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BEST OF GOODS AND SERVICES:

Point of purchase: downtown Saratoga Springs.Photo by Ellen Desicsciolo

Best Downtown Retail District

Saratoga Springs

We can only hope the city will curb any attempt to turn its downtown into a chain outlet village, because it is by far the best example we have of a thriving, functioning downtown as downtowns were meant to be. The gentle curve of Broadway, the handsome historic buildings, the tiny specialty shops lining Caroline and Phila streets, the fact that independent retailers still outnumber the Gaps and Eddie Bauers: All of this adds up to a city you want to spend time in—like the hundreds of other people you can find strolling and shopping there on almost any day.

Best Unlikely Retail District

Delaware Avenue, Albany

This oft-forgotten neighborhood still has several food markets, a hardware store, a fabulous movie house, a flower shop, a bank, a drugstore and a cool neighborhood restaurant—hey, sounds suspiciously like a good old-fashioned main street. Remember those?

Best Bookstore

The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
Stuyvesant Plaza

The independent bookstore that could. Still going strong all these years after the invasion of the big boxes, the Book House proves that smaller often is better—and it doesn’t hurt that the people who work there know their books (check out the plentiful and intelligent staff selections). Zadie Smith to the big boxes’ Scott Turow.

Best Children’s Bookstore

The Little Book House
Stuyvesant Plaza

Good books. Better books. Best books yet. Little tykes’ only problem is which to get. OK, apologies to Dr. Seuss, but kids can’t go wrong in this comfortable, well-stocked and friendly perennial winner. Making the Little Book House that much more spectacular is that its staff really, really knows, likes and can recommend titles.

Best Used Bookstore (Quality and Knowledge)

Dove and Hudson
296 Hudson Ave., Albany

Who doesn’t love Dove and Hudson, nestled deep in the belly of Center Square? As soon as you walk in, the tranquility of the place takes hold setting the stage for the ultimate book shopping experience. With its perfect balance of our favorite classics and modern novelties, it’s almost impossible to walk out of this store without buying a book or two or five. If you can’t find something on the shelves, all you have to do is ask, and the owner will search high and low to see whether he’s got it somewhere in the store. The biggest plus is that, unlike many other places, you won’t spend half your day poring through junk, because it’s just not there (not that there’s anything wrong with a good trashy novel once in a while).

Best Used Bookstore (Selection and Price)

Book Barn
200 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham

Once in the Grand Union Plaza, the Book Barn has found its way to a new location. Check back frequently, because it’s always adding newly purchased selections at great prices to its more than 80,000 titles. There are even books for a quarter. What else can you get nowadays for a quarter?

Best Bookstore (Reissued)

The Lark Street Book Shop
215 Lark St., Albany

We’re ecstatic that the former Bryn Mawr Bookstore was salvaged when it was on its way out by three determined Center Square buddies, Bill Petit, John McLennan and Mark Brogna. This altruistic trio didn’t want to see the used bookstore leave Lark Street, so they pooled their funds and bought it. After a good scrubbing of the windows, passers-by are reminded what a little neighborhood jewel they have. The shop has also morphed into a modest venue, with poetry and literary readings and acoustic-music nights with local musicians (recently gracing the candlelit “stage” were Rob Skane, John Brodeur, Carl Smith and Brian Bassett). So next time you’re wandering by, stop staring through the window and go on in for Pete’s sake. You never know what you’ll find.

Best Bookstore (Antiquarian)

Lyrical Ballad
7-9 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

There’s used, there’s old, there’s dog-eared—and then there’s Lyrical Ballad, where the books just get better with age. An antiquarian’s paradise with more than 75,000 volumes, including first editions, signed editions and other collector’s items, rare specialty volumes, vintage maps, historical curios and, of course, fine literature. Every nook offers new surprises.

Best Men’s Clothing (Career)

Christopher’s Clothing Store
Crossgates Mall
50 State St., Albany

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so if your appearance is important to you—or if it isn’t, but you have an important interview coming up—let the “style experts” at this haberdasher suit you up. Their stylings run the gamut from more traditional cuts to fashion-forward European styles in a variety of colors, textures and fabrics, along with custom-made shirts and a great selection of ties, socks and accessories. There’s also a very nice selection of casual clothing if your company allows “dress down” Fridays. Service is extremely attentive, close to overbearing, but the employees do know their stuff.

