VACUUM

for 2 September 1996. Updated every MONDAY.

 

 

Authentic Reader Mail! Send us your
thoughts and feel the glow of
finally belonging! All letters
will be lengthened, strengthened,
and/or sweetened to taste. Tell us
if you'd rather remain unknown,
and we'll change your name to
Nobunny.

Thanks to everyone who tried to
give us a friendly whack on our
birthday, but first let's get to
the week's real slap-kiss...

 
[]

Of Polly Esther's "A Lovin'
Swoonful
," Bob McDermand,
President of Moustrak Inc. and
Pyramid.net, writes:

 

As the inventor of the mouspad and
a Yoda fan I deeply resent your
implication that users of our
products have fixations on the
past. Excuse me while I slip on my
Neru jacket, I have to run outside
to shut off my '57 vette before it
overheats.

 

Polly Esther responds:

Well, as usual, I was using myself
as a model of all that is
reprehensible. But now is as good
a time as any to confess that I
have my own Yoda mousepad at home
that I cherish dearly. Indeed,
every time I'm feeling down,
feeling limited by the limitations
of a limited life, Yoda looks at
me calmly, as if to say, "Luminous
beings are we, not this cruuuuude
matter!" Of course, taking a '57
'vette for a ride might be a
little bit more enlightening.

 

Of Tuesday's "White Riot," Thomas
Boutell <boutell@boutell.com>
writes:

 

What's with this paean to the
glories of Liquid Audio, an
unreleased product nobody has seen
(or heard) but which is going to
be oh so much better than
RealAudio? I realize that
RealAudio suffers from the curse
of present availability and can't
possibly match the features of a
press release, but singing the
praises of vaporware ain't the
cynical new-criticism naked
aggression I've come to know and
love in y'all.

If I want a lightly sugar-coated
press release, I'll read the
newspaper. With any luck you'll
return to this topic for a proper
hit-and-run when the "liquid"
crowd finally cool into a solid
state.

 

You may be confusing the saccharine
scent of our spew with a more
conventional confectionery
covering. We remain highly
skeptical of audio via the web; as
we noted in the article, the
latest warrior to enter into the
streaming-audio strife has a
pretty weak arsenal, and were they
still to succeed, they'd face a
fearsome host of Armani-suited
music industry lawyers.

Really, what do you want us to say,
that Liquid Audio sucks as hard as
the rest? We're willing to turn
the other cheek for a moment, if
only to wind up for the ultimate
bitch-slap. Rest assured, when the
time comes, you'll see the
requisite tread marks; until then,
we're more than happy to use the
press release du jour to make our
point - that is, if we ever
remember precisely what that was.

 

Robert Kelley
<catullus@laraby.tiac.net>
writes:

 

You are about as rebellious and
cutting-edge as a Mentos
commerical.

 

Were it only the case! In a world
where sophistication and Super 8
are sickeningly mainstream, it
follows that only the naively
amateur are truly cutting-edge.
Sadly, we are only about as
rebellious as a Reisen
commercial.

 

Justin K. Hertog
<jkhertog@tiac.net> writes:

 

Is there any reason why you right
justify your letters to the editor
and other content? Am I missing
something? If so, please enlighten
me. If all there is to it is that
it looks "cool", then in my humble
opinion it's pretentious. This
style also makes your text much
more difficult to read. Most of
your readers are probably not
dyslexic.

 

Looks how like we ir. Trouble don't
readnig jeve we. Others do don't
if, let know we;llla dnd
oprointioojls. Tyh? Erendklfs.
Paul is dead. Fk.odns. Inma,df
kajekreya a,dasd fmadfd.

 

Scott Bartlett
<rsb@goonsquad.spies.com> writes:

 

A continuing motif for suck has
been bitching about "Woe is the
poor media slave/whore." You
continue to whine and cry about
your crappy SOMA life. Well you
aren't the only ones hating their
crappy excuse for an existance. At
least you have decent coffee and
beer nearby. Your neighbors to the
south are slaving away 'til the
birds start chirpin' just so you
can have that faster Mac, because
you're complaining that the damn
swirl filter takes too friggin'
long.

Some of us hardware slaves are so
broken, we hang out at work just
like it's home - because after
being conditioned for so long, it
might as well be. There's an
unwritten rule that the company
OWNS you, and that you had better
check that brain at the door on
the way out.

Me, I'd rather be at home doing
music, or writing, or drawing, or
doing something physical. But
after being sucked dry day in and
day out, your soul starts to go
with it. So you stay at work
because there's nothing for you to
do at home. You might even have
brought your TV and that new
playstation in to work because you
sure as hell aren't going to be
able to play with it at home. You
find that your roomate has taken
his CDs, all 500 of them, into
work because he's never home. You
buy better speakers and audio
equipment for your office than you
have at home. You even do research
to see if a DSS dish will work
through the glass in the
sarcophagus you work in, just so
that you'll have a chance to watch
_Friends_ for once.

So, what I'm saying is: You media
whores are part of the problem.
Admittedly one always writes best
about what one knows. Consider
yourself informed; you aren't the
only ones being chewed up by the
technological machine of
competition.

