The Fish
for 19 May 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
Suck Staff
 

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
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Terry Colon
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Ana Marie Cox
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T. Jay Fowler
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& Ass Kicker

 

Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
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Suck Alumni Text
 

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Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch
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Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor

Awaken the Pliant Within

Please forgive my criticism,
but I think you're straying
from your strength. Making
fun of Tony Robbins by
ridiculing his seminars is a
good thing
(http://www.herald.com/tropic/
barry/archive/success.htm
), but
others have done it, and done it
well. Your article doesn't
get good until you get after
his philosophy (?) and his
path to success. It just
doesn't feel like Suck the
other way.

Later,

Christopher Warren
<csw23@map.com>

Christopher,

"Straying from my strength?"
Don't you want me to grow,
man? I used to be hampered by
that kind of negative,
limited-outlook,
stick-to-your-strength
thinking, but Robbins changed
all that.

Re: Barry, thanks for letting
me know about that article.
While it dismays me to learn
that I'm on the same
wavelength as him - although
he's apparently catching the
waves earlier - I nonetheless
believe that I said
everything he did in one-fifth the
space and in a more
entertaining manner. Such is
the power of positive
thinking.

Regards,

Huck

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

A friend told me a story about
a Robbins episode. In a fit
of low self esteem my friend
decided that he needed some
motivation, some
justification, someone to
tell him it was OK. So he
attended one of these Robbins
events you so eloquently
describe.

At first he was enthusiastic,
excited at the prospect of
spending the day surrounded
by people who felt as
desperate as he all the while
being preached at by one who
has transcended that
desparation and turned it
into a multigazillion
(Exaggeration? Possibly.)
-dollar industry. But
gradually, as the day wore
on, the blank-eyed
enthusiasism turned to
wariness. As my friend
glanced around room, he
noticed the same blank-eyed
stare in all the faces
surrounding him. Recognizing
that look from early morning
mirror experiences, he was
suddenly plunged even further
into self-loathing and
fright. At the break, he was
targetted by Robbins' crew of
flunkies and salesmen.
Perhaps smelling his
discomfort and
disillusionment, they tried
to assuage his fears by
selling him more seminars.

Once free of the jackals, he
was accosted by a woman he
had sat next to. Speaking
with her, it was revealed
that she had been to at least
seven of these seminars and
had just signed up for
another. My friend could see
that she had not retained any
lasting good for all the
money she had spent. She was
on a first-name basis with
not only the staff, but also
with half of the audience. It
was then that my friend
realized there was no need
for self-loathing on his
part. This woman truly was
deserving of the legacy of
loneliness. He found, upon
reflection, that there was no
possible way he was as
pathetic as she. Immediatly,
a great weight lifted from
his shoulders. He found he
could walk taller, speak
louder, say "no."

He entered the convention room
feeling much better about
himself and the rest of the
day proved to not only
justify that feeling, but
enhance it. When he left
after the final shebang
(after spending the money,
there was no way he was going
to leave), he felt justified,
motivated, and no longer
toiling under the burden of
low self esteem. Not due to
the magic of Robbins, but the
pitiable essence of the
audience. In retrospect, he
felt bad about his feelings
of superiority over the rest
of the attendees, but
overall, the feelings of
superiority outlasted the
guilt.

He looks back on that time
with grace. Robbins he calls
"totally lame," but the
audience he feels is
certaintly the key to
anyone's successful
graduation.

I don't know why I am telling
you this except that I
thought you might appreciate
the irony. I loved your
article.

-JC Sutton
<davnjen@idt.net>

I was actually surprised at
how affluent and presentable
the audience seemed to be.
The majority seemed to be
realtors.

There was definitely a fair
share of Robbins junkies in
the crowd as well; creepiest
of all were Robbins'
underlings, however. About a
half-dozen of them came on
the stage with him at one
point for a group-high-five
kind of thing. They were all
men in their early 20s,
unusually tall, all wearing
suspenders like their boss.
I'm not sure what theirs jobs
were, other than to just be
kind of psyched all the time.
But I find them pretty
intriguing, the wannabe heirs
to the crown....

