"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 12 December 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Exotic, Neurotic, and Staple-free



Despite the rhetoric which would

call the Web the next revolution

in small-scale publishing and

the occasional listing or two in

Factsheet 5, we're still more

accustomed to browsing zines

once a month at the local comix

store or Punk Rock [tm] Emporium

than on the Web. Our lack of

geek chic might stem from the

typically charming crapulescence

of a cheaply-xeroxed,

hand-stapled masterpiece - even

a throwaway piece of shit can

exude cool if it's exotic (or

neurotic) enough.



Somehow, when we trace down our

favorite zines on the Web, they

tend to lose a bit of their

appeal - the contents of mags

like Ben is Dead and Crank,

while sporadically brilliant,

probably deserve something

better than garishly

over-bordered and super-aliased

gifs to do them justice. But

while a strangely amusing

undercurrent of compuphobia

still drifts through the zine

subculture - we're not expecting

Web-based versions of Pete's

Dishwasher zine or Cometbus

anytime soon - if you look

hard you can occasionally find

an online effort where zinedom's

hallmark eccentricity shines




While we may be leaving ourselves

wide open to accusations of

being overly optimistic, we do

like to think that there'll

always be room for small-time

weirdos to make similarly

small-time disturbances on the

Web. John Hargrave, the prankster

behind Zug, has made a

hobby of making trouble.

Long-time readers may recall our

infatuation for computer show

pranksters - anyone who's ever

had the misfortune of attending

one knows they need 'em in a bad

way. Distributing KILL GATES

t-shirts at Email World may not

rank with nailing 95 theses to a

church door, but it shows the

right attitude - then again, what

would you expect from a publication

with contributions from downtrodden

Ziff-Davis Interactive employees?



But the lobster-boy of this

sideshow attraction is a

weekly-updated series of email

correspondence - Outgoing Mail.

In the grand Tube Bar tradition,

Hargrave has repurposed

techniques heretofore best known

by rabid Jerky Boys fans,

sending inspiringly inane

missives to random commercial

websites. Highlights include a

resume sent to Jeff at the Spot,

mail to HotWired inquiring whether

there'd be any trouble with a

HotWeird site ("Rest assured

that the content of HOTWEIRD is

utterly unlike HOTWIRED: we plan

to focus mostly on cutting-edge

digital issues, the impact of

technology on society, that sort

of thing.") and a mock-vitriolic

complaint sent to the makers of

"Dinner Bucket Country Vegetable


When I was a child, I worked on a
farm with my violent alcoholic   
father who would awaken me at 4  
am and angrily demand that I     
"get the bucket and go milk the  
cow." Had your product existed   
then, and had I put my 8.25      
ounce "Dinner Bucket" container  
under the cow's udder, why, the  
milk drained from that teat      
would have overflowed and        
spilled upon the ground. I would 
have received a good beating.    

With this in mind, I would like  
you to consider some of the      
following product names, which I 
feel are more realistic: Dinner  
Thimble, Mouthful O' Dinner,     
Half-A-Dinner-Ladle. I feel this 
would help future customers      
avoid the pain and frustration I 
have endured.                    

Unfortunately, most of the

responses garnered from

Hargrave's trolls are just as

generic as the victim websites.



True to form, Hargrave flaunts

his more esoteric idiosyncrasies

with the best of 'em. Maybe we're

dupe enough to have misinterpreted

an arcane po-pomo prank, but

it's hard to make heads or tails

of Zug's Sky section, which

contains "hyper-biblical"

parables that seem earnest, if

subtly tweaked. After all,

Christian sermons from the same

character who earlier regales us

with tales of preaching the word

of Zug to MacWorld attendees

strikes us as sacrilegious - but

such may be the price of

cutting-edge spirituality.



Reading Zug leaves us wanting

for more. Now, it might be too

much to expect that emerging Web

zinesters scam Adobe products

and learn how to use

them - but after conquering

Kinko's tech, we'd think Web

hacking would be child's play.

We may just have to live with the

fact that good content is good

content - after all, if a zine

can't be idiosyncratic in

presentation and a little loose

on the copyediting, we're stuck

with a choice between your home

page and Pathfinder. Tell us

more about your childhood.

courtesy of the Prince of Dispersia