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150. Best Artistic Henna Painting in Fez—Morocco
We quickly became addicted to the rose water lavishly sprinkled around La Maison Bleue and to the intoxicating fragrances of cumin and cinnamon wafting through the spice souk.  At the modest Herboriste Ibn SINA, we indulged in tiny bottles of Moroccan rose oil,  as well as dark powdered kohl to line the eyes, chunks of  musk and amber to scent the linen closet, and spicy cardamom pods for cooking.  (We skipped the herbs for black and white magic.)  In the meantime, Khalid was deftly painting mystical Berber henna patterns on the back of our daughter's hand.  "Henna is from heaven," he murmured, leaving the price for this service to our discretion.  Was it our imagination, or did the swirling crowds in the street part magically, whispering “Henna!” as we  passed by? Contact:  Herboriste Ibn SINA, 6 Fondouk Lihoudi, Derb Zaouia, Fez, Morocco.  Telephone:  212/55-63-74-17.

149. Best Antique Shops in Fez—Morocco
Here are three we liked:

a. The sales pitch was brash, and it was no surprise to learn that L'Art Islamique sends a caravan to New York and Santa Fe each year.  But owner Ben Jelloun has filled the shop with handsome Berber silver and coral jewelry, magnificent painted doors and architectural pieces, old bowls, and antique bronze lanterns, one of which found its way to our door, safely, just three and a half weeks after we bought it. Contact:  L'Art Islamique, 36 Derb Touil, Fez, Morocco.  Telephone/fax: 212/55-74-12-04. Website:

b. We were eager to find black-and-white calligraphic tiles similar to those that traverse the walls of the Attarine medersa.  Our guide discovered a lovely group of 18th century tiles with flourishes and stylized flowers at Antiquite Nejjarine, a tiny shop stuffed floor to ceiling with alluring treasures.  Bargaining took place in English, French and Arabic, an intensely amusing and satisfying process for the three gentlemen involved.  Even as we were leaving, they were draping us with beautiful old Moroccan wedding belts and explaining how we could more easily find our way with the aid of some well-priced bronze navigational instruments.   Contact: Antiquite Nejjarine, 3 Place Nejjarine, V. A., Fez, Morocco. Telephone:  212/55-63-35-05.

c. With three floors of very desirable objets, Art et Antiquites de Fes (a.k.a. Aux Merveilles de Fes) can be daunting.  As the lights flick on in darkened rooms, old bronze lanterns with colored glass, geometrically patterned bowls, painted doors and cupboards, Berber jewelry, and curved scimitars are revealed.  We also admired dark Syrian chairs and tables intricately inlaid with mother of pearl.  Contact:  Art et Antiquites de Fez, 11 Rue Rahabt el Kaiss, Fez Morocco.  Telephone: 212/ 55-63-35-32. Fax: 212/ 55-63-76-44.

148. Best Small, Elegant Hotel in FezMorocco
To arrive at La Maison Bleue, bleary-eyed after a ten-hour trip from New York, is to feel as though one has stumbled into a seductive Arabian Nights dream.  Outside there is the heat, the exhaust fumes, and the cacophony of Fez.  Inside, there is coolness and serenity.  A massive carved cedar door opens: You enter an intricately tiled, glass-roofed atrium and sink into sumptuous brocade cushions.  As Andalusian music watts from a velvet-curtained alcove and a fountain burbles, you are offered a steaming glass of fragrant mint tea.  You are grateful--and very, very happy.  For more on La Maison Bleue, please click here.  Contact: La Maison Bleue, 2 Place de L'Istiqlal, Batha 30000, Fez, Morocco.  Telephone: 212-55-63-60-52.  Tel/Fax: 212-74-18-43 or 55-74-06-86.  Website:

147. Best Large Luxury Hotel in FezMorocco
Built in 1879 by the Grand Vizir to Sultan Moulay Hassan I, the famed Palais Jamais has been favored by discerning travelers since it became a hotel in the 1930s.  The Moorish-style palace and its lovely Andalusian gardens were the setting for Paul Bowles' novel, The Spider's House, which chronicled the fall of the French Protectorate in Fez in the 1950s.  A recent, rather slick renovation by Sofitel, the French hotel chain, has left intact much of the beautiful green and blue zellij, carved plaster and painted beams, although one suspects that the glitzy lobby, populated by American and British tour groups, might be a recent addition.

