Sunday, May 13, 2007
To Deebs Mullen!
(Photo courtesy Vlad Wormwood)
Since I’ve left college a lot of people have asked me about some of the things that almost reflexively come out of my mouth: “Pack it.” “Commit it.” “Nuck your face.” I often tell them that I can’t take credit for them, nor fully define them outside of “commit it,” which is simply a colloquialism of “kill yourself.” The person who can do these things and more, though is Deebs Mullen.
Mullen was a prominent member of the de facto fraternity I belonged to at Syracuse University. His influence on our collective speech is a fascinating treatise in groupspeak. Deebs would be what Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point describes as a connector. He brought the unusually mannerisms and affectations from his upbringing in the northmost reaches of New York State to a community that was virtually self-contained. One of the first things Mullen introduced was the term “slot.” Slot was an ingenious term for biddies a few reasons, first is its evocative resemblance to gash or box. Second was Deebs’ reasoning behind its use that “the term slut was offensive, so you just call ‘em slots.”
What started as a group of a college students telling each other essentially to kill themselves and get really f^%(ed up, turned into a dialect that would be incomprehensible to an outsider (which on occasion I was told it was). And maybe that was the point. Because our clan spoke in a dialect of drunkenly-slurred modern-college English, we knew what was going on and everyone around us was slightly confused. There is a degree of security and intimacy in having a closed language, and it can only develop under the right circumstances: having a group of smart, creative people living together without taking anything, much less each other seriously.
Which brings me back to Deebs. If he weren’t such a character, a nucker, in the most literal sense, I doubt we would have come up with any of it. You can see Mullen’s definition of “derka” on his now defunct blog (Derka), its in the first post. An aside on Deebs to give you a better sense of the man, the myth… The Derka blog was not his first attempt at contributing to the great modern discussion that is the Internet. Winding.net was a half-baked site based on the apartment complex he lived in and we partied in our sophomore year of college. It was abandoned because “the semester was too hectic to commit to putting out a good product.” In actuality Deebs got pretty heavy into Super Ghouls and Ghosts (at one point vowing not to leave his South Campus apartment until he beat the game [and with Campus D providing an almost endless supply of chicken parm he didn’t need to]. Alas he eventually left when he had a finance midterm, Mullen never beat the game and it became his white whale). His current blog was abandoned as hap-hazardly and may have had something to do with his hauntingly cryptic final post.
When Mullen was contacted for comment on this article he pontificated lengthily about the nature of groupthink and how it relates to the internets’ blogsphere which creates subsets of cultures based on blah blah blah. What it really came down to, he concluded, was “pack it.”
Sorry this post was a little inside, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the world so I don’t have much to report this week. On the other hand, there’s some really exciting basketball being played by the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns which is definitely worth staying up for (and also makes me disappointed I attended a dozen Celtics games this year and not a dozen Warriors/Suns game...I almost want to, hmmm, commit it). Also, look forward tomorrow for some links to my favorite blogs.
Posted by John Gaetjens at 7:59 PM