Bomb 'em If They Can't Take a Joke

ON NOVEMBER 22, 1989, I received a bomb in the mail at my street address. Purportedly from “Luis Zapato” at a Tampa address later established to be imaginary, it had been mailed from Wausau, Wisconsin two days before. Packaged in a cassette, it was made of a contact switch, batteries, flashcubes and small firecrackers. It looked suspicious to me — paranoia has its upside — and on an impulse I threw the thing against a door before fully opening it. There was a sound and a puff of smoke. It turns out the flashcubes all went off without igniting the firecrackers. It was a tiny little bomb, unlikely to kill, but I might have lost some fingers or been blinded. Regardless, as a postal inspector told me, “We don’t take these things lightly.” I lack the expertise to disarm an unexploded bomb, so I had no choice but to involve the authorities.

WHODUNIT? It was difficult not to laugh when a detective asked me, “Do you have any enemies?” Try spending 90 minutes explaining to a postal inspector what a “SubGenius” is. There are many possibilities, but the probability is that a SubGenius zombie is to blame. Since gratuitously insulting me two years ago, “Ivan Stang” has gone all-out to make a commercial success out of the Church, and there have been adverse reactions from the marginals milieu, invariably attributed to my malign influence because Stang, like his precursors at Processed World, simply can’t comprehend that the difference between my kind of people and his is precisely that my friends aren’t followers. Tad Kepley bootlegged the SubGenius video on his own initiative, a punishment to fit the capitalist crime which would never have occurred to somebody who hasn’t owned a TV set for 13 years. Pascal Uni never even told me that he’d handed Stang the anti-Sub Dadata poster at a Lousiana devival last summer, to Stang’s visible consternations. Etc. Nobody needs me to point out how crass it is for SubGenius, a collage of plagiarisms, to threaten anybody with copyright laws. But I did point it out. Stang knows he’s betrayed the fringe types he built his media career on, as I observed when I reviewed High Weirdness By Mail. Recall his overreaction, in Popular Reality, to some rather offhand complaints by John Zerzan — Stang so far succumbed to guilty anxiety that his letter wasn’t funny. He knows he’s a shit, and it hurts.

THE MOST IMPORTANT CLUE, in my mind, is the fact the bomb went to my home address. Few know it. I know, however, that Stang has a correspondent in Albany (since January) who’s been to my apartment — Suzanne DeGrasse, alias “GOBI”, whom some of you may recall nearly got some marginals in legal trouble when the police seized her correspondence in 1987 when she was 16 and residing in Rochester. Now 19, she’s a SUNY student. Her usual M.O. is exaggerated adulation promptly followed by aversion. Her access to me confers on her an importance in the eyes of Stang she couldn’t earn by her own modest creative attempts. She might have relayed the info directly to my active SubG enemies in Boston — Ken DeVries is sick enough to have done this, and the postal inspectors will be talking to him — or Stang may have circulated it to his loyalists. Had I got a package from somebody I didn’t know at my post office box I’d have opened it without a thought; sending it to me at home reduced its effectiveness. Unless the point is to tell me, “We know where you live”? That won’t silence me; witness this epistle. GOBI is the only person who might want me to leave town — I might move closer to the bomber if I did move.

IF THAT SEEMS WILDLY DISPROPORTIONATE to my offenses, consider how touchy Stang’s been lately, and how insane some of his henchmen are, especially the Bostonians. “Ahmed Fishmonger” (Seth Deitch), a Stang lapdog, is capable of mail malarkey — he once forged a letter ostensibly from me to Mike Hoy of Loompanics to estrange me from my publisher. Ken DeVries made over a hundred hang-up calls to me when I lived near Boston and dispatched some hate letters which mark him as the sickest puppy in the SubGenius litter; he’s also still diddling my ex, Donna Kossy, whom I introduced him to — betrayal seems distinctively part of the SubGenius style. I have done nothing to these wankers since I left their area 16 months ago, but I have japed Stang in ways he or one of his more disturbed devotees might consider capital crimes.

THIS WON’T SIT WELL with some people but I’m going to ’fess up anyway. Stang has been calling me “insane” ever since DeVries denied making the hang-up calls — although later he admitted in writing to making one leaving the message, “I’m waiting for you,” something Stang says I was insane for imagining. Visitors and houseguests of mine with every reason to be impartial — like Mike Gunderloy of Factsheet Five — confirm that I was getting these wake-up calls, lots of them, when I was in Boston. Stang won’t admit he was wrong to believe DeVries instead of me, because he prefers followers like the Bostonians to friends like myself, although I did more for SubG than all of them put together. Anyway, in High Weirdness Stang, who flaunts his apolitical stance, wracked up brownies points with cheap-shot ridicule of hate groups chosen to please the yuppie liberal market he’s trying to expand into (I notice he was careful to omit the JDL). I reflected that as recently as a few months, ago, Stang was calling me “insane” in Dharma Combat and that if I have to take the lumps for being insane I might as well get the satisfaction also. He is also on record as believing that people like me who complain of crank calls are therefore insane; I wondered if he’d change his mind if he got some himself. So I photocopies Stang’s review of 20-plus hate groups whom he doubtless assumed would never see what he was saying behind their backs. I sent them to the groups, along with his real name, home address and home phone number. I assume he got some crank calls as a result, but nothing worse or we’d have heard of it. But Stang or his underlings might well regard this is a life-threatening attempt to get him Salman Rushdie’d. A tiny little bomb, in this view, might not seem an excessive response. Somebody thought it was a suitable response to something I’ve said or done, this much is certain.

NOT THAT WE CAN RULE OUT more ancient enemies like Processed World with its history of authoritarian violence, or assorted anarchist loonies like Fred Woodworth or Ron Gould. If the Federales don’t nail a SubGenius and/or SPAz, I’ll send them after PW next. Bad-mouthing me won’t protect anybody, because the post office is doing this to protect its own personnel, I don’t matter one way or the other. I have no “anarchist” scruples impeding my pursuit of my self-interest. The bomber, if caught, can count on doing time, and it won’t be quality time, it’ll be quantity time. I invite the marginals to join the posse, the way the underworld did in M to hunt down Peter Lorre because he was giving criminals a bad name. I was surprised to get a bomb, but not surprised to get the first one, if there was going to be a first one. As David Crowbar says, we may all have to start throwing our mail against the wall — and our culture depends on the mail. Know anybody in Wausau (north central Wisconsin)? Anybody visiting the vicinity on November 20? Tell me about it. Insert this letter in your ’zine. Pass the word. Listen for the bragging the perpetrator is surely unable to keep to himself. Query the SubG snitch network, if you like, for whatever they have to say for themselves. Sometimes an injury to one is an injury to all. This is one of those times.

Bob Black