This issue radiates the glee The Stranger takes in horrific human accidents. The holiday-inappropriate, delighted-with-itself cover is by JIM WOODRING and was obviously based on a paint-by-numbers scheme that the artist altered to be more morbid. (Aspiring artists: That's the trick to getting on the cover of The Stranger. Find a paint-by-numbers set, add a car full of dead bodies, and you're in!) Several pages in, Last Days—a column I've long learned to avoid but glanced at to confirm my thesis here—details the horrific deaths-by-elevator of two women in New York City, one mangled and one set afire. What use is there for this kind of garbage over the holidays, in a newspaper freely available to anyone, except to spit in the eyes of decent people?
Then again, "What use is there for this?" is never a good gauge of what The Stranger deems worthy of publication. In the feature by CIENNA MADRID, she presents a very likely fictional thesis—drug-addled thieves are supposedly stripping our national parks bare in the name of Christmas—supported only by a friend who is a former addict. Then Señorita Madrid desperately tries to prove her thesis by hounding local authorities, who all summarily reject the rumor. She publishes it as fact anyway, even though she can find no corroborating evidence. I'd call this the height of irresponsibility, but, as it's scrabbled together in Señorita Madrid's typical broken English, it's hard to feign surprise.
For more Stranger-style "journalism" this week: the restaurant review by BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT. Last week, she enthused about a new restaurant owned by an acquaintance of hers. This week, she swoons over another overpriced eatery. And can you believe it? Ms. Clement knows one of the chefs at this establishment, from his former employment at a divey watering hole near The Stranger's offices—not two blocks away. The result is classic Clement: favoritism, laziness, and tortured writing, all wrapped up in a gaudy bow.
In Worn Out, MARTI JONJAK's purported fashion column, we find allusions to sordidness one hesitates to get into, and, more importantly, that have nothing at all to do with clothing. (By the way, when did this little flight-of-fancy of a column begin? Has anyone seen a Stranger writer in the wild? If you could see what I've seen, you'd never attribute any kind of authority on matters sartorial to these burlap-and-polyester-togged slobs.)
The "music" section features CHARLES "OUR COOL BLACK FRIEND" MUDEDE staggering around on another rambling trip down memory lane, this time recollecting concerts that took place in his native Africa. And just to finalize the mockery the editors make of the holiday weekend, the issue is rounded out with a poem lightly plagiarized from Clement Clarke Moore in the voice of a comic book character. This is nothing less than a slap in the face of any organization insane enough to advertise in this publication; to call it a waste of paper would be an insult to wastes of paper.