Poem for Leibniz

The Bester Bestestness of This Years Best Of

This is OC Weekly's 10th consecutive Best of OC issue and it comes 296 years after the very first Best of issue was ever published—that was Gottfried Leibniz, who called his Best of the Essais de Théodicée, and it included everything in the entire world because things were that much better in 1710. And when people like Voltaire argued with him, he took the high road and appealed to the same simple sense of testable scientificity that pulled him toward his never-completed Characteristica Universalis—a pictographic language that would truly (not approximately) represent all potential human thought, an obvious inheritor of the medieval green languages—with a representative (and optimistic) quote like this: "When there are disputes among persons, we can simply say: let us calculemus, without further ado, to see who is right."

We took a lesson here at the Weekly: let us calculemus, as well. We took Leibniz's philosophy and reinforced it with Bentham's rigid utilitarian practicality, except instead of using a felicific calculus to decimalize human happiness, we use our own original optimific calculus—the primary difference being that it's much more forgiving for the use of secondary source material, so we don't have to talk to anyone to do it—that specifies the optimalitude of any presented object, concept or human being. Put simply: this year, we came up with an equation to calculate bestestness.

The process? We feed seven variables (intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and extent) and a knot of incoherent detail (from 2005: "Massive amounts of seagull shit push Doheny into the lead . . . ") into the same computer that runs the website search engine and we receive a total; from there, it's simple to direct our staff of slack-jawed factcheckers to arrange items in descending order. The studies of bestestness and happitude are still new disciplines—an April study by the BBC was still limited to whole integer happiness ratings, while here at the Weekly we calculate to the third position—but through them we approach some of the deepest questions of what it means to be human. If we don't know what is best, how can we hope to be happy? Obvious truism: one requires the other.

Illustration by Ben Froehlich
Illustration by Ben Froehlich

Until this year, we've had an imperfect run. Our calculations were absolutely unblinking when it came to determining bestitude, looping in awful things so accomplished and spectacular in their awfulness that they were mathematically the best at what they were, not that anyone could ever derive any sort of constructive happiness from them. Shame, for instance, on: best dump, best gloryholes, best eyesore, best cocaine connection, best sex motel, best place to kill stuff and best place to buy a samurai sword before going on an Irvine grocery store rampage (which was in Stanton). Those were Benthamite errors: all utility, no justice. This year we correct: if we include gloryholes, they are gloryholes that will make you happier than you have ever been. Results the same for sex motels, cocaine connections or venues in which to kill stuff: all not just the clinical best of every option possible in Orange County, but all spiritually and compassionately maximized to improve every moment of the rest of your life. This year we even double correct: for the first time, junior writers were invited to maintain dissenting opinions, instead of blogging them or writing them on toilet tissue and flushing them as is company policy, girding this definitive Best of with an extra band of incontrovertibility. If the calculus was somehow suspect, Rebecca Schoenkopf was titled ultimate arbiter of bestestness because our calculations determined she, herself, was the best of all of us.

And now, after 10 years of flawed but hopeful Best of issues—and almost 300 years after Leibniz quit publishing his own Best ofs—we finally know for certain what is best. Disneyland (ranked number six) is better than the Pageant of the Masters (ranked number 96). In fact, John Wayne's crotch (ranked 91) is better than the Pageant of the Masters. Mamie Van Doren (16) is better than Kobe and Vanessa Bryant (82) and better than a good burger (17), but not by much. A good burger is better than eating a bull dick (69) but eating a bull dick is still better than the Pageant of the Masters. The Ali Baba Motel (10) is better than the Regency Lido Theater (15) and the Librería Martinez (21) and the Orange County Courthouse (44). The UCI Social Science parking structure (58) is better than Roger's Gardens (88), which is not nearly as good as the Olinda Alpha Landfill (65). Some random loudspeaker next to Ruby's in Seal Beach (18) is better than Detroit Bar and the House of Blues Anaheim (19), JC Fandango (80) and Phil Shane (71), who is almost as good as eating a bull dick. In fact, there is no live entertainment option in Orange County better than the Ruby's loudspeaker in Seal Beach. And everything on the list is better than the Rosary for Peace (100) including the bull dick and the landfill and the Pageant of the Masters, though not by much for the Pageant of the Masters. And everything else in the county that didn't make the list is worse than peace and a bull dick and a landfill put together. It's almost a relief how right these numbers feel—when we started sorting through the long strings of computer printout, we found ourselves growing happier and happier, and that's how we knew we'd finally done it. This decade-mark Best of is the best Best of there will ever be. Quae nocent docent, as it goes: none will ever be bester.

 
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