much around the pig that their logo depicts the animal. And while the sign in front of Café Genevieve gives evidence to the porky goodness that lies within the eatery, until you taste it for yourself it’s hard to appreciate all the various uses for our swine friends. Pork is all over the Genevieve menu, and you can pretty much have it for any meal of the day, for any course. Whether served as a savory side to your Belgian waffle, sprinkled on your cheesy huevos rancheros, chopped into a crunchy salad, barbecued and pulled for a juicy sandwich, roasted in elegant chop-form, boiled into a deeply flavorful soup broth, or even candied and served sweet, pork is front and center, and with Governale cooking it up, the pig has never tasted better. – Claire Rabun
Best phallic food
Bin 22’s chocolate salami
There’s no shortage of jokes when it comes to food in the shape of, well, let’s call it a phallus, but at Bin22 they’re not kidding around when it comes to their Chocolate Salami. This hefty log of delight is a combination of dark chocolate, figs, dates, almonds, pistachios and walnuts, all rolled in powdered sugar and served with fig preserves and sugared crackers. Bin22 is the new Eataly-esque wine bar, specialty grocer, and liquor store in town, and while its menu is full of tapas-style plates that are meant to share, you’ll want to keep the whole Chocolate Salami for yourself. Just a little sweet, a little nutty, a good bit naughty and a whole lot satisfying, this dish is that one night stand that you’ll keep coming back to over and over again.
– Claire Rabun
Best place to get juiced
Healthy Being Juicery
Healthy Being Juicery is not your ordinary juice shop. You won’t find Jessica Marlo’s liquefied fruit and veggie concoctions stored on a grocery shelf or growing frost in a freezer. Nor can you walk in and build your own. Healthy Being’s juices are carefully combined with just the right ingredients and meant to be consumed fresh to optimize their nutrient punch. They are found in only one place in Jackson – a compact corner inside Inversion Yoga. With a split door, it resembles a lemonade stand where you can walk up and buy not lemonade, but “Muscle Love” or “Cocochata” in an eco-friendly, reusable glass bottle. The juices are cold-pressed in a kitchen off-site and transported in coolers to the refrigerated display, ensuring a fresh batch every morning. In the boutique juicery’s brightly painted kitchen, a few “juice chefs” create the plant-based batches of freshness daily. The air smells sweet and tangy from the process, while bowls full of vibrant organic apples, cucumbers and greens await their journey into juice. Each 16.5-ounce bottle contains about two to three pounds of produce. Fresh juices like these are so trendy in New York City and L.A. that some of Marlo’s clients (she’s also a holistic health coach), were air freighting them to Jackson, giving her the idea to create the local juicery. A pastel-colored cucumber juice true to the vegetable’s soothing green promises to give skin a glow. Who knew nutritious could be so delicious? Drink up. – Teresa Griswold
Least pretentious bar
They used to be called “dive bars.” Places where “townies” went while the less-informed frequented tourist traps, imbibing on watered-down drinks. Dive bars are not brew pubs. The names of dive bars do not end in “& Grill.” They might have entertainment but would never refer to the band in the corner as a “show.”
Dive bars have names like the Tipsy Crow, Bucket of Blood and Dad’s Place. They do not have Flock of Seagulls on the jukebox. The carpet is not cleaned frequently. Nothing is cleaned frequently. There are cigarette burns on anything that will burn.
Perhaps Playboy said it best in its August 2010 issue: Dive bars are a “church for down-and-outers and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows – bums and poets, thieves and slumming celebrities. It’s a place that wears its history proudly.”
Classic “real” bars in Jackson have all fallen by the wayside. The Log Cabin is gone and The Rancher has morphed into something else. Jackson’s last and best dive bar remains the Virginian Saloon. We salute you, Virg, with shots all around. – Jake Nichols
Best free samples
Great Harvest Bread Co.
Let’s face it – many of us here in Jackson tend to act like ski bum dirtbags from time to time, and nothing celebrates our skid-like tendencies more than a handout. Great Harvest Bread Co. has this system down to an art. At the front counter lies a spread of complex carbohydrates fit to make you drool. There are usually five or six choices, based on the day’s baking schedule, and as you consider the menu options (or pretend to for the free sample), you will be handed a sizeable slice of the bread of your choice. And the fun doesn’t end there. Before you enjoy your hunk of spinach and cheese or cinnamon swirl bread, you are offered a tray of condiments to seal the deal, and it just doesn’t get much better than whipped honey with berries on warm honey whole wheat – for free! – Claire Rabun
Best Mexican eats worth the drive
Juan’s House of Tacos in Star Valley
Juan’s House of Tacos might be 55 miles away from Jackson, but when that craving strikes, nothing can cure what ails you quite like Juan’s. Located right on Highway 89 (you heard it; no turns required) in Thayne, Wyo., this taqueria is easy to pass by unnoticed, but what lies inside is simply a can’t miss. In its sixth year on the, ahem, thriving Thayne restaurant scene, Juan’s is serving up authentic Mexican food from scratch, and while the menu might look like your usual south of the border offerings, Juan’s is anything but. Owner Juan Herrera puts an extraordinary amount of time and care into creating his food just like his mother and grandmother taught him, and the result is fresh, delicious Mexican plates worth the drive, any day of the week.
