Vitriol
© 1995 by Andersen Silva (09-95/11-95)

Just one word of warning: this is going to get ugly in parts...

Well, here I am, writing (and riding) aboard a Boeing 727, on my way to Chicago and the second annual Underground Press Conference. So far, I must say that Kiwi is living up to its good reputation, and I'm also pleased to report that the Jihad has apparently decided not to bother with the smaller flights.

So. In the past week, we've lost Jerry Garcia and Mickey Mantle {Ed. note: OK, so this is a little old...}. Actually, I'm not one for euphemisms. They died. They didn't 'pass away,' we did not 'lose' them, they died. While neither meant a great deal to me, I can respect their achievements and their importance to others.

Ah, coffee... thanks. I wonder how many barf bags a small airline like Kiwi goes through in a year...? Anyway...

Did I tell you I'm making a lateral move at work? I was a "graphic artist/production assistant," I'm going to be an "operations assistant." I think they finally realized I can't draw (witness "Wombatman")! {Ed. note: As a matter of fact, a few weeks after this was written, I received a promotion to "inventory controller." Ooh...}

Wow. Over Cleveland already? (Lightning in the distance, crucial.)

The Conference was interesting, and mildly informative. It was cool to meet some of the people I'd brushed up against in alt.zines and to see some of the people who'd actually submitted stuff to the Extreme. I've come to realize that a big part of the "'zine scene" is reviews; as I don't review other 'zines myself, there are probably editors out there under the impression that I'm snubbing them. I'm not, I just don't have the time or the inclination to do that much more work. I already review music, and my reviews are longer than the three or four sentences most non-music 'zines give to CDs and cassettes. If I were to write similar reviews for all the 'zines I get... Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following 'zines for sending me copies: Rocket, Urinine, Copper, KiT, hmmm..., Hoxhacult, Cookin' with Postcards (a catalog, actually), Fluff, Boredom Sucks, My hovercraft is full of eels!, Violation Fez, Black Dog (Lisa, I'm really sorry, I owed you some kind of column a few months ago and totally forgot), Bone Island Sun, Round Flat Records (another catalog, with tons o' music that I actually LIKE for a change!), Interesting!, Rash, the Voodoo Highway, V2 (who is a person, not a 'zine), Evil Eye,, Fredian Slip, Polyvinyl Press, and Tail Spins. Undoubtedly, I've forgotten someone, but blame that on my filing system and not any alleged insensitivity. I'd also like to thank Mike Bazini of dystopia and everyone at None of the Above Music, as well as Haze and Stratton, who've maintained contact with me months after their reviews in the Extreme. Hell, Stratton even sent me a Christmas card! And lastly, a big "hello" to Jack Csiki of Angelz & Rebelz, the person with whom I had the best conversations at the UPC and during my entire stay in Chicago. Anyone know how I can get in touch with the guy? Let me know.

The Conference was, on the whole, worth attending. I arrived in Chicago on Thursday night, and Friday evening, after much sightseeing, I took the Red Line up to DePaul to see the International Gallery of Zines. I liked the setup, though it was a bit too crowded to really check anything out. Heath Row (of (of Karma Lapel), with whom I'd exchanged a bit of E-mail, introduced me to Jack, an interesting guy with whom I conversed for quite a while; we bumped into each other once or twice more that weekend. I also met Jason Pramas of As We Are and Peter (unfortunately, I can't seem to locate his last name) of (I think) Lost Armadillos in Heat, and the three of us and Heath put together a compilation 'zine entitled (from my response to a time query in Kinko's) Just About 10 PM Somewhere In Chicago. We ran off copies for ourselves, then I headed back to my hotel in need of some rest.

On Saturday, I went to Is The Internet All It's Cracked Up To Be? (where Virgil Hervey of God's Bar & Grill explained why he'd switched from electronic to paper publishing), How Do I Get People Interested In My Publication? (where Joshua Beckman of Weighted Anchor Press claimed that one can't make a fortune without selling one's soul to the devil), and The Pot Calling The Kettle Black, where there was generally amiable bashing all around. R. Seth Friedman of Factsheet 5 took the liberty of making Joshua Glenn squirm a bit by attacking the Utne Reader, where Josh is associate editor. The term "sellout" was bandied around quite a bit, and UPC organizer Batya Goldman complained, "People say I'm not 'blue-collar' enough. Well, sucking cock is as blue-collar as it gets," alluding to her escort-service past. The Saturday Night Underground Ball was OK (I was the quiet one in bondage pants, reading and snatching the free 'zines, in case you were there), although I didn't see any of the handful of people I'd met, and the band, Jenny Magnus and the Vulva Club, were (hopefully) having a bad night. I did run into a couple of local rednecks on my way back to the subway, though. They drove by slowly as I left the club and referred to me and the people hanging around outside as freaks, and they actually drove alongside as I walked for a few seconds until a driver behind them started honking angrily.

