In a surprise upset, the City of San Diego took second place in this year's City Costume Contest, an annual nationwide affair judged by the editors of Forbes Magazine. San Diego's costume, "Major City," narrowly edged out Los Angeles's "Dream Factory" and New York's "Cultural Capitol" for the #2 spot, though it didn't even come close to dethroning perennial champion Detroit, which won again as "Habitable Environment."
"Detroit will probably win as long as people live there, just because of the sheer moxie," read the judges' report in the November Forbes. "But San Diego put in a major effort in 2014. Really, 'Major City' was a masterpiece of subtle distraction. In real life, the city's daily newspaper is a joke, the mayor is a hand puppet, the government exists to serve the government and maybe also its donors, the police force is demoralized and underfunded, the trees are dying, the water-management plan is written on wet tissue paper, the cost of living is having its way with the average income, housing prices are a bad joke, and as far as the arts go, it's a great place to be from. Even the weather is tanking — hot and humid in October? But the costume managed to obscure these flaws, leaving our judges with a pleasant, contented feeling and a sense that things couldn't possibly be as bad as all that. Rather than any grand, eye-catching display, the costume worked by concentrating on tiny details: a lovely front-yard garden, a great food truck, a fun day at the beach. You get enough little elements right, and the overall effect can be pretty powerful. Kudos."