What we enjoyed: a quiet, late-afternoon meal on the terrace overlooking the tranquil swimming pool.  It's hard to find a light lunch in Fez, so we were pleasantly surprised to discover a menu offering club sandwiches and orange sorbet.  Rose petals floated in a nearby fountain, and beyond we could see the rooftops of the medina.  It was completely tranquil, a world away from the clamor and hustle of Fez.  What we did not enjoy: service that was ineffective.  The management was incapable of engaging a taxi one afternoon, and after waiting 45 minutes we finally walked out of the front door and snagged one that was disgorging passengers in the front of the hotel.  Standard rooms are attractive; the best have small balconies with views of the medina.  Contact: Palais Jamais, Bab Guissa, 30000, Fez, Morocco. Telephone: 212-55-63-43-31.  Fax: 212-55-63-50-96.  Website:

146. Best Lunch in the Fez MedinaMorocco
We loved Restaurant Asmae.  As we collapsed into soft brocade cushions in a tented alcove and gazed up at the beautifully painted ceiling hung with antique lanterns, our waiter arranged before us sixteen plates of delicious Moroccan salads, a virtual lexicon of these room temperature appetizers, including zucchini with honey and a superb harissa (hot sauce).  These were followed by a savory vegetable cous-cous, and our favorite Moroccan dessert, oranges macerated in sugar with cinnamon and mint.  By now we were reeling, but were still able to enjoy a post prandial conversation with the sleepy-eyed owner: "America.  Everybody works, everybody is busy.   Busy...busy...busy...."  Contact: Restaurant Asmae, 4 Derb Jeniara, Fez Medina.  Telephone: 55-741-210.  Fax: 55-633-624.

145. Best Pizza Restaurant in FezMorocco
One evening we hopped into a petit taxi and went to the popular Chez Vittorio where we discovered a less traditional side of Fez.  Here the small tables were packed with well-to-do Fassi families who live in the villas and apartments of the Ville Nouvelle.  Unlike the medina where many, if not most, men and women wear traditional djellabas on the street, the men were attired in business suits, the women in chic slacks and jackets, with lots of gold jewelry and usually with two or three adorable children in tow.  The tasty, thin-crusted pizzas Margarita, slightly charred around the edges, are the big sellers here, as is the chocolate mousse.  Contact: Chez Vittorio, 21 Rue Brahim-Redani, Fez.  Telephone: 55-62-47-30.

144. Best Morrocan Travel Agency
Sarah Tours, which specializes in travel to Morocco and Spain, planned our trip.  The owner, Hamid Mernissi, is from Fez, and it was his excellent suggestion that we stay at La Maison Bleue.  Although some of the details seemed a little iffy before we left, he promised, "You will be just like princesses in Morocco."  And, in fact, he was right.  We had a superb guide in Fez, reliable and courteous drivers with Mercedes for trips to the surrounding countryside, and great flexibility when we changed parts of our itinerary at the last minute.  The agency, which has an office in Fez, also offers group tours to the World Sacred Music Festival and such events as the Imilchil Betrothal Festival.  Contact: Sarah Tours, 1803 Belle View Boulevard, Suite 1-A, Alexandria, VA 22307.  Telephone: 800-267-0036.  Fax: 703-765-7809.   Website:

143. Best High-Wire Act
No longer, unfortunately.  Harold Davis--a.k.a. the Great Alzana--died on February 16 in Sarasota.  But at least this daredevil, whom we never knew about, died of old age.   His "tricks were so dangerous that New York State passed a law to keep him from working without a net...."  He "broke arms, legs, ribs, head and ankles, as well as his back twice."  Once a coal miner, he thought he was safer way above ground.  "John Ringling North ... called him the greatest and most foolhardy, high-wire artist who ever lived."  See The New York Times, March 18, 2001, p. 29.

