VACUUM

for 21 October 1996. Updated every MONDAY.

 

 

Real Reader Mail! Use your mind and
whip us a line. Better tell us if
you don't want us to use your
name; better not expect your
letter to look exactly the same.

 

This week's mail ranged from
encouraging to nauseating. Of Perl
E. Gate's "Lifestyles of the Rich
and Famous
," Tim Leonard
<TLeonard@ccmgate.mti.com>
writes:

Excuse me???? Maybe you have been
getting these megabucks, but the
rest of us out here haven't. Next
time you think your making so
much, take the total number of
hours you work per week AND THE
TOTAL NUMBER OF HOURS YOU
SPENDKEEPING UP WITH THE
TECHONOLOGY, add them together
and then divide them into your
salary. Compare that to the
current minimum wage!!!

Like my doctor, lawyer, and
accountant, I must spend a very
large portion of my "free" time
just keeping up with the field in
order to keep marketable.
Meanwhile, my friends (with their
otherwise dull and boring jobs)
are out chasing pussy or otherwise
enjoying the fruits of their
labors.

Would I trade this job for one of
those boring jobs?? NO WAY, but
that is because I love what I do,
not because of all of the money I
supposedly make... The few
management types who do work for a
living are those who love their
work and, like most of us crazies
in this business, would do it no
matter what it paid. These are the
guys who make companies out of
nothing, not the assholes who
chase websites!!!!

 
[]

Tim, how long can it possibly take
to "keep up with the technology"?
How fast is technology running
that you have to spend most of
your time "keeping up" with it?
And what is this thing you call
"chasing pussy"? Do you mean to
tell us you envy your friends
because, instead of chasing
technology they're chasing cats?
How fast do these cats run, that
they spend so much time chasing
them? And who are these assholes
you speak of who "chase websites"?
Do websites run faster than cats,
or, uh, "pussy"? Do most assholes
"chase websites" or "chase pussy"?

Unless you clear up some of these
questions for us, we can't really
be sure whether or not you're an
asshole.

 

Of Veronica Link's "Biting the Hand
at Feed
," Rebecca Lynn Eisenberg
(rebecca@cyborganic.com) writes:

It is embarassingly simplistic and
inaccurate to assert that a person
can achieve fame and wealth by
exploiting feminist sensibility.
If that were the case, wouldn't we
see a lot more "Thelma and
Louise"'s (and - god forbid -
interesting movies like "The
Incredibly True Adventures of Two
Girls in Love") than "Die
Harders"?

Actually selling intelligent
feminist media takes a lot of
effort and is usually met with
antagonism (check out the Bitchmag
rant to which you link, for
example) or low pay. Sure, I too
was a tad nauseated by the "grrrl"
aesthetic when it hit the web full
force last year. But it strikes me
as intellectually dishonest to
cirticize a media industry for
depriving opportunity to women,
then criticizing the women who do
get attention for using whatever
means they could to do so.

Sure, it might be your goal to be
able to integrate intelligent
female voices into primarily male
publications (like Feedmag and
Suck). But I have struggled with
the inside-the-system/outside-the-
system dilemma for at least 10
years and three careers, and
ultimately decided that the best
answer is "both."

 
[]

Veronica Link, aka Stefanie Syman
of Feed, responds:

What, in twisted Suck irony, I
argue is that the web (and new
media in general, really) is one
of the first media where women
start out at the top of
organizations and publications
that aren't explicitly geared to
women, a la Glamour or Self. It's
easy for the boys in power to
accommodate successful women as
long as they're ghettoized in
their own special domain. So,
while publications like Bitchmag
and others look at women's issues
(beauty, pregnancy) through a
feminist lens, people (read:
especially guys) expect women to
run these types of publications.
They don't expect us (or, I daresay,
want us) to run Fortune or Outside
or PC World. To complicate
matters, much of the subtlety and
irony of a Bitchmag gets lost in
the cacophony of the mediasphere.
Which is not to say that feminist
zines don't fulfill their
subversive agenda; it's just that
it's easy for nonbelievers to
subtract the feminist and see only
the gurl.

I stand by my heads-up to women who
use any means necessary to get
attention. I thoroughly understand
the impulse, having succumbed to
it myself. But using any means
necessary, especially when that
includes both sex and anger, no
matter how intelligently filtered,
sets up a tricky dynamic. Our
media culture flattens all
messages, no matter what the
source. So while you might have a
playful, sardonic 'tude towards
your own feminist rant or
micro-mini, it's likely that press
coverage will boil off the
complexity, leaving an imprint
that's very hard to erase. It's
nearly impossible without a small
army of PR people to control your
own image once you begin to get
attention; being a smart and sexy
woman in a guy's world makes this
exponentially more difficult, and
to assume that your intelligence
will penetrate a culture more
comfortable with stereotypes (dumb
babe; feminist dyke) is naive.

Indeed, inside and outside is best,
if one can behave like a particle
in quantum physics and be two
places at once. But I wouldn't
call FEED a primarily male
publication: In the next few
months our contributors list will
achieve a nearly even split
between men and women. While we
don't deal with the kinds of
subjects that might fall into the
"women's issue" category (one I
consider suspect anyway), FEED
essays take on media culture,
politics and tech, all of which
directly affect women. Finally, we
do talk about gender directly when
we think it makes sense and makes
for an interesting story... Hope
this clarifies things.

 
[]

Of Miss de Winter's "How Many
Licks?
," Jaime
<jofire@cell2000.net> writes:

Your editorial had the kick of a
high-potency Ginseng hit...

