The Fish
for 22 July 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
Suck Staff
 

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Editor in Chief

 

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Tim Cavanaugh
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[the fixin'
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& Rhythm Guitar

 

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Havrilesky
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Connelly]
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Forsyth, better than cheddar]
Brian Forsyth
Production Editor
& Pool Monitor

 

[Copy Edit]
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Copy Editors









	
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Suck Alumni Text
 

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Co-Founder

 

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Cox
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Executive Editor

 

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Welch
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Production Manager
& Ass Kicker

 

[yes, it's
a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
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Goode
Monte Goode
Ghost in the Machine

 

Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Hit & Run

Dear Tim:

Even though I realize you
have officially declared
bullshit on The Baffler, I
like it. In small doses, of
course. Naturally I waltzed
to its site only to
discover it calls it its
"web site" [sic]. I once
castigated you for
unnecessary criticism of
Baffler quotation marks. I
take it all back.

In regards to invisible
fencing, I have a real,
electric fence around my own
property to keep out giant
horned rats (deer, to you). I
have had real people —
allowed to vote, drive, and
buy guns in this country —
ask why I just didn't
install one of those
invisible fences around my
property instead. Oh well. I'm
actually toying with the idea
so I could let the cat wander
loose — it's really too
dangerous otherwise. Do they
work? They always seemed
rather cruel to me.

I'll give my love to L. Ron
when I see him. He was a
pretty good pulp writer back
in the dear dead days of pulp
fiction. Pity he rose to his
level of incompetence.

Alan S. Kornheiser
<askornheiser@prodigy.net>

I was going to insert some
scare quotes into that
reference so it would say
we're sad to see it made it
"online." But then it
wouldn't be clear whether we
were "actually" scare-quoting
or just "mimicking" its
"inimitable" style. At last,
we don't know whether we're
the victims of irony or the
perps. That endlessly
spiraling wheels-within-wheels
"loop" is the real "danger"
of scare quotes.

Did your neighbors actually
believe you had an invisible
fence? I've been thinking of
this kind of thing, as my
bringing up The Invisible
Man
in our last exchange
prompted me to go back and
reread The War of the
Worlds.
You will recall that
in the excellent George Pal
film of that book, the
Martian fighting craft was
surrounded by transparent
force fields. It made a great
effect — in a movie whose
nearly 50-year-old effects
have aged beautifully. But
in the end it's unfortunate
because any movie made from
this book should be a costume
picture set in 1898. The most
interesting thing about the
book is that the Martians —
repeatedly described as
being so intelligent they
make us look like little more
than amoebas — have
equipment that is basically
about 15㪱 years ahead
of our own: poison gas,
armored vehicles, flamethrowers.
At the end they're working on
their Flying Machine. That
would have made a great
movie — WWI aliens versus
Boer War humans. And it's
public domain.

I think there is now enough
continuity in our exchanges
that we could do our own
version of a Slate Breakfast
Table. Of course, we'd have
to pepper our posts liberally
with those bogus little Slate
correspondent compliments:

"Dear Alan, Thanks so much
for putting into words
exactly what I was thinking
myself."

"Dear Tim, How refreshing to
see someone finally taking
such a sensible approach to
this unnecessarily contentious
issue. As you noted so aptly
in your book ..."

Yr pal,

Tim

Today you wrote: "... were
actually shot in Belgrade,
Tehran, Ottowa, and other hot
spots, where the ..."

Is "Ottowa" a reference to
the capital of Canada?

Joe Savoie
<jsavoie@unionenergy.com>

It's a transcription from the
original Ojibwa dialect, from
which the name of your
capital city is derived. Your
browser must not support the
diacritical marks we use to
ensure proper pronunciation
of the Algonquian tongue.

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

1. Yes, I'm Canadian.

2. No, this is not a rant
about your treatment of
Canada.

3. It's just a comment on
your typing ability (or your
ignorance, I can't decide
which — oh wait, that was
a rant). Do a search for
Ottowa and replace it with
Ottawa. Not that I'm that
mad — at least you
didn't say Toronto.

4. The most recent American
flag-burning attempt here was
by a Kansas Baptist minister
(Reverend Fred Phelps) who
decided the federal
government's recent
legislation extending
common-law marriage (and the
legal privileges pertaining
thereto — i.e., emergency
care authorization, death
benefits, etc.) to homosexual
couples violated the "will of
God." This dude and his group
of cronies were going to come
up and march on Parliament
with signs like "God hates
gays" and burn both Canadian
and American flags ... what
an asshole.

www.ottawacitizen.com is the
URL for one of the stories; a
search on the Ottawa
Citizen's site for "Rev.
Phelps" finds them all.

