I Created The Term “Low Rent” in 1980

December 31, 2009

THIS IS NOT A JOKE.  I AM DEADLY SERIOUS.

If I knew then what I know now I would have gotten a Copyright on this term.

When we thought it up, we thought it would be an inside joke to replace “creeker” about low class people.  Now, 30 years later it is not uncommon to hear this term bandied about.

I did a lot of research for this post.  I typed in “Origin Low Rent” in google and checked the first result.

According to Wordnik.com  the American Heritage Dictionary gives three definitions  –

  1. adjective Informal Having inexpensive rent: a low-rent apartment.
  2. adjective Informal Of low social status or moral character: “Steve Buscemi … may play low-rent, amoral types—hit men, weasels, snivelers—but … he’s more complicated than that” (Richard Leiby).
  3. adjective Informal Lacking taste or refinement: a low-rent television drama.

Interestingly there is no etymology or origin listed.  BECAUSE MY WIFE AND I INVENTED IT!!!  At least the usage under definitions 2 and 3.  I am not trying to say I invented the concept of inexpensive rent when somone is talking about their monthly rental expense.

I remember it like it was 10 years ago.  We were living in our first apartment.  We had friends over for a Dazed and Confused type of evening and had been watching the Sunday Night Movie of The Week – Airport ’77.  The one with Lee Grant, Jack Lemon and Brenda Vaccaro where they have to escape from the plane that has crashed underwater.

This being 1980 there was no cable tv in the city of Tampa yet.  There was cable outside the city limits where our parents lived which got you TBS from Atlanta, WGN from Chicago and if you paid extra, HBO.  This meant we had rabbit ears and that Sunday night late night TV was BAAAD.

We somehow ended up watching what I later came to realize was PTL Club.  Now remember we were Dazed and Confused and this was the first time I had ever seen Tammy Faye Bakker.  We made so much fun of her.  Her hair, her accent, her clothes and of course the makeup.  We decided the term to best describe her was “LOW RENT” (see definition #3).   We must have said it at least 300 times that night – we were so witty.

Over the years we used definitions 2 and 3 interchangably as appropriate.  Our friends and family adopted the saying but it was a few years ago that we saw it start creeping in to pop culture references.  The most recent occurence was by comedian Josh Wolf on one of his appearances on the Chelsea Lately roundtable on E!.  Oh, he was spouting it off like it was something he invented.

I want my Royalties.

Or at least an acknowledgement on the etymologies section of wordnik.com

You can follow me on Facebook at “I am Dazed and Confused” or Twitter – www.twitter.com/iamdandc

cs

UPDATE:  I HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY TWITTER USER @MORROWLAND OF THE FOLLOWING – “Bette Midler was usin’ “low-rent” in her nightclub/concert shows in the 70’s. and then every gay in NYC used it too.”  So I guess the title of this blog should be “I Subconciously Stole The Term “Low Rent” from Bette Midler in 1980″.   So I have put strikethroughs in key spots and posted this update.  Thank you to Loni Love for retweeting this blog so I could be set straight. – 1/4/09

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: