Fighting ignorance since 1973 Its taking longer than we thought
Is a combination bar/liquor store a "slashie"?
As anyone who cares about Chicago culture knows, we describe a bar/liquor store as a "package(d) goods store" or a "taproom." A few years ago, Time Out Chicago recklessly published a piece on Chicagoese that claimed we call these venerable institutions "slashies." This was a blatant falsehood, invented out of whole cloth. A year later, someone wrote a piece published by both the Sun-Times and Centerstagechicago.com that used the same term, evidently taking Time Out at its word. At the time, I sent out an e-mail asking if anyone had heard the term "slashie." No one had.
Well, the word is popping up again on the
Internet. I believe it's time to take the gloves off. We just can't have
people coming to Chicago and telling us how we speak, how we like our beefs,
etc. Where will it end? "Slashie" is a truly despicable piece of cultural
carpetbaggery [rant truncated; you get the idea].
Joe, buddy. Relax. I completely sympathize with your desire to keep local culture free of despicable carpetbaggery, blatant falsehoods, etc. However, the way to defeat these inauthentic intrusions is to fight them with science. This I have now done. After lengthy consultation with you and other knowledgeable parties, the following may be stated as fact:
(1) Nobody other than a few knuckleheads ever called a combination bar/liquor store in Chicago a slashie prior to 2006.
(2) However, regardless of whether this usage was invented out of whole cloth, the word slashie itself wasn't. It seemingly originated with well, I hate to keep you in suspense. But the story is best sipped, not chugged.
The first job was establishing who said what and when. Time Out Chicago's vocabulary piece appeared in the issue of March 2-8, 2006. Under the heading "Local lingo" was a list of alleged Chicago terms, among them slashies, the entry for which read in its entirety as follows:
I can't say the term went viral after that, but it shows up on the net now and then. Like Joe, I'd never heard of slashie (I settle on this spelling to avoid tedious repetition of slashy-slash-slashie), but one wants corroboration. I called up a source cited in the unexpurgated version of Joe's letter: Bill Savage, Ph.D., senior lecturer in English at Northwestern, occasional Reader contributor, brother of sex columnist Dan Savage, Chicago lore authority, Rogers Park resident, and a guy who, I venture to say, has seen the inside of a bar. Bill had been among the first to call Time Out Chicago on their slashie claim, writing a letter to the editor that stated in part:
So, Bill had asked 35 people. Joe told me he'd checked with a dozen. Add in the three of us and you've got 50 Chicagoans having no knowledge of slashie. (Oh, and Tim Roti. That makes 51.) By newspaper standards that's a statistically significant sample. You may object: By newspaper standards, two is a statistically significant sample. True and as we'll see, that tradition lives on.
Additional data points:
OK, not the most rigorous procedure. However, Joe, our purpose isn't to persecute Martina, but to ascertain the facts. You allege that Time Out Chicago invented slashie out of whole cloth. Not so. Bill Savage mentioned he'd heard it had been used in the 2001 movie Zoolander starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. I hadn't seen the film, but determined via Google that it features a cameo by Fabio, who receives the Slashie Award as the best actor-slash-model ("and not the other way around"). The term "slashie," meaning someone with dual roles, became common after that Google turns up 58,000 instances.
Matters now began to clarify. Back to Barry Popik. He reminded me the usage [noun]-slash-[noun] (writer-slash-director, etc.) had become current in the '90s. He even came up with a local cite:
We deduce that slashie=bar/liquor store isn't an ancient Chicago term, but rather a recent derivation from slashie=person with dual roles, which in turn was popularized by a 2001 movie. In fairness, Time Out Chicago didn't actually say the term was ancient, nor did Centerstagechicago describe it as classic. (It says liquor-store-slash-taprooms are classic, a different matter.) Also, to state the obvious, if people want to call these joints slashies now, what's to stop them? However, considering slashie isn't local, has nothing to do with bars or liquor stores, and suggests we're talking about guys running around in goalie masks, you have to wonder why anyone would.
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