It’s never been easy for me to maintain a constant writing schedule. A lot of it has to do with trying to decide what I want to say, how seriously I want to be considered, and how hard I want to work. I’ve always been a lot more eager about the creation and planning aspect than the hard follow-through, and as a result my contributions have often been separated by weeks or, more often, months. I can’t speak for the other writers on their process, but I do know that the front page would be lifeless if it weren’t for the determination of Nacho Sasha, and I guess that’s really the way it’s always been.
And by his determination, of course, I mean his willingness to post anything, no matter how idiosyncratic or personal. But, hey, that’s why we love the guy.
Here are some of my favorite posts from through the years.
In Video 99 Nacho shares stories of how he copped his favorite drug–“the weird, the bizarre, the classic, the fantastic, the forgotten” on home video–from his teenage years and through the changing mediums. Even 5 years later this is still a great entry point into what makes Nacho tick. In What was Lost Nacho compares and contrasts two of these lost gems, touchstones from his adolescence: the softcore Cinemax titles Cinderella and Young Lady Chatterly. (Here’s his follow-up to that post)
Nacho’s breadth of knowledge knows few borders, and Cheeta Lives is a great example of the type of post where he takes a recently deceased celebrity–in this case, a Hollywood chimp–or a simliarly Proustian cult culture stimulus and riffs on it, kind of the way your favorite professor would put away the lesson plan to give an impromptu lecture on some passionate tangent. Those were always the best classes to sit in.
Then there’s the days when the strange apparatus of his life causes him to strike on unknown, humorous territory, as in Once Upon a Potty (for Her) where he and recurring bad influence James stumble upon an educational video and get into an argument over pre-school euphemisms. Or a freakout weekend haunted by his grandparent’s cat and disturbing visions sparked by Sgt. Pepper.
Cult Culture articles are still around, and I always look forward to them because I have an energetic tour guide who will give me all the particulars and I won’t have to sit through 19 hours of horribly written, lit, and acted TV shows or movies to get the gestalt. Though sometimes I catch Nacho staring at me with a far-off look in his eyes and I can tell he’s daydreaming about being locked with me in the Satellite of Love while Dr. Forrester force feeds us marathon sessions of Gunsmoke, Phantasm, or Blake’s 7.
You’ll notice, though, that all of these are from the old site, entombed in resin and somewhat hard to read clearly through the roughed-up history of the past five years. Even when they’re dark they have their light-hearted moments, and there’s always a gleeful passion even when he’s denigrating the beasts that populate his life. But in the wake of his Final Battle with his infamous nerve pain, and his hesitant steps forward after his miracle surgery, you may have noticed, like me, not a kinder, gentler Nacho like you might expect, but a much more sensitive Nacho. And here I mean sensitive like your gums after your two front teeth have been bashed backwards and fallen out, not sensitive like a twenty-year-old emo creep who will sit and watch Dora the Explorer with your niece all afternoon.
Pain Diary is a good summation of this late-era Nacho, and there are others like it where he describes his new life. There’s always good writing, but he cares less and less about entertaining you than informing you. It makes sense when you think about it: reassembling his life post-Pain, crushed by a horrible customer service job, single-handedly running a publishing company, trying to cover the ever-rising rent in suburban Maryland, and literally keeping the front page chock full of content by himself as the rest of us became wrapped up in other projects (like RC) or just plain unreliable (like me). When I read Nacho now I am always afraid of the next version of Boredom, which, despite its power, despite its clarity, is a hard thing to read. Not because it tells the truth, but because the truth it tells I already know from my own observations and have just been unwilling to digest for myself.
I guess that’s another thing that’s always drawn Nacho and I together, that nod of the head towards each other when faced with the incalculable stupidity of the world. We’ve both stared back at people and tried to decide if they were worth decoding or if we should wring their necks and sell their chemical compounds for lunch money. He’s never been afraid to express those kinds of thoughts; I have. Are we really a couple of misanthropes who enjoy each other’s company, whose tastes in Distraction overlap, who think fondly of isolation but rarely find themselves able to tolerate it for very long? Probably. Is Nacho as bitter as he seems nowadays? I don’t think so. Usually once he gets it out on the page it stays there. Is he cloudy and more than a little cautious? Perhaps, but I can tell you he’s on the right track to overcoming his last few obstacles, and when we get together all we do is laugh.
So as we wind down this 10th anniversary, let’s give a toast to the man behind the curtain, Nacho Sasha: a freak by nature, dirty by choice, and always inviting you just a little bit closer to the edge.