Regards,

Huck

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Iconoblast

Seeing the words "lexical
fellatio" for the first time,
I felt a little like the
stereotypical sorority sister
presented with the real
thing: ooh, how icky.

I agree the ubiquitous
"ass-kissing" is due for
retirement, but at least the
term is gender-neutral. How
do you demean good press for
Barbra Streisand and Cindy
Crawford? "Graphological
cunnilingus"? "The typical
Sunday-feature rim job"?

Rodney Welch
<rwelch@scjob.sces.org>

Good eye, Rodney - or can I
call you "Rod"? - for the sly
phallocentrism in Tuesday's
piece of iconoplasty. The
gender exclusivity was
descriptive, though - Icon
is, they would have us
believe, a men's magazine.
You can tell because it says
so on the cover, and because
the premiere ish fetishized
roller-ball pens, absinthe,
and red meat. One wonders
what outbreak of taste made
them hold back from a cigar
feature. Still, "typical
Sunday-feature rim job"
sounds like fun!

See you in the funny papers,

Ann

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Ethical shortcomings in the
arts and sciences is,
unfortunately, not news. This
doesn't make "Iconoblast" any
less sad and disturbing,
though.

To wit:

The great ethical failure of
modern science was the
proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction under the
pretense that scientific
research & discovery is
without morality. The
oft-celebrated mantra of the
artist is that he transcends
ethics. I remember seeing a
retrospective on Picasso
where one of his lovers made
that exact statement, in
reference to his
philandering. "Like all great
artists, he was above
morality," she said.

The removal of ethics from any
action is intellectual
suicide.

P.S. I looked up "failure" in
the thesaurus and it said
"abortion." Have they taken
this, too?

Michael Vance
<mkv102@psu.edu>

"I scream, you scream, we all
scream for heroin!"
- P. Bagge

Thanks for writing, Michael.
Your insights on the genesis
of modern science's "great
ethical failure" are duly
noted, but I wonder if you
aren't giving folks like
Galileo short shrift in
considering their advances to
be comparatively "ethical."
At the time, if I recall my
history correctly, his work
was considered pretty
scandalous, even, you know,
immoral.

The problem with holding
artists or scientists up to a
moral code is that the code
changes so often, whereas
their work - like so much
nuclear fallout - tends to
endure. That doesn't mean
that we shouldn't judge,
though, and that was the
point of "Iconoblast," if it
had one, which I guess I'll
leave up to you to decide.

Putting a gun in your mouth is
intellectual suicide.

Ann

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Ms. O'Tate,

In your last article you
wrote, "We succeed as a
country because we are
willing to fail as a
society." That's a pretty
fuckin' trenchant thing to
say on the Web don't you
think? I also like your
article on Mr. "Math is hard"
Frank.

I used to say that the Web was
only good for free porn. You
have proven me wrong.

Have a nice day

Ben Lyons
<lyons@STAT.ORST.EDU>

What, the Web isn't still good
for free porn? I'm getting
off tomorrow. Or rather, I
guess I'm not....

Seriously - thanks for the
note, Ben. I haven't looked
up "trenchant" yet, but it
sounds a lot like "bitchin',"
which I know is good thing,
so thanks again. Also glad to
hear you liked my piece on
the Gen-X revival, but you
should be aware that Tom
isn't the one for whom math
is hard. To his credit, he's
written about the substantive
economic issues at stake for
labor in the '90s - most
notably in a pamphlet for the
Open Magazine Pamphlet Series -
it's just that few people
want to read it. The next
issue of the Baffler, in
fact, is rumored to focus
almost exclusively on labor
issues. While that's
certainly putting their money
where their mouth is, I have
a feeling that the hipsters
who shelled out and shilled
for the media auto-massage of
Bafflers 4-8 will be less
interested in the plight of
anyone but themselves.

I'm certainly not.

Ann

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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