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Thursday, November 24, 2005

What Am I Thankful For?

Posted by on November 24 at 16:52 PM

Well, I’m thankful to have a day off. And I’m thankful for all the chow I’m about to stuff down my throat. And I’m thankful that my boyfriend let met stay home this afternoon instead of forcing me to go see the new Harry Potter movie with him and the kid.

And then I checked my email and found something else to be thankful for: I’m thankful that Eric took the time to write the letter below. It’s not that we don’t get a lot of letters praising the paper and what we do, or try to do, every week. But we rarely run those letters. It’s way more fun to run letters from haters and psychos and Scientologists. But we’re always thankful when we hear from readers who appreciate The Stranger. And in honor of Thanksgiving, and because we’re awfully light on SLOG posts today, and because I can, I’m going to take advantage of the infinite space that the Internet represents and slap Eric’s letter up on the SLOG. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and thanks, Eric, for the nice note.

Dear Stranger,

Your paper is excellent.

I looked at the Portland Mercury and that paper is excellent also. This depresses me as I have moved to San Francisco and our weeklies are horrible (other than the Onion, which is available here, but is really a national paper). While I used to look forward to reading The Stranger with coffee and a bagel on Saturday morning (I lived in Olympia and we didn’t get your paper until Friday or Saturday), now I am embarrassed by my current alternative weeklies. I occasionally had gripes with The Stranger and in my head would complain about your paper, now I want to write a letter to you telling you about the reasons I love your paper and miss it. A lot of the letter will compare your paper to the current San Francisco weeklies. I am sure you have seen them, but I want you to see why it is important for you to get a sister paper in San Francisco. Why your paper is so superior and why I want so badly for you to start a San Francisco paper.

The cover: the cover to the Stranger is almost always aesthetically pleasing. And you use local and national artists! I am sure you have seen the average weekly. The covers to my local ones are based on the content. They are always either a horribly ugly cartoon or a dreadful picture of whatever activist or band is featured. The content and budget dictates that the cover is going to suck. Your paper however is smart in striking the balance. A good looking cover that sometimes corresponds to the content and sometimes doesn’t. I appreciate this. Thank you for beautiful and ugly covers.

The amount of content: I remember thinking when I read the Stranger as a paper and not online, that there wasn’t enough content. Now, I feel the opposite. There are 2 features, many columns and reviews and such in every paper. The current San Francisco weeklies have one feature every time and far fewer columns. Thank you for making a paper that will last more than one lunch break.

The content: I remember during the lead-up to the Iraq war that Dan Savage wrote a few articles saying that maybe the Iraq war isn’t such a bad idea if we are honest about why we want to go to war. There were articles that were rebuttals. Dialogue, one would say. This is very refreshing. As a liberal person I know that we tend to live in isolated blocks of reality and that we desperately need other ideas. If you take a look at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, you will understand this as that paper often looses touch. The knee-jerking in the editorial page often turns me off to the extent that I find myself arguing views that I don’t believe just so that I can hear them. I feel that maybe your paper could use some more dialogue but this is your discretion and I think you are doing a good enough job. Thank you for dialogue.

The music coverage: Granted there is a lot of music coverage—sometimes it takes up too much room. But your paper is actually engaging in culture. Finding anything printed with a large distribution that doesn’t sound like it was written by clueless people who only see things when a publicist tells them about it is rare. In San Francisco, there is such an attempt to make sure that everyone is included that there ends up being a hip hop writer, a electronica writer, a rock writer, etc. I never get the sense that the writers themselves love music. I get this in your paper. Also having a paragraph about a lot of the shows around town every week is incredibly simple but so useful. I would read it and get some context for what shows are happening, it makes access to the local music scene so very much easier. Thank you for the great music coverage.

The Stranger Suggests: The events that you suggest actually seem worth going to. It feels like you guys are actually thinking about what is happening that night and what seems like it would be your favorite thing. The equivalent columns in SF are exercises in the most annoying form of P.C. multiculturalism. You can just tell that there is quota system on what they suggest the readership should see. Thank you for suggesting good things to see.

The writing: I always got the feeling that your writers had a voice. Some I didn’t like very much, and others I loved. The important thing, though, was that they seemed like people and one felt that they got to know them as writers. They were not faceless. I suppose facelessness is something that is valued in journalism, but I far prefer it to the way that many of the weeklies that I’ve read are. They so afraid of offending someone that the papers read like Benneton ad. The lesbian article, the hip hop/streets article, the activist article, etc. While I don’t find your paper to be single-minded, I appreciate what I feel is an acceptance of who you and the city are. I walk the streets everyday knowing that I am in a place that is in many ways segregated. There is constant stereotyping, and every form of prejudice. And most of the people of the city are complicit in it. I feel that this is normal in American cities. The weekly papers however put up this front of a rainbow coalition city. It is such a PC version of the city that I don’t even recognize it most of the time. Anyways, your paper seems to avoid that much of the time. I don’t feel like I am in a version of the city with rose-colored glasses where everyone has been thoroughly sterilized from having an opinion that is controversial. Your paper actually engages in the realities of living in the city. I remember the “Appropriate This!ā€¯ Gay Pride issue, as one example. Thank You.

And finally,

Last Days: This is such a great column, thank you David Schmader for writing it.