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September 18, 2012

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For what a second-hand memory is worth: my dad worked as a railroad telegraph operator starting in the 1920's. He told me (when I was a kid in the 40's) that telegraphers had an unofficial signals vocabulary that included "AO," meaning "asshole."

I read Nunberg's book, and recommend it enthusiastically. (If -ly words are still acceptable, that is.) I had no idea the word had such a distinct set of connotations; I suspect I may have misused it with regard to several unworthy individuals I'd sought to denounce.

john, the Online Etymological Dictionary agrees that the usage is pre-WW2.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=asshole&searchmode=none

I'd say Kid Rock added to the curent usage, as well, with his top-20 Modern Rock hit, "American Badass", a big hit with our uniformed troops ever since its release in 2000. Here's the (barely) NSFW video: http://youtu.be/5G1scyA3UZs

And how about a shout-out for Melvin Van Peebles breakout 1971 tour de force "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song", considered by some to be the godfather (though not "The Godfather") of the blaxploitation genre?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Sweetback's_Baadasssss_Song

Thank you for the mention of Big Ass Fans in your 'ass' article. We do take quite a bit of flack for our name - and make the most of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmIYMqTao0A

Food truck? When I lived in LA it was a roach coach.

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