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Mojo, jones

Posted by ESC on February 09, 2004

In Reply to: "Serious Jones" posted by Henry on February 09, 2004

: : : Can anyone advise me on the provenance of either of these phrases? "Mojo" may require a capital letter.

: :, October 31, 2003 Posted: 1:56 PM EST (1856 GMT)
: : Rumsfeld: Beauty in the eye of the beholder
: : FACT BOX mojo n. [[prob. of Creole orig.; cf. Gullah moco, witchcraft]]
: : 1 a charm or amulet thought to have magic powers 2 [Slang] power, luck, etc., as of magical or supernatural origin Source: Webster's Dictionary

: : WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he does not know whether or not he has lost his mojo, as a leading news magazine suggested, largely because he doesn't really know what mojo is. Rumsfeld added, "And I guess the answer is that beauty's in the eye of the beholder. I don't know enough about mojo to know."

: : Mojo has most recently come into popular culture in connection with the "Austin Powers" movies, starring Mike Myers, in which mojo was portrayed as the secret behind the title character's libido. At one point, Myers complains, "Crikey, I've lost my mojo!" Legendary blues singer Muddy Waters also famously sang in the 1960's, "I got my mojo working, but it just won't work on you."

: Q: East Third Street becomes Great Jones Street between Broadway and the Bowery. Who was Jones and what was so great about him?
: A. Jones is Samuel Jones, a lawyer sometimes called Father of the New York Bar. He owned the land on which Great Jones Street now runs and bequeathed the property to the city with the caveat that any street that ran through the land be named for him.

: In 1789 a street was opened there, but New York already had a Jones Street in Greenwich Village. So the new street was named Great Jones Street because it was wider than the norm. In his desire to be remembered, Jones may have linked himself with a different aspect of the city's culture. The slang term "jones," meaning an addiction to drugs, is said to have originated among addicts who lived in Great Jones Alley, off Great Jones Street, between Broadway and Lafayette Street. (extract from the "New York Times" site, article by Ed Boland, Jr)

MOJO - "Originally a magical charm. By extension, a source of personal magic that one can tap into, enabling you to work magic on something or to put somebody under your spell. 'You got yo mojo workin, but it ain gon work on me!' Derived from moco'o, literally, 'medicine man,' in the Fula language of West Africa." From "Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Amen Corner" by Geneva Smitherman. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994) A more extensive discussion of root doctors and mojos is in "Blue Roots: African Folk Magic of the Gullah People" a book about a group of people South Carolina by Roger Pinckney. (Llewllyn Publications, 1998). "The root doctor probably got his name fro the herbal origins of his practice.But 'the root" may not contain any herbs at all. The root is a charm, a jomo, a gris-gris, a hand, meant to be carried, worn, chewed, or buried, depending on its use and intent."

JONES - "One of the most common surnames in American English, Jones, has in its spare time developed two drug-related slang meanings. In 1962, David Maurer picked up 'jones' meaning a drug habit.Three years later, Claude Brown in 'Manchild in the Promised Land' used 'jones' in a slightly different sense, as a collective noun describing the horrible symptoms associated with withdrawal from heroin addiction.Jones first appeared in black English.Jones as personified here is clearly not a friend; pure speculation and conjecture suggest that Mr. Jones somewhere became the moral equivalent of 'The Man,' and that drug addiction was seen as an oppression roughly equivalent to blatant racial oppression." "Jones" acquired a new meaning first recorded in 1970 by Jonathan Lighter and found in the November 1973 'Ms.' magazine article about singer Janis Joplin. David Gertz and Susan Lydon "wrote that Joplin had 'a Jones for love and reinforcement as strong as her physical craving for smack.'" Popular culture historian John Pontell "uncovered 16 songs with the titles 'Love Jones' in the 1970s and 1980s." From the "The Slang of Sin" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Mass., 1998).