I'd planned to attend Justice, Human Rights and the Printed Word on Sunday morning, but I overslept. Hey, I was on vacation, I'm allowed. I made it there in time for the concluding seminar, What Are The Origins Of The Underground Press?, which featured some inspiring and some sleep-inducing talks by Haki Madhubuti, R. Seth Friedman, and Ken Wachsberger among others. After their comments came the explosion.

Seems there was a spoof of the UPC's official program, written and distributed by Steven Svymbersky of Quimby's Zine and Book Store in Chicago, and Dan Kelly, editor of CHUM. I saw copies of this thing Saturday but never picked it up; after finding out what it was, I wished I had grabbed one. In any case, I'm grateful to Chip Rowe of Chip's Closet Cleaner for posting the entire text of the spoof in alt.zines, as well as other relevant material, and letting me use this material. Also, thanks to NewCity and Marc Spiegler, whose article "Zine Spleen" I've also borrowed from in the following few paragraphs.

Some of the panels listed for the "Second Annual Overblown Press Conference" included How Do I Pronounce "Zine"? And What Will I Get If I Make One?, Fuck ME!?! Fuck YOU!!! Settling Your Differences In The 'Zine World, How Your 'Zine Can Tear Down The Pig System Through Intensive Interviewing Of Bad Punk Rock Bands, and The Flavor Of Advertiser Butt-Cheek. R. Seth Friedman, who seems to be a nice guy but is oddly considered some kind of 'zinedom leader, is listed as a panelist in ALL of them, which I (and many others) found hilarious. However, David Hernandez and Batya Goldman, husband-and-wife organizers of the UPC, took offense at Poetry. Why?, in which Batya is described as "Publisher, Mary Kuntz Press; Founder, Underground Press Conference; Astronaut; Movie Star; Pub Wench," and poets in general are ridiculed. OK, I can understand being upset at the wench thing, maybe, but they got carried away. David claims that the whole spoof was vicious, sexist, and racist because it defamed him and his wife. Get a grip! Even if the spoof was an attack on these two (which it wasn't), that attack wouldn't extend to all the Jewish women and all the Hispanic men in the world!

David put a spotlight on Seth Friedman at the end of the last panel. In a vocal diatribe from the audience, he claimed that a "literary junta" was behind the spoof and demanded of Seth, "Are you going to do something about this?" As if R. Seth Friedman is the commander-in-chief of the underground press. Seth exploded, "They can print whatever they want! I can't control what people write!" He agreed with David's view that there are too many "white boyz" in the 'zine world but told him, "If you have a network of Latino people, tell them to start 'zines."

It's sad that Batya and David of all people should get bent out of shape by something like this. I'd been under the impression that the Underground Press Conference was a meeting of free-thinking writers like myself who cherished freedom of speech. As soon as something was said with which they didn't agree, however, they turned ugly. David had a run-in with Steven and Chris Molnar of Lumpen Times (who was accused of involvement by David), and when Steven said that he found the spoof funny, David said something to the effect of, "How would you feel if your windows were broken?" (in his own words).

It seems evident to me that the 'zine community isn't. A community, I mean. We're all doing vaguely similar stuff, but we're not doing it together, nor are we actively keeping tabs on each other. With some exceptions, of course, but I feel that the best 'zines are the ones that are not trying to stick to a popular format of 'zine reviews, punk or alternative music reviews, and rants. While I met some great people and picked up some awesome publications at the UPC, I feel no more connected to some energetic "underground" than I did before. Not that I think that's a bad thing; I didn't start the Extreme to join a movement, or even to start my own.

