five dollar Polly
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polly Heather Havrilesky was, for a long time, my favorite contributor to my favorite online journal, Suck. For years, writing under the smartass pseudonym Polly Esther, she was queen of a column developed in the 1996 rework of the site called Filler, and it was Good. Biting, incisive, sometimes rambling, but mostly damned funny, her writing and Terry Colon's clever illustrations made Suck a daily (if not always perfectly observed) necessity.

Then, about May of last year, suddenly Suck got thinner; non-staff contributors all but disappeared with no explanation. While I loved Heather, Terry, and Tim Cavanaugh, without the likes of Nick Gillespie, Chris Bray, and Peter Bagge, the site started to feel a little desperate. (Some of the best writing on the site appeared from those contributors: Bagge's essay on the 2000 Democratic Convention gave rise to the single funniest observation on that doleful, drab event, namely that, thanks to the hordes of femme groupies Clinton drew to the audience, "There wasn't a dry seat in the house, folks!") But I digress. It was obvious that carrying the whole site on their own was just too much work; the wear was beginning to show. Heather got an advice column, Tiny Little Penis, and started whipping up more relationship fodder as though it were sweeps week on the web. Not that it was a bad thing, mind you, but it was also obvious that the new columns were in fact retreads of older material. And of course, the other sign of the lupine pest at the Sucksters' door was the tireless repetition of exactly one ad, that for for a credit card company. Clearly, something had to give, and in June, 2001, Suck ceased publication as its parent company crashed and burned along with it.

My immediate reaction to all this was to transcribe the entire website contents onto a CD-R. After that, I pined on sister site Plastic about Suck's death, and oh-wasn't-it-a-shame. I must not have been the only one, because Cap'n Wacky published a very sweet eulogy too. Then, fairly recently, Ms. Havrilesky opened her own blog on

Mostly, it was not Funny. In fact, it was frequently cruel, self-indulgent, and fatuous. Sure, I'll cop to still being miffed at her curt response to one of my brief missives in re one of her blog entries. But now one of her correspondants has suggested we all chip in and -- gasp -- pay her for abusing correspondants with bad advice. I must decline. Having seen, and heard, on NPR, the standalone version of Heather, her bitchy, itchy, pissy self, at once neurotically self-critical and venomously disdainful of others, I have no desire for getting hit in the head lessons, thanks. ("Jeez, you fuckers are so chafingly literal"? Et tu, Polly?) Perhaps she could contact Don Rickles to see whether he has a mailing list. I do the math: $60 a year gets me a subscription to plenty of magazines with actual content that doesn't insult me in the process.

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Last modified: Tue Dec 10 22:25:17 PST 2002