Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jay Nordlinger discovers pop culture trend of "fist-bumping" or "knuckles", tries to figure out what this crazy concept is all about

Jay Nordlinger, writer for the National Review, is currently writing dispatches from a cruise in Jamaica for some reason.  I am assuming that Jay is one of the stereotypically whitest people in the known world for a few reasons:
  • He refers to each one of his dispatches as an "Impromptus".  Collectively, they would be called Impromptuses?  Imprompti?  Just call it a blog like everyone else, Jay.
  • His last name is Nordlinger, which translates into some variation of "North lingerer" depending on which language it's actually from.
  • He writes for the National Review.
  • He looks like this:
Jay North Lingerer
Anyway, in the most recent of his Impromptuses, entitled "Knuckle Non-Sandwiches," Jay mentioned a curious observation:

In today’s Impromptus, which is Part I of a cruise journal, I mention a Jamaican practice: You offer knuckles — a.k.a. a fist bump, a kind of handshake — and say “Respect” (alternatively, “Respec’”)

Wowzers!  What an interesting cultural observation!  For what it's worth, it's probably not necessary to mention that people with different accents pronounce words differently.  The only reason to mention this "alternate" spelling is if you think "Respec" means something different that "Respect" (note: I am not certain that Jay does not think this).  One additional issue I have is that your sentence referring to fist bumping as a Jamaican practice should be stamped all over with [citation needed].  I did a little of my own research (using Wikipedia--suck it, high school teachers) and found that while there is not a clear origin story, it's pretty safe to assume that Jay is wrong.  Here is the Wikitruth about the fist bump (if you prefer a summarized version, skip ahead a paragraph):

According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, the fist bump was created by baseball player Stan Musial. Time magazine wonders if it evolved from the handshake and the high-five. They cite knuckle bumping in the 1970s with basketball player Baltimore Bullets guard Fred Carter. Others claim the Wonder Twins, minor characters in the 1970s Hanna-Barbera superhero FISH cartoon Super Friends, who touched knuckles and cried "Wonder Twin powers, activate!" were the originators. However, the "fist bump" or "pound" can easily be traced as far back as the late 1800s and early 1900s to the boxer's handshake as a way to greet when hands are gloved. In fact, the fist bump's origins may well lie in the animal kingdom as the gesture is natural behaviour observed in primates, according to a book published by Margaret Power in 1991.

So, not only is it probably not Jamaican, but the following are all better explanations for the creation of the fist bump than Jay's:
  • It was created by baseball player Stan Musial
  • Whatever speculative bullshit Time published because someone wondered about a thing
  • It was created by basketball player Fred Carter of the unfortunately named Baltimore Bullets
  • It was created by minor characters in the 1970s cartoon Super Friends, and you were supposed to say "Wonder Twin powers, activate!" rather than "Respec"
  • It was created by boxers in the 19th century
  • It has been around forfuckingever as long as humans have existed ever in all time
This is a fairly minor quibble, but it indicates that Jay assumes trends start wherever he sees them first.  The more interesting part of Jay's recent Impromptus is that he posted a followup, which appears to be intended to prove himself right about where fist bumping was invented, saying:

I got a letter from a friend of mine I thought you’d enjoy. He once worked as a bouncer in L.A.

Alright, Jay, we all know you are almost certainly not friends with bouncers in LA. 

He writes, 
        Knuckles and “Respect.” Now I know where that came from. We used to do it all the time in the clubs in L.A. I didn’t think much of it. But now that I am, I remember it was one of my buds, a dude from the South Bronx, of Jamaican heritage, who started it.

So Jay's fake bouncer friend from LA has a fake friend from the South Bronx who invented fist bumping, which proves that it is from Jamaica.  His friend continues:

As with any verbal judo technique, its effectiveness depends on the target. Probably wouldn’t go so well at an Upper East Side dinner party.

Even Jay's fake friends know that he spends more time at Upper East Side dinner parties than bars.

But you should totally give it a shot, especially if we win the midterms:

Them: “Can’t believe the racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, Nazi GOP now controls BOTH houses of Congress!”

Jay, that's not fair.  Very few people think that GOPers are Nazis.

You (presenting knuckles): “Yo, dog, don’t get it twisted. We all still family. You gonna make it. Respec’.”

What?  I don't even know what to say about that.  This "friend" of Jay's is faker than my high school girlfriend from Canada.  Additionally, if wealthy white males start going around the next time Republicans win an election saying "Yo, dog, respec" it's going to be pretty uncomfortable for everyone.  Back to real Jay, as opposed to fake friend of Jay:

Hmmm. Will think about it. By the way, the first time I saw the fist bump, it was on the PGA Tour. I was not actually playing the Tour, I should clarify; I was merely watching television. (Oh, the shame.)
One more thing: I know a great writer who sometimes signs himself “Respec.” Really.

Why is it shameful that you watch golf on TV?  Also, I think the "great writer" is as fake as your bouncer friend.  I think this even more so after reading the "Really" that you felt it necessary to append to this paragraph. 


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