[Ads-l] more "X sucks" from 1966-67

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 9 17:37:52 UTC 2015

[Sorry for the double-post -- hoping this one comes through better.]

Back in '09, I posted a couple of examples of "X sucks" = 'X is bad'
from the Village Voice in 1967:

1967 _Village Voice_ 17 Aug 8/1 But the [Electric] 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 left.
1967 _Village Voice_ 7 Dec. 3/2 He was arrested for criminal mischief
after he painted "COPS SUCK" on the second paddy-wagon.

Of the first one, I wrote:

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").

I've recently been digging into Alexander Street's database, "The
Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives 1960-1974"
(http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/sixt/) and have found additional
printed examples in the underground press from 1966-67.

The earliest, from Nov. 4, 1966, is in a University of Kansas
publication called The Screw, in a poem about college classes:

_The Screw_ (Free University Workshop Press, Lawrence, KS), Nov. 4,
1966, p. 1, col. 3
Russell Lawrence, "Dear Merit Semi-Finalist, SHIT in green and white"
PHL323 (V) after Garelick's usual foray into Heraclitus,
blasting to remove a tooth
lawn-mower surgeon
beautiful strident
hackwriter poet
the ideas survive and are enhanced--
eenie, meenie, minie, moe
pick a value; they all blow

This one is interesting for the juxtaposition of "X suck(s)" and "X
blow(s)," fodder for the debate over the fellatory connotations of the
two expressions. HDAS has examples of "X blows" = 'X is bad' back to a
"bawdy Wesleyan song" collected in Reuss and Legman's _Songs My Mother
Never Taught Me_ ("Hell Week really blows!").

(mimeo is from 1963 -- HDAS dates the song to 1960)

I also found a few "X sucks" examples from The Berkeley Barb in 1967:

"Anti-Draft Protest Finds Cops Impotent," _Berkeley Barb_, Mar. 3,
1967, p. 9, col. 4
By this time Wilson was sitting in the doorway and his friends were
picketing outside, carrying signs saying, "Selective Slavery System
Sucks," "Not With My Life You Don't," and "Support Your Local Draft
Board" (this one had a picture of a cocktail glass with a fuse).
"Even Mellow Yellow Has a Mark-up?" _Berkeley Barb_, July 21, 1967, p. 8, col. 1
[Review of The Red Crayola's 1967 album _The Parable of Arable Land_]
I like two of the cuts very much: "War Sucks" and "The Parable of
Arable Land," and no doubt so will you about the third time thru. It
took me that long.
Personal ad, _Berkeley Barb_, Nov. 3, 1967, p. 12
WANTED: USED GOOD GIBSON ES330 Guitar which doesn't suck. Leave
message for Mike at 861-9691 or come to 1717 Walter garage 4-7 pm.
Personal ad, _Berkeley Barb_, Dec. 8, 1967, p. 12
SANTA SUCKS. YOU might as well realize right now that waiting around
for Santa Claus to bring you what you want for Christmas this year
ain't gonna get it. Santa IS NOT a KUSTOM or GIBSON dealer (I think he
does have brand N & Y, but you & I both know that N & Y are DEFINITELY
not where its at). BEWARE OF IMITATIONS Take Mom & dad directly to the
Market, SF. Super-Large Selection of new GIBSON Guitars & Basses
IN-STOCK order any Kustom Amp now for Christmas delivery. Open 9-9.

Plenty more examples from '68 on.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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