Noted in a Russell Baker column from 1965:

"Observer: America's New Class System"
New York Times, Apr. 11, 1965, p. E14
Your teen-age daughter asks what you think of her "shades," which you are canny enough to know are her sunglasses, and you say, "Cool," and she says, "Oh, Dad, what a spaz!" (Translation: "You're strictly from 23-skidoo.")

This is of interest for those familiar with the Areffian history of "cool" (1), wherein 1965 represents something of a nadir. Baker's daughter (we assume it's his daughter, despite the second-person narrative) clearly thinks that Dad is uncool for using the word "cool". It would be a decade before "cool" was cool again.

The other notable usage in the above quote is "spaz". The OED has another 1965 cite for "spaz" from movie critic Pauline Kael:

1965 P. KAEL I lost it at Movies III. 259 The term that Americanteen-agers now use as the opposite of 'tough' is 'spaz'. A spaz is a person who is courteous to teachers, plans for a career..and believes in official values. A spaz is something like what adults still call a square.

Pre-1965 examples of "spaz" are difficult to find in print (though the new OED draft entry for the verb "spaz" includes an example from 1957). Like the longer form "spastic", it was (and is) considered to be an offensive epithet. As Robert Burchfield noted in the OED2 entry for "spastic" (meaning "one who is uncoordinated or incompetent; a fool"), "it is generally condemned as a tasteless expression, and is not common in print." But once "spaz" developed into the 'uncool' sense as above, it was apparently distant enough from "spastic" to make it into print.

The earliest public attestation I know of for the 'uncoordinated' sense of "spaz" is the undeniably tasteless garage-rock single "Spazz" by the Elastik Band (Atco #6537, Nov. 1967), included in the box set Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 (2). The catchy refrain goes, "I said, get offa the floor, get offa the floor, boy, people gonna think, yes they're gonna think, people gonna think you're a spazz." (This is also the earliest example I know of for the double-z spelling of "spazz".)
(1) See helpful graph here:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.usage.english/msg/3f06c74c4c3ef4e3?dmode=source (2) The single is described here:
1 2 3 4
This is of interest for those familiar with the Areffian history of "cool" (1), wherein 1965 represents something of a ... thinks that Dad is uncool for using the word "cool". It would be a decade before "cool" was cool again.

Well, more precisely, it would be about two decades before "cool" was cool again. The beginnings of the revival of "cool" can be seen in events that took place during 1974 and 1975 (principally having to do with the new sitcom Happy Days ). Sometimes it takes ten years for a revival to hit its stride.
The other notable usage in the above quote is "spaz". The OED has another 1965 cite for "spaz" from movie ... gonna think you're a spazz." (This is also the earliest example I know of for the double-z spelling of "spazz".)

I haven't really heard "spaz" used the way Kael defines it. "Spaz" was more like a synonym for "nerd" or "geek" or "dweeb" not quite the same thing as 'square'.
Another thing to note is that "spaz" was given a later boost of popularity by Meatballs (Ivan Reitman, 1979), a film about a summer camp starring Bill Murray. There was a nerdlike character in that film named (= BrE 'called') Spaz (or Spazz).
There are some relevant WAV files here:
http://www.moviewavs.com/Movies/Meatballs.shtml
Noted in a Russell Baker column from 1965: "Observer: America's New Class System" New York Times, Apr. 11, 1965, ... "spaz" developed into the 'uncool' sense as above, it was apparently distant enough from "spastic" to make it into print.[/nq]Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know. "Cool" does not sound "dated" in the way that some former teen slang eventually later sounds dated to teens and young adults. Instead, it hardly sounds like slang at all, since it's now used by people of all ages in so many different contexts. "Diss" appears to be a word that is heading in this direction as well. Though, I'm unsure that any "ghetto slang" has ever gotten dated yet, unlike much of the surfer/valley girl slang of the 80's and 90's (and, who knows even it might make a comeback or eventually become fully assimilated into all msnner of American English), which is not widely used anymore by anyone.

Ghetto slang only seems to ever add new terms, without anything ever really going out of style. (Can anyone think of a counterexample? I can't at the moment.)
"Spaz" as meaning "dork" or "suck up" seems ridiculous to people my age. A "spaz" is simply a spastic person, whether the person is a clutz, absent-minded, spacey, or looney.
There's nothing gay/outdated about "cool". I'm guessing in the 60's "cool" sounded like "hip", or something...? ("Hip" is generally viewed as a very gay word.)
The only thing about the 1965 father that I don't understand is "23-skidoo"...WTF???!!
The earliest public attestation I know of for the 'uncoordinated' sense of "spaz" is the undeniably tasteless garage-rock single "Spazz" ... gonna think you're a spazz." (This is also the earliest example I know of for the double-z spelling of "spazz".)

