The Fish
for 14 February 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
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Addled Brains

Ms Martins,

Great article on Adler! You
are as funny and much more
incisive than the other Suck
writers I've read.

But it seems you are just as
cynical. If not The New
Yorker,
what is your
candidate for best literary
magazine? And do you really
think the Tina Brown years
brought The New Yorker back
to its roots of a wide
middle-class audience? It
would be nice to have Suck
sometimes show an ounce of
respect toward a person or an
institution. Or maybe that's
just too against type. If so,
what do you recommend as
balance for the destructive,
wonderful wit of Suck?

Thanks for the piece,

Jacob Klein
<jacob_klein@yahoo.com>

Thanks for your kind words. I
wouldn't exactly say Tina
Brown did the old eminence
grise
a world of good, since
her contributions tended
distinctly toward the
faux-titillating middlebrow
(e.g., Susan Faludi's
excursis on the porn
industry, Richard Avedon's
Weimar-knockoff photo spreads
of semi-clad models cavorting
with skeletons) and the
flat-out celebrity-addled
(e.g., her own personal
interview with President
Butthead and her reminiscence
of the doe-eyed vessel of
purity that was Princess Di).
If anything, such efforts
probably only made the
magazine's dwindling general
readership embarrassed on her
behalf, sort of like when
your mom gets a little
inebriated and tries to flirt
and dance the way the kids
do.

On the other hand, something
had to shake the thing out of
its rapidly advancing dotage,
and the early evidence
suggests the Remnick years
are not proving to be any
heroic palliative, what with
the uninterrupted reign of
Gopnik, the oddly inert
reviews, the profiles of F.
A. Hayek and Jerry Lewis. My
general advice, though, is to
resist the urge to fetishize
any culture organ as a bearer
of literary last words, on
the simple grounds that it is
the very thing that every
such magazine most wants you
to do. And as the sobering
example of La Renata attests,
all the toy-soldier intrigue
that comes hard upon such a
designation is often the
quickest path to surrendering
your own judgment in such
matters, to say nothing of
your sanity.

And speaking of which, my
recommendations regarding
balance to the destructive,
wonderful wit of Suck are
simple: Turn off the
computer, exit your
apartment, lie down in
sun-dappled meadow, and think
of all the things in this
life you should be grateful
for. Then call up Tina Brown
and score some crack.

And one last thing: That's
Mr. Martins to you.

Holly Martins
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Did Adler suspect that the
Liddy children had, at one
point, been clones? That all
children begin life as
replicants? Or, for that
matter, that I, perhaps,
might be one?

Adler is merely saying that
the kids are individuals, as
opposed to most
cookie-cutter, whiny, loser
towheads you see in the
world. She's not talking
about genetics but rather
personality. This kind of
drunken gunfighting isn't
what I've come to expect from
Suck. Shape up.

Elijah Meeks
<ElijahM@
AdicomWireless.com> I
applaud your fire-breathing
empiricism. This, however,
falls under the category of a
new accessory we've added at
Suck, the writing device
known as the "joke." One of
the situations in which you
might expect to see the joke
applied is when a maladroit
use of an image or metaphor
is literalized, and its
interpretation is heightened
to an absurd degree for comic
effect. In this instance, the
random deployment of an
inapposite genetic metaphor
to restate a point already
made in the first place —
that the kids are indeed
individuals — sends the
mind reeling for the simple
reason that the hapless
reader of Gone never knows
what Adler is going to say
next or why she might be
saying it. So to review: The
literal reading of "clones"
is no less preposterous than
many of the other fussy and
loony byways one stumbles
into over the course of
Gone. And the fact that it
concerns convicted Watergate
creep Gordon Liddy adds an
undertone of witty espionage
to the execution of the joke.

It does occur to me, however,
that perhaps some other
genetic experiment gone
terribly awry has resulted in
the terrifying specter you
describe: A vast cohort of
children loose in the world,
with toes in the place where
their heads should be. If
this means what I think it
might, we're going to need
all the drunken gunfighting
we can muster.

Holly Martins
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


While I certainly cannot find
fault in Martins' criticism
of Renata Adler, I think the
whole piece is simply
rendered inert by that
ridiculous last line. Yes, it
is very amusing to dissect
the now vestigial culture
that The New Yorker was once
the voice for. However, it is
just bad writing to clumsily
attempt to invalidate the
whole publication because
there were too few ideas
banging around in the attic
on how to end a piece. Since
the American literary culture
(or is that semi-literate)
has long since rotted away
and The New Yorker has been
so shitty and irrelevant for
so long, I am sure that it is
hard to see how The New
Yorker
could have once had a
place in anything
intellectually interesting.
But, sadly, it did. Let us
give all those decrepit,
senile, Park Avenue invalids
that at least.

