Lists in magazines are popping up like poppies on the hills: Fortune just released its famous 500; Business Week doubled the ante to 1,000.
But who cares about multibillion-dollar corporations' bottom lines when spring is in the air?
Far more compelling is Sunset magazine's special Spring/Summer "Best of the West" issue, which rates everything from hamburgers to owner-built decks.
Four million readers served as judges, the magazine says.
Overcoming gardening sexism, the "Early Girl" tomato scored big, nailing first place, ahead of zucchini and snow peas, in the best-vegetable category.
The Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia got "Scariest Roller Coaster"; El Gallo Bakery in Los Angeles was rewarded for its pan dulce, and Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar earned a rave on the nursery front.
Several SoCal joints made the Top 20 Burgers list: The Apple Pan on Pico, Tommy's on Beverly, the Boll Weevil in San Diego, Knowlwood's in Anaheim, Russell's in Long Beach, the Jalama Beach Store and Grill at Jalama Beach County Park (north of Santa Barbara), and In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park.
The best back road in the West is Californias 49, which wends from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, site of the state's largest hydraulic gold mining operation, to the California State Mining and Mineral Museum near Mariposa.
Lists of other idiosyncratic Sunset bests: household tools, barbecue dishes, steam trains, etc. The worst of the issue is its ludicrously short "Worst Of" category.
Sunset's wimpy readers only had the gumption to attack such easy targets as snails, slugs, aphids, whiteflies, and earwigs--as if some spa somewhere isn't tiled in an amazingly stupid mermaid motif; as if there's not a revolting bed-and-breakfast in some Covina trailer park deserving of attack.
* You've gotta give credit for quirky creativity to Colors magazine, a most peculiar publication put out by the United Colors of Benetton people. The Spring/Summer issue features retouched photos in which such icons as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson and the Pope receive ethnic makeovers. Most stunning is Queen Elizabeth as a light-skinned black.
* There are undoubtedly many attractive women out there who would swap faces with actress Diane Keaton in a minute. But Keaton has never thought she's pretty. An early makeup addict, she became intrigued with the idea of facial false fronts, and began collecting masks.
In the April Mirabella, she offers classic photographs from her collection as well as her not-entirely-coherent, but occasionally interesting ideas on the ultimate mask: cosmetic surgery.
She writes: "Beauty, lost in the shuffle for prettiness, becomes seasonal. Unimaginative, greedy, status-quo pretty is finally taking over. The delicate line between what you want and what everyone else wants is confusing."
The Nose, San Francisco's answer to Spy (Motto: "Exposing the West"), cooked up a special "Family Values Fun Pac" of magazine parodies. "blam!" a nicely tasteless "mag for young gunz" is geared to the generation of young thugs who presumably listen to the multitude of bands with weaponry references in their names--Guns N' Roses, L.A. Guns, etc.--and then bring sophisticated weaponry to school and shoot each other.
Sample stories: "How to Crash Metal Detectors" and "Shop Class Silencers You Can Build."
"Grace," a parody of Mirabella, isn't funny.
But "Deadbeat Dad" manages to milk its one-trick-pony theme for all it's worth. With a fake cover that's a dead ringer for Rolling Stone's new brother publication Men's Journal, Deadbeat addresses its ads and copy to a reportedly large, but clearly narrow audience: all those fabulously fit fathers who'd rather be rock climbing than paying child support.
NEW ON NEWSSTANDS
Sometimes it doesn't look like much of anything will rise from the ashes of last year's riots. But Turning Point, a new quarterly with ambitions of going monthly, may blossom into an ongoing impetus for change.
"It grew out of the uprising," Patricia Means says of the publication she and Karen Hixson just launched. "We felt this was a way to tie into the new sense of community, to give the community tools with which to rebuild itself."
Distributed free at stores and offices in Watts, Baldwin Hills and other predominantly African-American parts of the region, the first issue is uneven but ambitious.
The profile of mayoral candidate Stan Sanders and a piece on Los Angeles Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas' "survival and revival" plan lack journalistic detachment. But the features on L. A.'s mayoral and Compton's City Council races are fine, as is a story that looks at how children are contending with their memories of last April's violence. There's less-sober stuff as well: An entrepreneur's IQ test, a look at "spring romance" and an astrology column.
(Free at stores and offices; $12.95 for 4 issues, P.O. Box 91889, Los Angeles, CA 90009).
Asking Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione to review a new documentary about Playboy founder Hugh Hefner seems a good idea.
In the April 9 Entertainment Weekly, however, Guccione is far too flattering in critiquing the strange and largely hagiographic "Hugh Hefner: Once Upon A Time."
But then, as Guccione confesses: " . . . It's damned difficult to be serious or even objective about a man who has built an empire on T & A. Believe me."