Every year, the good folks at Ye Auld Weekly Newspaper mock their readers and flatter their advertisers with their annual "Best of Seattle" issue, when the editors, sales staff, and (allegedly) readers of the Seattle Weekly pile awards upon an elite group of businesses and services--a scant 750 or so in all. A suspiciously large number of the "winners" are businesses whose ads appear regularly in the pages of the Weekly. Like the Special Olympics, no one seems to get out of the Best of Seattle issue without a prize.

In its neverending effort to leave no advertiser behind, the Weekly has gone to great lengths to create categories that roughly jibe with businesses whose ad dollars it is after. A prize was given for "Best Woman-Owned Sex Toy Shop" after the woman-owned sex-toy shop Toys in Babeland opened in Capitol Hill; "Best Place to Do Your Laundry and Catch a Rock Show" was awarded the year after the Laundromat/live-music venue Sit & Spin opened in Belltown. This year, however, the editors of YAWN hit a new and unprecedented low, asking their readers to vote on "Best Tom Douglas Restaurant." For shame, for shame.

The Stranger has long mocked the icky "Best of..." tradition by accentuating its absurdity (see 1999's Best of Nooksack and 2001's Best of Kevin issues). However, the unprecedented obsequiousness displayed this year--Best Tom Douglas Restaurant? How do they sleep at night?--has driven us to dump the irony, screw the humor, and cut out the fucking middleman. Kissing the asses of advertisers is a game that two can play--not that we have anything against our advertisers, mind you. We think our advertisers are swell and you should buy whatever they're selling, from inner-ear damage (club ads) to lung cancer (cigarette ads). But we've always felt that the best thing we could do for our advertisers was to surround their ads with content that people actually wanted to read--which results in their ads getting noticed, which brings in the customers--and not a lot of fawning compliments and repulsive "advertorial" content.

But we know when we're licked. So after making fun of YAWN's Best of Seattle issue for the last four years, after attempting to shame YAWN's editors and out-of-town owners into some semblance of editorial integrity, we've concluded that our efforts have been for naught. You know what they say: If you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em. So without further ado, welcome to The Stranger's First Annual....

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Best of (our advertisers in) Seattle 2002
Edited by David Schmader
Written by Josh Feit, Emily Hall, Amy Jenniges, Jennifer Maerz, Charles Mudede, Sean Nelson, Min Liao, Dan Savage, David Schmader, Bradley Steinbacher, and Kathleen Wilson, with invaluable input from the Stranger sales staff.