Best Men’s Shoes

Cohoes Fashions
Crossgates Mall

A perennial winner in this category, Cohoes still has an edge over the big chains. Good selection at the best prices, even though it’s not what it was in the old location. The styles include cutting-edge designers such as Kenneth Cole, high-end quality Cole Haan and the basics from Rockport and others.

Best Sporting Goods Store (General)

Goldstock’s Sporting Goods
98 Freemans Bridge Road, Scotia

This store has something the big box locations don’t have and never will: history. Since its inception in 1896 in downtown Schenectady, this store has been a mainstay for sports enthusiasts. It boasts knowledgeable ski technicians for both downhill and cross-country, hiking gear, tennis equipment and much more, not to mention a large selection of quality fly-fishing gear, something the chains just won’t carry.

Best Specialty Sporting Goods Store (Soccer)

Soccer Unlimited|
1570 Route 9, Clifton Park

1272 Central Ave., Colonie

The name pretty much says it all. Whether you’re a player, coach, referee or soccer mom, you’ll find what you need at “your total soccer store”: a huge selection of boots, shin guards, clothing, bags and accessories, plus a very friendly and knowledgeable staff who make sure you get exactly what you need. And the prices are unbeatable.

Best Wine Shop (Shiny)

All-Star
Latham Farms, Latham

Selection, service and, best of all, knowledge—that’s what many wine shops claim, but All-Star truly has it. Proprietor and wine connoisseur Craig Allen has assembled a young but thoroughly wine- educated staff. Aisle after aisle, rack after rack, bottle after bottle, the selection is incredible. Looking for that hard-to-find rare wine? Chances are, All-Star can get it. Need a gift for a real wine snob? This is the place. Want a quality wine for under $10? Look no further. Tasting rooms and wine appreciation classes are also a part of the experience.

Best Wine Shop (Dusty)

The Wine Shop
265 New Scotland Ave., Albany

No fancy presentation, just opened boxes with hand-colored signs describing the wines’ characteristics and what food they’re best paired with. Excellent selection, very friendly service and good bargains. No extra charge to have the dust cleaned off.

Best Home Electronics

Hippo’s
Stuyvesant Plaza

Imagine your home completely wired to see who’s at the front door, watch the kids playing in the backyard and check in on the sleeping newborn upstairs. Imagine a TV so thin it looks like a picture hanging on the wall, audio sound so clear you’ll think you’re in the recording studio. This is what home electronics has become, and Hippo’s can make your imagination a reality. If you’re looking for a plain old TV or DVD player, Hippo’s has that too. A very knowledgeable and courteous staff is on hand to answer any of your electronic needs.

Hats off: State of Grace. Photo by Shannon DeCelle

Best Women’s Clothing (Bohemian)

State of Grace
11 Second St., Troy

Warning: You won’t be able to leave State of Grace without toting a really large shopping bag. There’s just too much good stuff, from funky flip-flops to one-of-kind beaded bags to sexy form-fitting Tees to Lily Pulitzer originals that scream ooh-la-la. And that’s just skimming the surface. With its luxurious goodies and its beautifully feminine (but not froufrou) environs, Grace is a state to come home to.

Best Women’s Clothing (Special Occasion)

Circles
Stuyvesant Plaza

“A touch of Manhattan in Albany” is what the slogan reads, and runway spectacular is what the boutique specializes in. Searching for the look you saw on the runway during Fashion Week for your 10-year reunion? You won’t find a better selection of trendy designer gowns, elegant footwear and fashionable accessories anywhere in the Capital Region.

Best Women’s Shoes

Saratoga Soles
486 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Also known as paradise to shoe lovers throughout the Capital Region, this boutique carries the latest fashions from Stewart Weitzman, Mark Schwartz, Hyde, Phyllis Poland, Tommy Bahama (are you drooling yet?) and many more of today’s hottest designers. Looking for that sexy strappy Mark Schwartz look? Saratoga Soles has it. Need that Anne Klein classy and professional look? Saratoga Soles has it. Want that Franco Sarto trendy-but-casual look? Saratoga Soles has it. And if you can’t find it, you can order it from an assortment of catalogs. Aside from its great selection, Saratoga Soles also carries a variety of purses, tulle, jeweled hairpieces and silk scarves for high-level accessorizing.