Dan Brackett
<dan.brackett@home.com>

Don't worry. The creative
spelling of your nation's
capital (admittedly a big
snafu) was corrected in a
matter of microseconds. But
not, of course, before dozens
of your countrymen had
streamed out of the woodwork
to berate us. Several of
these rapscallions even
taunted us with references to
"Woshington." Only your
letter showed the true spirit
of cooperation that NAFTA was
intended to promote. (Unless
NAFTA was intended to let us
get the better of our
neighbors to the north by
trading rejects like Fred
Phelps for superstars like
Mike Myers.)

One actual question, though:
What is the law of your land
regarding burning of the
Maple Leaf? Also, would the
Reverend Phelps be subject to
minimum content regulations
(i.e., for every three US
flags he burned he would be
required to burn one Canadian
flag)?

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Subject: L. Ron Hubbard's
Battlefield Earth

The wacky thing is that this
is actually a pretty decent
piece of sci-fi.

Don't get me wrong: I think
LRH is one of the greatest
con artists to ever grace
This Mortal Coil. He was
brilliant and not held back
by those petty conventions
the rest of us mere mortals
call ethics.

He even admitted he created
Scientology on a bet and as a
sucker trap. (Sucksters
should appreciate that!)

But here's the sucker part of
Battlefield Earth. Many of us
hard-core SF types liked it
so much we were tricked into
trying to read his Mission
Earth Dekalogy.
This is
undoubtedly his second
greatest scam next to
Scientology. And he even had
the ultimate laugh because it
raked in most of the geld —
AFTER HE WAS DEAD —
for none other than his
favorite religious order.

Critics and fans tried to
find some redeeming social
value but failed. Like people
who didn't smoke pot in the
late '60s, anyone who
actually made it through all
the books has got to have
some weird, antisocial
tendency to them. I made it
through about five books
before I decided I was being
had. My wife plodded on and
made it through eight before
throwing up (er, her hands)
and declaring, "This is
nothing but fucked-up
bullshit." (A typical
critical review.)

Back to Battlefield Earth:
Like many great pieces of SF,
I can't imagine how they are
going to make it into a
movie, not without about a
$500 million FX budget. Maybe
they'll just splice in
Saturday Night Fever outtakes
and some e-meter noise and we
Unclears will just get
hypnotized. Isn't that how
the Thetas usually do it?
We'll walk out of the theater
and discover we've all
mysteriously joined the
Church of Scientology and put
all our assets in
nonrevokable blind trusts
with the C of S as the
beneficiary.

Keep up the great vacuum!

Sid Sidner
<ssidner@hotmail.com>

L. Ron is an easy guy to
blame, but if you want a real
SF serial offender look no
further than the universally
beloved Frank Herbert, whose
Dune trilogy went on through
about 15 or 16 books. Toward
the end he was tormenting
readers with BrigaDune and
Mod Emperor of Dune and Dune
It All Night Long,
all of
them going on at length about
the inscrutable philosophy of
Muad Dib and other literary
sleeping pills. Of course, he
doesn't have a street named
for him in LA.

I, too, was surprised to see
that BattleAxe Earth was
being brought in for a cool
$70 million, given that a
movie like Saving Private
Ryan
can cost $60+ million
and be praised for its
budgetary restraint. Maybe
Travolta is working for scale.

Yr pal,

BarTel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 
Filler

Subject: My coolness is
cooler than your coolness!
Fuck you!

Arf arf. Just kidding!

I lived on Rondel Alley (the
nasty pit behind Esta
Noche/Pancho Villa) for M
years, and I have to admit I
was one of the (N-1)wave
hipsters. But luckily for me,
I saved face by moving out
before the Nth-wave of
hipsters moved in, before I
had to make fun of them to
maintain street cred. Whew!
You hit it exactly.

Gentrification does suck, but
"we all" take part in it
willingly, consciously or
not. The cool edge of living
in marginalized areas
(mainstream-culturally-
speaking, the Mission is a
complex soup) is that you're
living on stored coolness and
spending next month's social
rent money, as it were, in
that the cool factor goes
from zero (it really is just
a moderately dangerous
working-class neighborhood)
to some value X (your
coolness goes up, leveraging
off the working-class
UNcoolness) to-X (too many
damned yuppies) as too many
of your cohorts swim
downstream with you. Buy low,
sell high.

I know because I took part in
two other early waves of hip
neighborhoodness and didn't
notice the pattern until into
the third (duh): Boston's Back
Bay ('78 to '82), and SF's
Lower Haight ('83 to '86). I
wasn't cool, just a computer
nerd needing to escape when I
stumbled into obvious
threads.

Now I live in Tucson, as in
Arizona, in a post-gentrified
neighborhood (is this better?
well the bodies are not just
buried — they're turned
to fertilizer). I bought a
house with money I made on an
Internet business we built in
the Mission (our offices were
literally above 16th and
Mission). Whee!

