OCD InfinityEven though it is a constant source of tremendous anxiety, I find the act of naming things to be both challenging and fascinating. It’s very difficult to name things well, and most people are really fucking bad at it. I take naming things a little too seriously because when I’ve named something badly, it haunts me like a bad meal—as soon as I think the meal is finally out of my system, I burp, taste its vileness again, and I am once again reminded of my poor judgment.
For every zine out there that is named something simple, unique and clear, there are thousands of one-note in jokes, bad puns, intentional misspellings and obscure references that are lost on everyone. Even worse than those there are some, like 10 Things Jesus Wants You to Know, which are so goddamn retarded that it forces a reader to assume that the zine’s maker is institutionalized against their will. Since zines are supposed to be personal, their names ought to be as well. You don’t have to know instantly what Ten Thousand Things refers to, but once you pick up a copy, you realize that he’s numbering the pages of all the issues backward and eventually, he’ll get down to one and have written ten thousand things. That’s amazing, simple and perfectly appropriate, to me.
I started writing material for this zine long before I had settled on a name for the project. After two months of writing I decided that I needed a working title so I could focus on the project as an independent entity. In my head the project was always called, “TITLE—TK,” which is what they do in publishing when something needs a title or headline and they’ll think of it later. The TK (sometimes pronounced like “teek”) is supposed to mean “to come” but I don’t know why it’s not TC. I am sure some smartass out there will e-mail me the answer, but I don’t really care why.
When I was ready to name my baby, I made a list of possible names on a piece of paper and added new names to it whenever I thought of them. After a few weeks I had about twenty good ones to choose from. Then I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep because I thought of another good name. I transferred the first page to my computer and then I started keeping a pad and pen next to my bed and I learned how to write in the dark. Sadly, I lost some good ones to poor penmanship. When I finally decided to name the zine Negative Capability, I was both delighted and relieved. To me, Negative Capability is fraught with profound personal meaning and a completely coincidental literary meaning that I wasn’t even aware of when I picked it. The name will never seem old or dated or cheesy to me because no matter what I am writing about, I will always use my negative capability to produce Negative Capability. And it will always seem like MY name because it means so much to me.
After I chose that name I put the other names aside and figured I’d use some of them as titles for the essays I was writing or for stories that I would write in some distant future. Because I am mental, I kept thinking of new names. Even though my brain was fully aware that the name was carved in stone, the naming went on. I put some of the other names in an article called “OCD? Not Me!” in Negative Capability #2. When my friend Peter and I made our audiozine Misfit Toys, we recorded me reading a lot of the newer ones and some of the better ones from the original article. Then I took all the rest from all of my lists and put them up on my web page, thinking that by doing it, I would finally be able to purge myself of this endless naming.
A week after I posted the web page it started up again, so I kept writing the names down and then explained them. It went on for months, since I never stifle my creativity for fear that it might turn it off permanently. I have always been a person who writes when the mood strikes or an idea occurs to me. Some people can set appointments to sit down and write, but I can’t. It’s not even that I’m intimidated by a blank page, it’s that I don’t know what to do with blank pages. I know what to do with the ideas I get—write those fucking things down and back them up often.
It’s not often that I am so self-referential that I end up analyzing why I’m analyzing myself, and I would like to just offer a friendly apology and say that I really can’t help it. While it may veer too far in that direction, it can easily swing somewhere else. I am pleased to report that the incessant naming has finally stopped. I don’t know if I should thank the makers of Klonopin, the delivery guy who brings me my pot or my wife’s boundless love, but I am healed, praise Lurky. Instead of saying that the obsession and compulsion to rename this zine has ended, I say that it has come full circle, to infinity.
I figured it was all out of my head. I thought my brain was done with this particular exercise. But I was wrong. Writing this right now, I just thought of another name, “Selling Credibility.” It sounds like Negative Capability and also is ironic because credibility is one thing that’s never for sale. At the same time, if you got my zine, some people might think of you as being hip, or credible, when all you did was buy a fucking magazine. Please, for the love of Lurky, help me.
Starting today, and ending a few days before I wrap up this issue, I will make a small space for my own obsessive-compulsive desire to name something that’s already been named and share with you, my dear reader, an explanation and exploration of each name. If my brain doesn’t stop, I may just jam an ice pick into my ear until this part of my brain shuts the fuck up (this is more of a negotiating ploy for the writer/external voice in me to deal with my brain than an actual threat, but I really, really mean it!). I have also made sure to include many dick jokes for my readers who find the dense, wordy articles too challenging. My hero Bill Hicks would often tell his audiences that he was there to open their minds and expose them to an alternate viewpoint for the first forty-five minutes of his set but he would reward their patience with ten minutes of big, purple-veined dick jokes, and it’s a tradition I will maintain in his honor.
