TO JASON SCOTT, FROM MOGEL Well, hey there. I decided to write a huge slew of post-'90s scene-history babble right here. This is going to be very minimalistic, because the actual purpose is to give you some possible background information for (a) your own knowledge and/or reference (b) some information about the 'zines both below AND already in your archive. I'd rather *not* have this published anywhere... I could write something, sometime, if you're looking for that. First off, if you have any *specific* questions, please ask them. Because I wasn't exactly sure what you're looking for, this might end up being a lot of silly ramble. I'm also a bit tired today, but I want to get some of these archives up. I hope you get something out of this long thing. I started BBSing in '90, but most of that was just calling up local Philly boards, getting a sense of the culture, and so on. Although I noticed people trading those "t-file thingies" around, I never actually paid much attention until '93, when I downloaded some Phrack and cDc issues. Needless to say, they had an effect on me--I'll spare you the sentimental thoughts for another time. I observed that all of the heavy t-file boards of the Philly area were virtually dead. Sure, we had a *slew* of very inane 'HACKER' bbses (which always related to BBS-hacking or phreak BOX files, heh). I guess a lot happened that year--I also first got on the net, with a hacked upenn.edu account. I decided to put up my own bbs (MogelLand, which was a play off BlottoLand), and I downloaded like mad. After a month or two, I had a very sizable collection of t-files. My BBS became fairly unique, and a whole slew of locals called it. Some of them I got along well with, of course, and we shared a similar obnoxious attitude. We decided to "start a t-file group" in early '94. There were a few other awful, awful groups in our area at the time (one is "the hackers warehouse", which is on your site currently), and we made fun of them a lot. My BBS became kind of a PA-center for text activity at that point, and HOE began. As mentioned, HOE was basically intented to be a trash-zine, as another effort to get a t-file group. None of us expected it to be downloaded, or paid any attention to. But they were. As the HOE files started getting downloaded, we started getting random callers from outside of PA. And we started getting a lot more obscure stuff. I was virtually exposed to every 'popular' pre-1994 t-file group there was, give or take a few. Probably the most distributed e'zines at the time were cdc, phrack, fuck, uxu, and blah. It seemed *everyone* had read (at least a few of) them, and every text-based BBS had copies of them. One e'zine that was really popular was VaS, which was started by a guy named Studmuffin the same year, in Detroit. VaS was really bad, but it managed get a following of some of the more obnoxious e'zine folks--it was basically South Park-level humor, full of racism and ha-ha-poop, but at least the creator was self-aware and it was somewhat of a parody. Eventually another guy, TPP, took over VaS, only this guy didn't really "get it"--he thought that VaS was totally serious, and the intentionally-offensive joke was lost. I think they may still release. ANYWAY, another contemporary t-file group was BGR (the brotherhood of gods and retards). I saw them scattered in your ANARCHY section and whatnot. BGR was actually the compositive of BOM, BAR, and GOD--three totally different 'HACKER/ANARCHY' t-file groups from the New Jersey area. One of the most prolific writers was Abigwar. He took notice of HOE and started writing for us. Two more things happened: Black Francis, a local guy from Philly, read HOE and loved the concept. He started his own zine, RED (later renamed to PEZ, and it was also pretty popular in the area. Also, in late 1994, everyone realized how easy it was to set up 800 numbers illegally. My BBS got one. I got a huge ton of LD callers, and my BBS was virtually always-busy. This is where I first got into contact with a bunch of other guys, and actually 'networked' with other text file writers. The strange thing was, HOE was originally concieved as a stupid joke, but it was getting distributed to BBS's with other t-files. I had called a few cDc-related BBS's (Demon Roach Underground, /<ingdom of Shit, Cool Beans!, Ripco) at the time and started exchanging emails with Obscure Images, Franken Gibe, Swamp Ratte', and Drunkfux. My own BBS had some callers like James Hetfield of MiLK, Pip of The Angry Youth of THO, and a ton of other folks that would later become e-zine