"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 8 July 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.



Humanity's march of progress has

taken a great leap forward in

recent years, thanks to

breakthrough technologies that

allow house arrest for dogs.

With Instant Fence Transmitter,

the wireless doggie Lojack from

Virginia-based Comtrad

Industries, you can take your

pet off the chain and still

confine him to an area 180 feet

in diameter. Like other Comtrad

pet products, including Catscram

("My cat is special to me, but

there are some places I don't

want her to go!") and Electronic

Flea Comb ("Give fleas the death

sentence!"), Instant Fence works

through radio signals,

delivering Rex a "startling but

not harmful pulse" when he

approaches the boundary of the

penal zone. It sounds great, but

we needed to be sure it worked

before putting our own furry

friends under the collar. And

while we strive to keep Suck

interviews from turning into

pranks that could be better

served by Johnny and Kamal, it

seemed a phone test of a Comtrad

customer service rep would

determine whether we should

trust this company with our

loved ones:

Comtrad rep: How may I
help you?

Hi, I'm with the Children's
Equity Research Council. I'd
like to take a few minutes
to ask you some questions.

Are you sure you have the right
number, sir?

Isn't this Comtrad?

Yes it is.

Yeah, I have a couple of


OK, the first question is: What
do you think is the biggest
challenge facing our children

Sir, this is a direct mail
marketing company. We sell

Right, you're selling the
Instant Fence Transmitter,
aren't you?


Yeah, I had a question about my


I bought one for my toy poodle
Riannon, and I'm wondering if
you've ever had a case where the
Instant Fence signal attracts
dogs from around the
neighborhood. Because ever since
we started using this thing,
these two chows from down the
street will not leave my dog

No, we haven't had any instances
like that, to be honest with
you. I haven't heard of anything
like that.

The thing is, the chows are both
males, and if you've ever seen a
male dog when he's excited, it's
kind of disgusting. I've got
kids here.

Uh huh.

So has it ever happened in your
testing of the product, that it
started to attract other dogs
like that?

The manufacturer tested this
product for five years. And I
haven't heard of any case like

Well the weird part is that my
dog is also a male, and your
computer seems to be making him
act a little, you know, funny.

I've never, ever, ever heard of
that before. The only thing I
can do is give you the number of
the manufacturer, which I'm
looking for right now. And you
can call them and see if they've
heard of anything like this.

OK, but will I be able to get a
refund if there is a problem?

Sure, how long have you had the

Uh, eight months.

Eight months? Oh, to be honest
with you, I don't know about
that, because our return policy
is 90 days.

Well, you know, I would have
known that, except that ever
since these two chows have
started, you know, romancing my
dog, all the warranty materials
have disappeared. And you know
that video, the instructional
video that comes with the


That's been recorded over, and I
don't know how that happened
either, but it's only happened
since I started using your

Yeah, uh, I'm looking to ... I
can't do anything ... I can't
give you a refund on the sale.
Customer service could do that.
But I'll be honest with you; if
you've had it for eight months,
I'd be shocked if they did. They
may give you credit toward
another product from us, but I
don't know about a refund.

OK, could I ask you one more


On a scale of one to five, one
being least positive, five being
most positive, how would you
rate the following people as
role models for our children:
The first one is Wu Tang Clan's
Old Dirty Bastard?

What are these questions for,

For our polling research. For
the Children's Equity Research

Uh, I don't know anything about
the Wu Tang Clan. Not my type of
music, I guess. I've never heard
of them, so I don't think I can
answer your questions.

OK, well, thank you very much. I
appreciate your help.

OK, bye-bye.



If you thought those pagan

ritual scenes in the Eyes Wide

Shut preview were some kind

of Dianetic master plan foisted

on an enfeebled Stanley Kubrick

by Tom and Nicole, well,

maybe you're right. But the

latest grief charge in the

dwindling spiral of Scientology

lore concerns another film,

the adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard's

Battlefield: Earth, starring

John Travolta (plot summary:

Puritan Earthman "Jonnie Goodboy

Tyler" battles alien Sleestaks in a

holy war against cheap, blue-screen

special effects). Early last

week, a killed Variety story on

the movie led to a complete ARC

breakdown between former

reporter Dan Cox and Editor in

Chief Peter Bart, with Bart

detailing the paranoid

misemotions of the Hubbardites,

and Cox claiming the paper had

knuckled under to the litigious

Scientologists. As it turns out,

the story didn't stay dead for

long. Vaguely hoping to be sued

out of our misery by the Church

of Scientology, we called Cox

(now a newly minted agent at

Broder, Kurland, Webb, Uffner)

in hopes of picking up his opus,

but learned that he is "in

negotiations" to fob the story

off on The New Yorker (which

presumably has the pockets to

fend off the inevitable legal

battle). So we see the end of

another truism — the one about

how the Scientologists can't be

stopped in their efforts to rid society

of all those entheta-spewing

body Thetans. A more real

threat to the Church's dominion

is the possibility that

Travolta will actually get his

US$70 million movie made, thus

revealing as no reporter could

what a flaming nut case the

Prophet L. Ron really was.



