Letter from our Editor: AHHHH!!! I’M SO PROUD OF EVERYONE!! AHHHH!!!
Jesus Christ, I’m not supposed to cry at work. And yet here we are.
I have felt compelled to cry at this job for a multitude of reasons in 2020. When I interviewed a local dogwalker who was blinded by the police at a protest. When I follow-up on the families of those who have lost a loved one to gun violence. When someone explains how their life has been ruined by evictions or COVID-19 or abuse at the hands of their employer. Kids, I do not recommend a career in journalism. It isn’t as sexy and fun as all the movies make it look. (I do not know what movie I’d be referring to here.)
I have felt compelled to cry at this job for a multitude of reasons in 2020 because what I was working on was so awesome, in a Biblical sense. When we profile a young local band and watch their fandom grow exponentially overnight. When we send an award-winning food journalist to cover a Monster Truck rally and she treats it with total professionalism. When a deep-dive piece that took hundreds of hours to compile lands on my desk and I can just feel the blood, sweat, and tears on the page. When I read the beautiful and varied prose of so many different voices that we have either recently cultivated or have long supported. When we catch the stupid typo on the cover just before thirty-five-thousand copies of it are printed and there’s an adrenaline rush like a near car-crash and you laugh through the panic of what would have been.
I have cried so many more times in 2020 over the beauty and the laughter than I have over the crushing bummers. And I think that is a testament to this goddamned wild city and the exceptional people therein. All things considered, easily the worst year of all of our lives at least gave me the opportunity to live vicariously through the joy of others. And hopefully our little publication has given you a portal into the same emotional vein.
Today, I am havin’ a bit of a sob because we’re wrapping up our yearly Best of KC magazine; that thing you are holding right now. When I first moved to town, it was a copy of Best of KC that taught me and my wife everything we need to see and do as soon as possible. A few years later, I’m the one putting that together, to allow our motley crew to continue serving as the guides to an entire metro and beyond. We have edited tens of thousands of words. We have flipped through hundreds upon hundreds of photos to give you an immersive KC experience that should (and could) make any of your out-of-town friends wildly jealous.
So, I don’t know? It’s a lot! We’ve spent the last few weeks just condensing every thought, care, feeling, and moment into under 80 pages. Making the highlight reel of Kansas City (and reliving the most complicated year of our lives) has left me overwhelmed. I’m so proud that we’re all here. I’m so sad about the ones that aren’t. I am in awe of the spirit of this unendingly wonderful place and the stories of unstoppable people therein.
So here is Best of KC 2020. Comprised of two parts, the first is our editorial team’s list of what makes this city worth fighting tooth and nail for: everything from The Big Victory Game to a piece of bathroom art that calls out toxic masculinity. There’s something for everyone! And this is where the voices of The Pitch live. Then, we have our reader’s choice section. This is everything that the city voted in as what you see as the highlights of our little town.
Gonna reiterate that, because I’ve heard enough from friends and internet foes alike about how they’re upset to not have made the finals. You guys, no one at The Pitch has anything to do with winners or nominees. I don’t even vote. Please stop being mad at me. Please be mad at everyone else you know. They’re the ones that betrayed you.
But in all seriousness, yes, this second section is entirely run by you. This year we ran 456 categories. Yeah, that’s part of why I didn’t vote either. Not just editorial ethics, but holy shit, I don’t know that many businesses/people in the entire city. And why would I know “Best Place To Work”? I haven’t worked anywhere but here, and as aforementioned, I spend a lot of time crying on the job. (Future interns, ignore that I said that. The Pitch, and journalism in general, are a delight each and every day.)
Across those 456 categories, 666,694 votes were cast. Yeah. Y’all hit 666,666 and just kept going. We should’ve just cut it off there to see if your picks for Best Dermatologist and Best Place To Take A Selfie were enough energy to awaken The Dark Lord. There’s always next year! But yes, we counted every single vote, removed anyone who was trying to game the system, and never once put a finger on a scale. Best of KC protects and upholds democracy better than United States elections. Sorry if that’s too political, but we live in Hell, and the only guarantee I can offer is that no malfeasance befell your votes regarding Best Locally Made Soap.
I would also be remiss to not acknowledge the molecular-sized elephant in the room: COVID-19. Yes, we all know how odd this is. The businesses that are coming back are mostly back. Some of the businesses that have won these categories might be shuttered forever by the time this magazine hits stands. And yes—hundreds of those involved in this round-up are operating at different capacities, ranging from “as open as possible” to “diminished” to “the lights have not been on in a while.” With that in mind, we pushed the voting and release of this magazine a full month beyond its normal October release. We wanted as much time as possible for the city to discover what New Awful Normal looks like, and by extension, to make sure this series of awards would be as close to a snapshot in time as can be done. Sure, you can probably mentally add an asterisk to certain categories, but we’d rather let the city choose what best exemplifies us this year and in this historic moment than pretend we need to wait a year to shine a light on the hard work and dedication of so many.
Here is Best of KC 2020. This is what we live for. The Pitch turned 40-years-old this year, and hopefully we’ll be around for another 40, to celebrate our fabulously erratic home, together.
(P.S. Can you identify every local on the cover of our magazine? Happy hunting!)
Pitch in and we’ll make it through,