In the early nineties Grunge was the musical fad of the moment: greasy-haired, lumberjack-shirted garage bands playing punk-metal guitar rock. Groups such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney epitomized this new Seattle-based sound.
On November 15, 1992 the New York Times
published an article analyzing the roots and evolution of the grunge movement. It theorized that Grungers had embraced greasy hair and lumberjack shirts as a way to rebel against the vanity and flashy style of the eighties. The Times
also reported that, just like any self-respecting subculture, the Grungers had developed their own lexicon of "grunge speak."
Grunge terms, according to the Times
, included literary gems such as Cob Nobbler (a loser), Lamestain (an uncool person), Wack Slacks (old, ripped jeans), and Swingin' on the Flippity-Flop (hanging out).
Three months later, a small, Chicago-based magazine called The Baffler
revealed that the Times
had been the victim of a hoax. The grunge terms didn't exist. Megan Jasper of Seattle-based Caroline Records, whom the Times
had used as its source for the glossary, had simply made the words up.
gloated that, "when the Newspaper of Record goes searching for the Next Big Thing and the Next Big Thing piddles on its leg, we think that's funny."
As if to rub it in, members of the grunge band Mudhoney began using the fake terms during interviews. The New York Times
sniffily dismissed the prank as 'irritating.'
this is a test
Rick Marin, "Grunge: A Success Story," New York Times, November 15, 1992, Section 9, Page 1;
"Those Cob Nobblers at the N.Y. Times," Globe and Mail, March 5, 1993, Section C1.
Text copyright © 2002 Alex Boese