Too much mail

Some of the incoming mail gets printed, but most of it doesn't, because the joy of twenty letters saying "Here's three dollars" is in the three dollars, not in reading, "Here's three dollars" twenty times.

Of the letters with more to say, some are brilliant and beautiful, others simply strange, and some are imbecilic, but only the best and the worst earn a place on these pages (in no particular order except that I saved my favorite for next-to-last). 

My apologies to everyone whose letters deserved a reply but didn't get one. Even if i was an "answering mail" kinda guy, which I'm not, there's more mail than I could possibly answer and still have time to live a life and write a zine.

Every incoming letter is read, though, and the good ones are appreciated. —DH


You're more honest than me. I wanted to tell all, but I put a personal ad in my zine, so I can't very well talk about my twice-daily whack-off sessions, or my ropy, funky shits, or the zits on my inner thigh that get huge and pestilent and shoot literally 10-20 feet when squeezed (Is it a 'fat' thing, maybe caused by chaffing?), or the crust of dead skin that forms on my ballsack because of all the Pert Plus shampoo I use during those j/o sessions, or the filthy sides of my mattress where I wipe the cum and Pert Plus… Sigh.

When Natalie and I left, I hadn't jacked off in a week. I didn't do it on the road either, until about a week and a half into the trip. Needless to say, no sex with her was involved. We were at a gas station—

Note: I'm at work, and some dude just came in with a big oozing herpes sore. I almost puked. Now back to the tale…

—using the toilets, and I just had to jack off. I was so fucking horny, nothing could've stopped me. It took about thirty seconds, and I swear, Doug, it shot about six feet into the wall in front of me. And I'm a dribbler, usually.

When you talk about how you feel for Sarah-Katherine, I cry. I truly, truly know. I mean, I'm a 22-year-old who's never been kissed — of course I know

Oh, and your mother is fucking insane!!! You are a saint for not turning into Ed Kemper (i.e., chopping off her head and using it as a dartboard). She's evil. She probably  listens to Danzig and dances naked in her room. Sorry, I guess she is your mother, so maybe I won't get too graphic…

—Joe Gallo,
Gulp Life

Over two months ago I sent for a copy of Pathetic Life, but it hasn't come and the check never cleared the bank so I guess the post office is unreliable. Anyway here's another check, please send your latest issue.

—Rick Savage,

I don't remember getting your check, but I'm sure it came. The Post Office is actually quite reliable, and so am I, so what happened is, your check came, and I ripped it into sixteen pieces, same as I did just now with your second check. Send a third, and I'll do it again.

A dozen checks arrive every month, and all get ripped to pieces, because signed and numbered rectangles are worthless to someone who has no bank account. I've explained this too many times to too many idiots, and it was also explained in Factsheet 5, or wherever you got my address.

So rip, rip, rip, rip, your checkbits go into the trash, along with incoming press releases from 'alternative' labels, and inquiries about my zine's ad rates, and offers to trade Pathetic Life for 2-page poorly-written and worsely-photocopied punk scene reports from high school kids in Jersey City... —DH


Some guy was murdered four blocks away at the bottom of the hill Tuesday night. That's the first murder in the neighborhood in five years or so, since the two guys who lived in the bushes by the freeway got their throats slashed. And I'm not counting the lady who died when some gang members sprayed the 12th Street trolley stop about three and a half years ago — that wasn't murder, just youthful exuberance.

They lived in separate bushes and died in separate attacks. There was half a paragraph in the paper. On Thursday, the same fishwrap had a front page picture of photographers filming a $1,000,000 house in La Jolla where a genetic researcher was murdered. How come no front page headline with a picture of blood on my neighborhood's sidewalk, with a picture of the scenic asphalt parking lot in the background?

My first reaction is to be upset to think that a man's life is more valuable because of his income level, and therefore is more newsworthy — front page material. Then I think, the newspaper is actually doing people a favor. They're making sure people know that money isn’t going to save them.

—Tim Lauzon,
Poor Marshall’s Manual


My dog just got out of quarantine a week ago, and all she wants to do is run around. It's probably the best thing, though. I started getting these really creepy thoughts in my head about having kids. Nothing too soon, but entertaining the general idea. Fuck's sake! I wonder about my mental health. I must be teetering on the brink.