– Claire Rabun
Best wings and beer
Thai Me Up
OK, so a Thai restaurant isn’t the most traditional locale for wings and beer, but it’s that unique spin that sets Jeremy Tofte’s Thai Me Up apart. First, the wings: these bad boys are meaty, tender, juicy, and slathered in a sticky, sweet sauce with an undertone of warmth that’ll keep you coming back for more. Served with a spicy heat, cool temperature red chili sauce, these wings are only improved when paired with one of the nanobrewery’s frosty cold ones.
Thai Me Up’s beers led the Jackson brewing scene at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, bringing home three medals. One of those was the coveted Alpha Gold award in the Imperial Pale Ale category for its kick-you-in-the-pants 2×4. This double IPA is super hoppy, crisp, 10 percent alcohol, and the perfect companion for spicy Thai food. And that’s just the wings and beer.
The restaurant also serves up a full menu of authentic Thai dishes that Tofte fell in love with while traveling through Thailand. While the taps and apps keep the bar area full, offerings like Pad Thai, Kang Kwio Wan, and Pad Kee Mow have the 58-seat dining room bursting at the seams night after night. – Claire Rabun
Best holy grooves
Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole
If you’re searching for a little Christian soul music in your life, look no further than your local Presbyterian Church. Former Jackson Hole High School choir director Bill Hungate has been the musical director for the church’s choir for 12 years and leads the 35-member choir in anthems of praise and worship every Sunday between September and May. Choir members range in age from 20- to 80-somethings. The repertoire changes every Sunday and ranges from classics by Schubert to Christian contemporary. Hungate structures “blended service, message-based” material sets for each Sunday, and unlike many churches where a small “worship team” leads the congregation in Sunday worship, the choir itself leads the church praise service. Jazz pianist Keith Phillips backs the choir with well-known musicians Ed Domer, Andy Calder and Phil Round stepping in as occasional guest artists. – Madelaine German
Best live emcee you may have never heard
Among the string of hip-hop openers who performed during Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine’s annual party in February, there was one emcee who had a particular stranglehold on the crowd. Raised in a tepee by his fishing parents, Phonetic, a.k.a. Sydney Dean, is an Alaska-born emcee who moved to the valley in May 2010 but has yet to amass the local following you’d expect for a hip-hop mercenary with such commanding stage presence. Decidedly, the lack of a cohesive local hip-hop scene may serve as explanation for this classically-trained musician’s slow-growing popularity. But Phonetic is setting the brickwork for more hip-hop in Jackson Hole through his Word 2 the Wise events, which he spearheaded in 2006. Injecting positivity into the hip-hop sphere, Phonetic began these emcee battles – which are geared to an all-ages audience and have been held in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Missouri and Jackson Hole – as an alternative way for artists to engage one another and raise their visibility. “I see freestyle battling as checkers, and this format as chess,” Phonetic says. “It’s more like theatre than just rapping.” Rappers write battle lyrics in advance for W2TW events, and when the crowd swells around them, they rise to the challenge of performing a capella. As a battle rapper who thrives in the limelight, it was only a matter of time before Phonetic’s strengths would manifest with the Word 2 the Wise league. “I worked really hard to shape my skill at battling, and battling is what I built my name on,” Phonetic says. “I really love to move a crowd, whether in a live performance or a battle.” Listen to Phonetic’s music at phonetic1.bandcamp.com or indefinateetticate.bandcamp.com. – Robyn Vincent
Best quick getaway with style
Salt Lake City
Need a quick getaway, but craving something a little more citified and sleek than Idaho Falls but don’t have the time or money to get to New York or San Francisco? Maybe it’s time to look at Salt Lake City in a different light. Book your reservation at the chic Hotel Monaco and bring your pet if you’d like. If you don’t have a pet, have a goldfish sent up from the front desk. And don’t miss happy hour drinks and chair massages in the lobby daily. If it’s culture that you’re looking for, Salt Lake offers numerous contemporary, Western and fine art museums and galleries and several theater companies, Ballet West, Utah Opera and visiting concerts. For slick interiors and yummy food, eat at Pallet, The Copper Onion, Plum Alley, or Pago, or stick with the local favorite, The Red Iguana. Imbibe later at BarX, a seedy from the outside, sexy from the inside bar owned by Ty Burrell of Modern Family fame and his brother, Duncan. Or have a quiet martini in the well-hidden, classic Gibson Girl at the Grand America Hotel. – Christian Burch
Best public art we want more of
