The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


This has been the greatest year in the history of Boston. The Patriots won the Super Bowl — again — and set a record for consecutive wins. The Curse has been lifted. If you ignore Florida, New Mexico, and Ohio, we sent one of our own to the White House. Even the traffic seems to have eased up, at least when the tunnel's not leaking. With so much good fortune, it's going to take total commitment for us to stay negative. But we're Bostonians. If anyone can do it, we can.

Take the near completion of the Big Dig. Despite all the griping, it has made the commute easier, and you have to feel good about the fact that we soaked the rest of the country to get it built. So now we complain about how hard it is to navigate. It's not unusual to be speeding toward, say, Suffolk Downs for the first race, only to wind up on the Pike on your way to Worcester. Also, if anyone has seen exit 17, please contact the authorities.

Then there was the Democratic convention — by all accounts, a complete success. The massive demonstrations never happened. (Of course, it's tough to protest when you're relegated to a pen surrounded by barbed wire.) It also was a stroke of genius by the mayor to scare the bejesus out of those of us who live here so we would totally evacuate the city. “The people are so friendly!” one visitor said. That's because we weren't here — all of those conventioneers were talking to each other. Fortunately, our local businesses found the downside. They're still grumbling about lost sales.

Finally, we had the Red Sox. Fan or not, the weight was off your back when they beat the Yankees in the ALCS and swept St. Louis in the Series. It was a totally foreign feeling. We've savored it for more than a month. Now it's time to start whining about the team's off-season moves.

There's no question about it: Things have never gone better for Boston. There's almost nothing left to complain about. If this keeps up, every true Bostonian might have to pick up and move to a more comfortable city. Like Worcester. –Steve Sweeney

Politics

Most Short-lived Sobriquet
“Speaker for Life,” the one-time nickname of Tom Finneran, who ignominiously resigns the speakership during a federal ethics probe into gerrymandering of legislative districts.

Best Absentee
Critics of Mitt Romney pass out leaflets showing the governor's face on a milk carton after he goes missing from the State House to campaign for President George W. Bush, promote his book, travel in Utah, and visit the Olympics in Athens.

Best Pot Calling the Kettle Black
Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey holds a news conference to criticize John Kerry for letting down Massachusetts residents by missing Senate votes. To which
most Massachusetts residents respond: Who's Kerry Healey?

Finest Whine
Democrats file ethics complaints against Romney for speaking out against Kerry running mate John Edwards inside the State House, which is public property, and for promoting his book with the help of state employees.

Best Accomplishments of the Romney Administration
Romney gives the good people of Massachusetts the freedom to buy alcohol on Sundays — an ironic achievement for a teetotaller Mormon. Other than that, there's . . . wait, give us a minute. We'll think of one.

Biggest Fugitive from Justice
The Vatican gives former Boston archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law a cushy job as head of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome — far from Massachusetts criminal jurisdiction.

Most Ironic Outreach Program
The archdiocese announces it will launch a program to encourage sexual abstinence.

Best Excuse for Falling Asleep in Church
The round-the-clock occupation staged by parishioners at St. Albert the Great in Weymouth to prevent the church from being closed — sparking the hottest religious trend since those WWJD bracelets.

Best Proof Things Haven't Changed
Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre attacks gay marriage because of its “disastrous consequences on family life and on children” — then resigns after allegations are disclosed that he sexually abused two boys.

Second-best Proof
After a “national search,” the brother of state Senate President Robert Travaglini is given the $225,000-a-year job as head of the $32 billion state pension system.

Most Creative Waste of Taxpayer money
Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Chairman Matt Amorello proposes a $450,000 party to celebrate the completion of the Central Artery tunnel, complete with the Boston Pops playing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” The bash is canceled after a public outcry over the taxpayer- supported portion of the cost.

We're in Good Hands Department
Confounded by where the water is coming from when the tunnel floods, Big Dig engineers perform a taste test.

Biggest Snow Job
With a snowstorm looming, the state's 2,200 snowplow contractors successfully delay a plan to make them carry global positioning devices >>    >> so officials can check to see if they're actually plowing — or hanging out at Double D's.

Most Ignorant Comment
Accused steroid abuser Barry Bonds and New York State Democratic Party Chairman Herman “Denny” Farrell declare that Boston is racist.

Second-most Ignorant Comment
Bostonians categorically deny it.

