The Random Griffith

Keep Midtown squinky

Posted in bringing the squinky, hipster gibberish by Jackson Griffith on 16/09/2010

Dunno why I’ve been seeing these “Keep Midtown Janky” stickers around for a while. Buncha hooey, I suspect, from a certain group of locals of whom I choose not to place an any kind of pejorative context, except to say that this word “janky” leaves me going “no thankee.” First, because it’s reportedly some kind of San Francisco snootnosed hipster insult that’s been appropriated by a few fat-tire bike types here as a badge of honor, to which I say that if it came from San Francisco, fuck it. The only two things worth a shit in that burg are the Giants and that John Coltrane church, and, uh, maybe a lot of other things, but not those saditty fucks who turn their noses up at you when you cop to residing in the nine one six.

Second, because I think it’s bass-ackwards. Now, if you’re going to coin a portmanteau of jinky and skanky, then janky doesn’t cut it. Especially when there’s one with the imprimatur of Robert Crumb, who, on the bright orange cover of his Zap Comix No. 1, put it succinctly thus: “Zap Comics are Squinky Comics!!”

I’m not sure why I’m feeling this intense need to keep Midtown squinky; perhaps it’s in response to a recent Midtown Monthly article about “janky” eating in Midtown Sacramento. I mean, I was sitting there reading it in a supposedly janky dining establishment; I was thinking about some ideas I had the week before when I was eating in one of my favorite janky places, the one I told everyone about and can take credit for making it all popular among the right peo- … uh, fuck it, I’ll shut up about that line of jibberjabber before I make any more enemies.

Actually, I was eating at Chita’s Mexican Grill, which is so goddamn janky it’s squinky. I was thinking about squinky, about the places in Midtown that bring the squink. Chita’s is such a place: first, because it’s two doors down from Benny’s, which used to be called “Two Doors Down” when Dolly Parton had a hit by that name and some Bee columnist who used to write his column from the bar there wrote one about what a swell establishment it was before he dropped dead from a heart attack and then newspapers stopped letting their columnists write columns from bars, a big mistake I think, because unedited drunken ramblings are arguably a lot more interesting than what’s getting published in newspapers these days, witness The Bee, but I digress except to say that I would start reading The Bee again if they let a bunch of drunken chimpanzees run rampant with opinion columns and again I digress to mention that the Sacramento Press occasionally serves that function and the UFO and ghostbuster reports can be highly entertaining, but anyway, not only is Benny’s a bit of a “shanky” place these days, if shanky means stabby or a place to get some unwanted impromptu ventilation that will stain your clothes and maybe kill you, but also that between Benny’s and Chita’s is a green-cross joint called “420 Evaluations.” I mean, how frickin’ squinky is that?

Erm, a few definitions by examples. Jim-Denny’s is squinky, perhaps the epitome of squink. Cafe Bernardo is not squinky. Zelda’s is squinky, and Chicago Fire is not squinky. Taki used to be squinky, but whatever it was that replaced it is decidedly not squinky. In fact, no sushi bar can be squinky. Chita’s and La Garnacha are squinky, Centro is not squinky — actually, no Paragary restaurant can be even remotely squinky — and Tres Hermanas is kinda halfway in between. The 524 Club used to be squinky until the redo a few years back, but the satellite joint on Northgate near West El Camino is still squinky as all getout, as are all taco trucks that aren’t run by foodies. As for bars, Round Corner is squinky, and the 20th and K corner with Faces and The Depot and Headhunters and whatever that non-gay (but very ghey) joint is called, like 20-something, on the northwest corner are the quintessence of not squinky. Pine Cove is squinky, and Old Ironsides is mostly squinky, because they’ve been rocking the Pabst flag since before Frank Booth made it the pisswater of choice for hepcats (fuck that “hipster” shit).

See, I’d prefer to live in a squinky world, one with rounded corners that looks like it was drawn by Robert Crumb. I wouldn’t mind meeting a few ladies who look like ol’ Bob drew them, too. And I’d love to have a Robert Crumb-designed automobile. So that’s squinky to me — old Sacramento, back when Crumb lived in Dixon, then Winters, and Justin Green used to go pick him up and drive him around so Crumb could sketch elevations for his comics — Del Paso Boulevard seemed to be a favorite, and that strip between Globe and El Camino should be a regional monument to squink. And we need more squink. There is way too much antisquink in Sacramento, and dunno about you, but I respond to this new antisquink the way Turkish nationals respond to old episodes of The Chipmunks with David Seville: “I do not know what this is, but I feel strongly that it is not good.”

I babble, I babble: We need to keep Midtown squinky, not janky. —Jackson Griffith

8 Responses

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  1. Dane Henas said, on 16/09/2010 at 13:30

    Jackson,

    Speaking of Crumb ladies–this photo was to the right of your blog under flickr photos–is this your doin’?

    legs without an end ( explored )

    Dane

  2. Mindy Giles said, on 16/09/2010 at 15:43

    Portmanteau? I am still looking for a joint I can hang out in…like Duke Mantee.

  3. heckasac said, on 17/09/2010 at 05:19

    I don’t think “janky” was coined in San Francisco. My point is that it’s kind of a Sacramento thing to use it to mean “crappy but charming” instead of just “shitty”. That’s how I hear people use it and it’s what I interpreted the bumper stickers to mean. It’s a lighthearted thing.

    Glad you’re reading!

    • Jackson Griffith said, on 17/09/2010 at 13:03

      Thanks. And kudos on the MM piece, Bec. I do appreciate your extensive knowledge of food, and your willingness to make adventurous dining choices. Your stuff’s fun to read. So thanks!

  4. Scott Miller said, on 17/09/2010 at 05:40

    ‘Keep Midtown Janky’ is just supposed to be a fun, funny bumper sticker that makes people who “get it” smile. And based on what you wrote up there, I would definitely include you in that group of people who get it – alternate word or not. Man, my first band was called The Janked & that was 1985! A girl from North Highlands that I went to church with said janky constantly & that’s where I picked it up. It’s just a slang word that’s been around for a while. Hipsters from San Francisco didn’t invent it, that’s for sure. You know me & you must know that I like you but you seem like you’re attacking an imaginary foe here.

    • Jackson Griffith said, on 17/09/2010 at 09:30

      Of course. I was just riffing like an idiot last night to have something mindless to write about. It’s not like I take this all seriously. At least in this case I don’t. Carry on.

  5. Mr. Knowcebo said, on 17/09/2010 at 10:23

    Well, it is good to read that there is another who doesn’t quite trust the short-term semantic consensus of this neologism.

    The way I see it, if you really wanted to live in a janky city, then you would wave goodbye to our dear yonville-l’abbaye and move to Marysville or anywhere in Yuba County, for that matter.

    In the context of Midtown, janky seems to be a highly self-conscious form of slumming.


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