Village Voice / "X sucks" (1967)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Aug 6 18:54:19 UTC 2009

Google News Archive has recently expanded its holdings, now including
extensive portions of the Village Voice archive back to 1955:

The timeline shows some big gaps, esp. in the '80s and '90s, but
there's good coverage from the late '50s, early '60s, and '70s:

I went looking for "X sucks" = 'X is bad' and found this article from
1967. I believe it may be the earliest known example from a publicly
printed source. The earliest cites that I'm aware of come from a 1963
letter by James Blake ("I wrote on the wall, ‘Franz Kafka sucks'") and
a 1964 journal entry by Herbert Huncke ("Consuela sucks").

"Scenes," _Village Voice_, Aug. 17, 1967, p. 8
It was their big chance. The management of the Electric Circus was
impressed with the Group Image as they played to thousands in St.
Mark's Place Saturday night, and offered them an audition, in the form
of a free dance, Sunday afternoon.
The psychedelic tent was overflowing the next afternoon, but the Image
was irked. The air conditioning, they complained was off and the
bathrooms were locked. They paused to tell the audience that "the
Electric Circus sucks."
That blew the audition, but the band played on, pausing occasionally
for another insult. It was getting pretty raunchy.
But the Circus had the last word. A hastily lettered slide flashed
onto the screen behind the stage. It read "The Group Image Sucks," and
the Image, amidst a forest of erect middle fingers, packed up and

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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