[From the February 23, 2001 issue of Tablet]

Filmmaker Alex Mayer interviews
The Wanker/Seattle Whitely Publisher
George Clark

I was 86'ed from the Frontier Room years ago, but on November 15th 2000 I said FUCK IT and brazenly slipped in through the alleyway entrance because the Frontier Room happens to be, among other things, one of the drop-off points for George Clark's near-annual Stranger Parody, a privately-published, full-size zine which mocks, ridicules and tough-loves The Stranger in meticulous detail. Last year's version was a two-color tag-team edition which also took on the Seattle Weekly; it was entitled The Wanker/Seattle Whitely.
I think it was about five or maybe seven years or so ago that the first one appeared mysteriously on April Fool's Day, a twelve-pager entitled The Whimper. I don't remember reading it or even where I was living at the time, but I do remember the public reaction: elation, disgust and wild, sometimes smug speculation about its origin. Clark's acute eye for detail -- for example, his dead-on replication of unique fonts -- led more than a few people to believe it was a self-parody created by The Stranger. Others, of course, knew better, incorrectly deducing it to be the work of a Stranger malcontent. Few recognized that the virtual absence of typographical errors indicated an outside job, the work of a satiric motherfucking mastermind.
I first met George Clark shortly thereafter.
In the interests of full disclosure and protection of my journalistic integrity, I must mention that not only is George Clark a real, flesh and blood person, he's a close friend of mine. I've been to his house, I've sampled his culinary skills, and we've worked together over the last two years creating the comedy video "Doomed Planet" (we're currently in pre-production for our next feature, "Potlatch"). I probably should also mention that I used to work for The Stranger, that I like the people at The Stranger, and that I still enjoy reading The Stranger every Thursday. Aside from that, I have nothing much to disclose, except that you can view past editions of The Whimper, The Wanker and Seattle Whitely on the George Clark Internet World of Ridicule website at www.georgeclark.com.
George gave me fifteen minutes for this interview. He wears a watch.

Tablet: Your first Stranger parody, The Whimper, came out in 1993. Word around town was that the Stranger had published it as a self-parody.

GC: Which enraged me.

Tablet: That's when I wrote you a fan letter. The cover of the Whimper has a homeless teen rocker holding a sign that says, "Will Act Cool For Food."

GC: I recall your letter also requested food.

Tablet: How did the Stranger respond to the Whimper?

GC: They a) forbade any mention of my parodies in their publication, and b) offered me a job. My response was to produce a second parody, Whimper 2, and not offer them employment.

Tablet: They seem to be less paranoid now than in those days. After all, it's now a multi-million dollar business.

GC: Imagine how much bigger they'd be if I hadn't parodized them so effectively.

Tablet: How many Whimpers, Whitelys and other parodies have you done?

GC: There are twelve family-members in The Clark Publications Family of Ridicule. Beginning with the Friday Harbor Bugle-Patronizer -- which ridicules small-town America -- we move on to the Capitol Hill Poet-Obstructionist, the Christian-Denigrator, the Puget Sound Executive-Anarchist, the Bitter-Hippy, two Whimpers, Whitely, Wanker, Wanker-Whitely.

Tablet: Your publications are free, and contain no advertising. What motivates you to spend so much time writing this stuff?

GC: Well, there's that old saying about wanting to give something back to the community. That's not the case here. My free publications are my way of placing Seattle in a state of indebtedness to me.

Tablet: Seattle native?

GC: My accent and sense of civility betray that fact.

Tablet: What are your thoughts on light rail?

GC: Years of construction, enormous outlays of public funds ... the destruction of eclectic Capitol Hill shops. Other than that, I can't think of anything positive to say.

Tablet: When I first moved here in 1990, I was a hermit for years because I found the whole music hype rockstar thing to be repugnant. You?

GC: I was unaware of that unpleasantness until you informed me of it not long ago, Alex. Then, as you described the horrors of it to me in detail, I remember thinking, "Man ... I wish I was a hermit right now." So yes, we are kindred spirits in every way.

Tablet: Do you read the Stranger? The Weekly?

GC: No.

Tablet: Why is The Weekly so much worse than the Stranger?

GC: The Stranger was founded upon a very elegant design. Start with an underlayment of smut: sex ads, sex personals, sex column full of swears. Then you hire a stable of unpaid angry teens to pad out the rest of the paper. With this you attract a solid core audience of teens of all ages plus voyeurs. This can only take you so far, of course. So in the last few years they've attempted to seem more serious-minded, to draw attention away from the various paraphilias they belabor. Exposés, political opinion, using a slant called Loser Angst, written in a style called Know-it-All Prick.
On the other hand, the Weekly has long been the voice of Yuppie Sensibility, using a style called Bright 'n Breezy. But with the ascendance of the Stranger, they have in a panic attempted to compete for that hipper, sassier audience. Younging themselves down with sex column, sex ads, swears. I believe they now have a staff anarchist.
So here we have two papers attempting to be what they are not; so neither is readable. But to answer your question: the Stranger's purported maturation is understandable; that is the natural progression, after all. But nothing can excuse the Weekly's loathsome dumb-down.

Tablet: In the Wanker/Whitely it seems that a large portion of the humor is directed toward gays; and you crucify Dan Savage for allegedly exploiting his adopted baby. Do you have anything against gays or lesbians adopting babies? Do you have anything against gays?

GC: Alex, your gratuitous baiting is testing the limits of my civility. Do you intend to ask me how I feel about each of the various groups? Because I'll just tell you right now, Alex, I hate them all.

Tablet: Your take on the WTO in the Wanker/Whitely seemed to suggest that the protestors were lollygagging slacksters and misguided angry teens.

GC: The WTO riots were not protests. They were a celebration of our rights as Americans to fuck up downtown traffic. The thing I took kind of personally was when the traffic-blockers would get in front of a news-camera and attempt to explain their behavior. Man, did they mangle the English language. That was wrong.

Tablet: In your EMP piece, someone calls Paul Allen a "fat fuck." Do you worry about offending the second most powerful man in town?

GC: Sources tell me Mr. Allen was flattered by the attention.

Tablet: Is it wrong to market tobacco to underage kids, such as in an ad in the Stranger or the Weekly?

GC: Selling cigarettes to teens is ridiculous. Takes forty years to kill them.

Tablet: After we finished our movie, you wrote a zine called "Doomed Planet Nightmares," detailing all the things that went wrong with the production. Was working with me a nightmare?

GC: I crave colorful experiences. They are grist for my poetry. But I am too orderly a person to create these experiences for myself. For that I depend on the skills of those around me. Thank you, Alex.

Tablet: Have you any advice for aspiring writers?

GC: Yes. If you are having a difficult time with it, give up, because you will almost certainly fail.