Friday, April 13, 2007

Bluto Rebloated

Don Imus tapped into a nasty American slang tradition, and over the years has helped perpetuate habits of speech, thought and action that should have died with whites-only water fountains. But enough about Imus. I must, you must, everybody must talk Imus. Enough, I said.

I am here to celebrate some American slang traditions that are positive, even when they're derogatory.

For example, the part of unincorporated Marin County where I'm buying a house is called Terra Linda, which is developer-mangled Spanish for "Beautiful Land." Over the years, because of certain climatic tendencies, residents have taken to calling Terra Linda "Terra Winda" or "Windy Lindy." Others call this less affluent part of Marin (yes, there are less affluent parts of the richest county in California) "Trasha Linda."

This isn't a great piece of slang, but it is part of the widespread renaming of towns, cities and neighborhoods all over America. When I lived in Orlando, folks called it, reasonably, "Borelando." Down in Southern California, the young people of Escondido call their city "Escondildo." During the 15 years I lived in Mill Valley, the small Marin County town became richer, smugger and more Land Rover-ridden. Thus we called it "Me Valley" and eventually "Mean Valley."

Familiarity breeds contemptuous slang, usually well-deserved.

Sailors always rename the ships that serve as their bobbing prisons. I once worked on an oceanographic ship officially named the Explorer, but known to its crew as "the Exploder" (a precursor to the equally flawed Ford SUV of the same names). Hometown newspapers are renamed. The Orlando Sentinel was "the Slantinel" to its subscribers. These kinds of derogatory names just bubble up from the ground (or ocean) where we live.

It's a good thing. Now, is it worth renaming "Imus in the Morning"? No. Enough.

1 comment:

Monkey Wrangler said...

I grew up in "Cess-pool" out west of Sin-ta Rosa and then spent a number of years in "Slovato" where my folks still are. Even though Novato is firmly in Marin County, when I first lived there I would run into Marinites who declared it "NOT MARIN, it's really more Petaluma than anything else, like, look how close it is to the dump!" At this point, I would resume pushing carts around the blistering asphalt at "Slaveway" while watching them get in that enormo-gas-guzzler, start yakking on the cell and nearly kill the next pedestrian.....then again, in my years in the Bay Area it seems like it's folks with attitudes like that who are the ones to repeatedly turn down the opportunity for a viable mass transit system (arguing it would BRING traffic) and are now stuck with one of the worst commutes in the world.

Nice meetin' ya Cranky! Catch you soon my man.