The Fish
for 14 December 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief


[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Copy Edit]
Erica Gies
Merrill Gillaspy

Copy Editors


[Phillip Bailey]
Phillip Bailey
Production Editor

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Ana Marie
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


Sean (Duuuuude)
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
Ghost in the Machine


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager


Forsyth, " we're just spanning time "]
Brian Forsyth
Production Editor
& Pool Monitor


[the fixin'
pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager
& Rhythm Guitar


Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager

Psychiatric Help, 5 Cents

Yes, we're all very impressed
that Charles Schulz has had a
rough life, and his personal
depression contributes that
gloss of authenticity to the
misery (i.e., tragedy) that
oozes from between the panels
of his daily comic.
So of course we don't
begrudge him his fortune; the
man is a professional victim,
and in our disposable
culture, victimhood is
something to aspire to.

What bothers me more is that
the consumers who have
donated their hard-earned
nickles to make Schulz rich
don't seem to grok the
difference between the
authentic misery, horror, and
despair of Good Ol' Charlie
Boy and the synthesized gloom
'n' doom produced by Disney.

Whether they're watching
Little Miss Whoever-the-Suck
trying to get in touch with
her ex-dog while dying of
cancer in a hospital bed, or
watching King Triton level
abuse at his daughter while
he destroys her bedroom in a
jealous rage, having
discovered her great betrayal
(not that she has spoken with
a human, note, but she has
fallen in love with someone),
the American public just
seems to like seeing horrible
things happen to children, as
long as the overall packaging
is cute.

Why do we like to see a
father rage at a little girl?
Why do we pay Schulz to show
us a stupid little boy
getting screwed over again by
the girl who promises to hold
the football? (This time
she'll wait for him; this
time she won't pull out.) We
like it because little kids
make good victims.

For the same reason, Schulz's
cartoons are authentic, though
we all understand Disney's
are counterfeits. We love
Schulz; not only does he feed
us pure, uncut victimization
every day of the week, but
the man is himself a victim.
He's dying because he's such
a victim; it's great. We're
like addicts of a deadly
substance that found a
friendly dealer. Not only
does he give us our fix for
free, he's also using the
stuff himself. It's

But Disney's stuff is fake;
it's junk food. We'll eat it
because we have to, but we
know it isn't like Mom's
cooking. There's no
attachment, no real
sentiment. We'll compulsively
return to see Disney's films, but
we won't ever love Disney; not
the way we love Schulz. After
all, Disney can't die.

Walt can. He can have his
head sawed off and frozen in
nitrogen, depending on what
tabloid you read. But Disney,
the huge multimillion-dollar
corporation that has come to
symbolize American bad taste,
is immortal. Disney can't
hurt; Disney can't be a
victim. So we can't identify
with it.

We all want and hope to
someday be as much a victim
as Schulz is now; as much a
one as Charlie Brown has
always been, because if
you're a victim you get
something better than sex,
better than love, and better
than money. You get sympathy.
You get to be on the news;
everybody says, "Poor little
boy. Poor little girl. How
tragic." People understand
you. They understand it
wasn't your fault. If you're
lucky, the president of the
United States will go on the
air to feel your pain. That
way, see, you won't have to.
That way, see, you get your
five minutes of fame.

I say: Fuck innocence. Fuck
victimhood. Do what you can
to improve the world, sure
— or as much as that
vague guilt which perpetually
gnaws your innards will
motivate you to do — but
desist with the mongrelized,
mediafied, pain-feeling
pity-oozing. Knock off the
useless, inauthentic,
dewy-eyed telecaster
faux-sympathy, and otherwise
cut the shit.

Max Headroom

Is "aspiring to victimhood"
the same thing as recognizing
the tragedy of our inherent
disposableness? If so, this
raises an interesting
possibility — tragedy as
a consumer item. I can see
the billboards now.
Something, something,
catharsis, something. It
could be bigger than Bubble

I know what you mean about
Walt Disney, though. Always
offering pat solutions to
children's real-world
powerlessness. And it's not
exactly clear where that
supposedly benign paternalism
ends. Walt himself squawked
to the House Un-American
Activities Committee, naming
the people who'd unionized
his animators as known

And ironically, Walt himself
hated his father. It's a
small world of wicked
stepmothers, after all.

I think people are just
looking for a safe way to
feel their emotions —
even if only vicariously
through child characters in a
movie or comic strip.
Something, something,
catharsis, something.

