The Fish
for 16 February 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


[the fixin' pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Ian Connelly]
Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager


[Copy Edit]
Copy Edit

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


T. Jay Fowler

Production Manager

& Ass Kicker


[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Believe It or Not

Subject: Unbelievable

Once again, you've outdone
yourselves. Beers' survey of
modern cynicism manages to
breech the limitations of
scorn. He composes entirely
new shades of contempt,
surveys worlds of
indifference, and explores
(dare I say establishes?) the
post-postmodern conception of
what it means to be jaded.
We've moved past infantile
apathy - of course the public
is insensible to the latest
shenanigans in the Middle
East. We've surpassed
superficiality; fuck the B3
bomber, what's up with our
self-styled, hands-on
president? Even documenting
disturbing inversions of
responsibility - like the
fictional reporters'
preference of real news
stories over hype versus our
obsession with Clinton's cum
shots over real news - is
child's play to him.

No, Beers manages to find an
entirely new milieu for
cynicism. He has discovered
metacynicism! How pathetic is
a nation that weans its
future on the glass tit of
television to the point that
we, as adults, weep over
smarmy sitcoms while
dismissing the carnage in
Rwanda as theater? Another
war with Iraq? Sure,
nudge-nudge wink-wink, let's
see another smart bomb. Beers
has transcended mere cynicism
in that he has managed to
become cynical about being
cynical! Genius!

Thanks for touching that
little black spot in my heart
that I thought was long dead.

Jeff Leaning

This, by the way, is almost
precisely what my last high
school report card had to
say: "entirely new shades of
contempt," "worlds of
indifference," and so on....
You're not gonna, like,
expel me now, are you?

Please be assured that I will
be adding "metacynic" to my
business cards.

Peace out.
Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon

Very nice article - Suck at
its best. Just wanted to toss
in my two cents.

The first penny is about the
"story" that we've been
unrelentingly bombarded with
for the past week or so. For
all the soul-searching and
back-patting that's wasting
media bandwidth, the one
issue that's not being
discussed is simple
professionalism. "Woman Sues
Press for Sexual Stupidity"
is a news story; "Woman Says
Friend Told Vague Sexual
Fantasy" is not, and "High
School Homeroom Teacher Has
Nothing To Say about Woman
Who May Have Told
Acquaintance About Possible
Vague Sexual Stuff" would,
and should, be laughed out of
staff meetings for the Weekly
Shopper. Where is the
professional decision-making
about content? The mainstream
media are finally closing off
their sociodynamic set of
interactions; the people
involved interact more and
more only with themselves,
and so the News is not just
What We Say It Is, but
increasing Only What We're
Perceiving Among Ourselves.
Front Page News Flash: I'm
Writing A Front Page News
Flash (see sidebar, page 1).

Now that I've pretty much
used up my daily quota of
caps, the other penny. My
favorite piece of fiction
about Media (had a cap-M
leftover) is still a
science-fiction novel from
1977 titled Michaelmas, by
Algis Budrys. It's worth
searching out. Michaelmas is
a balding, pudgy, highly
respected freelance
journalist of the late 20th
century. He also plays a
Martin Dreadnaught guitar. He
also lost his young wife
during the riot at the '68
Democratic convention. He was
at the time an early computer
engineer. He's also the
developer, unknown to the
world, of an intelligent
system named Domino, first a
information-gathering system,
later a partner. Their world
is a peaceful one -
corruption gets exposed,
international tensions get
defused. What's always
appealed is that Budrys
ignores the simple-mindedness
of Wag The Dog and so much
other tripe. Michealmas and
Domino don't create the news;
they use the news, and
news-gathering capabilities,
to create the world...

It's adult, and humane, and
thoughtful, and believable.
It's also a real
science-fiction novel - in
that over the course of the
novel's single day, a very
strange SF kinda threat
emerges. But the type of
threat isn't gratuitously
spacey; it fits perfectly
with the theme of how our
perceptions of pattern create
our world. I think you'd
enjoy it.

And if it isn't already
happening, it should be.

Andrew Sincinito

Thanks for the info on
Michaelmas. I'll check it
out, although the "to read"
pile in the corner here is
pretty big, and it'll take a

The neat thing about the
professionalism you mention -
and I mostly agree - is that
the news media has become
highly "professionalized" and
has changed from a trade that
you can practice with a high
school diploma to a job done
by people with master's
degrees from Columbia. Kind
of funny.

Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon

Believe It or Not

Subject: Superb, but

So, newspaper details can't
be trusted, but the headline

True, we are passive
consumers of news. But we
have more options available
than either believing the
whole thing or believing none
of it. I am blissfully
unaware of the the
agenda-setting nature of
"facts" (killings in Algeria,
weapons in Iraq, Clinton in
Lewinsky). But thank God for
the details that I can
critically assess.


Patrick Raymond

Well, no. Many details can be
trusted, but some can't; many
headlines can be trusted, but
some can't. Oh, she's a
subtle little vixen, this
confusing world of ours. This
is one of the reasons why
it's helpful to get news from
several reliable sources
(Rush Limbaugh, The Onion,
Salon); it's like fixing your
position by triangulating
stars or landmarks.

Oh, and never trust email
from Suck contributors.

Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon

You're absolutely right:
People who believe the media
are wholly corrupt and
deluding themselves
conveniently. Is it
realistic, though, to say
these folks are a percentage
of people worth Sucking

The problem, I think, many
people have with the media is
their products' slant or
presentation, not their
whole. At issue is a
sentence-part like the

"... Iraq, a country that has
lost thousands of its
children to a years-long
embargo ..."

Is it the embargo that's lost
Iraq's children, or its
leaders? The author of this
obviously thinks it's the
former, and so has colored
the rest of the article with
this belief and its

Like people who dismiss them
en toto, those who think that
the products of a (mostly)
human media are objective are
conveniently self-delusional.

Steve McNally

Steve, Steve, Steve. Sigh.

What do you make of the fact
that, in the same sentence, I
refer to Iraq's "dictatorial
government," and the
"abundant evidence" that the
same dictatorial government
is "building (and hiding)
unbelievably dangerous
chemical and biological
weapons"? I know you know
this, but here goes: A piece
of writing isn't a bunch of
random sentences stacked up
in random order for no
purpose; a statement is
colored by, is meant to be
colored by, the statements
that come before and after. A
writer who believed that
poor-sweet Iraq was just an
innocent victim of
wouldn't finish the sentence
with those

So, yes, the rest of the
article is colored with my
beliefs and their
implications - but there are
more beliefs and more
implications than you think
you've spotted. It's a little
like "Where's Waldo?" but
with extra Waldoes.

But, then, the point of your
message is - well, the whole
point. You don't have to
agree with each sentence; you
can read critically, reject
and question pieces, and
still participate in the
conversation. Oh, hey - I
just thought of a terrible
analogy, which I will now
gleefully trot out for your
consumption: You can push the
lima beans off to the side,
but still eat the rest of the
dinner - and come back the
next night for the next
dinner. We slave all day over
a hot stove for you, Steve.
Do you feel the love?

OK, this is long-winded, but
one more. This is very much
not the first time I've
written something that all
but had "opinion piece"
stamped on its forehead, only
to be criticized for not
being "objective." I actually
have never for a moment
believed that such a thing as
"objectivity" can or ever
will exist in the news pages,
but, for the record, Suck has
never really purported to be
a part of the objective news
media. It's, you know, called

Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon


You make a good point, but
the bigger parallel in the
Wag the Dog flog is A) Larry
Beinhart's excellent novel,
American Hero and B) that
novel's screamingly
believable parallels between
Hollywood desires and the
needs of the Bush
administration. The punch
line of Beinhart's piece is
not that it's a giant
conspiracy theory, but that
entertainment and reality are
both so highly produced (to
meet the media requirements
of TV and film) that we
really wouldn't be able to
tell the difference even if
we did get all the facts.
Filtered through the
production values of
Hollywood, even real news
takes on the slick appearance
of a made-for-TV special, and
the viewer usually concludes
that this is one of those
"based on a true story"
stories that ultimately only
means "embellished to
perfection" to fit within the
dramatic necessities of a
commercial break every eight

More lite beer, but less lite

Read M. Schuchardt

More lite beer, but less lite
... Mom, Read Mercer
Schuchardt's being mean to

Haven't read American Hero,
but it sounds like something
worth reading.

And now, the third paragraph.
This one will be longer than
one sentence. Ahem.
Entertainment and reality are
both highly produced, but 1)
the producers of reality -
Michael Deaver, Lee Atwater,
Dick Morris, Bill Clinton -
are actually pretty clumsy, I
think, and can usually be
seen moving their lips, and
2) this has to be a question
of which media, and which
media organizations, we're
talking about; not trusting a
single source helps - sort of
a process of averaging out
the slants to try to approach
reality, and 3) (which is
really just more of 2) not
all news is television or

There are huge problems with
our news media, but the truth
- television -marketing slogan
coming - is out there.

Ambrose Beers

Fish With Letter Icon

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