Thirty years ago this fall, Talking Heads dropped their first LP. So did the Sex Pistols. Lynyrd Skynyrd dropped, period. Scientists celebrated the eradication of smallpox. And 25-year-old Ray Hartmann conceived Riverfront Times.

Lot of water over the ol' lock-and-dam since that inaugural sixteen-page issue. Though Ray sold the paper in 1998 and penned his farewell column four years later, some readers continue to associate the RFT with its founder.

We take that as a compliment.

Since the fall of 1988, readers have also associated Riverfront Times with our annual "Best of St. Louis" issue. As you might guess, we're proud of that, too.

At the moment, we're especially fond of this year's edition, which tips the scales at 400 items on the nose.

Given the highly opinionated nature of this exercise, you'd doubtless have made different choices in some categories if we'd consulted you.

Which explains why we did consult you. And you can see the cumulative results of our Readers' Poll listed at the beginning of each section.

Though our picks might occasionally disagree with yours, if we've done our homework you'll come away from this issue eager to go out and explore the best of what St. Louis has to offer. If you do, you might well run into us.

And if you happen to run into Ray, wish him a happy birthday.

All "Best" wishes and XXXs,
— the
RFT staff and contributors