Pathetic Lives

Letters to Pathetic Life...

Why you would even think of leaving San Francisco to move to that stinking cesspool known as New York City is beyond me. Why you'd move there with a woman who won't give you any commitment other than friendship is incomprehensible. Doug, if you're that desperate for a friend get a teddy bear.

Before you finish packing, I suggest you give a good listen to Elton John singing "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." Play it until you have the lyrics memorized, before you make the biggest mistake of your life.

—Tom Granat, Boston

I'm a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly. Watch me fly away!

♦ ♦ ♦ 

This really bites. I send you a long letter, you answer with a post card. I send a second letter and you never answer at all. I correspond with other people who write zines and they're nice enough to answer my letters. Some of them have answered enough letters that they feel like friends. Writing to you I might as well be writing to Reader's Digest.

—LeRoy Leighton, Toronto

The other zinesters you correspond with are nice people and I'm not.

A lot of them work on their zines a few hours a week or month, and send out an issue 2-3 times a year. I bust my literary hump, jerking off into my typewriter like this before work every morning when I work, every night when I get home, every weekend, every day I'm not working, and photocopy and mail it out every damned month.

I don't do it to make new friends or pen pals. I do it because I have to do it, have to write or I'd go crazy. But I have to write the zine; I don't have to write letters.

It takes me five minutes to write a post card, half an hour to write a letter that's worth signing, and there are always chatty letters in my mailbox. Most of them, I don't have the time or interest to answer, so I don't.

♦ ♦ ♦

Only one very small complaint about your July issue: You forgot to mention my huge (38DD), perky-nippled, milky white breasts! What are your readers going to think? I mean, sheesh — if I can't have them in real life, at least I can have them in your zine, right? But I guess fair's fair, because I didn't mention your huge (13'') throbbing erection in my zine, either…

—Sarah-Katherine, Pasty

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I read about you in Interview. Your pathetic life sems similar to mine. I think we should meet in San Francisco to combine and entwine our similarities together and let hell break loose.

I live in New Jersey as my envelope says, but in the summer of '96 I am going to San Francisco. I'm sick of just sitting home on Saturday nights and watching MTV. Weed and beer are getting old, and I want to burn like fabulous Roman candles that pop, and when people see me they will say "Wow!" I'm sick of hackneyed days and I want you and me to take life by the neck. Write to me soon so we can plan our escape.

—Laura Keyes, New Jersey

Thanks for your marvelous letter, on hand-painted stationery yet. Most people just scribble a few words, like "Please send your zine." Lots of them don't even say please.

As for planning our escape together, well, I'd never want to discourage a lady, but read the zine first. That'll do the discouraging. I'm either a stone wall or obnoxious in person, haven't brushed my teeth in a week, didn't shower yesterday and probably won't today. Still interested?

Well, I'm moving to New York with a woman I like more than I ought to say, to you or to her. Unless everything goes wrong, we'll be eastbound months before you're westbound, sorry. If she dumps me, though, please take a number to ensure prompt service.

I rarely do correspondence, and this is already longer than the letters I send to anyone but my sweetie. That's partly because you're female or pretending to be, which gets my attention, but mostly I answered because your letter was like a fabulous yellow Roman candle that popped and burned in my mailbag. When I saw it I said "Wow!"

Here's the zine. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I read about your fanzine in Factsheet Five and I am very interested in your publication. I am conducting research on the subject of fanzines and their editors for a possible future book project. 

In this regard could you please send us one or several different issues of your fanzine as well as contact information. If you have any questions please feel free to call me at ████████.

Christopher Trela
Communications Director

If they ask nice, I'll send Pathetic Life free to prisoners, or to others even worse off than me, but yuppies who write on corporate letterhead can obviously afford three bucks. Send the money and I'll send the zines, or "direct" your "communications" elsewhere.

Free advice: Before writing your book, learn what a fanzine is and isn't. My zine isn't.

From Pathetic Life #16
Saturday, September 30, 1995

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. Haha, I love the letter from "LeRoy Leighton, Toronto." What a dipshit. It's like, do I owe you *anything?" I write. You pay. I send words. It's like some of the people who are very, very frequent purchasers of Virginia's pottery. They expect some sort of fucking tribute for their patronage. Gaaah, just fuck off. She's FAR MORE friendly than I am, and indulges them a bit. And I do get it. We have people who have quite literally spent thousands of dollars over the years. But damn. This shit was not part of the bargain.

    1. If he'd been sending me thousands of dollars, like your pottery customer, I probably would've answered LeRoy's long letters.

      I can be bought, but the price is more than three bucks.

    2. I had no idea that pottery is the plural of pot.


    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Deleted to edit my stupid words:

      This image, recently sent to us by a customer, represents almost a grand in pottery that they have purchased:


      The top two rows are two bottles deep, so this is twenty items, the majority of which were probably $59-69 each. The little ones were less.

      We have a couple dozen customers like this.

    5. Good customers to have. Very elaborate work, too. No idea how your sweetie would make something shaped like that...

      I made a coffee mug once in a crafts class at school, and dropped and broke it on my walk home.

    6. She makes a round bottle, and literally squishes it while blowing into it. It's some crazy shit.

    7. Art. I can't do it but I respect it when it's done well.


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