writers. It's interesting to note that a TON of e'zines in '94 were directly influence by Gweeds/Guido Sanchez in BLaH. HOE, THO, MiLK certainly were. In early '95 I also became more internet-friendly, and I ran into Y-Windoze, and we became instant-friends, for no explainable reason. Later I discovered that he was Baphomet from PuD, and PUD was a direct inspiration of BLaH. IBFT, Jason Farnon's thing (JF also wrote for 'Anti-Warez Association', on your site) was also a BLaH-inspired thing. It's strange how many 'zines started from BLaH, particularly because the *actual* quality of BLaH is questionable. Most of it is the attitude/enthusiasm, I guess. Not to sound corny, but a lot of people viewed BLaH as one of the first t-file groups to bring an 'iconic', group-like feeling into the post-90 BBS world. They just had a very identifiable attitude. In '95 I also discovered the dumb world of IRC and ran into Gweeds for the first time. Also, DisordeR of the 'zine FUCK. Me, DisordeR, black francis (bF), Rattle (some sysop of the time), and Jamesy created #zines, which became a popular IRC staple for t-file guys. Eventually we moved to #ezines. This time was particularly confusing because it was the last days of big BBS activity, and slowly people who would more ocassionally interact were suddenly able to interact all the time, in a more 'global', internet sort of way. IBFT came out of this time--they had a very clear style, it was the ultimate "You Suck"/rant-style 'zine, basically. It was very appropriate for the time, because that kind of attitude was really popular (and still is?) in '95. The movement to the internet actually 'hurt' the e'zine scene a lot, although you wouldn't think it--"more connectivity" kind of took away some of the subversive magic that t-files had, I think. Interest started dropping, and at some points a lot of us felt that the only people that cared about t-files anymore were the editors themselves, the writers, and a few random weirdos. All we had was a badly run etext.org, and a few obscure FTP sites. Of course, there were other communities. The writers of SoB in Texas had a BBS and internet clique of 15-20 guys that interacted very insularly. The Sweden folks of uXu were similar. The cDc people were very exclusive and didn't talk much to outsiders easily. I'm psuedo-friends with a few of them, but the average e-zine writer/reader isn't. cDc clung to the 'hacker' image above all during this time. Anyway, the lack of overt-interest made a lot of us get bored. bF killed pEz at #25, Pip and Jamesy started and killed a ton of e'zines (MILK, MILK AND TEA, THO, GASP, STD, and others, I'm sure). For some reason, my BBS became a bit of a hallmark for some portion of the '95 community, and it made HOE get more attention that perhaps it deserved. I did make effort after HOE #50 to improve the quality, though. It's a visable improvement. After I released HOE #81-89, which was a fairly good release, it was _such_ a pain in the ass to release those files... and I thought about how HOE was inherently a cDc-ripoff. Even if we did our own thing, I felt that we'd always be totally biting them (I guess everyone was, in some sense)... so I killed HOE at #90. There was kind of an upset, "things are really dead this time!" feeling after that. A few months later, bF and this ANSI guy named Eerie were joking about starting another 'zine. They invited me to write, and I suggest that we make this new 'zine a big MERGER 'zine, in which tons of burned out writers and editors join up for one big production. Thus "DTO", doomed to obscurity, was born. The early issues of DTO didn't trickle into the scene that well (bad organization with so many people involved, ironically)--so people started making "post-HOE" e'zines. The most notable one was Kreid's y0lk, which took the obnoxious/trashy HOE thing to a maxim, and released almost anything submitted. Y0lk became popular, strangely enough, and had a few of its own spin-off y0lk-wannabe groups (Pork and w0ol come to mind). Kreid eventually became a DTO writer. DTO was a really pretentious and obnoxious idea, and most of the writers were very militant about it. The editors were Shadow Tao, Murmur, me, Eerie, Black Francis, and Jamesy. Basically, DTO totally ended up dominating the 'scene' for a good year or two, and there was almost no other 'zines. And when new 'zines popped up, we usually ended up making fun of them and they'd give up. It was pretty immature and corny, but that's what "SuperBand" projects end up being, I think. There were a few 'zines made during that