THE NIGHT BEFORE MY FIRST DAY at the Mercury, I went out with a girlfriend for some celebratory beers. This was one of those nights where you make a pact that this will not even ACCIDENTALLY become a crazy night because you have SUCH A HUGE DAY tomorrow. Then, somehow, everything goes to shit. The main problem on this night was that we were roofied. I cannot prove this, but after splitting one small pitcher of beer, it was suddenly five hours later and we were at some dude's house, where I was yelling at him to "Give us weed!!" When he said, "No!" I yelled, "Fuck this!" and my girlfriend and I crashed through his screen door. We were so confused that we were like animals that had been hit by a car, but weren't quite killed. When we finally got home it was 4 am and we woke up my boyfriend and yelled at him to "MAKE US PIZZA!" He yelled, "What the hell is wrong with you guys?" and that's the last thing I remember. Then quite suddenly it was 10 am the next morning. My girlfriend was on probation at work and needed to be there by 7 am, so she was fucked. I was supposed to be at the Mercury at 9 am FOR MY VERY FIRST DAY and I was fucked. I didn't know what else to do but call Publisher Rob Crocker to tell him I'd been roofied. He accepted my excuse—and now it's time to apologize to you. I'm sorry about being late for my first day at work, Portland. Everything else I did at the Mercury was pretty great, though.


I STARTED WORKING at the Mercury when I was 22—just old enough to think I was an authority on everything. I set to work, doing what I thought was the job of a good journalist: whining. I spent much of my time thinking and writing about how Portland was an inferior city, and how cool my life would be if I lived in a place like New York or Reykjavik.

After a few years of that, I decided it was time to see the world. I moved to Chicago, and then to Washington, DC. That was seven years ago. In Washington, I worked as a producer for NPR, and my job involved traveling all over the country and occasionally the world. One evening when I was eating at a steak house in Dayton, Ohio, I had an epiphany.


I apologize for not believing in you, Portland. You have the best quality of life, the most delicious food carts, the biggest and smartest bookstore, the cheapest and most entertaining dive bars, the least pretentious restaurants, and the coolest people.

I'm writing this from my new apartment on NW 12th. My husband and I quit our jobs and moved back to town just a couple days ago. We knew it was risky, with the high unemployment rates and Seasonal Affective Disorder and all, but in the end we felt like we'd rather be here than anywhere else in the country. I apologize for the past, and promise to be good to you this time, Portland.


FOR FOUR BRILLIANT YEARS, I penned glorious works of cultural reportage for the Mercury—though what I'm probably remembered for, if anything, is verbally ass-reaming every theater company in town.

Can a theater critic still assist in "fucking up a city" nowadays? Doubtful. But just in case, I'm not here to apologize to Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, and all the rest of you drama schmucks. I hear the Portland theater scene has improved vastly since my departure four years ago, and I take full credit for this upward shift. Without my eviscerating pen, how would you have grasped the full extent of your suckage and adjusted to take things to the next level? You're welcome!

And now I'll go back to my new career: slinging coffee in Los Angeles, trying to make a living as an actor. Seems everything comes full circle, doesn't it? My PBR-soaked Mercury glory days are behind me now, and I'm just another lemming down here, a drama schmuck myself. Which begs the question: Maybe all my excessively harsh play reviews were just the words of a bitter asshole, yearning to be up on that stage with you. Maybe it wasn't you all that time after all. It was me. Sorry?


IN MY TENURE as the Portland Mercury's arts/music editor, I unapologetically promoted a culture of hate and crushed the hearts of bands all over the city with my scathing critiques, leaving a garbage heap of broken dreams that still haunts Portland's venues and strip clubs. In fact, go to any strip club right this second, and you will encounter three to seven people whose egos I gleefully crushed like the bugs they are. They are drunk in the corner, throwing Canadian toonies at strippers because they can no longer afford American pocket change.

My reputation as the cruelest music journalist in Cascadia preceded me, and I was sucked into the hate-vortex that is New York, where mean feelings and negative literature are a prerequisite for citizenship. But I became a nice person after a magical subway musician put a pox on me, and now, as the executive editor of the FADER magazine, I haven't said anything mean about anyone since approximately mid-2007. Has the new leaf imbued me with remorse? EFF TO THE NAW. I shan't even feel regret in HELL!