 

Scott, we're fully aware that we're
not in this alone - otherwise, who
would read all this whining crap?
Furthermore, rest assured that
we'd complain just as much if we
were the Rulers of the Universe.
If we complain, perhaps we were
put on this earth to complain.
It's our calling. It doesn't mean
that we don't appreciate the
coffee, the beer, the good
sandwiches, the nice folks...
We're just not ones to go around
chirping about how delovely
everything is. If you want shiny
happy people holding hands or
"doing something physical," stop
beating your head against the wall
and go swim in safer waters.

 
[]

Now, on to the birthday mail. Mark
Simmons <msimmons@macaddict.com>
writes:

 

But... but... the sins you've just
cited were the Suck columns I
liked the best! I'd like to see
more trade-show reportage, Kaleida
postmortems, wacky headlines and
grumblings from New Media serfs.
Anything but more analysis of
pop-culture trends, please.
[Emoticon deleted]

 

Ahh. This is a big problem for us.
You see, there are many different
subsets to the Suck audience -
various subgroups of gentle
readers, each of which likes
certain kinds of topics. Let's
face it, we publish a fairly wide
range of opinionated crap:
opinionated crap on the industry,
opinionated crap on the media,
opinionated crap on pop-culture
trends, opionated crap on tech
issues, opinionated crap on
postmodern or neo-Marxist analyses
of stuff, opinionated crap on old
news or non-issues, opinionated
crap on opinionated crap.

Plus, each of our staff and
contributing writers has his or
her own set of pet preoccupations.
If Webster had his druthers, Suck
would look more like an
opinionated, crappy version of a
Baudrillard Reader. If Strep
Throat had his druthers, Suck
would look more like an
opinionated, crappy version of The
Red Herring
. If Polly had her
druthers, Suck would look more
like an opinionated, crappy
version of People magazine. If Ann
O'Tate had her druthers, Suck
would look more like an
opinionated, crappy version of
some zine no one's heard of. We're
talking about a wide range of
influences, tastes, and
sensibilities here. It's no wonder
most readers have cultivated a
mildly chafing love-hate
relationship with us. We're
schizophrenic.

But then, Suck is like a box of
chocolates. You never know exactly
what you're gonna get.. maybe a
tasty, chewy caramel, maybe a
crusty walnut-coconut turd. Um,
yeah. That.

 

Peter Merholz of Studio Archetype
<peterme@cmdesigns.com> writes:

 

Looking in the archive, I realized
I've been reading steadily since
9/5/95. Amidst all the hype, the
praise, then the backlash, you
guys persist, and, to some extent,
make a difference. You show that
people WILL read about the truth,
no matter how distasteful it may
be to some.

Suck was the first publication to
which I bothered sending a letter
to the editor - it was the first
time I felt that the folks on the
other end might actually LISTEN to
what I had to say, and, beyond
that, understand.

I find the recent Suck backlash
rather fascinating, because while
you guys haven't really changed
that much (and the changes you
have made, particularly getting
women on the staff, were for the
better), the response to your work
has. Going from
telling-it-like-it-is media
darlings to
whining-genx-pomo-brat-oh-so-tired
ranters in the course of a year.
What's up with that? Not that I
suggest you write about it - you
folks do tend to navel-gaze a bit
much.

No, y'all aren't perfect, which I'm
sure you understand. You have a
weakness for screeds that are
directionless and pointless but
say the 'right thing.' But hey,
I'd say you guys have at least a
40% hit rate on solid material,
which definitely sets you above
most publications, web-based or
otherwise.

Anyway, congratulations on a first
successful year, and particular
congratulations on being able to
do EXACTLY what you want to do, to
write EXACTLY what you want to
write, and get paid for it. We
should all be so lucky.

 
[]

Hear, hear! We are feeling rather
lucky, actually.

As regards "the Suck backlash,"
your perspective matches our own.
As with anything that briefly
falls into the realm of the wildly
popular, there are those who would
criticize simply in reaction to
such popularity. Furthermore, when
you spawn numerous clones, you
can't be surprised when your Elvis
gets blown up by an anti-Elvis
terrorist bomb while travelling
with a bunch of Elvis
impersonators. (Christ. What a
stupid fucking metaphor. -ed.)

Not that all criticism has been
utterly baseless. After the
fifteenth web macroanalysis and
the umpteenth pop-cult
microanalysis, we sometimes
imagine that we've completely lost
our doughnuts. But then we take a
deep breath, refocus, and
everything is all okey-dokey.
We've got a big group of reliable
contributors, some chuckle-laden
weekly sections, and an amazing
artiste. Those who were truly
meant to Suck shall stay and Suck
to their heart's content. The rest
are welcome to go nibble on Stim's
latest.

 

And our old friend Uncle Bob
<Degerberg@aol.com> writes:

 

Great, on a year. You have brought
an eighth decade brain closer to
the present. You are my challenge
to make me open up my mind each
day with great vocabulary and
content. For this I thank you. As
for making mistakes, when you stop
making mistakes you will be going
down that long aisle in a pine
box.

