The Fish
for 29 September 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
and Rhythm Guitar


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

Dire Wolff

Good take today on Michael
Wolff. As a former editor of
NetGuide (the magazine), one
small correction. You list
the ill-conceived NetGuide
search engine among Wolff's
manifest sins. I'm about the
next-to-last to defend Wolff,
but that one wasn't his
disaster. Wolff had long
since sold the NetGuide
trademark and (worthless)
database to CMP, which was
responsible for the search
engine. (An aside: although I
gave the thing its code name
of Gulliver, the idea of a
reviews-based search engine
came not out of any editorial
dream, but from the suits,
who had a wicked case of
Yahoo envy. Most of this
story was pretty well told
about a year ago in the SF

One more thing: I'd never
seen the Suck survey of net
mag titles you linked to in
the story. Glad you liked
NetGuide (the issue you
reviewed was my third). Sorry
the party didn't last longer.

best, Dan Rosenbaum

Point taken. Correction made.
However, while NetGuide
online (still apparently
being updated after all this
time) may have been more
"inspired" than "invented" by
Wolff, the equally
ill-conceived NetClock
seems to be genuine Michael.

But what about this
"Netanyahu"? Was Wolff behind
that project? If so, will he
pull the plug already?

yr pal,


Fish With Letter Icon


My name is Jon Spooner
(-$2000 courtesy of
Wolffnewmedia). I just wanted
to thank you for writing such
a scathing and beautiful
column on M. Wolff. But I do
hope that this interest in M.
Wolff will cool off in the
future so his precious media
spotlight can be dimmed and
he can be left to his own
ineptitude and to his
Cruise-Kidmanesque "marriage"
to Alison. It is only off of
the controversy of his
dealings that he has gained
employment and once the hype
dies so does his career.

Thank you again,

Jon Spooner

I wish it were so, Jon. But
as of this writing the New
York press is planning to do
some sort of follow-up to my
article. I'd try and engage
them in a little confabulous
colloquy, the way Wolff did
with Brill's Content, but
they repainted the men's room
stall where I had Russ
Smith's phone number written

In any event, don't kid
yourself. Michael Wolff will
be with us for a long, long

yr pal,


Fish With Letter Icon

Your piece on Michael Wolff
was extremely gratifying to
me. After reading the book, I
came away with the intense
feeling of "what a cocksucker
Michael Wolff is." It's nice
to know I'm not alone.

Kevin Bertram

What's extremely gratifying
for me is to see that
"cocksucker" is still used as
an all-purpose insult. It's
not really a word I feel I can get
away with in an essay, but
when a reader uses it for
me, I just get a
special feeling inside.

yr. pal,


Fish With Letter Icon

I just wanted to let you know
that I greatly enjoyed your
Suck piece today. This is
from the perspective of
someone who is out of the
computer loop and had little
idea who Michael Wolff was. I
even checked every link.

Joe Garden Onion
Punch-Press Operator/Temporary

P.S. - I would like to say that
this does stand in stark
opposition to the anti-union
piece Suck ran, i.e., it's OK for
management to screw over
laborers but not workers in
the computer industry.
However, I don't think you
were responsible for that, so
I say it only as a general

Joe Garden

You said it, Joe. I have no
idea who wrote that
piece, but I'll tell you,
he's the lowest shit-sucking
scum, and when I find out who
he is I'm going to give him
the kind of ass-kicking
that'll change his life!

yr pal,


Fish With Letter Icon

... loved the Michael Wolff
article - he's still a weaselly
SOB. I worked for
NetResponse, who did the tech
work, and still is
owned by Jon Rubin. Jon's
actually a good guy to work
for. He's easy to talk to,
treats employees pretty well,
and doesn't really hide the
fact that ultimately he's in
it for the money. Hell, it's
his money after all - when he
saw that Wolff was pissing it
down the tubes it's only
natural that Jon would try
and stop the bleeding by
taking over somewhat. Trust
me - by the time Jon really
got involved the whole thing
was already heading down the
crapper in any case.

How Wolff could not make the
whole scene work is just
fucking amazing. He had
arguably a site developer's
dream - a whole company of
techs (NetResponse) who were
at his disposal, more or
less, and in it pretty much
just for equity in the
company. Jon was paying the
bills at both, and WNM was
hardly billed at the
prevailing rate for the
top-notch tech work that was
received. Not to mention that
NR also did all of the
hosting for that damn site -
even after it ceased to be
updated for over six months,
we were still getting like
100 thousand hits

per week. It's a bitch
trying to sysadmin a box that
has no real owner but still
handles so much traffic.

I hope the little sonofabitch
gets sued for all he's worth.

Travis Dixon

Thanks, Travis. But what I'm
really waiting for is some
ex-Wolff employee to come
forward and say what a prince
he was. There must be some G.
Gordon Liddy figure out there
willing to take a bullet for
the boss.

Isn't there?

yr pal,


Fish With Letter Icon

Going Postal

Dear Suck,

My dear old dad is a postman.
He works hard and I know for
a fact he is low maintenance.
Judging by my observations of
him and his colleagues, I
would have take to exception
to the claim that postal
workers are "low-output,
high-maintenance employees."
Granted, my sample pool (one
post office) limits the
statistical accuracy of any
assertion I might make, but I
would like to know on what
basis you made the above

I will agree to the "ragtag"

Erik Humphrey

Glad to hear yer pa is a
stand-up, sit-down, stand-up
again sort of guy (one
wonders whether he, like you,
given your employer, is an
agent of German subversion).
Go check out the workers'
comp stats on postal workers
if you want a definition of

Mr. M.

