The Urban Dictionary, It Ain't What It Used To Be

There was a time not so many years ago when we would immediately turn to the Urban Dictionary when we wanted to find out what, say, a Cleveland Steamer was, or maybe the definition of a Hot Karl (the two are not entirely unrelated). Practices we did not engage in, and which our friends would not admit to if they did. So it was nice to have a source.

The UD was a great idea and a needed resource. It was fresh and usually dead-on and, above all, urban in the vague modern sense. It told you what druggies, perverts and criminals were saying.

But like all good things on the web, next came the mainstream discovery, followed by the printed anthologies, and, well, there went the whole scatological, drug-addicted, profane and perverse neighborhood. Now UD sends us, in their "word of the day," bilge like this down-and-ugly, straight-from-the-hood zinger from the day after Sarah Palin's speech to the Teabaggers:

REDNECK TELEPROMPTER: Crib notes written on a public speaker's hand in order to remind him or her what to say during a speech or interview.

DAY-um. No you di'unt!

I could be mistaken, but I think I overheard Redneck Teleprompter on the uptown Malcolm X Blvd. bus in Harlem just this morning.

It's pretty clear that many if not most of the new entries were used only once -- in an email between two cubicles in the same office in Minneapolis. Followed by: "LMFAO - I'm sending this to Urban Dictionary." And of course, UD's submission/acceptance vetting makes Wikipedia look like the OED.

The other class of new UD terminology still deals with aberrant sexual practices, but now it's more likely to be associated with some frat boy's sexual revenge fantasy that doubtless occurred only in a lie told across a bar (see UD entry for "Superman").

So here's a tip for those who really want to know the latest "urban" billingsgate: Drive down to the middle of the neighborhood that terrifies you the most. Get out of the car and stand on the corner. Then listen. At least until you get took off (v. robbed, possibly accompanied by fatal beating).

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Mel Sharkskin