I remember the first time I interviewed at The Stranger. I didn't get the job. It was 1995 and I was trying for an internship, but ended up working at Seattle music rag the Rocket instead. Fate worked in my favor, though—seven years (and a couple different editors in chief) later, I became The Stranger's music editor.
The year 1995 was also when my boyfriend and I first spent any serious time apart. We were in college at Santa Cruz and had discussed being in Seattle for the summer, but then he got a great opportunity to travel to Costa Rica. And so started a pattern of the independent relationship, one that for the following decade saw us each navigating zigzagging career paths to cities that never quite allowed us to be together enough. I was in San Francisco, he was in Sacramento. He was in San Francisco, I commuted to L.A. every week. I moved to Seattle, he moved to D.C. And finally, I was still in Seattle and he set up shop in Sacramento. Between the two of us, we've racked up a lot of material items—frequent-flier miles, long-distance bills, good resumés, nice kitchenware—but somewhere in the middle, we lost a lot of time together. We lost the easy time, the kick back and watch TV time, the have coffee together in the morning time, the time that couples who actually live in the same place take for granted. It feels like we took for granted the fact that we'd always have a relationship.
I'm bringing up all this personal shit because it's a tradition to write a long farewell piece when you're an editor leaving The Stranger. By the time this article reaches print, I'll have already left for San Francisco to be music editor of the SF Weekly. The reason I'm leaving is this huge hole in my heart that belongs to my boyfriend. It's a hole that began when we both got so excited about our own careers, and were so supportive of each other's job offers, that we put aside how much we wanted to be together, thinking there'd always be time for that. After almost 11 years in this relationship, we've had it with living in different cities. I miss him too much.
In my ongoing career versus relationship struggle, I've found that my position at The Stranger is the hardest I've had to quit. I've really loved it here—this paper carries a strong, funny, enthusiastic, and truly independent vision of what political and cultural coverage should be. That approach is rare to find. Although The Stranger's scope has evolved a lot in my tenure here, there's an underlying commitment to taking risks (and making people laugh) that remains true. Themes for issues ("Touched by an Uncle"); band diaries that sent me to the UK with the Catheters and Dave Segal to Japan with U.S.E; editorial meetings about horse fucking and ass spankings and road trips to Soap Lake; it's all unique to The Stranger, and it's why I value the paper so much (although I could do without another horse-fucking conversation ever again, truth be told—sorry, Charles).
The City of Seattle also fits in well with my idea of the importance of taking risks, specifically when it relates to music. I admire the vibrant DIY spirit that encourages people to start great bands and record labels; to host boat parties out in the bay; to create art galleries and indie record stores and clubs with live music/DJs; to host that crazy culture collision called Pho Bang for so long; to have an actual contest for the Shittiest Band in Seattle; to have Block Parties and radio stations and zines promoting local music; to book talented unknowns at dive bars; to host house shows and bar shows on the outer fringes of popular music. I've remained so excited about music because there's so much going on that feels fresh, even if the changes are sometimes subtle. And that's all complementary to the work of the larger clubs that are maintaining a wealth of great music here. I was lucky enough to be able to do some DIY work of my own, putting on a few live shows in the Seattle Laser Dome (the last of which is Plan B's laser laptop symphony on February 16). People here are regularly coming up with ideas on how to catalyze the music landscape into interesting new directions. My one complaint? Cocaine has ruined many great minds in the music community. That drug has turned too many talented folks paranoid and self-centered, tuned into only their own "drama" at the expense of their friendships. Coke is nicknamed "dummy dust" for a good reason.
So now I'm off to San Francisco, a city that's held on to my heart in more ways than one. The good news is I get to keep the career—I'm stoked about working at the SF Weekly, and I am excited to be able to entrench myself once again in the Bay Area music scene, a community as perpetually fascinating as Seattle's. I'll end this by saying thank you for all the support, creativity, and dedication to keeping the community thriving these past four years—my job would've been nothing without it.
I'll pass on the same support to the remaining staff—the paper continues with the intrepid talent of music editor Dave Segal and staff music writers Hannah Levin and Megan Seling—a truly wonderful, passionate, and knowledgeable crew if there ever was one. And don't forget the amazing Ms. Kelly O., my best friend in the world and one of the best photographers in the city—do not sleep on that lady.
Me, I'm going to stop sleeping on this damn relationship. In the words of the great Immortal Lee County Killers, love is a charm of powerful trouble, but it's a powerful charm nonetheless. XOXO