You make some good points.
Newscasters read that Charles
M. Schulz is in the hospital,
and they start composing "Oh,
the humanity" editorials.
It's like when a movie star
dies — you wonder why
you're being told, since you
never knew the star, just
his or her work.

The rationalization is that
the performer is, in some
way, reflected in his or her
work. It's been argued that
mass audiences can only
register an event if it's
conveyed in story form.
And the follow-up
argument is that some
meaningful message can be
packaged in story form and
still retain some of its
essential meaning. But
ultimately believing that to
be true requires a leap of
faith in the mass media. If
you asked a broadcaster
instead of Linus, he or she
would tell you that's what
Christmas specials are
all about.

Fish With Letter Icon

I seem to remember a series
of books for Christian teens
(published by the
Methodists?) illustrated by
Schulz. This would have been
about 1966 or 1967. I can't
remember if they were in
comic strip format, or just
text with single
illustrations. Probably the
latter ... it would explain
why my grandmother could
never get me to read them.
Well, that and the marijuana.


Ah yes, The Gospel According
to Peanuts
and The Parables
of Peanuts.
Actually, it was
a Methodist seminary student
in Texas who whipped those
up, according to Schulz's
biographer, illustrating his
own religious ethics with
borrowed panels. The essays
on Charlie Brown's "T-shirt
of thorns" went straight to
No. 1 on the nonfiction
bestseller list in 1965.

You know the drill. Find the
true meaning of Christmas and
win money, money, money.

Thanks for writing!

Fish With Letter Icon

A surprisingly sweet essay. I
didn't think Suck was capable
of this, but the themes of
disappointment and the
chronically unfulfilled life
are central to Suck's

That Schulz's now-irrelevant
(and frequently humor-free)
strip can be viewed through
such a loving lens is
evidence that at some point,
a conversation closed with
Schulz saying, "I am your
father, Joey." Alas, the
merchandising deals were not
to follow.

Rob McMillin

Yeah, well that shows how
much you know, Mr.
Smarty-pants! We're working
on marketing a collection of
Suck-related cartoons called
Happiness Is a Warm Fish.

We'll keep you posted.

We always identified with
that weird kid Pogo-ing in
the background in A Charlie
Brown Christmas.
Just so you

Fish With Letter Icon

I had the good fortune to be
exposed to You're a Good
Man, Charlie Brown
during its
first run as a stage musical
in San Francisco in, I
believe, early '69. After the
show, I purchased a medallion
commemorating Snoopy and
Woodstock's role in our space
program (how the quaint
phrasing rushes back: "our
space program" — Tom
Hanks could do a whole
miniseries about the
sentiment that that phrase
evokes in white guys his and
my age from the suburbs of
"happening" states like
California ... oh), which
named the December 1968
Apollo 8 command and lunar

I just wanted to say I think
you have it dead right. If I
may summarize in my own
idiom, Schulz isn't begrudged
his wealth because, in some
odd but very deep corner of
our minds, he "earned it" by
giving us the Peanuts
characters and nurturing them
so well for so long (whenever
one would cut off his own
period of appreciation, it
would nonetheless extend more
than 20 years, anyone
claiming otherwise being a
dramatic and bad liar).

I am also glad to read that
his children once said
publically that the last
thing they need is more
money. During the time Monte
Schulz and I overlapped at UC
Santa Barbara, I had my
doubts. In retrospect, he
must just have been a guy
trying to play some hockey
under the double-barreled
handicap of advancing age (he
was rumored to be 30,
claiming to be 29) and
second-hand celebrity. I'm
sure we were too hard on him,
and probably the other kids
too (whoever they may be).

Bless my godfather, and bless
Charles Schulz. Great column.

Richard Piedmonte

People forget just how
popular Peanuts was in the
'60s, and it was mainly
because Schulz was
extra-relevant back then. In
one panel from the period, Snoopy
returns to the Daisy Hill Puppy
Farm only to find that a riot has
broken out. The police start
firing tear gas as a
horrified Linus and Charlie
Brown watch on TV. (I'm not
making this up!)

Yeah, and in that 20 years,
the franchise kept chugging.
I mean, there are Peanuts
specials about every single
holiday. There's even one
about Arbor Day!

Fish With Letter Icon

Psychiatric Help, 5 Cents

Thanks, Suck.

Today you made me cry —
not with laughter, but with
joy. It was a warm and touching
tribute. In the very early
'60s, Peanuts was among my
first reading lessons and
offered up an ironic view of
the adult world.