“Children Are Our Future” Award
Seventeen Boston fourth-graders rat out their principal, saying she directed them to cheat on the MCAS test, but the school department decides that there's not enough evidence and exonerates the principal.

Worst Implementation of the Patriot Act
Students at Murdock Middle High School in Winchendon are disciplined for protesting during a visit from Governor Mitt Romney.

Biggest Holdup
The Boston police unions, which got a 14.5 percent pay raise over four years after threatening to picket the Democratic National Convention.

Worst Euphemism
The barbed-wire “free-speech zone” protest pen at the Democratic National Convention.

Most Underfunded Initiative
The MBTA allocates $100,000 to train subway token-takers in customer service.

Best Proof that Political Correctness is Alive and Well
Brookline Town Meeting members consider a measure that would have urged parents to refrain from spanking their children. It fails to pass.

The Dumbest Pols: The Dirty Half Dozen. By Howie Carr

State Representative John Rogers
Made the fatal error of believing Tom Finneran when Finneran said Rogers was like a son to him. The speaker then passed over Rogers for Sal DiMasi as his successor. It was Sonny's worst day since he compared now-convicted felon House Speaker Charlie Flaherty to Jesus Christ.

State Representative Paul Kujawski
Pulled over for drunk driving in his mother's car (he's 51), he allegedly urinated in front of a state trooper. Asked if he needed to visit the emergency room, he replied, “I may have.”

State Senator Susan Fargo
A terrible driver, she is close to having her license suspended. Set up a website touting the fact that she was “vomiting for real tax relieve.”

State Representative Thomas Petrolati
Head of the redistricting committee, he said under oath that he didn't know where Charlestown is in relation to Chelsea or which river the Tobin Bridge passes over. (Hint: The bridge is also called the Mystic-Tobin.)

State Representative Cory Atkins
Wife of former Congressman Chester Atkins, her brief career has turned into a mid-life crisis. Once joked in an incoherent late-night speech that she supported METCO because she'd rather have inner-city types “come to my schools than have them come out later to my prisons.” Bragged about voting for new taxes, saying, “We gave ourselves a hand for all the hard work we did.”

John Kerry
He lost to George W. Bush. What more do you need to know?

Business

Biggest Sellouts
FleetBoston to Bank of America and John Hancock to Manulife (tie). And so our town continues its steady slide to branch-office status.

Shortest-lived Promise
“All customer-facing positions, which is a significant number, will be retained.” — Bank of America officials at a public hearing just before the bank's $48 billion merger with Fleet, which has resulted in the layoffs of at least 800 branch employees.

Worst PR
Bank of America's strategy for responding to questions from the Boston media about the bank's clumsy entry into the New England market: not answering them.

Best Retirement Plan
The $16.5 million Hancock CEO David D'Alessandro got when he stepped down.

Best Proof that Nice Guys Finish Last
Aaron Feuerstein winds up in a battle for control of his former company, Malden Mills, raising the prospect that hundreds of jobs Feuerstein famously saved after a devastating fire may in the end be moved overseas.

Worst Executive
Fleet's Chad Gifford. He got millions in gifts of stock after the Bank of America merger, while Fleet employees and the city got taken.

Best Executive
Jonathan Kraft has made sure his family's Patriots aren't only at the forefront of their sport, but on the cutting edge of marketing, technology, and branding.

Biggest Bust
Krispy Kreme doughnuts come to town. The novelty was that they were hard to get. Now, it's too easy.

Best Nonpolitical Flip-Flop
Captain Fishbones restaurant transforms itself back into the Sports Depot, and George switches back to the Rattlesnake (tie).

Best Nonpolitical Leak
Investigators say management consultantcy Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff knew there were hundreds of leaks in the new Central Artery tunnel, but didn't tell any-one how serious they were.

Best Short-term Airplane Storage
The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, which, despite promises that it would draw 35 to 40 conventions a year, so far has signed up only 7 for all of 2005.

Best Empty Lot
The Chicago Pritzker family puts the 21-acre Fan Pier site up for sale after failing to build on it. Two prospective buyers, including mall tycoon Stephen Karp, back out, saying the property is now too expensive to develop.

Best Brawl
Developer Don Chiofaro's battle for control of International Place versus industry behemoth Tishman Speyer. Tishman allegedly scared off potential financing partners Chiofaro hoped would pull him out of bankruptcy, while Chiofaro reportedly tried to lure tenants out of Tishman's 125 High Street tower.

