The Fish
for 16 May 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Phillip Bailey]
Phillip Bailey
Production Editor


Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Colombia House

"...these are the same
paramilitaries linked to the
Army that stands to gain most
from the $1.6 billion in
American aid..."

With all this talk about drug
plans for seniors it warms my
heart to know that our noble
government hasn't forgotten
the younger generation. I
can't wait for those
subsidies to be reflected in
lower prices on the street
corner. With all the money
young hoodlums save in
reduced prices from a
protected coke market they
can revitalize our nation's
sagging assault weapon and
strip club industries. Not to
mention a complex jungle war
is just the sort of fertile
ground to cultivate a host of
gritty dramas about how
tragic and pointless complex
jungle wars are. It could be
The Soprano's meets Full
Metal Jacket. I bet Coppola
is all over this thing.
Still, I suspect Plan
Colombia is a Republican tool
to give Dubbya an area of
foreign policy that he
actually does know something

Snorting Roundup anyway,


Clay, You should see the
strip clubs in the coca
growing towns. Now, that's
entertainment! As for
Coppola, give him my number,
willya? Maybe it'll be my
ticket outta here! And hey,
paraquat pot was bad enough;
stay away from Roundup blow.

Thanks for writing; hope you
enjoyed the piece.

Fish With Letter Icon

Your article on the Columbia
problem was satisfyingly
level and realistic. When the
military-industrial complex
(Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, Bell
Helicopter, etc) stands to
make tens and hundreds of
millions you can be rest
assured that there will be
bushels of"impassioned"
support from our fair
whosepersonal/campaign funds
have been fattened by these
corporations in some way or
another (business contacts or
"golf buddies"). Where's the
legislative incentive to
fight these crocodile-tear
spewing paternalists; Bob
Graham, Brent Scowcroft, Paul
Coverdell, and the blind
machine Bob McCaffrey? When
is it going to be popular in
congress to keep this
country's nose in our own
business solving problems
realistically? How the hell
can people get upset about a
misplaced Cuban boy and not a
horrendous mess like this?

Great work.

Stephen Ingram

I don't know, Stephen — I
guess the Cuban boy is more
kneejerk, gut-level; and the
drug problem/Colombia
conflict is too much to think
about at the end of a long
day's work.

But the lobbying being done
by these helicopter and other
industry guys while
everybody's droning out
definitely should be in the
news more.

Thanks for writing, man.

Fish With Letter Icon

I don't know dick about
Columbia, and I really don't
know all that much about
drugs, licit and otherwise.
I've been to Iran, however.
There may be a moral here.

Iran sits on the Afghan and
Pakistani borders, where most
of the world's heroin comes
from Inevitably, despite a
pretty honest and very
motivated police and
military, a whole lot of
opiate enters the
country.It's not aimed at the
local market, mind you;
they're just trying to get
through Iran to other
transshipment points. A
certain amount sticks.

Accordingly, Iran has one
devil of a drug problem. It's
a poor country which limits
their resources for
treatment, and this
embarrasses them so they
don't talk about it much, but
they're doing pretty much
what they can. There are
programs, there's lots of ant
drug postering, the penalties
are damn stiff. Islam is
pretty harsh on opiate use
anyway (the Prophet forbade
use of stuff that messes up
your head, essentially,
although they seem to have
avoided applying that rule to
tobacco). Still, you walk the
streets of Tehran you'll see
more people nodding out than
you'll see in a comparable
area in today' s New York.

Similar things are happening
in other areas where drugs
are produced. Columbia I'm
told today has a hell of a
cocaine abuse problem; opiate
and heroin addiction are
major problems in Burma and
Pakistan; God knows what's
happening in Afghanistan
these days. The countries
that considered drugs a
Western problem and sort of
laughed off the West's
addiction problems as "not
happening here" are seeing a
major re-roosting of the

It turns out that drugs are
addictive. You put in more
drugs, you get out more
addicts. Sure, there are lots
of underlying reasons people
get hooked...but mostly,
drugs cause addiction. All
the treatment programs in the
world aren't going to change
that; the only way you really
keep people from getting
addicted to drugs is by
keeping the drugs away.

If you want to argue that the
damage the war on drugs does
is worse than the damage
drugs themselves do, you may
have an argument. Or not. But
you can't argue that the war
on drugs actually causes the
basic drug addiction problem,
because it just plain
doesn't. And you can't argue
that it isn't in the US
interest to minimize the flow
of drugs coming out of

That said, I've got &151; as
previously noted &151; not a
damn thing worth suggesting
about what our policy toward
Columbia should be. I'd just
like to avoid any more
discussion about how if we
only legalized this stuff and
start putting all our
resources into treatment
everything would be just
fine. Because it wouldn't be.

Fine, well written piece.

Alan S Kornheiser

The Doctor Is IN "That thing
you're doing...don't do


Thanks for your thoughtful
response. I couldn't help but
be reminded by your letter of
a stirring story I read in
the April 19 New York Times
on the heroin epidemic in
Karachi, Pakistan. The UN
estimates there are 1.5
million addicts in Pakistan
all told! Check out the
piece, maybe in a search
under author Barry Bearak.