Best Jewelry

Elissa Halloran Designs
225 Lark St., Albany

What can we say? The women of Metroland are decked out daily with Halloran’s jewelry—we can’t stop ourselves from raiding her gem-laden cabinets and adding to our collections of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings. Halloran makes fabulous jewelry and imports fabulous jewelry as well. Even Soledad O’Brien thinks so—she can be spotted on her newly acquired morning show on CNN sporting Halloran’s designs. The Lark Street shop contains gifts galore—among them handmade candleholders, horn bags, pottery and vintage clothes, mostly from local sources. But mostly, the gorgeous, intricate jewelry is what we go gaga over.

Honorable mention: Dana Rudolph and Co., 209 River St., Troy. We’re glad to see that Dana Rudolph’s back in action, selling her own awesome jewelry creations at her new Troy store, as well as those made by others. Rudolph was the motivating force behind the first-ever Larkfest, and she was proprietress of the African Queen—a onetime Lark Street stalwart. Welcome back, Dana.

Best Farmers’ Market

Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market
427 River St., Troy

The Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market has all that a farmers’ market should have: locally grown, mostly organic fruits and vegetables; organic coffees and teas; locally produced goods such as wool items, cheese and pottery. And fudge. And flowers. And honey. You get the picture. But the weekly Saturday event is more than a place to stock your kitchen: It’s a center of the community. Peruse the socially conscious literature available or just grab your sticky bun and coffee and head to a picnic table to socialize with friends. Each week offers a different musical performer and various activities for kids.

Best Health Food Store
Honest Weight Food Co-op
484 Central Ave., Albany

Unlike many inner-city co-ops, Honest Weight is the size of a supermarket. Its bulk offerings abound, and there are organic items aplenty. It’s a jif to get a membership—just work a few hours. You may even meet a few folks. We also dig Honest Weight’s cosmetics section, where a knowledgeable staff person can guide you to the best mud mask or conditioner for your needs.

Best Fresh Food Market

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
1020 South St., Pittsfield, Mass.
760 S. Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.

We think all the weekenders up from New York City come for the fresh produce, meats, fish and pasta at Guido’s, then decide to take in a little theater or perhaps the Boston Symphony before heading back home to cook up a feast. Seriously, Guido’s two stores are mobbed every weekend with locals and weekenders alike, because the overall quality and selection of fresh and gourmet food is outstanding, and the produce alone is second to none.

Best Large Appliances

Cocca’s Appliances
158 Railroad Ave. Ext., Albany

A repeat winner, Cocca’s is a no- nonsense operation where you’ll find what you’re looking for at a fair price, with free delivery and expert service—even after you get the thing home.

Best Hardware Store

Bridgeford Hardware
388 Delaware Ave., Albany

If you live in the general area and you need to pick up some screws or get a window fixed or have a key made, why drive all the way out to a big box when you can get better, faster, friendlier service at your good old-fashioned neighborhood hardware store? It’s still amazing how much stuff these old stores cram into relatively tight confines.

Flower power: My Favorite Things. Photo by Teri Currie

Best Flower Shop

My Favorite Things
Hamilton Street, Albany

Forget those innocuous floral arrangements that scream, “I ordered this from an 800 number, from a florist who knows nothing about you.” The Capital Region’s floral scene has truly blossomed with the arrival of My Favorite Things, tucked into an inconspicuous basement in Robinson Square. Arrangements are made the same day, using the very best and freshest buds and done up in ways that astound without appearing arty.

Best Optical Store

EyeDentity
1315 Central Ave., Colonie

They’ll forget they ever called you “Four-eyes” when they see you wearing spectacles chosen with the help of the stylists at EyeDentity. In fact, they’ll wish they needed glasses themselves, just so they could shop the hundreds of designer-named, up-to-the-minute fashionable choices of eyewear. Who knew that glasses weren’t just to help you see but to help you be seen?

Best Toy Store

The Gifted Child
72 Church St., Lenox, Mass.
28 Railroad St., Great Barrington, Mass.