I have not followed it for
many years, but your portrait
of Schulz brings me back to
something gentle that I like.

Now bring on Filler.

George Lichte

Thank you!

Like Charlie Brown's
Christmas tree, all we needed
was a little love.

And about 15K a year more
than we're currently making.

And some Bubble Goo.

Fish With Letter Icon

Thanks for the essay on
Charles Schulz! It was nice
to read your sympathetic look
at an apparently very nice
man whose work has been one
of the few constants in our
culture since, well, long
before I was able to read.

"Umberto Eco once wrote an
essay blaming society for
Charlie Brown's failed quest
for fulfillment."

As a big Eco fan, I'd love to
read this. I notice that
Amazon has a listing for a
book on Schulz written by Eco
and another author, but
it's out of print. I wonder
whether this essay might also
have been published either in
his column in L'Espresso or
in a collection such as
Travels in Hyperreality.
There's no link from your
Suck essay, and the
L'Espresso Web site doesn't
seem to have anything either,
so it's probably not online.
Still, I thought I'd ask
whether you might have a link
or other info as to where
this essay might be found.

Martin Janzen

Several people asked me that.
I tried to find it online but
didn't have any luck. It's
mentioned in Schulz's
biography as "The World of
Charlie Brown," translated
from the Italian by William
Weaver. Here's the complete
excerpt they used:

"Requiring, to a critical
degree, communication and
popularity, and repaid by the
matriarchal, know-it-all
girls of his group with
scorn, references to his
round head, accusations of
stupidity, all the little
digs that strike home,
Charlie Brown, undaunted,
seeks tenderness and
fulfillment on every side: in
baseball, in building kites,
in his relationship with his
dog Snoopy, in play with the
girls. He always fails. His
solitude becomes an abyss,
his inferiority complex is
pervasive — tinged by the
constant suspicion (which the
reader also comes to share)
that Charlie Brown does not
have an inferiority complex,
but really is inferior. The
tragedy is that Charlie Brown
is not inferior. Worse: He is
absolutely normal.... He is
like everybody else. This is
why he proceeds always on the
brink of suicide, or at least
of nervous breakdown; because
he seeks salvation through
the routine formulas
suggested to him by the
society in which he lives
(the art of making friends,
culture in four easy lessons,
the pursuit of happiness, how
to make out with girls ... he
has been ruined, obviously,
by Dr. Kinsey, Dale Carnegie,
Erich Fromm, and Lin

I think what Eco is trying to
say is that happiness isn't a
warm puppy!

Fish With Letter Icon

I'll make this quick and to
the point. I love Suck. I
love Suck because it makes me
think. I don't get spoon-fed
a bunch of garbage topped
with whipped cream and a
cherry. I get life, in its
twisted and mangled beauty.

The Schulz story was amazing.
I just got through reading it,
and my brain is still working
on trying to grasp every
necessary thought you all put
into it. Keep up the great

K. Myles Becker

Thanks! It's always nice to
hear from someone at

I appreciate the thoughtful
email. Especially since I
just came back from
celebrating Thanksgiving,
where my roommate's loser
friends served me garbage
topped with whipped cream and
a cherry!

Keeping brains working since

Fish With Letter Icon

Enjoyed it. Check out Often
very funny.

Steve Hill


I passed your mail on to my
new friend at

Your pal,

Fish With Letter Icon

 The Shit
Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, John Derbyshire, St. Martin's Press, 1996
Peekaboo's Masks, 2492 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
West Beirut, director Ziad Doueiri, 1999
"The Smartest Cartoonist on Earth," Daniel K. Raeburn, The Imp, Vol. 1/No. 3, 1999
Mad Monster Party, Rankin/Bass Productions, VHS, Deluxo & Black Bear Press, 1967/1999
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, America's Best Comics, 1999
Hermenaut No. 15: "The Fake Authenticity Issue," editor Joshua Glenn, summer 1999
Guillow's Sky Streak rubber-powered balsa-wood glider (without landing gear)
Very Emergency, Promise Ring, Jade Tree, 1999
Mean Magazine No. 5, summer 1999
Slickaphonics, Replikants, KillRockStars/Rue St. Germaine, 1999
"Cash, Interesting, Summer Holiday", The Young Ones, Foxvideo (BBC Video), 1988
Driver (PSX), GT Interactive, 1999

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