Arts and Culture drew a surprisingly light voting crowd this year. Cocooning seems to be the trend du jour, as the Best Book by a Kentucky Author drew the heaviest response of any category - resulting in an unprecedented three way tie for first place. (Chris Offutt makes a repeat performance in this year's win.)
Voting in the visual art category was notoriously vague - readers seemed to remember venues more than they did specific art, artists, or shows. Nude 99 certainly benefited from brand name recognition and won "best show" in an absolute landslide.
The response to dance was anemic, aside from Stomp (another landslide), which was assuredly not a local production.
The rest of the voting could be described as desultory at best. Except for the vigorous traffic in the most overrated local artist category - which we elected not to print - as it seemed to consist primarily of artists airing grudges against other artists. Though there was a persistent and somewhat perplexing groundswell of support for Ashley Judd, who doesn't strike us as local (any more), or an artist. (We actually had visual in mind, though readers took the time to trash dancers, authors, actors, filmmakers, songwriters, and so on.)
1. Nude '99 2. Gordon Gildersleeve 3. UK's downtown gallery shows
BEST place to buy original art Galyle Cerlan of the Tower-Cerlan Gallery
1. Tower Cerlan Gallery 2. Artique 3. Tie: Galerie Soleil; Heike Pickett
BEST performing arts group
1. Actors' Guild 2. Lexington Children's Theater 3. Ballet Theatre of Lexington
BEST arts group with worst leadership 1. Lexington Ballet 2. Actors' Guild 3. Art League
BEST book by a Kentuckian in last year
1. My Vita if You Will, by Ed McClanahan 1. Out of the Woods, by Chris Offutt 1. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
A three-way tie for first place.
BEST local theater production (in last year) 1. Lady Day 2. How I Learned to Drive
BEST local dance performance (in last year) 1. Stomp (not a local group, but a clean sweep nonetheless) 2. Ballet Theatre 3. Rakadu Gypsy Dance
BEST local filmmaker 1. George Maranville 2. Guy Mendes 3. Jeremy Horton
READER COMMENTARY:Lexington has no downtown. At least, the downtown it has is either dead at 10 o’clock or limited to a few places. There is no place to go and have a late dinner after a theater performance or a few drinks without having one’s ear blasted off. In fact, the entire downtown is lack the charm of a normal city... I would argue that this is also the number one reason to leave Lexington—the vibrancy of a real city is missing. One could argue that it has been deliberately blocked, so that the town remains provincial to the point of decay. It is a sad situation when all the development is limited to outlying areas, which people do not seem to want, and the downtown languishes.
BEST MARTINIBEST Martini goes to Jonathan. Jenn Shank (L), Jonathan Lundy, Dan Ricci, Larry Flanagan, Greg Hart (back row) and Sherry Hurley 1. Jonathan's 2. Pacific Pearl 3. Cheapside BEST PLACE TO EAT WITH A HANGOVER 1. Alfalfa 2. Ramsey’s 3. Waffle House BEST BIG SALAD 1. Rafferty’s 2. Alfalfa 3. Desert Moon BEST RESTAURANT THAT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE LEX 1. Pacific Pearl 2. Atomic Cafe 3. Kashmir BEST RESTAURANT WORTH A ROADTRIP 1. Amelia’s Field 2. Lynn’s Paradise Cafe (in Louisville) 3. Lilly’s (in Louisville) BEST MILKSHAKE 1. Rock a Billy 2. Kelly’s 3. Graeter’s BEST RESTAURANT SERVICE 1. a la Lucie 2. Mason’s 3. Dudley’s BEST (MOST ORIGINAL) MENU 1. Mason’s 2. Atomic Cafe 3. Roy and Nadine’s BEST DATE RESTAURANT 1. Jonathan 2. a la lucie 3. Bella Notte BEST NEW RESTAURANT 1. Emmett’s 2. Jonathan 3. Portofino BEST PLACE TO EAT HEALTHY 1. Everybody’s 2. Alfalfa 3. Melodeon BEST PLACE TO TAKE YOUR TUMS 