In the days of constant information and news story after news story of Donald Trump did this and said that and oh, dear lord, somebody take his phone, a year feels like but a few short weeks. From the royal wedding in which an American joined the British family to the refugee crisis in Venezuela, this year was packed with consequential stories.

Our jobs as reporters is to tell these stories as truthfully and as openly as possible, and for some of our colleagues, this means risking their lives. TIME reported that “as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018.” That’s a journalist a week. Murdered. For doing their jobs. For paying attention.

Of course, as arts and culture reporters, we don’t quite face the threats of violence and outcries of “fake news” that investigative reporters do and we’re far from perfect, but the responsibility to honor truth, accuracy and story remain. This year, we’ve reported on the ongoing (and seemingly endless) effort by the Flagstaff Arts Council to fund a new arts center, we’ve covered the Pepsi Amphitheater’s 2018 season opener with Modest Mouse, we’ve seen this town grow (sometimes to the discontent of its citizens) and have been there to write about it all, or as much as we can. And all year, you, the readers of this alt-weekly, have responded. From people telling us we should be ashamed of ourselves to praise of our Letters to Ducey and College Chronicles sections, we appreciate all of the feedback we receive because it lets us know that as much as we are paying attention to Flagstaff, Flagstaff is paying attention to us.

Every year, Flag Live! conducts its Editor’s Choice Awards, a non-academic and admittedly silly way of giving thanks to our readers and honoring the town which we love so much. As with last year, we can’t capture it all, and our list is far from complete. We hope you take this list and the upcoming year with humor and in good stride. Thanks for reading!


Shortest Reincarnation: Grand Canyon Café (now Proper Meats + Provisions)

Best New Restaurant: Your Pie

Best New Orleans-Style Cuisine 1,500 Miles Outside of New Orleans: Bayou By You(now a little further away from you in Williams)

Best Local Beer: Whichever one you have in your hot little hand

Best Excuse to Day Drink: 2018

Best Freaky Friday Swap: Creative Spirits and Oregano’s

Best Make-Over: Pato Thai and Delhi Indian Food Palace (tie)

Best Bar to Support the Local Literary Scene: Uptown Pubhouse

Best Street to Find a Thai Food Restaurant: San Francisco Street

Cheapest Day to Get Drunk: Tappy Tuesday at Rendezvous

Best Place to Find Vegan Pastries but No Open Tables: Macy’s European Coffee House

Impending Departure That Bums Us Out the Most: McGaughs Smoke and Bottle

Best Reason to Cram More Than 30 Large Trucks into the Pepsi Amphitheater: The 2018 Food Truck Frenzy

Most Delicious In-Town Competition Where We Are the Real Winners: East side vs. west side Tacos Los Altos

Best Elote with a Very Strong, Very Tasty Margarita: Bandera

Best Breakfast Burritos: The Toasted Owl and Tourist Home (tie)

Shortest-Lived Bowl-Centric Restaurant Where People with a Range of Dietary Restrictions Could All Be Happy in a Meat-Centric Town: Paleo Brio Healthy Kitchen

Best Restaurant Inside A Clothing Boutique: Bigfoot BBQ

Puniest Signs: Fratelli on Fort Valley                        

Best Place to Watch the Train While a Miniature Train Circles Around the Restaurant: The Crown Railroad Café


Deaths That Hit Hard: Lucy Walkup, Randy Wilson, Aaron Norris, John Wettaw

Best Musician to See Driving a 1944 Willy’s Jeep Around Town: Andy Stanford

Best Person to Yell at You for Anthropomorphizing a Sandal: Mary Sojourner

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Dappest One of All?: Dapper Dre

Saddest Musician Departures (We Miss You): Ron James, Jelena Gonzalez

Eagle-Eyed Reader with the Most to Say (Even if We Don’t Always Agree With Him): Our colloquial Mr. Misogynist

Best Hair While Rocking Out: Seth Terrell

Best Fingerprint All Over Your Favorite Downtown Businesses: Kim Duncan

Best Owner of a Cop Car That’s Not a Cop Car: Dan Duke

Most Creative Barista: Dylan at Late for the Train

Best Politician to See Cruising through Downtown on His Bike: Adam Shimoni

Cutest and Neediest Yard Dog: Penny in the Southside neighborhood—she’s so dang lovable and needs all the pets