 

No birthday greeting warms our
hearts like one from our dear
Uncle Bob. Although some might
argue that we do nothing but close
one's mind, we thank you for the
kind words and we appreciate your
perspective. At least we'll try to
learn from our mistakes, so that,
at the very least, Suck doesn't go
down that long aisle in a pine box
anytime soon.

 

And, as predictable as tears at a
political convention, many a surly
note was received thanks to our
cheap shots at Trainspotting in
Thursday's Hit and Run. Notable
yahoo Brad Clawsie
<brad@yahoo.com> writes:

 

Regarding your attack on the film
"Trainspotting".

Trainspotting would have been more
of a success if it had been more
"Americanized". Some simple plot
twists and script changes could
have facilitated
"Americanization":

i) The junkies could have abdicated
responsibility for their habit,
claiming it was a "disease".

ii) The dead-baby scene could be
cut in order to provide a safe,
sanitary view of the underworld.

iii) Gratuitous product shots with
ad tie-ins might have helped.

iv) The odd bits of subtitling
could have been removed; they're
lost on illiterate audiences.

v) Replace every woman in the film
with a California Silicon Queen
(tm).

vi) Replace the tinge of irony at
the end with a large explosion or
gun fight.

In other words, make it easy,
slick, and eventually tiring. Sort
of like Suck.

 

Yahoooo! Nice analysis of the
Hollywood screenplay (tm). But we
don't adore Hollywood any more
than you do.

The problem with Trainspotting is
not that it's too unusual and
un-Hollywood to be enjoyable; the
problem is that it has not even
the remotest trace of provocative
or insightful dialogue. Look no
further than "Naked" to witness an
unusual, un-Hollywood, un-American
film that is absolutely brimming
over with intelligent, hilarious
scenes and well-crafted verbal
exchanges.

Trainspotting, on the other hand,
is more predictable than the vast
majority of American action
flicks. (Gee, I wonder if he'll
EVER kick the habit! And I wonder
if anything BAD will ever happen
to that cute baby!)

Please. Talk about cheap tricks -
that dead-baby shit isn't bad
because it's so damn disturbing,
it's bad because it's flat-out
sensational, stupid, and, above
all, easy.

P.S. Of course Sucking is tiring...
but somebody has to do it. You
could go straight to Yahooing all
night, but that tends to get old
eventually.

 
[]

Scott Alan White
<sawhite@hpbs2670.boi.hp.com>
writes:

 

Dear Sucky-Suckass Sucksters,

As I perused your column today (Hit
and Run 2,000,000,000), and read
your assesment of Trainspotting, a
thought slowly crept into my head
(which is always the way it
happens). I'm affraid I must
expose you for the frauds that you
are.

I have been reading Suck since last
winter, and have yet to see, read,
hear, smell or touch anything
eminating from your general
direction that even resembles
praise...for anything. Now, I'm as
much of a smart-ass, cynical,
crumudgeon as the next person, but
I don't think it's humanly
possible to dislike EVERYTHING.
Yet you bunch of hacks seem to
want us to think you do.

Either you all are full of it, or
you should kill yourselves (no one
should have to live in such pain).

P.S. I do appreciate the daily
opportunity to wonder what you all
really do for a living, though I
am sure there are probably
restaurant and coffee shop jobs
a-plenty for you in that city.

 

Not a day goes by here at the
gleaming Suck HQ when we're not
presented with a choice that would
make Solomon blush...Internet
Explorer or Navigator? Crullers or
Snoballs? Tastes great or less
filling? Reservoir-tipped or
ribbed? But you've posed a real
doozie, Scott: Full of
it...or...kill ourselves...full of
it...kill ourselves...can't we
just kill the people who think
we're full of it...or maybe be
full of the people who think we're
killing ourselves?

 

Finally, speaking of macroanalyses,
Adam Margulies <adam@sgi.com>
writes:

 

Vague feeling of multi-hyphenated
discontent about
nothing-in-general but
everything-in-particular. Clever
witticism about trivial failing in
meme-of-moment with couched escape
hatch. If proven wrong later, then
only just kidding. Sweeping
non-name-dropping name-dropping
with cute mixture of high and
popular culture references. Vulgar
non-display display of expensive
education with ass-sucking
kiss-kiss to
intelli-digi-entsia-erati.

If proven wrong later, then only
just kidding.

 

Vague sensation of multilevel
distress about feedback regarding
everything-in-particular but
amounting to generally nothing.
Clever criticism about minor
flailing in email-of-moment with
grouchy Netscape crash. If proven
bong later, then even more
fitting. Creepy no-name dropping
same no-name with brute fixture on
why popular culture is not his
preference. Meager non-reply reply
of intense bourgeois longing to be
proletariat (resort to "expensive
vs. cheap" dichotomy) and weak
reference to ass-sucking (a
well-lit, clearly marked escape
hatch).

Cute! Kiss-kiss.
(SGI = intelli-digi-entsia-erati, no?)

 

words
Polly Esther

pictures
Terry Colon