The curious case of Bull Shit Jack

My recent post on how a particularly obscene paragraph ended up on a local sports page inspired me to go back to a post I wrote in 2015, “When Shit Hits the Newspapers.” In it, I mentioned the enticing prospect that bullshit might have appeared in an American newspaper a few decades before that word started showing up in the writings of such luminaries as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

Slang lexicographer Jonathan Lighter noted on the American Dialect Society mailing list back in 2008 that there is a mention of a stage-robber in Las Vegas, New Mexico, named John “Bull Shit Jack” Pierce in Doc Holliday: the Life and Legend by Gary L. Roberts. Roberts seems to cite an 1881 issue of the Las Vegas Daily Optic on this point. Now that the Optic from that year has been scanned and digitized, it’s possible to check. Sadly, there is no “Bull Shit Jack” to be found, but the expurgated versions that did appear in newspapers of the era leave little doubt as to what his nickname actually was.

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“The most outrageous, violent, filthy language ever printed…”

For Deadspin, Jeff Pearlman has written a remarkable piece, “The Fallout From Sportswriting’s Filthiest Fuck-Up.” Pearlman dives deep into the story of how an incredibly obscene paragraph managed to get slipped into a sports article in the Gallatin (Tenn.) News Examiner in 1997. In the middle of an otherwise routine item on the local high school soccer team comes this shocker:

Dixon sucks donkey dicks and doesn’t wipe the shit off before practice. We like to keep him at the sweeper position so his sperm breath will stop people from penetrating to the goal. Speaking of penetrating, he prefers tall, red-headed guys. Told me to tell Kris he said ‘hello.’

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Mooch mouth: Scaramucci takes public profanity to a new level

Last October, when the Trump/Pussygate story broke, I said it would “go down in history as a watershed moment in public profanity.” Now, six months into the Trump administration, we’ve come to another banner day for profanity, as the New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza reports on a remarkable conversation with Anthony Scaramucci, aka the Mooch, Trump’s incoming communications director. Scaramucci unloaded on White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, with a side order of profanity devoted to Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon. And news outlets all over the world are reporting on it.

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“Snatch a knot in their ass”

Speaking on MSNBC earlier today, Georgia Republican congressman Buddy Carter used a colorful expression to vent his frustration over the Senate’s lack of progress in overhauling the Affordable Care Act: “Somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass.”

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Asshats

Back in January 2016, a Montana businessman named Greg Gianforte tweeted a photo of himself standing next to the window of a small-town shop called Kickin’ Ass Hat Company.

(Thanks to Dan Hon for the retweet yesterday.)

At the time, Gianforte, a Republican who’d made his fortune in California, was a candidate for governor of Montana. He lost that election in November, but immediately began running for the state’s single Congressional seat. The election is being held today.

Yesterday, however, Gianforte aggressively confronted Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian who’d been asking the candidate about health-care policy — and who’d written a story about Gianforte’s Russian investments.

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