Thanks for the zine, but it ain't much.

The last of the
letters to Pathetic Life

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My life is fucking worthless and I hate myself and I realize everything is just a distraction and then we die. But I have gas something fierce. Can you smell it?

—Breezy Trails
Bitter End TN

I can smell it. You must've gotten some on the paper. —DH


I completely agree with your comments on our deceased young airplane pilot (PL#23) . What a spoiled little snot! I greatly enjoy the misfortunes on my 'betters'.

—David McClintock.
Warren OH


Thanks for the zine, but it ain't much. You're grumpy, you're lonely, big deal, so's everybody.

—Scott W
Newburgh NY


I've been up to my neck the past month, working five days a week in a visual effects factory called Digital Domain. I was on a crew lighting miniatures of a very futuristic New York for a movie called The Fifth Element, starring the ever-macho Bruce Willis as an angry cab driver who saves the world from aliens (I think — I've only seen brief snippets of the live-action stuff, all shot in London early this year). Digital Domain, a company specializing in state-of-the-art computer graphics, will be mopping up and filling in the blanks for the next few months.

In what may be a hint of the future, this high-tech facility, bursting at the seams with cyber freaks and megabuck computerized cameras, has two unisex bathrooms, neither of which seems to work, for us oar-pullers on the crew. One was off-limits all last week, taped shut with black and yellow police ribbon, while the other remained open, toilet clogged by what one of the grips described as "brown butt-snakes."

Top of the line computer technology and third-world toilets; sounds like the future to me. Anyway, the guy I was filling in for came back from an extended vacation in Hawaii, so I'm once again out of a job. Thank god.

Since I've been toiling away like a good citizen-consumer, I haven't been able to read PL#23 yet, but reading #14, your lyrical account of Sarah-Katherine's first visit to Berkeley, provided some insight on the depth of your loss. My experience is that the young ones will steal your heart and leave you a charred, smoking ruin every time.

Not that this knowledge stops me from making a fool of myself every chance I get, mind you. Several billion years of Darwinian evolution is hard to resist.

Hang in there.

—Michael Taylor,
Los Angeles

Man, where are your priorities? Work is OK, I guess, but when the zine comes in the mail, you should drop everything until it's been fully read.

In a largish workplace, if there's only one functioning john and it's for everyone, I might bring in my folding-chair toilet. It has a hole for pooping, so attach a plastic bag and you're good to go, as they say.

I will think of you and your difficult toilet access when I see the movie, and if it's Bruce Willis doing sci-fi again, I will see it. —DH


Maybe it's a pathetic life, like your girlfriend said, the title of your zine. I'd say our lives are what we make of them, and from here in Wyoming it looks like you've made a pretty good life in San Francisco. It might be not the kind of life most people want, and probably you're not going to have a suburban house with white aluminum siding and a white aluminum picket fence and a white aluminum wife and two white aluminum children, but whatever life has for you I predict you'll make the best of it and continue having a laugh telling the world to fuck off.

You're my hero,

—Lasso Alonzo
Casper WY

Well, thanks for all of it except the hero bit. Heroes are people who stand up for something, and I'm spending most of my life seated comfortably. —DH


Hey, remember me? I'm still a security guard at "a major metropolitan medical center." I caught a guy prowling around the morgue last week. I heard a noise from inside, so I very quietly unlocked the door, turned on the light, and found a medical student with his pants down, just climbing off a female corpse. At least he'd worn a condom, but even dead she looked miserable.

I don't have any sympathy for rapists, even rapists of the dead. Hey, my sister is dead, OK? But I couldn't call the cops — that's bad publicity for the hospital.

Instead I just quietly escorted him out of the building, filled out an incident report, and the administration drummed him out. He'll probably end up working for your local mortician, though.

—Michael G,
Los Angeles

Rape of the dead — well, you've out-grossed me at my grossest.

Yes, a hospital needs to worry about bad publicity if someone's arrested for fucking a dead person in the morgue, but it would be nice if they worried about that before letting medical students have easy access to a room full of dead people.