time, I guess. I'm fearful of listing *extremely* obscure information, since you'd probably get as much from just reading the files. Murmur, Jamesy, and a kinda doofy guy named Neko ended up spurring quite a lot of life out of Illinois. Notably, Quarex was one of those guys, he made an amusing thing called Grill. I suppose sometime in late '96, The early '90s BBSers who had moved to the net were finally starting to psychologically detatch themselves from area codes, and there was more random interaction in the scene. The 'scene', as it were, is very hard to get a handle on. There are hundreds (or thousands) of silent readers for what we write, and sometimes it resembles being blindfolded, screaming into a cave--is anyone listening? There has been a bit of a re-surgence in t-files in the last year, who knows why. I think in the last year or two, the 1994-> people (as a whole) have finally started accepting this paradigm that text is, in fact, a socially interesting event, and a recording of our lives and past. So there's a more stable feeling. I think I'll just dump this interview I had in HOE #1000 here. If you really wanna publish something on your scene page, you can certainly use this. --- OH HOLY SHIT IT'S AN INTERVIEW WITH MOGEL by CHRISTOPHER CROWE Crowe: Let's dispense with some questions! Mogel: Interviews should be more interactive. Everything should be more interactive. I wish people had buttons. I don't mean that. Who cares what Ted Koppel really thinks? Crowe: For those who don't know you, give us a general "who you are" kinda run down. Mogel: Well, I don't know who I am. I like to think of myself, ideally, as just some weird guy that sits in the corner and bellows awkward social commentary every few minutes. But, you probably don't mean that. Crowe: I think everyone already knew that much. Mogel: I think that I've been online since 1990. I've been involved in various "online communities" over the years. I'm generally known for being a "text file guy". E-zines, more specifically. Although, "E-zine" is such a vague term, isn't it? There's a whole slew of stuff included in there. I'm generally associated with a community of folks that make up the 1990s version of "text files" and "underground digital zines". I use the word "E-zine" by default, but I'm generally associated with those. I don't know who I am. Who am I? You tell me. Crowe: I'd venture to say that's your niche. You've done quite a bit of work in those areas--although a lot of it seems to be humor, socially-related, and satire. What would you say is your favorite? Mogel: My personal favorite "area" of e-zines? Uhh, Probably the honest stuff. That sounds vague. You know, E'zines have been around since the '80s. They started as these little ASCII text files that were traded around. The original idea was this: Anybody anywhere could write a message and have it, in theory, be spread far and wide. It was a strange sense of new-found power, really. I mean, before the modem, a kid couldn't do that. He'd write something, or say something to his friends. It couldn't be spread in a medium where just some random stranger could download, read it, and, hopefully, say "WOW!" or (even better) "YEAH! ME TOO!". That "me too!" effect, although a common expression used be AOLers on UseNet, is a critical direction to making good text files. And "being honest" doesn't always mean write-in-a-direct-to-the-reader style--it means, addressing things in a manner that's going to actually mean something to them. So, uhm, that's why I love the honesty. There's a certain "trashy" look that e-zines are always going to have. It's not a professional thing, and it rarely pretends to be. That aesthetic is something that TV could have capitalized on, you know, if they weren't so overly-focused on money. E-zines are more about the message. Crowe: How did you come into these things? Mogel: The first e-zines I stumbled upon were the more self-glorified cDc, and the much more trashy BLaH. cDc totally inspired me. Some of the files in there were totally hilarious and brilliant. Of course, a lot of it was total crap, too. This was early 1993 and a lot of your average computer guys were STILL on BBSes, and the mass-move to the internet had not quite happened yet. Regardless, in 1994, I decided to do what 40% of the local-BBS world was doing: "START MY OWN TEXT FILE GROUP". Since then, I've written for quite a few. The most pride probably came from the earliest issues of DTO. Crowe: Deserved or not, you've pretty much regarded as being at the front of the 'zine movement. Probably one