CONVENTION: Awards Lunch is All in the (AAN) Family

The answer? New Orleans. The questions came from former Gambit Weekly editor Michael Tisserand, who emceed an unusually sober AltWeekly Awards lunch Friday afternoon. “When I got the call to host this year’s awards, my first thought was, ‘Is AAN in so much financial trouble that they can no longer afford Dan Savage’s speaker fees?'” said Tisserand, fully clothed in the tux Gambit publisher Margo DuBos bought him when he started with the paper about eight years ago. “This is like a make-a-wish moment for me,” he said of the opportunity to crack jokes in front of a crowd while sporting his purple and pink polka-dotted bowtie. Tisserand’s more sincere comments came a little later when he thanked the association’s members for their support after Hurricane Katrina scattered some Gambit staffers across the globe and left others to piece life back together in New Orleans. “I always believed AAN was a family, but only in that harbors-longstanding-grudges-that-would-make-no-sense-to-an-outsider kind of way,” said Tisserand, who had sold his New Orleans home two days earlier and stopped in Little Rock en route to his new home in Evanston, Ill. “When you helped remove financial worries for Gambit employees during the profoundly unsettling weeks right after the flood, you truly lived up to Robert Frost’s definition of home – that when you have to go there, they have to take you in. Thank you.” To show his gratitude, Tisserand offered Mardi Gras beads, fried peach pies from Hubig’s, a six-pack of Abita Restoration Ale and “Make Levees not War” stickers to those who jumped in quickest with answers to his brain-crunching trivia questions. And although the luncheon ensued sans stripteases or sneaker shots this year, there were at least a couple tawdry moments — like the flash of a busty pink puppet who appeared topless on an award-winning cover for Las Vegas Weekly. “I know I’m going to have a bad dream about that one tonight,” Tisserand said. In the, ahem, flesh, Byron Beck of Willamette Week and Cary Stemle of Louisville Eccentric Observer also bared their chests, sporting only suit coats and borrowed bowties. Their walk-on roles, an opportunity declined by several other editors, came with only a little arm-twisting from Tisserand. “Now he owes me big time,” Stemle said after recovering from his bare-chested exploit. “This is why I went into print — so I wouldn’t have to do this.” For the complete list of winners, click here.

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