As our 25th issue nears completion, a heady mix of pride and whimsy has engulfed my fellow Mercury employees. But I will not be caught up in the festive mood. I will not be joining hands, or affectionately embracing those within reach. I will not be taking any part at all in the disturbing little jig of my co-workers. I will not be celebrating this issue, because it is clear to me that what we celebrate is folly of the worst kind.

From the start, my words of caution and guidance were tossed casually aside. I was humored, allowed a safe corner for my concerns, railroaded into a Comics Page ghetto. Now, 25 issues later, despite the giddy prancing of my officemates, a dire situation exists. The Editorial Department now wields almost total control over the content of this paper.

Consider this: Why does Portland's most prestigious newsweekly refuse to even mention us? As far as Willamette Week is concerned, the Portland Mercury doesn't even exist. Presumably, if WW publisher Richard Meeker were to be deliberately crushed beneath the wheels of the Mercury delivery van, his dying breath would be spent insisting his injuries were self-inflicted. I daresay that to Willamette Week, this paper is merely a reservoir of ideas to lamely imitate and a convenient window into the lives of those under fifty.

Yet we continue on our foolhardy course. Every issue holds the tragic results of our shortsighted focus. Like poor, dumb rats pressing a lever in hopes of a food pellet, witless musicians jam our mailbox with publicity photos, hoping for an all-too-brief appearance on the Mercury music page. Where do you hide a leaf? In a forest. And where do you hide an idiot? In a rock band, my friends. Despite their continuous and utter lack of anything relevant to anyone outside their duct-taped wonderland, this paper dutifully continues to provide a forum for their gut-churning tour diaries, vapid self-reflection, and paragraphs full of "shout out" filler. Each week brings the sorry spectacle of slack-jawed failures vying for a chance to add another page to their numbingly redundant press kits.

The Editorial Department has turned this paper into a weekly showcase for mental erratics, for arrogant urine-drinkers, for Senate candidates who cannot see their way through a simple, cleansing spongebath. The sickly and the indignant compete with the sensitive and misunderstood for the Grand Prize in the Imbecile Sweepstakes. Are the befuddled, reactionary stirrings of every two-bit ombudsman really so fascinating? How long must we remain in thrall of endless guitar noodling?

I must call another meeting.