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Debriefer: April 8, 2015 

Did 'Men's Journal' forget to visit two of its 'Best Places to Live'?

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There are generally two reactions when a national publication puts your town on one of those "Best Places to Live" lists. One is, "Hey cool, we're No. 7!" or whatever the arbitrary ranking is. The other is, "Look at what the funny writer thinks is cool about our town. They don't get it."

My reaction to Men's Journal's inclusion of Sebastopol and Healdsburg in its current "50 Best Places to Live" issue was a mixture of both.

I love my adopted hometown of Sebastopol and wonder why everybody doesn't sing its praises. Small-town vibe, good food and drink, close to the ocean and mountains, nice weather, the sound of croaking frogs at night, farm stands, progressive politics—what else could you want? Healdsburg is pretty great too. But I get the feeling that Men's Journal writers didn't actually visits either of these towns.

In the blurb on Sebastopol, they write, "The Bay Area's laid-back ethos endures in this town of 7,600." A bit cliche, but OK. But then it states the city is "set against the Sonoma County foothills." Not really. I'd put the county's foothills below Sonoma Mountain in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. It goes on to say, "Because it's home to businesses like Make magazine and computer-book publisher O'Reilly Media, you don't have to abandon the tech world to live here." Oops. Make pulled up stakes for San Francisco last year.

As for Healdsburg, the city is listed as one of the top five places to live if you live to eat. True enough. But they lose me when they praise the "seasonal 11-course tasting menu at Single Thread Farms."

The restaurant isn't open yet.

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