Press Picks are live now! | Columnists – Anchorage Press

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Anchorage Press Managing Editor Matt Hickman

It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat in this town without hitting some media entity doing its particular take on readers’ choice awards.

I don’t blame any of them for doing it. It’s an easy way to grow a short-term digital audience, cozy up to advertisers, and a way to be cool for a hot minute. But in any city you go, the standard-bearer for such an effort is always your local, friendly alternative weekly newspaper.

For pretty much all of the 25 years the Anchorage Press has endured under that handle (‘twas the Anchorage Bypass the two years before that), Press Picks have been a staple each fall, and the alt-weekly awards remain the most coveted awards to win in this, or any other city.

1) Because alt-weeklies are distributed free of charge and don’t operate at the whims or complaints or standards of decency and modesty that curmudgeonly, entitled subscribers inflict on daily and community newspapers.

2) Because alternative weeklies are uncensored and make a point of being pointedly fucking so.

3) Because alternative weeklies don’t play by the stodgy rules of other journalism, while still delivering a trusted printed product everyone touches with their fingers, eyes, souls.

4) Because alt-weeklies are produced for and — so importantly BY — the communities they represent.

5) Because of all that organic base, alt-weeklies know and reflect what’s cool, what’s bullshit, and where the best buys are in between.

6) Because alt-weeklies are the home of everything unaccepted before it became accepted:

a) Long before even Republicans fell over themselves with tolerance and support for the LGBT community and pretended they felt that way all along, alt weeklies were championing the cause, from Dan Savage on the back pages all the way to the front.

b) Long before your mother decided she was into edibles after all, and further decided CBD oil is helping the family dog’s arthritis, alt-weeklies were championing the cause of normalized, legalized and recreational marijuana. Alt-weeklies stood against and flaunted the idiotic laws of prohibition, even at a time when that same mother of yours would taken away your skateboard if she so much as found a joint in your laundry.

c) When your local bar thinks it can get by as a quarters receptacle for bad pool and worse jukebox, your local alt-weekly has been there insisting upon supporting a local music scene, even if no one else would.

d) Long before social media was there for all of us to call a corrupt, greedy or otherwise knavish person in power a skull-fucking douchebag, your friendly, local alt-weekly was there to do it for you.

What thanks do we get for all this pioneering, all this bravery, all this being on the right side of history? Not much, really.

The one thing we do get, however, is pre-eminent status when it comes to peoples’ choice awards, because, after all, we are the only commercial media made of, for and by the people.

There’s a great sketch on the IFC show Portlandia, in which a mediocre Thai restaurant opens an alternative weekly on the side for the lone purpose of awarding themselves a ‘Best Thai Restaurant’ sticker they post prominently in their window. Readers’ choice awards really are that synonymous with alt weeklies and the communities they serve turn to them as the definitive source for all that is righteous, bitchin’ and rad.

It’s a sacred trust and civic duty we at the Anchorage Press take with great honor, humility and copious care.

And so, after two weeks of collecting more than 10,000 nominations in our nearly 200 categories, we are going live with Press Picks voting starting today at

Voting runs through Sept. 27 on every worthwhile category you can imagine from Best Budtender to Best Drag Artist to Best Glory Hole, Best House of Worship and everything in between that makes Anchorage so diverse and worth fighting for.

Last year, our readers cast more than 80,000 votes and this year we’re anticipating well over 100,000 votes, with the winners to be crowned, bestowed and otherwise adulated at our second annual Press Picks Live awards show Oct. 24 at the Hard Rock Café in downtown Anchorage.

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Anchorage Press contributor RJ Johnson is your host for Press Picks Live: A Red Carpet Affair at the Hard Rock Cafe. Get your tickets at


Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Beer Ambassador Darcy Kniefel is a co-host of Press Picks Live: A Red Carpet Affair, Oct. 24 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Anchorage.

That night — it’s a Thursday, by the way — we’ll kick things off with networking hour at 6 p.m., followed by a Red Carpet-style awards show hosted by our own RJ Johnson and his friends, including 2018 Best Drag Artist/Best Educator winner Hank VanDickerson and Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Beer Ambassador Darcy Kniefel. That goes till 9-ish, but stick around for another couple hours of drinking and networking with the coolest people in Anchorage, even as the city’s funkiest band, Boogie Shoes, plays until the good people at the Hard Rock kick us out.

But like I said, according to fire code, we can only sell 200 tickets to this event, so make sure to get yours, and make sure to vote once each day for your favorites.

We’ll see you next month at the Hard Rock 😉


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