I hate cops and abhor violence, but in certain rare situations a severe beating seems appropriate, and this is one such situation. I'm going to assume that you handled that, but thought better of mentioning it. —DH


This PM I was coming out of a supermarket when this obnoxious little brat said, "You have a big belly."

I stopped, smiled, and answered, "My dear, how nice to meet you here. I moved into your closet about an hour ago, and I will see you tonight after your light goes out."

She started to squeal and her mother said, "How could you say something like that to my little girl?"

I replied, "Why haven't you taught her any manners?" and then I waddled regally off. 

With any luck at all I have given that kid a lifetime neurosis. (This isn't original; I read it somewhere (Did you write it?) but it was sure the hell effective.)

I get tired of impolite kids and their parents. I also get tired of people with yapping dogs they won't control and then it is supposed to be my fault. Last week a woman informed me that her dog might bite and to watch out. I said, "Lady, if your dog bites me I will kick it across the parking lot." She started calling me everything but a Christian.

I'm the only person in town who says bah humbug in August. Actually, I'm a warm person, but because I am old, fat, and have some obvious disabilities in walking, I resent people who try to impose themselves on me. Fuck off!

How is life in your new 'home' going? It sounds like a decent single-room occupancy hotel. I've lived in some that were bad!

Some time I must tell you about the time I dressed a dead judge, but it would be too involved for right now."

somewhere in Oregon


I read PL#23 on the trolley on my way to work and on the way to the beach after work. So I'm the only one left in the last trolley car, when this young lady boards. She's wearing black shorts and a tight black top, and I eye her appreciatively.

Now, I'm a pretty normal-looking guy — clean skin, straight white teeth, the gray hairs masked by the dark brown ones. I'm at an indeterminate age until you get up close and see the deep eye creases. If you overlook the holes in my shirts and shoes I can pass for white trash instead of the pond scum I am.

She sits a couple of seats away and breaks with normal etiquette by sitting facing me. She tries the old pick-up line, asking me for the time. Of course, I'm amazed that some young fresh flower would even give me a glance, so I'm speechless and can't even respond. She looks so sad when she gets off two stops later, after reaching out and being rejected by someone.

Maybe that wasn't what was going on, but it sure seemed like it to me.

… So I'm on the bus the other day, hiding in the back corner, and this lady turns around and says to another guy sitting a few seats in front of me, "Hi! I thank God that now I can talk to people. It used to be that I couldn't say a word to anyone, but I'm 52 years old now and with God's help I can have a conversation with anyone!" That's not much of a conversation, if you ask me.

… So I get on the bus a couple of nights ago and this kid, about 20 years old, says to me as I go sit in the back corner, "Watch out, there's cockroaches on the seats back there." Maybe I can pass for a person of means, but I've been riding buses for over thirty years. How could I break it to him, that there are cockroaches where he's sitting too? Anyway, I gave him a look that I hope told him to mind his own business, and I joined the vermin on the back seat.

Come on down for vacation, Doug. There's nothing sweeter than seeing a bikini-bottomed girl positioned on a paddleboard gliding through the water. Constant heartache.

… You went out with Kelli Williams? I really like her Twenty Bus zine. When I read it I see some underlying sadness. She writes these little vignettes that illustrate the small inhumanities we subject each other to, and the distances that prevent people from connecting, getting close.

So I wrote her a couple of letters, and you know how I can go on and on and how that's not really a normal thing. Most people's letters don't have half this many words in them. And you know how I go off on tangents sometimes. Anyway, I'm sure she thinks I'm nuts. She's a good judge of character.

… Yesterday there was a company meeting at work to announce the implementation of the "team concept." The two VPs (two vice presidents for twenty employees — talk about management heavy) presented it well.

Things are going to change. They're suspending raises for the rest of the year, cutting back on our vacation time, and they chose between two people to be office manager, and one of the co-office managers lost out to the other, but we're all part of the team. 

