Letters to the editor

I’ve always been almost terminally introverted, so I keep quiet around strangers, and the strangers rarely become friends. How can they, when my anti-social, acerbic, cynical, and sometimes terrified nature keeps me mostly wordless?

One of the reasons I’m writing a diary and publishing it as a zine is to maybe make a few friends by mail. Yeah, Pathetic Life is a giant personal ad. It hasn't worked very well yet, but today it got two responses.

Will they become friends? Probably not, but I have two new non-enemies.

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You sound like a funny smartass I could have a few beers with. I enjoyed the zine. Here’s $3 for the next one.

Give people a chance, they’ll surprise you. To meet people, consider volunteering time to help a charity. You meet nice people, and maybe do some good for a worthy cause.

Maybe I’m wrong but I think you think most people are assholes, but they’re not. Everyone is unsure what to say like you.

Phillip, Kansas City MO

Thanks, Phillip. I don’t think most people are assholes. I think all people are assholes, certainly including you and me. Most people believe what they’ve been taught, and do what they’re told, and if that’s not being an asshole, then it’s only boring but that’s almost as bad.

I’m not a total prick, but I’m about 85% prick. I'm not looking for a cure, and not volunteering. I work 40 hours a week, with only nights and weekends for myself, and lack the energy and patience and niceness it would take to volunteer a regular chunk of time. Maybe when I’m rich or retired.

Beer tastes rancid so I rarely drink it. If you’re ever in San Francisco maybe you can buy me a milk.

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Your zine has style (but) what do you have against the U.C. Theater (June 25)? It’s one of the world’s great movie palaces.

Peter, Berkeley CA

I appreciate your three bucks and kind words, but you couldn’t be more wrong about the U.C. Theater. They show old movies, so I BART there often, but it’s not even the best theater in Berkeley. The projection is poor, the popcorn is chewy, the staff is rude, and there’s a faint odor of urine, like a few customers peed in the seats and nobody bothered to mop it up.

And it's not a movie palace. A movie palace is someplace fancy, ornate, with a little architectural pizzazz. The Castro, the Paramount, or the Stanford, or even The Strand — those are movie palaces. The U.C. is just a barn with seats.

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Also in the mailbox, someone sent a check for $3, payable to Pathetic Life. Sigh.

The first rule of zines is: Please send cash, well-wrapped so it’s not visible through the envelope. Or stamps. I can’t do anything with a check. Pathetic Life isn’t a business and doesn’t have a bank account, and I’m not going to try explaining the concept of ‘zines’ to a teller at the bank, and hope she’ll let me deposit your $3 check.

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My least favorite thing in the mailbox was a post card from Margaret, and I guess we’re officially over.


Just wanted to say that I’ve thought about it and come to a conclusion. The old adage of “can’t live with him, can’t live without him.” I think we’ll be better friends if we’re living apart. I also want to say that I will always love you.

Your friend, Maggie

It’s not a big surprise, and not a big disappointment. We both knew we weren’t happily-ever-after material. I wish Margaret the best, hope to see her again, and she’s right that we’re better apart.

She will always love me? Well, we rarely used the L-word, but I guess I L her too, and always will. I wrote her a post card and said so, except I didn’t have any post cards so it was a 5x8 index card.

Mostly I’m impressed by the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service. Mags must’ve written this card after our phone call on Sunday night, and she’s two states away but it arrived on Wednesday. Maybe it arrived Tuesday — I didn’t check the mail yesterday. That's speedy delivery for 19¢.

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The best thing in my box is the new issue of Factsheet 5. If you’re not much aware of zines, F5 is the big fat magazine-sized zine that does nothing but review little zines. There's no review of Pathetic Life in it, though. I wasn't sure whether there would've been time for them to read and review it for this issue, and I guess there wasn't. Next time.

I love reading Factsheet 5. It always takes me a month to finish circling all the titles that sound interesting, and sending for the ones I want the most. It’s like a Sears catalog for warped minds.

If you’re sick of slick, glossy magazines produced by corporations and filled with advertising and other emptiness, F5 is full of reality instead — everything you need to know about homemade magazines (zines) where real people write about what matters to them in their real lives. Your life is a pile of humdrum rubbish until you send $6 for a sample copy to FACTSHEET 5, ████████████, SAN FRANCISCO CA 94117.

From Pathetic Life #3
Wednesday, August 10, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Addendum, 2021: Again, no, you can’t send for any of the zines mentioned here. Factsheet 5 hasn’t existed for decades. If you’re interested in zines, though, poke around in r/Zines.



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