Swingin’ on the flippity-flop: Remembering the bogus Northwest ‘grunge lexicon’ embraced by the New York Moments

Now that the election is over, quite a few people on Twitter have returned to the lighter fare that made the social-media platform’s popularity again in the halcyon early days of the 21st century.

As a result the a lot-needed surfacing of one of the goofier journalism screw-ups.

“Never ignore the greatest instant in craze stories, when the NYT was very first reporting on grunge and the reporter termed up a new music label in Seattle and asked the receptionist for some ‘grunge-speak’ and she just designed up terms and the paper ran this listing as simple fact,” writer Doug Mack tweeted on Wednesday.

Mack is referring to a 1992 New York Periods write-up that bundled a sidebar about the “Lexicon of Grunge” — grunge, of training course, becoming that strange new audio that experienced abruptly mumble-screamed its way out of the Pacific Northwest.

Striving to figure out what grunge was all about that extensive-back autumn, Times freelancer Rick Marin identified as up Megan Jasper, then a 25-12 months previous receptionist at Seattle’s Sub Pop Documents, who decades later on became the label’s leading government.

Marin was intent on generating the definitive piece on grunge, and so he asked Jasper what words and phrases grungers experienced occur up with as signifiers.

Jasper uncovered the idea amusing — to her know-how, grunge did not have a “lexicon” — so she resolved, “I’m going to [mess] with him from the get-go.”

Her goal, she said many years later on, simply just was to have some fun. Several of the phrases she available up in the mobile phone job interview with Marin ended up on-the-place inventions.

“I tried using to say points that ended up form of plausible,” she instructed the community-radio method The Entire world in 2018. She extra:

“I figured I would not go too tough, as considerably as the nonsense goes, but at some position, he was believing me so a lot that I started off to come to feel lousy and I considered, ‘I’m just likely to get a small little bit additional outrageous.’”

So out popped “bound-and-hagged.” And “lamestain.” And “swingin’ on the flippity-flop.”

“I felt it acquired rather foolish,” Jasper recalled. “I assumed it was going to end with him likely, ‘Oh, occur on!’ And that never occurred.”

She insists she figured someone concerned in the New York Times’ vaunted editorial procedure — the assigning editor, a duplicate editor, a duplicate boy passing by — would slide into fits of laughter on reading through her “grunge lexicon,” and “it would in no way see the light-weight of working day.”

It observed the light-weight of working day, released on the cover of the Sunday Models Portion on Nov. 15, 1992.

“‘Thrifting’ is a verb in Seattle,” Marin wrote. “Flannel and leatherette, the boho-hobo staples of 2nd-hand attire, are the fundamentals of a nonfashion assertion.”

“Grunge” grew to become the unofficial name of this unique Seattle-based mostly society, Marin additional, “maybe mainly because it so vividly evoked both equally the black-noise seem and the smelly-caveman look.”

Then there was the language, with Marin noting that “all subcultures converse in code.”

Here’s the listing of phrases that adopted:

WACK SLACKS: Old ripped denims

FUZZ: Heavy wool sweaters

PLATS: Platform shoes

KICKERS: Large boots


Certain-AND-HAGGED: Remaining property on Friday or Saturday night

Rating: Wonderful

Harsh REALM: Bummer


DISH: Appealing guy


LAMESTAIN: Uncool man or woman

TOM-TOM CLUB: Uncool outsiders

ROCK ON: A happy goodbye

The then-Chicago-based mostly magazine The Baffler soon mocked both the Periods and a British publication that also evidently fell for the prank, and it praised Jasper for coming up with “some of the most inspired fake slang outside the house of Monty Python.”

New York Periods Kinds editor Penelope Eco-friendly apparently named Jasper to locate out what was likely on — and Jasper insisted the phrases were being entirely legit. Jasper later advised the New York Observer “that the motive she experienced defended them when confronted by the Occasions was that she was terrified the reporter who wrote the tale would drop his job mainly because of her joke.”

But she immediately came thoroughly clean — and a legend was born. (The Oregonian mentioned in 1996 that Jasper coined the phrase “big bags of bloatation” to explain drunkenness.)

Jasper laments that a person of her most loved on-the-fly innovations throughout her interview with Marin, the time period “tuna platter” to suggest a “hot date,” did not make the slice in the Instances. And she notes that some of the terms ended up spreading in the wider society.

“‘Harsh realm,’” she pointed out, “had a quite excellent run.”

— Douglas Perry

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