Every year, this Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada allows us to toot our own horn and allows everyone to toot their own horn and allows everyone else to toot everyone else’s horn. That’s a lot of horn tooting. Darn tootin’.
But while we take our poll of readers seriously, many businesses and individuals take our readers’ poll more seriously than we do. And we kind of understand the reason for this: poor self-esteem.
Reno often gets a bum rap on the national stage. There are more reasons than can be counted for that phenomenon, but suffice it to say, the Old Southwest neighborhood doesn’t have a spokesperson to promote its beauty. Bibo doesn’t buy national media ads. Diane Sawyer likely doesn’t give a damn that we can walk the Tahoe Rim Trail, if we have a mind to. The things we Northern Nevadans love about this area, from the soft evening breezes on the St. James deck to a burrito at El Adobe Café, don’t pay a public relations company to sing their praises. But we know about them because we live here. They are the very atmosphere we breathe (current summer fires notwithstanding).
That’s part of the reason people are always surprised when some national comedian takes a dig at our city. Sure, Fozzie Bear’s funny, but he’s not funny because he’s true; he’s funny because he’s a silly stereotype that exemplifies the false stereotype of our town. And you know what? We—meaning we editorial types at the World Headquarters of the Reno News & Review—don’t care. Because you know who sings Reno praises? We do. We do it through things like this popularity contest, but we also do it when we kick some politician square in the groin for treating Reno and its people like we deserve less than the best. We do it when we highlight a local band or artist or quirky personality or towering volunteer.
Staffers here are often asked about the popularity of our Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada. Much larger papers than ours around the country have much less participation. They like to think it’s something we do here at 708 N. Center St. that they could emulate—and we hardly dissuade them of that notion—but it’s really not. We do try to make the playing field level and crazy, but it’s really because the level of quality in our community is so high. That may sound like a reach-around, but when you get right down to it, our best coffee can compete with the best coffee in Seattle; our best bar is going to be different than the best bar in Los Angeles, but it’s in no way inferior. Almost anything that is the best here would rank among the best anywhere. For heaven’s sake, Wolfie Jr. won the Capital One Mascot Challenge against the biggest schools in the country. Northern Nevadans are into this community. That’s why we ferociously battle to be recognized as the best in our fields.
So when Saturday Night Live makes an ignorant joke about our city committing suicide, or The Onion makes us the butt of jokes about our beloved Harry Reid, or Reno 911 dramatizes our daily newspaper, just shut up and take your kid over to the new Discovery Museum or go have a drink on Annalisa Huante’s bar. Because one of the things that makes this city worth living in is that outsiders don’t know about all the things that make it the best place to live.