How the Best Was Won
Winning: This is how it works. Barely into the first golden days of summer, a coterie of Santa Barbara Independent staff, editorial, and business people, working harmoniously together, begin reviewing ballot lists inherited from eons previous. At this point, new categories might be added, while others get whisked away, reflecting the glacial changes in our cultural map or, mayhaps flagging reader interest in stuff like Best Eight-Track Tape Store. Then, toward summer’s end, just before Fiesta, we begin running the ballot both in our paper version and newfangled electronic edition, where readers are asked to pick superlative stuff, a minimum of 20 to help prevent ballot stuffing. Votes pour swiftly in. They are carefully examined to prevent obvious frauds such as dozens of similarly voted ballots coming from the same address (it happens; don’t laugh), until, at long last and deadline here, our gnomish, secretive staff begins the arduous task of counting, an Augean labor made slightly easier by the advent of the electronic entries, which give us a kind of spreadsheet for the print votes to be tallied on.
Several grueling weeks later, the results — checked to perfection — are handed over to designated ad staff, who call the winners, as, simultaneously, your obedient word wrangler elicits from many of them ecstatic responses and writes a wee ditty to each business, service, or person picked.
That done, the thing gets checked again by editors and fact-checkers whilst our intrepid photographer snaps some pics, the artful designers lay out the results in a well-tempered manner enabling easy perusal of any and every category so restive readers can zestily pluck up the paper, go out, and boldly test results — appreciating classical favorites or learning new truths about the town they thought they knew.
Meanwhile, us? We check into sanitariums, take a snifter or two, or visit relatives far away until summer comes again and we return, tireless, to our best pursuits.