Would Be An Honor
by Mad Dog
If Chicago can
name streets for Mike Ditka, Michael Jordan, and Gene Siskel, why
not for the man who did more for flesh-colored airbrush paint than
anyone in history?
Having something named after you is a sure sign that youíve
made your mark. Look at Thomas Crapper, who invented the flushing
toilet. And Samuel Morse, who had a code named after him. Alexander
Graham Bell was so honored he had a huge telephone company
preserving his name, at least until the government broke it into a
bunch of little companies with names like Bell Atlantic, Pacific
Bell, and Nynex, the latter not being named for Alex but rather the
Greek god of busy signals.
There are many ways to
honor people. Some have airports named after them, like Ronald
Reagan. Unfortunately no one told the people of Washington, D.C. who
still call it National Airport. Others have sandwiches named in
their honor, though thatís mostly a New York thing where delis add
pastrami and cole slaw to whatever else they find in the back of the
refrigerator that doesnít have green stuff growing on it, naming
the concoction after a dead Jewish comedian. Still others have
streets named after them. This is very common, so much so that
thereís hardly a city in the country with a stoplight that
doesnít have a Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Now Hugh Hefner is joining
these ranks. In one city anyway. Chicago, the home of the Playboy
empire, has decided to make the site of the first Playboy Club at
Michigan Avenue and Walton Street ďHugh Hefner WayĒ. And why
not? If they can name streets for Mike Ditka, Michael Jordan, and
Gene Siskel, why not for the man who did more for flesh-colored
airbrush paint than anyone in history?
that Roy Rogers had stuffed and mounted Trigger. Hopefully in that
order. It turns out to be true.
Meanwhile in San Francisco thereís a battle going on over
how to honor Joe DiMaggio, the ball player who grew up in the North
Beach section of the city. Some people think naming a street after
him is the way to go. Others argue that Mr. Coffee Lane just
doesnít do him justice. Thatís why the city is naming a
playground near DiMaggioís old neighborhood in his honor.
Unfortunately Morris Engleberg, DiMaggioís attorney and executor,
has threatened to sue if they do. He claims itís demeaning to his
former client and that nothing short of the airport, the Bay Bridge,
or the city will do.
Most people donít have
any say in whatís named after them. Hefner might have, DiMaggio
definitely doesnít. Presidents, on the other hand, spend the
second half of their term defending themselves in court. I mean,
arranging to have a library built in their honor. They carefully
preserve documents, catalog mementos, and ask independent
prosecutors to return cigar wrappers so they can be put on display
for future generations to study and admire.
Presidents arenít the
only ones who build their own museums. Roy Rogers did it too. Not
long ago I stopped by his museum in Victorville, California, not
because Iím a big fan but rather because Iíd heard that Roy had
stuffed and mounted Trigger. Hopefully in that order. It turns out
to be true. Trigger is there, rearing up on his hind legs, right
next to Daleís horse Buttermilk and Bullet the Wonder Dog who
Iíd never even heard of. I was disappointed that Roy wasnít on
display too, since a few years back he was quoted in a Virginia
newspaper as saying ďWhen I die I hope they skin me out and put me
up on Trigger.Ē Iím not sure who the executor of his will was,
but if you ask me they should be fired and replaced by DiMaggioís.
While most businesses give retirees a watch after
thirty-five years of service, the United States Senate gives out
While virtually anything can be named in someoneís honor, itís
not often that itís a balcony. In Washington, DC, home of
monuments, memorials, and an airport named after Don National, one
of the lesser known tourist attractions is the Robert J. Dole
Balcony. If you missed it on your last trip itís probably because
it didnít exist until about five years ago. The balcony existed,
it just wasnít a national treasure yet.
It came into being when Dole resigned from the Senate so he
could concentrate on annoying the Democrats, or as he called it, run
for president. His congressional colleagues knew they had to honor
him since he was the longest running Senate Republican leader in history who
up behind bars. Maybe the only one.
While most businesses give
retirees a watch after thirty-five years of service, the United
States Senate gives out balconies. As retirement honors go, this
isnít much. It doesnít tell time, you canít use it to
hypnotize anyone, and worst of all, itís too big to wear on your
wrist. On the up side, itís easy for tourists to find since itís
near the Howard Baker Suites and down the hall from the Albert Gore
Buddhist Temple Night Depository.
Most people are lucky to
have anything named after them. Others are happy theyíre dead so
they donít have to see what their name is being slapped on. But
for my money the epitaphial jackpot may just to go to German
inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin, a man who will be remembered in
memoriam as the namesake for both a dirigible and
a rock band that wonít go away despite having self-destructed
twenty years ago and being grossly overplayed ever since. Take that,
©2000 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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