"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 August 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.


"If a picture wasn't going very 
well I'd put a puppy dog in it, 
always a mongrel, you know,     
never one of the full bred      
puppies. And then I'd put a     
bandage on its foot... I liked  
it when I did it, but now I'm   
sick of it."                    

-Norman Rockwell                



Suck is a year older today. Are

we any wiser? Well, are you?


It was the best of hype, it was

the worst of hype. This year the

web hit the big time, an

amphetamine sneeze of annoyance

punishing innocent TV viewers,

newspaper readers, and

widemouth-beer guzzlers across

the globe. Right around the time

Tampax started printing their

URL on their product wrappers,

we realized the predictions of

an industry-size bubble-bursting

were frightfully optimistic -

the web, or whatever it becomes

in these times of IE 4.0 desktop

annexation and

Pointcast-inspired transaction

theory, is here to stay. We'd

try to cough up a cowed "God

help us all" if we weren't

certain He's busy enjoying His

joint programming with NBC.



But if the current crop of

banana-headed programming

geniuses can't claim to have

shared in the wealth, their

attempts to cast blame on the

industry, the economic models,

the users, or their staffs only

illuminate insofar as they

value-add our daily laffs. It's

almost too bad net terrorists

waste their time spamming

mainstream media pundits - it

would've been amusing to see

blame for this year's content

disasters squarely on their own

shoulders. Web Review,

MCI/Delphi, Virtual City, Blow,

even Spiv - all dead. No wonder

the hottest new content meme is

the "gravesite of the day."



Don't get us wrong, though - we

hardly excuse ourselves from

this humiliating Special

Olympics. If it weren't for the

unflinching (if conveniently

misguided) trust Wired Ventures

has placed in us, we're sure

we'd have bit the bullet - hell,

"swallowed the gat" is more like

it - ages ago. Don't feel lonely

if you, at times, accidentally

confused our daily drollery for

diaper-filling - we too have

eyes that read, attention spans

that wane, and shame that reels.

But on this day, the anniversary

of our hollow institution, we're

afforded a unique opportunity -

to look back with morbid

curiosity at all the bleeps,

blunders, and tactical tropes

that misfired the most

spectacularly. And apologize.



Our sins?



Trade Show Counterflackery:

Especially TEDSell. It should've

been obvious that the last thing

you cubicled malcontents want to

read about is our travails at

exclusive conferences, shaking

sticky-bun-encrusted hands with

captains of the digital

industry. Our answer to Wired's

Mad Max treatment of John Malone

was comparing Ted Leonsis to

Seinfeld's Newman, and between

being rude to Dmitri Negroponte

and spinning media kits into

screeds, our only favor was to

the trees.



Welcome to the End of Film: And

every other attempt to pass off

our bathetic evening

entertainment curricula as

Suck-fodder. And if our moms

didn't read this column, we'd

have told about the other

movies, too.



Populist Rants: If we had a dime

for every time we pandered to the miseries

of website production hacks

circa 1995 we'd be almost $2.00

richer by now. Our current

shameless philosophy for

peddling outrage works like

these: "The truth hurts - but

never our hit counts."


Kaleida: A 3,000-word postmortem

on a failed multimedia would-be

Macromedia-killer. Don't bother

with Hail Marys; rereading this

piece is better than a hairshirt

for fulfilling media masochists

and repentant repurposers alike.



C is for Cookie: We blew it.

Those whose first exposure to

the "magic cookie" concept came

from this essay were made

unfortunate victims of a

suspiciously soft batch. This

didn't stop the Village Voice

from citing it, which sorta

proves our point. Actually,

apologizing for specific column

fiascos is like snorkeling in

quicksand - by the time we

realize how lost we are, we'll

have drowned.


[Peter Pez]

"The Web is like Pez...no, it's a hot dog

stand...no, it's an incestuous

alien clusterfuck!": We should

rig our quasi-ergonomic cradles

to deliver 40,000 volts every

time we think up a new dumb

metaphor for the web. Here's a

good one: "the web is like an

electron microscope trained upon

Nicholas Negroponte's navel."

New gimmick, anyone?



Stupid headlines: Especially

those scatological ones. "Murky

Brown"? "Three-fisted Tales of

Mirth"? "Close-Up Penetration

Shots & Your Children"? We'll

just call the next one "Still in

the Anal Phase" and be done with



Defective Promotional

Merchandise: If it weren't

enough that our Suck stickers,

pens and even condoms were

leaky, messy, and generally

shoddy, we managed to print

"ACII" instead of "ASCII" on the

Submission Guidelines of our

exquisite new promo brochure.

"We admit it," all right.


Suckster glam shots: It doesn't

matter what sort of lens or gels

you use, Sucksters in fashion

spreads is like 24-karat plating

on a stool - an interesting

project for shop class, but not

something you'd want to

broadcast. The print world

deserves our contrition.


Gratuitous self-referentiality

See above. (Or below. Or



Cruelty to Wildlife: What is it

that provokes unkindness from

these corners towards fellow

professionals trying to eke out

a living from the wide, wide

web? Is it a coincidence that

the Winer, Sinclair, Pescovitz

and, especially, Katz families

have come out so strongly in

favor of the Second Amendment?

Or are we lying again?


[Old Suck]

Apologies: What were we thinking

to apologize for our move to big

frames, big channels, and big

dollars? It's a sign of

weakness. Besides, the galloping

stallion from those Black Star

Beer banners told a story far

richer and resplendent in heady

significance than any of our

ponderous prose ever could.


Of course, our deepest sorrow is

largely preemptive. Having

crafted this partial taxonomy of

self-reproach, it dawns on us

that we've stumbled into a

elegant articulation of a

hitherto elusive formula. So

while you mortgage your Onyx,

expect more of the same and wish

us luck for year number two.

courtesy of the Duke of URL