Best of Memphis 2016 - Staff Picks 

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  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Hollywood Feed

Best Spectator Seat

For more than a decade now, a solitary red seat has occupied the rightfield stands (now a grassy bluff) at AutoZone Park. This is the seat where Albert Pujols delivered a baseball on September 15, 2000, a home run that made the Memphis Redbirds Pacific Coast League champions in the ballpark's inaugural season. Since then, Pujols has done all right for himself. A three-time MVP and two-time World Series champ with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols (now an L.A. Angel) has climbed to 9th on the all-time home run chart and should hit his 600th next spring. — Frank Murtaugh

Best New Bakery

The best new cupcakes in town aren't made for humans. They're created for dogs. Hollywood Feed Bakery uses high-quality (often organic) ingredients, which means these goods are also fit for human consumption. But Fido probably won't be willing to share his zucchini and bacon quiche, pumpkin carob doughnuts, or strawberry almond layer cake. Sarah Nicholson, a chef who graduated from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, creates the treats without wheat, flour, or sugar. — BP

Best New Hire

Mayor Jim Strickland made a campaign promise to hire a new Memphis Animal Services (MAS) director with a real passion for animals. And he made good on that a few months back with the hire of Alexis Pugh. Unlike the past shelter director, who had previously worked for the U.S. Postal Service, Pugh has years of experience working at animal organizations in Memphis. She previously served as the executive director of the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County and Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services. She's already instituted a number of changes at MAS that will directly benefit the dogs, cats, and assorted farm animals in their care, and she'll soon be working with Target Zero, a national group that aims to help shelters achieve no-kill status. — Bianca Phillips

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Best Under-the-Radar Band/Best Band You Need to See This Sunday

Strange Wave Connection has been performing at venues around town for quite some time. You may have heard the group's mesmerizing blend of indie rock/circus tunes (or their sweet cover of the Game of Thrones theme song) at the P&H, the Buccaneer, or Young Avenue Deli. Flying just under the radar, they've produced two albums and are beginning work on a third. Check them out at Lafayette's Music Room this Sunday, October 2nd, at 8 p.m., and be among the few who can say you knew them before they got big. — Shara Clark

Best Jack o' Lantern

Last spring, on the Law & Order-iest portion of VECA's Greenline, parallel to Mignon Avenue, a man in a bright orange top dug in a trash can that sits about halfway through the trail. On closer inspection — DUN DUN! — it was not a man at all but a plastic Jack o' Lantern oddly appearing out of nowhere, out of season. And then this great pumpkin moved to the other side of the trail. And then it moved again, where it now stays, up high on a tree outgrowth. Kudos, Jack. — Susan Ellis

Best Trend

Oh, Memphis, gotta love you for your devotion to barbecue and sno cones and fried chicken and burgers and stuff topped in nacho cheese. But, sometimes, a salad or something a little healthier is nice, too, and recently, there's been more of it. Think Cheffie's and LYFE and Wild Salad Beet Co. and the new Zaka Bowl. Options are a good thing! — SE

Best "Speaking Truth to Power" Moment

The Battle for the Greensward: When Midtown marshalled all its forces — field hippies, hackey sackers, wealthy limousine liberals, stoners, geezer golfers, art students, environmentalists, professors, hipsters, commies, and various assorted nuts — and backed down the Memphis City Council's FedEx faction, council attorney Allan Wade, and the powerful Memphis Zoo board to stop parking on the Overton Park Greensward. — Bruce VanWyngarden

Best Memphis Version of Groundhog Day

"We are working hard to get the trolleys back on line, but we don't yet have a target date." — BV

Best Convenience-Induced Guilt

When you stick a bottle of Chardonnay in the bottom of your grocery cart and hope no one sees you cheating on your favorite liquor store. — BV

Best Day to Be A Memphian 2016

July 10th. That was the day Black Lives Matter protesters briefly shut down the Hernando de Soto Bridge. At a time when protests all over the country were turning violent and divisive, Memphis got it right. Seeing those protesters on the bridge, suspended between water and sky, surrounded by vehicles and police, it seemed that we were again being tested by history. But this time, we passed the test. Memphis still has a lot of problems, but the protest seemed to bring out the best in everyone. Maybe we took a step that day toward recognizing our shared humanity. — Chris McCoy

Best Reason to See Original Plays by Memphis Playwrights

Jerre Dye's Cicada and Distance launched in Memphis and have found audiences, awards, and critical acclaim in Chicago. Evan Linder's Byhalia Mississippi won Playhouse on the Square's New Works@TheWorks competition and a clutch of Chicago's Jeff Awards and just completed a successful run at the Steppenwolf Theatre. That won't be the last we hear from that play or its Memphis-bred author, and folks in the know will be able to say they saw it here first. — Chris Davis

Best Ways to Experience Memphis on Netflix

Best of Enemies is right on time for election season. It's a revealing look back at landmark political debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr., and it may be the best thing ever from the music historian Robert Gordon, author of It Came From Memphis. Take Me to the River's an intergenerational love letter to Memphis music with footage of artists like Skip Pitts, Booker T. Jones, and Teenie Hodges (and so many more) recording and making music with Eric Gales, Yo Gotti, the North Mississippi Allstars, and so many more. — CD

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