Recently, I decided to dispose of the dusty old wax cylinders that have been cluttering up Chez Steen and invest in a high-fidelity phonographic stereo system. I "threw on a platter" by the inimitable Al Jolson and proceeded to wag my finger in time with his velveteen stylings. All was well until suddenly Mr. Jolson's singing became a rapid-fire staccato stutter, transforming a tuneful little ditty into an unlistenable cacophony. My maid informed me that I had fallen prey to a so-called broken record, which is an affliction that plagues phonograph owners.

I use this little story as a parable to describe the current shabby state of The Stranger's news section under the lazy, drug-spiked eye of its new editor, one Mr. DOMINIC HOLDEN. This week finds Mr. Holden bleating intolerably about the toy trains that the ecoterrorists of Seattle wish to force upon the good people of the Eastside. Mr. Holden appears hell-bent on continuing The Stranger's relentless losing streak of being on the wrong side of all transportation issues—a "mono-rail"! Put down the science- fictional magazine, sonny!—by now advocating for homeless shelters on rails. The only solution to Seattle's oppressive traffic is as follows: Widen the highways, and give the choo-choos back to the children.

Mercifully, CHARLES MUDEDE's Police Beat is nowhere to be found in the news pages. Unmercifully, the feature brings an obscenely long work of "fiction" by Mr. Mudede, who continues the broken-record theme by writing about Amanda Knox, the angel-faced student from Seattle who was just railroaded by an Italian court. I do not know why Mr. Mudede is allowed to continue publishing his warped fantasies about Miss Knox conducting a murderous orgy, but I do know that they say more about his twisted psyche (and dangerous boudoir behavior) than anything else. That the counterpoint to this piece is provided by Miss Knox's schoolmate-—who, too, is not a journalist at all—is fitting.

Elsewhere in The Stranger, unpaid intern COREY KAHLER interviews a reporter from the Far East about what it takes to be a good journalist (answer: Do not work for The Stranger), MICHAELANGELO MATOS scribbles a terribly dull piece that is for some reason about New York City, and PAUL CONSTANT continues to be an embarrassment to the male sex.

Speaking of which: I have often been accused of ignoring the ladies who are employed at this tabloid. Not so! The problem is that there are so few of them—the gay men have nearly made a clean sweep of the distaff sex—and the two (!) female editorial staffers run the same stories week after week in the hopes that nobody will notice. I speak, of course, of BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT, whose condescension and favoritism masked as food writing this week is allegedly about a restaurant called Cicchetti (but we read the same piece a couple of months ago about a pizzeria named Delancey), and JEN GRAVES, scribbling about museum doors (next week, no doubt, will bring her in-depth study of museum toilet fixtures). Both stories are just as awful as those written by allegedly more-masculine staffers. Never let it be said that I am not for equal rights.