by Jimmy Boegle
Please allow me to diverge from the normal, happy-happy-joy-joy Best of Tucson® vibe for a moment.
This has been a tough year for Tucson. First, the economy could definitely be better. Far too many Tucsonans are unemployed, underemployed or otherwise struggling. Poor Tucsonans are watching their health-insurance options go away, due to draconian actions by the state Legislature. Our city's leadership continues to flail (best-case) or be nonexistent (worst-case). Rio Nuevo is pretty much dead.
And then there was Jan. 8—one of the most horrible days that modern Southern Arizona has ever experienced.
This all leads us to our Best of Tucson® 25 theme: Super Tucson.
The idea of superheroes—superhuman beings who can swoop in and save the day for us normal folk—sounded ... well, comforting when we decided on the Best of Tucson® theme earlier this year. Wouldn't it be awesome if a team of buff, powerful men and women could fly in and instantly solve our problems?
Of course, that's not gonna happen.
However, if you look around Tucson—and if you flip through this edition of Best of Tucson®—you'll find that there are indeed heroes in our midst. I use "heroes" in the most minor sense of the word; I am not talking about the type of heroes who enter burning buildings and save babies, etc. (Although we have plenty of those major-sense heroes here, too.) I am talking about people who, through their everyday actions, are making Tucson a pretty darn special place.
Look at what's happening downtown, for example. Rio Nuevo has been a miserable, embarrassing and possibly criminal failure—yet downtown is as vibrant as it has been in decades, thanks to a handful of local do-gooders and risk-takers.
Take a moment, and study the Best of Tucson® winners. You'll realize that "local" is the key word here. I did a quick count of the readers' choice winners in our three food sections (Casual Dining, Comida and Restaurants), and of 56 winners, guess how many of them were in some way local? 49 of them. (That number might be higher; seven of the national-chain joints that won may have local ownership.) That trend of overwhelming local success continues into the second- and third-place finishers.
What does that mean? It means that local business owners who hire local people are the cream of the figurative crop in Tucson. And you, the Tucson Weekly readers, understand that.
If you want to carry this quick-and-dirty bit of analysis further, hop online for a few moments, and take a gander at the best-of issues that newspapers do in other cities. You will see a whole lot more chain joints earning first-place honors.
These facts make me optimistic about Tucson: We have amazing locals doing top-notch work—and locals are recognizing that.
Yeah, Southern Arizona has problems. Serious problems, even. But this Best of Tucson® issue proves, conclusively, that we have a lot of great stuff going on here, too.
Thanks to everyone responsible for putting this issue together, starting with Ruben Moreno, who yet again turned in stunning illustrations for the issue, and ending with the distribution drivers responsible for getting the dead-tree version into the hands of Tucsonans.
Finally, thanks to all of you out there who made this issue possible, either by voting back in the spring for your favorites, or by being one of the heroes (again, in the minor—yet still important—sense of the word) who make Tucson special by contributing to one of the businesses or organizations that are honored herein.
Welcome to the Best of Tucson® 25: Super Tucson.