Musician Who No Longer Lives in Flagstaff but Still Makes Semi-Regular Appearances: Nolan McKelvey


Most Relatable Problem-Solving: Woodstock musician Melanie Safka’s tequila solution for a tired voice

Best Show to Relive Your Angst-Ridden Adolescence and Just Float On (Yes, They Played That Song): Modest Mouse

Best Band to Make You Wish You Were Here: Empty Spaces, Pink Floyd tribute band

Greenest Album Release Show: Cyam, Food Baby album release party

Best Use of the Flag Brew Patio and Bar: When surf rock revival group Daikaiju set their instruments on fire and then disappeared

Best Show That Came to Flagstaff That You Definitely Missed but Should Not Miss the Next Time: Clarke and the Himselfs

Best Unofficial Venue to Challenge Your Claustrophobia: Cottage House

Best Debut Album: boygenius by boygenius

Most Well-Traveled Duo: FoxyKoshka

Saddest Band Departure: Dead Touch

Best Man (Not at Your Wedding—Because Why Should We Decide That Sort of Thing?): Portugal. The

Most Bluegrass Bands in One Weekend: Pickin’ in the Pines

Best Music Video to Inspire You to Pull on Your ‘80s Workout Clothes: Moonlight Beach Club’s “Damn”

Best Series to Make You Rethink What Music Is: Interference Series

Most Nostalgia-Inducing Show: Weezus

Most Soulful: Chastity Brown


Happiest Return: Beasley Gallery’s Wall Draw Show

Best Place to Learn How to Fly: Momentum Aerial

Most Creative Use of Wood Scraps: Chelsea Kavanaugh

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Exhibits We’re Looking Forward to Next Year: Color Study by Talaina Kor, The Myth of the Incomplete Self by Rodrigo de Toledo, Sky | Climate | Weather | A Two-Woman Show by Rebekah Nordstrom and Katy Kyle

Best Use of Plastic Sheets and Glue: Yasuaki Onishi’s Hidden Landscapes exhibit at the Coconino Center for the Arts

Best Exhibit to Inspire Advocacy: Open Doors: Art in Action

Best One-Stop-Shop: MOCAF for all your recording, studio and workshop needs

Best Poet Who Can Make Us Cry One Moment and Laugh the Next: Andrea Gibson

Hole-in-the-Wall Gallery/Studio Space That’s Worth the Search: The HeArt Box

Reigning Wheat Paste Mural Champion: Chip Thomas aka Jetsonorama—peep his newest addition across from the Monte V

Busiest Bees That Are Not Bees: Mural Mice Universal—the two artists completed several murals this year including “Water is Life” (a collaboration with Flag High students), one at Haven Montessori School and “Unity” (a collaboration with artist/activist Karen Fiorito and Sky Black). The saying should probably be “busy as a mouse,” not “quiet as a mouse.”

Best Day to Observe All the Art Whilst Indulging in All the Free Cheese, Wine and Crackers You Can Muster: First Friday ArtWalk

Best Artist Advocating for Animals: Frederica Hall and Kayley Quick (tie)

Best Use of a Skateboard (Outside of Your Sick Pop Shove It): Pivot: Skateboard Deck Art at MNA

Best Use of the Elements: CCA’s annual It’s Elemental

Best Use of Paper Lanterns: Mother Road Brewing’s new Butler location featuring the works of Beth LaCour


Most Eclectic Shopping Center: Flagstaff Urban Flea Market

Best Time to Make Less Awkward Prom-Related Memories: Adult Prom

Juiciest Arts and Culture Story That is Still Unresolved: The ongoing pursuit of the Flagstaff Arts Council to fund a new arts center

Best Inaugural Event: Arizona Mead and Cider Festival

Renovations That Make Us Shiver with Anticipation: Construction on the building formerly known as Maloney’s is (finally) underway

Best Book to Reignite the ‘Is Pluto a Planet?’ Debate: Pluto and Lowell Observatory: A History of Discovery at Flagstaff

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Best Year-Long Celestial Celebration: Flagstaff’s Lunar Legacy

Ski Resort That Celebrated Becoming an Octogenarian Amidst Ongoing Controversy: Arizona Snowbowl

