The first time I saw the ballot for Best of Penn '07, the nominations sent me in a tizzy. That Econ professor earns a nod for "allegedly" bludgeoning his wife to death? Philly Diner gets two while that vagina girl on YouTube (Whatsername Lamb?) just one? And 34th Street nominates itself as a "loved (but really hated) subculture"? C'mon. No one hates Street.

While voting, however, such useless bitching seemed to overlook the flock for the Lamb (did I just write that?). Like those lying peewee soccer coaches would say, it's not about winning or losing (or in my case making the team). Best of Penn is about a) generating ad revenue for the DP and b) forming a customizable memory bank for students. Let's focus on the latter.

I caught myself cut-and-pasting memories between fields as I went through. Take PNC Bank, Moravian Caf‚ and Wawa, nominees in three consecutive categories. During my first day at Penn, back 'round about '03, my parents and I set up a PNC account and then ate lunch at Moravian v1.0. That night I grabbed a Wawa hoagie and returned to the double I shared with a stranger from some frontier outpost called "East Grand Rapids."

It's that expansive context that, to an achy schmuck like me, adds weight to the issue each year. The nominees are less competing than arranging themselves into a hi-res image of life at Penn - each of them subject to one's particular whims. Green Line Caf‚/Clark Park, for example, isn't always my "Best Place to Escape Penn" (right now it's prescription drugs), but it's tethered to one unforgettable day. This past June, I came up for a Radiohead concert in Upper Darby. Having an afternoon to kill, I bought coffee at Green Line and read under a tree in Clark Park. The 95-degree heat put me to sleep; I awoke to a man curiously poking me with a stick. Later that night Radiohead fleshed out a laser-lit "Idioteque." What a wonderful day, what an easy vote, and I own it.

As you're scanning through the winners, shunt aside your bah-humbugs and ride that wave of nostalgia. Penn really is the best, or so says the view from my glass house. I hope your perspective presents things as optimistically as mine. Bitching about Penn - sheesh, what a waste of time.


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