The Last Word
The Last Word is a strongly worded left-leaning populist zine that began in Highland Heights, Kentucky, in 1993 and is still published in Bellevue, Kentucky. To date, over 400 issues have been published.
The Last Word began as a print zine but evolved into an online zine. This zine (and author) aroused so much controversy in the late 1990s that text-only copies of it were repeatedly deleted from Usenet, even if they were only posted on one newsgroup (alt.zines).
The Last Word is one of few zines to issue endorsements in local, state, and national elections. In 2000 it endorsed Ralph Nader for President of the United States. It usually endorses third party populists but has frequently favored Democrats in the absence of a more suitable candidate. The Last Word has also taken strong stances against racism and school uniforms and has strongly supported labor causes.
The Last Word also features humor articles (many of which discuss the editor's former high school, which he has an extremely low opinion of) and often uses its own vocabulary. This zine also makes up humorous nicknames for politicians it dislikes.
The editor claims that fake copies of the zine were distributed in the mid-1990s, with material that he did not write.
Although The Last Word stopped publishing in 1996, it quickly resumed publication due to popular demand. According to the editor, he got the idea for the name The Last Word when he won an argument and was told, "You always have to have the last word on everything."
The Last Word features a mix of articles ranging from the very serious to uproarious. Most articles are about the acts of government agencies, politicians, the media, or businesses. Although The Last Word is reputed to be one of the most left-wing zines ever to appear online, it has opposed gun control. The Last Word places a heavy focus on student issues, economic matters, and First Amendment cases. It is also known for opposing psychiatric abuse and has been extremely critical of George W. Bush.
Other articles deal with matters that the editor has had personal dealings with. These pieces have occasionally exposed shoddy merchandise or service at stores. Several stories have chronicled the editor receiving bills for services he did not order, his refusal to pay these bills, and the subsequent humiliation of the billing parties when proven wrong.
The Last Word has occasionally featured a piece titled "Daily Fuzz", which lists unusual, often humorous calls the editor hears on his police scanner.
A few articles have been featured following road trips taken by the editor, describing mischief he engaged in on the trip. In the 1990s, the editor often conducted a Fourth of July bonfire, prompting a humorous article in The Last Word listing unusual items that were burned.
Famously, in the early 1990s The Last Word repeatedly published the license plate numbers of high school bullies.
The Last Word is known for its catchphrases, neologisms, and made-up phrases. Some examples include:
Allowed Cloud - A prohibition against a certain action or condition.
bunker blast - The act of passing gas.
voopvoopavoop wrong! - A phrase used to correct an incorrect statement. Derives from the tuba sound effect used on the American version of The Price Is Right when a contestant loses a game.
The Last Word generally lags behind in technology. Its early issues were crudely typewritten and featured a hand-stenciled letterhead, with the letter o replaced by a peace sign (as the editor opposed even the 1991 war in Iraq). Captions for pictures were usually handwritten.
The editor once claimed that (except for a brief daily run) almost all issues of The Last Word were an even number of pages, to avoid wasting paper on photocopiers that printed on both sides.
Color did not appear in The Last Word until the late 1990s.
Currently The Last Word is supposed to be adaptable to both print and Web formats. Now it features a multicolored letterhead, large-print article titles of varying colors, and editorial cartoons that often appear to be pencil-drawn by the editor and scanned as a GIF.
Some of the cartoons feature recurring themes or characters, particularly a police officer (who has been sighted in The Last Word since at least the mid-1990s); an apparently male figure with a long, skinny, T-shaped head (often seen wearing a Republican t-shirt); and an older female with a pointed chin, gray hair, and print dress (often shown as a participant in conservative rallies). Recent drawings of juvenile bullies have portrayed them wearing Lacoste shirts and a "dick head" haircut.
Most early issues of The Last Word were believed to be lost or irreparably damaged. In early 2007, however, the author announced that he found a folder containing the original printed copies of the zine's first 3 years. All subsequent issues are said to exist in electronic form, but many issues from the 1990s used a format that is not readable by any current computer. According to the author, one particular issue (and one article from another issue) can no longer be distributed because of the United States having stricter censorship policies now than in the 1990s (a topic that itself has been vocally lambasted by the zine).
Briefly in 1999, The Last Word included a supplement that reprinted Usenet flamewars, but after several issues the author agreed to destroy all copies of the supplement.