Bridgiest Bridge That We’ll Miss Crossing When It Is No Longer a Bridge: The Wheeler Park bridge

Best Street to Find Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic: Milton Road

Best Excuse to Try Your Hand at Brewing Cider: This year’s abundant apple crop

Biggest Change to Route 66 Skyline: The Standard

Most Frustrating Regular Occurrence That We Should All Honestly Be Used to By Now: Wrong-way drivers downtown

Best Hike to Avoid Other Human Beings When Lockett Meadow is Full of Them: Bear Jaw-Abineau Trail

Best Location to Forage for Mushrooms: We can’t give away our specific location, but any stretch of woods is fair game really

Best Location to Forage for Blackberries: Oak Creek Canyon (just watch out for poison ivy)

Best Time to Celebrate Flag’s Art and Science Accomplishments: Viola Awards

Day When It Is Perfectly Normal to Have a College Student Stumble into Your Front Yard at 9 a.m.: Tequila Sunrise

Best Location to Sit and Wonder Where the Ducks Go in the Winter: Frances Short Pond

Most Lavishly Decorated Yard: The pink one in the Southside neighborhood with all the stuff—you’ll know it when you see it


Worst Place to Lose Your Meth: A man waiting to pick up a pizza at Little Caesar’s on East Cedar Avenue in February dropped a baggie of white rocks that later tested positive for methamphetamine.

Biggest Case for Casper Being a Fan of Joyrides: A resident called police in January to report a car that had been idling in their neighborhood for an hour. Police tracked the license plate to the vehicle’s owner, who was at dinner with a friend and said her car should have been parked outside the JC Penney’s store at the Flagstaff Mall. Police drove her to where her car was, and she reported nothing had been taken.

Messiest Trespassers: A September police report described evidence of Solo cups, two pool floats and a beer pong float in a vacant home. A realtor who had been trying to sell the home discovered the scene of the abandoned party.

Sleepiest Trespasser: In another report from September, a man near South Lake Mary Road woke up in the middle of the night to find a stranger sleeping face down on his living room couch. He called the police and, while on the phone, the other man got off the couch and walked out of the home without saying a word to the homeowner. Nothing had been stolen and there were no signs of forced entry.

Best Attempt to Watch the World Burn: Two young boys who had lit a fire with their friends in the tunnels under Butler were caught by the Flagstaff Fire Department in April. Police and fire personnel gave them a stern lecture, called their parents and dropped them off at home.


Deaths That Hit Hard: Dolores O'Riordan,Anthony Bourdain, Aretha Franklin, Steven Hawking, Verne Troyer, Burt Reynolds, Mac Miller, Kate Spade, Stephen Hillenburg

Best Halloween Decorations: Melania Trump’s Christmas decorations (for the second year in a row)

Most Repeated Lie That Gets More Funny, Sad and Exhausting the More We Hear It: Mexico is paying for that wall

The One Person Who Will Always Be There for Us Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It: The FBI agent watching us through our web cam

Best Sporting Event That None of Us Remember Happened: Winter Olympics

Funniest (and Least Productive) Anti-Protest Campaign: Everyone destroying their Nike products after Colin Kaepernick’s Just Do It campaign

Best (Worst?) New Mascot for a Hockey Team: Gritty

Worst Job Interview Ever: Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Bravest Woman (We Believe You): Christine Blasey Ford

Worst Text: The nation-wide presidential alert

Best Comedic Use of Universal Existential Dread: Netflix’s Bojack Horseman

Best Antonio: Banderas

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s…: Elon Musk’s Tesla in space

Best Excuse to Avoid Eating Something We’re Already Actively Trying to Avoid: Theromaine lettuce E. coli outbreak

Best Reminder That Dreams Really Do Come True: That Walmart yodeling kid who performed at Coachella

Best Reason to Just Keep Those Thoughts to Yourself: Roseanne cancellation after titular actress’s racist Twitter outburst

Least Surprising Story That You Probably Read on Facebook: How Facebook and other social media platforms mine data from its users

Best Protests That Reminded Us That We Are a Nation Capable of Change and Good Will: March for Our Lives, Women’s March, #RedForEd, mass protests against child separation policies

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