The Fish
for 23 April 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


T. Jay (the man) Fowler
T. Jay Fowler
Production Manager
& Ass Kicker


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor

How to Wear Your Suck Shirt


It did not come as a surprise
that a day after receiving my
Suck T-shirt, a "Suck T-shirt
user-guide" appeared on your

I first attributed it to the
clairvoyant nature of your
editors in providing info for
the greater good of all, then
I thought again and
remembered my delusions of
grandeur, and decided it was
just for little old me.

It was only when I was
standing in line at the
Andronico's in Berkeley
wearing said T, and I
overheard a couple behind me
say, " - weirdo
Internet porno freaks," that
I realized you have triumphed
again with your marketing


Skip Barger

Ahh. We actually toyed for a
long time with the idea of
having T-shirts that actually
say " Weirdo
Internet Porno Freaks." But
then we thought the message
might be even stronger if we
let people come to the same
conclusion by themselves. A
risky choice - but it seems
to be working beautifully!

Thank you for that informative
report from the field.

Fish With Letter Icon

Agnostic Front

Dear Hypatia:

I don't plan to berate you for
your critique of my FEED
(I figure perpetrating
a "first attempt at a
responsible analysis" is
actually something close to
praise in Suck circles), and
I agree that the term
"gnostic" is used all too
indiscriminately to label
everything from
Zoroastrianism to the
Kabbalah to Rousseau, Marx,
and Hegel. But I don't think
that should quarantine us
from using it to describe
more recent religious
movements, esepecially when
their exponents describe
themselves in gnostic terms.

I also agree that my own
inchoate critique of
gnosticism as a product of
consumer culture is a bit too
sweeping. But as you say,
myth is a bitch, and I
haven't been able to see my
way clear to using "gnosis"
as a term with contemporary
resonance without indulging
to some degree in the same
facile popularization -
especially since the
popularization is largely the
point. If Bloom, Marcus, et
al. call themselves gnostics,
shouldn't we at least see
what proceeds from taking
them at their word?

I think that there's far less
useful social "heresy" in the
gnostic sensibility than you
discern. Gnostics use
spiritual alienation as an
alibi for political retreat,
thus the analogy between
gnostic belief and consumer
individualism: The impulse to
privatize the created world -
to subsume history, politics,
social conflict, etc., to the
insulated experience of
individuals, fastiduously
isolated by the privileges of
the market. If gnosticism is
such a powerful heresy, how
is it that it has become such
a pronounced marketing niche?
When a heretical tradition
forms the basis for two
simultaneous Stephen King
plots, I think you can make
the case that its subversive
power is, as the academics
say, problematic.

Don't take these musings as
the pro forma
exercise. I'd like to hear
more of your own take on
these matters. I do, however,
want to straighten you out on
one key point: I have always
liked the Germs.

- Chris Lehmann

Chris: I don't think that the
generic gnostic view ("This
world isn't real; we come
from and are going someplace
else") necessarily results in
the generic gnostic attitude
("FTW") that you assume. In
fact, I can prove it doesn't:
the 2nd-century AD gnostic
treatise "On Righteousness"
was a work of primitive
communism that advocated the
overthrow of class and
property because they were
false, not from the real God.
The social revolutionary
Mazdak put those ideas into
action in 6th-century Iran
and was violently suppressed.
At the opposite extreme, the
most influential form of
gnosticism in history was
Manicheanism, the official
religion of the Uigur empire.

Now let me confuse you some
more: In 1944, the prophet
Tsek preached that a ship,
bearing food, would bring the
ancestral dead back to the
colonial New Hebrides.
Commodities would have to be
renounced, distinctions
obliterated; the faithful
would engage in collective
labor and wait in mass
dormitories for the ship to
land. If Heaven's Gate had
gnostic bodies, they had an
economy and eschatology
strikingly like that of a
Pacific Island cargo cult.

What brings it together?
They're examples of
analogous, but complicated
human religious behavior.
Both the analogies and the
complications are essential.
To simply equate HG with
either is to doom both to
incomprehension. To recognize
HG as comparable in limited
ways, and to ask more
specific questions - of
advertising and archons; of
consumerism and cargo - is
the place I'd prefer to

"I'm not one I'm two I'm not
one I'm two I want out now I
want out now I want out now I
want out now"

Yes, Germs rule hell.

