Arts & Culture, What We're Made Of

Locals Guide to the Miscellany II

On Wednesdays, there is one thing that everyone in the Wood River Valley, no matter where they are, where they live, or where they work does: read the Mt. Express. This long-time local source of news not only catches one up on the past week’s highlights, but also features a fun, long-standing tradition: Miscellany II aka Misc II. It is like Craigslist and internet trolling long before the internet. A section of the newspaper where anyone can submit free, anonymous commentary, Misc II is a must-read for anyone looking to be kept in the loop on town happenings, drama, or missed connections. In 150 words or less, submitters espouse on topics as diverse as dog poop at trailheads to the status of local hotsprings to calling someone out (though without using any names—a rule of Misc. II). To get the real scoop behind this small, but mighty section, Visit Sun Valley spoke to two lifelong locals, Spencer Cordovano and Jacob Frehling. Cordovano was born in Ketchum and is the man behind F11 films through which he has made movies with notable clients such as Matador Network, Smith, the Sun Valley Film Festival, Dropbox, and more. Frehling is the owner of Maude’s coffee, a staple in the Ketchum scene since it opened in 2017 (though you might have seen him before that slinging hotdogs from his food truck next to Whiskey Jacques).

Spenny and Jacob newspaper
The weekly routine

Is it something you both grew up reading? Do you read it every week? Tell me about your own relationships to Misc II.

Jacob: Oh, it’s the first and often only thing I read in the newspaper. It’s a pleasure to stay up to date with, and I feel like it’s a common topic of discussion amongst locals around town, the current drama.
Spencer: Whenever I pick up the Mt. Express, I go directly to the back page, dump out the coupons on the ground, and read the Misc II or III.

If someone had no idea what Misc II was, how would you describe it to them?

Spencer: Misc II basically invented the internet. Without the Misc II, it’s safe to say that the world at large would not have internet. Misc II basically wrote the model for social media. It’s like the Napster of Spotify. It’s like the moss man of the hot springs. It’s like Ananda is to roller blades.
Jacob: If you don’t understand the phrase, ‘Ananada is to roller blading,’ you’re not a local.
Spencer: If you don’t know what the Misc II is, then you just really have no idea what’s going on here.
Jacob: You’re not in touch with the heartbeat of our Valley. You don’t have a finger on the pulse…
Spencer: Misc II is the judge, jury, and executioner of anonymous comments in a world filled with gossipers that aren’t strong enough to say it to your face.
Jacob: Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

You guys are Misc III readers as well? What’s the difference?

Jacob: Misc III is just the bonus, right? Misc II was so popular and they used to not do it on Fridays that they added Misc III.
Spencer: Yeah, circa in the last 12 or 13 months—this is big news.
Jacob: And Misc III, the addition of it, could be a Misc II submission in and of itself because of how amazing it is that we have three…is there a 1? Do we even have a 1?
[There is a section just titled ‘Miscellany’ that one might assume is Misc I]

Getting the news

What are some of the ones you like to read and which ones do you find annoying?

Spencer: I really like the long-lost love callouts. Like, ‘You, smoking a cigarette in a jean jacket on the corner of Veltex with a 12-pack of Bud. What’s a guy gotta do?’ Those are my favorites, especially when they go back and forth. Like Jacob was saying, a lot of this banter goes back and forth so you can’t miss a beat reading Misc II.
Jacob: One of my favorites was the potholes—ongoing pothole complaints that eventually led to the potholes getting filled. I don’t know if it was Misc II, but I hope that Misc II had something to do with it about a year and a half later after, every week, people complaining about potholes.
Spencer: I’d like to think we’re living in a world where Misc II can cause a little change.

I know there are certain rules for Misc II submissions, what are they?

Jacob: You can’t use specific names and you can’t use cuss words.
Spencer: The Misc II is not going to solve all your problems, it’s just a chance to scratch back. If you’re searching for your problems to be fixed by submitting to Misc II, you’re just stewing for no reason.
Jacob: And if you’re clever enough to suss out the individual that comment is referring to, then props to you, you’re a real local.
Spencer: I basically think, when you enter Ketchum, it should say “Welcome to Ketchum,” the population, and then a little cardboard sign hanging off the bottom that says, “Please read Misc II.”

Sophistication

Do you guys submit to Misc II?

Jacob: Yeah, but I wouldn’t tell you what I’ve submitted if I had a gun to my head.
Spencer: Let’s just put it this way—we’re long-time listeners and maybe first-time submitters.
Jacob: There’s a short-list of people who regularly submit.
Spencer: If you give me $50 a name, I can give you the name of regular submitters.
Jacob: I’m not snitching.

What’s some of the drama going on right now and what’s some past or recurring drama?

Jacob: One ongoing thing that I enjoy is the classic fruitless battle, like you’re never, ever going to get anywhere with it. For example [reading from this week’s paper], ‘People, people, please clean up after your dogs on Trail Creek. The poop is gross.’ So dumb. Anyone who’s leaving their dog poop isn’t going to read Misc II ever and pick up their dog poop, yet there’s a Misc II in every week.
Spencer: The dog poop is big news for sure. There’s a bag of dog poop news going around every week at a different trail head. My main interest in coming to this article was to try to make the world a better place by really hammering down the Idaho traffic laws of the left lane being the fast lane and the right lane being the slow lane.
Jacob: I’d agree. If Spenny and I could come together and get one message across, it’s that the left lane is indeed the fast lane.
(Read our blog about driving that settles the legal side of the lane debate)

the news can be divisive

Is there really any point to rag on anyone in Misc II, especially if they don’t read it?

Jacob: It’s therapy! Not everyone can afford a therapist to speak their mind to.
Spencer: You get 150 words of free [therapy] a week.
Jacob: A lot of us have really mean things in our hearts that we want to say, but just can’t and sometimes it slips out. Everyone has darkness. And you need to express it sometimes and not tarnish your reputation in this small town. You can’t always say the things that you think. So Misc is a venue for that.

It seems to have died down a bit, but what about the ‘what makes a local’ Misc II posts?

Spencer: If you claim that you’re a local or have to ask if you’re a local, then you’re not a local.
Jacob: There’s a lot of ways to look at it. I know a lot of locals that don’t support locals. They buy everything online. Is that local? I don’t know. To me, in the service industry, a local is someone who shuts up and tips good. It doesn’t take much to do that and you’ll fit right in.
Spencer: I would like to say that I’m actually stoked about the amount of people living in town right now because I think Ketchum could be more of a place where we aren’t all July 4th and Christmas. I drove down Fairway Road and have never seen more cars in driveways and a lot of these houses have never been rented for 5 years. And I think with remote working becoming a thing, it’s sweet that there’s a bunch of remote workers around and people that are our age. It’s hard to be a young professional in this town with no industry.
Jacob: I agree 100%. I’ve been generally pleased—having not participated in this ‘what is local/what is not’—with the people. It’s better to have people in all these houses than have them be empty. Enjoying the semblance of a year-round economy has been pretty remarkable for a lot of businesses around town. I would rather have people living here, at least attempting to be locals as opposed to the alternative which is just old rich people who come to town and expect service and take advantage of everything we have here and don’t appreciate it.

What do you think is next in the Misc II drama?

Spencer: Here’s what to look out for: Prospector Hill is gonna be big, building height restrictions are gonna be big, and the guy with two holes in the ground is gonna be big. I will say that all this b***hing about the backcountry and ‘oh, my spots are getting blown up.’ I just say that there’s no one at my spots, you’re just exploring the tip of the iceberg.

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