142.Best Baby Danish
We've almost missed the plane from New York City once or twice.  That's because we just have to stop at William Greenberg Jr.'s place to pick up baby danish, which outshine their larger rivals just as calves' liver puts beef liver to shame.  Naturally, you won't get out of the shop without a pound of mixed cookies and a brownie or two for the trip home.  110 Madison Avenue, New York, New York.  Telephone: 212-744-0304 or 212-861-1340.  Website:

141. Best English Muffin
We try them all, but the old guy is the best.  It can even be had cheaply at Sam's Club.  Thomas' English Muffin dates back to the 19th century, when Samuel Bath Thomas of Plymouth, England opened up a shop on New York City's 9th Avenue, a street that still harbors great fruit and vegetable stands and which is, of course, the home of the six-foot hero.  All good things came to an end in 1970 when S.D. Thomas was acquired by Corn  Products, later called Bestfoods, which has done all sorts of bad line extensions that don't measure up to the muffin.  And now another whale--Unilever--has swallowed Bestfoods.  Mascohists, we have tried all the regional muffins in such places as Kansas City and new-cuisine, overblown ones in San Francisco.  Needless to say, they're no darn good.  See

140. J. Richard Harris' Wine Vintage Chart  (Update of entry #9)
Most wine charts don't work, especially the ones in major publications which have simplistic 1-10 grading scales.  Who would have thought that a charming Canadian oil consultant would have the right stuff, but he does.  In fact, we've used Mr. J. Richard Harris' chart for at least 10 years.  He's at #820, 717 7th Avenue S.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2P OZ3. Telephone: 403-269-3132. 

139. Best Old-Economy Seafood in the Financial District of San Francisco
Neither the food nor the atmosphere at Sam's Grill is Nuevo California, but Sam's does boast the old hearty fare you used to find around town.   Probably, if you haven't been before, you should have the sand dabs and a martini.  According to the menu,the establishment dates back to 1867, which is pretty old for California.  The patrons are still proud of their guts and their boisterous laughs.  Better for lunch than dinner.  Sam's Grill.  374 Bush St.  GA-1-0594.  Email:

door opens: You enter an intricately tiled, glass-roofed atrium and sink into sumptuous brocade cushions.  As Andalusian music watts from a velvet-curtained alcove and

138. Best Flack Job 2001
We don't know who did the publicity work, but they deserve high honors.  Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Lauren Hillenbrand has gotten every review that matters, including high marks from Michiko Kakutani, surely one of the better critics at the Times.  Of course, Seabiscuit was one of the most successful race horses in history and got more coverage in his racing days than several world figures of the late 1930s.  We promise to take a look at the book and will be waiting for a remake of the Seabiscuit story without Shirley Temple.

137. Best Mexican Restaurant with a Party Atmosphere in San Antonio
It's fiesta time all the time at Pico de Gallo.  You can get better food at half a dozen other spots, but for fun, nothing beats the atmosphere at this popular West Side restaurant.  Strolling mariachis (musicians) with guitars and horns wail "Guantanmera," the walls vibrate with color (pink, yellow, lavender) and even the gaily painted ceiling fans flash with sparkly "jewels."  Don't miss the carved wood bar as you enter: adorned with roosters and tequila maidens emerging from agave plants, it's quintessential Tex Mex kitsch.  The crowd is lively, the margaritas are cold, and the service is friendly and efficient.  But think twice about coming on Saturday night, when the parking lot can get rowdy.  Contact: Pico de Gallo, 111 S. Leone, San Antonio, Texas.  Telephone: 210-225-6060.

136. Best Latin American Art Collection in San Antonio
Nelson Rockefeller first visited Mexico in 1933.  He fell in love with the country's whimsical folk art and, over the next 40 years, amassed a stunning collection of 2,500 pieces.  In 1984, his family gave his holdings to the San Antonio Museum of Art, where today it forms the core of an 8,000-piece permanent exhibit of Latin American art housed in its own 30,000 square-foot wing.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art spans many centuries, from the pre-Columbian period to the Spanish Colonial and contemporary eras.   Its  treasures are so rich and so varied that only a fraction is on view at any time.  Highlights include a beautiful Mexican tile arch that was once the entrance gate to a San Antonio estate, a magnificent 16th-century Mixtec mask inlaid with turquoise and mother-of-pearl, and paintings by Diego Rivera, Frieda Khalo and Rufino Tamayo.  But the pieces that tug at the heart are those created by folk artists for ordinary people to use in their daily and ceremonial lives: a toy airplane, an earthenware platter depicting a young girl and a rose, dancing skeletons from a Day of the Dead scene.   Rockefeller and others whose works make up this collection had it right, finding beauty and joy in quotidian objects.  Contact: Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art, The San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Street, San Antonio, Texas, 78215.   Telephone: 210-978-8100.  Website:

