So close to paradise

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Who wants to hear about the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies in San Diego?

You? And you? OK, here goes. General Manager John Murphy and I made it to San Diego last week for the annual alt-weekly convention. The highlight for us was the first-place award for best illustration in a newspaper with a circulation under 50,000. The winner, Rick Sealock, did the illustrations for our “Best of” issue. We also received a second-place for best feature story for the piece written by Brad Summerhill, “Alien odyssey.” I know the AAN awards don’t mean a lot to many of you, but I always feel humbled when we receive this type of national attention.

San Diego was a typical California city. Hate to say it, but I didn’t get to the zoo, so all my impressions of the city were from buses or nightclubs. People were friendly in that laid-back California style.

Ended up in Tijuana one evening. The tour bus dropped us off at a museum where we looked at photos of Frida Kahlo and bought trinkets. Later, the bus dropped us at a tourist trap, a square block of nightclubs where the male servers who weren’t busy stood outside in a line—“Two for one drinks, come inside, two for one”— trying to herd tourists into their clubs. John and I sat on a second-floor balcony and listened to an Eagles CD. Our drinks had too much juice and grenadine for the amount of liquor, and while they were called “Two Fucking Cool,” “Way Freaking Weak” would have been more accurate. The waiter also brought us a couple shots of tequila that tasted like they’d been strained through an inner tube, but what are you going to do? We drank them. They apparently don’t use lime or salt down there.

The conference was cooler. Always interesting to hear how similar other papers’ problems are to ours: How do you beat the competition? How do you improve accuracy? How do you make the paper more inclusive? How do you make love stay?