I’m thinking of starting an online magazine (webzine? E-zine?). So I was thinking about what to call it. It has to be something catchy… anyway, for some reason the word “mersh” popped into my brain. Mersh could be part of the title, like, “Much More Mersh” (or, MMM, not to be confused with the stock ticker for 3M), or “More Than Mersh.”
Often times when a word or phrase pops into my head, I get curious and look it up. I know how *I* use the word mersh, but what is the “official” meaning of the word? Or is there one?
The way I use the word, comes from when I was in high school, in the eighties, in Southern California. I use it to mean “commercial.” Like, I like Sunset Beach better than Huntingon Beach, because Huntington went all mersh. But am I the only one who uses it this way? Because every time I refer to something as mersh, I inevitably get asked what the heck am I talking about.
So I went where I always go when I have ANY kind of question – the interwebs. I SearchEngined mersh. The first reference I got was for “commercial grade marijuana.” Mersh – commercial pot, usually of inferior grade. Well, that’s a new one to me – when I was growing up, there was no such thing! All pot was illegal. Some was better than others (skunk?) but none was mersh. OK, I learned something new there.
The second reference was to something about dipping genitals in chili. Yeah, I decided not to pursue that one any further…
After I read that, I got a little worried – oh dear, have I been using mersh wrong all these years? That can’t be! I kept looking. I knew I had first come in contact with it in the music scene. And I was pretty sure Mike Watt had something to do with it. And sure enough, I did find references on the interwebs to a third meaning – used in conjunction with The Minutemen. The Minutemen were a fine punk band from San Pedro, CA (endearingly referred to back in the day as the armpit of LA).
I grew up right down the freeway from there, and listened to the Minutemen some, and their successor band, fIREHOSE even more. Yep, I was punk. In SoCal. In the eighties. Nuff said bout that.
The Minutemen were an integral part of the California punk scene in the 80’s. Founded in 1980, they were around till 1985 when their lead singer D. Boon died in a car crash. That year, they released an EP called Project: Mersh. It was a little more accessible than previously released material (but still not close to “pop” by any definition). That’s the earliest reference I could find to MERSH.
The Minutemen were known for “jamming econo” – touring and playing in an ultra-thrifty manner. (It inspired the name of a documentary about them – “We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen.” You can see it here).
After D. Boon’s death, The Minutemen disbanded. But miraculously along came Ed Fromohio and convinced bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley to start up again, under the moniker fIREHOSE . They were one of my favorite bands in high school and college. Mike Watt is actually one of the best bassists ever (no, seriously, he’s up there with Flea and Bruce Hughes) and George Hurley is one heckova drummer. Oh and his muscles didn’t hurt either.
If you have one of those fancy music services, check out their first record, Ragin’, Full-On. A real winner.
Yes, this is me with fIREHOSE. Please don’t make fun of my hair. Give me a break. It was a long time ago.
So, my usage of mersh as COMMERCIAL is legit. Saved once again by the interwebs. Thanks, Minutemen! You rock.
I think I will Jam Econo in my new webzine.