Revisiting Silly Newsletters with Spots of Bitterness and Anger

Today I’m going to cheat a bit and recycle some very old material.

I’ve mentioned before how a large part of my life and writing career revolves around silly newsletters. During my closet cleaning, I stumbled across a copy of one of the newsletters I made when I was in Albania. Even I’m shocked at how angry it is.

The newsletter is called Gremlin II and features the motto “Fighting the Good Fight Against Bad People”. Being a fool I didn’t put a date on it, but I suspect that was for plausible deniability (Hey, this thing was written on the day Dwayne was in town using the Peace Corps computer. What a colossal coincidence!) However, a reference to trainees means it had to have been written at the start of our second year.

It starts with an angry farewell message from a volunteer who’d had enough and headed home. “The express purpose of the Peace Corps is to act as a glorified welfare system for third world countries and to keep inefficient middle-management Americans employed outside of the continental United States so as not to damage the American economy or capitalistic thought.”

Yep, definitely proof it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. This person also summed up the Albanians as “They’re ANIMALS! They’re animals without teeth!” You can tell this person was ready to go home. That I ran that quote in the newsletter meant I probably had a lot of sympathy with this person at times and had been rejected by at least three Albanian women.

The rest of the newsletter was an attack on the administration of the Peace Corps. It reminded everyone that they were “not allowed to get married, divorced, drink American beer, accept candy from strangers, have sex, ride a moped, eat, breathe or shit unless a proper memo has been issued in triplicate…”

Since I wrote that, I’m sensing a lot of bitterness from me as well.

I tried to start a Money Matters column in the newsletter as a cynical way to celebrate our 450 lek (US $4.50) monthly stipend raise, but I’m pretty sure I never did.

The rest of the newsletter was dedicated to cruel insults about a member of the Peace Corps staff. These were solicited from other volunteers. I’ve included some of the clean ones:

–She’s a zombie . . . but that does imply she was once alive.”
–She’s an android. I swear I saw her scalp move.
–She’s an alien, but that does assume higher intelligence.
–She’s a victim of the body snatchers.
–She’s the world’s greatest genius undercover as the world’s most incompetent idiot.
–She’s a ridiculous petty tyrant wannabee hypocrite with a squeaky Minnie Mouse voice.
–She’s an aging starlet whose plastic surgery went horribly, horribly wrong.
–She’s a coma victim: that implies she has life, but no brain function.

Again, I think I sense a spot of bitterness there.

This, of course, was produced on government computers, printed on government paper with government ink. It was childish and cruel, but surprisingly well received even by people who actually got along with the staff member in question.

Somewhere during the two years, some of us also sketched out a Peace Corps movie and cast all the parts. I think I still have that around somewhere, but I’ll have to clean more of the closet to find it.


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