Date: Sun, 17 Aug 1997 04:37:59 -0400

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM


Book Review:


by Anna Scotti & Paul Young

144 pages, $9.95

St. Martin's Press, May 1997

Two quick confessions--I've never lived in Los Angeles, and I don't read

the magazine BUZZ.

BUZZ has celebrity stories, which are not rare in this world. Any

magazine or newspaper can run a story about Julia Roberts or Jennifer

Aniston. I briefly visited Los Angeles ten years ago and saw no reason to

move from New York City. People in LA, I was told, don't even know they have

a library. That's it for disclaimers.

There are eight chapters of words about the film industry, sex, cars,

neighborhood names, everyday life, youth slang, fashion, health, sports,

work, drugs, and crime.

The book starts with an introduction by Merrill Markoe. Right away you

think, Merrill Markoe? THE Merrill Markoe? Couldn't get H. L. Mencken, eh?

True, she was once a writer for David Letterman, and the two were once an

item. But why her? Her introduction is all of about a page, and it adds


Like all books on words that seem to be coming out now, there is no

bibliography. No other books or articles on words are mentioned--not even

the OED. The words aren't given even such simple information as "verb" or

"noun." The words are not treated historically, and few citations are given.

Couldn't they say, for example, that "going postal" was from the movie

CLUELESS? That "NOT!" was from WAYNE'S WORLD? Guess not.

There's no index! Four words are on the cover--where are they? What

chapter? Help!

The book reads like you already half-understand the words. If you

don't, then you're in trouble. On page 84, for example, "UVs: sunshine.

Also, _rays_." Any proper dictionary would state that this comes from

Ultra-Violet. An entry on page 76, for example, is "ramboid: excessively

excited." You have to figure out for yourself that it's from the movie

RAMBO. The book is loaded with such poor entries.

Some words are so standard you wonder why they're in the book. On page

112 is "hoops: the game of basketball." Then comes "hoopster: a basketball

player" and "(to) play hoops: to play basketball. Also, _shoot hoops_." Why

is this in a book on LOS ANGELES language? The terms are nationally used

and probably didn't originate in Los Angeles.

The illustrations are sparse, and the one illustration you expect to

see is not here! A MAP OF LOS ANGELES!! The map would say South Central,

Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Culver City, et al., with the neighborhood

nicknames included and the neighborhoods described. Where do rich people

live? Where do poor people live? WHERE IS THAT MAP????

Entire chapters are missing, also. Don't people eat? I can write an

entire chapter on Taco Bell alone! Where's the California smoothie? Where's

the "wrap" sandwich? WHERE IS THAT CHAPTER ON FOOD WORDS?? (There's always,

uh, LADYFINGERS...) Where is OJ? Where is LAX? Where are the Dodgers?

Where are the Lakers? Any slang from UCLA and USC (Trojan jokes, for

example)? Where's that chapter on earthquakes? Wasn't there a movie about

an L.A. earthquake? The Coast Is Toast? WHERE ARE THOSE EARTHQUAKE WORDS??


Let's go by section and start with the film industry. A film critic

named Gary Franklin--obviously not one to offend--grades movies from 10 to

10+. "Ten-plus" is his word and genuine L. A. talk. Where is that?

In the "Destinations" section, "L. A." and "Los Angeles" are included.

Where is "the Big Orange"? Why isn't David Letterman's pronunciation "Los

Angle-lease" here? Paul Dickson's LABELS FOR LOCALS has Angelino and

Angeleno, plus Hollywoodize, Hollywoodish, Hollywoodery, Hollywoodese,

Hollywooden, Hollywoodite, Hollywoodian, and Hollywooder. Couldn't the

authors have included that stuff and taken out, for example, the computer

terms and the stuff on hoops?

Maybe the book didn't aspire to be a Los Angeles counterpart to Irving

Lewis Allen's CITY IN SLANG (on New York City), but what exactly did it

aspire to be? An uncredited ripoff of books such as Branwyn's JARGONWATCH

and Dalzell's FLAPPERS 2 RAPPERS and articles on surfer slang?

Again, I've never lived in Los Angeles and I haven't even been there in

ten years, but still, if I know these things....