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ALL THE RUMORS are true: We've created a monster! After months of crashing our fair city's finest offerings, skulking in dark corners cribbing notes, and entreating our artists and contributors for inspired renderings, we're ready to unveil our behemoth "Monster Issue."
This 11th anniversary celebration isn't only our largest issue of the year, it's the most gargantuan Best of Tucson ever to rise up out of the Sonoran desert. We've compiled more places to go, people to see and things to do than skeptics will believe. And thanks to those dedicated mad-scientists over at DesertNet, we were able to more than double our electronic polling this year, making reader input more abundant and--we think--accurate than ever before. Special thanks to Wil Gerken, Doug Floyd, Nathan Hendler, Amy Burnham and Zachary Woodruff for all their long hours and hard work. (In addition to indulging our uncomprehending "can you make it do this?" computer requests, letting us play with their big-screen web TV and T-1 connection, and faithfully putting The Weekly online every week, this talented team has been toiling long into the night to create an absolutely fabulous, full-color, perpetually available Best of Tucson web site. Log on and link up with even more of the best stuff in eye-popping and hyper-linked detail, especially once you've misplaced your tattered newsprint version. The URL is http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/bot/)
This year, the readers rule. With the landslide of votes coming in by satchel and server, we scurried out of the way faster than a crew of extras on the set of Godzilla. Our team of ballot counters, undaunted by the mammoth task before them, faithfully recorded your favorites. Special thanks to Matt Rendon, who pulled off the amazing feat with help from Chris Ayers, Dustin Moyer, April Ragland, Jessica Roberson, Roscoe Roberson and Brian Winters.
In addition to the readers' picks and runners up, we've added a third item to our readers' poll to call attention to some other rip-roaring, hair-raising or just plain weird phenomena in our city: In keeping with this year's monster mania, you'll find them under the caption "A Real Scream." Since this issue would not be possible without your comments and suggestions, we thank all who took the time to send in a ballot. Especially those who only sent in one. The rest of you, well...when bad things start to happen, don't come crying to us.
We would, however, like to thank all those loyal advertisers and local businesses who tried to woo us with friendly bribes. They had no bearing on the issue, but you've sufficiently fattened us for the slaughter if you didn't win. In fact, just for you, next year we're thinking about adding the category "Best Attempt At Bribery." Please plan accordingly.
The "Staff Picks" were not part of our readers' poll. These quirky clips--spawned by people who basically stay up too late, spend too much money and ingest entirely too many stimulants--run the gamut from fawning to maniacal, and add a sometimes-irreverent edge to what is basically more glowing praise and progressive thinking than we're generally comfortable with here in the editorial wing. We hope you enjoy it.
We'd also like to thank the stars of our show, our annual group of "celebrities," who were carefully selected to represent a broad spectrum of the talent and community activism that we think makes Tucson a better place to live. You'll find their perspectives on the finer points of city life under the heading "One of Tucson's Best." Stacey Richter and Margaret Regan assisted with the interviews.
And now, more accolades. We had a wickedly funny and dedicated staff of writers this year, and we can't thank them enough. They all submitted, with good humor and very few objectionable outbursts, to two grueling evenings to plan this year's attack. We're indebted, quite literally, to: Ken Avery, Leo Banks, Rebecca Chilton, Rebecca Cook, Tom Danehy, Fred DeLoveley, James DiGiovanna, Chris Faulkner, Emil Franzi, Dan Hostetler, Tonya Janes, Fish Karma, Shelly McDonald, Millay McAndrew, Heather McMichael, Todd McKay, Gregory McNamee, Janet Miller, Dan Murphy, Sean Murphy, Jennifer Powers-Murphy, Aljosha Owen, Angela McCormick-Owen, Dan Parslow, David Scott Penn, Margaret Regan, Leigh Rich, Stacey Richter, Chelley Salmon, Slab, Beth Wachtel, Lisa Weeks, Zachary Woodruff and the-writer-formerly-known-as-ABD-the-third.
