A Few Dissents

I love the idea of the Fussy Little Blog's alternative Times Union Best of Albany ballot, and I wholeheartedly endorse trying to ensure that the list isn't swamped by mediocre chains. Combined with the fact that we're relatively new to the area and lack the expertise to judge a lot of the categories, my presumption is to defer to Daniel's choices.

However! Being the kind of asshole individualist who proudly resists outings to event movies, I can't resist a few cranky exceptions, even though I know it works against the thrust of the exercise. The biggest one, as I point out in comments, refers to Trader Joe's. It's not that it wouldn't be useful to have one here. But I also find it really overrated, at least for my own purposes. It does have well-above-average frozen and pre-packaged meals, but essentially I never eat them. And if you don't, TJ's isn't terribly exciting; I do like the cheap house olive oil and quinoa and a few other things, but in general you have to go somewhere else to complete your shopping, and even the house stuff I like is far from exciting. Even in Brooklyn, where the neighborhood grocery options were much worse than Albany's, I rarely went -- the lines were insanely long, you never knew what produce they would have on a given day, the house brands vary in quality. The wine store was a major draw in Seattle, but given (in my order of preference) All-Star, Empire and Exit 9 plus several good neighborhood stores I'd like to see stay in business here, a TJ's wine store would be redundant-to-counterproductive. I find the Fresh Market a better compliment to PC/Hannaford and the Pioneer Food Market and Honest Weight Co-op, frankly.

So, anyway, here's my list of the few categories where I'll vote differently. I've tried to confine my dissents to cases where the result won't be to throw the election to a big national chain:

Best Local Grocery Store: Pioneer Food Market
Best Local Wine Store: All-Star
Best four-year college: College of Saint Rose, in my entirely unbiased opinion
Best Mexican/Central/South American: El Mariachi (Hamilton)
Best Italian: Cafe Capriccio
Best Band: Phantogram
Best Movie Theater: Spectrum 8
Best Museum: Williams College Museum of Art

Other than that, I endorse the collective ballot. Happy voting!

UPDATE: Daniel actually explains his TJ's decision further here. I still see it as working at cross-purposes with the whole project, in that it promotes a national chain at the expense of local businesses, a particular problem with respect to the wine store part given that they're substantially inferior to the independent local wine stores that would be denied recognition. But I opine, you decide...


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