The Fish
for 15 August 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
The JAGged Edge

Haw can "JAG" possibly be
sufficiently significant to justify
so many (even critical) words ? ? ?


Salon has daily Big Brother
updates. And they're good.

This is new new new media. It's the
hand that feeds us, and feeds us

Why don't you just go back to
reading the Washington Post cover
to cover like you like to and leave
us shallow motherfuckers the hell

Well fed,

Fish With Letter Icon

You wrote:

"You can almost hearing the strains
of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the
USA" echoing in the distance"


Twice in one piece it sounds like
it's being translated from the

And JAG beats the crap out of the
anti-culture drivel coming from Fox

Eric Welch

You got some problem with stuff
being translated from the Japanese?
The Japanese give us all the best
stuff. We can almost smelling the
sushi right now.


Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: All the Revolutionaries
are on CBS!

I think I once saw about 20 minutes
of JAG and assumed it was a
knockoff of "A Few Good Men." The
way you describe it reminds me of
the hidebound TV programming that
covered Amurrica in the late '60s
like a cloud of U.S. Army nerve gas
over a Utah sheep ranch. It's the
return of "The Glass Teat," Harlan
Ellison's collection of columns
about TV from 1968 to 1970. Even
JAG sounds like a rehash of The New
Lawyers (or maybe The Young
Lawyers), which starred a young
Zalman King, in whom Ellison saw
greatness. Could CBS reinvent
itself as a reservation for safe TV
programs, a living monument to the
glory days of the Big Three? Maybe
the Tom Reddin Report will be
reborn as "Straight Talk with
General McCaffrey (or successor)"
and Aaron Spelling will remake his
1970 sci-fi howler, "The Love War."
Glen Campbell. The Rose Bowl
Parade. Variety shows! But who will
be the new Spiro?

The Global Retirement Village. Who
knew? Creamed corn and Jello for

Ralph's Spoilsport Motors

You are definitely a man after The
Boob's own heart. The show you are
referring to is neither The New
Lawyers nor The Young Lawyers, but
The Storefront Lawyers, CBS' first
serious attempt to get down with
the youth culture in 1969. It's a
watershed moment in boomer culture,
even if the show was a complete
bust (although I agree with you
about Zalman King - no man who
directed Lake Consequence can be
all bad.) Eventually, CBS stumbled
across All in the Family, and
"relevant" sitcomedy was born. JAG
would have fit very well on the
schedule alongside the shows CBS
canceled in its epicmodernization
drive, such as The Dean Martin
Show, Green Acres, and so forth.
You would think they would have
picked up on this, and adopted a
whole new attitude along the lines
you've described. Cute toddlers,
stuffy valets, celebrity Roasts.
The slogan could be "Mild in the
Streets." As for the new Spiro, his
name is legion these days; just ask
any "impudent snob."


The Boob
Fish With Letter Icon
The American in Me

Philip Roth also wrote "The
Great American Novel,"
which literally is an ur-text what
with the character Gil Gamesh
and all......


J. Charles Swift

J. Charles,

The seriously underrated-
to-the-contrary Roth is guilty of
playing the American Card too
often, but that doesn't detract
from The Ghost Writer, Mr. Swift.
No, it does not!

Plus, I admire the way he lives:
doing push-ups in his shack in the
woods and producing PAGES. If only
I could get it together like that,
I could get some serious, oh so
very serious, work-like work done,
too. I've gotta get organizized.
And I wouldn't make the mistakes he
has. I'd call my book American
Novel right off the American Bat.

The title you remind us of doesn't
qualify under the conditions set
out in my piece. Maybe if he had
called it American Gilgamesh. "The"
and "Great," as ironic-pretentious
as they are, point to another
problem that certain Rothish
authors fall prey to. It's a coy
psychological quirk that leads to
the inclusion of certian words in
their titles that indicate how
goshdarn great they are, but at the
same time how lovable, how
huggable, and how downright humble
and squeezable, too. Examples are
on the very cusp of being
unnecessary, so I won't bother.

Thanks for writing!

Slotcar Hatebath
Just across the River from You

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Profound!

That's what I said when I read your
essay. I remember looking up the
number of movies that had
"American" in the title a few years
back, and it seems like the mess
started with Reagan, as did so many
messes. Pre 1980 you had relatively
few movies that had American in the
title, and then, after the election
of the motherless swine, we started
seeing movies like American Me,
American Ninja, American Flyers and
American Anthem--a real stinker,
that, with ex-Olympic gymnast Mitch
Gaylord in the lead. Possibly the
new wave of "Americana" is an
indice that Bush will be elected,
though it's said his electability
is due to the fact that he's
confident. Of course he's
confident--have you ever seen an
idiot that wasn't?