In particular, Leo Banks and Gregory McNamee did a wonderful job of highlighting some of Tucson's strangest and most fascinating legacies, mysteries and feats of human endurance. You'll find these gems scattered throughout these pages, named in the tradition of some of our favorite B-movies.
Special thanks to Shelly McDonald for her indispensable administrative support early on. And mere words can not express our gratitude to our Beast of Tucson bridesmaid Merrik Bush, who appeared out of nowhere just when we needed a fair maiden to sacrifice. (She also provided editorial support that went beyond the call of duty.) Our sincerest thanks.
And what about those stunning graphics! This year's cover, iconography, and smashing pseudo B-movie poster were designed by artiste extraordinaire Joe Forkan, who we forgive for striking the "40 Ounces Free" from the middle of his name on said poster, even though it's caused mild confusion. "What does it mean?" he asked us. We couldn't remember. Now we do: It's because he's tall, man. Like, at least 40 ounces taller than the next can. Now everyone asks us what pun we were aiming for with "Joe Forkan." Now you know.
And many thanks to all our other artists and photographers, whose amazing creations grace the opening of each section, and spice up all the gray area in between. They are: Max Cannon, Rand Carlson, Randy Gates, Kristin Giordano, Sue Mell, Bettina Mills, Skot Olsen and Desirée Rios.
The man behind the glass door who flips switches and pulls out all the stops to create, year after year, the whole spine-tingling package is art director and resident super-genius Héctor Acuña. Without him, the whole thing is just one big Blob, which isn't nearly as interesting, and in fact is truly frightening.
Special thanks to editorial production assistant Leigh Rich for keeping us on track; and to production chief Jan Mosier, who was up until the vampires came home rearranging the mock-up and making everyone's ads fit perfectly. The rest of the production team also did a bang-up job: Stacy Basham, Dan Griffith, Kay Sather, Jason Steed and Mark Wyner.
We heartily salute those road and phone warriors who know better than anyone that slaying this monster doesn't come cheap: our fearless retail and classified account executives, who bring in the business that pays for all these pages: Retail account executives: Larry Darneille, Kirsten Cooper (whose first child was due one day before the issue date), Rik Medran, Xavier Otero, Les Owen and Jill Jesson-Smyth. And the classified staff: Marcy Gregory, Tish Haymer, Mary Canfield, Adrienne Findley and Luis Mendivil.
Finally, we'd like to thank all those businesses who have supported The Weekly with their services and hard cold cash. We appreciate the investment, without which we would be unable to stir up the trouble that gives our lives meaning. As always (for 11 years running) our thanks to the crew at Sunrise Silkscreen for bringing our limited edition Best of Tucson T-shirts to life (or at least, living color) and to Aristocrat Printing for their exemplary work with paper and ink on the Best of Tucson poster.
It's a monstrous undertaking to make this issue come together, and we're sort of amazed ourselves at what we accomplished this year. It's also a real team effort involving every single member of the immediate and extended staff, and if we forgot any names, accept our apologies and humble gratitude.
Let faint-hearted readers of conscience beware: At least one editor was damaged in the making of this issue. (In fact, here in the gray hours of dawn, she's taken to waving her arms frantically and calling it The Beast of Tucson.) Her name is (or was) Mari "I'm not doing this next year" Wadsworth. Last we saw of her, she'd slipped into dementia, mumbling something that sounded like "no more lattes and tater tots." We wish her a speedy recovery and, the gods willing, hope she forgets just how much work it all was and steps up again next year if we bribe her with even more cash.
And now, we hope you'll put all tales of needless suffering out of your mind and savor the product of our blood, sweat and lack of a social life.
We respectfully submit...the Eleventh Annual Best of Tucson! In our humble opinion, it's the most jaw-dropping spectacle since Fife was re-elected.