Here’s a brief glossary of perhaps unfamiliar words and phrases from Mac Rebennack’s autobiography Under a Hoodoo Moon.
ax– a musician’s instrument, derived from Mafia lingo, according to Rebennack
B drinkers – uncool bar customers
belly rub – a dance
bomolatchee – a huge reefer, e.g. a Rasta spliff.
bonnaroo – cool, great, swell
boost, booster – to shoplift; a shoplifter
Chang Moi rocks – a type of heroin
companfonkilation – merging two songs and pulsing them with syncopation
Of all the songs on the album, the one that probably gave me the greatest kick was “Litanie des Saints,” my compafonkification of two pieces of music, Louis Gottschalk’s classical “‘Bamboula, Danse des Negres” and the chants I heard at various gris-gris churches over the years.
decks of gage – stacks of rolled up joints
desitively – positively, absolutely
dope sick – needing a fix
When we started working on the record, Wayne told me, “I can’t work no more like this. I’m dope sick. I need some serious money.”
down-goings – a play on “what’s going down” but in the sense of the process of sinking into further trouble
dry hump – a dance
ear bead – a blind man locating someone’s bodily presence
Ray [Charles] got an ear bead on him [and] knocked Charley on his ass.
Fess – Professor Longhair
fessee – the argot of professor Longhair (see propedeller, propelacter, e.g.)
festoon – Professor Longhair’s term for fun
flusturations – incidents that frustrate and fluster
One of the flusturations of this job was that when I delivered something I thought was good, many times Johnny didn’t put it out.
Fonk – Literally, “a syncopation on or around a beat.”
Fonky, fonked– a derivation of funky, but more emphatic, more positive, having the positive vibe associated with fonk.
In the bat of an eye, I’m out on the fonky streets of Fort Worth, smelling rawhide and cowpies, headed for the airport and blue skies.
This approach fonked up the more abstract northern jazz sound.
funksterators – funk creators, musicians that play funk
forever-and-one-year – a long prison sentence
frolic presto – to play music fast
Come on, boys. Let’s frolic presto.
funky – the music of funk, cool, but less emphatic than fonky. Rebennack uses both spellings, but fonky seems richer then funk.
get a sick off – score narcotics to counteract withdrawal
He needed to get his sick off. His habit was an oil burner.
goofer dust – a hoodoo concoction
a combination of dirt from a graveyard, gunpowder, and grease from [church] bells; if you throw it into somebody’s eyes, it’ll blind them, and throwing it behind them while they’re walking will put a curse on them.
gris-gris – New Orleans styled voodoo, magic
hang paper – forge checks
hipped – turned on to new information
He hipped him to the fine points of hustling gigs.
in need of a little brain salad surgery – needing to get high
jingle jungle – the business of writing jingles for advertisements
junk-a-dope-a-nals – any intoxicatingy pharmaceutical ending in “nal”
A lot of them went for goofballs: Nembutal, Seconal, tuinal, phenobarbital. The nals we used to call them – the junk-a-dope-a-nals.
lushing – drinking, doping
making cake – earning money
marble-lized – immortalized
“I think I marble-lized you.” Rebennack to Queen Julia Jackson after dropping her name in a song.
marygeranium– of or relating to marijuana
The truth was, I think my mother unconsciously dug reefer, or at least enjoyed the idea of a marygeranium high.
methodonian – an addict who has transitioned from heroin to methadone
ministrations – technical applications
We were all loaded and Rose was screaming and the doctor was doing his ministrations and it looked like the child was just about to come out when the doctor turned to us, real annoyed, and said, “Man, y’all can’t be smoking and doing all that shit in here, Get out!”
mootahs – reefers
muscle – bouncers
They had their own muscle working in the clubs or out on the street.
oaks and herbs – splendid, irie, as the Jamaicans say
And the second one said, “Everything’s oaks and herbs” – which means everything’s cool because they had smoked lots of herbs.
ofays – white people
The source of their bigotry seemed to be that the West Bank ofays were scared that black guys would take off with their women.
one-to-too-long-a-time – any prison sentence
Now he’s in Angloa Penitentiary doing one to too long a time.
oola-ma-walla-malla language – specialized argot created by cats to confuse squares
‘plexed out – seriously frustrated by
They were truly down characters and kept me from getting ‘plexed out behind all the changes.
pluck – booze
He was a garbage head, a cat who would drink cheap pluck, smoke a bag of reefer, pop all the pills he could pop, then chase it all down with a shot of dope.
propedeller, propelacter – a drum pedal
“John, that ain’t what I want you to play on your foot propedeller.”
John said, “Whaaat?”
Fess said, “You know, I want you to propel the groove with your foot propelacter.”
rum-dums – winos, sots
One night a couple of rum-dums got into a fight and started throwing cans of corn and tomato juice around and busted up the store, making a hell of a gumbo in the process.”
shucker – a pretender
My voice was low and froggy; Shine had a husky voice, too, but was a real singer, not a shucker like me.
slotted – transitioned into a niche
I slotted into a different musical groove.
spew – a drum fadeout
stone – solid, set in stone, unalterable
There was a whole language and lifestyle that went along with being a stone dope fiend.
Leonard just didn’t have the stupidity to become a dope fiend or a weed or pill head; he was never anything but a stone character.
Cutting the album [Gumbo] was a stone kick from first to last.
tighten – to pay back owed money
Tomming – being an Uncle Tom
tragic magic – heoin addiction
trashers – rock stars who wreck hotel rooms or ballrooms
traumatical – traumatic
All of this was very traumatical for me. I’ve seen friends’ throats slit, my partner on the morgue table, kids getting turned out – it’s all very heavy, and a lot of it was stuff I’d forgotten until just recently when I went through rehab.
tricknology, tricknologists – the act of conning, fooling someone; con men, scam artists