About 11 months ago, Max Cannon—the man about town who is the mastermind behind "Red Meat"—came down to the Weekly's fabulous southside digs to look over all of the Best of Tucson™ issues from the last 15 years or so (except for one that I was missing, for some reason). We were trying to determine what our theme would be for this, our 21st edition of the Best of Tucson™.
Somehow, Max came up with the idea of zombies. Now, after almost a year, 1,200 readers' ballots, dozens of photos and about 32,000 words penned by more than 30 writers, we have arrived at the end of our brain-eating journey.
Welcome to the Night of the Living Best of Tucson™.
Every year in this space, we write about how much effort our staffers and freelancers put into this issue, and there's a reason for that. Consider all that it takes: For example, we have to count the ballots; just ask Annie Holub, who has for the past several years spent many late-spring hours doing just that. Then, after all of the results are in, we have to gather our writers (which is sort of like herding cats, only with booze) and assign 215 or so winners' blurbs. Then we have to plug in all the blurbs, and add in phone numbers, addresses and Web sites—not only for the winners, but for the runners-up as well.
Then we have to copy edit the whole mess (as James Reel did this year) and take a hell of a lot of pictures (thanks to Mark Brunton and Best of Tucson™ photo veteran Kelly Rashka for their fine efforts).
Finally, after all of the words are written and edited, and all of the art is taken/drawn/toned, we get to put the whole thing together. Adam Kurtz, Hugh Dougherty and Irene Messina all sacrificed major portions of a weekend this month to do just that—and we couldn't have gotten that far without the efforts of our design staff: Duane Hollis, Alex McGrath, Brendan O'Rourke and James Werner.
I have not even mentioned the efforts of our advertising sales staff, those hard-working people who keep the lights running and the ink flowing, led by Jill A'Hearn and Sean Ardry. Without them (and without our advertisers), nobody gets paid. That would suck.
Finally, there's one group of people who are more important than everyone else I've mentioned so far, because without them, this issue wouldn't exist: you, the readers. Thanks to each and every one of you who filled out the BOT ballot, or who wrote in with a category suggestion, or who simply plans to use this issue throughout the year.
With that... the zombies are here! Welcome to the BOT 21: The Night of the Living Best of Tucson™.