fawny.org: X OS X: The first straightedge operating system

the first straightedge operating system

Why didn’t we spot this before?

Defy the official pronunciation for a second. Judge a box by its cover. It says OS Eks, not OS Ten. O and S aren’t even Roman numerals. We’re mixing our etymologies here. (“You’re meant to pronounce the X as ‘ten,’ but that sounds prissy, and calling it ‘ex’ sounds much more, well, X Files–ish and mysterious.”)

But an X suffix has another meaning, doesn’t it? Plaster Xs around any word or phrase and you make it... straightedge!

That’s right. Just as adding “salsa” can instantly make any food Tex-Mex (salsa nigiri! salsa rapini! salsa farfalle!), surrounding any kind of noun phrase with Xs gives you instant punk-subculture street cred.

What am I talking about? Well, back in the day – oh, hell, let’s just quote Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins from their Dance of Days excerpt in the February 2001 Punk Planet:

A harDCore mythology was beginning to develop, with phrases like “straightedge” intriguing – and in some cases inspiring – kids in punk scenes across the country. The scene’s most visible symbol was the X on the hand, which was included somewhere in the packaging of each Dischord release. Once a practical solution to the problem of underage shows (the DC punks had picked it up at the Teen Idles’ San Francisco show, when they had their hands marked with an X to prevent them from ordering at the bar), it was now becoming an identifying mark for a growing teenage tribe....

Minor Threat recorded its second LP, In My Eyes.... “Out of Step” was both the EP’s most influential and controversial song.

Don’t drink
Don’t smoke
Don’t fuck
At least I can fucking think

proclaimed [Ian] MacKaye. [The lyric “I’ve got the straight edge” from the song “Straight Edge” must also be considered.] Jeff Nelson didn’t like the lyrics because it seemed that MacKaye was ordering people not to drink, smoke, or fuck. That this was a personal code of conduct rather than a set of instructions was obvious to MacKaye, but not to Nelson.

Straightedgers don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. Some are also veganist (for whom I run the VsXe mailing list).

The straightedge kids, who adopt the ascetic lifestyle as a quasireligion, brand themselves with the equivalent of crucifixen by bracketing their AOL or Hatemail userIDs with Xs: XLactoseIntolerantX, XNoReallyItsOnlyOreganoX, xOrganixOnlyx. (Case varies. Use upper or lower, as you like.) The abbreviation for “straightedge” goes so far as to use X-infixation: sXe. It’s about as subtle as a turban, really. Or a blot on your forehead, as though every day were Ash Wednesday.

They’re seeking an alternative, the straightedgers. An alternative to getting drunk or stoned (or “altered”). A way to enjoy hardcore or punk for its own pleasures. An alternative to the ills of their social circle.

Now, doesn’t that sound like Macintosh to you? A perpetual quasireligious quest for a better, purer way of doing things? Enjoying a computer without intoxicants like a Registry, or illegible system fonts, or unlimited menubars?

So just consider this a subliminal suggestion, a new meme. Whenever you see “Mac OS X,” fill in the blank for Steve Jobs. Break out the Scrabble tiles and use your last X. From now on, whenever you see “Mac OS X,” think X OS X.

Mac X OS X, the straightedge operating system.

Updated 2002.05.05

You were here: fawny.org > X OS X: The first straightedge operating system

See also: Apple design faux pas