- Hypatia

Fish With Letter Icon

Single Bullet-Point Theory

Good column for Friday. Wow.
This is the first Suck in a
long time that made me feel
like kicking someone's ass.
Good work, Sucksters.


Suck's army of grim,
gray-suited lawyers warns
that kicking someone's ass is
generally illegal, and Suck
will deny all involvement if
and when you do it. Hell,
we've never even heard of
you. Zenarchy? Doesn't ring a
bell, Sergeant. Hope you put
this sick bastard away for a
long, long time, sir.
(Canadians? You don't say!
Are they hurt badly?)

Although if you do decide to
lace up the ass-kicking
boots, we might be able to
provide a few good names.
Quietly, of course.

Thanks for writing. Glad you
liked it.

Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon

Great articulation of
everything I've been
screaming for a decade. Have
been a reporter since 1989,
and have found the profession
and its members to be
singularly lacking the vision
to see the big picture. So
many crap stories, so little
real news. Thanks, man, for
saying perfectly how
mindlessly we allow the
fucked-up morality play to
filter into our homes ...
willingly and with great

It's as if O. J. should mean
something to me. Don't even
get me started on the Jon
Bonet Ramsey debacle we are
forced to witness here in
Colorado. There's no more
justice, and we don't care
any more as long as the
actors look good and their
breath smells fresh.

Lisa Johnson

Ahh, Lisa. You know the pain
firsthand. Fascinating, isn't
it, the amount of total
cluelessness you find in - of
all places - the (expletive
here) newsroom? Don't get me

I'm in Los Angeles, by the
way, and you ought to see how
editors think out here.
("Anybody famous involved?")
The hardest part of the
reporting gig is this:
walked away from a (weekly,
"alternative") newspaper and
a magazine that tarted up
copy to make it sexier*, and
have settled for freelancing
for other mags that just
can't do anything without a
celebrity angle - because
what are the options, here?

(*Once a "small handful of
problems" with internal
complaints of wrongdoing in a
city government became an
epidemic of sleaze, for
example, and the city
councilman who offered a
whistleblower ordinance to
help clean up the small set
of problems became, in the
edited copy, an embattled
crusader against the very
forces of darkness. Great.
How many times have you heard
"If it's not a fight, it's
not news"?)

The kicker is that everybody
who actually gives a shit
about real, informative,
actual news (how government
spends money, say) is
leaving, quitting, walking
away in disgust. It's a lot
like a twist on the Peter
Principle, writ large: A
shitty medium is finding the
people who can't discern, or
don't care, that the medium
is shitty.

A couple of weeks ago I was at
a party, and ended up
standing next to a reporter
who went on at great length
in a very loud voice about
covering a high-profile
shooting, and how she'd had
to fight off People magazine
and the other tabs to get a
tourist's photos, and how
much bullshit she had to
sling to get the story, and
how GREAT it was.

She'd spent the day working on
... the Cosby murder.

I remembered that I'd been
introduced as "another
reporter" around this little
circle of people that
included, you know, civilians -
real-lifers - and was deeply
embarrassed to be in any way
connected to our "what a
great shooting" friend. I was
actually embarrassed by the
thought that anyone there
might think of me as a
reporter, something I love so

Arrgghh. So much more to say
about this, but you know the
song perfectly well. When
newspapers die, the coroner's
report will have to list it
as a suicide. Have we
mentioned that reporters in
other parts of the world are
quite literally offering up
their lives to do honest,
real-life reporting? Amazing
to see something so important
thrown away so casually.

Thanks for writing.

Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon


Dear Suck,

What's the deal with that
Spanker guy? You write about
him once, and he keeps
sending you angry email.
Here's my theory: Your
dismissive piece on his
copyright woes have caused
him to develop a mad crush on
you, and he's carrying out a
courtship in the only way he
knows how - by constantly
flaming you. It's kind of
flattering, in a sad and
pathetic way, don't you

- S.

Oh, it isn't sad and pathetic
at all, actually. It's good

Oof. See what this business
does to your mind?

Fish With Letter Icon

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