Wait...I thought this "uncoordinated" meaning is the one that the 1965 father used, whereas his spastic, uncool daughter who thinks she's "hip" dissed him for not knowing that spaz REALLY meant suck-up??? Confused...
So, if 1967 is the first time "spaz" was used to mean spastic, what did it mean according to the 1965 father?
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Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know.

So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use (though I'm sure not an extinction).
"Cool" does not sound "dated" in the way that some former teen slang eventually later sounds dated to teens and young adults. Instead, it hardly sounds like slang at all, since it's now used by people of all ages in so many different contexts.

Right. But it wasn't always so. There was a period during which "cool" wasn't used at all (except by some folks in The Bay Area): roughly 1964-1974. What happened in 1974 was Happy Days and the introduction of the iconic character of the Fonz. This led to a retro-style revival of "cool" (mistakenly seen as 1950s slang) along with a few other words (notably "nerd" and "chick") and, arguably, the thumb's up gesture (now mainly used by politicians). It wasn't until 1982 or so that the revival of "cool" became truly noticeable.
"Diss" appears to be a word that is heading in this direction as well.

I agree. "Diss" is used by all sectors of society, it seems. I think its origins in African-American urban usage have been nearly forgotten.

Though, I'm unsure that any
"ghetto slang" has ever gotten dated yet, unlike much of the surfer/valley girl slang of the 80's and 90's (and, ... terms, without anything ever really going out of style. (Can anyone think of a counterexample? I can't at the moment.)

I can think of tons of counterexamples, such as:
fresh (early 1980s)
jive turkey (1970s) (well, if 1970s sitcoms are to be believed) honky (1970s has anyone heard that one much since then?) dyn-O-mite! (okay, just kidding about that one)
chilly (late 1970s/early 1980s my recollection is that this preceded the popularity of "chill out" and "chill" (vb. and adj.))
The only thing about the 1965 father that I don't understand is "23-skidoo"...WTF???!!

This was youth slang from Sparky's generation. You'd have to ask him I don't really understand it either.
}> Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that }> Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know. }
} So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I } think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use } (though I'm sure not an extinction).
Heck, it was popular when *I* was 11-14 or so. It was a bad time to be awkward when so many seemed cool. There may be a Jerry Lewis connection, resulting in the start of the Jerry Lewis Telethons.

ObNonSequitur: I saw Dinah Shore in a restaurant in or near Huntington sometime during that period.

R. J. Valentine
ObNonSequitur: I saw Dinah Shore in a restaurant in or near Huntington sometime during that period.

Wasn't Rey a guest on her show back in the 'Seventies? I know he was on at least one of The Mike Douglas Show and The Cavett Show . I'd pay muchos Deutsche marks to see some of that footage, but perhaps it's available at one of the broadcasting musea.
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}> ObNonSequitur: I saw Dinah Shore in a restaurant in or near Huntington }> sometime during that period.
}
} Wasn't Rey a guest on her show back in the 'Seventies? I know he was on } at least one of The Mike Douglas Show and The Cavett Show . I'd } pay muchos Deutsche marks to see some of that footage, but perhaps it's } available at one of the broadcasting musea.
You'd think he would have it on DVD on his website, which may be either http://www.maledicta.org or http://www.trulydonovan.com (or something).

R. J. Valentine
The earliest public attestation I know of for the 'uncoordinated' ... example I know of for the double-z spelling of "spazz".)

Wait...I thought this "uncoordinated" meaning is the one that the 1965 father used, whereas his spastic, uncool daughter who thinks ... 1967 is the first time "spaz" was used to mean spastic, what did it mean according to the 1965 father?

If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e., uncoordinated). But because this sense of "spaz(z)" was considered too offensive to be used in print in the '50s and early '60s, we don't yet have any documentation of its use (beyond people's memories) before that tasteless song of 1967. By that time the secondary "uncool" sense had developed as well (though this sense didn't seem to have much staying power).
There are plenty of slang terms like "spaz(z)" that existed under the radar before finally getting into mainstream print publications in the more permissive '60s. For instance, you might remember from our discussions of "gay" that the "homosexual" sense didn't start showing up in respectable print sources until c. 1963. Slangologists have to look for such terms in less-than-respectable sources (e.g., dime novels, dirty joke books, comics, and other ephemera) to get the full history. So far we don't have that kind of history for "spaz(z)".

(Say, where *is* Rey, anyway?)
Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know.

So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use (though I'm sure not an extinction).

It was popular when I was 11-14 as well, which, in accordance with the Kojac conjecture, must have been about 10 years after you were 11-14.

Or perhaps it is simply one of those things that, like certain rhymes and games, is passed down generations of school children, and don't impinge on the world of adults until they see their kids doing exactly the same thing they did at that age.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
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