G
<unhot@hotmail.com>

If you'll look over the
offending final sentence
closely, you'll notice that
the "it" you have associated
with the magazine at large
actually refers to the social
contract inhering in Adler's
brain, the tight association
of culture and clubbiness. I
would never say that The New
Yorker
of old had no reason
for being — and I am
straining mightily not to
insert the obvious punchline
here regarding a key symptom
of the culture's swoon into
semi-literacy being the
inability to assign pronouns
to their proper antecedents.

Holly Martins
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


oops, my mistake. excuse
portion of the show:

a) i get up at 4 a.m. here in
SF because of the market and
respond to emails and webzine
articles when half asleep
b)
there's not a good latte to
be found near the
transamerica building
c) i'm
an idiot in general
d) all of
the above


i hope i do not turn into one
of those people who writes
the president asking to stop
the CIA from controlling the
weather.

G
<unhot@hotmail.com>
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Man on the Floor

Huckster,

Poor Chris Farley. He's been
dead over a year now, and he
still can't escape vicious,
nasty, callow, nihilistic,
amoral, and worst of all,
mind-numbingly obvious
screeds like today's Suck. I
was never a big fan of his,
but gradually, since his
death (which I still believe
was pathetic beyond belief),
I've come to feel almost
protective of the guy's
memory, and I never even met
him.

Suck can do better than this
... or can it?

Robert Anderson
<roba@cadence.com>

I am definitely trying to be
as mind-numbingly obvious as
possible. But I wonder if
I've gotten there yet, since
my intention was to satirize
Jim Carrey's pretensions
and the news media's
genuflections in the face of
those pretensions, rather
than Chris Farley's.

Best,

Huck
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Laughed out loud at the
brilliance of "Smeli
Forskin"! I laugh even as I
write it! Thanks for the big
chuckle. Lots of funny stuff
in today's piece, but you've
certainly got a flair for
names! And I liked the
"terribly, terribly; rare,
rare; much, much" bit.

Thanks,

Sara L. Manewith
<saraman@uic.edu>

If you ever have a pet or
baby or really anything that
needs naming, let me know,
and I will be happy to
provide you with something
snappy and funny.

Huck
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


are you run by the
government? or is your
company linked to a large
multinational corporation?
the stuff just isn't funny.
you remind of the guy on
the late late show — i
suppose i would laugh if i
were a brainwashed automaton.
keep up the fine work, robot
boy. i definitely wouldn't
buy a ticket to see Jim
Carrey portray you.

lots of love,

Dan Brennan


I would definitely buy a
ticket to see jim carrey
portray you, even if all you
do is write email. You know
why? Because you are
completely hilarious! That
bit about are we "run by the
government"? Sidesplitting!
The "large multinational"
jibe? Subtle, but still,
really, really effective.
True, I've heard the
"brainwashed automaton" bit
before, but the way you
phrase it, you just make it
totally your own. And totally
funny! I was wondering how
you were going to top that
— and I was somewhat
smugly assuming you wouldn't
be able to do it, I have to
confess — and then you
hit me with "robot boy." What
the fuck? Is there a team of
you generating such corrosive
wit, or are you a one-man
operation?

Seething with jealousy,

Huck
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Blowing Smoke

Read the 31 January 2000 Suck
with much amusement on many
levels.

The link discussing Clever
Canadians shows them taking
credit for some dubious
inventions: the V-chip,
five-pin bowling (won't go
near that joke), the game of
Trivial Pursuit (from the
country of same), and
finally, Plablum ("baby
food"), not to be confused
with pablum ("baby food
pronounced without swilling a
lot of beer").

The cleverness in their
inventions abounds in their
Web page editing. I never
knew that Canada is also home
to Gordon Lightfood (no
relation to Plablum).

It sounds like your hitch in
Georgia (Snow? The fuck you
say! It NEVER snows there!) is
going about like I figured
mine in the Navy would, which
is why I ditched after one
year in ROTC and exposure to
a stunning lack of
intelligence in my unit. I
have since found that there
are a lot of intelligent
people in the services at
both the enlisted and officer
ranks. Unfortunately, they
learn early on (as it appears
you have) that the only way
to survive is to hide any
trace of intelligence or
evidence of exposure to
(gasp) liberal arts.

Don't worry, you'll be
through it and living off
base soon enough.

Cheers,

Colin <fdisk@mpinet.net>

It didn't snow. It was
supposed to snow like a
(expletive deleted), as we
say in the Army, and we shut
down the post and hunkered
down for a massive blizzard
(I stocked up on booze and
those really good soy-protein
bars, the chocolate kind) ...
and then it, like, rained for
a few minutes.

And I won't be living off
post, not unless I get
married. Which ISN'T GOING TO
HAPPEN IN OR AROUND COLUMBUS,
GEORGIA.

I mean, like, wow — it is
not going to happen in or
around Columbus, Georgia. So.
Yeah.

