Uprooting the Turd Blossom


Newspapers around the country are pulling the new Doonsbury off their pages, for the children. In today's strip, the legendary political cartoon employs the nickname "Turd Blossom"—reputedly one of President Bush's monikers for Karl Rove.

Against the tide of approximately a dozen papers, the Providence Journal editors in Rhode Island prefer to censor by marking out the "profanity." Is turd even an expletive? Or blossom, for that matter? In any case, a search on Wikipedia redirects one not to a definition of the term but to the "Boy Genius". Jesse Walker saw this blandification, if not bowdlerization, coming for a cartoon he says has "lost its cultural cachet."

NEXT: Tough Crowd (Russian Anti-Spam Edition)

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  1. Eh, Doonsebury hasn’t been funny in at least 10 years. But, still, it’s better than about 95% of the rest of the crap on the comic pages these days.

  2. I bet the objection isn’t that “turd” or “blossom” are official expletives, but that combined together they paint a picture that would most likely be deemed by the FCC as “obscene”, which according to many (stupid) people is reason enough to object.

    I was just discussing unpleasant insults with some friends the other day. I think “turd” topped the list for more than one of us. Who wants to be called a turd? Yuck. That’s a great insult.

  3. Is a “cultural cache” real or virtual?

  4. Who wants to be called a turd? *

    * Rhetorical question, in case any of you weirdo mascochist Reasonoids were going to respond.

  5. Something tells me W doesn’t call Putin “Pootie Poot” to his face, and risk a KGB-style smackdown.

  6. The Turd Blossoms: what a great name for a band…

  7. Wait, so our good Christian president has given a government official an obscene nickname? GASP! (Note I am making fun of those that think turd blossom is obscene).

    A sidenote: How the hell does one get a nickname like turd blossom? That must be one heck of a story.

  8. Alas, the Gin Blossoms is already a bit close.

    Close? My friends, now is the time for me to get on my obnoxious, 20-something musical soapbox and pronounce that indeed

    Gin Blossoms == Turd Blossoms

    is a mathematical equivalency in the mind of many a music snob.

  9. Time to deploy the emergency back-up nickname: “Fart-Lily”

  10. Ahhhh, just change it to bung hole and get over it. Fucking kids changed the definition anyway!

    Can’t even say to the son, “Son, you’ll want to plug that bung hole before shit starts pouring out all over the place,” anymore. They just crack up without doing a damn thing and the next thing you know, shits pouring out all over the place.

    Can’t we do something about the kids for the adults sake? I am getting too old and tired to sensor myself.

  11. I believe a “turd blossom” is a Texas name for a wildflower growing out of a piece of animal shit. Literally.

  12. Heh, heh! Bunghole!
    AAAAHHHHH! Bungholio!

  13. Someone redirected Wikipedia’s “Turd Blossom” page from the “Karl Rove” page to the “John Kerry” page. In the name of The Truth, I changed the redirect back.

  14. Gin Blossoms == Turd Blossoms

    Oh, no, no, smacky. They get a pass for writing “Found Out About You.”

    And probably “Until I Fall Away.”

    Mopey guys needs songs like that.

    I’ll give you “Hey Jealously,” as that treads the line between catchy and annoying. And the rest of their ouevre. But without the Gin Blossoms, there would be no “Found Out About You.” And I needs my “Found Out About You.” Or at least once upon a time I did. And chances are, some day I’ll need it again.

  15. I’m looking forward to the Michelle Malkin column where our sweet little Shelly describes how shocked – shocked! – she is that our good and decent chief executive would resort to such inappropriate, family-unfriendly vocabulary.

    Then there’s Brent Fucking Bozell…

  16. Thanks peachy. So is Bush the flower and Karl the shit? Or is Karl the flower and Lord knows what is shit if he’s a flower?

  17. It’s “cachet.”

  18. That I do not know… I’m not sure there’s any way of reading it that makes it complimentary. Must be a west Texas thing.

  19. When we were discussing Blondie’s anniversary earlier, I was lamenting that my local fishwrap cannot carry comix by Robert Crumb.
    That said, this thread illustrates a social phenomenon that we need a separate thread on: What people say they want or what they say offends them can be damn near 180 degrees away from the truth.
    This is why I keep saying, when it comes to the War on Drugs, that we should simply keep pounding away on the point that we own our bodies. I’m convinced 60 percent agree, but it’s like taking ownership of a fart-like smell on a crowded elevator.

