Suck

Hey, remember Suck? This article is ten years old and is about a defunct web site ten years older than that, but Suck was one of the best things to climb out of the slime of the primordial web, and this retro-retrospective made me all nostalgic.

Somewhere around a year in to Suck's lifetime I was on "vacation" and I read the whole site from the beginning in one sitting, and then sent them a rambling stream-of-consciousness fan letter that didn't have much in the way of sentence- or paragraph breaks. Carl said, "You read all of Suck? Even we don't have the courage to do that," and then he sent me a t-shirt.

The other day this guy was interviewing me and we talked about Suck and how it had managed to capture a snapshot of the festering shitstain that passed for "tech culture" -- "Way better than fucking Dilbert did", I said -- and we laughed a dejected laugh.

The Big Fish

Anuff learned that HotWired was hiring, and was soon invited for an interview with Steadman and Bayers. "I don't know what Carl saw in me, other than somebody who probably believed in too many things, and I think Carl relished the opportunity to crush those beliefs." [...]

Like Polly, the Suck office in Filler was a nastier, more contentious place than its real-world counterpart, but not by much. "I'd say a lot of it was driven by actual true stuff," says Anuff. "I don't know if it was verbatim true. Heather is one colicky baby. She was fighting with everybody. She used to go at it with Ana, with Carl, with me, with Terry, with Matt. Oh my god, Matt Beer. And then Ana, of course, is a terror, too. What a bunch of fucking babies. In some sense it was the most unprofessional group of crybabies, prima donnas, and problem employees. Everybody there was a problem. I don't even think I knew any better, because I was a problem too."

"The domain suck.com is for sale. To purchase, click here for more details."

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25 Responses:

  1. jwz says:

    It was a cool shirt, too. Plain black with "Suck" printed very small on the hem of one sleeve, nothing else. No URLs. Subtle. Understated.

    • flodadolf says:

      You got a shirt? I once received from them a package that, amongst other useful items included a transparent orange Suck sticker and a Suck-emblazoned Gold Circle Coin condom.

      There was nothing subtle/understated about these offerings.

  2. carl says:

    I remember it more as feedback on each Suck piece in chronological order, give or take, but I suppose we can both agree on the rambling.

  3. James says:

    As long as we're practicing late 90s site necrophilia, what ever happened to the guys from crashsite?

    • thx1138 says:

      Got busted for stealing plastic food trays from fast food restaurants for front wheel drive donut hijinx.

  4. b says:

    Absolutely one of the greatest early sites, "a fish, a gun and a smoking barrel". Terry Colon did a great job illustrating, and while we're tripping down memory lane, Ana Marie Cox went on to do fascinating stuff, from the first Wonkette/Washingtonienne to becoming Christian.

    We live in truly remarkable times. Oh, and I even own the book! How quaint is that! Far ahead of its time, that's for damn sure.

  5. Pleasant memories. That was a great website.

  6. Pronoiac says:

    XOXO in Portland, in a couple weeks, has Joey Snuff and Carl Steadman on the speaker list. When I saw that my envy was physically painful.

  7. Rodger says:

    Suck, Need to Know, and TV Go Home were the holy trinity of the late 90s/early 2000s Internet for me.

    • Michael Dwyer says:

      Oh, god... Need To Know... They re-released them as Anno-NTK a while back, and the nostalgia almost killed me. The URLs are a virtual who's who of failed Internet dreams. The links are filled with GeoCities and Tripod and Yahoo and ... oh wait, they're still around, aren't they?

  8. Don Hopkins says:

    A fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun.

    • k3ninho says:

      For me in 1998 -- before I realised we were always at war with venture capitalists -- the future was a fish, a barrel and a smoking gun. Forever.

      k3n.

  9. Rich says:

    Where are they now?

    https://web.archive.org/web/20020215014933/http://www.suck.com/netmoguls/96/05/03/front.html

    (If you're confused by the UI, click "Flip" then "Next card". Repeat. Wonder how Pointcast ever made the list.)

    • jwz says:

      Pointcast was the next big thing for like, a minute. There was going to be a huge amount of money to be made by playing ads at you when you were, by definition, not looking at your screen. And that's probably why Berkeley Systems is on there -- I mean seriously, why did I never do an xscreensaver IPO?

      I don't know who most of those people are. I probably never did.

      Previously.

      • Nate says:

        I saw Pointless Cast on various Windows screens during 1996, then it ceased to exist. I think the initial draw was the "stock ticker as screen saver", which attracted the business types.

        Berkeley Systems had GEOWorks, which was almost as much a competitor to Windows as DR-DOS. I'm not sure if that was more relevant than flying toasters (probably not).

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DR-DOS

        I enjoyed the ride down (fuckedcompany.com) more than the ride up (Red Herring etc.)

      • Joe says:

        Pointcast went viral on the desktops of the shitty dotcom startup I worked at in the mid-90s...

        Until the sysadmin walked around the building, office to office, yelling "GET THAT SHIT OFF OF THESE COMPUTERS" "WHAT THE FUCK, EVERYONE IS OUT TO LUNCH AND ITS PEGGING THE NETWORK" and "I DON'T BELIEVE YOU, SHOW ME YOUR SCREENSAVER"

  10. Had no idea Ana Marie Cox was a Sucker.

  11. Jeremy Wilson says:

    Loved Suck. I even wrote to Terry Colon to get some examples of site artwork, which he gladly forwarded, although he was somewhat confused. I guess he'd never gotten a fan letter before.

  12. Mike Shaver says:

    I remember ending up on Carl's mailing list and having to find someone to replace me when I wanted to leave it.

    • carl says:

      To unsubscribe from Carlmail, you had to provide someone else's email address, to take your place. There were a few misguided souls who attempted to argue their way out of compliance - you can simply make up an address, I would finally explain, anything with an @ sign would do - but rules were rules, and we were all there for the experience, weren't we?

      • Sol Aardvarktikus says:

        No. Not all of us. I think, honestly, quite a few of us are and were just really, really thick.

        Sincerely,

        Some other nondescript person of total irrelevance

  13. Ryan Watkins says:

    A highlight of my career is still the delight of discovering a brief reference from suck.com in those early days:

    "Let this be a lesson to you, Duke! See how low that Curry creep has had to stoop to since being deserted by his team of fine engineers?"

  14. natophonic says:

    A bit surprised suck.com went up for sale before plastic.com. Looks like Carl has the latter for a few more years.

  15. _ats says:

    "The other day this guy was interviewing me...". Shall we be expecting a link soon? Sign me up.