The most embarrassing thing

about the renewed battle over

flag desecration is the

difficulty TV news crews have

finding footage of Americans who

actually commit this

Amendment-worthy crime. While

hard-working shutterbugs

occasionally luck into rallies

devoted to, of all things,

preserving the freedom to burn

the flag, mostly we have to make

do with Smoldering Glory scenes

that were actually shot in

Belgrade, Tehran, Ottawa, and

other hot spots, where the

locals relish any opportunity to

wipe their asses with our

colors, not to mention our bogus

regulations. Self-publishing

poet Ernest Slyman recently

spammed us with an ode that

suggests an explanation for why

Americans are so reluctant to

shred the national pennon. We

had to read it; why shouldn't

you suffer?


Flag Day

The young man
knelt down and doused the flag
with gasoline.
The park brimmed with people
when he removed a cigarette lighter
from his coat.
Flipped the lid.
Thumbed the pinwheel.
Scrunched his face up
into a tight little ball —
and the bright orange flame,
which seemed to leap
from inside him,
stung the flag.
But Old Glory didn't light;
it coughed, sneezed;
the flag snarled
as though a wild animal
rudely awakened
and indignant, snapped at him,
reared up on its hind legs
like a wild tiger,
a striped exotic beast
with a fetid, meaty breath
and agate eyes, and opened its jaws,
a great yawning snarl,
and leap, snapped his neck,
devoured him darkly.


Slyman's Silverstein-esque lyric

has convinced us that the

Star-Spangled Banner is too

dangerous to be desecrated

outright. We suggest instead a

subversive scheme of subtle

mockery. But then, that one

seems to have started already.



Is television a great wasteland,

or just a harsh, alternate

realm? Hollywood has shown new

signs of interest in nonvirtuous

reality, from recent hit The

Matrix to recent bomb The

Thirteenth Floor. Now, The

X-Files impresario Chris Carter

is preparing a new series, Harsh

Realm, to take the place of his

Millennium, which apparently was

having a Y2K-ratings problem. The

new series covers the same

computer-generated territory as

its big-screen predecessors,

with the military-industrial

complex thrown in as the

villain. But it's already

acquiring the requisite rabid

Internet fan base without which

no modern media property is

launched. But what's really

interesting about Harsh Realm is

how it fills out the back story

of Megan Jasper's historic prank on

The New York Times. The Baffler

(which we're sad to see made it

online after years of keeping it

real, neo-Luddite style) first exposed

a "Styles of the Times" feature

on grungespeak, where Jasper

supplied a gullible Times

reporter with a completely

made-up vocabulary. (It's

somehow fitting that The New

Republic, best known for

bringing the new fiction to

market, picked up on the Baffler

tip and led the charge to bash

the Times.) Suck has learned that

Harsh Realm's source material, a

1992 comic book of the same name

by Jim Hudnall and Andrew

Paquette, traces its roots to

Jasper. Hudnall told Suck that

he first heard "harsh realm" —

Jasperese for "bummer" —

from a friend in a New Jersey

band. It may be a bit far

from Jasper's watery abode, but

it clearly owes its roots to the

Times' invented slacker

dictionary. Can you forgive our

disappointment, though, in

learning that Harsh Realm star

Scott Bairstow (fresh from the

failed Party of Five spinoff

Significant Others) won't be

wearing fuzz, kickers, and wack




Bachelorettes Alert! Find Mr.

Right in Silicon Valley! As

reported recently in the San

Jose Mercury News, single men in

Santa Clara county outnumber

single women by about 5,400. Much

as we like the idea of seeing an

end to unhappy however,

even a massive migration of

women to the Bay Area wouldn't

balance out the the massive

single-gal surpluses in

New York and Los Angeles, both

of which have unattached-women

oversupplies in the six-figure range.

Worse still, the Valley's paper of

record presents such an unappealing

choice of manly types (touting the

workaholic, dateless-on-Saturday

local dweebs as a nice relief

from "your beer-guzzling,

belching variety") that we're

still convinced a working girl

can't win. In fact, we don't

know whether we should be

commenting on the story at all,

since we suspect this

Singles-meets-Friends love

connection is all some lethally dull

new variety of the Great Grunge Hoax.

courtesy of the Sucksters

[Purchase the Suck Book here]