"For use on Doug"

Part 7 of this issue's
letters to Pathetic Life

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You might remember that a few days ago a tall, shaved-headed boy with pierced eyebrows approached you on Telegraph Avenue, and asked if you were the one who writes Pathetic Life. You, being who you are, recoiled, and out popped, "I don't know what you're talking about," but I think it was you and you did know.

Shame on you, Doug. I wasn't there, but I live with that tall boy, and he had a gift for you. 

You wrote in the zine that you were going to be nicer to strangers, so we thought we could give you something nice, but instead you want to be the man of mystery, have at it.

Stead NV

Tell the tall, shaved-headed boy with pierced eyebrows that I said hello. You can also tell him, I am not a sociable fellow, especially when caught by surprise, and he's lucky he didn't get maced.

Yes, I remember writing that I'd try being nicer to strangers. I tried, and I'm done trying. As explained way too many times in the zine, I don't relish having strangers approach me, and even if strangers come bearing gifts, my preferred gift would be being left alone. —DH


I work with a man named Doug. My Doug is annoying, like a rat terrier, so I keep a rolled-up newspaper on my desk with "for use on Doug" written on it with blue marker. That should keep him from humping my leg — just whack him across the nose!

Every time we go for coffee, he puts his hand in his pockets and counts his change, hoping one of us will buy his coffee for him, but every time his wife lets him out of the house with a few bucks he buys himself a big breakfast of sausage and eggs. He's never offered to buy me coffee, the sorry little shit. And this from a guy who pulls down $30K a year, at least…

—Earl Lee,
Pittsburg KS

This is maybe not the response you were hoping for, and please don't whack me in the nose, but other than earning a decent salary and wanting to hump your leg, your Doug sounds a lot like me. —DH 


The love of my life and I have been together for one year as of tomorrow, and it gets better every day. Life gets less and less pathetic.

I found it hard to believe that there really was that one person out there meant for me, and vice versa (it's the vice versa part that usually messes things up), but I won't fight my good fortune; I'll just have to live with it.

I enjoyed your latest installment (PL#22). It was interesting seeing you change your approach to readers who greeted you. There are some interesting people out there who don't want anything from you. I hope the pleasant surprises have continued, and may you get what you wish for, Doug.

—Jim Moul,
Acworth NH

You may have missed some recent issues, Jim. Back in March, yeah, Josh convinced me to be more congenial with readers who find me at my workplace, but after a few very unpleasant interactions, I'm convinced that my readers — or at least, the ones who'd seek me out when I've explicitly said Please don't — are not the kind of people I want to meet.

I'm very happy you've found love, though. I've heard about love all my life, sometimes I think it's a sham and it doesn't really exist, but I want you to have it all the days of your life, sir. —DH


After reading about some of the weird or disgusting jobs you've been doing, I decided I'd like to take on your services. Enclosed is $5. I want you to take one hour and go to the park and read some zines, or do something equally pleasurable and relaxing.

—Jerianne Thompson,
A Shattered Mind
Cordova TN

Thank you, Jerianne! Had a wonderful time at Dolores Park, in the sunshine with a sandwich and a couple of zines, and got paid for it. And I didn't even have to write an essay, like I did for that guy a few pages ago.

So many nice people read this grumpy guy's zine, it makes me think all the nice people are really closeted grumps. Or maybe I'm a closeted nice guy, but that seems doubtful.  —DH 


I cancelled my subscription to Utne Reader (PL#22) because they began to feature all these Christian articles. One in particular was about Pentecostalism and snake magic, etc. The writer went into it a skeptic, but ended up wondering if God had intervened — good Lordy! The same issue featured several of these Christian articles. I wrote and asked if Eric Utne was a Christian, and basically, What gives? They never answered my letter, so I cancelled my subscription.

Our friend and neighbor, an ex-drag queen, got a new roommate, a highly intelligent middle-aged gay man who just dropped out of the priesthood. We have had some marvelous conversations.

It seems that when he was a priest, he began to read a lot about environmental concerns, and he tried to interject this into his homilies at mass, warning people of the disastrous effects that would come from humans continuing to pollute our fragile environment. The Big Guys (hierarchy of the church) were upset with that, and forbade him to continue.

That's when he began to question every single thing about the church. Now he's just one of our movie buddies, and I think that's a much better station in life.

—Phyllis B,
San Diego

Well, give that ex-priest an exclamation point and a hug. Love it when someone figures his way out of someplace he shouldn't be. —DH


I have enjoyed most of Pathetic Life but I didn't renew my subscription because I don't give a rat's ass about your curly sweaty ass hairs and other similar ramblings you are so prone to do. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy your clever ramblings. I just require that my reading material aim a little higher than the lowest common denominator, sometimes at least. 