Chock-full of things that would make any child strive to be good, the Gifted Child is the place to go when looking for just the right gift for your own child or a friend’s. From baby duds that make you go “Ooooh!” to games and gizmos that make you think “I want that,” and featuring hundreds of little items that make great stocking stuffers, grab bag goodies or simply tokens of affection, this store is colorful proof that good things come not in big boxes but in smaller packages.

Best Vintage Store

Special F-X
176 Quail St., Albany

If you’re looking to increase your closet’s sass quotient, this little basement store is your best bet. You’ll find a smashing selection of sequined tops, shiny skirts, party dresses, and hats and bags to match. Although the men’s clothing selection is minimal, there is a fantastic collection of vintage jeans in all sizes as well as men’s shoes and jackets. Everything is well organized, all the prices are clearly marked, and you can try as much stuff on at once as you like.

Best Thrift Store

The Salvation Army
800 Hoosick Road, Troy

You may be under the assumption that all Salvation Army stores are created equal. This is a gross misconception. The store on Hoosick Road (Route 7) in Troy is by far the best in the Capital Region. It’s very clean, the smell of mothballs is minimal to nonexistent, and it’s extremely well organized. It’s got the largest vintage section of all the Armys as well as great shoes, hats and bags. The staff is friendly, and because it’s housed in an old grocery store, the parking lot is gargantuan, so bring as many cars as it takes to carry home your loot.

Best Pet Food Store

Pet Supplies Plus
1225 Western Ave., Albany

It’s the place we go to keep our furry, feathered, scaled and shelled companions in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed. Pet Supplies Plus has won a few times over the years, but with its wide variety of everything little Fluffy desires—leashes in every hue, chewies ranging from vanilla to peanut butter, nearly every flavor of Fancy Feast (a biggie with the cat fans), how can you blame us?

Best Record Store

Music Shack

65 Central Ave., Albany

A wide selection of titles from every genre and sub-genre imaginable: punk, hardcore, industrial, emo, death metal, local, trance, hip-hop, all neatly categorized for your browsing enjoyment, with a knowledgeable staff to assist you if you can’t find what you need. Many indie, hip-hop and dance titles are also available on vinyl if you’ve got a pair of 1200s lying around. The used section is filled with quality titles and rare gems that you aren’t likely to find secondhand anywhere else.

Best Record Store (Used and Vinyl)

Last Vestige
173 Quail St., Albany
437 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Last Vestige—both locations—is where we turn to whet our record-buying appetites. Whether we’re there for CDs or new and used vinyl, we can’t walk out empty-handed. It’s one of few remaining places to get vinyl these days (boy, do we feel old), so you can head to Last Vestige to replace all those records lost in all those breakups while also dipping into the meager stream of new vinyl releases.

Best Video Rental

Super Video
1839 Central Ave., Colonie

With more than 30,000 movies and games and weeklong rentals, Super Video remains the region’s best place to rent a flick. It was a pioneer in stocking DVDs and still has the area’s largest DVD selection. Don’t toss out your videocassette player, though: Super Video still has hundreds of films on VHS that are out of print and unlikely to be made available on DVD any time soon. Its friendly, knowledgeable staff is more than happy to help, too.

Best Free Video

Albany Public Library
161 washington Ave., Albany

Searching for free videos at the APL is much like visiting a flea market—little order but a whole lot of neat stuff. The movies are alphabetized and broken up into three categories—kids’ movies, DVDs and everything else. You’ve got foreign films and TV-miniseries collections rubbing cases with black-and-white classics from the ’20s, sprawling over four or five shelves. The selection has grown in number and variety over the past year, and the DVDs are beginning to flood the shelves. Maybe best of all, the late fee is only 20 cents per day. Get there early on Friday, because the shelves are picked over by mid-afternoon.

Best Beer Warehouse

Oliver’s Beverage
105 Colvin Ave., Albany

A beer lover’s wet dream. Oliver’s Beverage has literally hundreds of varieties of beer—from the oddest foreign microbrew to the finest handmade domestic lagers—for sale by the six-pack or in individual bottles. But it’s more than just a place to discover new microbrews: Oliver’s has a list of weekly specials, kegs and cases of Utica Club.

