Seattle is blessed with two “alternative” newspapers. The Weekly was established sometime in the mid-70s and for a long time was the rich-hip-elitist’s paper. Where the dailies were writing about Dennys restaurants and barbershop quartets, the Weekly reviewed the top-of-the-line eateries, and took strong stands on the local arts scene, etc. Businesses in the 80s started skewing their offerings to the “Weekly demographic”, boomers who were just then coming into significant disposable income.
In the 90s, The Stranger came on the scene with an edgier, sassier flavor aimed largely at Gen-X and -Y, people who went to clubs and in general stayed up past 10. It is the flagship paper, for instance, for Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column, and he has been the paper’s editor for the past few years as well. What the Weekly probably didn’t bargain on, I believe, is that boomers, suffering an image crisis as they aged, began posing as Stranger-bait. I know we do.
This started to bring the Stranger closer to the wheelhouse of the Weekly’s advertiser base, and their comparative circulations approach equivalence. Whether as a result of this competitive pressure or not, the local publisher of The Weekly sold out to the Village Voice several years ago.
This week, after apparently arduous and delectable research involving several staff members and a couple hundred restaurants, The Weekly brought out a “dining guide” issue. The Stranger must have a mole on the Weekly staff, because it was able to hit the street, the same day, with a “Restroom Guide” parodying the Dining issue, reviewing the city’s most picturesque rest rooms, with a cover photo closely mimmicking the Weekly’s. Had the Weekly issue been titled “Restaurant Guide”, the effect would have been that much more apt. I detected no crossover on the two lists - that is, The Stranger didn’t review any restroom of a restaurant that The Weekly reviewed. That may have provided a prima facie test of the veracity of the restaurant reviews. They need me on staff.
The Stranger did, however, provide a review of the restroom at The Weekly:
As a cultural space in the life of this city, it is a great restroom, as many current and former Seattle Weekly employees can attest, to go into and cry after being senselessly mauled by the interests of a corporation (a corporation that, by the way, has made huge contributions to George W. Bush’s relection campaign). Finally, it is also a great restroom to emerge from having resolved to send an e-mail from your Hotmail account to the editor of the other, better-written weekly newspaper in town begging for work…
While The Stranger had its fun, obviously, The Weekly gets the lasting laugh: The Weekly’s dining guide is larded with food and beverage industry advertising, while the restroom guide features ads from Pabst and a tattoo shop called Slave To The Needle.
Still, ya gotta love it.