Irony comes out the tap when
you turn the faucet here, but
we just let it run down the
drain these days.

Tom Jennings
<tomj@wps.com>

So much math! No wonder you
made it through the
post-gentrification process
with a house to show for it.

Thanks for telling me all the
cool places you've lived. You
weren't the only one. My
interest in said anecdotes
(n) grows exponentially with
each telling (x) — i.e.,
I enjoyed your letter n to
the xth power.

Stumbling into obvious
threads,

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Subject: Was I an Advance
Guard Yuppie?????

I'm a native "white" San
Franciscan who also hates the
yuppie invasion and who
decided to bail to the
redwoods of Sonoma after
viewing an apartment for rent
in a garage in the Sunset for
US$800 (now cheap) with thin
drywall separating it from
the owner's power tool wood
shop in a crowd of other
desperate people begging to
fill out a credit check. Now
I live in a beautiful cabin
with a detached studio for
$525, but I have to drive (an old
BMW motorcycle) 45 minutes
each way to Santa Rosa to a
really low-paying job ($9
compared to the $15 I was
getting in the city). So
I had to get side job
in a little print shop doing
typesetting on an old Mac for
this old redneck, who is a
really nice boss, who feeds me
Italian food his wife cooks
every evening after she puts
in a full day at her lousy
job (they're nonyuppie seniors).
Her son is a cell-phone
toting yuppie — two SUVs,
$300,000 house in Petaluma,
PowerBook mobile Internet
connect, BMW limousine, pond
in yard.... Anyway, I'm an
anarchist who in the '80s
lived marginally — I pushed
a friend all the way down
Valencia Street in a stolen
shopping cart one drunken
evening. I was stabbed by a
Latino street gang in 1981 in
front of the York Theatre at
3 a.m. on my walk home
from a jazz show at the
Precida Park Cafe. Basically,
I used to stay out all night
and play, drinking and dining
in cheap Cambodian
restaurants in the
Tenderloin. I was an antiwork
situationist drifting on
Lambretta motor scooters all
the way down Third Street to
places never colonized by
advance guard yuppies (except
me?). But I won't move back
to SF until all the yuppies
leave (but can I visit?). I
just bought an iMac —
pretty yuppie!!! I liked your
cartoon very much (emailed to
me by nonyuppie SF friend).

Jim
<SEMAJGIL@aol.com>

You just bought a pretty
yuppie? I thought pretty
yuppies generally got their
money by kissing butt-white
ass at Harry Denton's, not by
selling their bodies to
"native" San Franciscans.

But thanks for the anecdote
about pushing your friend
around in a shopping cart.
Without it, I never would
have known how utterly
cutting edge you once were!

My interest in you (n) grows
with every passing hour (h),
except the hours when I'm
napping (s) or watching
rented movies (r) or eating
glazed doughnuts (d) or
drinking heavily (b)!

Unfortunately for you,
> s + r + d + b. Therefore,
my interest in you isn't
growing at a very rapid rate.

Pilsner, crueller, Ferris
Bueller!

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Polly,

Here in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
the transition is complete.
We have been malled. Our
downtown is the restaurant in
extremis,
with coffee shops
and trendy boutiques. Just
wait — someday the market
will actually not go up. Boy,
will they (the yuppies) be in
a pinch then, missing
payments on the Beamer and
having to drink Folgers to
maintain the buzz.

David A. Dorney
<dadroc@csi.com>

Imagine! Ghost towns filled
with empty Pottery Barns and
Gaps and Hold Everythings,
brightly colored tote bags
and cherrywood sock
organizers strewn about like
the empty echoes of an era
long past.

Wait. Can echoes be strewn
about?

Confused dork requiring
Folgers,

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

I might have known someone as
bitter as you would find a
way to work self-loathing
into a diatribe about
yuppies. But seriously, I
think you're pretty right
that that's why everyone
(including people like me:
young, upwardly mobile urban
professionals) hates them. I
mean, that's why I hated my
housemate last year. But it's
not that they make me feel
better because they're
shameless; in fact, I kind of
envy that dumb bliss that
comes from believing without
any nagging feeling that Dave
Matthews may just be the
Second Coming. (Said roommate
is out promoting bands that
sound like the Dave Matthews
Band.) I just can't stand it!
Why does he get to be so
happy being in such poor
taste while I just get to be
bitchy and unhappy and
contrary?

Channing Moore
<channing@iabervon.mit.edu>
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Why does everyone think I'm
bitter? Self-loathing is the
ugly aftermath of bitterness —
shouldn't that be crystal clear
by now?

Damn it, would you kids quit
fidgeting and writing notes
and pay attention long enough
to learn something? Sheesh.