Second-best Brawl
The fight that divided the North End over whether a Dunkin' Donuts should be allowed to open in the neighborhood of quaint cafés and Italian restaurants. In the North End, as one correspondent put it, you're either for Dunkin' Donuts or you're against Dunkin' Donuts.

Least-crowded Open House
After buying the Los Angeles Dodgers, developer Frank McCourt puts his Brookline mansion on the market for a record $22 million.

Best Potential Target of a New Campaign by PETA
NStar, whose underground wiring electrocuted a Labrador retriever named Oscar.

Best Oxymoron
“Comcast customer service.”

Media

Best Impersonation of the New York Post
Completing its desperate transformation into a ribald, ruthless tabloid — a process marked by a profusion of cheesecake photos and hyperventilating crime stories — the Boston Herald publishes a front-page, color picture of a bloodied Red Sox fan killed by a police pepper-pellet gun after the seventh game of the American League Championship Series. When outrage ensues, the paper is forced to concede   it's finally gone too far.

Best Impersonation of the Boston Herald
The Boston Globe is duped into publishing photographs that purport to show sexual abuse of Iraqi women by American soldiers — but which turn out to have come from a hard-core porn site on the Internet.

Least-warranted Apology
Accused of anti-Catholic bias, the Globe feels compelled to say it's sorry for running a photo of Boston College students dozing off as speaker Tim Russert drones on during the university's commencement.

Best Smack Talk
“The Globe is a Times wannabe, but it can't quite pull it off. We are just trying to extract some news from an event where there isn't any. We knew that the Globe was going to give it a big blow job. If I produced a newspaper as boring as the Globe, I'd kill myself.” — Herald editorial director Ken Chandler, quoted in the New Yorker about the Globe' s coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

Most Self-delusional Front-page Story
When Mike Barnicle was accused of plagiarizing at the Globe, the Herald covered his indiscretions mercilessly. When the Herald announced on the front page that it was bringing him on to write a regular column, it forgot to mention anything about that.

Worst Hire
At least the aforementioned front-page article created some stir. Because Barnicle's tedious, predictable, tossed-off columns sure haven't.

Best Display of Journalistic Versatility
Barnicle, for adding “bigot” to his well-established credentials as “storyteller” and “hack” when he called former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen's wife, Janet Langhart, “Mandingo” on his WTKK-FM talk show.

Barnicle's Biggest Contribution to the Herald
He gives Joe Fitzgerald edge.

Most Plugged-in Columnist
The Globe' s Steve Bailey, who has a corner on the most important sources in this city.

Best Headline
“Nee Jerk Reaction” — the Herald, reporting on Boston Police Patrolmen's Association president Thomas Nee's threat, later withdrawn, to picket Democratic National Convention events in spite of a contract settlement with the city promising police a 14.5 percent raise.

Best Scoop
With   good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, the Herald finds a clue in some obscure paperwork that Tom Finneran is stepping down as House speaker and breaks the story.

Best Wiseass
The Globe' s Alex Beam does the important work of not letting this cerebral city think it's smarter than it is.

Best Pornographer
Photographer Christopher Anderson, who after taking shots for Harvard's sex magazine, H Bomb, has moved on to help launch Boink at BU.

Best Distraction from Pledge Week
WBUR general manager Jane Christo resigns amid allegations — later discounted by Boston University — of financial mismanagement at the BU-owned public radio station.

Most Premature Evaluation
Boston magazine political columnist Jon Keller's assertion early in the primaries that John Kerry's campaign was unquestionably dead.

Most Prescient Prediction
The Herald' s Joe Sciacca's forecast of Kerry's resurrection and eventual anointment as the Democratic nominee.

Dumbest Photo-op
John Kerry's windsurfing jaunt in the waters off Nantucket during the Republican National Convention.

Worst Sound Bite
“I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty.”

Second-worst
“I don't know that [First Lady Laura Bush] has ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up,” and virtually everything else uttered by Teresa Heinz Kerry on the campaign trail.

Best Sound Bite
“He's the Paris Hilton of state government — he looks good on the outside, but there isn't a whole lot going on inside.” -Democratic state Chair Phil Johnston on Mitt Romney.

Best TV Anchor Somebody Ought to Watch
Jim Braude, New England Cable News.

Best Radio Talk Show Host
WBZ NewsRadio's David Brudnoy. Winner and still champion.

