Well, well, well—look at this. A cover of The Stranger that isn't a brownish psychedelic mishmash (last week), an incomprehensibly random painting from the 1950s (the week before), a "joke" that did not make me laugh by Derek Erdman (the week before that), or a poorly drawn tableau of goblins and parrot-chicken miscegenation (the week before that, burned into my nightmares). Who is the artist on the cover this week? Surprisingly enough, none other than The Stranger's own art director, AARON HUFFMAN, who has never before evinced much talent with art or even an eye for it (see above). Either this is not really Mr. Huffman's work (taking credit for other people's work is a Stranger pastime) or he has been held back by the other powers that be—perhaps by the smug and alcohol-poisoned editor of this paper, who was last seen howling obscenities at a darkened liquor store for the crime of not being open when he wanted it to be.
The subject of the drawing is a radiantly portrayed John Wilkes Booth, which makes no earthly sense, glorifies the assassin of the greatest Republican in our history, and—once you realize the reason for his presence on the cover—smacks of the kind of thinly ironic obviousness that The Stranger constantly confuses for actual irony. The joke is that the feature section this week is given over to Stranger writers writing about booths inside restaurants. One can imagine the staff pointing to the Booth portrait and crying out in unison, "Get it?"
Writing about restaurant seating for a "food issue" conveniently solves several problems: (1) It provides an excuse for a group of people who abrogated their responsibilities as journalists long ago in favor of sitting around writing about their navels to take a break from that hard work and just write about sitting; (2) being penurious and drug-obsessed, very few people at The Stranger would know good food if it crawled down their throat; (3) it allows the staff to relentlessly praise subpar restaurants in hopes of persuading them to buy advertising later; and (4) it signals to the rest of the world just how "weird" The Stranger is, as if being weird is somehow a substitute for being well written, worthy of anyone's time, or good. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT, who I'm told edited this special section, ought to be ashamed of herself.
Elsewhere... CITY: A piece about the perfidy of cops and a piece about the perfidy of Republicans—are you shocked?... BOOKS: Didn't read... THEATER: Concerns a play that involves 15 straight minutes of weeping, which is a common response to Brendan Kiley's presence... VISUAL ART: Too hippie... MUSIC: Too gay... FILM: What psychologists might call "a cry for help"... SAVAGE LOVE: Didn't read.
Follow A. Birch Steen at www.twitter.com/strangerslog.