VACUUM

for 11 November 1996. Updated every MONDAY.

 

 

Suck Reader Mail - we're keeping it
real. We may change your letter,
and you'll just have to deal. If
your name's off the record, tell
us not to squeal.

 

Polly Esther's on vacation, and
Copy Boy is filling in; with this
moment in the limelight, I'd just
like to say, "Hi, Mom!"

[Ed. note: Well, normally, I'd
apologize for subjecting the
readers to this kind of personal
expression on the part of a piss boy,
but in this case, it's appropriate:
Owen, tell your mom to kick
the renter out of your room -
you're fired.
]

First, Don <DonAir776@aol.com>
asks:

What (ideology, ism, philosophy,
service, product) are you selling?
I don't get it. What are you
selling?!

 

Like many new media firms, we're
easily distinguished by our lack
of visible product. I asked the
Duke this same question when I
started working at Suck, and he
explained that we were selling
"out." Get some of your own
today!

 
[]

Speaking of selling, Aloysius "The
Wolf" Gambucci's "Cringe Factor"
brought readers seeking financial
advice. Dean McAdams
<garagemedia@earthlink.net>
writes:

First good Suck in a while.
Although it's partly my fault.
Techno burnout has caused me to
not read suck everyday. You have
articulated things I think about
often... "find a need and fill
it."

Do you think I could make money
teaching animation software at
Learning Annex type gigs? The
market for animators is hot here
in Hollywood and I watch that lame
never-was Dov-SS-Siemens making a
fortune selling seminars to
wannabe filmmakers who will never
have a chance.

Sorry... I ramble and you are a
professional writer.

 

The Wolf responds:

I am touched that you think me a
professional writer, but I wonder
on what basis you made that
assumption.

I also find it curious that you ask
my opinion about what to do with
your life: A cypherpunk I know was
always growling about how English
majors were being treated as
experts, and I do agree, it is a
strange trend.

I have no idea who/what
Dov-SS-Siemens is, but the
Learning Annex seems a great way
to promote yourself to those you
have contempt for.

 

On that topic - er, promoting
yourself, that is - those stalwart
souls who sacrificed their
demographic information in the
name of the Suck Survey have
started asking after the free
stuff they were promised. Chris
Willard <cwillard@wesleyan.edu>
writes:

All right, "Polly"...

Where the fuck do I sent my snide
Vacuum comments to? Looks like
you're the lucky recipient and can
forward them to wherever they are
supposed to go. I hope you know.

Anyway, I filled out my marketing
survey, so where's my free shit?
Or am I just being duped by the
promise of material goods? My
mother always said, "If it's too
good to be true, it probably
sucks." Guess I should have
listened; too bad she smokes crack
now.

[]

Which brings me to my next point,
in response to the crack bizness.
Crack is inherently funny in my
generation, and I'm glad that you
shamelessly pander to our low
standards of humor. Everyone I
know here at school makes crack
allusions multiple times a day.
"Are you on crack?" "What kind of
crack are you smoking?" "Remind me
to cancel your subscription to the
crack of the month club." etc. In
fact, maybe I'll write a
coffee-table book on crack, maybe
people who read Suck would buy it.
Crack is cool, crack is funny.

Anyway, I want to enclose later
some rantings about the evil
growing domination of a capella
groups on campuses. They should
die.

Sincerely,

Chris Willard, Founder of
W.A.A.C.K. (Wesleyan Anti A
Capella Krusade)

 

How prescient of you to sense that
your missive would not be answered
by Ms. Polly Esther. Please accept
this humble substitute.

So sorry to hear about your mother,
Chris, but I'm sure the oneness
you feel with the departed soul of
Tupac Shakur is all the
consolation you need. Perhaps
you'd feel differently about
campus a cappella groups if they
sang about their mom, the crack
fiend?

Which brings us to free junk: It
took some time for the crack Suck
research team to massage the data
into a limp and receptive state.
[Note to self: schedule massage
with those hunky research guys.
]
Only then, when it had been
established that each and every
one of our readers makes
bazillions of dollars and blows it
all at mid-level regional malls on
branded consumer goods on a
regular basis, could we send y'all
free self-promotional hype.

But have no fear, kid; we know
where you live. And we're sending
some cheap junk your way.

 

Some Guy made a similar plea:

A few months ago I sent in a SASE.
to try to get some free Suck
stuff... well? Do I have to wait
until next summer when John Gray,
the well-known Suck intern
returns, or will I never see my
self-addressed stamped envelope
again?

 

I think you misunderstand our
priorities.

