VACUUM

for 25 November 1996. Updated every MONDAY.

 

 

100% Pure Reader Mail. Write us
immediately. We'll print your
letter, we'll change your name,
we'll send you a case of fine
wine, we'll do anything. We depend
on readers like you for the
floggings we deserve.

 

Mucho mail came in this week
regarding Miss de Winter's
"Anywhere, USA," though some of it
was from Canada. Most people just
wanted to tell us about how much
they love/hate Barnes & Noble.
Chris Webber <cwebber@padulo.ca>
writes:

As long as the best sellers at
Barnes and Noble remain books
written by such people as John
Grisham et al., Barnes and Noble
will never be able to create an
effective third space.

Let's face it - with the John
Grishams of the world simply we
have seen again how easily books
can be made into commodities like
soap and shaving cream. What you
end up creating is a new
supermarket that sells books (and
mochacinos) instead of baking
powder and dill pickles.

[]

The creative/innovative/artistic
element of society will have and
always have had their third spaces
- as you mention, the cafes of
Turkey, Vienna, Paris, the Pubs of
England, Ireland and Scotland, and
yes, the cafes and bars of the
United States. These are effective
third spaces because people don't
have to sell things before
anything happens. Ideas and real
exchanges are what happen.If fact,
sometimes shit happens. But
multinationals can't replicate
this environment because their
spaces demand commerce - and this
is no way to create the ideal
third space.

 

So, those cafes in Turkey just give
their coffee away? That does sound
ideal.

 

Rob <k96rk01@kzoo.edu> writes:

Just for the record, I love Barnes
and Noble. Where else can you grab
a brand new book off the shelf and
sit down in a Starbucks cafe to
read, then put the book back on
the shelf when you're done?
Barring any accidental coffee
stains, of course; maybe the
librarians in high school had
something particular in mind when
they put up those "no food or
drink" signs... At any rate, I
know I'm just playing into their
subversive wishes by writing this
letter of endorsement, but hey -
what is America if not blatant
capitalism? Personally, I just
hope they send me discount coupons
if they read this. :)

 

Spoken like a true Suckster! If not
for Barnes & Noble's in-store
coffee feature, one particular
Suckster would have taken home Our
Noise
instead of High Fidelity...
But thank gosh, we could sit, sip
some coffee, and read the first
chapter of each, after which it
became clear that Our Noise was a
piece of shit and High Fidelity a worthwhile
read
.

 

Dan Heck <fluffhead@li.com>
writes:

Speaking of sellers, way to
disguise an ad in the context of an
interesting article. I guess Suck
has to make it's money somehow,
but to dedicate an entire article,
(in a zine that dedicates itself
to a breed of anti-mainstream,
anti-capitalism) to the bashing of
a company for "selling out" books,
only to sell yourself out to
promote an online service (Amazon
Books
) is a hypocrisy far worse
than anything you accused Barnes
and Noble of doing. I don't know
whether to despise your
insidiousness, or praise you for
your cleverness. Tell me it isn't
so that you received money from
Amazon to plug their service.

 
[]

If we had a dollar for every time
we mentioned or linked to a
commercial enterprise on our page,
our wallet'd be so fat, we
wouldn't have to write this crappy
column in the first place! So step
off and go read about the grassy
knoll or something...

 

Tom Daly <thedalys@nac.net>
writes:

Your words betray a California
bent. You mention latte, Barnes &
Noble, Boston Market and such, as
though that's all life is. Spend
some time away from the highway,
look for the small shops, the
quaint restaurants, the scenic
drives. If you're so
disillusioned, move to New Jersey
- we find it very easy to find
happiness here. (don't knock it
until you've tried it)

 

Okay Mr. Jersey Tourist Bureau Guy.
We'll get right on that.

 
[]

Of E.L. Skinner's "Milking It,"
Brian Goad <bigdan@mindbend.com>
writes:

Thanks for voicing some of the
things that really annoy me about
milk industry advertising. Through
massive lobbying efforts, they've
coerced the American public into
buying what you rightly pointed
out as not so healthful product.
Throwing aside the fact that I'm a
vegan and a paranoid conspiracy
theorist, this milk stuff really
pisses me off.

 

E.L. Skinner responds:

Thanks for dropping us a line. One
of the things that has irritated
us most about the whole rGBH flap
is the complete contempt the
industry has for so-called
"livestock"... perhaps what's
needed is a barnyard blockbuster
sequel to Babe (which reportedly
had a significant impact on pork
consumption), maybe Bess...

 

Paul May <paulm@parallax.co.uk>
writes:

Nice piece!

They really put missing persons on
the milk cartons? What a wonderful
country.

In the UK we have a 'tradition' of
doorstep milk deliveries which is
under threat from supermarket
sales. Our dairy industry
regularly promotes the service as
if it were both life-saving and
somehow patriotic. The dairies
litter our streets with
slow-moving electric vehicles,
staffed by people who have often
been forced into self-employment
by cost-reduction.

But the former government agency
known as the Milk Marketing Board
is now privatised and called Milk
Marque. Cute, or what?

"I am the milkman of human
kindness, I will leave an extra
pint." [Billy Bragg].

 
[]

E.L. Skinner responds:

It was lovely to hear that the
quaint hardsell of milk transcends
national borders... we too used to
enjoy the services of the milkman,
enshrined in the nearly obsolete
observation "There's a wee bit of
the milkman in him/her" (i.e.,
he/she doesn't look anything like
his/her parents)... but really,
we'd welcome this fine tradition
back, if it arrived in an
*electric step van*... now
*that's* cool...

 

Of St. Huck's "Get a Lifestyle,"
Larry Smith <lsmith@livewire.com>
writes:

Have a cigar, boys, 'cause your
insights on the New Guy's Movement
ain't bad. One question: If Drew
Massey gets to be Hugh Hefner,
does that mean you fancy
yourselves to be Larry Flynt?

See you at the movies,

Larry Smith
Associate Editor, POV magazine

 

Ann O'Tate steps out from behind
the editorial curtain to respond:

Suck is the Peepshow of the New
Guy's Movement.

And though Rage has yet to make
much of an impact, I think it's
clear that Larry Flynt is the
Larry Flynt of the New Guy's
Movement.

 

Of Cleary S. Day's "Size Matters,"
Joel S. Wilkens
<jsw.1800@juno.com> writes:

It's not difficult to understand
your cynicism in regard to
Penguin's marketing scheme, but I
would have to applaud anything
that would get the average
American to buy a book.

Look at it this way:

Penguin sells 30,000 copies of
Dante's Inferno. Let's assume that
3,000 people actually read it, and
then about 100 people are
intelligent enough to gain
something from it...

Personally, I don't care how much
money is made off a ploy like
Penguin's, I'm just happy that
there will be a few more
enlightened people because of it.

 
[]

Personally, we don't care how much
money is made off any ploy, but we
can still have a commitment to
calling a ploy a ploy.

Besides, what's so damn great about
books? All anyone can talk about
is how great it would be if
everyone had more books, read more
books, got more "bookish." All
these people marching around,
haughtily marketing their products
to "people who read" like that's
some kind of special requirement
for being worthwhile. Only 100
people out of 3,000 are
intelligent enough to gain
something from Dante's Inferno?
Well, maybe only 100 care enough
about their "bookish" image to
crawl through such a boring book.
We're more interested in the 2,900
who are smart enough to appreciate
bowling. Let's end the tyranny of
"book people" once and for all!

 

words
Polly Esther

pictures
Terry Colon