No one can dispute the cadre of creative folk coloring Jackson Hole’s cultural landscape, from sprightly illustrators like Kelly Halpin and Benjamin Carlson to innovative sculptor Ben Roth, renowned painter Tom Woodhouse and forward-thinking fashionista Abbie Miller. But when it comes to street art – specifically graffiti – in the valley, there’s but a tiny window of opportunity for stealthy graffiti artists to use their cans. Conversely, in large metropolises, street art decorates subways, street signs, alleyways, and bridges and tunnels ad infinitum. But the [mostly illegal] act of placing one’s art on public or private property is a tad more difficult to accomplish in a small town where cops typically aren’t busy chasing robbers and rapists. So you can imagine our elation when a vibrant new piece of graffiti managed to find its way onto a retaining wall near the Storage Stables, beaming out onto motorists and pedestrians alike at the Y intersection of Highway 22 and Broadway. It’s the brazen act itself of creating art on such a publicly visible canvas that deserves props. But what we appreciate even more is that, unlike local “graffiti” ventures of the past, which have often proved a juvenile showing of drivel, this street art is purposeful, beautiful and, depending on who you talk to (decidedly not the Storage Stable owners), it enhances the valley’s aesthetic. Kudos to you, mystery graffiti artist. May your work prosper on public canvas, and you in anonymity. – Robyn Vincent
Best classical musicians
Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra
Since 1962, Jackson has boasted the summer season residency of a world-class group of musicians known as the Grand Teton Musical Festival Orchestra. The musicians hail from Atlanta to Vancouver and beyond. Rehearsing and performing under the direction of internationally renowned Maestro Donald Runnicles, these musicians offer the highest level of passion and synchronization, not just for a ski town but for any orchestra house. – Madelaine German
Best edgy, DIY theater
Riot Act, Inc., exudes a level of artistic community rebellion that we find very attractive. Perhaps we’re enticed by the troupe’s title, which stems from a 1714 British law aimed at preventing groups of 12 or more from assembling and hence starting a “riot.” We also dig Riot Act’s edgy, all-inclusive philosophy. In her online manifesto, co-founding Riot Act member Eve Bernfeld explains why fostering community theatre and expression is critical in Jackson Hole: “Stoking the fire on a bleak, overcast but not yet snowing morning in Wilson, WY, I don’t have access to the smorgasbord of theatrical options available in a city, but the need for stories – entertaining, thought-provoking, edgy, hilarious or tragic – is no less pressing. If these stories, and thus the theatre, are necessary to civilization, culture, society, to life, then is it not equally important to have a thriving, vital theatre community in Wyoming as it is in, say, New York City?” We couldn’t agree more, Ms. Bernfeld. From the wildly popular production of The Rocky Horror Show in October 2009 to its second musical and most recent show, The Threepenny Opera, Riot Act raises the curtain to spotlight poignant, captivating community theatre and familiar faces in a different light. – Robyn Vincent
Best Vegas experience
Town Square Tavern
For the best local Las Vegas style entertainment, I nominate Town Square Tavern. The cocktail waitresses wear low-cut tops just like they do in Vegas. But best of all (or worst of all depending on how the cards run) there is a poker table in the back. Wyoming law allows for poker games in public places and businesses so long as the business owner receives no income from the game and does not advertise. The Tavern provides a card table, chips and cards. The deal is passed around with each player shuffling and dealing in turn. The game is almost always no limit Texas Hold-em, although sometimes the game degenerates to Omaha, both high and high-low. Blinds are $1 and $2 dollars though often some asshole will straddle with five. With the buy-in at $100 you can lose enough money in a short enough time to make it seem like Vegas. So if you need to recoup losses from the cutter races or college basketball, head to the Tav. – Clyde Thornhill
Best free concert series
JacksonHoleLive’s first summer season was highlighted by a series of six free outdoor shows held at the base of Snow King Resort. The series was an instant hit, taking advantage of a killer venue and a family-and party-friendly atmosphere that included local vendors and a local-heavy crowd, peaking at more than 5,000. Acts included The Dunwells and the American funk-soul group Robert Randolph & The Family Band, to name only a few. For its encore, JacksonHoleLive’s second summer will include promoting the annual Music In The Hole Fourth of July concert, which traditionally culminated with a performance by the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. This year the orchestra will stay home but make your plans to head to Snow King for a day of music. – Madelaine German