Origin of 'off the hook'?

· Miscellany

I first heard “off the hook” meaning “totally wild” or “out of control (in a good way)” a few years ago. (Example: “We’re hiring bellydancers and fire jugglers for the party – it’s going to be off the hook.”)

Like so much innovative American language, it seemed to arise from the African-American community. But it puzzled me, since “off the hook” already means something else, along the lines of “no longer responsible for” as in, “I did the dishes, so you’re off the hook.”

I wonder if the etymology of this (new) expression has something to do with the idea of a meter (like something showing dBs) rocketing so high so quickly that it flies off its “hook”? That’s just a guess. If anyone has the actual source of the term, I’d love to hear it.

A view from on the bus

· Miscellany

I am reminded that Mickey Hart is maintaining a Trip Diary for the Dead’s summer tour. The Flash-based interface is a little wiggy (doesn’t work at all for me in Mozilla) but the first journal entry is worth the effort to find (here’s a direct link to it), just for Mickey’s take on Memphis:

[T]his part of the country birthed rock n roll. It is what Mesopotamia was to the ancient world, Memphis was the place it all rolled together to make a great gumbo of music. This is where the powerful trance music of West Africa came together in the fields and front porches of the Delta. The musical trade winds blew hard from Bahia in Brazil, traveling up through Central America to the Caribbean, to Haiti and Cuba and finally arriving at our shores in New Orleans. In places like Congo Square and Lake Ponchartrain, where the slaves were first allowed to practice “their” music, the upper class whites would come to see this spectacle, but had no idea that this would evolve into American popular music.

(Thanks to Mike Presky for the tip.)

Flashback, December 19, 1998

· Miscellany

It was the day Clinton was impeached. That day I attended the second of two live-CD release concerts by a now disbanded band called Zero. My review of those shows, typos and all, can still be found at JamBands.Com. Been doing a little more music writing lately. Want to do more. I should pitch some ideas to those jambands guys since they took over Relix. Hmmm.

Layoffs at Boston archdiocese

· Miscellany

I was reading B headlines from the Times this morning and I saw that in the wake of the priest-molestation scandals the Boston archdiocese is announcing a fiscal crisis and impending layoffs. “They’re going to lay off Jesus,” I said. “No,” said B, “they’re going to lay off some disciples.”

“That’s right,” I said. “Actually, they’re going to lay off all the disciples, and then hire back seven of them as independent contractors, with no benefits.”