"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 22 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Designing Imposters


[Boy Toy]

Remember that mid-80s moment when

it seemed that every news hour

had a human-interest story on

the hordes of young girls who'd

fashioned themselves into

distorted doppelgangers of

Madonna? The code was easy

enough to crack - a fake mole

here, rosary beads and bangles

there, Jersey perm and jacket

courtesy of Desperately Seeking

Susan. We imagine she must have

felt like Elvis did upon seeing

Andy Kaufman milking his

impersonation routine for every

nervous laugh it was worth -

flattered, amused, and deeply




We doubt that the King indulged

his voracious appetite for

prescription poppers as a direct

result of said spectacle, but

it's not much of a stretch to

speculate that Madonna's ensuing

identity-reinventing may have

developed as she discovered just

how easy it was to deconstruct a

cheap gimmick. As we observe the

development of Blow, a website

cobbled together by one James

Quick that both imitates and

parodies Suck, our appreciation

for Madonna's methodology swells -

if we only had a little more

imagination (or sex appeal) we

might muster the juice to

reinvent our way out of this



OK, OK - we know what we did to

deserve this, we might as well

get used to it - a bite on our

name, logo design, formatting,

site structure, approach to

content and writing style (they

were wise not to grab the weak

puns we use for pseudonyms).

Still, the net effect of James

indulging his eerie Web

equivalent of professional

celebrity look-alikeism amounts

to a big head-scratcher for us

at Suck. Like the Bloated One,

we're a little flattered, a

little demoralized, but mainly

confused - we've been known to

devolve towards formulaic,

perhaps, but whereas we once

fancied ourselves a quadratic

equation, we've now been

revealed as a lame proof of, at

best, the associative rule, and

at worst, basic subtraction.



And Blow's pesky reminders have

taken to popping up daily.


The startling similarities

between the sites almost had us

convinced we'd been played

victim to some hideously

overcalculated office prank -

how else could Quick know to

pick as the title of his Friday

piece not only one of Webster's

favorite trash-culture refrains,

but precisely the one which

inspired the most gurglingly

worrisome dry-heaves from Duke?

And that only scratches the thin

bacterial outer layer from this

particular side of fetid



We've been criticized for wearing

our self-absorption on our

sleeves - this essay should

provide ample evidence that

we'll never hesitate to veer the

discussion back to Suck, given

half the chance. Similarly,

James rarely misses an

opportunity to discuss Suck. In

most cases this might constitute

obsession more than

self-absorption, but in light of

the bizarre circumstances, an

exception seems warranted.



From the literary allusions to

Shakespeare to the pretentious

name-dropping of Heidegger,

James is quick to demonstrate

in as painful terms as possible

just how similar undergraduate

curriculums in liberal arts

really are.


And, like any upstart wannabe

digizine, a Wired dis is

strictly compulsory.

Unfortunately, Blow gets a bit

caught up in its rhetoric and

ventures to predict, among

other things, that Wired's

endorsement is a sure sign that

Java will suck. Kinda like their

endorsement of the Web? He may

have a point, now that we think

about it...



If pressured, we'd likely attempt

to dissuade Quick from trying to

force his hand as an industry

analyst. But if our warnings go

largely unheeded, we'll

concentrate on stressing the

value of ignoring conventional

wisdom - especially when

opposing it is your stated

intent. Or, as Decca Recording

told the Beatles back in 62, "We

don't like your sound, and

guitar music is on the way out."



Blow's obfuscatory prowess is a

mighty contender to our own -

not only does he match our

propensity to linger

interminably before actually

(and often, accidentally)

unearthing a halfway-novel

point, his ability to muster

multiple paragraphs of

inscrutable yet seemingly

erudite prose can catch even the

feistiest reader off-guard and

knock 'em out before they

realize what's coming. (Namely,

deeeeeeeep sleeeeeeeep...)


James's evil genius is best

exemplified, perhaps, by "All

Ads, All the Time," which took a

Suck concept that failed and

made it workable. Some of you

will recall that, when Suck

first launched, it had a parody

ad banner on the top of the

page. Unfortunately, hardly

anyone actually read the ad

banner - most of you just

scrolled past it, assuming that

what you were seeing was another

ad for AT&T or Windows 95. We

eventually pulled the ad banners

because no one got it. Blow, on

the other hand, knew just what

to do with our concept - write a

piece on it (and quote us at

length). In the context of an

editorial, who can fail to

understand the ad parodies?


[Just Like Us!]

In the end, Blow is a first-class

fanzine and a more tangible

badge of honor than any

by-the-numbers NY Times write-up

could ever be. Which isn't to

say we'd toss the Details

photographers out on their ears -

we expect James to direct them

our way just as soon as they

finish his shoot...

courtesy of the Duke of URL