(1) Smoke the rock; pass the kind
bud.

(2) Write some crap every weekday;
HTMLize it.

(3) Send our readers free stuff.

But the prospect of noted
recreational shooting aficionado
John Gray's return may get us
moving on it.

 

On Monday, E.L. Skinner felt "Sick
and Wired
" in the aftermath of
Halloween. Conrad Walton
<conrad@walton.com> had this to
share:

I coulda been in your article!

I did a website for a friend who
wrote a book on Christian
alternatives to Halloween. i'm a
born-again too, BTW. We got some
real interesting email from Wicca
pagan witches, one of which i made
a page out of.

[]

Being the pretentious people we
are, I mean, actually thinking
we're right and all... we could
have been linked from the "pink
pulp of Judeo-Christian
pretensions." It would have been
fun! I'd have been honored to be
pink pulp. I've been called worse,
but never so creatively.

 

E.L. Skinner responds:

We're trying to keep Odwalla from
monopolizing - and possibly
trademarking - the sinister
potential of "pink pulp"...

 

The Duke of URL took time off from
his plans for world domination
through cross-media synergy to pen -
er, sorta - the screed
"Character Assassination." Mike
Forester <forester@netcom.com>
writes:

Gee, Joey, we long-term Suck
addicts are always thrilled when
you trundle out of the Executive
Suite and plant your butt down at
your battered old Underwood to
hammer out a piece.

But since I'm anal-retentive, I
have a bone of diction to pick
with you. The idiom is "someTHING
of a...." "Somewhat" is an adverb
which means "moderately" or "a
little bit." It is therefore
somewhat wrong to say "somewhat of
a stretch." That's how they talk
on TV.

I myself am something of a
smartass. Cheers.

 

Actually, he dictates his screeds
these days; I don't mind, really,
as it saves me the trouble of
correcting the spelling
afterwards.

I can sympathize completely with
being anal-retentive. It's how I
make my living. So you can imagine
just how dismayed I am to break
the news to you that you're wrong,
wrong, wrong.

According to Webster's New World
College Dictionary
, the copy
editor's bible, "somewhat of" is
the correct idiomatic phrasing.
Indeed, the dictionary notes that
"somewhat" is, in fact, often
followed by "of."

As for being a smartass - you're
somewhat right.

 

Not everyone was down with Dr.
Dreidel's pitch for "Proposition
404
." Steve Gibson
<sgibson@bionomics.org> of the
Bionomics Institute clearly felt
that his future was at stake:

Damn. Now I'll have to go and vote.

Any plans to distribute the
freed-up disk space to the needy,
along with some cheese?

 
[]

That's a question that Prop. 404's
supporters aren't answering.
Clearly, all the cheese that would
normally be safely stored on the
hard drives of web servers will
need to find other outlets. With
government cheese storehouses
already filled to bursting, this
measure may have profound
repercussions in the dairy
industries - thereby threatening
the advertising industry, which
will no longer find a cash cow in
those lucrative "Got Milk?" and
"It's the Cheese" campaigns. While
you may think that Prop. 404 only
threatens the livelihoods of a few
dozen South Park digerati, in
truth it may devastate the
national economy from Madison,
Wisconsin to Madison Avenue! For
this, we've changed our mind, and
now urge our readers: Stop Prop.
404!

Thanks for opening our eyes,
Steve.

 

Obviously feeling the effects of
Prop. 215, Devyan <Devyan@aol.com>
points this out to us:

once you start censoring people it
NEVER ends!

 

We could only hope.

 

Moving on, St. Huck's screed "Ashes
to ASCII
" brought forth
like-minded plots from our
readers. Walter Ludwig
<walterludwig@delphi.com> has
these suggestions on the Internet
funeral biz:

My thinking on this is simple: go
upmarket, go designer, go
ostentation. Caveat: I qualify as
a tail-end boomer; born in 1957
but sharing virtually nothing with
my mediacratic "contemporaries"
ten years older, at least
financially and, I hope,
egocentrically.

But back to the main point. Just as
so many Boom-units delayed
child-rearing until their 40s, and
then so often acted like no one
had ever reared children before,
they will probably delay death a
few years, but treat it in the
relentlessly self-referential
fashion that they have treated all
of life's other milestones.

I'd bet against too much "going
quietly," and bet on plenty of
attention-grabbing attempts to
light up "the dark night," likely
with marquees bearing the names of
the yuppie dead, one by one. Many
memoirs of the slow descent, each
at the same time both intensely
about ME ("sure, billions have
died before, but none like ME")
and aspiring to capsulize the
ultimate experience in a
generational context ("sure,
billions have died before, but
none like US").

