This particular issue of The Stranger highlights one of many particular ongoing problems with the publication: In the grimy (and, considering the cheapness of the ink, very possibly toxic) pages of this rag, everything feels like a joke, but nothing is funny. It is not unlike overhearing a muttered exchange between a pair of misanthropic teenagers—perhaps their hazy observations and primitive attempts at irony bring smirks to their drug-and-hormone-addled faces, but there is nothing humorous about it to real, worthwhile human beings. Quite the opposite: One is alarmed and aghast, left only to pray that one day these delinquents will become contributing members of society, but knowing that this is very unlikely to come to pass.
Take this week's feature and related cover (please, God), which has something to do with our mayor's girth or lack thereof. It appears that the spread, which is uncredited for obvious reasons and eats up two entire pages of this week's anemic issue, is designed to mimic the style of vapid celebrity magazines, or something along those lines. But how, exactly, is this funny? Is the anonymous "writer" mocking vapid media coverage of the mayor? Because no Seattle media outlet has fawned over the mayor as much as The Stranger. So, then, is The Stranger parodying itself? If so, why employ the layout conventions of supermarket tabloids? What, precisely, is the point? I do not get it, and neither will anyone outside of The Stranger's rapidly dwindling staff. It is too far to go for a dunderheaded in-joke.
And then there are parts of the paper that are not supposed to be humorous, but which often are. Take, for instance, the news section, which opens with a misleading bit of bloviation by CIENNA MADRID about reforming the state's liquor laws. After the tunnel and the relative attractiveness of our mayor to hirsute, overweight homosexuals, this is The Stranger's third-most-tired pet issue, and it all presumably has been inspired by editor in chief Christopher Frizzelle's inability to purchase alcohol on any drunken whim—early morning, late night, and/or miscellaneous holiday. If Mr. Frizzelle could just plan ahead (or—here's a wild idea—show some self-control), we would not be plagued by a litany of articles about an issue that Washington voters definitively put to rest in the elections of 2010.
Elsewhere, in VISUAL ART: Miss Graves tries to make her section relevant by writing about technology instead of art; the attempt fails due to her usual inability to write a coherent sentence... THEATER: Brendan Kiley spits on a decades-old form of dance he fails to understand... CHOW: News flash! Apparently, biscuits exist... MUSIC: A long piece by Charles Mudede—need more be said?... FILM: Very clearly telephoned in... SPORTS BLOTTER: The Stranger has hired a heterosexual man (whose name, I must point out, is the ever-so-macho "Goldy"), and he is now responsible for a sports column. The results are slightly less gay than SAVAGE LOVE, which for some reason continues to exist.