Living Out Loud: : It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"Best Of" week

Here we go again, another "Best of Cincinnati" week.

Weeks before it happens, Editor John Fox sends an e-mail to everybody here requesting staff picks for the issue. I'm never really very good at this but I always try to come up with something.

I'm always amazed at what he'll use and what he'll throw out. Some of my more clever picks get tossed, such as:

· Best place to bury your dead cat,

· Best bar restroom to puke in when you've had too much to drink,

· Best way to stuff your bird,

· Best place to pick up pretty girls if you're an ugly guy, and

· Best excuse to make if you're caught picking your nose in a public place.

I'm sorry; I can't give you the answers to any of the above. Cin Weekly has paid me good money for the first publication rights.

Weeks before this special issue comes out, the writers are given their assignments. A few weeks ago, pretty early in the morning, I ran into News Editor Greg Flannery in his office. I was shocked to see him there; Greg's not a morning guy.

Turns out he was part of a team to write about the best restaurants in town to eat breakfast. He was a bit grumpy.

"How can people talk at 7:30 in the morning, let alone eat breakfast?" he said.

While there's a lot of preparation beforehand, the week this special edition comes out can be pretty intense.

Our production department works long hours Monday and Tuesday, because this monster has to be at the printer Tuesday night for the paper to hit the streets the next morning. Our circulation manager and his drivers try to get a good night's sleep on Tuesday, because it's a paper with a lot of pages to deliver the next morning. Those bundles are heavy. The business office accounts for all those ads you see and makes sure the billings go out on time. We go through postage like its water.

Some departments get to relax a little. The sales group has already sold all the ads for the special insert and, except for the regular issue itself, all those "Best Of" stories have been written and edited. But make no mistake about it; everyone at CityBeat has to gear up for this issue. It's flat-out a lot of work.

But it's worth it. It's our most anticipated edition of the year. Papers fly off the racks, local television and radio talk about it all week long and advertisers know this is the one CityBeat that they must be in. It's turned into a big deal here in Cincinnati and that's all good. It's good for our paper; it's good for our city.

It's also now an "event." For the past few years, we've hosted "Best Of" parties. This year's will be at McFadden's on Seventh Street. Hundreds of invitations were sent, hundreds of people will be there and the edition will be highly celebrated.

I'll be the guy in the corner hiding.

This is my sixth year being involved with "Best Of" and sometimes I miss the old days. I remember in March 2000, "Best Of" parties didn't exist. The day the edition hit the streets that year, we closed the office early. I remember film editor Steve Ramos and me walking from our offices, then located at Seventh and Vine, to The Barrelhouse on 12th Street to join our colleagues for a few beers and some pizza. It was nothing fancy, just a small celebration that we got the issue completed for yet another year. We gave each other a slap on the back. It was nice, it was intimate.

Now it's big. That's all right; big is good for us. I'm just a bit shy and don't care for large crowds. But I'll be at the party. Maybe I'll smile from my corner while drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes. Maybe I'll wave to you.

If you see me doing this, come on over and say hello. I'll give you those "Best Of" answers Cin Weekly paid so dearly for.

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