 

Crack is a lot higher potency than
ginseng, Jaime. Just so you know.

 

Of Filler, Mark Q. Maxham
<max@research.apple.com> writes:

I'm so glad you have taken it upon
yourself to call "bullshit" when
Wired says something really
fucking stupid. It must keep you
extremely busy.

I have this mental picture of the
Suck offices where every thirty
seconds or so someone will holler
"What the hell is this crap??"
Like, when feedback such as this
arrives ...

 

Yes, Wired keeps us extremely busy.
They wouldn't pay us just to sit
on our asses, though, would they?

Add to your mental picture of the
Suck offices a mental picture of
each of us at home hollering "What
the hell is this crap??" at the
TV, and at magazines, and at our
friends, and at our significant
others, until finally there's an
intervention and our friends and
family confront each of us about
our "negative attitudes," at which
point we holler...

Suffice it to say such naysaying
revelry does not come without a
price, my friend.

 

Celebrating National Crack Month
turned out to be as controversial
and as popular as the drug itself.
Two regular readers freely offered
their opinions on the matter. On
the con side, Jason Asbahr
<jason@reactive.com> writes:

Polly, Polly, Polly - what's with
so many references to smoking
crack this time around? Is this an
in-joke that has the suck staffers
rolling on the floor laughing
while simply baffling the
unsuspecting public, or is it not
even THAT cool?

 

On the pro side, Grant Carpenter
<grant@tiac.net> writes:

Polly-

The fact that you are so back on
your game today in vacuum is the
highlight of the morning over here
at Flavor, Inc. I thought we'd all
suck the glass dick a couple times
in your honor.

Unfortunately, since I'm the only
employee, I'm now high as a rhesus
monkey. Which is going to make the
business of the afternoon an
interesting proposition.

Things we found particularly
laudable:

-unwavering dedication to national
crack month theme.

-reference to not only crack but
crack babies (the reference itself
was extra fat)

-use of the word biatch in any
context whatsoever

-the you@suck.com mail was also
swell, the raving mariachi being
the best

[]

Disappointed that there weren't any
piss-inducing pics of Terry's but
then again I want everything all
the time. Here's hoping that crank
references come following.

 

As always, our readers are split
between those who like juvenile
jokes, nay, love them, perhaps
even tune in solely to encounter
silliness, and the others, who
find cheap laughs pointless and...
well, juvenile. Others simply like
crack and its associated culture.

At Suck, we believe crack - and the
solemn discussion thereof - is
anything but juvenile. It's
sophisticated, like cigars and
golf, and in lieu of its own
celebratory magazine, we strike a
blow for media balance in Vacuum.

Sure, we haven't quite reached
consensus on the issue, and a few
straggling Sucksters have cast
their vote for a moratorium on
crack references in favor of a
sniffly, sneezy, celebration of
recreational Nyquil. But we think
you know where Polly Esther
stands, and she's the one who does
Vacuum, so there! Now, back to the
crack pipe...

 

There was also a mixed reaction to
the prospect of Suck product, with
the vast majority coming out in
favor of product Suck. Damian Hess
(dame@bignet.com) just didn't like
the tone of our voice when we
asked:

"Tell us what you think of the
prospect of Suck product, and
we'll think this one over."

Teetering on a brink with this one,
aren't you? (that's the collective
'you,' as in 'you [of] Suck') You
might have said "Okay, then. It
would be the greater sin to leave
fool/money pairings unparted. The
whoring of our logos commences
post-haste!" And I would have
mailed you a check. Also, you
might have said, "Your Yahoo
Ticker will be scrolling a cold
day in hell before we let the sort
of sucky little fanatics who write
in begging for wearable
advertisements have the time of
DAY, much less their own Suck
hats." I would have shed a proud
tear and made my own Suck t-shirt,
in photoshop, if not to wear then
at least to post on rec.crazed-
fandom.flaunt.your.t-shirts.die.
die.die.

Instead you said, [see quote at
top], which made me a little
upset. Are you asking me, and tens
of millions of Suck readers just
like me, to actually say "it's
okay, Suck?" Do you want us to
hold your hand and tell you that
you'll be just the same with 'Suck
Store! (Netscape Security)'
lighting up under net.moguls in
the java applet? Maybe you would
be, and maybe you'd find one of
your "hip" or "ironic" ways to do
it to, and the high dumb-ass
quotient of the average product
wearer would not reflect on either
side of your client/retailer sales
loop. I think it's the frailty of
tone that really upset me - the
suggestion that behind the
six-finger spread Suck Attitude
I've grown so fond of, there's a
sad little Suck hiding from the
bright lights. A Suck that unplugs
the Vacuum's vituperation for a
few moments to elicit reader
response because... because Suck
cares.

That's my Response to the Prospect,
and I sure do hope it's helpful to
you. If, of course, you only
wanted to see how many people
wanted one, you know, for like how
many to print and stuff, well then
put me down for a hat when the
first order comes in.

[]

In the meantime, enclosed is a
check for some crack.

 

Please, don't overestimate us. Do
you really think we were asking
your permission? How could we
possibly fear a backlash at this
point, considering the fact that
there are neon signs everywhere
pointing to our constant sucking
off the corporate tit? We just
wanted an excuse to substantiate
our desire to make more Suck
T-shirts. Looks like we
accomplished that. In the
meantime, the crack's in the
mail.

 

words
Polly Esther

pictures
Terry Colon