"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 15 January 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Free At Last


You may not know it to look at us now, but there was a time when Suck was the Belle of the Web's first, hopeful, money-soaked ball. Gentlemen callers lined up to compliment us on the elegant simplicity of our snake-text page design. Handsome suitors held out generous offers for our hand in marriage. Future allies wrote credibility-straining prose poems about the unique argot of Suck's house style.

Like most early paeans to the brave new online world, this one had about as much basis in truth as a Blanche DuBois reverie. To the extent that Suck ever seemed innovative, it was less a measure of the founders' brilliance than of a Content Kingdom so lamebrained that formal effects like black-on-white type, daily updating, an easily remembered URL, reader mail, and funny links seemed like strokes of immeasurable genius. Hard as it may be to believe, all this was hot, new, bold and exciting stuff when Suck rolled it out.

But heroes last a few days; goats linger forever. Suck's long, slow slide from microstardom to obscurity has been marked by many indignities: Erstwhile butts of Suck japery now update around the clock, while we cling to our old one-a-day ways like officers in the Polish cavalry. Kids who were still in plastic pants when Suck was created have built effective interactive sites while Suck's sole contact with its readers remains the sadomasochistic Fish page. Even the snake text had to go once we received our one-millionth email that began, "This looked like an interesting article, but I'll never know because I couldn't read your fucked up layout."

We're saying all this not for the joy of self-pity (at least, not entirely), but because there's news. Five and a half years down the road, you may hate Suck as much as ever, but you no longer have to take it lying down. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, we're proud to announce Plastic, the community built by our corporate overlords (and several Sucksters who pray fervently that lightning might strike twice). Updated by the minute, using the Navy's atomic clock for accuracy, Plastic ensures that the Sucksters will never again have control over the flow of information. Not since the fall of Ceaucescu have the enemies of freedom been in such headlong retreat. From now on, we won't be publishing our lazy screeds and then throwing out the hate mail. We'll be publishing our lazy screeds and then watching you rip us to shreds in public.

Pessimists (or for that matter, optimists) might say that this kind of disintermediation will show how irrelevant the Sucksters were all along. We prefer to look forward to the invigorating prospect of going post-for-post with you, the Fabulous Little People. Who knows — maybe being forced to get down in the gutter with every potty-mouthed slob in a "No Fat Chicks" t-shirt will bring out reserves of strength and inventiveness that we effete and toffee-nosed Sucksters didn't know we had.

Or maybe it all won't mean anything at all. Prophecy was given to fools, but Plastic is being given to you. So go there and speak your mind. From now on, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Suck is neither a fish nor a barrel,
nor is it a smoking gun.

courtesy of BarTel d'Arcy


pictures Terry Colon

BarTel d'Arcy