Best Musical Instrument Store

Parkway Music
1602 Route 9, Clifton Park

Parkway is the place to go if you’re into making music. Electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, recording equipment, PAs, amps, pedals, a huge selection of drums and even band instruments can be found in this tightly packed, two-level store on Route 9. Run by owners Tom Murphy and Matt Hatfield, Parkway gets our nod for its relaxed atmosphere, cool gear and great prices. Don’t forget to drop off your favorite instrument for repairs and setups.

Best Community Music Store

Musica
9 Main St., Chatham

This small-town musical-instrument store continues to energize and enrich its local music scene, providing a welcoming space for musicians of all kinds, be it the scene of a casual gathering for music lovers, a Saturday night jam session or a free street concert, Musica continues to attract people from all over with its unpretentious atmosphere and plentiful musical offerings.

Best Lumber Yard

Friends Lumber Inc.
1870 Hamburg St., Schenectady

“If it ain’t got wood, it ain’t no good.” Can’t remember where we heard that one, but it sure is true. Friends Lumber isn’t the biggest store around, but it carries premium lumber at good prices, and it’s been owned and operated by the Peters family since 1982.

Best Garden Store/Nursery

Olsen’s Nursery & Greenhouses
1900 New Scotland Road, Slingerlands

Want to fulfill your plans for an herb garden? Hoping to make your backyard look like the cover of Gardening magazine? Looking for the perfect gift for your green-thumbed friend? With a lovely selection of herb and vegetable plants, hanging baskets of flowers bursting with color, house plants, trees and a wide variety of landscaping items, Olsen’s will provide you with what you need to make your yard and home the envy of the Joneses.

Best Farmstand

Kleinke’s Farm
Kenwood Avenue, Delmar

Set back just a little from Kenwood Avenue, before you get to the suburban neighborhoods of Delmar, there’s a big brown barn. Kleinke’s Farm opened for the season in early July and boasts a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables that will make you want to start eating healthy again. Go for the sweet corn, but while you’re there, give in to temptation and get some cherry tomatoes, sweet strawberries, just-picked peas or green beans that are good enough to eat raw. Bring your kids to say hi to the peacocks, ducks and bunny outside the barn.

Best Bike Shop

Downtube Cycle Shop
466 Madison Avenue, Albany

Whether you aspire to be the next rider wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France or just want to go for a leisurely Sunday ride around the neighborhood, the Downtube has bikes and equipment for you. Want to try out the new mountain bike from Trek? Take a test ride in Washington Park. Hope to be able to fix your own flat while out riding the trails? The Downtube offers bike maintenance classes. With a knowledgeable staff, second-to-none service and a convenient downtown location, the Downtube has been providing cyclists with everything they need for more than 30 years.

Best Baby Store

Babyland
1400 Central Ave., Colonie

OK, OK—for all you parents out there that have taken a trek to Babyland, we know that the people that work there don’t always have, shall we say, the best cribside manner. However, what they may lack in tact they certainly make up for in their knowledge of baby products. Go in there and ask them any question, from the latest car seat to the best stroller, and someone is sure to know. Unlike chain-store baby departments staffed with employees who don’t know the difference between a Boppy Pillow and a Pack and Play, the people at Babyland know their stuff. It’s not the place to bargain shop, but the store carries many products that are difficult to find anywhere else in the area.

Best Convenience Store

Stewart’s
Every-freakin’-where

Stewart’s! Where else are you going to go when you need gas, a six-pack and a dozen nightcrawlers? The Saratoga Springs-based company recently opened its 300th store in West Sand Lake, so whether you’re in the ghetto, the burbs or the boonies, there’s probably one near you. Stewart’s sells more than half a million cups of coffee each week, it introduced the square-folded half-gallon ice-cream carton, and it claims that 90 percent of its products are below supermarket prices. Despite their chain-store status, Stewart’s stores feel like a family-owned small business with their friendly staff, delicious hand-scooped ice cream, self-serve coffee bar and public restrooms.

