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Interview with Mogel : of Doomed to Obscurity and HOE!!

Mogel : Hey there. Tonight I drank enough blueberry milkshake to kill a man. Or woman.

Crowe : Well, seeing as how milk in any form is lethal to me, i can relate!

Mogel : Oh, I pity the lactose intolerant. I'd be vegan if I didn't love cheese so gosh darned much.

Crowe : Milk, does the body harm. Lets despense with some questions!

Mogel : We don't need calcium to survive. That's a myth. Oh boy! Questions are neat! Maybe we can ask each other questions, my man.

Crowe : Heh. Sure, why not ;)

Mogel : Interviews should be more interactive. Everything should be more interactive. I wish people had buttons. I don't mean that.

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". Ezines more specificially. Although, Ezines is so vague, isn't it? There's a whole slew of stuff. 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 Ezine by default, but I'm generally associated with those. I don't know who I am. Who am I? You tell me!

Crowe : Indeed, I'd venture to say its your Niche. You've done quite a bit of work in those areas, humor, social, satire. What would you say is your favorite? What are some of the "ezines" you've worked on?

Mogel : My personal favorite "area" of ezines? Probably the honest stuff. That sounds vague, again. You know, Ezines 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 be spread far & wide, in theory. It was a strange sense of newfound 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 far & wide, so that some random stranger could read that, and, hopefully, say "YEAH! ME TOO!" That "me too!" effect is critical to text files. That's why I love the honesty. There's a certain "trashy" look that ezines are always going to have. It's something that TV could have capitalized on, if they weren't so focused on money. It's all about mass-communication. Me, myself? Well... I started finding text files long ago but sometime around early 1994 I realized that what I was involved in (the local 'hacker' scene in Philly) was totally stupid. Hacking is a great thing if you take it seriously. It teaches you a lot about computers. But most of what was being done was totally pointless. And, I didn't really get much out of that. I've always been somewhat of an 'artsy' guy, I guess. And I liked being silly. There was a natural pull to writing. The first ezines 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. But regardless, I decided to do what 40% of the local world was doing: "START MY OWN TEXT FILE GROUP". Since then, I've written for quite a few. The most pride probably came from DTO. (okay, that was a long answer).

Crowe : ( no problem heh ) You've pretty much been 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 : Well, I jokingly refer to 4 periods in ezine history. These terms are only in-jokes with me & my pals, though. There's the oldschool, which is roughly 1980-1987. This is basically all the original and founding ezines. 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 ezines 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 post-cDc ezines that were inspired. Things like BLaH, FUCK, UXU, and so on. There was a HUGE slew of these. (must not forget IBFT). 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* of the original idea of an ezine. 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. When the idea that "ANYONE" could view these, 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 : (they don't call you model for nothing!) There is a tendancy for the new zines to be Angst, Teen Angst, or social commentary. Where do you see this scene heading?

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.

Crowe : Heh, I think it makes the point though.

Mogel : 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 ezines are probably going through "big changes" about life. Youth is generally a time for misdirected anger. The scene? I have no idea. I've been trying to flagship a sort of Neo-newschool ezine movement with the resurgance 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. < try telling that to Cthulu! >

Mogel : There *are* ezines 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.

Crowe : What are some of your influences? Writers, Movies, Music, Life? Where do you get some of your ideas?

Mogel : Well, now that I think about it, I think entropy will win out. That's the humanity side of me speaking, ya know. 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, but I'd like it to be a good one, somehow. My tastes have gone through a slew of changes. Hmm. I've always been a bit--theatric about things? I'm a film major, that's probably why. I've seen a ton of movies. I generally like the classic-but-relatively-innovative stuff. French new wave. Bergman. I'm big into writing, although I can't stick with a favorite author. I liked poetry when I was 17, but now it kind of digusts me. I was a big Vonnegut about 2 years ago. You know, I don't know what my influences are. I think I like the things that try to be *really* real. Which is rare. Lately, I've been really kind of existentialist & dada in my approach. I guess we all need destructive phases.

Crowe : What about other types of Literature, especially net based stuff. Fiction, Fan Fiction etc. How do you feel about Lit on the net, and do you have any favorite's on the web?

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 accurage painting. What function does it serve, other than to impress people with how 'hard' it was to paint? 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. I like experimental stuff. 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 & 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. I catch slashdot.org when I can. UXU still publishes, although far from regularly. www.uxu.org. That's all that rolls off the top of my head, unfortunely. I read Film Threat, which is a weekly indie-film zine mailed out. (email)

Crowe : Is there a good resource out there for someone wanting to check out the zine scene? Or any tips for getting started in it?

Mogel : http://www.zinebook.com has a lot of general information. They can be pretty cheesy at times with their material, but it's good for someone who has no connections to the ezine world. The biggest thing is this: write. Back in the early 1990s, being in an "ezine" was some sort of status symbol to show how cool you were. You tagged it to your identity and showed it off. [That kind of stuff is childish, though. [If you have something to say, write it. If you want to have fun, write it. The message is the message, so picking the medium should be less important. You can start your own thing, or write for a pre-existing one. The advantage for the latter obviously being more exposure.

Crowe : Tell more about Hoe, and do you have any other projects coming that we might find interesting?

Mogel : HOE is basically my attempt at pissing all over everything I've ever done. But, at the same time, embracing what ezines are *really* about, to some kind of gross 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 incredibly fun to work for. Our "reject ALMOST nothing" policy has brough us a ton of *totally* diverse writers, numbering over 40 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?

Crowe : You just gotta respect that sort of lacluster policy on content. Talking about zines is getting me hyped to write some zine type stuff! What, if any, is the future of your website, DTO.NET? Any direction on that front?

Mogel : Ezines 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 & 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 ezine. And that's always good for a few cheap laughs. Oh. DTO. The other day Jamesy begged me to give him DTO.NET control. I think he wanted to revive the ezine. But it's a total dinosaur. Like a monster. To me it seems that way. Right now the site feels like a museum. It's just a bunch of links & text files. There was something really nobel about DTO: wanting to make an ezine that aspired to have *actual* quality & style & diversity.

Crowe : I used to visit dto.net weekly. It was an inspiration, along with DTO itself for alot of my early zine work. It would be a blast to see it back!

Mogel : well, dto.net was monthly for our first 2 years. The problem 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. 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 satifisying 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 ezines (and lit groups) are. As much as I make fun of "lit groups", they are basically ezines. There's an old ezine saying, "LIT is SHIT". (I Didn't say it myself!) I think that was an old ANSI saying, too Haha

Crowe : < sure sure >

Mogel : Crowe, let me ask you, What would YOU like to see out of the ezine/lit scene? (Hah! Turned the tables!)

Crowe : < so you have! > Like you, I like the community of the whole "scene". I would like to see it support itslef, and especially each other. Thats basically lit.org's goal. I like doing colaborating work with people, I find it rewarding. I like sharing my ideas and seeing what other creative people are up to! What would I like to see out of the scene? Just insane creativity and community!

Mogel : I think that's pretty noble. I'm a big fan of idea-exchange and communication. We're in a medium of "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. Hell yeah.

Crowe : We should do a joint project sometime! That would be awesome!

Mogel : OK, deal!

Crowe : What say we call this interview a success and fin, and do a follow up to the interview in like a month or 2, and call it Part 2? < thats how I usually do it! > < I still got an off the record question or 2! >

Mogel : Sure. You should ask me about ITIC then.


------
Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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