Most Insufferable Radio Talk Show Host
WEEI's Gerry Callahan. But everybody's listening.

Best Snow Job (Media Division)
During the midwinter cold snap, WBZ NewsRadio is forced to admit that morning anchor Gary LaPierre has been broadcasting from Florida.

Best Scapegoating
Charged with plagiarism in his book All Deliberate Speed, Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree blames two of his research assistants.

Best Evidence that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Ogletree's colleague Laurence Tribe stands up for him, only to be accused of plagiarism in his own book God Save This Honorable Court.

Sports

Simply the Best
The Yankees-trouncing, Curse-reversing, anguish-relieving, 86-years-in-the-waiting world champion Boston Red Sox.

Second-best
The world champion Patriots — remember them? — who, fresh off a second Super Bowl victory in three seasons, push their winning streak to 21 games, the longest in NFL history.

Least Missed
Wait, we had a hockey team?

Best Motivational Technique
The Sox place Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers during the off-season and no one bites, proving to Ramirez that he's here to stay. Manny follows with one of the greatest individual performances by a Red Sox player.

Best Brawl
Jason Varitek provides A-Rod with an up-close and personal look at his catcher's mitt on July 24, igniting a bench-clearing Fenway melee some credit with reviving the Sox season.

Best Nickname
During the Division Series against Anaheim, the Red Sox start calling themselves “the idiots.” Hey, whatever works. At least it beats “Cowboy Up.”

Best Comeback
You have to ask? Down three games, the Red Sox hang on by their fingernails to do the seemingly impossible: overcome the evil New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series — and they do it in the Bronx. So, who's your daddy now?

Best Product Endorsement
The Red Sox, who reportedly downed shots of Jack Daniel's and Crown Royal in the dugout before the crucial Games Six and Seven against the Yankees. Recommended advertising slogan: “When you really need to score.” Or, to co-opt another brand's tagline, “Works every time.”

Best Shill
Curt Schilling, for endorsing George W. Bush, Dunkin' Donuts, and just about anybody else who asked him.

Best Future Candidate for Mayor
Theo Epstein. No, governor. No, wait — president .

Most Quickly Forgotten
The chronically disgruntled Nomar Garciaparra, fittingly traded midseason to the Chicago Cubs — the only team more cursed than the Red Sox.

Classiest Act
Nomar's former teammates back in Boston, for giving him a full World Series share.

Best Proof that the Red Sox are the Greatest Story in Sports
There's a lunar eclipse in the last inning of the game in which the Sox win their first World Series since 1918, and no one even thinks it's weird.

Second-best Comeback
The Revolution rebound from tying for the worst regular-season record to advance to the conference semifinals for the third straight year (not that anybody noticed) — mostly proving that Major League Soccer has an even more cockeyed playoff system than the NHL.

Best Athlete, Individual
Tom Brady. Two for two in Super Bowls.

Worst Endings
Knucklehead partiers and drunks riot in the streets after the Super Bowl and the ALCS. An unprepared Boston Police Department fails to regain control after the first riot, in which one young fan is killed; overzealous officers fire pep per-pellet guns into the crowd at the second, killing another.

Worst Chronic Rioter
A Boston University student on probation for overturning cars after the Super Bowl in February is arrested again for disorderly conduct before the Red Sox victory parade.

Best Consolation Prize
Famously frustrated by his inability to win a championship with the Bruins (he got one in Colorado after a trade), Ray Bourque is finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in recognition of his accomplishments with the team.

Second-best Consolation Prize
After failing in his bid to own the Red Sox, local multimillionaire developer Frank McCourt buys the Dodgers.

Most Promising
Despite Dick Cheney-like approval ratings, Danny Ainge lures star coach “Doc” Rivers to the Celtics, then engineers a draft that has sportswriters suggesting the former dynasty is on the road back. (Of course, it's a very, very long road.)

Biggest Crash
Olympic gold medal cyclist Tyler Hamilton of Marblehead tests positive for endurance-boosting blood doping at a race in Spain. Hamilton promises to clear his name at a hearing next month in Colorado.

Worst Nice Day
More than 1,100 runners succumb to medical problems as temperatures reach 85 degrees on Marathon Monday.

Best Weekend
October 23-24: BC beats Notre Dame, the Red Sox (have we mentioned the Red Sox?) win two World Series games at Fenway, and the Patriots defeat the Jets. Oh, yeah, and the world's best rowers compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta. Is there a better sports town?