1. Tolly Ho 2. Waffle House 3. Taco Bell BEST ESPRESSO 1. Common Grounds 2. Coffee Times 3. Joseph-Beth Cafe BEST WHITE-TABLECLOTH FARE 1. a la Lucie 2. Dudley’s 3. Jonathan BEST LIQUOR STORE 1. Liquor Barn 2. Big Daddy’s 3. Shopper’s Village BEST CATERER Dupree Catering Inc. wins for Best Caterer. Claudia Hatfield, Harriet Dupree, Sara Lord, Eileen McCormick, Barry King, Elfreda Ragllain and Lissa Sims 1. Dupree Catering Inc. 2. Phil Dunn 3. Tie: The Kitchen at Chevy Chase; Donna Potter MUSIC BEST NEW LOCAL CD 1. Birddog 2. The Hub 3. ACE Holiday Party, Vol 1 DTAphoto by Forest Payne BEST NEW LOCAL BAND 1. Delicious Trip Attendants 2. The Hub 3. Damn Rathers BEST VETERAN LOCAL BAND 1. Taildragger 2. Rabby Feeber 3. Catawampus BEST LOCAL SONGWRITER 1. Paul K 2. Otto Helmuth 3. Matt Patterson Crown Electric photo by Forrest Payne SEXIEST LOCAL BAND 1. Crown Electric 2. Yonders 3. Taildragger BIGGEST SUPPORTER OF LOCAL MUSIC 1. Lynagh’s 2. CD Central 3. WRVG BEST LIVE SHOW IN LAST YEAR 1. Taildragger 2. Steve Earle 3. Velvet Elvis Reunion Steve Baron of CD Central picks up the double crown for best record store and best place to sell your used CDs BEST $$ FOR YOUR USED CDs 1. CD Central 2. Cut Corner 3. Bear’s Wax BEST RECORD STORE 1. CD Central 2. Cut Corner 3. Disc Jockey
Local color means different things to different people. Obviously.
For reader Brett Gray, nothing says Lexington quite like, "Inbred Fraternity boys, Sorority girls, and Bible thumping basketball fans."
Another is disturbed by the proliferation and infiltration of soccer moms, complaining, "You get tired of dodging middle-aged women in Chevy Suburbans and decide to get a better job in a real city, one with real pizza and REAL bookstores."
Still others compliment Lexington for its smalltown charm, combined with at least a few of the accoutrements that go with a city (like, uh... malls).
The opposing camp is put off by all the travails of a city (traffic, suburban sprawl, and outrageous local taxes for insufficient services), with almost none of the benefits of an urban culture (bustling downtowns, and a restaurant row comparable to Bardstown Road in Louisville). Same story as last year.
When I think of Local Color, I try not to dwell on things like the Sports Museum (or the taxes I paid to fund it).
I try to think of the things I'd miss if I moved. Subtle things that I barely register, but which I would notice if I left. Like all the "extras" I've grown accustomed to seeing on my way to work every day - they're in my life, but I don't know them, and they have no dialogue. "Shouting/pointing guy," for example. What's his story? I've heard at least a dozen.
"Running guy" (he's very slow, but he never misses a day). He used to run with his girlfriend, but one day she just disappeared. I always wonder if maybe he killed her. (Because sometimes my imagination gets the better of me.)
"Umbrella guy" was omnipresent when I was in graduate school then faded for a while. I thought maybe he just went inside. Then I heard he was abroad. Why did I hear this - I don't even know this person. Is it true he speaks eight languages and is a scholar on Japanese culture? I don't know. Good rumor though.
I wonder whose life I'm an "extra" in. My big city friends certainly think the only reason anyone would live in this town, or the south in general, is out of misguided martyrdom or the lack of anywhere else that would have us.
I think what eludes them is the fact that we're all free to go.
That doesn't mean you can't find us spinning in our desk chairs from time to time, quietly and occasionally reciting Quentin Compson's immortal lines of denial from Absalom, Absalom! "I don't hate it, I don't hate it, I don't hate it... I don't. I don't! I don't hate it! I don't hate it!"