Best Comics Store

Earthworld Comics
537 Central Ave., Albany

Earthworld has something for every comics lover, whether you’re a computer geek or a punk-rock freak. It stocks the area’s largest selection of alternative comics as well as run-of-the-mill superhero titles. The staff will gladly make recommendations if you don’t quite know what you’re looking for, and they’ll do so without making you feel like an idiot for asking. Often the titles they suggest are better than those that you might have chosen for yourself. Stop by and check out a copy of Ivan Brunetti’s Haw; it will change your life.

Best Tattoo Ahop

Lark Street Tattoo
274 Lark Street, Albany

Did you know that the average person's epidermis covers two square yards? That's a lot of open space, even for you hirsute types who aren't exactly all blank canvas. Those of you who'd like to spruce up that skin with something more permanent than a suntan should look to Lark Street Tattoo. T-Bone, Don, the newly returned Scot, and the rest of the crew take justifible artistic pride in the work they do, as do the proud bearers of their designs. And when you're talking permanent, pride makes a difference. (We here at Metroland have a fair representation of LST ink ourselves; so, if you wanna come by and check out any of the less-intimately-placed work, feel free. The more "personal" viewings, however, will cost you a drink or two.)

Readers Poll Results:

Best Optical Store

1. Empire Vision Center

2. Di Napoli Opticians

Best Appliance Store

1. Sears

2. Earl B. Feiden

Best Antiques

1. Natural Order

2. Hamilton House

Best Bookstore

1. Borders Books

2. Barnes & Noble

Best Record Store

1. Last Vestige

2. FYE

Best Newsstand

1. Coulson's

2. Friar Tuck

Best Internet Provider

1. Road Runner

2. AOL

Best Garden Store/Nursery

1. Hewitt's

2. Faddegon's

Best Home Electronics Store

1. Best Buy

2. Hippo's

Best Furniture Store

1. Taft Furniture

2. Huck Finn's

Best Pet Supply Store

1. Petsmart

2. Petco

Best Gift Store

1. Romeo's

2. Wit's End Giftique

Best Wine/Liquor Store

1. All Star Wine & Spirits

Capital Wine & Spirits (tie)

2. Cadalso

Latham Wine & Spirits

University Wine & Liquor (tie)

Best Women's Clothing Store

1. Rampage

2. Macy's

Best Men's Clothing Store

1. Christopher's

2. Macy's

Best Women's Shoe Store

1. Saratoga Shoe Depot

2. DSW

Nine West (tie)

Best Women's Haircut

1. Jean Paul Spa & Hair

2. Tullio Hair Studio

Best Men's Haircut

1. Gregory's Barber Shop

2. Supercuts

Best Sporting Goods Store

1. Dick's

2. Klein's

Best Bike Shop

1. Down Tube Cycle Shop

2. Plaine's Bike Ski Snowboard

Best Toy Store

1. Toys R Us

2. the Toy Maker

Best Video Rental

1. Hollywood Video

2. Blockbuster Video

Best Place to Rent Porn

1. Deja View Video

2. Adult World

Best Place to People Watch

Plaza at lunch hour . . . Crossgates . . . Home Depot . . . Saratoga Racetrack . . . River Street Club in Troy . . . Washington Park

Best Place to Hook Up

My place . . . Albany rural cemetery . . . wish I knew . . . Oh Bar . . . the automobile . . . Sheldon Silver’s office . . . Glen Falls rest stop . . . Jillian’s . . . 6-mile reservoir . . . internet

Best Place to Break Up

Her place, so I can leave . . . Where do you people find all these relationships . . . church . . . the cliffs at Thacher State Park . . . the phone . . . e-mail . . . Howes Caverns . . . on a plane

Best Local Celebrity with Whom You Want to Have a One-Night Stand

Alice Green . . . Kelly Lynch . . . Benita Zahn . . . Mike Tyson . . . Ann Hughes . . . John Gray . . . that hot black chick from Fox local news . . . Liz Bishop . . . Brian Taffe from Capital News 9 . . . Elizabeth Griffin . . . William Kennedy . . . Mark Quandt . . . Rich Labutti . . . Carl Smith . . . Noah Francis . . . Libby Pataki . . . Karen DeWitt