But good old doggy got out of jail and I so completely had a much deserved smack in the face. No kids! No kids! No kids! I'm just about capable of feeding a dog, taking her for walks and getting her outside before she shits on the couch.

—Melissa Garcia-Parsons,
Wiltshire, England

You are cordially invited to a fake party for Barbara Cooper and Barbzilla. As she has neither the resources ($) nor enough friends nearby to throw an actual party, you are invited to attend in your head.

Simply take the enclosed stamp, pat it on the head or lick it, stick it somewhere. Remember, you're partying! Just do something, anything with this Barbzilla Test Stamp on April 1st.

Barbara loves fools. She will feel the fool's day interactions, her spirits will be lifted and she will feel all partied out by 12 midnight on April Fool's Day. Expect a hell of a hangover.

—Barbara Cooper,

I never go to parties, Barbara, but I was there for yours, and had a wonderful time. —DH 


Jay bit a friend of mine once at a party.

—John Marr,
Murder Can Be Fun


I've heard good things about Pathetic Life, so I'm sending a dollar and a stamp. Please send me your zine.

— Rudy Jensen,
Kansas City

I used your stamp to send this note, and I'm keeping the dollar as reimbursement for the annoyance. My zine costs three dollars. Send three dollars, or don't. —DH 


We are alike, I think. I mean, I'm skinny and kind of a yuppie and I have dental insurance for my rotting teeth, but the solitude part, disliking people in a general hazy sort of way. People are morons, mostly, and they prove it every day. 

—Chip Rowe,
Chip's Closet Cleaner


Haven't tried substituting cat food for tuna yet, but in my bachelor days I ate my weight in macaroni & cheese every week. Maybe the enclosed (48 boxes) will keep me on the mailing list for your next few issues. 

—Wendell Gover,

Thanks, Wendell, for the macaroni and cheese — getting it home from the maildrop was an ass-pain, but I like having it on the shelf and on the menu. —DH


That Jewish folk festival (12/17/95) sounded like a lot of fun. Last time I was in a synagogue was about twenty years ago. It was the High Holidays, and the rabbi was the most boring and monotonous speaker in history. He said that the sermon would be "reflections on my recent trip to Israel," and I walked out and haven't been back. 

—Irv Rodin,
Bay Pines FL


What a relief you're not going to New York. I was holding my breath about that one. You have no idea how your quality of life would have plunged, and I mean even down from the Tenderloin of early PLs.

—Tod Davies,
Ashland OR


We need more guys like you on the NYC subways. Hardly a crowded morning rush hour goes by that I don't come across a homeless (or otherwise disheveled) guy sprawled across anywhere from two to five seats. Yet only once have I been so desperate for a seat as to wake the guy.

I suppose some people don't do so because they feel sorry for anyone who has no better place to sleep. For me, however, it's more a fear of what might happen after I wake the guy up. They say that not an insignificant percentage of the homeless are lacking a little upstairs (a question of the chicken and the egg, perhaps) and sadly, my observations cause me to concur. Though most are harmless, even whimsical, others can be frightening, dangerous. Why take the chance? Hell, the last thing I need on my way to work is a fight — verbal or physical — with some angry incoherent 'commuter'. 

Of course, there's also the fact that many of these guys are Black, and I certainly don't want to get into anything that might be twisted around into a racial conflict. The NYC subway can be a very hostile place and it's usually wise just to keep to yourself. No, I think I'll just leave them alone.

If you want to come around and roust one of them (2/19), I'll certainly take advantage of any additional seating you make available. Then again, even when there's no danger of embarrassment, there's often the stink factor. These guys frequently reek like hell and I wouldn't want to sit next to them anyway.

—Paul Kazee,

I like to get lots reading, more descriptive info of Pathetic Life and back issues, your limited supply on issues? requesting all issues so I can get them soon.