of the most well known "zine guys" on the net. In your experience, how has the text file scene evolved? How has the "web" changed it versus the old BBS or even telnet/gopher? Mogel: It's definitely not deserved. In the bigger scheme of text files, I'm definitely still new. I jokingly refer to 3 periods in e-zine history. These terms are only in-jokes with me and my pals, though. There's the "oldschool", which is roughly 1980-1987. This is basically all the original and founding e-zines. Some people would say that everything that has been done with text files was done in those years. This was totally back when BBS-centered e-zines were what was up. The move to the internet slowly happened during the next phase. And, in a way, this was the true "pioneering" days. Things like PHRACK were going to court for publishing stuff. cDc and The Neon Knights were quite popular. The "middle school" is basically all the e-zines that things like cDc inspired. Things like BLaH, FUCK, UXU, IBFT, and so on. There was a HUGE slew of these. Sometime around 1993, when the internet really took off, these was a real down time for this stuff. Some people say that it's never quite recovered. It's kind of silly, because, in theory, the internet provides *more* fuel for the original idea of an e-zine. Don't get me wrong, there has been a resurgence. In 1994, I tend to call that "the new school". It's basically when everyone on the BBS world, like rats from a sinking ship, hopped to the internet. The difference? Well, there's not really a "community" anymore, I think. BBS's were full of groups of kids, wanting to be subversive, and they'd call up and download these funny-ass text files about blowing up mailboxes, or fucking the dead, or whatever. With the internet came a new idea that "ANYONE" could view these files, and it kind of killed the magic for some people. I'm not bitching, though. I mean, to some degree, you have to make community happen. You can't just expect random people to bump into each other. People who just sit around and whine about no community are generally the same types of people who nobody would want to be in a community with anyway. (How's that for a mean generalization?) Crowe: There is a tendency for the new zines to be "angst", "teen angst", or "social commentary". Where do you see this heading? Where do you see the text file scene heading towards in general? Mogel: The angst is typical. DTO had a lot of angst. Basically, uhm, I think "angst" is just an emotion, like any. Emotions are tasty. But you have to swallow, digest, and shit them out. You can't just stick them in your mouth and let them sit there. God, that's a terrible analogy. But what I mean is... if you use angst as a tool to do something cool, that's great. I think it's also common because a lot of young people that would be into e-zines are probably going through "big changes" in life. Youth is generally a time for misdirected anger. Your PAL Y-WiNDoZE wrote a pretty on-point article about this topic that's in HOE #90. As for "The Scene" (where is that, anyway?)--I have no idea. Text files are absurd. I've been half-heartedly trying to flagship a sort of neo-new school e-zine movement (yes, I say that sarcastically) with the resurgence of HOE. I have no idea if it will work or not. Probably not, but it can't hurt to have a little fun and try, ya know? Crowe: If your not having fun, why do it? Mogel: Because you're on a mission from GOD. There *are* e-zines out there, but for most of them I rarely pick up something special out of them. I feel like, if they were gone tomorrow, I wouldn't give a shit. I totally agree, which is eventually why I painfully *forced* DTO to die. You know, now that I think about it, I think entropy will win out. Like, the world would be totally chaotic and pointless. My room is messy--I have to *do something* to make it clean. So, I have low expectations for the scene's future (people have been generally passive), but I'd like it to be a good one, somehow. Don't get me wrong, there's just so much you can care about a group of people who are willing to publish a text file describing the TRUE nature of poop. Crowe: What about other types of Literature, especially net-based stuff. Fiction, Fan Fiction, etc? Other 'zines? Mogel: You know, like, "what the hell is the point of text files? Well, write for the heart. Write crap. Write totally fucking weird shit. There has to be meaning in there *somewhere*." Man, I'm so down on 'realist' fiction right now. I see no point. It's like a completely accurate painting. What function does it