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Why Did You Send Us This? – The Beginning

October 12, 2009

We at the Squelch like to think that our magazine can appeal to more than just Berkeley students. Sure, we run Cal-specific pieces, but presumably most people can see the humor in our work. That’s why we trick freshmen into running our maddening subscription service, after all. Alas, we’re only half right. People out there in the big, wide world are aware of the Squelch. They just have no idea what we actually do. As a result, we often find ourselves the unwilling recipients of unsolicited gifts from a wide range of people who know we’re a magazine but haven’t bothered to check what kind of magazine. So we proudly present Why Did You Send Us This, a celebration of all the weird shit we get in the mail, from terrible indie movies to articles about why evolution isn’t real. Let’s go to the inbox!

What It Is: “Featurettes — Copyright-Free Features From PR Departments”

Wait, What?: From the good people at North American Precis Syndicate, or NAPS, to our mailbox comes a monthly envelope containing a giant, glossy newspaper-sized pamphlet filled with innocuous general-interest “news” stories about miscellaneous bullshit. You know the lame part of the newspaper that your mom reads, with house and garden tips and people’s boring stories about their pets? Picture a newspaper made up entirely of that and you’ve got some idea of what we get in the mail over and over. It also comes with a CD-ROM, presumably full of the very same crap available for download. What a cute, friendly waste of our natural resources! Thanks, NAPS!

Why Did You Send Us This?: This actually took some research. Evidently, NAPS’s business model is based on collecting these little mini-articles — they’re actually about as long as a Squelch newsflash piece — from PR departments, government agencies, and the like. They then turn around and send them to publications around the country, hoping some editor or other is too lazy/understaffed to actually fill their own newspaper or magazine with content and will just print some random trifle about small business tips or baking a better chocolate cake or some such thing. They’re like the Associated Press of meaningless tripe!

Why We Don’t Want It: This is going to be a running theme throughout these posts: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WE’RE A HUMOR MAGAZINE, NOT A GODDAMN NEWSPAPER. You’d think people would catch on to the fact that something called “The Heuristic Squelch” is not interested in baking tips or movie reviews. But no, we wound up on some intern’s list of “Magazines That Exist” and along came the mailings. Number two, NAPS is obviously just a propaganda clearinghouse, providing the equivalent of product placement for any corporation or agency or interest group who wants to push their product or agenda. Every article they publish just happens to contain a mention of some brand-name geegaw or other that just might solve the minor household problem the article is about, or a political cause you should call your congressperson about that just might benefit the people wh0 wrote the article! Isn’t that handy!

I doubt you can see it, but this is the little cartoon that accompanies their article extolling the healing power of Dianetics.

I doubt you can see it, but this is the little cartoon that accompanies their article extolling the healing power of Dianetics.

Hey, if you want to advertise shit in the Squelch, that’s fine, but you have to FUCKING PAY FOR IT. So no, I don’t want a CD-ROM filled with stealth advertisements, NAPS, if that is your real name (“précis” = a concise summary. What, was “North American Syndicate” already taken, or did it sound too much like organized crime?). I won’t even get into the weird shit on your website, like how you have a section labeled “African American” that contains about five articles about genuine health issues for African-Americans and about 500 about random shit but with pictures of black people. Oh wait, I just got into it. Sorry about all your suckiness, NAPS. But good news! The Heuristic Squelch® Patented De-Suckifier™ is on the market now, and just might be the solution to your suckiness woes! Put THAT in your paper and print it.

In Conclusion: Perhaps this would be a bad time to mention that the Squelch is looking for ad revenue right now.

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