As Art Director of the Portland Mercury, I occupy a tremendously important position. In fact, I don't think it's going too far to say the success of the paper rests squarely on my shoulders. After only two issues, I have become painfully aware that the presence of others is an oppressive burden to bear. But since I would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, I thought a public column would be useful to address those I might generously refer to as my "co-workers."FIRST AND FOREMOST, I must say for the record WM.™ STEVEN HUMPHREY needs to SHUT HIS GODDAMNED MOUTH. Swooning at the sound of his own voice, Humphrey evidently believes he'll sink to the bottom of the office and die if he ceases his inane chatter any longer than it takes to inhale.

The presence of publisher ROBERT CROCKER is no small nuisance, either. Though he tends to his duties with a certain plodding reliability that seems to serve in place of higher reasoning, I have come to view his daily departure from the office with unmixed pleasure. Though his departure entails a pair of spandex cycling pants which bring to mind a tight, black diaper, his absence means a brief respite from the unholy trio of his shrieking, sullen, bastard infant, its steel-eyed birth mother, and their oily, ill-mannered dog. I am often tempted to simply duct-tape the squalling child to the filthy animal and send them both into the street, free to rely on the kindness of strangers and the watchfulness of Portland drivers.

My friends, I know we are all new to this workplace. I know those who share the office with me are not deliberate in their provocations. But simple inattention to the pitch and volume of one's voice or the piercing screams of one's moon-faced offspring will tear this paper apart more quickly than a hundred sadly-written Willamette Week editorials. We need to watch ourselves more closely, and we need to listen more to me.

I thank you for your attention!