Fish With Letter Icon

There are a few things that
you and the public do not
know about the postal scene,
as is obvious from the
dribble you and others seem
to write.

Those few things will give us
degenerate, lowly, horrid
little creatures the last

Oh, you might do some
research into the rural
carrier craft and check out
how they are paid, how many
hours they get for lunch
breaks, how many hours they
can work during a day, and
how much overtime they make
for a 12-hour day. How much
are they paid to buy those
new four-wheel drives?

How much time are they
allowed for a bathroom break?
Clothes? Gas money? Do they
get days off? They have a
hell of a scam going on.

Dusty A. Rhoads

Such is the horror of the era
of "late capitalism" (an
epoch whose chief defining
characteristic is,
interestingly enough, the
demise of command economies):
Rural mailpeople who don't
get bathroom breaks. Hey,
last time I checked, that
portion of the country
desginated "rural" was one
big Johnny-on-the-Spot. Not
to disparage the "craft" of
driving a car and putting
envelopes into mailboxes ,
but if the job sucks, then
why don't you just shove it
and, like most of the planet,
move to the city, where the
jobs are plentiful, the women
(and men) are easy, and
letter carriers get songs
written about them?

Yours in a full-employment

Mr. M

Fish With Letter Icon

Dire Wolff

I actually liked Michael
Wolff's pieces (excerpted in
Wired, and up here in Canadian
magazine). Clearly,
I was wrong.

Ted Sturk

As it happens, Canada's
anti-pornography laws mean
Wolff's bare-naked bile gets
edited for content up north.
So what you liked was really
a fit-for-family-consumption
version that doesn't reflect
the real Wolff.

yr. pal,


Fish With Letter Icon

Dear Tim:

Wasn't that a little
excessive? The parts of the
book I've read seemed
moderately amusing in a
gonzo-journalistic sort of
way (i.e., based on truth but
not actually true

It is of course true that
everything described in the
book was either evil or
pointless, but hell ... if
you like sausage, don't watch
how it's being made. It's not
like any real human beings
seem to have been involved in
most of this.

I suspect that a wee tad of
personal bitterness may have
seeped in. Here is a guy who
is a "content provider" (gee,
is Tim a writer, too?) who
figures out a way to make a
lot of money without actually
providing as good a content
as Tim does. Such a disparity
must be stomped upon, n'est

Relax. It really will all
work out, and anyway none of
us gets out of this alive.
I'm finally reading the first
volume of the W.B. Yeats
biography. He essentially
hustled for pennies in London
in his 20s and early 30s,
doing all sorts of minor
editorial work (including
copying, which he hated),
some of it pretty dreadful.
And he woke up one morning to
discover his body of work had
established him as the
foremost Irish writer of his
day. It all works out.

PS: If you're going to read
Brill's, check out the
vicious personal attack
disguised as criticism on the
Times' science reporter, who
is guilty - it seems - of a
"narrow and traditional view
of scientific evidence, where
nothing is real until
documented by large
epidemiological studies or
lab experiments." Gee, some
of us thought that was the
definition of scientific

Alan S Kornheiser

One thing I found in doing
this article was that
virtually every piece written
about Wolff carried a
disclaimer to the effect of
"I know X, to whom Wolff
devotes a chapter" or "I am
a friend of Y, a person who
comes off particularly poorly
in the book" or "I did
business with Wolff and found
him to be insufferable," etc.
So here's my disclaimer:

I have never met Michael
Wolff or anybody named or
alluded to in his book. The
first time I ever laid eyes
on him was when he appeared
on Charlie Rose as an
Internet Pundit. Moreover, my
experiences working for
Netrepreneurs have been
fairly benign in comparison
to the stories Wolff's former
employees tell. So any
bitterness you detected in my
column is the result of an
analysis of Wolff on his own
merits, or at worst, from the
general sense of ennui that
has dogged me since infancy.

Of course you're right about
scientific principles, as
well as the Yeatsian
superiority of my own
scandalously overlooked
canon. I imagine right now
some tweedy don is putting
the latest issue of Suck back
on the shelf in his study,
thinking to himself "This
Cavanaugh chap's a very poet!
These immortal lines burn
with the true, hard, gemlike
flame. One hears such lines
and one feels that one is at
one with one who once ...

yr. pal,


Fish With Letter Icon

Brilliant column. Amen,
hallelujah, God bless. You've
brought joy to the aging
heart of a bitter old
ex-Wolff employee.

"He tells you his company
'ran out of money' the way an
8-year-old tells you the
window 'got broke'"


Jonathan Bellack

Good to have the disgruntled
aboard for our
little two minutes of hate.
The Bellack name has been
conspicuously attached to a
large number of the nasty
articles about Burn Rate.
You can take some pride in
having kept the anti-Wolff
fires burning these many

However, I have a friend,
"Dempster," who really got
the shaft from SmartMoney
online. And this guy was a
real reporter - able to
manufacture good stories out
of pure sand. And they threw
him away like an old sock.
Now he's struggling to keep
his wife and two children

So the moral of the story is:
Wolff isn't the only
sum'bitch who has stiffed his
loyal employees. People you
work with may be as guilty as
he is. Just a little smarter.

yr. pal,

tim cavanaugh

Fish With Letter Icon

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