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In these days of intuitive apps and crowd-sourced solutions, there's something touchingly archaic about the long-lost user's guide, that dense manual once bundled along with your new car or stereo or NES cartridge, the one that explained — often through pictograms of emotionless naïfs — how to use the seat belt or wire the speakers or liberate the princess. Thing is, now that the user's guide is dead, we plunge into every experience trusting that we'll sort out everything we need to know. We miss some of the nuances of an exhaustive manual, the little ah-ha! features that you might not have caught if you hadn't thumbed through the manual as you waited for your toast to brown.

This year we thought we would apply that old, exhaustive spirit to the city we love. Our Best of San Francisco issue is, as always, an overstuffed celebration of all the joys of life here in America's last, best city, and we've crammed in the dives and the divas, the boutiques and beer bars, the entertainers (professional) and the entertainers (politicos), and all the artists, parklets, vistas, innovators, and only-by-the-bay glory and weirdness we could. This year we've also endeavored to point out some of those ah-ha! features: Ever wanted to sneak your own beer into a Giants game? It's in here. Ever meant to work the ferry into your commute? Here's how. Ever wanted to know what the deal is with all those happy dancing folks on KOFY's retro '80s Dance Party? They're in here, along with how you can join them.

No magazine issue could ever contain all that San Francisco offers, of course. But, as always, it's an honor to present all these things that we love about the city. It might not quite be an exhaustive user's guide like back in the day, but it is a guide to how we live here now, one we hope has an ah-ha! or two for you.



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Best Of Award Graphics 2012

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