ShowgoatMy ex-friend Jay is quite a stud. I don’t know if I should say “was” because he may have lost his looks; I honestly don’t know. On the few occasions I’ve seen him get shot down by insanely hot chicks, I’m sure it wasn’t his fault. He’s as smooth as a gravy sandwich. He regularly gets really fine women, including a few famous ones, some strippers, hell, he even claims to have gotten some action off one of the chicks from those Robert Palmer videos. It’s a common expression when you are riding around in style, to call it, “Riding around on a show pony,” meaning that your ride is top of the line. One night we were talking about the hot girls that we saw in the bar and Jay said, “I’d like to ride her around like a show pony,” which was really funny. Then a really heinous chick went by and I said, “You’d have to ride her like a show goat,” because of her little beard and bad posture. After that, whenever we’d spot a heinous chick, we’d refer to her as a “showgoat.” The phrase’s etymology is from an old expression between me and my college friends. It’s quite common to call an ugly girl a dog, but my friends took it a little further. If you were chasing after a dog, you were acting like the chuck wagon in the dog food commercials. After a while, sleeping with an ugly girl wasn’t “banging a dog,” the girl became the wagon being chased and it became “chasing the wagon.” We always used to rag on each other, saying one of us was “chasing the wagon” that night because he couldn’t do any better. I thought it would be a cool name for the zine because there’s no such thing as a showgoat and it’s ironic because “show” in this case means pretty and “goat” means ugly and I’m a fan of oxymorons. I am also a fan of goats and my wife always wanted to get one to trim our lawn. I’d like to ride you, my friend, like the showgoat you are.
Dick’s WetI like that this means that my dick is wet (from swimming!) but I love that it sounds like “dick sweat,” because dick sweat is sexy. I also thought it would make a good name for a bar as Dick’s Wetbar. Then it gets even dirtier but a lot of people wouldn’t even get it, like when you hear the name “Porky Pig.” You don’t realize that they named a pig what they call the meat from a dead pig. I guess that the human equivalent would be to name your child “Corpse” or perhaps “Cadaver.”
Go Fuck YourselfI want to be taken seriously as a wordsmith but I will make almost no effort to be literary, pretentious or affected, except when I call myself a wordsmith. I just don’t like to say “writer.” When I think about what I am trying to say with this zine, it really comes down to one simple sentiment. I want to find that guy, you know who you are, and I want to tell him to go fuck himself. I really would like to do a zine with this name but it would upset my Mom. Actually, that’s a very good reason to do it.
LethologicaThis word describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want and it has a nice sound to it. Leth-O-Log-I-Ca. Hey, buddy. Give me the last cold turkey breast, make it fast, take my ass to town. Have an open mind, send my cares away. Ring my bell, you fat pig, oh, what the hell, today’s your lucky day. You, and me, and her and her and her, simultaneous. You, and me, and Winona Ryder, simultaneous lovin’, baby. Thanks to Trey Parker and Isaac Hayes for the song.
You’ve Got a Hard Lip, HerbertI am by no means a fan of Star Trek and would estimate that I’ve seen half of the original series, 1/10 of any of the spinoffs and exactly half the movies. When I was in college there were other people who constantly wanted to suck me into Star Trek but I resisted mightily and I continue to resist their bland sci-fi optimism. I’m into dystopia and Blade Runner has been my favorite movie since I first saw it in 1982. There was at least one original Trek episode that I loved called “The Way to Eden” that featured an encounter between the crew and what could be called “space hippies.” They were a 60’s stereotype but with futuristic hippie clothes and musical instruments. Captain Kirk is a military type and has no patience for the goddamn hippies so he tells them what to do. One of the hippies gives him the most memorable retort, “You’ve got a hard lip, Herbert.” Kirk doesn’t understand the insult, so he asks Spock what “Herbert” means. Spock frowns and tells Kirk, “It is rather uncomplimentary. Herbert was a minor official, notorious for his rigid and limited patterns of thought.” It’s available free on startrek.com if you want to see a clip for yourself. That’s what this zine is: Me saying to all the uptight assholes out there, “You’ve got a hard lip, Herbert.” My friends and I still call uptight people “Herbs” many years later. [2010 update: the J. J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek was very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am also a huge fan of George Takei, the original Sulu.]
Come CorrectI like names that are simple to abbreviate and referring to a zine as CC is cool. The name is from Chris Rock’s special, Bigger and Blacker, and he said something that my wife immediately agreed with. It’s really hot, and more true than anyone wants to admit. He said something like, “Your woman is nastier than you think. She’ll do anything you want, but you gotta come correct.” What he means is that you can’t just demand or cajole, you have to say it like a man in the right way and you can get what you want. As a zine publisher, I am trying to come at you like a fucking man, with the hope that by doing so you’ll comply with my desire to make the world a smarter place.
