The Fish
for 15 December 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


Monte Goode
Monte Goode
Ghost in the Machine


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Ad Lib


Great article! I have long
had the idea (along with
thousands of others, I'm
sure) that the next big thing
should be CTV (commercials-only
television), with CJs,
top-ten countdowns, maybe an
alternative 120 minutes of
underground, cutting-edge
commercials. I don't see how
a vehicle like this wouldn't
appeal to everybody.
Moreover, just think of the
low overhead, since every
company would line up to
basically pay for all of the
programming. No stars that
you'd have to pay out of your
pocket and no bad, annoying
shows to interrupt the only
thing worth watching on TV
anyway. It's long been true
for me personally that,
unlike most movies,
commercials are the only
things out there that can
actually elicit an emotional
response from me - all the way
from hatred to tearful,
tender warmth. And I view
myself as that kind of cold,
cynical person who hates to
let even the slightest shade
of emotion betray my exterior
(I'm German, for Christ's
sake). But the point is that
anything that has that kind
of power, regardless of
whether it's laudable or sad,
is truly real and powerful
art in the sense that this is
exactly what (classical)
music and all them pictures
hanging in those stuffy
buildings are supposed to do
to us, the human audience.
You could even make the
argument that the art
community has long felt this
to be the next step, as
suggested by works from Andy
Warhol to The Who's Sell

Joe B

CTV is a common dream, I
believe, and the idea that
all the programming would be
provided free makes it, on
first thought, seem
fool-proof. But the tougher
question is - where does the
revenue come from? Could you
actually get any advertisers
to pay for advertising on a
channel where other
advertisers are running their
commercials for free? Would
people pay for it as a
premium channel?

Although the second
alternative would be a grand
triumph if someone could
actually pull it off, it
seems fairly unlikely. And
the first? That might work,
and it would add an
interesting element to the
viewer's experience: You'd
constantly be wondering if
what you were watching was
"programming" or a
"commercial." This approach
has worked fairly well for
MTV, especially lately with
all its "specials" devoted
to new-release albums that
are essentially infomercials
that sacrifice efficiency
(i.e., an 800 number) for
credibility. So maybe it
could work for CTV as well.



Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Re: The new trend in
advertising ...

is the presentation of
hideousness as hook.

Hear me out. The newer,
post-Dick Miller Lite ads
include the one with the fat
bald guy in underwear who
dances with an imposing
German shepherd. A lingering
shot of the dog resting its
moist jowls on the man's
shoulder evokes a shudder. A
related series of Miller
Genuine Draft ads include one
extolling the virtues of
bacon grease as we see a
black-and-white shot of
frying bacon being slapped
onto white bread, whereupon
it is consumed by a shirtless
fat guy. On a related note
(although it doesn't include
anything oozing or a fat guy)
are the commercials for
Levi's Hard Jeans where a
gravelly voiced announcer
informs us that the jeans are
more likely to injure the
wearer than anything else.
The jeans are not only tough,
they're openly hostile to the

It seems that the science of
brand development has taken a
new turn in 1998. Ugliness
and repulsion are
cutting-edge tactics for ad
agencies who've obviously
used up every other approach
in their ongoing effort to
distinguish their products.
Watching a thinly veiled
portrayal of bestiality isn't
going to make anyone thirsty,
but it distinguishes itself
by its very hideousness. It
provokes a reaction that is
unlike our standard reaction
to ads - indifference. We
remember the brand as an
audacious and unique moment
amid the ongoing torrent of

It's ads like these that make
me long for the good ol' days
when repulsion was the sole
province of avant-garde art
movements and the military.
As an emergent trend in mass
culture, I fear that the
future will bring mediocre
attempts at hideousness, on
the scale of the local
used-car guy dancing with a
German shepherd out on the lot
in front of deals galore. I
expected finer things from
our fin-de-siècle avatars of
culture. Instead I have a dog
slobbering bacon grease on my
shoulder as my jeans plot


Well, you know Miller just
put up the Miller Lite
account for agency review -
so the hideousness trend may
already be spent. I am
predicting a return to the
sincere, heartfelt jingle....