I'm so glad you mentioned that
wonderful Butthole Surfers
track--I've always loved it,
especially the part in the middle
where they start quoting from the
Jefferson Airplane's "After Bathing
at Baxters" -the Buttholes, masters
of one kind of psychedelic
gibberish, saluting previous
pioneers of it. (Remember Paul
Kantner yelling "No man is an
island! No man is an island! He's a
peninsula.") Keep up the good work,

Richard von Busack

Von B.,

Don't you mean American Profound!
Adding exclamation points to these
things can only help.

Yes, The Reagan (as Zontar magazine
used to call him) certainly ushered
in a climate (can you usher in a
climate?) that promoted such
pointless jingoism. I mean,
American Ninja? But stupidity will
out, and now we're stuck with
titles like those in every medium.
Eventually, every other TV show
will be called American Something,
and then the trend will reverse
itself and hibernate until it's
American Spring again.

It's easy to blame Ronnie, and
point to him as the historical
reason for all this American Shit.
But why so much of it in the last
two years? It just goes to show:
Clinton, Reagan -- as Alicia
Silverstone said in American
Clueless, "Whatever."


Fish With Letter Icon

Damn it! And I had just finished my
new novel: American American. Oh
the horror. I hope the Today show
doesn't get wind of your editorial
before Oprah picks up my book! And
I though I was so coy.

Russell Warner


Fear not! Let me suggest American
Novel. I'm never gonna finish that
anyway. You can have it! Use it in
your act with American Pride and
American Joy.


Fish With Letter Icon

Mr. Hatebath,

As with your excellent essay on
scare quotes, one hopes that you
have stopped another trend in its
tracks. You know, these are both
Boomer phenomena -- why didn't you
point that out? Supposedly
ironizing air quotes and empty
sarcastic gestures like adding
"American" to your title are the
bailiwick of the same pony-tailed
fuck-heads who are always
castigating their juniors for not,
like getting involved, man!
(Speaking of sarcasm, it was hard
to tell: do you REALLY like Lisa
Bonet, or were you being flip?) How
old are you, anyway, Hatebath?
Unlike most of the Sucksters,
you're so un-worldweary! Are you a
brilliant 15-year-old who's been
feigning autism for 10 years so
your family would leave you alone,
or are you a 900-year-old man who's
just been dug up out of a peat bog
in Hackensack? I mean, "American
Decoy" - that is genius!

PS: Terry Colon misspelled
"Prejudice" on one of the illos.

M. Wilson Del., OH

Mr. Wilson,

Of course I like Lisa freaking
Bonet! Am I not living and
breathing? Do I not have a deep
appreciation for American acting,
on and off American Sitcoms, not to
mention American Singing? (Or was
it American Lip-synching in High
Fidelity? Either way it was
CONVINCING.) Why Bonet isn't a
movie star on the level of a Suvari
is beyond me. I guess maybe she's
difficult or something. Probably
permanently scarred by the Mickey
Rourke-Robert De Niro double whammy
she had to put up with on the set
of Angel Heart. Maybe it's better
that as an American Actress of her
generation she never really made it
into superstardom. Look at it this
way: she never had to kiss Dennis
Quaid, Judge Reinhold, or Adam

And to answer your question about
my age, as the exciting Penelope
has found out much to her dismay,
I'm a horrible combination of a
brilliant 15 year old boy and a 900
year old frozen caveman. How'd you

And what's with this crap about how
the Sucksters are jaded? Don't you
read Filler? It's all about hope,
Matty, all about hope for a better

Terry DID NOT spell prejudice
incorrectly. That was an arch
reference to the dialect humor in
such American Novels as Huckleberry
Finn. Boy, that one went right over
your head.

He did, however, spell "camp"
wrong. As you can see, it starts
with a C and there's no F at the

American Hatebath (Stay Away from

Fish With Letter Icon

Hi Slotcar, interesting essay.