135. Best San Antonio Visionary Garden
As you wander through native plantings and traditional rose and herb gardens at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, you reach a grassy lawn bordered with colorful annuals.  Then the surprise: across the lawn rise the futuristic glass and steel pyramids of the Lucille Halsell Conservatories.  Designed by Argentinean architect Emilio Ambasz, these striking glass houses were built to hold different plant species from around the world, each in its own self-contained microclimate.  To escape the scorching South Texas sun, each "room" is at least partly buried in the earth; light streams in from the glass overhead, and windows open and close hydraulically to let air in.  In the Epiphyte Display, fog enshrouds bromeliads and orchids clinging to mossy rocks and the trunks of fallen trees, while in the Desert Pavilion, warm, dry air creates the right environment for golden barrel cactus and other hot-climate succulents.  The soaring Palm House features a dramatic stroll past prehistoric cycads and then, by way of a catwalk, through the tops of two-story palms.  What a shame that city politics have curtailed funding for this visionary garden.  Contact: San Antonio Botanical Gardens, 555 Funston Place, San Antonio, Texas 78209.   Telephone: 210-207-3250.  Website:   (To see pictures of the plants, though not the conservatory itself, click on "Take me to..." at the top of the home page and then select Lucille Halsell Conservatories.)

134. Best History Books for Children
The forces of political correctness, along with the dumbing down of education in America, have contrived to make history (a.k.a. social studies) one of the least appealing subjects for elementary and middle-school children.  Parents can counter the eye-glazing, yawn-making textbooks that most schools use by introducing their youngsters to the very funny, wildly irreverent Horrible Histories by British author Terry Deary.   The twenty or so books--from The Groovy Greeks to The Blitzed Brits--are jampacked with the kind of grisly details, obnoxious cartoons and strange-but-true facts that other history books for kids leave out.  In the publisher's words, "this is history with all the nasty bits left in."

The series (which has sold 2.5 million copies in the UK) has turned one 12-year-old we know into a late-night reader who regularly promises (and fails) to turn his light out in "just a few more minutes."  He says, "Terry Deary proves to you that there were a lot of grim and gruesome things that went on, and he tells you all about them."  Dates and major events are clearly presented, but you also learn, in The Frightful First World War, that troublesome German recruits were made "to scrub out the corporals' room with a toothbrush" and that the way to survive a poison gas attack was to breath through urine-soaked handkerchief.  Lots of fun quizzes and silly cartoons by illustrator Martin Brown round out the offerings in each book.  A few Horrible Histories can be found at and at; the best selection can be found at bookstores in the UK, including those at Heathrow.  For more on Terry Deary and Martin Brown, click here.

133. Best New (Esoteric) Book About Tea
With rare exceptions, most books about tea are really about the scones, the clotted cream and a nostalgic longing for a leisurely afternoon ritual that no longer pertains to modern life, even in England.  (James Norwood Pratt’s A Tea Lover's Treasury is a notable exception.)  This is one reason why discovering The Time of Tea was such a pleasure.  First published in Paris, the book is actually a pair of volumes:   one of photographs of the tea ritual in Japan, China, Sikkim, France, amongst the Tuaregs in the Sahara, and yes, in England; and the other of short, provocative “thoughts” about the true nature of tea and the places it comes from.

As authors Bruno Suet and Dominique Pasqualini see it, the story of tea in the West is inextricably bound up with colonialism and the exploitation of the East.  (The black China teas we drink are said to have been invented by a merchant who smoked rotting leaves to sell to foreigners.)  This political interpretation may not go down well with your Earl Grey, but the book can be read simply for its wealth of information about this ancient beverage.  For instance, there is the tale of the “legendary Wulong tea, 'Red Robe',"  the product of  “a few centenarian tea plants” grown in a secret mountain location in China.  In 1998 in Fujian province, one kilo was auctioned for $900,000.  We always knew we weren’t getting the best.   To order the book, contact, which also sells superb teas.  (See Best of Class #58.)

132. Best Red Rose Courtier of 2001
The British actor Michael Williams, husband of the British actress Dame Judi Dench, died of lung cancer on January 11.  Married fondly for some thirty years, he sought her hand for a decade until she agreed to tie the knot.  "We were walking down the road in Battersea and it happened to be raining, so I asked her again, and this time she agreed."  He "so adored her that he had a single red rose delivered to her every Friday, no matter where in the world she was."  See New York Times, January 20, 2001, p. A35.

