May 23, 2005

J. Orbison LeGrande III

American names fascinated me as a kid. Growing up in UnAmerica, I was always asking the grownups about them. Was there really someone called "Ephraim Zimbalist Jr."? Did Americans actually have such inherently-funny surnames as "Sporkin"? Was "McGeorge Bundy" his full name -- or was it (much more plausibly) something like "Jim McGeorge-Bundy", and everyone left his first name off because he was so important or something (could anyone possibly have "McGeorge" as a first name?). Were there really Americans blasphemous enough to name their sons "Jesus"? Why did so many American men think so highly of themselves that they named their kids after themselves (all those Juniors or Thirds, etc.)? Why did so many American male names start with an initial, like "J. Paul Getty"? Why were there so many Americans called "Earl" or "Duke" or "King" -- who were they trying to fool?! Were there really American men called "Lyn" or "Marion"? Why was "Reid" or "Reed" a first name in America?

(Later, after moving here, the questions became a little more pointed. Did any Americans actually think that "Latasha" or "DeWayne" were truly African names? (Yes, they did). Did anyone here really think that the Irish Caitlin they'd named their kid after actually pronounced it "Kate-Lyn"? (Yes, pretty much everyone did). Did anyone really believe "Colin" was pronounced "Kohlin"? (Yes, as we all discovered, they did). Did Americans really pronounce "McLaughlin" as "Mac Lofflin"? (Yes, most of them did, and they'd correct you if you used the Scottish pronunciation, even if you were talking about a Scot). Did Americans really believe that "Kevin" was pronounced "Keevin", or "Cecil" "See-sill"? (Yes, quite a few did). Did they really think that that good old English name "Burrell" was pronounced "Buh-RELL" in England? (Yes, of course they did; ditto with "Devon" (Duh-VON) and "Tyrell" (Ti-RELL)).

So years ago when it came time to adopt a new pseudonym for use in America, I wanted to find a name that would blend in or be canonical here in the same way that Jimmy Little does and is in Australia. It didn't take long: J. Orbison LeGrande III. It's got it all -- I've been using it ever since...


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