It pains me to waste good newsprint elaborating on these theories. But a gal can take only so many tiny little pricks at her ankles before she's forced to kick back.
For three years, I've kept quiet while Christopher has taken his annual potshots at our Best Of Kansas City issue in his column. He doesn't seem to get what everyone understands: that the Best Of is a gigantic, sloppy, wet kiss to our city. Readers know that it's idiosyncratic, unscientific and highly subjective. But we also want it to be righteous, so we spend months researching and writing, and we make a small, blurb-sized argument when a choice seems eccentric. Mostly we just want it to be fun and to reflect what's genuinely great about this city.
The vast majority of Best Of winners are just regular people doing their parts to make the city cool, and we take great pleasure in giving them high fives.
So why does the Star's small-minded gossip columnist take such pleasure in trashing the effort? I'm not a psychiatrist, but I've got a pretty good idea.
Sitting on my desk is a musty-smelling copy of the Pitch from October 1, 1990. Listed as executive editor is Hearne Christopher Jr.
On that week's cover?
The Best of Kansas City.
(There's also a story about supposed crime at Crown Center, written by one very young C.J. Janovy, who wishes she'd had a better editor at the time.)
The 1990 issue was a collection of readers' picks and writers' blurbs. Unlike the Pitch's recent Best Ofs, it includes writers' bylines; also unlike the Pitch's recent Best Ofs, those staffers frequently made fun of the readers' picks. The execution differs a bit, but overall it's idiosyncratic, unscientific, subjective. And fun.
This is a bit of history Christopher never sees fit to disclose when he's trashing other papers' Best Ofs. And his editors don't seem too worried about the apparent conflict of interest. (I called the Star's managing editor for news, Steve Shirk, who declined to comment on whether Christopher had such a conflict.)
So the Star keeps letting Christopher indulge in his creepy obsession.
In 2002, the first year of what has become Christopher's annual ritual, a few local semi-celebs took swipes at a few of our picks. Fine hell, we know our choices are debatable.
Bizarrely, though, Christopher seemed troubled by the fact that Best Of issues are extra thick with advertising. "They sure do sell a lot of ads," he wrote before flexing his astonishing investigative skills. "Example: The recent Pitch 'Best Of' issue was 144 pages. The Pitch issues before and afterward were 88 pages each."
Shocking! Come to think of it, a lot of advertising is one big difference between the Pitch's recent Best Ofs and the one back when he was editor, which weighed in at 54 pages.
The thing is, Christopher knows this business well enough to understand that lot of advertising is a good thing. He knows advertising is the lifeblood of all newspapers the Pitch as well as the Star. Best Of issues are full of ads for one simple reason: Advertisers know that people love to read them.
Christopher's fixation grew more feverish in 2003. That year, he whimpered that Pitch staffers decide who gets the nods every year.
"After years of its readers crowning the winners," he wrote, "the weekly now entrusts its unidentified staffers to do the anointing."