popular demand as Grand Rapids Magazine
prepares to celebrate its 45th anniversary … Laurels & Hardlies,
a less reverent alternative to a year in
Grand Rapids Magazine Staff
been a remarkable year. So many notable
events took place in our city or directly
affected it that Grand Rapids Magazine
decided to resurrect its Laurels & Hardlies
to honor the achievements, both laudatory
and dubious, of West Michigan personalities
The staff compiled a panel of bad joke experts — most of them from the Coffee
Dunkers of America Grand Rapids Chapter — who
gathered over pizza and beer to review,
discuss and argue over who deserves recognition
for their deeds and misdeeds. As the beer
flowed, so did the cattiness.
Without further ado, we honor and dishonor the
following people, institutions and happenings
with our 2008 Laurels & Hardlies awards:
“Happy Birthday To Me” Laurels go
to St. Cecilia’s, Grand Rapids Business
Journal, West Michigan Environmental Action Council
and Alticor for celebrating milestone anniversaries.
A “Who Are We Again?” Laurel goes
to Alticor/Amway for figuring out that it is
better to have a bad name that is globally recognized
than a meaningless name that no one recognizes.
A “Really, That’s What ‘Beaner’ Means?” Laurel
goes to Biggby’s Coffee for figuring out
that it’s better to have a meaningless
name than a possibly offensive one.
A “Don’t Mess With The Hoff” Laurel
goes to Barry County’s own Jessica Price
for making Michigan proud in this year’s “America’s
Got Talent” competition.
A “The Cup Was Raised Here” Laurel
goes to Grand Rapids Griffins for contributing
to the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup victory with
15 of its former players on the Wings’ championship
teams reacted quickly after the helicopter
crash at Spectrum Health in downtown
Grand Rapids in May.
Jeff Hage/Green Frog Photo
A “Teamwork” Laurel goes to Spectrum
Health, Saint Mary’s Health Center, Michigan
State University and Van Andel Institute for
bringing the MSU College of Human Medicine here
and fostering a climate of cooperation.
A “Captain Kirk” Laurel goes to
the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, the city
of Wyoming and The Right Place for bringing approximately
600 new jobs to Wyoming for a Priceline.com call
center. Will William Shatner attend the ribbon
A “You’ve Gotta Have Art” Laurel
goes to the UICA for finally breaking ground
on the new Gallery on Fulton project.
A “Reading Is Fundamental” Laurel
goes to Schuler Books for bringing a bookstore
back to downtown.
A “Designated Driver” Laurel goes
to Rep. Michael Sak for not representing West
Michigan at the 2008 Mackinaw Policy Conference.
A “Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste” Laurel
goes to Peter Secchia for supporting world-class
education through his donations and hard work
to bring the MSU College of Human Medicine to
Grand Rapids and his support of the Secchia Institute
for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community
A “How Many Republicans Can We Get In
A Room Before It’s A Fire Hazard?” Laurel
goes to the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce,
for establishing the West Michigan Regional Policy
Conference — the perfect test event for
Grand Rapids to sponsor the GOP convention in
A “We Don’t Suck” Laurel
goes to Bissell Inc. for investing $9 million
an expansion and innovation center in Walker — and
for its Pet Hair Eraser Corded Hand Vac, which
Maestro” Laurels go to the Grand Rapids
Symphony’s conductors for making the Symphony
much harder to sleep through.
A “Roar Restored” Laurel goes to
the Lions of Lake Manyara exhibit at John Ball
Zoo. After completing this impressive display,
all the zoo needs to do now is to put pants on
the spider monkeys.
A “Flintstones” Laurel
goes to the “Walking
With Dinosaurs” show. Finally, dinosaurs
and humans will co-exist in the Van Andel Arena,
just like Sarah Palin taught us.
A “Blessed Are The Peacemakers” Laurel
goes to the Dominican Sisters for their incredible
perseverance and longevity, and for applying
their faith in the pursuit of peace through their
demonstrations, even in the face of jailing and,
incredibly, temporarily being labeled “terrorists” in
a federal database.
A “Courage Under Fire” Laurel goes
to Spectrum Health for sustaining a helicopter
crash without casualties or serious injuries.
