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 radioactive aardvark dung exposed
 written by - mercuri (invictus@core.com)
 exclusively for textfiles.com on 5/9/01

 whenever i can take a minute to preserve my name for posterity, i do it.
 whether it be scrawling my name in wet cement or writing a little bit about
 my foray into nerdom in the mid-nineties with the start of my e-zine called
 radioactive aardvark dung for a very strange man who is for some reason
 interested in this little fart in internet history.  god bless jason scott.

 i had read zines before, through a local bbs ran by a friend (e-friend turned
 real-friend) who called himself apothecary.  i orignally wrote an article
 called, "mentos! the freedom givers!" which appeared in rad #1.  i posted it
 on local bbs's and apothecary told me to submit it to h0e, or maybe it was dto
 at the time.  regardless, i was rejected.  so i said "fuck those guys," and
 decided to start my own with my friend who we decided to call handle.

  me: "you need a handle if you're gonna do this with me!"
 him: [naming several ones that neither of us liked]
  me: "how about just 'handle'?"

 and so it was decided, perhaps the best humor writer ever to grace the zine
 scene was born.  he was, at least in my mind and a few readers, famous for
 his serial articles like wrath of the yum-yum tum-tums one through four
 (maybe even five?)  although i can't speak for him, i think it was a great
 outlet for the both of us as we were both bored fourteen or fifteen year
 olds; as i write this, i am twenty. handle is still one of the absolute
 funniest people i know, hands-down.

 rad was inspired mainly by pEz, and stuff by pip the angry youth, black
 francis (the reverend - he runs http://wwww.rebel-alliance.net now), styx,
 dead cheese, and others i am sure i am forgetting. 

 lets move on to the name, shall we?  i imagine it started like most people's;
 you think of an cool acronym that hasn't been used yet and then you come up
 with words to fit that acronym.  so i came up with radioactive aardvark dung,
 funny?  extremely, to a fourteen year old.  fitting?  well, it was a humor

 we didn't really do it for anyone else, i don't think anyone really did
 because no one really boasted a large reading audience (comparatively at
 least to popular zine-like websites [suck.com comes to mind]).  we did at
 hour height have 250 people on our subscription list however, and were
 getting about 200 hits per day on our website.  impressive, i think, for
 what we were.

 the whole objective of rad was to be funny and insulting, just with off-the-
 wall humor.  hence, we started to accuse people of being communists.  you'll
 notice in our irc script that we had a single command to ban people from
 russia and china from your channel (i was unable to find a domain for cuba).

 somewhere in the middle of our life we switched from hating communists out-
 right to hating islams.  much of these ideas were influenced by a series of
 books i was reading by richard marcinko, the navy seal and author of the
 rogue warrior series.  also, at this time, which spurred most of this hatred
 was caused by not only pubescent hormones and attitudes, but i was also
 working out heavily so was no longer a six foot tall kid who weighed 120lbs.
 (for those of you who are curious, i overcame my skininess my junior year
 in high school finally, and now weigh in at 203lbs, am 6'1" and have had an
 amateur boxing career as well as some UFC-style cage fights.)  I am also
 just as cocky as I used to be.

 okay, let's get into the gossipy stuff, that's what you want to hear, right?

 well, to polarize my writers, and this is how i actually though of it and
 what i contribute my success too, i had to create an enemy. it made sense to
 me, when america was working against the soviet threat there was nothing we
 could not do, if it works on a broad level -- certainly it would work on a
 small level.

 like a charm!

 isn't it sick? i mean, this is how i actually used to think back then and
 still think today.

 so i found a common enemy.  let me phrase that better, i found another zine
 and created a common enemy.  i lowered my scope on dto - doomed to obscurity
 - mogel's zine.  he did not mentioned me in his memoirs, must be too painful
 for him to remember.  well, the first thing i did was to recruit a spy
 already well trusted in the "dto inner circle" (as it was called).  i found
 a very eager gentleman, who would kindly e-mail there inside newsletter that
 helped them communicate with each other, discuss past issues, future ideas.

 this is the first time mogel is hearing about this.

 what we would do was we would read about their weaknesses, and single them
 out in each and every issue.  this allowed us to win the psychological war
 when we were on irc with them, and bat a thousand against them when our
 next issue came out.  being strong in where they lacked, and occasionally
 poking fun at the zine itself.

 see how closely this resembles espionage?

 if you'll look, the beginning and the end of every issue from probably issue
 eight and above begins with this propaganda that was designed to make the
 reader feel that he was necessary [which he was].

 another thing we had going for us was that we were not social outcasts as
 the other zine writers were.  we were all still very popular in school or
 what have you.  which is why only occasionaly a rant would slip through.
 we were all very happy, very well-rounded kids with a lot of friends.

 eventually, to rival dto's inner circle, we founded the "rad high society"
 which eventually consisted of me, intrepid, skrubly, handle, tmm, and phorce.
 phorce did all of the editting and an article here and there.  if i found
 a good writer, i made him privy to all of our discussion about rad -- my only
 demand was that they must write an article every month.  what that did, was
 in effect, allowed me to stop pandering for articles.  they got to be a part
 of a zine -- something underground (this was back in the day when people
 liked to put affiliates after their names) -- and i got lots of fresh
 articles every month for just letting someone hear what i didn't really care
 if they heard anyway.  looking back, that was really genius of me.