Loaded for Canadians,

PFC Beers,
serving listlessly
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


You forgot to add that the
absurd notion of "60 million
advertising impressions per
year" having any effect at
all on smoking habits
overlooks advertising's
version of the Inverse Square
Law of physics: The quality
of the intended impression
goes down exponentially as
the quantity of exposures
increases. The more one sees
it, the more one gets used to
it; except for the first few
exposures, it ceases to have
any effect at all and may
actually provoke spiteful
defiance (rather like a joke
retold too many times over).
This, of course, assumes
advertising has any
detectable effect on consumer
attitudes in any case.

I'm sure there's been some
sort of academic psych-lab
research corroborating my
point; after all, there's
been graduate-level research
into how many shuffles one
needs to randomize a deck of
playing cards, so why not
this?

Christopher Driskell
<casaubon@ compuex.com>

I'm reasonably certain that
I've never bought anything
— anything — because
of an advertisement. But I
may have to pick up one of
those diseased lung things,
if they start running
pictures of 'em where I can
see them all the time. They
sound pretty cool.

The following word will
create an advertising
impression for my name,

Beers
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Dear Ambrose,

Your piece, while highly
amusing, contains several
egregious errors. Firstly, no
Health Canada officials have
2 billion fingers. Even those
working on the biotech files.
They may have 2 billion
digits, but you didn't do
your research, so I'm not
going to give you the answer.

Second, smoking may have gone
up 4 percent, but doughnut
consumption went DOWN. This
is an important stat for some
reason, I just can't think of
it now.

Finally, Ottawa doesn't even
tax all that well. On the
plus side, the government did
consider sponsoring NHL teams
to help equalize the exchange
rate between our beautiful,
multicoloured currency and
your bland green stuff.
Surely trying to bolster up
an unsustainable, bloated
professional sports league
offsets our wacky antismoking
legislation, eh?

Yours,

Will Murray
<murray_29@hotmail.com>

Canadian health officials
don't have 2 billion fingers?
They do when they work
together,
pal. Clearly what
we have here is another
I-hate-collectivism type,
missing the proto-Canadian
point about pulling together.
Move south, son. You'll find
plenty of people here who
understand you in ways your
country mates never will.

American and alone as hell
and, by god, proud of it,

Beers
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Regarding "television
everywhere," I've been
running into it as a business
traveler. The first "captive
market" advertising was the
dumb "magazines" they put in
airline seats, with two
shoddy articles and 75 pages
of glossy ads, standing
primly next to the SkyMall
insert as a paragon of
journalism. Now, we have two
hours of "business oriented
programming," which is slices
of network news with lots of
ads. Guess what? You can't
avoid looking at them unless
you put on your eye shield or
bury yourself in a physical
book or laptop. Of course,
they pass out the free
headphones for that segment
of the flight. At least you
can avoid the sound by not
plugging in the headphones,
although eventually they'll
figure that out and turn the
sound on — nonstop.

Next, there's CNN. It's in
the Heathrow express train,
it's loud, it has many
commercials, and the only way
to avoid it is to sit in the
"quiet zone" trains, where
you can't take cell phone
calls. For £12, I get
the privilege of being forced
to watch ads, all as a
"service" to myself.

The CNN loud boxes are
springing up everywhere.
Airport lounges are the most
popular places. I think the
worst was Philadelphia, where
the sound was cranked to
"unavoidable." I'm sure the
airlines will start requiring
hour-ahead check-in, just to
make sure people sit in front
of the boxes.

It appears that the greatest
benefit of flying business
class these days is the
business class lounge, where
they don't put up with that
kind of crap. Will the
privilege of the ruling class
be the freedom to think its
own thoughts? Will people
strive for riches just to
avoid the chatterbox?

If I could change the channel
on the TV, or if the channel
were something other than CNN
with more ads than CNN
usually has, it might almost
be enjoyable. Or if they were
Internet boxes that I could
interact with, perhaps with a
banner ad. But no. Crappy
CNN; crappy ads.

If it were only History
Channel documentaries of
Hitler. Hitler would be a
pleasure.

Regards,

Brian Bulkowski
<brianb@liberate.com>

Well, given a choice between
Hitler and Ted Turner ...

Joining Jane at the door,

Beers
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

 The Shit
Fully Committed, Becky Mode, the Cherry Lane Theater, New York, New York
Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne, Del Rey, 1997
Chow Yun Fat's haircut in Anna and the King
A Comment on Mini-skirts, Thornton Dial
"Leonardo's Grave," Ian Jacks, Granta #67
The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried, directed by Adrian Hoven, 1971
The annual reappearance of cheap clementines in bodegas
The New Meaning of Treason, Rebecca West, Penguin Books, 1985
Five-Card Nancy (a card game played with individual panels of Ernie Bushmiller's comic strip)
The Birthday Party Live 1981-82, Four A.D., 1999
Black Sessions 10/22/98, Belle & Sebastian , (unreleased)
San Lorenzo's Blues, Nuzzle, Troubleman Unlimited, 1999
The Story of Time, exhibition in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England
Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery, John Michael Vlach, University of North Carolina Press, 1993

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