suck = 'to be bad' (1969)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Dec 10 00:23:46 UTC 2004

OED2 def. 15f of "suck" ('to be contemptible or disgusting') has a first
cite of June 1971 (from _It_ magazine: "Polaroid sucks!").  The archive
for _Creem_ magazine lists the following article in its first issue:
   _Creem_, March 1969, Volume 1, Number 1
   Take It Or Leave It L.A.
   The Blue Cheer suck!

Unfortunately they don't have the text for the article.  Here's hoping
that they add more articles to the archive soon.  Bill Mullins notes in an
email that a rambling article by Lester Bangs (Part 1: Dec 1970, Part 2:
Jan 1971) is full of good material.  That piece, "Of Pop and Pies and
Fun", is also included in the 1988 Bangs collection, _Psychotic Reactions
and Carburetor Dung_.  The article as it appears in the book (p. 47) has
another early example of "suck":

(text also at: <>)
The last straw was the instrumental, "L.A. Blues," which closes side two -
it just seemed to shriek and groan forever, a stumbling mess of feedback
as offensive and pretentious and unmusical as Yoko Ono at her worst. I
fell asleep under the phones, awoke to all that noise, jumped up and
snapped it angrily off, muttering: "Good god, enough of that shit! The
truth outs: the Stooges suck."

But if you try to find that passage in the Jan. '71 Creem archive, you'll
see a different ending, without "the Stooges suck":

The last straw was the instrumental, "L.A. Blues," which closes side two —
it just seemed to freakout. [end of paragraph]

I'm guessing that the version in _Psychotic Reactions_ is from the
original manuscript that Bangs submitted to _Creem_ in 1970, which was
then edited into the version in the archive.  Perhaps the editors saw fit
to tone down Bangs' initial negative assessment of the Stooges (a band he
often championed).

-- Ben Zimmer

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