[no payment enclosed —DH]

—Aaron Richards,

Excitement has been running through my body. I finally get my teeth knocked out! I have really bad teeth, like 16 right now that are beyond repaid and they have to come out. I am just wondering how I am going to pay for dentures, so right now I am looking for an oral surgeon that will take monthly payments. Shit, I might just roll down to S.F. and go to the dental school they have there. Blah, blah, blah.

So I understand the money situation. I am always broke. 

—Rev Otis F Odder,
Reno NV


I enjoyed the February issue, at least the first half of it. The first few weeks were funny and all, but the details of your flu I could've lived without. Disappointing toward the end, would be my review. 

—Phil Shertzer,

Jolly good, what what, but do you think I decided being sick would be a good plot device? This is my life, my diary, and I got sick. Here's hoping you do, too. —DH


Funny how new issues of PL always come right before my period starts. Eerie, in fact.

I've been followed by Mr. Sinister Malaise. I'm doing severe delusional about my debt situation every other day. It's very important, when you're a good American like myself, to have denial on your side. It's the stuff capitalist dreams are made of.

Yours in Hootie,

—Sandra Stringer,


I thought of you today when I was clipping my toenails. One of my cats was laying practically on me, and my precious clippings kept landing on him. It was funny to watch his twitch in his sleep as the little endlets landed. Buy, was he disappointed when my clippings retrieval turned out not to be genuine affection. Isn’t that the way it is in life?

I have enclosed a stencil (tissue paper) of part of  the tattoo design on my back. I waited until I was 27 to have my first ink. I have some really beautiful tattoos, and not one icky one, but I am ostracized for them (I like) or approached by Charles Manson-wannabes (I don't like). Fucked at birth, schizoid, Christian longings, don't be scared, 

—Bo Peep,


I'll bet you're bummed about Sarah-Katherine. I'm sorry that it didn't work out, but it's better to find out now, rather than after moving to New York. The girl I was nuts about got married on Sunday, so I'm bummed out too. Whadaya gonna do?

I celebrated Palm Sunday last weekend by masturbating twice. Palm Sunday — get it? This squirt's for you, baby Jesus. Today is Good Friday, but what's Jesus done for me lately?

I liked your observation about flushing the toilet in mid-shit. I know what you mean. In my opinion, a good bowel movement is a thing of joy. Sometimes it's the best thing about he day. Why don't people talk about this? Maybe it's just me.

I went to the range yesterday and shot one of my pistols. Pow! Pow! Yeah! Fuckin' A!

—Corby Simpson,
Salem OR


Corby is coming for dinner tonight. I'll make something with plenty of beans.

Went to an Elvis & Marilyn party last night. I'll send a few pics later (assuming they come out). I donned my fuck-me boots from the late '60s and lots of rhinestone jewelry. Craig slicked his hair back and wore his red satin brocade dinner jacket and gold lamé tie. Great party. Thank goodness none of my friends are too mature.

Thanks for the recent zine. Permission to read someone else's diary — my mother never asked!

 —Linda Owen,
Salem OR


I'm interested in speaking with you about including Pathetic Life in alt.youth.media, an exhibition looking at youth culture through a presentation of alternative publications, videos, and on-line projects. The exhibition will be held from September to December '96 at The New Museum in New York City. It will include areas for reading zines and comics as well as a workspace for visitors to produce their own publications.

The New Museum is a nontraditional, contemporary museum that strongly supports alternative cultural production and opposes censorship of all types.

I would enjoy getting in touch with you to discuss Pathetic Life and how it could be included in the exhibition.

—Melanie Franklin,
The New Museum, New York

No. But no isn't enough, for yet another oblique request for yet another freebie from yet another beggar who could obviously afford three dang dollars to buy a copy (great letterhead, Melanie).

 I ain't youth and got no culture, and I'm mildly annoyed by your planned "workspace for visitors to produce their own publications." It's tantamount to having a finger-painting room at an art exhibit, or plugging in typewriters for a "write your own book" table at the library. There are already enough lousy zines put together with five minutes' effort. —DH


I really enjoyed Pathetic Life #20. I've enclosed a money order for $24, for a subscription and a few back issues, whatever you have lying around.