Now we get decision-making power, except the decisions have to be made according to the policies and procedures, and we'll be "trained" on how those decisions are to be made. Quite a show. They whined for a while about the recession that's sure to hit soon. More work. More rules. Less pay. Big surprise. Same old same old.

The one VP who did most of the talking has a secretary (the other doesn't). She had this poor lady uncapping the VP's pen, turning pages of the poster-book for the VP, handling the VP's show-and-tell stuff. I felt bad that someone could be so oblivious to how they mistreat others.

… So I'm lifting a 200-pound box off an 8-foot shelf, using some other boxes to stand on so I can reach it. My manager sees me and decides I need help, so he stands right underneath the box. I tell him I don't need the help. With him standing there it makes it harder to get the box down. Then I warned him twice not to stand underneath it. I tried to toss the box out of the way, but I ain't Hercules. Of course, it falls on his head.

Stupid old fart. At least now he has something to talk about. This guy talks up a storm, but he doesn't communicate. It's all monologue. And he's paranoid as all get out. Everybody's out to screw him. Well, he screwed himself this time. At least it brightened my spirits.

… You're a lot braver than I am, meeting your readers. It doesn't sound like fun to me. Sounds like people are going out of their way to find you, driving down from Sacramento or some such.

I suppose this is sort of sick of me — if I was ever in Berkeley, I might try to find you on the street at your job, but I don't think I would say hi. I'd be the guy with the weird "I know something you don't know" smirk on his face.

I think it would be rude on my part not to say hi. It would be like spying. But that's me. I'd be rude and spy away.

—Tim Lauzon,
The Voluntary Poverty Newsletter
San Diego

Wish the zine had had more readers with your kind of rudeness, and fewer who think three dollars buys both the zine and the author.

The bullshit in your office sounds like the bullshit in every office. Like, raises are suspended for the rest of the year, but they need two vice presidents. Even Bill Clinton only needs one.

Also, to clarify please, I went out with Kelli — meaning we went to the same place together — but I did not go out with Kelli. —DH 


Reading your zine is something I look forward to each month, you know, like knowing The Dukes of Hazzard was going to be on every Friday night.

—Michael Porter
Gnaw Bone IN


I always hesitate to write a lot to you, from your "no personal correspondence, no exceptions" rule, and I'm sure all the letters you get are impossible to reply to, but I think you're secretly one of the nicest people. I won't tell, though.

Birmingham AL


I'm interested in obtaining a copy of Pathetic Life. Will you please send information on the price, including who my check should be made out to? Thank you.

—Mark Weist,
San Diego

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: Sometimes I say and often I think that my late wife made me a better man. An example is Jim's letter, about a kid saying something inappropriate. In the zine all those years ago, I didn't reply, and don't remember even thinking about a reply. If his letter came today, I would definitely have something to say:

Jim, somewhere in Oregon, I hope you didn't get the idea of giving that kid a lifetime neurosis from me. I try (fail sometimes, but try) to save my meanness for people who deserve it, and the way you tell it, I'm not sure that kid deserved it.

One of the perks of being a child is that you can say things that would sound rude if said by an adult. A kid saying, "You have a big belly" is harmless, possibly even cute, provided she's young enough not to know better. And if she's young enough to believe you're living in her closet, she's young enough not to know better.

Unless it's said in an insulting or repulsed tone of voice, to a kid who said, "You have a big belly," I'd pat my tummy and say, "Yeah, it's big." Even in 1996, and definitely in 2023.


  1. I'm staying out of this, except for saying this: When I stumbled in here a year ago I didn't mistake this joint for Meet the Fucking Press.


    1. MEET THE PRESS. Man oh man, I remember that show, and I'm chuckling.

      I watched about once every five years, even in its allegedly great era with the vastly-overrated Tim Russert, and never walked away feeling I'd learned anything except what a bunch of wankers the guests and the host were.

      My favorite was THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, which was just as empty but much more entertaining with wisecracks and insults and "Freddy the Beatle Barnes".


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