Don’t worry. It’s still stupid and written by spoiled children.
Don’t worry. It’s still stupid and written by spoiled children.

Today, September 23, is The Stranger’s anniversary. I like to think of it as our birthday.

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This one's a special birthday. It's our 30th birthday. You can celebrate by sending us a dollar for every year you’ve read The Stranger. Or round up and tip us 30 bucks for 30 years. Contributions make sure we can keep the lights on around here, so thank you. We appreciate it.

We don't often bring up our birthdays. It’s not because we’re modest. (We’re not, we run an amateur porn festival.) It's because we don't usually realize it’s our birthday until HistoryLink tweets about it. And, as a general rule, The Stranger doesn’t celebrate its anniversary. We’re a media company, not a boyfriend. Celebrating how long we’ve survived our relationship with this ramshackle industry is self-satisfying and frankly a little jinks-y. Our readers don’t come to us for a history lesson on all the silly mistakes we made ten or twenty years ago. They come to us for the f-bombs and the highly sophisticated takes on local politics and the photos of stickers that call Jeff Bezos a doo doo head, and we try to deliver.

We broke this no-anniversaries rule in September of 2016 by publishing a 25th-anniversary issue, despite the staff nearly lighting a bean bag chair on fire in protest. Let ghosts stay ghosts, we thought. But our editor, Tricia Romano, argued it was still punk rock to publish an anniversary issue, so we pubbed it. The team dredged up old comics, hunted down ex-Stranger writers who’d dodged us for years, and even organized an oral history recounting the paper’s early era. Dan Savage, our original anniversary-hater, agreed to write a letter for the issue under duress. It was titled, “I'd Rather Jump Out the Window Than Celebrate 25 Years of The Stranger with This Issue.”

The country went to shit after we published that anniversary issue in the fall of 2016. We know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but opening The Stranger’s vault and re-releasing 25 years of derangement must have left a psychic dent. Since I know no one wants to relive the past five years, let's let the skeletons in our closet rest this time around the sun. We've earned a break from the recent past.

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Instead, I asked Stranger veteran Charles Mudede to write a piece that reflects on a single issue we published during a simpler year, our first year. I'm a millennial who wasn't born until 1992, so 1991 is as abstract to me as a mortgage payment. Not only was Charles alive the year our paper was born, he remembers reading it. (He also owns a home. Lucky.) If anyone is fit to commune with The Stranger's ghosts, it’s Charles. You can read it here.

For 30 years, The Stranger has been a launching pad for some of Seattle's weirdest, bluntest, and smartest writers. Its spirit keeps churning, despite Facebook and COVID-19 and tear gas trying to kill it. I’m proud that we’re still a home for promising writers and proud to announce we have a new staff writer joining the team next week. Her name is Hannah, and I think you'll enjoy reading her reporting.

Thanks for sticking with us. Cheers to you, and to us, and to all of our ghosts.

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