In February of 2004, one particular strain of E. coli spontaneously developed an entirely new method to create disulfide bonds. Researchers were baffled at this mutation, which seemingly occurred with no regard to the bacteria's surroundings or previously noted abilities. My point here is that every so often in nature, there will be an astonishing evolutionary leap wherein one generation will exhibit a talent that simply did not exist before.

This is rather like TRISHA READY's feature in the current issue of The Stranger. In the 17 years that this paper has befouled Seattle street corners and litter boxes, there has rarely been a case of writing of such high quality and perception appearing on its pages. Ms. Ready's essay about the crumbling economy is thoughtful, beautifully written, and moving. One would almost hope, on reading it, that it signals a new frontier of creativity, insightfulness, and energy—a new step in The Stranger's evolution.

Of course, one would just have to turn the page to be disabused of that notion. The usual thumping ignorance of the paper brings an Armageddon of infantilism down on Ms. Ready's intelligent design. JEN GRAVES scrawls about why Portland is better than Seattle (Point 1: Portland doesn't have a Jen Graves to weigh it down) and PAUL CONSTANT excretes a story in part about a book whose title is so offensive, I'll have to translate it to family-friendly English: Attractive Women with Feminine Hygiene Products. (Confidential to Mr. Constant: The Seattle Weekly would never cover such a disgusting and inane book in their continual pursuit to highlight the apex of literature. Perhaps your new mantra should be WWSWD?)

Still, I found myself empowered by the quality of Ms. Ready's feature and—avoiding that chasm of despair known as the news section—decided to venture further into the paper than my gag reflex ordinarily allows, to discover whether there could be a diamond in the rough, ready for excavation. Here is what I found: BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT waxing poetic on whale penises, KELLY O pontificating on melting drag queens, JEFF KIRBY enthusiastically endorsing drunken machete play, MEGAN SELING shilling for a band whose name promotes cannibalism, ERIC GRANDY apparently exchanging electronic mails with animals, and JONATHAN GOLOB giving advice that could easily be adopted by deadbeat dads in order to cheat paternity tests.

Despite the promise of a scant few pages of good writing, it would appear that The Stranger, for the 875th consecutive week, has maintained its role as Seattle's preeminent agent of devolution. One fine day, this paper will actually be assembled and distributed by actual bonobos, rather than the mere monkey impersonators it "boasts" on its masthead today. recommended