I am aggravated to no end by a review of the Extreme in the conference edition of U-Direct, the UPC's official mouthpiece. Not that I can't take criticism, it's just that this review seems to alternate between scorn, praise, and PMS. Someone named Oberc went through some of the publications sent in for the Gallery of Zines and got hold of the second issue of the Extreme. The following lines are quoted from the review: "And hey, anyone who tells me I can't quote in part or whole without written permission not only doesn't know the limitations of copyright, but also strikes me as a greedy opportunistic (sic) who wants to make a buck off of every drop of sweat he borrowed from other people's brows. -...this quote alone will probably fuck U-Direct up for years in the judicial system, and while I really liked the work by several of the authors in this mag, I don't want to legally put my ass on the line by talking about them since their work is protected by THE EXTREME, and this is one mag that doesn't fuck around when it comes to promoting, and protecting, the people held sacred in its pages."

So which is it?!? Am I a greedy opportunist (in spite of the fact that I'm losing, not making, money with the Extreme) or am I promoting and protecting the writers? Maybe my copyright warning is a bit strong for a 'zine (and admittedly I'm no lawyer), but I am very protective of my writers. I understand that many of them are only using 'zines like mine as a stepping stone, or proving ground; they want to become published authors, and I'm not going to steal their work or let someone else steal it. This idiot used up most of the review bitching about my copyright policies and never once mentioned anything written in the 'zine! Asshole... I didn't expect a glowing review. I've gotten one or two of those, and they've made me feel good, but I know that the Extreme is not the kind of thing most people think of when they hear "'zine." I just don't feel that what was written in U-Direct was a review, it was more of a commentary. Factsheet 5 printed a review of the Extreme (also #2) in issue # 56, and guess what? It was a real REVIEW!

I don't think I'll be going back to Chicago for UPC #3 next year. For one thing, if David and Batya get wind of this column, they'll probably ban me! (Just kidding... I would like to think they're better than that.) While it was fun, it wasn't quite what I thought it would be, and I don't think there would be any point in doing it again, at least not now.

On to another sore topic... In mid-November, a friend and co-worker of mine (let's call her "Brenda") was canned. I knew it was coming sooner or later, and I think she did, too, but I certainly hadn't expected it to come as soon as it did. While I didn't work in her department and can't really make a judgment on her work, I considered her pleasant and efficient, and several letters from customers praising her efforts on their behalf seem to bear witness to that. In fact, ironically, a just-published issue of our company newsletter (for which I do NOT write) features a story about a customer who attributes much of a particular project's success to the quality of service provided by Brenda and two of our other customer service representatives.

The Notice of Employee Reprimand makes mention of errors and the importance of completing daily responsibilities, legitimate concerns to be sure (although again I must say that I didn't work with Brenda and am not qualified to judge whether or not she was justly accused). However, it also states that "Brenda needs to accept (w/o expression) decisions made by management regarding work responsibilities & employee incentives." Without expression?!? Past reprimands mentioned include one for expressing poor attitude regarding our Christmas bonuses (in fact, the lack thereof). I dare say that no one was pleased with that turn of events, and I am one among many who expressed poor attitudes about it. I was never written up for it, though.

Brenda wrote a strongly worded statement in response to her alleged infraction (at her supervisor's request) and stated that if it was in fact against company policy to make facial expressions (negative or "poor" ones, I'm assuming), it should be brought to everyone's attention, because everyone is guilty of it. Methinks the girl is right. Of course, getting rid of the unhappy people rather than addressing their concerns is older than the Roman Empire, but it's not really smart. I wish Brenda the best of luck, and mourn the loss of yet another of the ever-tinier circle of true friends at work.

Windows 95 is finally here, and this diehard Macintosh devotee is actually using Mr. Gates' product on his Gateway 2000 at work. Surprise, surprise: Microsoft has finally admitted to itself that Apple knew what it was doing all along! The Recycle Bin, the icons and Shortcuts (read: Aliases) on the Desktop, even the lengthier filenames and the ability to change a filename simply by overwriting it are Mac features on the Windows platform. Yes, Win95 is a vast improvement over Windows 3.11, but it's still got a way to go before it's System 7.5. "Windows 95 = Macintosh '87."

About three hours ago, I heard the news: Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, had been assassinated by a right-wing extremist, a Jew who claimed his instructions had come from God. {Ed.: Again, this was obviously not written yesterday.} No doubt this man does not consider himself a terrorist, but that's exactly what he is. While I am no fan of capital punishment, I'll probably voice no protest when the Israelis convict and execute this common thug. (Actually, I think I've since heard that Israel only uses the death penalty in treason cases.)

