EW's managing editor talks about the summer of 1991

Summer movies. Summer music. Summer reading. When the promise of free time draws near, every form of entertainment seems to re-create itself and intensify. Pick up a favorite book years later, and the sounds of the beach where you first read it can come roaring back. Hear an old summer song on the radio, and it can transport you to that sultry time when the sound was new. No other season gives us so much desire to immerse ourselves in pop culture, so much entertainment to acquire for future nostalgia, or so many places to enjoy it.

Those places — a quiet country bookstore, a thundering downtown rock club, a theater that’s chilly and dark just when your body cries out for air-conditioning — are what make summer entertainment so memorable. That’s why, in this special double issue of Entertainment Weekly, we’ve departed from our regular format to roam America in search of the hottest entertainment spots. We asked a swimming pool full of experts — best-selling mystery writer Sara Paretsky, infamous DJ Dr. Demento, critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and others — to tell us about their favorite hideaways, from a Felliniesque music hall in Arizona to a dazzling repository of science-fiction books in Oregon. Elsewhere in the issue, our critics offer summer lists of music, books, TV, movies, videos, and kids’ stuff; and a hammockful of actors, musicians, and writers show us their lists of don’t-miss entertainment for this summer.

We hope you’ll enjoy this issue as a rich and varied road map to the treats the summer has to offer. We went looking for the best of America and found it in places we never expected. Here’s hoping your summer yields just as many rewards.