 speaking of pure genius, a dto writer had a comic strip called silly cat
 comix.  we offered him sillycat.rad.edu, free advertising, & made him remove
 dto links from sillycat.rad.edu and make no mention of dto.  this was
 definitely a crushing blow to dto no matter what anybody says, i know this
 hit them hard -- really hard.  it no doubt also stole some dto's reader base
 or atleast got them interested into rad, brought puck's (that's who did
 silly cat) readers to rad, and just had so many positive benefits for us.

 about the time dto became a web zine, so did we.  i'll give that mogel, he
 did that first -- but why not steal an idea that works well?  we may have
 had a web site first, but they were the first to have a really interactive
 one.  so we copied that too, that's when the userbase started to swell.

 we wanted to get our own domain, instead of a long url like we had.  so
 phorce, with all of his infinite knowledge, told me he could get and host a
 .edu domain.  one catch, you have to be a four year institution of higher
 learning to get that -- and we were a stupid humor zine.  phorce wrote up
 a flyer in publisher for raleigh art & design school & faxed it to internic.
 yes, it was that easy.  we had our domain in a few days, with our own .edu
 e-mail addresses.  a feat that has never been and will never be topped in
 the 'zine scene.  to make this believable, i added a little note at the main
 page that said "radioactive aardvark dung is joint project done by the
 senior staff at raleigh art & design school."  and we never had a problem
 with it.


 in our last issue, phorce put in excerpts of e-mails that he recieved that
 were supposed to be sent to rsad.edu (phorce explains this in rad #18). in
 that article, he explained that rad was not really a four year institution.

 i told phorce we weren't going to put it up, not to confess like that. he
 called me paranoid, which i was excused off often.  so i let him do it,
 against my own gut feeling.  sure enough, a while after that issue was
 released internic mailed us, telling us that they were going to cut service
 unless they received more proof that we were what we told them we were.

 looking back, we either must have had some big fans up at internic -- which
 i doubt.  or, someone had intentionally brought us down by e-mailing internic
 and bring that to their attention.  i just recently thought of this
 conspiracy theory about four months ago.  it was just so tragic (because it
 was such a cool domain) and at the same time so titular because we were all
 growing out of rad, and we wanted to go about our lives, that we did not
 do anything about it.  but if the conspiracy theory is in fact true, i would
 have to say it was either cerkit or mogel -- perhaps someone else, but those
 are the first few names that come to mind.  whoever it was, they shall have
 to deal with me in a heavenly fist fight when they are judged.

 backtracking here, our clique of zines had a convention every year.  it was
 called dummercon.  me, handle, apothecary, and another puck (not silly cat
 puck) went to dummercon three in puck's van.  for the record, we ate
 mcdonalds egg mcmuffins on the way there, which i quickly puked up.  we
 stopped at wal-mart where the greeter gave us a nice bucket and a sponge
 to clean it up.  on the way there, me and handle annoyed everyone by making
 our own techno music with just our voices(!) and when that was over all four
 of us had a healthy discussion about anal sex.

 we arrived, and to our mirth, we saw everyone sitting in a circle in the
 park.  no one spoke to each other.  what murmur (dto) had to do was throw
 a dodgeball into the crowd and they were to tell us who they were, and
 something about themselves.  when handle got the dodgeball, he tried to
 play dodgeball with it with the nerds.  they scattered like ants on an ant
 hill sprayed with raid.  it was hilarious.  we no doubt physically
 intimidated everyone there, as was our goal.  from fighting with baseball
 bats (which i got a nasty cut that bled profusely) to just making fun of
 everyone in attendance to their face.  the only people i left there thinking
 were normal was neko, trilobyte, and swisspope.  oh, we also fought with
 wacky noodles.  i was in such shock, that i could not write a decent review
 of it at the time, so in an issue of rad my review consisted of lines and
 lines of laughter.  murmur's review stated that "mercuri is evil." (no more,
 no less) which PLEASED me to no end.  i just could not believe how
 introverted these people were.  and it was really sickening how they could
 be so friendly online, but when the time to meet face to face came, nothing
 was said.  they were more children than i was, and most of them were
 markedly older.  that also made me not care if we kept writing rad or not
 and certainly contributed to the eventual demise.

 do i regret it? no, i live my life with no regrets. through rad i learned
 more on how to write than i ever did in school, i learned where to put
 commas, i learned a lot of leadership principles, and a lot of management
 principles because of the way i ran it.  i've won some awards for my writing
 that i have written outside of rad, and i could not have done it without use
 of the pallette that rad allowed me.  really, it is an indespensible part of
 my past and an indespensible part, no matter how small, of internet history
 and textfile history.  you've got to admit, the way i ran shit, as i have
 described in here, is downright fucking cool.  reading it, i can't believe
 i did all that stuff.  i'm glad i did not stay down the computer path all
 my life, like them orientals say... if you walk in one direction long
 enough, you wind up where you began.  which is where i fear, honestly, is
 where people like mogel (who still cling to this vestige) will end up.
 the strong rule the earth, and if you want anything in this life you must
 take it by any & all means necessary.

 that's what i did.  no regrets.

 thank you,

 mercuri (radioactive aardvark dung)

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