The best thing that could happen now is for the peace process to continue successfully in spite of the dissident Israelis, and Palestinians, and third parties. It is the only fitting tribute to Rabin, and he and the Middle East deserve it. If Syria, and Lebanon, make peace with Israel, there is a real chance for coexistence out there. Let the Serbs and Croats take note.

What's up, Johnny? It seems that Mr. Lydon and his former bandmates are doing a Sex Pistols reunion thingy. I'm rather stunned. I like the Pistols, don't get me wrong, but I have much more respect for Mr. Lydon than for his (until recently) retired alter ego, Johnny Rotten, and John himself has generally given the impression that he would never do this kind of thing. It's going to be odd, to put it mildly. Barbara and I figure that a reunited Dead Kennedys would be the only fitting opening act. In any case, I'll most likely try to catch a show, though out of respect, I'll NOT wear my ripped-and-held-together-with-safety-pins Pistols T-shirt, or my bondage pants, or my Doc Martens (yes, I really do own all that stuff). If I go, I'll be the guy wearing the black and pink striped knit tie. "Hey, hey, my, my" indeed...

Kudos to the new James Bond, Pierce Brosnan. I never had anything against Timothy Dalton, but he just didn't seem to click. And why did they have to kill off Onatopp?!? She would have made for an interesting recurring villain, much more so than any Blofeld.

"TV Nation" was not renewed by Fox. Yet another surprise. Yet more idiots. Michael Moore is a genius with a real talent for subtle sardonicism, and his show could have brought some grudging respect for the fourth network ("The X-Files," Strange Luck," and "The Simpsons" aside, I don't think Fox is noted for its intelligent and thought-provoking programming). "Alien Nation," "VR.5," and now this. Geez...

I hope 1996 turns out better. While I personally had a pretty decent year, I don't think the world did. (BTW, I'm REALLY tired of hearing about how the new millennium will begin in the year 2000. It's 2001, morons.) We seem to be decaying socially, or, as Roger Waters put it, "amusing ourselves to death." There's more to life than today, than TV, than sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, than the Extreme, than one's happiness. Try and keep that in mind, hmmm?


