Friday, July 22, 2011

Gray Baskerville coined Rat Rod?

So according to Hot Rod Magazine (which no Hot Rodder has read since 1967) one of their legendary writers coined the term “Rat Rod” in an article about some guys jalopy in 19-90 something? Right! Hot Rod Magazine is so out of touch with what’s going on and how to sell their commercial ridden crap publication that now they are resorting to rewrites of history to make themselves seem relevant. “Rat Rod” has been a street term for years and years and years. Gray didn’t coin it. Do you really think all the Punks read his article and then adopted the term? More likely he overheard it and dropped it into his article then all his writer buddies stood around patting him on the back to legitimize his fat daddy paycheck. Now I know Gray has passed, and I mean the man no disrespect- but get real. Writers of pop publications seldom coin the vernacular of subcultures they write about. They reflect it, they take the dictation. BTW who really gives a “Rats Ass”?
A personal example of word mutation. When I was looking for a band name back in 1991, I came up with Kill Switch and later changed it to Kill Switch…Klick. I did the research. There was no use of Kill Switch in pop culture at that time. Period. A few years later I saw an add for a turn table mixer with “kill switches” to cut the direct signal to the mains. Now I don’t think they copied my band name, even though Kill Switch…Klick was signed to a big indie label. However later I met William Gibson at a book signing and gave him one of our CDs. We talked and he thanked me. I told him what a lyrical influence he had been to my own lyric writing. Yadda yadda yadda. He was writing an episode of the X-Files and six months after our encounter, his episode comes out and is entitled “Kill Switch” and was about a CD-R that had a Kill Switch on it to destroy an A.I. gone amok. I was very flattered that William would name his episode after my band. Later some guys were watching X-Files, saw the episode and named their band Killswitch Engage (true story). Later came the video game Kill Switch and then a movie with umm…who was that dud(e)- Steven Seagal. Did the film & video game people get the name from my band, the X-Files Episode or Killswitch Engage? WHo knows. At that time my use of the words had become mainstream. So did I coin the term Kill Switch? No. I knew it was a common term for machinery that didn’t have a key ignition. Did I help bring the term into pop culture. Yes. And similarly Gray helped bring the term Rat Rod into the automotive fray. 

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