From Nancy Friedman on her Fritinancy site (“Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce”) on 4/25, “Word of the week: Bookchella”:

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, first held in 1996, returned to the USC campus last weekend after a two-year Covid hiatus. Because April 22 through 24 was also the final weekend of this year’s Coachella Music Festival, held 130 miles away in Southern California’s Colorado Desert, someone — maybe the person in charge of the Times’s Twitter feed — decided it would be cute to call the literary festival #Bookchella.

And just like that, –chella became the new –stock: a portable suffix denoting “festival.”

Except it wasn’t exactly “just like that.” And watch your back, LATFOB: the music festival in the desert has a history of refusing to give up its –chella without a legal fight.

Some linguistic background first. The –chella in #Bookchella operates as a “libfix” (liberated affix), as the linguist Arnold Zwicky dubbed such word parts, which are also known as productive bound morphemes. Tack –chella onto the end of another word and you communicate “festival.” For decades now, –stock, clipped from Woodstock, has played a similar role. (Read my 2013 article about “X-stock.”) Other well-known libfixes include –gate for any scandal and –preneur for any independent businessperson. (More libfixes here; read my 2014 article about –preneur compounds here.)

productive bound morpheme really had no future, despite the informativeness of the label; it’s way too clunky to be memorable. A cute, short, novel, and therefore highly memorable name is what was called for. I supplied libfix, and achieved a very small moment of fame for that. (I note that the fact that Nancy felt it necessary to reproduce a bit of the intellectual history here is an indicator that libfix still functions as a “new word” for her readers, hasn’t yet gained currency as just another word in English for talking about the phenomena of language. The next stage would be to use it in quotation marks, as Nancy does above (to indicate that it’s familiar but not yet a commonplace), but without explanation or the collegial citation of me.)

Usually, faced with the report of a libfix that’s entertaining and also new to me (but remember that I’m hardly au courant), I’d just paraphrase the source. But Nancy’s something special: her writing is sharp, funny, and also personal, in that she reveals a bit of why she comes to be investigating the topic at hand (so that I don’t have to ask querulously, “Who is this person, and why are they telling me these things?”). This is good stuff, worth quoting straight.

Here’s the next bit, where Nancy begins to get into the legal weeds (a place where she has genuine expertise that I do not):

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was first held in Indio, California, in October 1999, three months after Woodstock ’99 attempted to revive the 30-year-old spirit of the legendary gathering in upstate New York. The California festival took a break in 2000 and returned annually beginning in 2001, gradually growing from a single weekend to two consecutive weekends; in 2017, 250,000 people attended. Like the Times book festival and pretty much everything else, Coachella wasn’t held in 2020 or 2021.

The music festival has registered a handful of trademarks (including for NFTs and cryptocurrency), and lately the music festival’s lawyers have been busy suing other portmanteau’d –chella entities for infringement. Back in 2018, the festival’s owner, Goldenvoice, blocked Sean Combs’s planned Combschella and Whole Foods’s Wholechella, which were unrelated to each other and to the Coachella festival.

A third section follows, in which Nancy stands knee-deep in the legal weeds. The story will undoubtedly not end there.

Bonus: local news. I think of a story about Coachella as “area news”, news about the (wider) area I live in; if I had a car and a driver’s license, Coachella’s a place I might drive to. This thought of mine is evidence that I have become truly Californian, genuinely gone from the East Coast and the Midwest (where I lived until 1981, when California became my second home, and then, later, my only home).

The fact is that Palo Alto to Coachella via I-5 (and I-10) is about 487 miles. Ok, that’s a serious drive — you wouldn’t do that to get to work or even for weekend visits to family (Arroyo Grande, where my dad and stepmother lived, is about halfway to Coachella, and I did do weekend visits there every so often) — but an entirely imaginable drive (I have friends who regularly drive back and forth between the Bay Area and LA).

Then I tried returning to my mental geography Before Palo Alto. So, Washington DC to Boston MA via I-95: about 439 miles. And a really long drive. I mean, there are five goddam states on the route between DC and MA (MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT).  And the trip is a kind of tour through American history, jam-packed with all kinds of stuff.

In contrast, I-5 in California brings you the occasional stinking giant feedlot, a lot of agriculture, and some picturesque mountain and desert scenery, coming close to Fresno and Bakersfield, until you actually drive into LA, and need to switch to I-10 to drive past Palm Desert to Coachella. The drive is a bit wearisome, partly because of all that sameness, but it’s still hard for me to appreciate that it’s like 50 miles longer than the (challenging) drive from Washington to Boston. For Washington to Boston, you take a train, or of course a plane.

A very long time ago, my dad reported that he and my stepmother were taking a winter vacation in Hawaii to escape the cold of the central California coast; I didn’t tell him that I thought this was genuinely funny (after I bit, I started considering Christmas in Hawaii myself). On an even earlier occasion, while I was visiting him, Dad referred to steaks from Colorado as Eastern beef; that was when I understood he had shifted coasts mentally as well as physically.

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