The Fish
for 24 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

Hate Mod

"Meet the new fart, same as
the old fart." This was my
frame of mind after reading
your 21 April essay on TV
overload, wherein your
culture-maven act wears thin
early on.

Oh, child of irony, how well I
know thy looks. Here's my
guess: You are a young,
well-educated Anistonista who
has read more than his share
of TV Guide, Premiere, and
Tad Friend's pieces for
Esquire, and you are buckling
under the strain of standard
operating opinion. You have
been told that 1960s
television at its lowest
never shat a greater turd
than The Beverly
you have likely
also been told that I Love
Lucy, Mary Tyler Moore
- and
by extension, Rhoda - Johnny
Carson, Sid Caesar, Milton
Berle, and M*A*S*H are
sacrosanct institutions.
Well, you have decided, fuck
all that - and so, after a
night quaffing deep drafts of
Pauline Kael's "Trash, Art,
and the Movies" essay, you
decide that TV at its worst
is - voilà! - TV at
its best. Under the guise of
a column devoted to David
Foster Wallace's not entirely
worn-out premise that America
is amusing itself to death,
you admirably seek to rewrite
TV gospel.

The flaw in this kind of
debunking for its own sake is
obvious: Anyone who believes
that The Beverly Hillbillies
is good television likely
won't catch on to Johnny
Carson's unique genius.

Those who do catch on, of
course, will only rarely be
impressed by anything in

Rodney Welch

P.S. By the way, you're wrong
about The Mod Squad; it was
never seriously considered
mod by any seriously mod
person. In fact, all I
remember was the heapin'
helping of derision it
received from every corner of
the youth market. None of
which, of course, stopped it
from being a hit. I even
bought the trading cards.

OK, so you were one of these
"seriously mod people,"

Why should we trust your
opinion? Some forms of genius
are just a little bit too
unique, if you know what
we're saying (see also: not

Yet, sadly, as Unique
Non-geniuses, we'll continue
to pander to the Rarely

Fish With Letter Icon

Hate Mood

Your site makes me FUCKING
sick. I'm in my hate mood,
and you guys SUCK - get it?

Virginia Marti

Most people call it PMS,
Virginia. Once you recognize
a pattern, it becomes much
easier to handle. We suggest
you seek the help of a
trusted physician - and a
therapist, while you're at
it. But thanks for the
constructive criticism,

Fish With Letter Icon

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

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