A “Heroes” Laurel goes to responders
to the explosion in Eastown last February, the
result of a gas leak that destroyed several buildings.
Despite the devastation, only seven people suffered
A “C-List” Laurel
goes to the Michigan Film Office for bringing
a galaxy of stars to
West Michigan, including Val Kilmer, Eric Roberts
and James Van Der Beek, who had not previously
been seen outside the clearance bin at Blockbuster
Photography by Jim Gebben
A “Winning Isn’t
goes to John McCain and Barack Obama for showing
that winning a Michigan primary isn’t a
prerequisite to a presidential nomination.
A “Seasonal Affect Disorder” Hardly
goes to Mother Nature for Winter 2007/2008, which
made February the real longest month of the year.
A “We Don’t Even Know Where To Begin” Hardly
goes to Kent County Commissioner James Vaughn
for learning a bird in the hand is worth two
in the bush.
A “Textual Intercourse” Hardly goes
to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for
making sure Grand Rapidians emphasize we’re
from West Michigan.
A “Full Service” Hardly
goes to Seyferth and Associates for redefining “crisis communications” by
providing Meijer Inc. with both communications — and
A “Better Late Than Never” Hardly
goes to William Clay Ford for taking longer to
fire Matt Millen than to develop a hybrid vehicle.
A “Disorderly Conduct” Hardly
goes to the Margarita Grill for providing its
patrons with free nightly rides — provided
by the Grand Rapids Police Department.
Photography by Michael Buck
A “Perfect Spot” Hardly
goes to parking commissioners for increased parking
fines downtown, giving new meaning to “a
small city with a big city feel.”
A “Thanks Anyway” Hardly goes to
Gerald R. Ford International Airport for building
a new parking structure. Once completed, there
will be more parking spaces than travelers, who
are increasingly flying out of Lansing and Kalamazoo.
A “Waste Not, Want Not” Hardly
goes to infamous germatologist … err, dermatologist
Dr. Robert Stokes for bringing the “green” recycling
movement to the medical industry.
No Place Like Home” Hardly goes to Gov.
Jennifer Granholm for missing both the West Michigan
Regional Policy Conference and Tulip Time (again).
Apparently, her GPS doesn’t function west
An “If At First You Don’t Succeed” Hardly
goes to Michael Vorce, who — already facing
criminal charges for bank fraud in West Michigan — was
recently arrested for defrauding a bank in Wisconsin.
Reportedly, he is entertaining an insanity defense
in the Michigan fraud case. Insanity, as we know,
is defined as doing the same thing over and over
and expecting a different result.
A “Best Argument For A Part-Time Legislature” Hardly
goes to the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan
Business Tax fiasco. In trying to establish an
alternative to the Single Business Tax, the legislature
initially floated a tax on services provided
by businesses without lobbyists, such as personal
escorts, dating services and fortune tellers.
Strangely, the psychics never saw it coming.
After even more tax revisions, the Michigan Legislature
has greatly increased its popularity — in
Indiana and Ohio.
A “Haunted House” Hardly goes to
Olds Manor for being an eyesore in an otherwise
A “Can’t We ‘Justice’ Get
Along?” Hardly goes to the dispute between
Judges Smolenski and Servaas. Allegedly stolen
stationery, resignation demands and scandalous
doodles? Sounds like a case for Judge Judy.
A “What They Lack In Accuracy, They Make
Up For In Sheer Manpower” Hardly
goes to the WOOD-TV Storm Team 8 Meteorologists.
how many meteorologists does it take to say “More
A “Deathly Hallows” Hardly
goes to Muskegon publisher RDR Books and author
Vander Ark for taking on J.K. Rowling in a copyright
action against his book “The Harry Potter
Lexicon.” Unfortunately, Vander Ark’s
attempt to invoke the Lawsuitus Shieldus spell
A “I Wouldn’t Belong To Any Club
That Would Have Me As A Member” Hardly
goes to the Peninsular Club. This posh club is
now so exclusive that no one is a member.
An “All In The Family” Hardly
goes to former state Rep. Glenn Steil Sr. Disappointed
that his daughter-in-law couldn’t win the
Steil family seat in the legislature, he plans
to run his dog, “Bowser” Steil, in