Hermann Hates #8: Hate Mail
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 96 11:18:40 -0700
Subject: Hermann Hates #8: Hate Mail
[I notice that Fun_People are in the news again--this time Ace Fun_Person
Lissy Abraham illuminates this dark, bitter Hermann column... -psl]
Here at the Hermann Hates Headquarters in scenic, slightly down-at-the-heel
Boston, we spend hours each week carefully sifting through subscription
requests, death threats, questions, comments, raves, diatribes, and
opportunities to "Earn Big Bucks Working at Home on the Internet." Although
we're keeping the "Earn Big Bucks" stuff a closely guarded secret to avoid
any unwanted competition, I thought it would be fun to periodically share
with you some of the other highlights of the Hermann Hates mailbag. Besides,
this gives me an excuse to finally get off my butt and clean some of this
stuff out of my system before my hard drive collapses under the strain.
Before we start, I'd like to reassure all my regular correspondents that I
mention you by name only and not e-mail address. While the number of raving
psychotics on my mailing list seems to be fairly low, who knows how many of
you are secretly working for those "Earn Big Bucks" people.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank you all for reading,
especially those of you who've been forwarding the column to your friends.
After a mere seven sporadic issues, I've already got over sixty subscribers
and, judging from the e-mails that come in, a readership extending well
beyond that. So if you've been spreading the word, thanks. You give me the
inspiration to keep writing these things.
Whoops. I seem to be forgetting that the purpose of this column is for me to
be nasty to everything and anyone, including you, the readers. My apologies
for being so nice there for a moment. Back to the hate.
Before we get into the mailbag, here's some Hermann Hates trivia:
COLUMN THAT GENERATED THE MOST RESPONSE: "Hermann Hates
Rude People." (#2) Apparently I should pick easy targets more often.
MOST OFT-QUOTED HERMANN HATES LINE: "Because I will lick your boots, Ms.
Levy," from "Hermann Hates Cover Letters," the first column I ever wrote.
What this says about the quality of my readership or my subsequent columns, I
leave you to decide.
COLUMN THAT GENERATED THE LEAST RESPONSE: "Hermann Hates Dogs."
(#3) Sank with nary a woof.
COLUMN THAT GENERATED THE MOST INDIGNANT RETORTS FROM CYBER-GEEKS EVERYWHERE:
"Hermann Hates Technology." (#7) I kind of expected--nay, hoped--that this
would be the case, but I didn't expect to be called a Luddite, mocked for
being on AOL, mocked for not owning a Mac (oh, yeah, now THERE's
technology that's really going places), and accused of being the real
Unabomber. Hello? Like the Unabomber would ever have e-mail? Actually,
the Unabomber accusation was a downright enriching experience compared to
the Unabomber's manifesto, which another thoughtful reader pointed me to
on the Web. If you ever have an urge to read it, for the love of God,
pick up the phone book and read that until the feeling passes. You'll
thank for me during the trial, when everyone from Newsweek to
Architectural Digest is bound to reprint some of its less painfully
And now, on with the mail. First, Hermann answers some of your frequently
Lissy Abraham writes: "Mr. Hermann -- I loved your 'Hermann Hates Dogs'
article. [She was the one.] What does one gets if one 'subscribes'?"
Well, Lissy, unfortunately our merchandising department is little low on the
"Hermann Hates" caps, mugs, and t-shirts at the moment, though I understand a
little doll in my likeness with a pull cord that makes it say things like "I
will lick your boots, Ms Levy" is rolling off the assembly line later this
month. Of course, anyone who continues to send fawning words of praise such
as yours on at least a weekly basis is guaranteed to receive one.
Dave Ables, whose shift key is broken, writes: "do you have a bio available
anywhere? obviously you're in the boston area, but I was just wondering what
your connection was with the town and harvard square and all that."
My bio is available for public consumption in the latest edition of WHO'S
WHO IN AMERICAN CRANKS, but I'd be happy to provide a brief summary here:
After being abandoned by my natural parents, whose identities remain a
mystery, I was raised by wolves. Shortly after my return to human
society, I was horribly disfigured in a juggling accident. These events,
combined with what appears to be an innate sense that life is
short-changing me, fuel in me the dark, bitter world view that provides
you with your weekly dose of entertainment via the bytes of this column.
I live in Boston because this is the one place on earth where being dark,
bitter, and horribly disfigured is actually considered to be pretty cool.
My connection to Harvard Square is this: I'm the guy frequently seen
there harrassing the street performers.
Dave Archer writes: "Do you have a Hermann Hates mailing list of some sort?
Can I be put on it? Can I get #1 - #4? Cool stuff. Thanks."
The answers, Dave, are yes, yes, and not from me, you can't. Sorry, folks,
but despite whatever illusion I carefully foster to the contrary, Hermann
Hates is but the work of one man, and this one man has a life. So while I'm
happy to write these things, send 'em out, and add people to my ever-growing
mailing-list, I can't serve as your Hermann Hates archive and still expect to
get to the bar before last call. There are, I'm sure, plenty of copies of
these columns floating around out in Cyberspace; seek them out there.
In addition to your many questions about me and the column, several of you
have offered advice in what I gather is a vain attempt to make me a less
hateful person. Some of your more interesting suggestions follow.