ABOUT THE SAME TIME that I retired from the Mercury, a few of the characters from ABC's TV show Lost escaped the island that had infuriated them for the previous few seasons. This is an important coincidence, because in the years subsequent—both in the TV show and in my pathetic real life—the central conflict that emerged was: Should we have left the island or in my case, the Mercury?

It's true, the Mercury ruined my life. I have been rendered useless and unemployable in the years since. Like Dr. Jack Shephard on the TV show—who was a brave and natural leader on the island, but a sniveling, pill-popping wreck on the mainland—I, too, in my post-Mercury years have been largely as useful as a benign tumor on life's ass.

Consider this: A few months after leaving the Mercury, I was flown out to upstate New York to interview for a professor position at a college there. The dean had been friendly—even fawning over me—up until the moment I stepped into the first interview when, over coffee and muffins, one of the gray-bearded professors succinctly told me: "We hadn't Googled you until last night." The job interview pretty much ended there, as apparently wearing nothing but lacy women's underwear and holding a nail gun is appropriate for the cover of the Mercury (as I did for one of my final issues), but is considered wholly inappropriate for someone who wants to teach young, impressionable minds. I was on a plane back to Portland by noon that day.

Likewise, a couple years ago, I did manage to snag a teaching gig at a prestigious and religious small college in rural Minnesota. Bored one night—and unable to find any cows to tip—I drove around the countryside and pulled out John McCain campaign signs from people's lawns. And then, even more bored a few nights later, I wrote a tell-all essay for Huffington Post about my thievery. At the Mercury, such behavior was encouraged and even congratulated with pats on the back. But apparently Lutheran college presidents don't find receiving 1,000 angry phone calls and emails as funny as Wm. Steven Humphrey does. I was on the first plane out of Minnesota.

So, yeah. I'm sorry, Mercury. I'm sorry you ruined my life.


UNLIKE WHINY PHIL BUSSE, I'm not writing this to blame the Mercury for all of my problems; unlike Katie "Whoopsie! Roofied again!" Shimer, I'm not attempting to retroactively color my tenure at the Mercury as time spent in some debaucherous Eden. No—I'm writing this because my boss, Wm. Steven Humphrey, ordered me to. Taking a rare break from drawing stick-figure portraits of Justin Bieber, he insisted I explain why I'm still around, eight interminable years after I started writing for the Mercury (and seven-and-a-half years after my more intelligent colleagues got wise to the fact that the Mercury pays its employees in chocolate coins and doesn't seem at all concerned with its asbestos situation). "What has the Mercury done for you?" Steve asked me, gesturing thoughtfully with his crayon. "How would you like to mark this momentous occasion of the Mercury's first decade?"

What has the Mercury done for me? NOTHING. But what have I done for the Mercury? EVERYTHING. From bringing hard-hitting journalism to Portland by asking fearless questions of superstars such as Jada Pinkett Smith ("So... how do you get into the Matrix?"), to introducing Portlanders to brilliantly incisive arts criticism (I'm pretty sure I declared Hellboy the greatest film of the decade or something), to brightening my pathetic coworkers' dreary existences whenever I show up for work promptly at noon, I have busted my sweet, sweet ass to make Portland's most revered newspaper everything it is today: a finely crafted, beautifully designed, wittily insightful publication that, every day, is used by the homeless as toilet paper.

Am I proud of my work here? Sure, I guess. Does the Mercury appreciate all that I've done for it? No fucking way—my satchel of greasy chocolate coins and my wet, hacking cough are evidence of that. But you're welcome all the same, Mercury. You're welcome, Portland.


BY THE TIME THIS PAPER hits the streets, I will have entered my 10th year as a Mercury employee. While others might fear a stagnant career in not one, but two dying industries (journalism and music), or how this paper has ruined me for all future employment, I disagree. I have the greatest job on earth—I get a paycheck to write about music! My dog comes to work with me! I am drunk right now! And unlike my other former word pushers, I will never leave. How could I?

