a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

america's only blog

One of the big inspirations for #GarbageDigest (and the blog in general) is Army Man, a zine that had three issues from 1988 to 1990. It was founded by George Meyer, a writer for various late-night talk shows and Saturday Night Live during the 80s who would go on to play a big part in developing The Simpsons. Many of the contributors (mostly Meyer's friends from college) would also go on to write for The Simpsons.

I first became aware of it last year, after The New Yorker interviewed John Swartzwelder, who is (as he credits himself on his self-published novels) "The Writer of 59 Episodes of The Simpsons".1

There are some great jokes, there are some bad jokes, there are some shitty jokes of the genre you'd expect from a bunch of mostly white dudes in the 80s (so general content warning for 80's humor) but what struck me most about it was the format. It's pages of jokes, comics, and funny short fiction placed into sections with absolutely no structure. There are recurring segments and running jokes, but every piece works entirely on its own, and the only reason it was a zine is that none of them was long enough or polished enough to be published anywhere else. They're shitposts, 20 years before twitter.

Food fact

One teaspoon of powdered soybean extract contains more protein than two teaspoons of powdered soybean extract.

This could've been a joke boosted into my timeline this year. Just replace the extract with goji or flaxseed or whatever the latest superfood scam is.

That one joke is the entire article. Just block off a little rectangle and put it on the front page, why the heck not?

This John Swartzwelder joke (in a column entitled Jolly Comedy Jokes) is dril's "9/11 is happening"2 joke almost exactly:

SOLDIER: Is it 1945 yet, sir?

MAJOR: No. Keep fighting.

SOLDIER: Yes sir.

It kind of blew my mind. This can be a magazine! Even if all you have is a bunch of random disconnected jokes, you can still put them into a magazine for fun. There's literally no law against it. I have plenty of posts just like this, and I usually just blast them off into the fediverse to be forgotten. I should become the editor in chief of a periodical!

So I made a few zines. None of them are anything I can publish yet. Most of them are issues of The Matt Bee, a newsletter I made for my partner Izzy, who likes getting physical mail and enjoys reading and writing tangible paper goods. I don't much like writing by hand, and my pencraft is nothing special , but typing and printing letters seemed too low-effort. I thought it'd be cute to make her a little magazine instead.

And I was right! I did four or five little 8-page issues, folded up tabloid-style, i.e. two pieces of printer paper, horizontal, with 2 pages on each side.

example zine diagram

Like this, but half as many.

There was plenty of filler like comics and puzzles I found on the internet, but plenty of writing from the heart too. Putting them together was really fun, but needing to put thought into layout and how to fill out 8 pages each time was a lot more time-consuming than just writing. I wish I had time to do it more often.

My only other zine project is a fictional Beatles fan zine from 1976 called 4/4 Time. It had some good stuff in it, but I never finished it. I'd post what I got, but it's currently on a hard drive inside a non-functional computer. It'll see the light of day someday.

Anyway, I guess #GarbageDigest is kinda like my personal spiritual successor to Army Man, not in quality, but in philosophy. If I don't have time to publish nice-looking zines, I can at least have a fun theme for some of my shitposts.

yeah yeah, what's my point

The fiscal year ends on June 30, so for the next month and a half, we're going to be picking up the pace at work to prepare for the changeover. So I won't be able to spend as much time, or maybe any time, making long posts about serious topics.

I will, however, still be updating the blog every day, and they're probably going to be mostly #GarbageDigests, at least until the beginning of Q1 2023. And you know what? I have no way of knowing if I'm losing readers, so I have no reason to be anxious about it! This doesn't need to be SEO-friendly content product, I'm just havin' a lot of fun and learnin' as I go. Get ready for the Month of Garbage, which is actually the holiest time of year if you're a raccoon, so show some respect 🦝

  1. Sacks, Mike. John Swartzwelder, Sage of “The Simpsons” (New Yorker, 2021)

  2. [man leans into doorway of WTC bathroom] "Hey, you gotta finish up in there. 9/11 is happening." "Alright. Just a sec." (I'm not linking to twitter just for that)

#personal #status