As for drugs in general, I
can't help but disagree with
the notion of personifying
drugs — they "cause
addiction." In areas like
Iran or Pakistan, the police
and army may be "motivated,"
as you say, but the lack of
resources you mention means
the policing/treatment ratio
is a million times more
skewed than the
already-skewed 2:1 ratio seen
in US drug czar McCaffrey's
budget. My point is, we just
don't know what would happen
if we even had 1:1 efforts in
U.S., Pakistan, wherever. The
idea of spending one dollar
in prevention and treatment
for every dollar spent
"keeping drugs away," as you
put it, has not been tried.
We don't know. But we do have
studies like the 1994 Rand
Corporation paper that
concludes treatment is far
more effective than
interdiction alone. And what
if we took the same attitude
to alcohol (which I guess we
did with Prohibition)? Talk
to people who have been to AA
and benefitted — would
they rather you just "kept
booze away" from them?

Finally, neither I nor those
I mention in the story argue
that the "War on Drugs causes
addiction." I would say,
however, that there's now
ample evidence that the W on
D as it is now conceived
isn't doing much to lower
addiction. So let's consider
other ways to "fight" this
war! And I also would say
that the U.S. W on D as it
enters Colombia may cause a
lot of problems in an already
complicated scenario —
including the loss of lives
and money. And that has
nothing to do with addicts,
or drugs.

Thanks again for writing.

Fish With Letter Icon

Hi Tim,

Just a quick note to say
thanks for your piece on
Colombia. It's the best thing
on Suck for a long time now.

Thanks again,


Gary — No, thank you for
letting me know. Tell the
other Tim (Cavanaugh) to hire
me weekly!

Fish With Letter Icon

Dead Spots

hello holly, i very much
enjoyed your last article in
SUCK, was very engrossed and put into
words what i had on some more
subconscious level noticed
myself...very well done. the
only thing i wish that you
had done was expand the
notions you were getting at
in your last two seemed bigger
than the perimeters you were
given. that more expansive
write up is something i'd
like to read more of. thank
you for the article, and by
the way do you publish your
work anywhere else?

Brandon Herndon

Thanks for your kind words. I
try to remind the lords of
Suck that I always strive to
be bigger than the perimeters
I'm given, but that's usually
when I receive the check from
whoever seems to be owning
the site these days. As for
my other published work, most
of it is on subscription-fee
sites such as Barely Legal,
but if you track down the
name behind the Suckonym
— available in Suck's
helpful Contributor's Index,
and recently reported with
nonsensical breathless
fanfare in The Village Voice
— and trot over to a
search engine, you can track
down literally dozens of my
little nuggets of wisdom.


Holly M.

Excellent piece on death.

I'm sure you've been asked
this before, but have you
read any of the Terry
Pratchett Discworld books?
Reaper Man might be a
particularly good choice.

Anyway, using death to shill
products is nothing new.
Besides religions and cults
throughout history, I'm told
the Romans loved stuff with
skeletons on it, and the
touristy Day of the Dead is
alive and well in Mexico
today. It's still kinda
disturbing, though.

Good job!

Michael Kuberry

Thank you, sir. And no, I
know not from Discworld, nor
have I been asked before.

And yes, death has been a
great brand developer for
world religions of all kinds,
but at least they profess to,
you know, believe in stuff.
Our new cohort of bilious
death pitchers just want to
extinguish whatever they can
of non-product based
subjectivity — and when
you think about it, death is
pretty much the last
remaining unbranded
experience vouchsafed to us
in this particular mediaverse
vale of tears. But whatever
— I'm off to catch the
next episode of Felicity.

Holly M.

Allow me to congratulate you
on a spirited *tour de
force.* Sadly, I'm able to
remember the first suck. More
sadly still, I'm still living
the kind of life which allows
me the luxury (?) of
continuing to read it

I was the first on my block
to "blog" (the verb had yet
to exist) suck to my friends.

I endured suck when it became
popular (the horror. . .).

With secret glee I nourished
its fifteen minutes.

Many seasons have passed.

Your article is the first
thing I've read that *forced*
me to reply.

Thank you. /begrudgingly


PS While I'm at it: thanks
for all the good years, I
don't expect to be writing
again during this life cycle.

Sadly, I, too, am able to
remember the first Suck —
but only long enough for the
lithium to kick in... And if
you think it's sad to have
the sort of life that permits
you to read it everyday, just
ponder the untrammeled misery
that compels one to write for
the thing. And as for all the
good years, you're more than
welcome — and rest
assured that at the end of
your life cycle, we will
subcontract your memory to a
Mountain Dew ad.

Read in peace,

Holly M.

