Then, Feral's readers initiated an action unprecedented in these lands: in only a few days, under the motto "let us give, so that they can write!", they collected 200,000 kunas and literally saved their magazine. Franci Blaskovic and his band joined the action, collecting contributions at his concerts. All the significant Croatian rock bands came together participating in a big benefit for Feral, held in Zagreb "Tvornica" [factory]. The benefit was organized by Sejo Saxon from "Zabranjeno Pusenje" [no smoking]. Again - thank you all so much!
by Heni ERCEG
"Are you afraid?", our friends (whose numbers kept dropping), acquaintances (whose numbers also kept dropping), relatives and family members, again asked. "Of course we are not afraid," we responded this time, and kept saying the same in 1993, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, and 1999... Namely, now we were "on our own, on our own land" and again insisted that the role of the media is to relay the truth to the public. The truth about crimes committed in the name of the regime, about camps in another state, camps set up to hold those who were an obstacle to the creation of Greater Croatia, about evictions of those whose ethnicity clashed with the regime's vision of an ethnically clean state...
However, our "sovereignty" was declared illegal, so that we also became illegal, as "a troublemaking factor" on the sacred Croat soil, as "sell outs", "bastards", deserters, foreign hirelings and spies... And a hunting season that went on for many years was declared open. By the top leadership of the state. Again, we were guilty of failing to understand messages coming from the authorities, institutions, regime-controlled media, the Croatian TV... that even in peace propaganda is the only truth that the public deserves. Although that public had for a while already been on its own on its own soil and could definitely take the truth about the creation of Tudman's state. If only there was more Feral. During these first years of most fierce attacks on everything that dared to be different. The years of living in evil.
Often, our loyal readers, those who followed our work since the first issue, those for whom we worked, wrote, proved and pointed out, asked us: "How can you withstand all of that?"
We would pause every time seeking an answer that somehow never was totally sincere. Because, it was really hard. But we would nevertheless reply: "Well, we cope, somehow". And we did. Somehow! Mostly thanks to laughter that we nurtured with the same persistence as our conviction that Franjo Tudman's regime had to go. We stubbornly believed that in evil times laughter is needed as release, and that satire can destroy a dictator. In the public, outside of our readership, we might as well not existed at all. The neglected Croatia, as our friend Vlado Gotovac referred to it, did not like bearers of bad news, either because of comfort, or nationalism... who cares.
And while the authorities, media sycophants, secret police and courts opened a broadside at us, while they tried to push us to the margins of the society, condemning us as outlaws, I must confess we kept repeating one sentence in our offices: "What about dropping this whole ‘mission impossible' and going abroad?" And we could have found jobs abroad where, unlike in Croatia, they recognized the value of Feral's efforts to bring about a different Croatia, whose outline could barely be discerned in the distance.
We could have left, but we didn't. We would travel abroad, to pick up one of the awards that we were awarded by those who also believed that Croats had been living in evil times for way too long. Instead of departure we opted for, probably, the worst option - the so-called internal exile - which implies a special lifestyle, sort of like living on crutches that in itself limit mobility. During those years, Feral was read in secret, just like we led secret strange parallel lives. Lives in which laughter was a mainstay. Sinful laughter! And they hated that laughter the most. Many creators and actors from the evil times experienced "spiritual pain" because of it. Thus, this first decade of Feral seems to us like a century. That much more because in the meantime we lost some of our loved ones, people who wrote some of the best articles ever published in Feral: Vlado Primorac, Miljenko Smoje, don Luka Vincetic, our colleague Zeljko Maganjic...
The merciless fate also took the woman who headed the Open Society Institute and who helped Feral during our most difficult times and suffered because of that. However, my dear friend Karmen Basic was always at our side. And I know that today she would be laughing hard, looking at old Feral's front pages, in whose creation she took a prominent part. That is why anniversaries are always somehow sad. Even though, or precisely because, this one is the tenth birthday of a hundred years old magazine.