April 2004 - The real final Vitriol, Howard Stern, Dubya, etc.
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March 2004 - Dining out with my baby, Virtual PC, and the end of Vitriol... or is it?
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February 2004 - Two weeks between jobs, three new songs, grabbing Panther by the tail
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January 2004 - Ice skating with Gina, sushi at my sister's wedding, war-riding, the pink slip
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December 2003 - Moving pains, goin' places with Gina, Christmas bells
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November 2003 - The looong month of October, finding an apartment, Ozzy's gone
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October 2003 - I'm in love with her and I feel fine, Boston, the Dalai Lama, apartment for rent?
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September 2003 - Andy, happy? it could happen!, taking time off from work, Ringo Starr, "Discworld," the blackout
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August 2003 - (W)here (M)ight (D)ose WMDs be?, gay marriages and the people who fear them, '80s metal bands, Computer Man to the rescue, Philadelphia freedom
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July 2003 - Boondocks.net is back!, rudeness on public transportation and elsewhere, "Hole in the Wall"
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June 2003 - Science fiction movies, where is Boondocks.net?, still no weapons of misconstruction...
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May 2003 - How 'bout them weapons of mass distraction, huh?, Def Leppard, Michael Palin, another Silva, wireless networking, and a damned good raspberry margarita
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April 2003 - They're still French fries, dammit!, a new guitar for Andy, music-music-music
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March 2003 - The buildup for, and the protesting against, war
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February 2003 - The destruction of the Columbia, the National Day of Poetry Against the War, hard and soft atheism, Pete Townshend, and the gift shop
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January 2003 - Christmas loot, "Swingin'," more war talk
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December 2002 - The year in review, moving again?!?, moving world leaders around, too
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November 2002 - "Scarlet's Walk" and Tori's penguin, jackasses, and killing in the name of...
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October 2002 - Boston, Aimee Mann, and Palpatine/Bush
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September 2002 - George Darius Bush and George Xerxes Bush
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August 2002 - Movin' out of Paisan-town, and far away from the Regal Beagle
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July 2002 - Church and state: you gotta keep 'em separated, Dubya still doesn't want to play nice with the rest of the world, John Entwistle's gone
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June 2002 - Movin' on from town to town, Dave Barry and the Rock Bottom Remainders
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May 2002 - Science fiction movies everywhere!, jail time for virus creators, Dubya finally learns to pronounce 'occupation,' Andy gets a promotion?!?
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April 2002 - Terrorism on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, people who don't interact with me or the Web site, "For Dana" to be released on a compilation CD
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March 2002 - Chip implants, the children of God and the followers of Christ commit murder in His name, ultranationalism American style
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February 2002 - Dubya says, "These pretzels are making me- ack!" Sharon continues playing Napoleon, and... the return of Foogar?
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January 2002 - Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, and other Christmas-related items, stealin' cars, karaoke!
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December 2001 - George meets his sweet lord, terrorists EVERYwhere!, Tomb Raider II finished finally, and the Segway, finally!
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November 2001 - Anthrax (the band), WSOU rocks - but for how much longer? and a minute of silence?
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October 2001 - Osama bin Laden and anthrax and the women who love them
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September 2001 - Governments and armies and the assholes who love them, more misspellings, and a large lack of feedback
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August 2001 - Dubya's isolationism, the Macedonians and Albanians search for peace the Israeli/Palestinian way, 2004 Olympics in Beijing
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July 2001 - Not the Sexiest Geek Alive, war (what is it good for?), murdering citizens American-style
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June 2001 - A dead hitchhiker, the Taliban, and an independent Senator Jeffords
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May 2001 - Joey Ramone's dead, and "Joey Ramone's Dead"
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April 2001 - Brazil (not the Terry Gilliam film), Dubya and carbon dioxide, Yugoslavia begins coming to its senses, Israel and the Palestinians still haven't come to theirs...
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March 2001 - New look for the Web site, upcoming vacation in Brazil!, the pig-headed Taliban, "Hannibal"
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February 2001 - Tomb Raider II, Dubya plays with his new toys, nature plays with El Salvador and India, and the inevitable Chechnya and Israel/Palestinians references
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January 2001 - Snow, a new year/decade/century/millennium, screen resolutions
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December 2000 - The iBook, "The X-Files," the Grinch, the pathetic turn of events in the U.S. elections...
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November 2000 - Got the iBook! the Village Parade, trouble still brewin' in the Mideast, the upcoming U.S. elections...
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October 2000 - Andy turns 30, the Middle East, the anniversary of the invasion of Chechnya...
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September 2000 - A random act of kindness, Great Adventure, new music, new iBooks?
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August 2000 - Palestine and the Israelis, Milosevic, Speight, and breaking the speed of light!
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July 2000 - Israel & the Palestinians, the missile defense shield, and (who'da thunk it?) Chechnya
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June 2000 - Um, Chechnya again, gun-totin' Charlton Heston, misspellings, and xenophobes
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May 2000 - Communism on the last May Day of the twentieth century, and Andy's life ("Don't talk to me about life...")
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April 2000 - Hold on, it's more Chechnya rantin', and an appeal on behalf of a friend caught behind red tape
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March 2000 - Hey, hey, Pinochet, Russia and China won't go away, "The X-Files," the American presidential race, and a prelude to vacation
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February 2000 - Again with the Chechens, and Elián, Pinochet, mp3.com vs. the recording industry, and snow
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January 2000 - Made it through January 1st, Syria and Israel, public transportation, and, er, Chechnya
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December 1999 - Indonesia comes apart, Chechnya (no shit), Seattle's burning, 'n Happy Xmas
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November 1999 - Halloween, my bad knee, Russians? in Chechnya?!? Buchanan and the Reform Party, NIN
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October 1999 - Hurricane on the East Coast, earthquakes in Taiwan, Turkey, and Greece, and Apple Computers
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September 1999 - I'm not getting you down, am I? I'd hate to think I was getting you down...

- - - the Dark Ages (reprise) - - -

April 1999 - the return of Vitriol, Kosovo, a foreshadowing of the Russian invasion of Chechnya (!), and Libya

- - - the Dark Ages - - -

September-November 1995 - the Underground Press Conference, a co-worker bites the dust, Rabin really bites the dust, Remington Bond, Win95, and the Sex Pistols
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August 1995 - the death penalty, the V-chip and violence in pop culture, and "TV Nation"
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June 1995 - Oklahoma City, 'zines, "The X-Files" and "V.R.5"
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March 1995 - I'm sick!, the space program (ha), alt.zines, "Star Trek" and "Voyager"
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February 1995 - the very first Vitriol! Newt Gingrich, political correctness, media overkill, Howard Stern, the Apple goon squad?
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