Best Of Tucson 1996

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DRUM ROLL, PLEASE! The moment you've all been waiting for, even if you didn't know it was coming, has finally arrived--the unveiling of our tenth annual Best of Tucson issue! We started earlier than ever before, compiling our notes and coming up with an expanded readers' poll to document the finest city sights, artistic endeavors, culinary hot spots, cool music, cheap thrills and off-the-wall observations that make life in Tucson unique.

This tenth anniversary celebration is a mammoth compilation that's part retrospective, part current events and in part a glimpse into the dusty corner of the Brave New World we'll inhabit in the coming millennium. New this year, we added electronic balloting and a Media Blitz category to bring all you Webheads into the fold, and get the rest of you to expand your concept of the electronic appliance.

A third of the results recorded herein were culled from our annual readers' poll, which ran throughout the month of July, and for which we sincerely thank the hundreds of you who sent in ballots. This issue would not be possible without your comments and suggestions, and we extend our thanks for your thoughtful participation. We'd also like to thank our diligent ballot counters, who worked through the days and weekends to tally the endless barrage of electronic and U.S. mail. They are: Halliday Dresser, Kevin Franklin, Jean Hoffman, Gary Lotze, Yvonne Mery, Geoff and Marcella Clashman, Matt Rendon, Jen Rowland, Julie Shapiro and Wendy Wright.

A team of nearly 30 writers gathered for two epic evenings of pizza, beer and debate to divide and conquer the actual writing of this issue. In addition to researching and recording the Readers' Picks and Readers' Poll Runner-Ups, we've included some of our own favorites in the form of Staff Picks, as well as selections called "A Perfect 10." They aren't meant to supplant the readers' choices, but rather to include even more of the greatness of our fair burg.

...And because no issue of the Tucson Weekly is put to rest before the final credits of Late Night have flashed across our bleary eyes, we felt no anniversary issue would be complete without an homage to our Patron Saint of Juvenile Humor, Dave Letterman. The Top Ten lists scattered throughout each section were divined by Jim Nintzel and Mark Taylor, with extra-special thanks to Dan Parslow for his prolific and creative insights.

We can't thank the rest of our tenacious contributors enough: Leo Banks, Rebecca Cook, Tom Danehy, James DiGiovanna, Chris Faulkner, Kevin Franklin, Emil Franzi, Raena Honan, Dan and Gabe Hostetler, Dan Huff, Fish Karma, Shelly McDonald, Piers Marchant, Gregory McNamee, Yvonne Mery, Janet Miller, Fred Mills, Jennifer and Sean Murphy, Jim Nintzel, Angela McCormick-Owen, Dan Parslow, Margaret Regan, Stacey Richter, Chelley Salmon, Julie Shapiro, Mike Sterner, Mark Taylor, John and Rosemary Tindall-Gibson, Tim Vanderpool, Lisa Weeks and Molly Who.

We tender our sincerest thanks to editorial assistant Julie Shapiro, whose help was indispensable in putting together this year's issue. From shepherding copy to feeding our pets to plying us with fresh baked goods from her Aunt Lil, she went beyond the call of duty to make our lives easier.

Special thanks to this year's celebrities for their willing participation. These ten folks we consider the Top of the Town were interviewed by Stacey Richter. You'll find their perspectives on the finer points of city life dispersed throughout these pages under the heading of "One of Tucson's Best."

We may be tendentious, but see if you don't agree that the images captured by photographers Sean Justice and Desirée A. Rios don't have an appeal that's--dare we say it?--decadent.

And under the artistic directorship of resident super-genius Héctor Acuña, this issue is chock full of scintillating, full-color graphics by the following artists: Max Cannon, Rand Carlson, Joe Forkan, Gil Juarez, Sean Justice, Michael Longstaff, Bettina Mills, Andy Mosier, Jeff Scott and Herb Stratford. The design gurus at Boelts Bros. (who just happen to be celebrating their own tenth anniversary) came up with that groovy X-man character and related iconography.

A special thanks to editorial production assistants Leigh Foster and Michael Dawson for their long hours and good humor; and to production chief Jan Mosier and her 10-spot crew for getting our largest issue of the year out the door and into our readers' tense hands. And a tip o' the ten-gallon hat to those hardworking road and phone warriors, our dauntless account executives, who bring in the bacon that pays for all these pages.

Finally, the biggest round of applause--an absolute standing ovation--has to go to Weekly associate editor Mari Wadsworth, who somehow managed to keep the whole damn project on track without once ever letting it get the best of her.

TEN YEARS IS a long time if you're a wombat, or some other small, furry creature. For humans, furry or otherwise, ten years is still a goodly stretch. In the life of a successfully evolving institution, however, a decade is, well, practically nothing. Call it a first birthday at most.

So consider this celebratory compendium merely a minor milestone. The Weekly itself, now in its lucky 13th year, plans to be around a long time. And judging by the thickness of the issue you hold in your claws, hands, or whatever, Best of Tucson will be around for a long time, too, giving newcomers and old-timers alike the low-down on what's hot in our 200-year-old community. Jeeze, do you realize Tucson is almost as old as some sea turtles--but they stop growing after a couple of decades. We doubt Tucson ever will.

And because Tucson continues to grow, this issue also marks an increase in our circulation. We hereby go from printing 40,000 copies to printing 50,000 every Thursday. More trees must die so that more of you can read us. Life is cruel.

But life in Tucson can be pretty damn pleasant, too, if you know where all the good stuff is. We hope you'll enjoy reading about our findings as much as we enjoyed researching and writing about them.

We know our grasp of all that goes on in the City of the Arts is tenuous, at best. If you feel we've missed something, feel free to drop us a note. But for now, take ten and peruse this year's Best of Tucson.

--The Editors

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© 1996 Tucson Weekly