Over my decade here I have fattened myself off this paper's generous supply of untended leftovers in the communal fridge (It was me all along, bitches!), bedded various coworkers, conducted "interviews" alone in bars, and made my colleagues into glorified dogsitters. In fact, every night I sleep on a large pile of stolen office supplies, and it feels great. While our discarded wake of ex-editors clog the unemployment lines (or police blotters, in Busse's case) I get a respectable paycheck twice a month for... um, whatever it is I do here. The Mercury didn't ruin me, the Mercury made me. And I am never leaving.

See you guys at the 20th through 50th anniversaries.


OVER NEARLY A DECADE I've worked by way up the Mercury masthead, from my beginnings as original Music Editor Julianne Shepherd's unpaid intern to my current station of respectability as managing editor. Given the stature of my title, I (usually) try (pretty) hard to maintain a degree of decorum both in and out of the office, knowing that my behavior reflects on the paper and the beloved colleagues I consider my friends.

That said, the momentous occasion of our 10th anniversary seems a fitting time to apologize for past instances of ribald behavior carried on under the Mercury banner, and to renew my commitment to contribute to the company's reputation in a positive manner. So without further ado: I am sorry for barfing on the sidewalk outside the Blackbird after researching one of our drinking issues. For the near fire I caused by flinging my pants onto the ceiling fixture at No Fish! Go Fish! (but not for winning that particular game of Strip Jeopardy, thankyouverymuch). For passing out in the Eagles' Lodge, as well as on top of the kitchen freezer at Tennessee Red's, during two separate company Christmas parties. For several events pertaining to a Las Vegas editorial "retreat," wherein I: attracted the attention of a casino security guard by repeatedly punching then-Music Editor Adam Gnade in the guts; pitched a wineglass over the edge of a pedestrian bridge across Las Vegas Boulevard while growling to my coworkers that I was "just thinking about how much I hate you guys"; and flashed Editor Wm. Steven Humphrey (in a Britney Spears way) while exiting a taxi in a very short dress.

I apologize also to Publisher Rob Crocker for breaking a company-owned laptop within hours of landing in Vegas for a totally different editorial retreat. (Thank you, kind sir, for accepting my "slippery hotel bedspread" excuse.) And lastly, to you readers, for everything I ever wrote under the influence of one or more cans of Liquid Charge. (Oh, and to current Music Editor Ezra Caraeff, for making him scared that I was going to hit him too, which I haven't, thankyouverymuch.)


YES, ACTUALLY I would like to apologize to the city of Portland—FOR HIRING THE WORST EMPLOYEES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. As you can easily tell after reading this feature, I gave our writers one simple assignment—apologize for all the grief they've caused Portland during their tenure at the Mercury—and once again they've proven they can't follow the simplest of instructions. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! Will one of you—any of you—please do what I fucking say? For once?!? Well, if nothing else, I hope this stupid exercise in futility will show what I've had to endure for the last 10 years. While I've earnestly tried to bring Portland the very best in news, entertainment, and culture, I've been vexed at every turn by a lackadaisical staff of drunkards, welfare cheats, and heroin addicts whose idea of "journalism" is searching "skateboard nutcrunch" on YouTube, having sex with their junkie boyfriends on their desks, and tossing their used condoms into the coffeemaker.

Obviously, I am the only reason this newspaper is still being published. I would compare the job to "herding cats," but (a) I don't want to insult cats (even though I fucking hate cats) and (b) it's more like herding junkie dogs chasing junkie cats. See the news section this week? I WROTE THAT. The real "Sarah Mirk" was too busy riding her idiot bike and licking acid paper to do any actual work. The same goes for our music section, film, and arts. However, I was too busy to write I Love Television™ this week, so I farmed it out to a prisoner in India. LIKE YOU GIVE A SHIT.

So yeah, I'M SORRY. I'm sorry that our publisher only budgets me enough money to hire ass-tarded morons. I'm sorry I've wasted the majority of my youth desperately trying to turn this chickenshit paper into chicken salad. And I'm sorry this feature sucks hemorrhoids out of the ass of a syphilitic donkey.

Sigh. We'll try again next week.