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It’s Short for Booger

I wondered aloud what Boog meant in a previous post about the Portable Boog Reader. David, the editor, set me straight:

The Legend of BOOG by David A. Kirschenbaum

People have always asked me why I call my press BOOG Literature. 17 years ago, me, my girlfriend and the guy she wound up cheating on me with were in my studio apartment in a converted brewery in Albany, New York, at 2 in the morning on a Saturday night when one of us said, “Hey, what’s the name of that toilet that shoots water up your ass?” (Alright, so a biday isn’t really a toilet, but we didn’t know that then.) So we thought who can we call at two in the morning. So I picked up the phone and dialed the tips line at one of the local television stations and got a recording of anchorman Dick Wood asking me to leave a message. Next was a local radio station. “K-103, what’s your request?” “Well, there’s really no music I want to hear, but what’s the name of that toilet that shoots water up your ass?” The overnight D.J. didn’t know.
So I asked aloud, “Who else can we call this late at night?” And, in unison, we all screamed “Denny’s!”
“Denny’s, assistant manager Bob speaking.” “Hi assistant manager Bob, I was just wondering if you know the name of that toilet that shoots water up your ass?” “What?” and after regaining his composure he replied, “A biday.” And we all yelled “Yes!” and then, “We’re going to Denny’s!” So we all piled in Judy’s ’71 Cutlass, met assistant manager Bob and thanked him.
That Monday, a care package filled with food arrived from my parents, provisions for the poor M.A. student. In it was the biggest box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes I’d ever seen, and on the outside it promised to contain a 3-D legend of baseball card. The legend I got was Boog Powell, a portly man with great homerun power who played first base for the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the sixties and seventies. The card, though, just listed his name as Boog, in quotation marks. With the same three gathered in my apartment, a new quest had begun, “What was Boog Powell’s real name?”
I dialed the Corn Flakes hotline number. “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, may I help you?” “Ma’am, my Corn Flakes are fine, but I just received a 3-D baseball card inside my cereal box and was wondering, what’s Boog Powell’s real name?” “Hold on a minute, I’ll check.” So I hear her rifling through papers for a minute or two and then she returns to the phone. “I’m sorry, all of my literature says Boog on it.”
That night, I told this story to my then-best friend Rod who I had been planning on starting a press with and when I was finished with the telling, he said, “That’s it, we’re BOOG Literature.”
A coupla days later I found out Boog Powell’s real name was John Wesley Powell, and was named after the gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, who was named after the central figure in the Methodist movement John Wesley, and that Powell’s dad had called him the little booger as a boy.

Filed under: Errata

About the Author

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Joe Hall is the author of five books of poetry, including Someone's Utopia (2018) and Fugue & Strike (forthcoming). His poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Postcolonial Studies, Peach Mag,, PEN America Blog, Poetry Northwest, Ethel Zine, Gulf Coast, Best Buds! Collective, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.

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