This is the first issue of our second year.
Last month, in September, we published the twelfth issue of the LNF Weekly online magazine. It’s been a lot of work, not just for us, but also for the many ‘voices’ who have contributed their words, thoughts, and art, month after month.
We're celebrating. We've finished a full year of the LNF Weekly magazine, and we've been renewed for a second season.
THE BEST OF OUR VOICES
When we established the LNF Weekly magazine, we wanted to create a platform for other ‘voices’ in the neighborhood. Over the past year, we’ve had a lot of contributors — just scroll down our voices page. Some voices join us for a single issue, some contribute month after month.
Here are our favorite pieces by four of our regular, monthly contributors.
Tommy Newman, the owner of our neighborhood record shop, Southtown Vinyl, writes about music every month, and his articles jump all over the place. Jane and I like them all, so it was hard choosing a favorite, but we finally agreed to go with two: Tommy’s eccentric first piece, Who is Ivan Rebroff? and his July piece, The Upsetter.
Sarah Sorensen, our school board representative, writes nearly every month about school issues. She does a great job of taking topics that are complex and making them accessible. Our favorite is the one she wrote about standardized testing. But I also recommend her excellent explanation of the school district’s budget.
Jen Beckmann, owner of our great neighborhood wine bar, Re:Rooted, writes about wine each month. Jane and I split on this one. Jane’s favorite was The Sip Heard Round the World. Mine was Breaking Up With the Cork.
Al Rendon has been photographing the life and culture of San Antonio for many decades. Recently, he began preparing for a major retrospective exhibit, and that led him to dive into his archive of photos. The images he’s retrieved are great as photographs, but they also have fascinating stories to accompany them. Each month, he selects one of those photos and tells us the story behind it. Jane and I split again on this one. Jane’s pick was Beach Boombox. Mine was Raúl.
We’ve taken a look back, and we’d like to highlight some of the top articles of the past twelve months. If you haven’t read them yet, we recommend that you take a look.
I’ll divide them up into three categories:
The most popular articles, based on the number of readers
Our favorite ‘voices’ articles — the ones we most enjoyed or that had the most to say.
Our personal favorites that didn’t make it into the first list.
We're always curious to see which stories generate the most interest — the stories that are opened by the greatest number of readers. To choose the top ten for this article, we looked at readership for the past twelve months to see which stories were the most popular overall.
Here they are.
1. The Wonderful Cat Lady of Lavaca
This article about Rose Mary Pedersen Budge was the most-read article during the past twelve months. It was written by Nancy Diehl, co-founder of the Cannoli Fund, shortly after Rose Mary’s passing in January, and it reminds us of what Rose Mary contributed to the city and the neighborhood. “She taught us what it meant to be a neighbor,” Nancy wrote, “and we hope to honor her memory by carrying on her neighborly ways.”
2. Would this work here?
This feel-good story about a small-town tradition and a $250 cheesecake got a lot of reads. It was highly popular here in the neighborhood, but our stats tell us that it also got several hundred readers from Wisconsin.
3. San Antonio Art League and Museum (SAALM)
LNF Weekly tries to promote local artists. Jane features a work by a local artist as the header of the weekly newsletter, and we use another piece as the ‘cover’ for the magazine.
We also do stories about the local art scene. The most popular of many this past year was this short piece by Peter Szarmach about the San Antonio Art League and Museum’s annual juried exhibition. But check out some of the others, including Jane’s piece on plein air painting and her story about painter Barbara Felix or my story about SAALM as an organization.
4. Lavaca 101
Architect, neighbor, and USTA professor Darryl Ohlenbusch wrote this piece about what it means to be a historic neighborhood and what impact it has had on Lavaca. Thanks to historic designation, Darryl wrote, Lavaca retains “the character that has been lost over and over again in older neighborhoods in cities across the United States.”
5. Shopping Local
Another of our aims with LNF Weekly is to promote local businesses, and some of our most popular articles have been about local shops and restaurants. Jane Gennarelli wrote two that ranked high (numbers five and ten, which we're combining at number five). One of them looked at several neighborhood boutiques, and another told readers how they could shop locally for Christmas.
6. Noise Ordinance Task Force (Let's Start Over)
LNF Weekly tries to provide information to the neighborhood about important issues. One issue that we’ve heard discussed a lot in the neighborhood is noise. A lot of the discussion, however, is opinion-heavy and fact-light. So we took a close look and wrote a series of articles that related to the city’s noise ordinance task force. Before you claim a ‘side’ on this issue, you really ought to read all five pieces (one, two, three, four, five). Spoiler alert — there’s a ‘side’ that’s good for everybody.
7. Winter Means Comfort Food
I miss the winter evenings of my childhood in Wisconsin. Those evenings were dark and cold — the sun went down at 4:30 PM and the temperature was likely to be sub-zero — but what I remember is the comfort of good friends and good (warm) food. Jane, with her background in New York, has similar recollections, so we try to make the most of the short ‘winter’ here in San Antonio. Jane especially enjoys winter comfort food. This is one of her winter recipes, and it was a big hit (we got a lot of feedback).
8. There's Still Some Funk in the Neighborhood
Thanks to historic designation, our neighborhood has suffered less than most from loss of character due to development. But we’ve nonetheless lost some wonderful funkiness over the last twenty-five years. There are still islands of funkiness here and there. Read about one of our favorites.
9. There's a New Place in Town
Chef René Fernandez of Azuca has opened a second restaurant, Hola!, and it’s one that Jane and I especially enjoy. It’s a tapas restaurant, and we’re working our way through all the items on the menu.
10. Silver Paws
We’re a neighborhood that loves its dogs, from puppies to seniors. Jane Gennarelli wrote about a terrific local organization that puts senior dogs together with senior people, covering all the costs. Jane described the program as “extraordinary.“ And speaking of senior dogs, I highly recommend Jane's article with tips on caring for your senior pup.
These two lists — the most popular articles and our favorite articles by regularly-appearing voices — omitted some pieces that we don’t want to forget. Jane and I each picked a favorite from among the articles we wrote over the past twelve months.
Jim's Pick: Vinyl is Back
I enjoyed writing a lot of articles this past year. Some were hard work (the series on the noise ordinance) and some were pure fun (the piece on the small-town radio auction). But my personal favorite, which was fun to write and which I still find fun to read, was this article about vinyl records.
Jane's Pick: Arthouse Cinema at Blue Star
Jane chose her article about the Arthouse Cinema in Blue Star, she says, partly because it was fun to write, and especially because Arthouse Cinema is exactly the kind of thing that makes this neighborhood special. How many neighborhoods still have a movie theater, especially one that chooses interesting, diverse films, not the latest empty blockbuster?
THE BEST OF OUR COVER ART
Jane and I also tried to pick our personal favorite cover art from the past year, but we just couldn't do it. We liked so many pieces -- well, we liked all the pieces, but we had way too many 'favorites'. So we decided to let you pick your own. Check out our gallery of cover art and let us know what you think.
Jim Feuerstein is co-editor of LNF Weekly; he also designs and manages the website.
The six voices who appear almost every month -- Tommy Newman, Al Rendon, Jen Beckmann, Sarah Sorensen, Jane Gennarelli, and Jim Feuerstein.
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