serve, other than to impress people with how 'hard' it was to paint? Expressing things isn't supposed to be a complicated exercise, it's supposed to be about expressing things. I'm not about tooting my horn, although I'm sure some people would argue with that. But, still, there's a billion 'stories' out there. What's the point in trying to represent reality *exactly* as it is? Firstly, that's impossible... and even if it weren't, how boring. So, it's up to us to use innovative and experimental-style juices. There's not nearly enough of that. The problem is that people tend to throw that label around so much. "I don't understand this... It must be... EXPERIMENTAL!", so basically anything that's inarticulate and incomprehensible gets that label. "Lit" on the net. Hmm. You know, I've always loved The Onion (www.theonion.com). They've basically patented every use of "sarcasm" ever. UXU still publishes, although far from regularly (www.uxu.org). That's all that rolls off the top of my head, unfortunately. I read Film Threat, which is a weekly indie-film e-zine mailed out. Crowe: Tell more about HOE, and do you have any other projects coming that we might find interesting? Mogel: HOE changes. In its most recent incarnation, HOE is basically my attempt at pissing all over everything I've ever done. But, at the same time, embracing what e-zines are *really* about, to some kind of gross, logical extreme. But it's also fun. The idea is this: You write something, we publish it. No matter how ridiculous, weird, stupid, crazy, silly, etc, it is. "How awful," most people would say, "No quality control!" Somehow, however, HOE has managed to become pretty fun to work with. Our "reject ALMOST nothing" policy has brought us a ton of *totally* diverse writers, numbering over 45, and we've been gathering a real community of folks. In a lot of ways, it's more of a community than ever before. For me, anyway. And by writer I mean regular writer. Someone who writes at least every other month. The idea, again, is this: who the fuck cares? E-zines have *always* been trashy. Why pretend that they're not? Instead, let's have fun with it. Let's totally run with stupidity. Let's get naked and dance on main street. In fact, this has made some people find new, incredibly creative ways to be post-modern and stupid. And at the same time, it's attracted a few people who don't "get it". People who submit to HOE as if it were any regular style e-zine... and that's always good for a few cheap laughs. Crowe: You just gotta respect that sort of lackluster policy on content. What, if any, is the future of your website, DTO.NET? Any direction on that front? Mogel: Actually, Jamesy now runs DTO.NET, and Murmur is somehow releasing issues... although very slowly. But it's a total dinosaur. Like a monster. There was something really noble about DTO: wanting to make an e-zine that aspired to have *actual* quality and style and diversity. Crowe: I used to visit dto.net weekly. It was an inspiration, along with DTO itself for a lot of my early zine work. It would be a blast to see it back! Mogel: well, DTO was monthly for our first 2 years. The problem was we were total dreamers. I was probably the least dreamy of everyone, and that was a problem. I'm totally into doing creative stuff and having fun. I don't care about being "BIG". But the rest of the people highly involved really had big ideas. We went to this rolling, weekly format. At least 4 new articles every week. For a while it was nice, but it began to feel very *forced*. I wasn't having fun anymore. I dragged my heels. We ended up just bitching all the time. Basically, it was a text book case for "too many cooks spoil the dinner". But I am glad I did it. It's satisfying to pull something creative together with a bunch of friends. And I think that should be anyone's goal when doing a community-oriented literary production. Which most e-zines are. Crowe: Like you, I like the community of the whole "scene". I would like to see it support itself, and especially each other. That's basically my site's (www.lit.org) goal. I like doing collaborating work with people, I find it rewarding. I like sharing my ideas and seeing what other creative people are up to. Mogel: I think that's pretty noble. I'm a big fan of idea-exchange and communication. We're in a medium of pseudo-"art", but that's no reason to pretend we're not also in the business of communication. In some ways, we have more liberty than anyone else anywhere in expressing whatever we want. #EOF
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