Apparently I never posted here about the Lexicon of Grunge. The short version is that in 1992, the New York Times did an article about grunge music and fashion, for which (among other things) they interviewed record-company employee Megan Jasper about what terms were in use by the grunge community. But Jasper made up a bunch of terms and phrases, and the NYT printed them.
PRI’s Studio 360 recently interviewed Jasper, who’s now CEO of Sub Pop Records, and she talks about the Lexicon incident. (The relevant bit of the 10-minute audio segment on that page doesn’t start until about four minutes in; or you can read the text article, which covers most of the relevant stuff.) One thing that I find especially interesting here is that Jasper thought the Times reporter was at some point going to realize that she was making stuff up; but from my point of view, I’m not sure why they would have figured that out. Subcultural slang often sounds ridiculous to outsiders; I don’t see a reason that the reporter should have thought swingin’ on the flippity-flop was any less plausible as slang than, say, far out or gnarly or hella.
I do think, though, that the Times perhaps ought to have done some fact-checking before publishing, just verifying with another source that the information they’d received was accurate.