Over the last year I've been pretty
surprised by the "US
transgenerational embrace of the
song [American Woman]". I could
understand why Kravitz could sing
it with conviction, but as for the
rest of the public, I assumed
Americans were finding some kind of
subtle meaning in the song that I
couldn't perceive. It never
occurred to me that "people don't
listen to lyrics", which seems to
explain the phenomenon much more

You asked the question, 'If the
"American Woman" is a simple
substitute for America, and the
song's "me" represents Canada, how
can one "stay away" from the

Of course, no western country,
least of all Canada, can "stay
away" from America in a cultural
sense, which I suppose lends an
element of pathos to the song. I
always took it as a simple
anti-Vietnam War diatribe, futilely
railing against the apparently
seductive (and destructive)
potential of rabid US jingoism. I
suspect Burton Cummings knew full
well that yelling "stay away"
wouldn't halt American influence.
Then again, perhaps without that
song NAFTA would have come into
being a decade earlier...

Jeremy Smith

Hey, Smith, I don't need your war
machines and I don't need your
ghetto scenes, OK? Lay off with the
heavy duty politics. You're making
my head hurt, man. I just want to

A quick perusal of Burton
Cummings's CD booklet notes in the
Buddah rerelease of the American
Woman LP proves one thing
conclusively, however: Burton
doesn't know a goddamn thing, and
he now lives in LA, not Canada.

If all Americans could listen to
The Guess Who's acoustic intro to
"American Woman" in the full-length
LP version of the song, they'd be
too depressed about their fellow
Man to do anything. All that rabid
jingoism would be a thing of the
past. Kravitz's version may be
enervating, but nothing can beat
that intro (repeated at the end of
the album just to rub your face in
it) for outright lameness. Wow, is
it bad. Listen to THAT and stop
worrying about NAFTA. If that LP
was a hit with the people who grew
up to give us NAFTA, then Canadians
and Americans need to get together
right now. As those people get
older, NAFTA is going to be the
least of our worries.


Slotcar Hatebath

Fish With Letter Icon

Slotcar -

Interesting essay, and definitely a
trend that's becoming all
encompassing in modern cultural
(ultimately watering down something
that's "Already been watered down
all she can be watered" to
paraphrase groundskeeper Willie on
the Simpsons).

A couple of examples you don't
mention but that buttress your
points. James Ellroy's 1995
"American Tabloid," a portrait of
all that was filthy and corrupt in
our country during the "Leave It to
Beaver" era. Also, John Steinbeck's
little known, but remarkable
collection of essays: "America and
the Americans." Probably speaks
most closely to what your piece is
talking about, as Steinbeck laments
the destruction of the experiment
that was America due to an
apathetic populace. Worth checking
out, if you can find it.

Take it easy,

Bob Dunn
Green Magazine

American Bob--

Ellroy's excellent novel was, as
you point out, released in 1995,
and I was trying to restrict myself
to stuff from the last two years -
and stuff that's on its way. But
you're right: as with Roth, Ellroy
is another admirable author who
succumbed to the quick jolt the
patriotic adjective can deliver.

In the '70s, a decade pretentious
in a different way, these things
would've had the one-word
portentous title: simply Tabloid,
or Pastoral. Paul Schrader was in
the forefront of this shift - not
American Taxi Driver, but, yes,
American Gigolo.

Thanks for writing in from Green
magazine. Can you lend me $10,000?
Or would it be easier to get
$100,000 out of you?

Slotcar Hatebath

Fish With Letter Icon

This may well be the mother of all
American titles.

American Toenail is a noir mystery
with horror undertones, its
director and cast inexplicably
fallen into complete obscurity.

It is a black and white B movie
from the early fifties depicting
the tribulations of the son of an
eastern european immigrant family
in the midwest. The young man goes
to the big city (Chicago?) to find
fame and fortune, leaving his
family back in a squalid little
farm lost on the prairie. The
opening scene has our hero trimming
his toenails in his cheap hotel
room, when some fancy suited
individuals come knocking on his
door, mistaking him for the room's
previous occupant.

The rest of the film has him
fleeing from his relentless and
rather kinky-sadistic pursuers, who
use bloodhounds and a single, large
toenail fragment found in the hotel
room to hunt him down, hence the
title. Such grotesque titles
probably didn't go over well back
then, so it is no great surprise
that this otherwise interesting
little gem has been utterly
forgotten. It is similar in tone
and texture to The Respectful
Prostitute and Los Olvidados.

Heinz Hemken

Sorry, Heinz. Arthur Penn made that
movie in 1965. It's called Mickey
One. If only it had been more like
Los Olvidados.

Good luck with the American Genome
or whatever you're working on over
there. When you do graph the whole
thing, I bet you'll find that it's
more ominous, somehow, that other
genomes. More charged. More rugged,
sure, but more threatening, too.
You'll see.

Thanks for readin' and writin' in-

Slotcar Hatebath

Fish With Letter Icon

 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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