Having witnessed, over the years, an alarming number of notable writers who are willing to tarnish their names by writing for The Stranger, I've often wondered whether the editors of this publication have a file—à la J. Edgar Hoover—containing incriminating evidence with which to blackmail normally respectable scribes. How else can one explain the parade of big names who have stepped up to commit career suicide within these pages? Even if a case could (certainly) be made that the quality of professionally penned work that makes its way into The Stranger is always of the dashed-off variety, a byline is still a byline, and the damage inflicted by having your name appear in this paper is, without a doubt, borderline catastrophic (and, let's be honest, not worth the pittance The Stranger surely offers in return).

The latest notable to shoot himself in the foot (or face) with an appearance in these pages is none other than DAVID SHIELDS, who this week offers a brief though interesting (and highly appropriate) musing on the nature of self-destruction and failure. To be sure, a more ideal vehicle for such a think piece would be hard to find—The Stranger seems to exist entirely to promote and embody self-destruction, and it certainly knows a thing or two (or two million) about failure—but that fact offers little comfort against the unavoidable vision of Mr. Shields's résumé bursting into flames. It does, however, raise an important question: If a highly successful writer puts together a piece about the human drive to publicly self-destruct, and in doing so himself publicly self-destructs, is some sort of reputational black hole created? If so, let's hope it swallows this publication for good.

Elsewhere in the issue, we find this paper's crack news squad tackling such heady topics as angry landlords, college Republicans being forced to cancel an event thanks to limp-wristed liberal whinnying, the state liquor control board targeting cooking schools (someone get Don Hewitt on the horn!), a failing mayoral proposal, and, for good measure, a predictable hit piece against gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi (Republican candidate—not that you needed to be told).

As for the arts sections, the one piece of note this week is by none other than CHARLES MUDEDE, who has penned a typically boozy diatribe against Seattle P-I columnist Robert Jamieson. Having read and enjoyed Mr. Jamieson's work in Seattle's better daily over the years, I expected to be greatly offended by Mr. Mudede's yellow blather. Instead, I found myself feeling nothing but pity—for Mudede. Here we have The Stranger's supposed intellectual—its philosopher of the wine bottle, its blubbering so-called Marxist—reduced to lame takedown tactics in order to garner meager attention from an increasingly ignoring public. In the books section, no less! (Note to books editor Paul Constant: It's well known you're one of the duller tools in the work shed, but you at least know the difference between books and newspapers, right?) As Mudede's idol Karl Marx once said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." recommended