Hippie Squared: Blogger Old Potatoes

In the basement of a house on Memory Lane in Kalamazoo, Michigan somewhere between 1987 and 1989 I wrote a nonsense poem called “Blogger Old Potatoes.” In my hands, “blogger” was the improvised swear word of a two-year old girl.

But according to Wikipedia, the word “blogger” was first coined round about April or May 1999, over a decade after my poem.

“Blogger Old Potatoes” appeared in the second issue of Los Angeles 1956 The Magazine, published during the winter of 1989-1990 and copyright 1990 by The Pained Thumb Press; edited by Harold Abramowitz, who also illustrated the poem.

lego-blogger_mnifigAround 1992 “Blogger Old Potatoes” made it onto the web at Worldmind.com, then a web magazine and proto-blog designed and edited by Scott Roat of Worldmind Media. In fact, I just googled the phrase “Blogger Old Potatoes,” and found that the poem’s still up there. When I followed the link I was reminded that Scott also deployed the word “Bloggers” in the magazine as a blanket term for nonsense or silly verse.

 My “blogger” came straight out of nowhere. I just liked the sound of the word. The current usage of “blogger,” however, followed naturally from previous words. According to Wikipedia, “weblog” came first, coined (from web + log) by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. Next Peter Merholz derived “blog” through a sort of reverse engineering (weblog split into we blog) in April or May 1999. Not much later Evan Williams “devised the term ‘blogger’ in connection with Pyra Labs’ Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.”

 Here it gets weirder, and comes not quite full circle but partway back around. When I googled “Blogger Old Potatoes” I also found that the poem’s second verse had been posted by Paul Bausch at onfocus.com on September 1, 1999. I never knew.

Bausch turns out to also be one of the developers of the software, Blogger—released on August 23, 1999, just about a week before he posted my poem on his site.

I have no reason to believe that Bausch or Williams or any of these people had seen my “blogger” before developing theirs. It’s easy to picture Bausch doing a web search for the name of his software, flush with excitement right after it came out, and encountering my poem on Worldmind; then being charmed by the coincidence and posting that verse.

Words have their own spirit and their own power. One of their chief powers is sound. Launched into the stream of language they collect meanings. Meanings shift, gather, fall away. If a word remains useful; even better if it’s fun to say; it keeps right on rolling along with the stream. Not only has blogger become an essential word of its day, but it’s awful fun to say, isn’t it? And that couldn’t have hurt.

Perhaps the greatest nonsense poem of all time, “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, threw no fewer than three new words into the stream, not the least of which is jabberwocky itself, a nonsense word meaning “nonsense.” Carroll’s poem also gave us “galumph” and “chortle,” plus a new meaning for “burble.”

My own blogger never made it far enough out into the stream on its own power to avoid being overtaken by the blogger we now know, which came rushing down after it and swamped it. No whining, no tears. Words belong to everyone, and no one.

So I invented a blogger, the first blogger. And now I get to be a blogger, our collective “blogger.” That’s cool. It’s a fun thing to do.

And it’s a treat to hear so often spoken that word that I’ve always loved, while I smile inwardly at its secret history.

History, meet nonsense. Nonsense, meet history.

Now for the fun of it, here’s the original after the jump:

Blogger Old Potatoes

The minibulbous gravy trickled down her chin;

Soft, warm and slagy, it made the girl grin.

Plopped-down on potatoes, it made potatoes drown.

Good girl to eat those, she wolfed the buggers down.


Blogger old potatoes! She threw them on the wall—

Decorate the kitchen, decorate the hall.

Decorate the doggy, hear the doggy speak.

Decorate her Mommy, hear her Mommy shriek.


The little girl she giggles, cackles at the chaos,

Spiggles at the wimpole, frowns at dental floss

Between old Mommy’s fingers, when girl is put to bed:

On stubborn bits Mom lingers, and gently holds her head.


Blogger old potatoes! stuck between her teeth;

Stuck between her big toes (decorate her feet).

Squish them in the sheets now, Mommy never knows

‘Til Mommy checks the hamper where the laundry goes.


In wishful little dreams now, on squishy rugs she flies:

Rugs of mashed potatoes, while rapid move her eyes.

Her sticky feet in slumber kick within the bed,

While gently grows the little smile that decorates her head.


Flickr.com Photo Credit: minifig