You may not win them over, but if you hang around long enough, you'll wear them out.
-Phil Simms, New York Giants quarterback

hen you work from deadline to deadline, it's sometimes easy to lose sight of the big picture.

I thought of that this week when our departing art director, Jim Shambhu, sent out his fond farewell to everyone (as he moves on to an incredible new opportunity), noting that he had been on board for an amazing "seven years, four administrations, three frequency changes, a buyout and a buyback, and two years as a weekly."

That's a lot of growth packed into a seven-year career in one workplace.

He and wife Jill also found time to have Sam along the way (light of our lives), and both have continued their successful art careers. In his tenure here, he's been an integral force overseeing our design team, which Village Voice Media widely lauded as "the best in the country."

We'll miss him, but we're incredibly proud of his achievements, and expect to see him around regularly as a consultant. (Though we have no immediate plans for a redesign. We're not sure the town wants to see two new overhauled newspaper formats in one year.)

Though I barely remember a time when Jim wasn't our Art Director, my memories of the paper go back even further - 13 years ago to Ace's initial launch as a quarterly arts magazine and all the stages in-between, up to its current incarnation as a newsweekly.

For the first ten years, that's where we were always headed.

We believe what we always have: that weeklies can and should be the lifeblood of a city's cultural landscape. It's true for big cities with the Chicago Reader and New York's Village Voice. Everybody knows Boston's Phoenixbut it's equally true in small and midsize towns from Boise, Idaho to Colorado Springs to Augusta, Georgia.

The media's growing pains usually mimic those of their city. If done right, they always will. Our faith in Lexington is as unshaken as ever.

Downtown is a far different place today than it was in 1989 - some changes for better, some for worse.

The new courthouse and new arts center are up. Ben Snyder is still gone. The skyline is largely the same, but the streetscape has changed vastly. The Kentucky Theatre is (blessedly) back. (Several pages in Ace's May 1989 edition were devoted to a plea for its revival.) There's a beautiful page in that issue devoted to the Blue Grass Trust's "proposed alternatives for sites of world trade and cultural center." All ambitious, all unrealized.

Ace's arts and cultural calendar - for the entire month of May 1989 - was admittedly thin, and 80 percent of it took place outside Lexington.

Downtown culture now includes a vibrant Farmers' Market, Gallery Hops, Fourth Fridays, an emerging cuisine scene, an expanding Rupp Arena, some revitalization in the residential sector, and growing (if struggling) retail.

This year's mayoral race is heating up, boasting a field of candidates who all feel justifiably compelled to address downtown, a sustainable infrastructure, growth, responsible infill, and suburban sprawl.

Keep them focused. Make sure they know what the job description for the mayor is (and is not). Running the city has far more to do with sewers than schools, for example. It's not glamorous, and it makes for a squeamy soundbyte, but it's true. Hold their feet to the fire.

Things are getting interesting, and we hope they stay that way.

Friday night, we'll be celebrating our birthday, with the third annual Taste of Ace, 7-9 pm at Victorian Square in the former Bravo location. This year's beneficiary will be author Ronni Lundy [see this week's Cover Story]. She's a remarkable woman, a remarkable writer, and a longtime influential friend of Southern culinary culture.

We're so grateful that so many people stepped up to help us put this event together, especially the restaurants - including chefs and management (a la lucie, Emmett's, Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn, Jonathan at Gratz Park, the Lafayette Club, Nadine's, Pacific Pearl, and Café on the Park).

None of this would've been possible without the efforts of Karen Workman, Ace's contributing food writer, who coordinated the fine dining effort, ably assisted by Ace's Rob Kirkland.

It is a tremendous thing for a restaurant to graciously lend us their famous talent on a Friday night for such a great cause and we are thrilled by their generosity. After you've sampled their cuisine Friday, we have no doubt that you will quickly become regular patrons of these establishments - if you aren't already.

We can also assure that no one will go thirsty (there will be a cash bar with all premium liquors and a Coffee Bar by Common Grounds).

Pouring up the drinks (at this over-21 event) will be WTVQ's Alexa Gromko; Z103's Suzy Boe and Sticky; WKYT's Brian Collins and wife Cathleen Collins - or you can head to the terrace to drink Kentucky Ale dispensed by the Bluegrass Bachelors of 2001 and 2002.

Ambient jazz will be provided by the Bill Farris trio.

Even I have the perfect date for the evening: my dear Mom (it was the only time we could find to celebrate Mother's Day). She'll be the one thrusting coasters under your drinks.

A good time will be had by all.

As my friend (and former pro ball player) Bachelor Dan says, "Approach life like baseball. You only need to be right 1/3 of the time and you can be in the hall of fame. Rainouts are free days. A home run doesn't always win the game. And personal scratching and spitting is appropriate at all times."

Those seem like good words to consider as we happily enter our terrible teens.

See you Friday!!