131. Best 2000 Greeting Card
The Houston designer Jerry Herring does the best promotion pieces in the graphic design business, because he never promotes much.  He just tells good stories about wine, or episodes in his career, or other charming interludes.  This year he does "Home Cook'n," a holiday season story.  "Every Christmas we share short pieces of fiction with our clients and friends.  Although I did lose my mother this past year, this piece is based on my recollections of every mom I've ever sat down to eat with."   See Herring at

130. Best 50th Anniversary Present
Ann gave it to Dr. Ed.  A trip to the Ice Palace, known as the Ice Hotel. He reports: "It is really a tour-de-force, and altogether another world.  The bar is a dead ringer for the Star Wars Bar -- strangely dressed people doing strange things but all having a grand time.  ...  The clientele is very international--Japanese, Swedish, British, and U.S., of course."  There's a knock-off of this in Quebec, if you can't get yourself to Sweden.  See  Make sure you bring home an ice glass "of the purest River Torne ice."  Dr. Ed, incidentally, is Dr. Ed David, former executive director of Bell Labs and one-time Presidential Science Advisor."

129. Best Experimental Roofing Material
A grass and wildflower meadow on your rooftop?  Frank Lloyd Wright would have approved.  David Beattie, Associate Professor of Ornamental Horticulture at Penn State University, has teamed up with business executive David Maravich to develop green rooftops with living plants.  As reported by Tom Gibbin the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the growing medium is expanded polypropylene, an "impact absorbent" used by automobile manufacturers to cushion a vehicle's bumpers.  This version, which is intended to replace standard roofing material, is lightweight, durable and highly porous, with plenty of holes that will allow water to percolate and also hold planting material in place.  Alas, being environmentally friendly doesn't come cheap: one roofer estimates that a green roof will cost $8-12 per square foot, as compared with $3-6 for a more conventional approach.

Moreover, the concept will only work on flat roofs.  And what about mowing and replacing dead plants?  Beattie plans to investigate these issues when he creates a green roof for a Penn State root cellar next year.  Already, though, there are converts: The Gap headquarters in San Bernadino, California has a vegetative rooftop, as does the city hall in Chicago--20,000 square feet to be exact.   Green rooftops may still be experimental, but if they do take off, we foresee a whole new market niche for landscapers: rooftop blow and go.

128. Lowe Bow Full of Chagrin
Christine and Tracy Blake of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, have taken over Lowe Bow.  So, for you bow tie aficionados, lo and behold, the address is P.O. Box 728, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, 44022.  Telephone: 440-247-6348.  See entry #1 to learn more about the Lowe Bow tradition.

127. Most Useful Libraries
See "Singapore Turns a New Leaf on Libraries," Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2001, p.B5B.  It has spent $577.5 million hot-wiring its libraries in useful ways for its citizens.  "Singapore's libraries lend out more books (27.4 million in l999, more than double the number than in 1994) than any other city in the world."  The libraries are viewed broadly as community centers, not book repositories.

126. Best and Biggest Lists
We're coming across more best and biggest lists, some of which even promise to be helpful.   As you know, there has been a lot of emphasis on finding the best prices for things on the Internet, rather than attending to quality.  We hope that, in time, the quality gap will be closed so that we can begin to find, on a worldwide basis, the mostus for the leastus.  For now we think these rankings will help.  We expect eventually there will be a worthwhile Michelin for everything--not just restaurants in France.

p. Turner's Bests.  Bill Turner, a programmer for Yahoo, has put up these book, movie, and music best lists.  In each of the 3 areas, he has put up 20 or so best lists—Random House on books, the Grammies, etc.  Some lists are even valuable:  the Newberry Awards tell you pretty good books to get your youngsters.  Probably the film list can help you if you are off to the video store and you are not sure what you want to watch tonight.  These lists  are not  refined, but you may pick up a few ideas when you are trying to break out of a rut.  See

o. Country Rankings is moving to become the champion of the country rankers, looking at a wide number of variables and also allowing one to group countries in all sorts of ways for comparison.