Die, HippieIt’s a nice commanding name and would go right for the people that I want to attack most, the dirty, smelly, hippies. Someone else actually suggested this name to me but I added the comma and changed the spelling from “Hippy” because I pictured a woman with wide hips instead of a dirty bum. I lived on Haight Street in San Francisco for longer than I should have and every time I would walk to a store up the street, there would be a gauntlet of hippies all splayed out on the sidewalk with their dirty friends and their dirty pets and their dirty music. I hated them so passionately that I would wish cancer on them as I passed by. It wasn’t even so much that they were lazy and smelly as that they would actually beg for money to buy shit only working people deserve, like drugs. A few times someone said to me, “Dude, can you spare a dollar so I can get a hit of acid?” As Bill Hicks said after a similar confrontation, “These people want me to give them the hard-earned money that my folks send me every week? I mean, the nerve! My dad works ten hours a day to send me this money and you want me to just give it to you? Get a job, you leech!”
Heroic DoseWhenever someone dies of a drug overdose, I always wonder what the hell they were thinking. I mean, I’ve taken a lot of drugs (see “Lost in the K-Hole” in NegCap #3), and oftentimes I’ve taken what would be considered too much of everything all at once. Unlike the people who OD, once I’m on drugs, my ability to determine how much is too much remains intact. I’ve always wondered how people are able to completely allow themselves to lose contact with reality. One of the many reasons that I enjoy taking too many drugs is because I’m sick of the voices in my head. It’s only when high that I’m not tormented by intrusive voices, but I’m so rarely ever able to completely detach from reality that I keep on trying. I’ve always wanted to take a heroic dose and lose contact with reality permanently, so I could rediscover the world.
UnimpeachableThis name has always seemed so strong to me, like it’s a declaration rather than a title. I’ve read a few zines where I got the distinct impression that the editor was just full of shit and saying things that they made up or worse, that they didn’t believe. There are many zines that fudge the truth for effect, but I’d just like to mention, briefly, that Jeff Kay of the West Virginia Surf Report is a lying, unfunny, boring piece of shit and I sincerely hope that he stops publishing because it’s fucking pathetic. A fat, greasy, effeminate man approaching middle age, living in the boondocks, making up stupid stories that never happened to anyone. I mean, come on! What a fucking loser! I sure know how to win friends and influence people, don’t I? I believe in everything that I’m writing and even though I will exaggerate for comic effect from time to time, I wouldn’t have put it in the zine if I hadn’t had that exact thought at one time or another. I won’t lie to you, pal. I may veer away from the truth for a second but I’ll always try to let you in on the joke because that’s the best way to do things. All my jokes are for you, not on you, like Mr. Kay’s. If you have no idea who or what I am talking about, you’re in the lucky majority who’ve managed to avoid Jeff Kay’s stupid, pointless garbage. Hey Jeff, I warned you to keep your mouth shut about me, didn’t I, you stupid, lame, ugly peckerhead? Now do us both a favor and stay dead.
Conspiracy of OneI like to think of this zine as being part of a vast underground conspiracy to undermine ridiculous religious beliefs, retarded superstitions and all manner of idiocy. In a sense it is a conspiracy because I’m taking everything I’ve learned from others and everything I know from personal experience and putting it all together to make a zine that will try to make people question some things that they’ve long taken for granted. The thing is, it’s just me doing this zine. Sure, I’ll have a little help from friends from time to time, but in the end, really, it’s a Conspiracy of One, which has a really nice ring to it. A year after I wrote this one down, the Army began an advertising campaign featuring the tag line, “An Army of One.” It made me want to say as clearly as possible that anyone that joins the military should stop asking to be pat on the back for taking a shitty job where they have to kill people or get killed. It’s a bad job, just like any other, and I don’t expect medals and monuments for a well written zine or an attractive penis, so don’t go waving your flag and asking me to pat you on the back because I don’t give a shit about the military. I think they waste more of our tax dollars and are the cause of more misery in the world than the IRS, cancer, hunting and Jackie Chan combined.
I try to avoid politics as much as possible, but I want to go on record as saying that I am, and have always been, against the troops. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them, but I want them to know that what they are doing is wrong, they are doing it for all the wrong reasons and it needs to stop. The rest of you retarded yahoos can keep making empty gestures so you can feel like you’re doing something to support the troops. Do you know what the troops really want? To either kill someone that threatens us or come home to their families. They don’t want to secure oil wells so our president’s friends can get richer while we get to pay the bill in more ways than one. With the notable exception of World War II, I cannot think of a single instance of our military doing anything good, right, moral or noble. I would never volunteer to kill anyone that a retard who stole an election told me to kill. I think if you volunteer to kill, you are volunteering to die. I also think that for the good of mankind, we as a species need to rid ourselves of the most violent and most easily influenced by propaganda by sending them to kill poor people. It reduces the population, takes a lot of these violent thugs out of the gene pool permanently and it gives us all something to talk about. I am so fucking sick of veterans asking to be thanked or for new memorials. Yeah, we all did what we were supposed to, what more do you want? A cookie? If I just upset you and you are running for a crayon to send me some hate mail, don’t waste your fucking time. You want to do something good for this country? Stop wasting gasoline with your car, spay your pets and tell your spoiled, bratty kids to shut the fuck up in the movies. That will do more good than sending me a letter that I’ll goof on and then throw away.