Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Middle (Named) Child

There is an old, American, popular music tune about a character called Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown.  That name alone should tell you a couple of things about this song.  It was popular in the early part of the 20th century when records were of the 78 rpm variety and the music industry was new.  It was a time of elaborate vaudeville-type recordings and a time when racism was about as overt as it could be.
"Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown, whatcha gonna do when the rent comes round..."
This genre was dubbed the "Coon song"  for obvious reasons.  Collectors of Black Americana today have assembled a variety of this type of sheet music as well.  It's always shocking, always disturbing, often accompanied with graphics that are too.  When we look at the dates, it's not all that long ago, is it?
The Jim Crow Museum uses this type of artifact to educate and remind us about this difficult time in our history.  True, the stuff continues today in more subtle, if not sophisticated forms.
Save that for another time. (See next post above to listen to the original 1903 recording)

I got to thinking about people with more than one name.  Seems like one name is all the rage today.  Rhianna, Pharrell, Madonna, Usher, Seal.....
But what about people with three or more names?  Will that be next?
I have some Latino friends with multiple names.  Of course the mother's maiden name is often incorporated into these lengthy monikers.  When both the mother and father have the same name (i.e.Gonzalez) it makes for an interesting repetition.  Jose Luis Martinez Gonzalez Gonzalez.
Some folks agonize over what middle name to give their children.  They try to honor a grandfather or great grandmother, or aunt, uncle or sibling.  Given most of them will never have enough children to cover everyone, I say give your kids as many as five middle names.  They can then choose which they want to use or change them up just to be different.
I always thought if I had a son, I'd name him Ben after a grandfather I never met.  I can throw in Joseph for my other grandfather and perhaps Woody, Willie, Patchen, Rilke, Casy,(Preacher) Paul, (Klee) and Sonny Boy (Williamson)
Say hello to Joe Ben Woody Paul Willie Casy Greene.

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