When Sub Pop Records Hoaxed Those Lamestains At The New York Times

The tale of a phony grunge lexicon.

This week a Heroic Teen pranked the New York Times by getting them to print his utter falsehoods about Charleston mass-murdering racist asshole shitbird garbage monster Dylann Roof. 16 year old Brit (we assume this part is true - this guy already lied to one major media outlet!) Benjamin Wareing convinced Times reporter Frances Robles that Roof was, among other things, a brony. The falseness in question, now deleted from the NY Times website: 

Benjamin Wareing, a blogger in Britain, said the writings are nearly identical to blog posts that Mr. Roof posted several months ago on a separate Tumblr page. Mr. Wareing was preparing to write an essay on the dangers of Tumblr and troubled youths, so he took notes on the writings.

“He just made really stupid but obvious statements about people from other races,” Mr. Wareing said in an email. “He would call black citizens ‘nuggets’ and such. He never made direct threats at all on Tumblr, at least it didn’t seem like that, just weird ramblings about how he felt he ‘didn’t fit in.’”

Among his writings were images of 9/11 “memes” and of “My Little Pony,” Mr. Wareing said.

The New York Times has a history of being fooled by the young people; just a couple of months ago a Twitter yahoo managed to get the Times to print his story about being a vaping teen who says “the only thing that’s really missing is feeling like your entire mouth is coated in dirt." But my favorite Times-hoaxed-by-a-young-person story is from 1992, as grunge was just hitting the mainstream and the Times tried to get to the bottom of the new movement. 

You have to understand something about the culture in the early 90s - nobody wanted this stuff to go mainstream. Unlike today, where a wide appeal and big sales are coveted, the grunge scene grew out of a punk rock aesthetic that shunned the mainstream. These were the days when 'sell out' was a derogatory term, not a positive attribute for a pop star. The idea of the paper of record trying to do some kind of anthropolgical study of the scene was about the most offensive thing possible. Well, maybe not as offensive as 'grunge fashion,' where designers copied the cheap thrift store flannels popular in the scene and sold them for a hundred bucks to wannabes. 

So when a New York Times reporter called the Sub Pop Records office looking to get an insight into 'grunge slang,' receptionist Megan Jasper did what an good punk would do - she fucked with them and made up a whole bunch of phony slang words. And the New York Times ran them in a sidebar attached to their big "Grunge: A Success Story" article (where they mention a band they call "the Nine Inch Nails"): 

To this day I can't think of the phrase "swingin' on the flippity-flop" without laughing out loud. Jasper was a brilliant hoaxer because so many of the words sound reasonable, and they offer just enough of a base to allow a dopey Times reporter to accept 'a big bag of bloatation' or 'wack slacks.' What a bunch of lamestains. 

I'm not sure what happened to the reporter who Jasper hoaxed, but I do know what happened to Jasper: she got laid off from Sub Pop. But she came back in 1998, no longer the receptionist, and as an executive vice president she has been credited with helping save the struggling label, especially as the person who brought comedy into the Sub Pop fold. She's still there today, and that's no harsh realm.