—P Tyson,
St Louis

I don't accept money orders, checks, promissory notes, stocks, bonds, or IOUs. Send cash or stamps, or don't. —DH 


My buds and I talked it over and settled on the position that what we do is pitched somewhere below small talk, more like micro or nano talk. Anyhow, hope you're doing OK.

—signature illegible,
three dollars enclosed,
but no return address


I went to U-Cal Berkeley, and lived not far from Telegraph, and I laughed when I read about your zine in Factsheet 5. Please tell me how I can get a copy…

—Luke Waller, Milwaukee

You read about this zine in Factsheer 5, but can't figure out how to get a copy? No doubt about it, you are a Berkeley grad. —DH


Thanks for the Pathetic Life #21. I liked this one quite a bit. I like reading about heartache and crying — "When I got home, I had a sudden need to bawl like a baby. And after a good long lonely cry, I vomited again." Priceless, Colonel. But we need much, much more. I want to know the lonely, haunted, tortured thoughts that filled your brain before you cried and puked.

Listen, I hate to give advice, but why don't you drop all the crap about the cops and Christians and Free Radio Berkeley and the half-baked political commentary — everybody does that. I'd love to see one issue of PL just be 50 pages of tears, heartache, bitterness, loneliness, all interior stuff. Drop the words about the world around you. Fuck CopWatch.

Believe me, Holland old chap, I wish you only the best. I wish it could be seashells and balloons and cotton candy and carousel music for you. Hey, and for me too.

You are lucky, though. At least your dream is still alive, no matter how many bitter tears it leaves after evaporation. You love Sarah-Katherine now, with the truest and purest of love. You are, in reality, at the high point of your relationship with her, the summit, the zenith, the apex — because she is not there, and your hopes of her being there are infinitesimally small.

If the unexpected were to happen, and you and Sarah-Katherine "lived together," reality would crush, would grind that love into a fine powdery disappointment. (I would say "hate," but you would not believe me. Although hate and disappointment, as I ponder it here, are essentially the same. It's because of the unbearable disappointment, after all, that the hate creeps in.)

Do you understand that people are damaged? Love, then, cannot be achieved. We must learn to master disappointment, learn to accept relationships built on tolerance. The "loved one" is, in the end, better than nothing. No more, no less.

But I keep in mind all the ones who never disappointed me, all the ones I never fucked or lived with, starting with Jill Rupp from the third grade. I cherish their memories. I daydream of them often. Princesses, magical creatures, I adore them, and they appreciate my genius.

—J. Rassoul,
Ann Arbor MI

I saw your zine somewhere, and I'd like to see a more recent issue, but money is really tight right now, so I'm enclosing some post cards I made myself. If you send your zine in exchange I'll try to have the money to pay next time. Thanks in advance,

—Jerry Blanco,

Well, gee, they're nice enough post cards, but what makes you think I need more post cards in my life? Seriously, man — do you pay your rent with post cards? Buy your groceries with post cards? I have to use money, and money is really tight right now, but I'll try to send you a zine "next time." —DH 


I get a bit confounded by some of the letters to Pathetic Life. Stay in Berkeley. No, move to Brooklyn. Go for it man. Wise up, Colonel.

I suppose I should never be surprised at how often people assume familiarity, but I would never presume to write you with advice. In fact, I don't know if I've ever given any advice in my entire life.

Even when people are lost and come up to me on the street looking for directions, I'm reluctant to intrude. Who's to say where anybody is really going?

I work in Lowell and live in Cambridge, and most weekdays I ride on the back roads through Concord, Lexington, Bedford, and Arlington, Massachusetts. Most of the time the street name is "Battle Road." Every town has a monument to the Revolution. There's even a few small signs on the side of the road marking Paul Revere's ride, but most people, in their Volvos and Saabs, are speeding too fast to read the signs anyway.

Last Friday, the 19th of April, I made an effort to stop in Concord and walk across the Old North Bridge. There are stones and plaques and statues to the first shots of the American Revolution, fired April 19, 1775. it was very late in the day, evening already, and the Old North Bridge was empty. I had history to myself.