—Bob M
West Harwich MS

It wasn't my curly sweaty ass hairs; I only worked there.

But I take your meaning — too many fart, shit, and jism stories. You're the third person who's taken the time and trouble to tell me that's a problem, but three others have mentioned it as a plus. Stay tuned for further results as the votes are counted.

Seems to me that farts, shits, and jism are part of life, and some days they're the best parts, and the zine is my life, so no apologies. I will, however, say 'excuse me' if I accidentally fart, shit, or jism while we're in the same room. —DH


Here's three bucks for the next issue, but I gotta run, because I have the runs.

—Jack M,
San Antonio


I have a little sip of Pepto-Bismol first thing in the morning, and my stool gets firm and not quite so stinky. Hey, I need all the help I can get.

Why don't girls like me?

I haven't gone shooting in about a month — maybe that's why I'm so cranky.

—Corby Simpson,
Salem OR


I found Jesus! He was hiding in my closet, masturbating.

Religion is for people who can believe in smoke and mirrors. A co-worker tried to tell me that my friend Natalie's childhood sexual abuse was "God's way of making her stronger." Yeah, she's so strong she tried to kill herself how many times? Co-worker is a fucking moron. The same moron is going into the Army, and is the most patriotic schmendrick I've ever met. I hope he gets gang raped in the shower.

If I can't look at a lesbian's cleavage, can I at least look at a transvestite's bulge?

—Joe Gallo,
Trenton NJ

Gang rapes in the shower would be, I guess, God's way of making that moron stronger. —DH 


I'll tell you this in confidence (but sure, you can print it). I've been on the zine scene for almost seven years, both as a participant and reader, and the number one thing that I learned in that time is the importance of postage and money.

Think of a zine as a plant. Kind words, good reviews and praise are important, of course. They are the sunlight; the leaves of the plant turn into its direction to receive it. Turn the plant away from the light and it'll turn back towards it.

But the plant can't survive without water, and that is the postage and money. Without water, the plant will shrivel up and die in short order --  it doesn't matter how much sunlight it gets. In fact, sunlight can sometimes make things worse, baking the soil and drying the roots (exactly what national exposure can do to a tiny zine, overwhelming it with incomplete or nuisance requests).

It's an unfortunate lesson, but money is what you need to maintain a zine. The main lesson I carried away with my zine experience is, support your favorite zines with both praise and money. So, let me be a bit of sunshine and water to you, if you will, Doug. You'll turn green and leafy and breathe in lots of carbon dioxide in no time...

Damn, I knew that metaphor would break down…

New Orleans

Thank you for the nice letter and the substantial plant nutrients you enclosed.

All begging aside, your botany analogy is exactly right, especially the bit about national exposure. Pathetic Life was mentioned in the mainstream media (New York Times, Interview, etc) but it brought mostly requests for 'information' and a brief influx of $3 checks, payable to either Pathetic Life or my Doug Holland non de plume, and hence worthless. Lotsa sunshine, with no chance of rain. —DH

More of this issue's
letters to Pathetic Life:

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From Pathetic Life #25
June, 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.

Addendum, 2023: All through re-typing the zine, I've been Googling the names mentioned, if there's both a first and last name. Today, again, my searched brought me to an obituary.

It's sad, yeah, but it sounds like Jim Moul of Acworth NH had a nice enough life, and he and that woman he was so rhapsodic about lived happily ever after. I kinda love that.


  1. I am going on record as saying "I regret wishing that my coworker would get gang-raped in the shower." I remember writing the first line of that letter, but did not remember the rest, and I inhaled in shock when I read the shower line.

    I was 22 going on 23, still a baby. 27 years is a long time.

    1. Ah, you don't have to get yourself all scrubbed up. We're free to think and even say horrible things sometimes.

      Some fucker with a very, very loud motorcycle has moved to a house maybe a mile from me, must've gotten settled a week or so ago. That's when I started hearing the insanely loud vrrrroooooom of his chopper, pulling to the intersection right outside, and then roaring away into the distance... three or five times every day.

      Never even seen the guy or his motorcycle, but I hear it all the time, and every damn time, I hope he'll wipe out red and messy.

      No apologies for thinking it.

  2. I was an early adapter, reading and subscribing to the original PL, and read all these letters in 1996. So many of them, and so open, it is testament to the affect or effect (I never know which) your zine had on lots of people.

    It stinks that you didn't get to end it on your own terms. Fuck those people who approached you, and an extra fuck for Madison, who seems clueless and doesn't know where the shame should go.

  3. And I appreciated all times you sent me green spendy cash. It's been a while, by the way.

    And yeah, I'm aware that the zine had an effect (not affect) on some people, but none as much as me.


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