Fish With Letter Icon

I may have to print this
(yuck) just so I can look at
it every two years or so for
cultural reference.

This is just frigging swell.
Do you know how many
advertising email boxes this
piece is showing up in
tomorrow morning?! That's how
we kill any shred of
creativity, jerk; give it
some sort of creative
legitimacy. Why encourage
these freaks? If you still
have to get a "yes" from the
CEO, is it art? Makes you
wonder what DOESN'T make the

In the spirit of the month,
has it ever crossed your mind
just how frighteningly bad
they get at the Christmas
season? If Johnny Mathis
phoning it in for the Gap
(he's on the edge of breaking
out in a belly laugh the
whole spot) is any clue, this
is gonna be a looong ho-ho
holiday. How about Johnny
Cash and "A boy named Sue"?

Nice piece of writing my
friend. This site rules.

gene grant

Is that Johnny Mathis with
the black eyeglasses and the
short bleached hair? That's
the only Christmas Gap ad
I've seen so far - I thought
it was just a few guys from
the warehouse or something.


Fish With Letter Icon

Ad Lib

I appreciate the link to my
Web site on the Taco Bell

I enjoy the increased
traffic, especially for the
products I'm selling.


We're just happy to help
spread the word that
Chihuahua lunch boxes are
available for those who want


St. Huck

Fish With Letter Icon

Dear Sir,

In your Suck column dated 1
December 1998, you labeled
Dinky (is that really his
name?), the Taco Bell "meat"
mongering Chihuahua, as "the
new Seinfeld," as well as
"TV's most beloved star," and
you wrote that he has a fan
base as well as a
merchandising niche.

What's wrong with these
people? Over the summer, I
penned a critical email to
Taco Bell on this important
issue. I later decided
not to send it, since
I knew that I wrote it
mostly to be an obnoxious
punk. But apparently, my
input might have helped.

Taco Bell and its customers
have an implicit agreement
not to question the quality
of the food, in exchange for
prices so low that the
chances of legitimate
substances being in Mexican
Pizzas and Volcano Burritos
(remember those?) are slim to
none. Far from being a
Seinfeld (who brought laughs,
joys, and tales of an
inappropriate yet legal
relationship with a nearly
underage woman to millions),
Dinky brings revulsion. If I,
as a Taco Bell customer, were
to associate Dinky with my
trip through the Taco Bell
drive-through, there's no way
I would make it even halfway
through without puking. Dinky
endangers the Taco Bell
consumer's suspension of
disbelief, bringing to mind
such questions as "What the
hell is in this thing?" -
questions that were
compartmentalized to the back
of one's mind ages ago in an
effort to pursue life,
liberty, and low-cost,
low-quality fast food.

In short, Taco Bell food
makes McDonald's food look
good. Dinky threatens to
destroy the consumer's
ability to ignore that fact
as well as many repulsive
suspicions. A Chihuahua: What
were they thinking?


Soft Sarkar Supreme

Experiments in my leaner
freelancing years proved that
Chihuahuas are a pretty
niggling source of
sustenance, so not to worry.
If you're suspicious of the
origins of the meat, think
mules or horses or something
like that. If they were using
actual Chihuahuas to meet the
demand, the breed would be
extinct in a matter of weeks.



Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Re: $4,470

The KLF did it first, and
arguably better.

About the only real
difference is they didn't
make it into a magazine ad,
they made it into a movie.

<> Someone also did something
first and better. The trick
is to do it when some
writer's on deadline and
needs examples to
particularize a half-baked



Fish With Letter Icon

The Stuff -- it's a list of stuff we like

Little link to Suck
Arrow Image
Contacting Us
Contributors Index
Little Barrel Link
Little Gun Link
A machine producing Suck
Link To Tech Notes