In response to "Hermann Hates Chains," (#4) Mark Bailen had this to add:
"Dear Hermann HATES: I just read issue number four and I understand the
lure of these trendized chain places, but, whatever you do, please don't
believe the hype. Their coolness is a lie, a facade, a hah hah from those
omni-dexterous mediocrity gods. Everytime I go to Chili's, for example,
I get a stomach ache. The food also tastes strangely similar to
Bennigans, the Macaroni Grill, the Olive Garden, T.G.I.Fuck-Fridays,
Gunthy Snooty's, the Hard Rock, etc. It is all mass produced crap,
trucked in from some Soylent Green factory in Iowa. If you are gonna get
sucked into one of these chains at least go into I.H.O.P. or Denny's or
Howard Johnsons or the Village Inn (where they haven't bothered to change
their cheesy decor since 1971)-- at least they don't fake it."
I think there's a lesson here for all of us.
After reading "Hermann Hates Dogs," in which I made reference to a budding
romance between myself and die-hard dog-owner, Terry Beckett wrote: "Face it
Hermann, your romance is doomed. Ditch the chick and find one who is owned by
Funnily enough, Terry's advice proved to be correct. The romance was doomed.
Look for "Hermann Hates Relationships" to hit your mailboxes soon.
In response to my diatribe on the horrors of installing a modem into my
PC desktop "Hermann Hates Technology"), Rob Mayoff fired off the following
model of brevity: "Next time, get a Mac." Advice smugly offered is
always appreciated, Rob, but unfortunately, I already have a Mac which I
use at work. Space did not permit me to enumerate its many quirks, such
as the printer which locks up at least once a day, or the word-processor
which occasionally fails to read carriage returns and so prints five or
six lines on top of each other, or the spastic Mouse, or--well, you get
Finally, some thoughts from Kyle Cassidy regarding "Hermann Hates
"Of course you realize that the book in your lap is at the pointy end of what
might be the largest technological breakthrough in human history, the
printing press. and the lino-type that most likely produced that book is an
astoundingly complex creation which throws lead slugs around like bullets.
while at times i find myself sympathising with ludditism, on the whole,
technology has made out lives much easier...."
I'm going to stop Kyle here, before he gets into a very detailed, passionate
oration on the joys of electric light, to explain something. Kyle, this is a
humor column. A popular mechanism in humor is exaggeration. Clearly if I
really hated technology as much as I made out to in my column, I wouldn't be
sending my rantings over the Internet--I'd be standing on a street corner
somewhere handing out hand-written papyrus scrolls. Printing presses and
light switches are indeed fine things. Most technology is fine when it's
based on the premise, "Wouldn't it improve the quality of life if...?"
Unfortunately, these days technology seems just as often based on the
premise, "Wouldn't it be really neat if...?" or "People would much rather
spend their time pushing buttons than...." This is the kind of technology I
object to and was attempting to ridicule.
Whoops, this is supposed to be about your letters, isn't it? Okay, back to
Heidi Holtan writes: "Temerity is an awfully fine word. I appreciate your
inclusion of it in your latest issue [Hermann Hates Chains]."
Thanks for noticing, Heidi. You know, if any of you has a favorite
under-used word, just let me know and I'll try to work it into my next
column. Hermann is always looking for new ways to make himself sound more
erudite than he actually is.
Finally, the following e-mail from Dorian Hart came back to me in response to
my standard-issue, paranoid-delusional listing of all the things you're not
supposed to do with my copyrighted columns. You might refer to the original
before you read this:
">1.) DO NOT ALTER THE CONTENT.
"don't worry...I forwarded your latest column to my friends with only a
few minor changes, but I still gave you all the credit for writing it:
"So I got the afternoon off from work this Friday to make up for [my]
[six] hour...week, but I couldn't go home because I [hadn't washed my
dishes in weeks and the stench was overpowering, but] buddy, who cares
how much [I cleaned], [I] know [you] only show up to [give me a hard
time] The rest of the week at my [house] [I] have [take-out food] or
something, I don't know--I mean, [I'm a slob] for Chrissakes, and [I] can
only spare fifteen minutes a week to [attend to matters of personal or
">2.) DO NOT REMOVE MY NAME.
"I don't care whether you stick your own name on it or your Grandma's or
forward it anonymously, it's mine and I want credit, dammit. "------
-------," "-------," or "----------@aol.com" should appear somewhere on
the material even if you're just quoting a line or two. Remember, I don't
make any money off these columns--the least I deserve is a
[swift kick in the ass.]
"3.) DO...DISTRIBUTE THE COLUMN IN ANY WAY [YOU CAN] FOR YOUR OWN
"I'm all over it... I sold the column with my minor changes for about ten
bucks a pop."
Last but not least, a couple of corrections.
First, in my addendum to "Hermann Hates Chains" (issue #5), I described
walking into Warburton's in Harvard Square and discovering it had become an
Au Bon Pain. Marc Abrahams has alerted me to the fact that Warburton's,
before ABP absorbed it, was already a chain. It just keeps getting worse and
Finally, in "Hermann Hates Dogs" I described Boston terriers as yapping. An
authority on the subject has informed me that Boston terriers do not yap.
Instead, they growl, whimper, and occasionally make a noise that sounds
something like "Roo-roo-roo." Hermann regrets the error.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for hating. Keep in touch.
<<Questions? Comments? Care to subscribe? Direct all correspondence to
HermHates@aol.com. And be careful what you say, because it could turn up in
my next issue.>>
© 1996 Peter Langston