Archive for October 2011

By Any Other Name Would Smell

I was in a band called ethel g. in college. I think it will explain everything when I say that it is not an accident that ethel g. appears before you in all lower case letters. And no, e.e. cummings and I were never personally acquainted. ethel g. was supposed to be early Go-Go’s meets the Bengals – Part punk (we mostly wore combat boots and short skirts) and part pop (because, you know, we weren’t very punk.)

We didn’t arrive at this band name easily. Anyone who has ever named a band knows it is not something one comes to easily unless by “easily” you mean like The Battle of Gettysburg…

First of all, most bands are comprised of more than one person. Second, naming things sucks. Ask anyone with a pet, a child, or a company. A name, after all, is a brand. It is the first clue you lay down into who you are and what you are about. If your name is “Joselin” for example, you might be a Mexican national with a bad goatee and excellent taste in music (José-lin!) or you might be a semi-self involved Brooklynite with a father who didn’t know how to spell “Jocelyn” in a pre-hand-computer world.

Taking it a step further, when you present yourself, how you do so says a lot about who you are. For example, do you refer to yourself as Jos? Joz? Jozzie? or Jossy? Did someone do a bit of British rhyming slang on you before you were old enough to fight back and saddle you with Possie or Poz? Did you have an older sister who then ran with that moniker and bastardized it into Posseruna- which evolved into Posseruna Tuna and then landed squarely at Posseruna Tuna Face for the sake of alliteration and rhythmic flow?

Don’t worry, in retaliation that sister, who had unfortunately gotten slammed with the middle name “Morris” after her great-grandfather was later tied down to Morrie Povitch, a nickname that soon lost the “Morrie,” was shortened to “Po” and then reemerged as “Pony” and finally “Pony Boy Curtis” from the Outsiders – which as a book is, let’s face it, a ripe bouillabaisse of crazy names that probably inadvertently lead to Soda Pop’s career as a gas station attendant as well as to Dally getting shot by the cops.

But I digress. How we name things in this big media-frenzied world is a big deal. ethel g. never became the early-Go-Go’s-meets-the-Bengals of our dreams, but that’s because we had a guy in the band. No, ethel g. probably never would have become either of those two bands more likely because we didn’t write Eternal Flame and get a guest spot on the Gilmore Girls- a show about a hot, young mom who names her daughter after herself. (There will be a blog post about this at some point. Just you wait!)

And who out of all of us didn’t at some point curse our parents for the name they hoisted upon us for life?

“I am so not a Brenda,” we thought in 7th grade.

“But I don’t look like a Bruno!” we lamented on the morning of our high school graduation when our acne had finally cleared up and we were enjoying that calm-skin period between adolescent and adult acne. (I know. I didn’t get that reprieve either, but someone named Bruno did!)

The thing about names is that we all have one and we’ve all had them for a very long time. It’s human. Noah and the Ark, people? That’s a really old story. Old Yeller? You see my point?

We get a pet, we name it. We get a doll, we name it. We get a pimple, we name it. And when we begin to consider how it will effect that pet, dog, or pimple down the road, what we are really doing is considering how that name, and the fact that we chose it, will effect us. It’s a big deal, naming things. And that is why I give you this – my blog about naming things.

I called it, “By Any Other Name Would Smell,” and if you follow my blog, next time I will tell you why.