I walked across the bridge and looked at the hill where the farmers first gathered. What surprised me most, I guess, was that I could see where America began, and it looked and felt like a small mistake — not a misunderstanding, but an accident. Have you ever walked past a store or house where there'd been a robbery or shooting? That was the feeling I'm trying to describe. 

Well, I respect your "no correspondence" policy, and expect no reply. The writing in the zine is the thing that's important, so I'll refrain from sorting through my thoughts on what it means to make mistakes, or even if such things exist.

—Brian Foye,
Cambridge MA


I was reading a book by George Seldes (he's a pretty good writer about 20th century US history, etc) and he referred to William Jennings Bryant's nickname, "the Tiberius Gracchus of the West."

Tiberius Gracchus was a populist Roman consul, a land reformer and such, and I figured I too needed a cool, classical nickname, so I am now known as the Demosthenes of the Dirtballs. 

—Steve Elliot, attorney-at-law,
Bridgewater MA


For your sake, I was glad to read that you're not going to relocate to NYC. I'm no big fan of cities, but SF is one of the best in so many ways. Good, realistic decision on your part, I think. Enjoy!

And I can't believe you've never been arrested, considering how very outspoken and assertive you sometimes are. How do you do it? 

—Lynn Jacobs,
Tucson AZ

Cowardice helps. I never talk back to cops, and always worm out of any confrontation before things get physical. Also, I rarely drink. And I have been arrested, but it was before I was 18, and legend has it juvenile records are expunged and don't count. —DH


Sorry to read that you're breaking up with Sarah-Katherine. Hope you're not too sad about it. If you can stand a fish joke, there are other fish in the sea. 

—Will Hogan,

Don't cry for me, Indiana. A couple has to be a couple before they can break up, and Sarah-Katherine and I were never a couple. We're still friends, and just thinking of her gives me a sore arm. —DH 


Diane Goodman's letter struck a chord with me. Why do people assume that just because you publish a zine or have a fairly high-profile job, that you're interested in entertaining every geek who wants to waste your time? I mean, I'll do it for money, via my zine — but in person, at somebody else's bidding, for free, no.

Thursday, 1 Feb.: For what it's worth, I think you made the right decision about CopWatch. How could you not alert a drug dealer/whore/whatever that the cops were coming, if you knew they were? I wouldn't be able to stay quiet, in good conscience. To me, that's collaborating.

Monday, 5 Feb.: I can't believe how hostile people got when you tossed the toy away from you to keep the child from grubbing around your seat. I mean, yeah, I can believe it, but it makes me sick. It's not like you sprayed the kid with mace (delightful as that would be). I hate the kind of parent you described almost more than I hate any other kind of person. I could ramble on and on, telling you anecdote after anecdote about my run-ins with passive parents, but I don't' want this letter to be over twelve pages, so I won't right now. But if you're interested, ask, because I've got dozens of interesting stories to tell.

Peeing on BART! Shame on you. For some reason, you trashing the BART train makes me think of people who riot and burn down their own neighborhoods, instead of those of their economic and political enemies. Why spoil a resource you use nearly every day? Why not pee in an open car window?

Say, I puked in an open car window once. I was drunk. I picked a really fancy, brand new, gas-guzzling car with a baby-seat in the back. 

Tuesday, 13 Feb.:  I'm sorry I didn't send you a better Valentine. I was still thinking about what I wanted to write to you, and I didn't want to send some fakey, happy message when I was anything but. But I also didn't want your Sweetheart's Day to come and go in ominous silence. My compromise sucked — I'm sorry.

All in all, a superlative issue, thought sad. Will next month's be happier?

Here, let's spice up May's issue: Doug, baby, I want to bear your child. 



I am submitting my poetry for possible publication in your zine. …

—Rasa Vierre,

Sorry, Rasa, there was no poetry in your envelope, only a random assortment of words. I have a poem for you, though:






no. —DH 

From Pathetic Life #24
Sunday, May 5, 1996

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. Jesus Fucking Christ Doug. Did I really write that sad sack shit? Goddamn, how did I ever land a couple of dames as awesome as Shawna and Virginia? God DAMN.

    1. Fine women appreciate your lack of artificiality. You is what you is. A lot of people aren't.


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