The word furthermucker goes at least as far back as 1958, when Black Beat poet Ted Joans stuck the word into his third book of poetry, 1959’s All of Ted Joans and No More. I don’t have the book handy (neither does the all-powerful Internets), but a ’58 piece of Joans prose called “The Potential Futher Mucker” included in that book is the culprit. Futher mucker, furthermucker, it’s all the same.
What will it mean around these parts? Glad you asked. As a supporter, you’re entitled.
furthermucker Pronunciation: /‘fəːðəmʌkə/
1. a rough or coarse person who innovates or goes further beyond commonly accepted boundaries
2. a person who pushes the envelope or thinks outside the box in deciding or influencing what is or will become fashionable
3. a flâneur
Yeah, okay, it’s also a sly inversion of motherfu**er (duh). (That’s “spoonerism,” playing on words by switching around the consonants and vowels). But let’s dig deeper.
I first came across the word from my cultural critic Greg Tate, author of Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience. His 1982 “Hardcore of Darkness” essay talked up how surprised he was that his brother loved a new dredlocked punk band called Bad Brains: “goddamn, these furthermuckers must not be bullshi**ing,” he wrote. Later that year, in “Beyond the Zone of the Zero Funkativity,” Tate mentioned that George Clinton’s Computer Games (the album with “Atomic Dog”) was “one signifying furthermucker 20 times over.”
I was 11 then. But I came across all that a decade later, when Simon & Schuster released Flyboy in the Buttermilk, Tate’s outstanding essay collection. Get you some Greg Tate if you haven’t already. According to James Sheidlower’s The F Word, “futher-mucker” appeared in both Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words (1972) and in the dialogue of author Charles Durden’s 1976 Vietnam War novel, No Bugles, No Drums (“Thanks, futhermucker.”)
For me, furthermuckers muck further. It’s folks who stretch the envelope, who think outside the box, who go beyond the pale. Flâneurs… that is to say, creative wanderers, and sure, cultural world travelers. (Cats in that state of mind rarely stay in one place.) Here at EBONY.com, Furthermucker will be all about furthermuckers of all stripes.
Who’s your favorite furthermucker? I got tons, it’s practically all I’m into: Miles Davis, M.I.A., Tricky, Janelle Monáe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Santigold, Kanye West, Octavia Butler, Prince, Nina Simone, Wangechi Mutu, Saul Williams, Kara Walker, The Roots, Betty Davis, the Black Rock Coalition, the Afro-Punk movement, etc., etc., etc.
Miles Marshall Lewis is the Arts & Culture Editor of EBONY.com. He’s also the Harlem-based author of Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don’t Have Bruises, There’s a Riot Goin’ On and Irrésistible. Follow MML on Twitter at @furthermucker, and visit his personal blog, Furthermucker.
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