The Bitter and the Sweet
-Sex and the City
By 9:14 a.m. on Thursday morning, September 26, the Best of Lex backlash began to arrive...along with the Thank You notes.
Some wrote to compliment the readers on their choices (public access and radio stations attracted a lot of interest).
For example, this arrived from a local filmmaker: "I want to congratulate Julie Blackburn, Paul Nowaki, Jon Shelton, Albert and the whole gang from the Electric Toiletbrush Experience for winning 'Best Public Access Show' in the Ace poll. Thanks too to Jon's show Off The Air for helping filmmakers like me get their stuff seen."
Another wrote to express nothing but contempt:
"And please, don't insult your readers' intelligence by claiming that the survey was purely as a result of reader votes. Your attempt to flatter all these local businesses in hopes of getting some of their advertising dollars is pathetic."
That's so.strange.Then, that some Ace advertisers won.
And yetsome did not.
Many advertisers are devoted readers-and some may've (as they were quite ethically entitled to) voted.
But as we said, stuffers were discarded. (And their efforts are pretty obvious.)
And maybe, just maybe, a preponderance of the readers just happened to believe they really were the best at what they do.
As for an attempt at flattery, Ace has always been happy to bite the hands that feed us-advertisers and non-advertisers alike.
Not a day goes by that we aren't asked to suck up and sell out.
It goes like this, and the script rarely deviates:
"Yes, we'd like to place some ads
"if you write a story about me or my business" and how fabulous it all is
"if you make me an expert columnist on (golf, accounting, the stock market, insert nature of corporate interest here)."
While publications that enjoy and invite the painfully obvious quid-pro-quo purchase of content may exist, we prefer to think of that practice as extortion. It certainly has no business at a newspaper. We are not The Sopranos. Big Pussy (Bompensiero) doesn't work here.
If we wanted to engage in mindless flattery for money, we are offered lucrative opportunities, every day.
The "Best of" votes were tallied by interns-who worked on separate ballots, at separate times, on separate days, and usually in separate categories.
A "fix" would've been difficult to pull off. What would be still more difficult would be to imagine them caring enough to pursue it.
Most are young. Many are entirely new to town.
A lot of them probably wouldn't be able to name a single local plumber or architect or mechanic in town-much less have a stake in who got voted "the best."
That's why they're given the task.
In one tragic error this year, an intern did inadvertently (and prematurely) congratulate an advertiser on winning a category (because he had in fact seen their name on several ballots) - and the category didn't even exist. (Though they did go on to place prominently in a similar category.) I was told later he went back and profusely apologized. We took away his caffeine and nicotine for the rest of the semester. He also has to give us all pedicures every morning. But for now, he's washing my car. (Internships are about learning.)
Nearly every weekly in the country has a "Best of" annual poll. Some are entirely polluted by nothing but ad-friendly categories and votes (Pizza Hut comes to mind as a prominent perennial winner in one weekly not too far from here).
As for how you create a poll that is utterly devoid of capitalism and its interests? First, how would you do that? And second, why would you want to?
What are the categories supposed to reflect? Best four-way stop?
The best and worst things about a city always inextricably link commerce and art and architecture and culture and government and politics and sex and food and much more.
The readers' polls are designed to take a sampling of that, each year.
Every year, we add some categories, and eliminate others.
Because, honestly, don't we ALL know by now who has the best pancakes in town?
At least the voting consensus was always virtually universal when it was a category. And if you don't believe the voting, you can definitely drive by and see the lines out the door every Saturday and Sunday. I've tried to talk them into delivery, but so far, no luck.
Of course, if they ever start, rest assured that next year's ballot may well include "best pancake delivery in town."
I still won't get to votebut I'll certainly eat enough to keep them in business.
Thursday, October 3:Teresa Issacs and Scott Crosbie take part in the UK Donovan Scholars Fall Forum at 2:30pm, to discuss Lexington's future at the Lexington Senior Citizens Center off of Nicholasville Road..
Fayette County Schools closed Friday, October 4th.
Sunday, Oct. 6 "A Walk to Remember," 3 pm at Pavilion 1 at Jacobson Park on Richmond Road. The event, is sponsored by a group of health professionals at the UK Hospital and UK Children's Hospital. Families and friends who have shared a loss are invited to attend. For more information, call 323-6363.
Starting Monday, October 7 and continuing until Tuesday, the Sierra Club will host its 8th Autumn Walk in the Stream for Women, at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park near Prestonsburg. For more info call the park at 606-886-2711.
Tuesday, Oct. 8, Million Mom March, Central Kentucky Council on Peace and Justice, Maxwell St. Presbytarian Church, 7:00 pm
Wednesday, October 9 A community forum, from 7 to 9 pm at the Visitors Center of KET, 600 Cooper Drive. The forum will focus on the future of Lexington, and how Lexington can become America's most livable city by 2020-or sooner. For more information, contact Buck Ryan at email@example.com.
Free trees for the month of October. Join up with the National Arbor Day Founndation and receive10 free trees, including Sugar Maples, Scarlet Oak, Sweetgum, Red Oak, Silver Maple, White Dogwood, Washington Hawthorn, and Red Maples.
The Center for Relationships and the Mental Health Association of Kentucky will offer free, anonymous health screenings Thursday, October 10. Tates Creek Branch of the Lexington Public Library 11am to 8pm.
KET is inviting viewer participation for the 2003 book club choices. Please go to the website and vote for 2003 selections or nominate another choice. firstname.lastname@example.org.