Best Local Felon

Jim Coyne . . . Mike Tyson . . . Katie Conway . . . Richard Mills . . . Willie Dixon . . . Michael Boxley . . . owner of Nick’s Sneaky Pete’s . . . Christine Wilhelm . . . Aaron Dare . . . Davis Etkin . . . Mark Pratt

Best Village Idiot

Wanda Lubinski . . . Joe Sullivan . . . Two guys who do Fucillo ads—total jackasses . . . Rex Smith . . . Al Jurczynski . . . Tom Moore . . . Jerry Jennings . . . R.A. DePrima . . . Sheldon Silver . . . Martin Touhey . . . Crossgates Mall management . . . Andre Ferraro . . . Mike O’Brien . . . Karen Hitchcock . . . the Masucci brothers . . . Rick Fusco . . . the guy who always wants a dollar for pork fried rice on Lark Street . . . Troy Police chief . . . Harry Tuntunjian

Best Person to Run the Capital Region After the Revolution

Tess Collins . . . Scott Ritter . . . Stephen Leon . . . Maude Baum—you can’t fight if you’re busy dancing . . . Dan Lynch . . . Aleph Ashline . . . Mark Mishler . . . Al Quaglieri . . . Sarge Blotto . . . Tom Nattell . . . Eliot Spitzer . . . Alan Chartock . . . Carla Page

Best Kept Secret in the Capital Region

It sometimes gets warm and sunny . . . River Street in Troy . . . good pot . . . APA pool league . . . Hilary is a lesbian . . . mass grave under the concourse . . . WIK the movie . . . the Velmas . . . The Flying Buttresses . . . Saratoga salt baths . . . local music scene . . . Mexican Beauty gift shop

Best Use of Public Funds

Hudson River walkway . . . Albany Schools renovation plan . . . Lark Street renovation . . . Palace renovations . . . streetlights . . . T.R.I.P.

Best Misuse of Public Funds

Lark Street Tree Removal . . . bailing out Troy City Schools, twice . . . Schenectady Police Department . . . EnCon Building . . . mayor’s car—doesn’t he make enough money to buy his own? . . . legislators’ salaries . . . secret tanning . . . Hudson River Walkway . . . TAP

Best Way to Keep People From Leaving the Capital Region

Alcoholism . . . gay marriage made legal . . . good schools, good theater, destroy the malls . . . build a big wall like they did in Berlin . . . I think more women would stay here if there were more cute guys . . . kill them . . . more parking . . . more beer and pretzels . . less depressed/depressing downtown Albany . . . handcuffs . . . better cheese . . . get rid of November through March . . . hide their keys . . . install a beach . . . there is no more we can do, just let them go

Best Job to Have in the Capital Region

Jerry Jennings’ tanning salon owner . . . bar owner . . . state worker . . . security guard at Crossgates . . . bugle player at the Saratoga Racetrack . . . construction worker holding the flag . . . janitor at DiCarlo’s

Best Intersection to Get Hit While You’re Walking

Washington/Western/Central . . . Lark and Madison . . . Lark and Central . . . Broadway and Phila streets in Saratoga . . . State and Pearl . . . S. Manning and New Scotland Avenue . . . Central Avenue at Wolf Road

Best Intersection to Get Hit While You’re Driving

787 at I-90 . . . Everett and Central . . . Lark and Madison . . . Latham Circle . . . Western Avenue and Rte. 155 . . . I-890 and Erie Boulevard . . . Crossgates on-ramp at I-87 . . . Central Avenue at Wolf Road

Best Local Alien in Human Disguise

George E. Pataki . . . Alan Chartock . . . Ed Dague . . . the Hitchhiking Veteran . . . Ken Bruno . . . Rex Smith . . . Jerry Jennings . . . Mike at Metroland . . . Kumi Tucker . . . crazy bus guy (number 12 bus) . . . Stephen Leon . . . Elda Abate . . . R.A. DiPrima . . . Glenn Slingerland

Best Time to Be Had in the Capital Region for Under $10

Indian Ladder apple picking . . . Alive at Five . . . Larkfest . . . Nate Buccieri’s Piano Bar . . . Spectrum 8 movies . . . Fourth of July fireworks . . . gay pride parade . . . Acoustic Trauma house parties . . . your mom . . . Valley Cats game at the Joe . . . carousel in the state museum

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