n. How Countries Stack Up.  Professor Suzuki at the European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics, has patched together these rankings of all the major European and Asian countries, but including a few small countries at the margin.  He ranges over education, health, economics, etc., with subcategories on a host of factors.  You will find much of what you expect—the United States ranks high in terms of the percentage of the population that has completed secondary education, but low on scientific, reading, and mathematical literacy, from which we might infer that our schools may not be too effective.  But there are surprises—who knew that Luxembourg had such a high density of mobile phones?   See

m. Ranking Economic Freedom.  The Fraser Institute, up in Vancouver ( ranks the nations of the world every year through the prism of laissez-faire market orthodoxy.  It's not clear that more freedom, thus defined, buys you a better economy, but this exercise does tell you a few things.  City states (Hong Kong is #1 and Singapore #2) have a large stake in free markets, without which they cannot exist.  You want to watch out for nations where freedom has plummeted over the last thirty years, such as Germany, Belgium, and Central American countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.  Spectacular improvements in some -- Chile, Bolivia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and a few others -- merit attention by investors.

l. Ranking the States and Provinces.  Fiscal Performance Index 2001.  This is how you learn whether your state (or province) is fiscally responsible--or not.  Massachusetts, Nevada, Ontario, and Texas get high marks for controlling spending and taxes.  Oregon and California are at the bottom of the totem pole.  We were surprised that North Carolina came in at number 38 out of 54, all contributing to its current fiscal jam and slowing economy.

k. Root Beers Taste-Off.  Matt Bergstrom--don't know the man--offers here the Great American Root Beer Showdown.  Boylan's, of ginger ale fame, has a lot of winners, including this site's top-rated root beer at 4.50 points.  IBC, our favorite thirteen years ago, is damned with faint praise, but still gets a high 3.46 rating.  In general, the Midwest seems to produce the most winners.  We need a sociologist to tell us why the cornbelt is so rooted.

j. The Hundred Funniest Movies.   This list proves that rankings should never be calculated by self-interested insiders.  Asking 1500 Hollywood types to rate movies is like having financial analysts rate stocks. The list may be starry-eyed but it is not stellar.  Airplane and Young Frankenstein had their many moments, but they are simply not all-time funnies.  From our biased point of view, The Thin Man movies and Raising Arizona should have been much closer to the top.  But whatdya gonna do?   See  

i. 2000CPI.  Not the Consumer Price Index, but rather the Corruptions Perceptions Index of Transparency International.  Finland is the best and Nigeria is the worst--not too many surprises there.  Nevertheless, there are a few surprises elsewhere, with Mexico, China, and Argentina one-half to two-thirds of the way down the list, behind some magnificently corrupt countries.  Go to and click on 2000 Index.  (Update: The 2001CPI is now available at

h. Top 100 Books in Libraries.  There are too many management-genre books here, which makes us fear for our librarians.  Naisbitt makes it twice.  Peters is all over the place, and so is Bob Woodward.  Conclusion: libraries, like our intellectuals, are largely prisoners of the present.  See

g. Top Thirty ArtistsArtcyclopedia, which tracks 7,000 artists, tells us who is hot now by seeing which artist gets the most visits on its website.  You can also see which posters are selling well, which may be more important.  For the popularity stats, see

f. Ranking the Presidents.  78 imaginative academics were polled for this survey of the Federalist Society and the Wall Street Journal.  Washington is #1, Lincoln #2, and FDR #3.  See  

e. Ranking Marketing Journals.  But by academics, so don't necessarily rush to look at this site.

d.  Supercomputers.  Go to  This rates computers by GFlops and shows you who owns them.

c. Looking at websites.  Be careful of, since Gomez is a website consultant.   If the truth be known, there are probably only fifty good websites around, but these fellows would have you believe they are breaking out all over.  While this guide will not really help you find quality sites, it will help you build a better site by showing you what's judged to be acceptable now.

b.  Decorators and such in New York City.   See The Franklin Report (, which has already created waves among interior decorators and home craftsmen in Manhattan.   Like the Zagats (lawyers in their other lives), whose guides on restaurants now cover the nation, Ms. Franklin is an emigre from investing banking, I believe, who also uses a consumer-report approach to weed out shoddy craftsmanship and overcharging in the home trades.  If students at some universities can rate their professors, why can't we rate every profession and trade, since licensing bodies have proved totally derelict in carrying out this kind of task?

a.  Decent toilets.  See, which now covers twelve major U.S. cities as compiled by David Vogue from New York City.  How vital this is!  In New York, many of the great bathrooms of the past have disappeared.  Philip Morris has displaced the old East Side Air Terminal--always a good stop in an  emergency.   The showers of Grand Central, where New Yorkers could primp for job interviews,   have gone the way of all good things.  Incidentally, we recommend the Crescent (Hotel) in Dallas.

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