Every week, I break out my sterling silver calipers—obtained during a brief dalliance into the mystic art of phrenology back in the 1970s—and take a measurement of The Stranger's width, in a tradition I have come to call The Death Watch. Last week's Stranger, for instance, was a mere one-eighth of an inch thick. I have taken a great deal of pleasure in watching the paper waste away like a late-stage cancer patient before my very eyes, battered to near-death by Adam Smith's invisible hand of the free market. It's an illustration of one of the laws of capitalism that rule our great nation: You cannot continue to mock both your advertisers and the God of your advertisers, and expect them to open their purse strings time and again.
Unfortunately, this week's Stranger tips the scales at over a hundred pages—nearly a quarter-inch of thickness—many of those pages made up of advertisements from, one assumes, paying customers. Perhaps part of the reason for this sudden robustness comes in the form of a guide for the upcoming Capitol Hill Block Party, a yearly festival of cacophony and public drunkenness sponsored by local businesses. The advertorial content written by Stranger staffers, which shamelessly promotes the goings-on at this tired bacchanalia, is of course positive. (That the editrix of this section is the comely ERICA GRANDY probably does not hurt, either: The prospect of a dinner date with Miss Grandy, who is famously "easy on the eyes," was no doubt a charming bullet point for prospective clients.) Perhaps this is part one of a new "rah-rah, go team" Stranger that desperately covets the advertiser's dollar? If so, I am not totally against the idea: At least glorified ad copy, though morally repugnant, does not actively seek to offend its readers.
But if that is the plan, the other editors did not receive Miss Grandy's memorandum announcing a kinder, gentler, advertising-friendly Stranger. For instance, CHARLES MUDEDE scribbles out a too-long screed about commercial real estate that, if it were at all readable, would no doubt be completely offensive to the real estate developers whose advertising budgets make it possible for me to enjoy local treasures like Seattle Metropolitan and the Seattle Times. Instead, it reads like any other Mudede piece: blah-blah Marxist, blah-blah me, blah-blah zzzzzzzzzz. Then, CIENNA MADRID attempts to tie Timothy Eyman to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If I read these English-as-a-second-language meanderings correctly, her efforts to tenuously link Mr. Eyman to those damned British ignoramuses who have lately been giving the petroleum industry a bad name with their incompetence are at best libelous and at worst completely fictitious. Sorry about the mess in your people's Gulf, Senorita Madrid, but only a madwoman (mujer loca in your native tongue) would believe these ludicrous correlations.
Elsewhere in the bloat, you will find DR. JONATHAN GOLOB again pretending to be the personification of Science (unreadable thanks to excessive jargon and gobbledygook), BRENDAN KILEY lying in a city park like the vagrant he is, and DAN SAVAGE being way too gay. For a noted "size queen" (whatever that is), the man seems intent on steering The Stranger toward a one-sixteenth-of-an-inch measurement in the near future.
Follow A. Birch Steen at www.twitter.com/strangerslog.