December 25, 2003 - VOL. 13, NO. 15

Dear Stranger readers: It is with both joy and sorrow--but mostly joy--that I announce the end of my tenure as Stranger ombudsman. Next week's installment of The Stranger will contain my "yearly wrap-up" of the paper's blunders and poor judgment, and following said wrap-up I will move on to decidedly more pleasant endeavors. Why am I resigning? Because poring through The Stranger's pages each and every week is a rather soul-crushing affair (as I'm sure most of you fully realize), and I quite frankly no longer have the spirit to do it. Just who The Stranger will hire to replace me remains a mystery--but given Dan Savage's disdain for both me and my work these past two years, I wouldn't be surprised if the job of ombudsman disappears from the paper altogether. Cowardice is, after all, one of The Stranger's mottoes, and it is a motto the paper more than lives up to every week. In closing, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to every flustered and/or flabbergasted Stranger reader who has sent me a message these past two years either complaining about the paper or giving me kind words about my efforts. I would also like to offer some advice that every Stranger reader should keep in mind: There is a far better alternative to The Stranger right under your noses, and that alternative is the Seattle Weekly.

God bless you, and God bless America,

A. Birch Steen