The only bright side to it all:
When all is said and done, no
matter how overbearingly - and it
WILL be - they'll be dead.

 
[]

St. Huck replies:

I agree with you completely on the
"not going quietly" part. In fact,
I think there's a great
opportunity for some netrepreneur
to exploit the currently available
death software by marketing it in
a more publicity-oriented manner.
Pitch the suicide software as a
scheduling tool that will help you
time your death exactly for
maximum PR opportunities. Pitch
the funeralcast as a way to
broadcast your funeral not to
friends and family who didn't care
enough to actually show up in
person, but to strangers on the
web who will be intrigued by the
passing of a personage as
significant and interesting as
yourself. Make the virtual
cemetery more compelling to large,
repeat-visitor audiences by adding
an ongoing horror serial - call it
The Plot - that takes place
amongst its headstones and
tombs...

End result? Warhol almost had it
right: In the future, every body
will be famous for fifteen
minutes.

 

The absence of Suck from the chart
in last week's Filler disconcerted
readers who've grown used to our
self-referentiality. Chad Ray
McDaniel <chadm@sgi.com> writes:

Hey! Where's Suck on the Crunchy
vs. Wealthy chart? Don't pretend
that that Suck is above such
things (or is it below?)!

 

We really, really wanted to let our
readers know exactly where Suck
stood on the "crunchy/wealthy"
chart, but an ongoing post-non-IPO
quiet period forbids us from
revealing where we stand on the
"wealthy vs. poor" axis.

As for Suck's crunch status -
we're smack dab in the middle,
combining the sogginess of an
all-night drinking binge with the
crunchiness of the next morning's
hangover.

 

On the subject of people with more
money than sense, some readers
expressed concerns about our
recent crop of advertisers. Chris
<cwillard@wesleyan.edu> writes:

Regarding your latest sponsor:
'spanq'

I don't know if "Uncle Dutch" and
"Trip" are your friends or what,
but they are not very "funny" or
"witty" or "hip" at "all". In
fact, they sound like some wannabe
Gen-X lameasses bought and owned
by MTV. No, not even MTV, some
fuckhead marketer who thinks he
knows what's "hep" and "youthful"
and is best pals with Bob Dole. I
don't even know their motivations
- profit, prostitution, or
ignorance - so I can't really
accuse them of whoring anything
but their pride, and just complete
fuckin' patheticism.

 

We're absolutely "pals" with Trip,
at least; he writes Polly mash
notes almost every day! And
everyone here at Suck agrees that
Spanq is "funny." (I should point
out that they're bought and sold
by AOL, not MTV...though it's
increasingly difficult to tell the
difference.)

 

People write us about the damnedest
things, like HTML and sex. As if
we'd know anything about either...
Tom "Pete" Whittaker
<tomw@diba.com> writes:

[]

Whatever you use to generate your
HTML sucks. A line of a table row
for each line of text? That's
really smart HTML work there.

 

Mr. Helpful responds:

Thanks. Now that we are fully
sponsored by The Man, we can
afford the HTML 3000®, a
revolutionary new tool that allows
regular old bumpkins like you and
me, to create complicated-looking
HTML. Because, as we know, in this
world anyone can code HTML; it's
the complicated source code that
sets us apart from others. The
fact that our content is created
to format correctly on all major
browsers and platforms doesn't
mean jack to us... it's you, the
source code viewer, whom we are
really interested in reaching.
Thanks for noticing our "smart
HTML"!

 

And then Paula Reynolds
<paula_reynolds@projo.com> asks
this of Mr. Helpful:

Could you ask Polly how "quality
sex" doesn't suck? I always
thought (but could be wrong) that
sucking was, in fact, the very
thing that pushed mediocre sex
into the realm of quality.

 

While the Copy Boy, being the only
Suckster who can claim to give as
good as he gets when it comes to
sucking, has his own thoughts on
the matter, let's give it up for
Mr. Helpful:

I'd ask, except Polly is on
vacation, probably discovering
this revelation... working at Suck
(or Sucking for work) makes us
forget about sucking in any other
fashion. So we wait for extended
periods of time off to... um...
never mind.

 

Next week in Vacuum: the triumphant
return of Polly Esther, back from
the East Coast, fresh with...
revelations! Thanks for your
time.

(Hey, Ana, you were just kidding
about firing me, right?)

(Ana...?)

 

words
The Copy Boy

pictures
Terry Colon