Note: This letter from the publisher is, in large part, referring to the printed version of Metro Weekly magazine.
The year was 1997. The month, December. The art director had just returned from a relaxing vacation. The editor arrived at her door with an armload of about 300 photographs depicting special moments from the year just passed. The editor argued how fabulous it would be if the upcoming issue was filled with nothing but a selection of these pictures. The art director spent the next 24 hours frantically scanning, prepping and laying out pages upon pages of photographs.
The deadline was met. An annual tradition was born. And the art director resigned shortly thereafter.
I used to joke that ''The Year in Pictures'' was our art-director killer, that it was the issue that sent them over the edge. But in truth, we've only had two art directors since that first resignation. The latest, Tony Frye, has stuck around for seven of these puppies. Either he enjoys the punishment or he's gotten used to it.
Admittedly, creating ''The Year in Pictures'' has in some ways gotten easier. A few years ago, we went completely digital -- no more disorganized jumbles of prints, no more scanning. On the other hand, since going digital, the number of options from which we have to choose has increased from a couple thousand to well-over 10,000. (We take more than 3,000 pictures during Capital Pride alone.) Using a top-secret, patented process that, if used incorrectly, causes one's eyes to permanently cross, we significantly trim that number down. The 10,000 become 6,000 become 2,000 become the final 300, which represent a mere fraction of the community events, bars and clubs Metro Weekly covers on a weekly basis in our Scene pages.
This year we've consolidated a few of our categories, combining all manner of community events and fundraisers into one large eight-page run. Ditto for the bars and clubs -- nightlife is nightlife, after all, regardless if you're sitting on the corner stool at JR.'s or dancing up a sweat at Apex or enjoying a game of pool at the Eagle (smoke those cigars while you can, men).
And speaking of nightlife in this city, we thought it fitting to pay tribute to Lizard Lounge, VelvetNation, Wet and Ziegfeld's with a section all their own. They're the four longtime nightlife destinations we have lost in the past year. Lizard shuttered voluntarily in response to the city's new no-smoking rule. The rest were victims of the city's imperial insistence on having a baseball stadium. You'll find shots from their final nights (and more) on Page 70 under the heading ''Parting Glances.''
A word of acknowledgement to our hard-working, shutter-crazed Scene photographers Henry Linser and Ward Morrison, both of whom tirelessly cover all aspects of the community. Without them, your smiles would go un-Scene. And thanks as well to our photography director, Todd Franson, who has designed a system that keeps our terabytes of digital photographs organized and accessible.
Finally, when you're done with the issue, be sure to visit our Web site, www.metroweekly.com, where Web Maestro David Uy has archived the past year's pictures by event or nightspot in an easy to use, month-by-month format. It's there that the sheer magnitude of Henry and Ward's work becomes truly apparent.
''The Year in Pictures'' issue is designed to be a yearbook of sorts, a means of sparking your memory and, in the process, triggering a smile.
Enjoy the photos. See you in 2007.