I must be a crappy teacher.

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Whatever! I just recently
moved across the river from
Minneapolis to St. Paul
because my girlfriend and I
both made a good chunk of
money from selling our houses.
We had bought them a long time ago
for next to nothing in a blue
collar neighborhood of
Minneapolis. Now every
suburban wannabe urban
hipster is coveting property
in that neighborhood since
the housing market is so
tight and suburban houses are so
expensive. So we bought this
old, really big semirestored
Victorian in St. Paul 'cuz we
have this stupid dream that
we'd like to fix an upper
even better and have a really
nice big house that we can afford.
We moved into this
neighborhood that according
to anyone white was the
ghetto (i.e., black
neighborhood) just 10 or so
years ago. "They" (and who
knows who they really are but
white people with a similar
mind-set and/or more time,
guts, or money than I or
alternatively the knee-jerk,
liberal, city government)
have been redoing this
neighborhood for some time
now, mostly because of all
the historic homes they have
here. We thought, since we
got some money, we could get
into something nice looking
with potential now and stay
for the long haul. And of
course, any lily-white fears
we had, because it is still
quite ethnically diverse
compared to the old 'hood,
were completely unwarranted —
everybody is friendly and
nice (and why wouldn't/shouldn't
they be?). Despite any crap
coming my way for this from you,
we really got it just 'cuz we
like the old architecture and
would like to be a part of
preserving historic houses —
unlike what they do in
Minneapolis where they all
seem to get torn down and
replaced with crap-hole
apartments nobody would want
to live in except the poor,
poor sods who have no choice.
And I'm not complaining nor
do I even like any of my old
friends, but what amazes me
is that all my white
"friends" and "associates"
either make comments about me
taking a risky step and
moving into the "ghetto" or
lambast me for being part
of the evil gentrification
process driving out the poor
blacks and Hispanics (it's
not like I forced anyone to
sell his house to me).
Isn't this a sign that these
whities are more afraid that,
with some good money coming
to them, these blacks are
going to head for the suburbs
to finally get some of that
stale living that for some
god-awful reason they
might want (and I think
this is just a fear — I
mean, who would really wanna
live in suburbia anyway)? I
don't know if you'd label me
a yuppie or an urban hipster —
I've been labeled both —
but I really don't care
to belong to either
demographic. Fuck, I just
wanted a house like that.
Does it always have to be a
race issue? Doesn't being a
good neighbor regardless of
race mean anything anymore?
Guess I'm not sure how my
rant fits your Filler, but as
an urban whitie do I
automatically get stuck as
either a hipster or a yuppie?

Joe B.
<jbreuer@rollerblade.com>

Hey, we all wish we could fix
an upper. Here are some tips
on walking that thin line:

To avoid being a hipster:

1. Dress how you like (but
listen to the woman's
advice). 2. Listen to the
music you like. 3. Say
whatever the fuck you want
whenever you want without
paying heed to annoying,
ultimately aristocratic,
repressed ideas of what is or
is not appropriate, correct,
polite, or whatever the fuck.

To avoid being a yuppie:

1. Don't use hair gel (this
one supercedes No. 1, above).
2. Check often to make sure
you're not becoming a bossy
asshole. Barking loud orders
on how you'd like your bagel
prepared, for example, is a
good sign you're slipping
into busy-guy dickdom
without noticing. 3. Maintain
some modicum of humility,
some sense of scale, some
concern for humanity, and some
suspicion toward
overconsumption, trends, and
$8,000 gas grills. 4. Talk
less, listen more, and never,
ever get one of those fancy
navigation systems for your
car.

The big problem is you'll
still be white no matter what
you do. White people are lame
animals; there's not much to
be done.

White and ashamed,

Polly

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

 The Shit
"Gary's Trajectory," A Wanderer in the Perfect City, Lawrence Weschler, Hungry Mind Press, 1998
The Parallax View, Alan J. Pakula, Paramount Pictures DVD, 1974
Rogues to Riches: The Trouble with Wall Street, Murray Teigh Bloom, Putnam,1971
Actual Air, David Berman, Open City Books, 1999
Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, Peter Hall and Michael Bierut, editors, Princeton Architectural Press, 1998
Canary-wing parrots, Dolores Street, San Francisco
Super Shitty to the Max, Hellacopters, Man's Ruin Records, 1998
Request magazine (any issue after June 1999)
On the Road to Vietnam, Bob Hope, Cadet 4046 vinyl, 1964
The Flying Ballerina, Drums and Tuba, TEC Tones, 1998
Dino, Nick Tosches, Delta Alpha Publishing, 1999
The Soft Bulletin, The Flaming Lips, WEA/Warner Brothers, 1999
Big Red soda

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