    On some glorious day in the not distant future, someone will exclaim, “Who far’d that there shot?” And the guilty party will actually reply, “I far’d it!”

  20. Turd Blossom=======> Gin Blossoms=======>Bunghole!

    Does this mean the Butthole Surfers have a shot a playing the White House sometime soon?

  21. I think the nickname refers to Rove’s ability to take a negative situation with Bush and turn it into a positive..ie: the concept of a flower growing from a cow pie…

  22. “Turd blossom” actually refers to the splat a partially liquid cow pile makes when it hits ground zero. My understanding is that the President started using this nickname for Rove when Rove first started getting publicity for being the genius behind the man. I think it was supposed to be a way of takin’ him down a notch, in a friendly kinda way.

    In my opinion, feelin’ like you have to take someone on your staff down a notch for getting too much public recognition speaks to the President’s character.

    …As does his fake drawl.

  23. GEORGE:
    Did you see the poll
    I think it means that we have lost
    Maybe one less term is all we need
    I can?t really help it if my tongue?s all tied in knots
    Forty-two percent, it?s just the lowest that I?ve ever been

    Anywhere you invade, I?ll follow you down
    Anyplace but those who’ve got a nuke
    Anywhere you invade, I?ll follow you down
    I?ll follow you down, you stupid kook

    I know we?re headed somewhere, I can see how far we?ve come
    But still I can?t remember anything
    Let?s just do th’Iran thing and I?ll swear it might be fun
    It?s a long way down when all the knots we?ve tied have come undone

    Anywhere you invade, I?ll follow you down
    Anyplace but those who’ve got a nuke
    Anywhere you invade, I?ll follow you down
    I?ll follow you down, you stupid kook

    How we gonna ever leave this place
    How to withdraw but still save face
    Are they gonna find us lying face down in the sand
    So what the hell now, we?ve already been forever damned

    Anywhere you invade I?ll follow you down…

  24. Y’know, I’m a medium-sized music snob, but the Gin Blossoms are sufficiently closely linked to fond memories of tooling around suburban Jersey in a used ’87 Audi as a teenager that I’m hard pressed to summon true contempt for ’em.

  25. Yeah, Elvis, I saw that one too. First time the comics page made me laugh in some time. Being a Gen-Xer, I always preferred Bloom County to Doonesbury (and the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscopo cast of SNL to the original Boomer cast)

    I stopped reading Doonesbury on a regular basis about the time Trudeau took his respite in the 80s.

    However, I think Trudeau’s recent series on the Army recruiter was spot on …

  26. I remember the foreword to a Doonesbury collection from about 20 years ago. The writer of the foreword argued that the best satire is done with at least a little affection for the target, and that was what made Doonesbury superior to late-period Li’l Abner or dessicating-swamp-era Pogo. Once it degenerates into unrelieved bile, it stops being funny to anyone by the amen corner.

    That’s what has happened to Trudeau, although there was an echo of that with the recruiter strips, at least until the cheap shots about harassment.

    My kick against the Gin Blossoms is that they were the Replacements gussied up for commercial radio and major label success. Not as blatant a lift as the Goo Goo Dolls (I lost a lot of respect for Westerberg when he produced those clowns), but blatant enough.

  27. I basically learned to read as a kid by devouring all the Peanuts, Pogo and Donnesbury collections I could get my hands on. Of the three, Pogo was the cleverest, peanuts had the most emotional resonance with me (I always related to Linus), but I read Doonesbury over and over. I wanted to understand what it was that they were talking about when they discussed Watergate. Why was Ginny’s being black such a big deal? Why was America bombing Cambodia when the war was supposed to be in Vietnam? I guess it warped my young mind a bit.
    The glory days of Doonesbury have to be the period when Uncle Duke became the governor of American Samoa through his stint as the ambassador to China. Recent strips just don’t even compare.

  28. I agree with everything you just posted, mk — including the childhood memories.

    Of the current daily newspaper strips, my favorite has to be Pearls Before Swine

  29. Could they go ahead and also kill Family Circus permanently? Marmaduke has also been sagging for the last 100 years. Beetle Bailey? B.C.? Are these things even read anymore?

    Just replace them all with Achewood and I would be happy.


  30. Does this mean the Butthole Surfers have a shot a playing the White House sometime soon?

    They already did that thing with Amy Carter’s suitcase. Isn’t that close enough?

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