Letters to a fat slob

I spent all day yesterday immersed in your world, and in tribute:

I was waiting for BART, reading your April issue, and this little girl next to me was pirouetting like a little ballerina while staring at me. So I let out a nice juicy fart and instantly she stopped and walked away.

—Kelli Williams (Twenty Bus

♦ ♦ ♦

When I was in high school, the people I used to hang out with (I guess they were friends of mine, who I haven't seen in twenty years, thankfully) used to kid me about being from outer space. I think it was because I seemed to be in my own world.

Of course, because it's normal to see yourself as unique, I probably cultivated this impression. I really had nothing in common with these friends, other than an appreciation of the effects of taking drugs.

I've grown up (?) to become like your roommate you mentioned who wouldn't respond when you spoke to him (6/29). I'm the same way. I'm just amazed when someone notices me. I try to keep my impact on the world to a minimum. Plus I'm empty inside. There's nothing there, not even enough to return a hello. I have nothing to give.

Several months ago, waiting for the bus after buying magazines at a newsstand, I found this booklet [enclosed] in a large box of papers. I set it aside, and finally read it about a month ago. I think it's great. I think this is legit. The box I found it in had papers filled with mathematics and what I think was the original for the booklet. Maybe it contained the demonstration of Universal Scholarship alluded to on [the booklet's] page 47.

I wish I had saved the whole box, but there was 40 or 50 pounds of paper there, and since I was riding the bus I just grabbed this one thing. I've tried to find the author, but have been unsuccessful so far. I'm going to keep trying.

I had a couple of copies made up, and sent one to Factsheet Five. I think they will like it, but they may not review it because it's so old. I was hoping maybe you could review it, too.

—Tim Lauzon 

Tim, very few people are empty inside, and you're not one of them. There's something in you.

Anyway, it looks like you found something to give after all. The booklet or zine you sent, Poor Marshall's Manual, is kooky but quite good.

What I'm looking at, folks, is a 51-page handwritten (but very legible) treatise on the simple life, written by somebody who obviously lives or lived it.

A bit of bad news, though — the author says he's 64, and the zine was written in 1979, so if you keep looking like you say, Tim, odds are you're going to find a tombstone.

Much of Poor Marshall's advice is timeless, though, if you're interested in concepts like voluntary poverty, and spending less because you're using less. Or if you're just a tightwad who wants to save money.

It starts a philosophical overview from the author, Marshall Greenwood:

When a crowd gathers, reason retires. When people mass they invite disaster. By sheer force of their number people have, in panic, trampled to death hundreds of their own… Then do I urge solitude? Right. Said Thoreau: "I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude." Like the great philosophers I urge a life of contemplation and reason… and "far from the maddening crowd."

After a few pages of such, Mr Greenwood moves on to the practical advice, with 173 numbered nuggets of light living and good health, most of which made sense to me. #107 is my favorite; it's made me look at my mini-refrigerator as something to perhaps soon be rid of, instead of lugging it with me to New York when I move there:

107. Refrigerator, deemed essential, I don't need. My eggs keep o.k. in north window, none has soiled in six years; I use only non-fat dry milk and mix only what I use right then. I have no leftovers. I use no margarine, only poor safflower oil. I buy no frozen food, no big cans [of] orange juice, don't eat meat, fish, or fowl. So what do I need of a big, heavy, space-hogging white elephant which must be bathed regularly and have costly surgery at times, and can be moved only at great toil and cost to a new home?

True to his principles, Greenwood uses lots of abbreviations to save on paper. You'll also find handwritten typos, and no pretty illustrations or fancy graphics, just plenty of homespun, home-style wisdom.

Yours truly says truly, if the topic of living cheap and small intrigues anyone reading this, send two bucks for a copy to Tim Lauzon, ██████████████████, San Diego CA 92101.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hello! I read about your zine in Queer Zine Explosion, and I must have a copy. Trouble is, I'm stuck working here in utterly straight Madrid, and I don't know where I'd get $3-American.

I'm hoping as one queer to another you can help out by sending the first issue free, and then tell me what I can do for you (from Spain, sigh) in exchange.

Yours, I wish!

— Cristobal X 

Mr X,

Not everything in Queer Zine Explosion is queer. Me, for example. I'm not gay.

Even if your note got me hard, though, I'd be too hard up to send freebies, especially freebies overseas. Even sending this note is gonna cost me sixty cents, and I am poor.

Might I cordially and kindly suggest that you trot your tight ass into a bank? There you'll be able to obtain $5-American, which is my price for shipping to Europe, but please add another sixty cents to cover the expense of this reply. 

If a trip to the bank is too much to ask, I'll cheerfully accept the equivalent in pesatas. Your money is good here, Chris. Send some.


 ♦ ♦ ♦

I'm the reader who recognized you handing out flyers on Castro (5/27)  I only wanted to say hi, but I guess you're as anti-social in person as you are in your zine.

If you don't want to talk that's okay but I didn't like being a joke when the next issue came. You even insulted my clothes, which takes some balls when you were wearing a goddamned fluorescent green cape. Now I want to say fuck you forever. I don't pay real money just to be treated like dirt.


Interrupt my day unexpectedly and I'll happily treat you like dirt, whether you buy my zine or not. 


From Pathetic Life #15
Thursday, August 31, 1995

Addendum, 2022: Tim Lauzon is presumably long-gone from his 1995 address, but Google tells me Poor Marshall's Manual is still around. Among other places, it's for sale from Christopher Nyerges, for twelve bucks.

And I love that. If I'm piecing the clues together correctly, the author of Poor Marshall's Manual was probably dead already, when Tim found the box of his writings. Living writers rarely leave their material boxed up and lying around.

So Tim grabs the booklet from the box, takes it home and reads it, likes it, and runs off a few copies. And because he did, Poor Marshall's Manual is still available for buying and reading, all these years later.

As another writer almost nobody's heard of, I wonder if my words will fare so well, so many years after I'm dead and a goner.

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.


  1. Poor Marshall's Manual, at a quick moment's thought, sounds like Ran Prieur. I know it's NOT, based on the time frame, but it reminds me of him.

    >As another writer almost nobody's heard of, I wonder if my words will fare so well, so many years after I'm dead and a goner.

    If you want (and maybe even if you don't), I'll be your Tim Lauzon.

    1. I like Ran Prieur, and check his site at least weekly, but Poor Marshall's reminds me more of Jim Stumm, and old zine guy who lived in the woods and off the grid and wrote about it in his zine.

      I would of course be honored to be Lauzoned by you, but you needn't bother. I'll be dead either way.


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