Well, you get the idea.
ACE readers found Marvin Bartlett to be the Most Eligible Bachelor in Town. And he lives at 538 North... (just kidding).
Most eligible bachelor in town 1. Marvin Bartlett 2. Paul K (is he still in town?) 3. Steve Cherry Most eligible bachelorette in town 1. Anita Madden (sorry, we should point out she’s taken.) BEST beloved character/personality 1. Christopher Platt 2. Gatewood Galbraith 3. Anita Madden BEST new building 1. UK Library (won last year) BEST example of local leadership 1. Pam Miller 2. Ernesto Scorscone Most embarrassing member of local govt 1. Pam Miller 2. Ron Berry (that was Micro City Government) 3. Judge Rebec
ca Overstreet Best actress to play Pam Miller in the TV Movie of her life turned out to be... Sally Field. (You LIKE her. You really LIKE her.) Initially skeptical, we ran it through the ACE morphing labs and it seems to be true.
BEST actress to play Pam Miller in the TV Movie of her life 1. Sally Field 2. Kathy Bates (KY native) Biggest eyesore 1. New courthouse construction 2. Hamburg Pavilion 3. Suburban Sprawl BEST scandal 1. Ron Berry 2. UK Basketball 3. Charles Wethington
BEST public bathroom 1. Joseph-Beth (who probably don’t want this advertised) BEST kept secret 1. “If we told you, it wouldn’t be a secret.” 2. Kentucky Theatre concessions 3. McConnell Springs BEST cheap thrill 1. Video Max
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... And this is a category that virtually defines paradox. How else to explain that, in many readers' eyes, ACE is the best local example of a RIGHT wing conspiracy AND the best example of a LEFT wing conspiracy. So is the Lexington Herald-Leader.
This is also a good chance for us to find out what stories and issues - as a community - people remember, and find meaningful. And it's a good opportunity for readers to register "enough is enough, give it a rest."
Last year, Tubby Smith, virtually swept the Best Of ballot (we can't even remember all the categories he won, from "sexiest" to "local leadership"). A sports writer from the daily actually called to ask me to speculate on why that would be. (Hell, I didn't know then and I don't know now. I didn't vote. I do know the "quotes" that were used didn't bear much resemblance, in my memory, to what I'd said about the process.)
THIS year, readers voted overwhelmingly that "Sports," (and specifically UK sports) is the story they most wish would go away. I wonder if anybody'll call to ask us to speculate about that.
BEST local news anchor 1. Tom Kenny 2. Barbara Bailey 3. Sam Dick
BEST local example of the vast right wing conspiracy 1. Ernie Fletcher 2. Chevy Chaser 3. Southland Christian Church BEST local example of the vast left wing conspiracy 1. Gatewood Galbraith 2. Ace Magazine 3. Leftist Student Union Local news story you are most sick of 1. UK Sports Anything (Wildcats) (at double the votes of the next closest contender) 2. Strip Bars BEST locally produced website 1. www.acemagazine.com 2. www.kentuckyconnect.com 3. Honorable mentions to (CD Central, Lexmusic.com, Lexingtondiscovery.com, realitytruck.com, z103.com) Most improved local website 1. www.kentuckyconnect.com (Lexington Herald-Leader) 2. www.acemagazine.com BEST local deejay (talk) 1. Jack Pattie
BEST local deejay (music) 1. J.B. of WRVG 2. Freakdaddy 3. Laura Shine Most memorable ACE cover in last year 1. Bend Over 2. Supafuzz 3. Ace COOKS BEST ACE cover Story in last year 1. Chris Offutt (Back to the Woods, November 98) 2. Christopher Platt (This Year’s Models, December 98) 3. The Have Nots (homeless family profile, by Dan Elkinson, December 98) [“Salvation in Salvisa” (on Home at Last Animal Sanctuary, by Rob Hulsman) received numerous votes in this category — as it did last year. It was disqualified, as the story is now almost two years old. But we’re glad to see any story strike such a chord with readers that they remember it this long. The profile on photographer Shelby Lee Adams was also disqualified for being over a year old]