Arts

Most Ubiquitous Celebrity
Attempting to halt the career meltdown that began with Gigli and proceeded unchecked through Jersey Girl and Paycheck, Ben Affleck accepts the lead in Surviving Christmas . It's impressive that Affleck found time to star in any movies — even bad ones — given how much of this year he spent at Democratic National Convention parties and Red Sox games and fleeing the paparazzi with his various successive girlfriends. And if it was possible to make John Kerry look more uncomfortable than usual, Ben appeared to do it after the convention, when he attached himself more tightly to Kerry than a swift-boat veteran.

Best Ben Affleck Impersonation
A great white shark swims into a lagoon near Falmouth Harbor, is photographed by mobs of tourists and covered every day by the newspapers, and refuses to leave for two weeks.

Best Art Event
“Gauguin Tahiti” at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Worst Encore
Next year's promised unleavened commercial tripe, “Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collections,” also at the MFA.

Most Poignant Musical Failure
The Rock Against Bush CD clearly didn't manage to pull out enough youth votes in swing states, despite the contribution of local punks the Dropkick Murphys.

Worst news for Bookworms
Newbury Street's Avenue Victor Hugo and Harvard Square's WordsWorth succumb to the attack of the national chains.

Best New Kids Sighting
Mark Wahlberg's performance in I (Heart) Huckabees is the best he's had in years. (And, yes, he was a bandmate of his brother Donnie for a brief, underage spell in the distant '80s.)

Most Pathetic New Kids Sighting
Jordan Knight in the professional cesspool that is VH1's The Surreal Life.

Funniest Musical Failure
8:09 by Joey McIntyre. Who was, of course, a New Kid.

Best Civic Service
When Fidelity drops out as a sponsor, David Mugar pours more than $1 million into the Fourth of July fireworks and concert on the Esplanade.

Worst Civic Service
CBS takes over the national broadcast of the spectacle and promptly ruins it by making sure Tchaikovsky's climactic 1812 Overture comes in the middle so as not to interfere with the commercials.

Best Civic Service, Institutional
The Wang Center's free Shakespeare on the Common series.

Worst Civic Service, Institutional
The Wang throws out Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker because it didn't make enough money and replaces it with a secondhand import from New York — the Rockettes' Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Best Cultural Contribution by a Cold-hearted Conglomerate
Clear Channel Entertainment spends $38 million restoring the 1928 Opera House.

Worst Contribution
Then it opens the theater with yet another secondhand import from New York —
Disney's The Lion King.

Classiest Act
Boston's first newly constructed theater in decades, the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion opens, promising original shows. As in, not secondhand imports from New York.

Worst Celebrity Tie-in
The Britney Room at the Onyx Hotel. Seems to us the Britney Quickie Wedding Chapel at the Revere Best Western would have been a better fit.

Concert We Were Happiest to Hear was Canceled
Britney at the Tweeter Center.

Best New Building
In a city that clings to safe, nostalgic architecture, Frank Gehry's Stata Center at MIT is refreshingly iconoclastic.

Most Embarrassing Riot
Jessica Simpson is mobbed by more than 5,000 fans at Wal-Mart in Danvers.

Best Evidence of the Death of Childhood
Thirteen-year-old MTV sensation JoJo of Foxboro opens for Usher on a European tour.

Best Career Boost, Major League
Brookline's Conan O'Brien is tapped to inherit the Tonight Show from Andover's Jay Leno.

Best Career Boost, Somewhere in the Minors
Twenty-four-year-old former KISS 108 DJ Damien Fahey becomes the youngest person ever to guest-host CBS's Late Late Show, leaving him plenty of time to live to regret it.

Best Fake Bostonian
We've always loved the Shat, and now he's ours! Ex-T.J. Hooker star William Shatner joins ABC's Boston Legal. And don't forget his exciting new record with Ben Folds. Really.

Worst Fake Bostonian, Redux
Woody Harrelson, who played the cretinous bartender, Woody, on Cheers, isn't getting much of a needed career boost from the bland After the Sunset. Sorry, Woodman.

Best Ratings for a Dismal, Uninspired Television Sitcom
Joey surmounts its insipid writing to win high ratings and a network renewal for Newton native Matt LeBlanc.

Best Passing of the Baton
James Levine steps up as music director of the BSO.

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