No doubt there is an
insidious connotation to the
Grim Reaper's new role as
pitchman, but there is a much
more disturbing trend
crawling out of the
advertising hell mouth: The
Super Silly Dance Ad. These
steaming piles of giddiness
have been featured in ads for
The Gap, Old Navy, and even
parodied by our favorite
iridescent hyper caffeinated
beverage. They are wild shots
fired into psyche that reveal
the cold soullessness and
finely tuned desperation of
the corporate world. It is
enough to make a person
consider the Cobianian method
to remove at least one
consumer from the market.
Fortunately, before I can
decide on a .357 or a crack
pipe to implement my escape
The Simpsons come back on,
someone fires up the bong,
and I remember that you don't
really need a Jeep to save a

Drinking Mt. Dew in the
safety of my own home,


What, you mean we aren't
supposed to break out into
hysterical, spontaneous,
shrill song and dance
routines every time we
stumble across a jeans
display or an iridescent
beverage? What am I supposed
to do with this
getup, then?

Facing the music and

Holly M.


Not wanting to take too much
time explaining how I agree
or disagree with the
point/premise of today's
piece of suck, I still could
not suppress my usual
knee-jerk reaction to minor
copy errors which kicked in
upon reading your bio.
Particularly when the error
in the spotlight occurs three
words after your Ed position
at Newsday is mentioned
(suburbs is a typo). Other
than that, great piece today.
A question I kept asking - is
advertising responsible for
our collective death
cheat(?), or is it merely
responding to a cultural way
of life swing that has sent
us leering closer to the edge
of a two choice cliff: death
by natural gravity, or the
brave new Huxley reality
suckhole of hyper-consumerist
bliss. I'm not quite sure
what to do since I lost the
hardware to my Ikea urn.

Take care,


Be not afraid; the ad death
cheat merely expresses a
growing hostility to the
indignities of a natural
life's tragic limits: Birth,
loss, disappointment, death
— everything, in other
words, that can't be shrunken
down into a consumer's own
gnawing sense of merely
personal inadequacy and
gleefully plugged in with the
product du jour. But, since
your very own name means
death in German, you can rest
assured that the skull at the
banquet always gets the last
laugh. And not to cavil
myself, but shouldn't it be
"minor copy errors that
kicked in upon reading your
bio"? Besides, I do work in
the subrubs — but only
until next month, when I
begin a job in Our Nation's


Holly M.

Now that's smart, and cutting
edge, and just generally good
writing. Who says Tim can't
pick good columnists? Was it
Freud who compared life
without the fear of death to
playing a game without
keeping score? It's easy to
see what attracted
advertisers to thanatos: an
emotional hook is an
emotional hook. Still, you'd
have thought they'd be bright
enough to realize that while
eros encourages consumption,
death focuses the attention
quite nicely on the
pointlessness of consumption.
Useful cross reference: the
momenti mori that appear in
so much Northern European
art; where you find those
wonderful floral still lifes,
you usually also find dying
flowers, insects, and a hint
of corruption.

Fine, fine piece. Thanks.

Alan Kornheiser
The Doctor Is Ailing,
but thank you so much
for asking

Why, thank you - especially
since, as I'm sure you know,
every Suck contributor gets a
cash bonus for every Alan
Kornheiser letter he or she
generates. Though I'm pretty
sure the source for the quote
you reference was not Freud,
but Buck Dharma. As for the
logic that led to the current
ad game romance with the
reaper, my guess is that it's
pure marketeering hubris
— at some level, I'm sure
that most of these
copywriters believe, like
Patrick Bateman, that the
correct alignment of consumer
taste and branding strategy
really will allow them to
conquer death. It's just a
shame that we can't be
assured that there will be a
video on hand to record each
of their own individual
appointments with the
Recording Angel...

Yours in petty morbid revenge

Holly M.

Hey Holly,

Great article, however you
forgot the best extreme
sports/death commercial out
there. The faux soft drink ad
(splod) showing kids bungee
jumping off a bridge to grab
cans of their favorite drink,
only to have one explode in
midair. Ironically enough,
the whole ad is part of this
ridiculous anti-smoking 'one
in three die' campaign.
Rather than showing some out
of shape guy puffing on a
cigarette, you see these
photogenic 'extreme' bungee
jumping kids (who probably
smoke) having a blast (sic)
with their soft drink. Here's
hoping that at least one of
them will die of heart
problems related to either
high sugar or caffeine

Keep the suck sucking


Damn, I missed the whole
point of that ad - I thought
it was for sabotaged
exploding bungee cords and
have been trying to purchase,
and discreetly distribute,
them ever since.

Yours in extreme consumer

Holly M.

 The Shit
Krushchev Remembers, by Nikita Krushchev (authorship disputed), translated by Strobe Talbott
Five-Star Day Cafe
Athens, Ga.
Salon's "Action Figures"
TV ad
Donna's Famous "Long and Short of It," by Donna Anderson and friends
Two-Lane Blacktop, directed by Monte Hellman (The Anchor Bay/Universal letterboxed edition)
George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance, by Lydia Millet (Scribner)
King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score, by Max Steiner Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William J. Stromberg conductor (Marco Polo)
Eightball #20, by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)
The ECW's Little Spike Dudley
Stan Kenton, City of Glass, featuring arrangements by legendary weirdo Bob Graettinger (EMD/Blue Note)
Comix 2000, Edited and published by L'Association, 2000
Star Dudes
Do you know of stuff that doesn't actively suck? Things so good they deserve to make the Shitlist? Send your suggestions to us.

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