Archive for the ‘Name’ Category

Service of Name Changes, Deliberate & Not

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Photo: yelp.com

A recent weekly conference call began with many admitting that they were often called by other names, Roberta for Ramona; Maxine for Francine and for me, a mispronunciation: Gee-Anne for gene. I’ve previously written that some call my husband Homer, Horace.

But some change their names on purpose–my aunt, for example. She had been known as Lili until she was in her 70s when out of the blue she insisted on Elisabeth, also a nice name, but hard for friends and family to get used to. I never learned why the change.

Photo: poshmark.com

Maybe the itch has grown up as 70 seems to be the magic number. Coach, at 76, is Tapestry now. Execs at the company that began as a high end handbag manufacturer [vintage bag at right] said it wanted to change its corporate image to reflect the luxury brands it had acquired–Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade.

According to a Reuters feature I read in the New York Post, Coach chief exec Victor Luis responded to criticism of the change and choice of name on social media by saying: “At the end of the day some of the social media reaction is misplaced because people think we are changing the name of the Coach brand, which we are not doing. It’s really about creating a new corporate identity for Coach as a house of brands.”

The Reuters article continued: “Coach, however, lost some shine in recent years in part due to the financial recession and increased online shopping. The company is trying to regain its former glory by buying new brands, keeping a tight lid on discounting and pulling back from department stores.”

As for that tight lid on discounters, I just bought a classic pair of Coach-brand loafers at T.J. Maxx at a very comfortable price.

I kept thinking of the $millions spent over decades to make the Coach brand familiar and admired by many. It, Spade and Weitzman will still appear on shoes and fashion as Tapestry is the corporate umbrella. Wise minds in the C-suite had clearly lost faith in the power of the Coach name. Some reporters covering the Coach story reminded their audiences that Google’s new corporate name is Alphabet. Have you heard anyone call it that?

Photo: youtube

Reminds me of some of the bridges around NYC—I think “59th Street” and “Triborough” not “Koch” or “Kennedy.” I adapted well to the Met Life Building taking over for what once was the Pan Am building, no doubt because of the Met Life’s Snoopy dog connection. [That they deep sixed the spokesdog is another matter.] Met Life no longer owns the building but is a major tenant so its name remains.

What do you do when people call you by the wrong name? Do you know adults who have changed their names [and I don’t mean through marriage]. Do you think a venerable name in fashion should change its corporate name—does it show lack of faith in the brand—or that it doesn’t matter as the public’s memory is short? How long will it take for New Yorkers to remember the changed names of buildings and bridges?

Photo: stuartweitzman.com

Service of Discomfort to Correct a Situation or Person

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

In a recent “Social Q’s” column in the Sunday Style section of The New York Times, reader D.H. shared a problem with Philip Galanes: She’d given a longtime manicurist a $50 instead of a $20 by mistake. She didn’t “want her to think I want the money back,” D.H. wrote, “But I also don’t want her to think the huge tips will continue (almost twice the cost of the manicure). What should I do?”

Galanes’ advice was sage: “Say: ‘Doris, I realize I gave you a $50 tip last time. I hadn’t intended to, but I’m delighted I did in light of your many years of excellent manicures.’ Otherwise, you will be on pins and needles every time you get your nails done, afraid that your ordinary (but still generous) tip is signifying some unspoken complaint.”

I agree.

This situation is a first cousin to someone calling you by the wrong name and how the situation exacerbates when you let the misnomer continue especially if they introduce you to others. I’ve heard it happen quite often to my husband Homer. Some people call him Horace. And although I don’t recall what name folks have given me, the discomfort in correcting them when what they’ve said is nowhere near Jeanne makes me squirm the longer I let it go.

I find it hard to speak up even when I know that not doing so will make things worse in future. Does correcting people under these circumstances bother you? It’s not like advising a client, which I don’t find nearly as hard to do. How do you push yourself to do the smart thing?

Service of Nameless Friends

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Craft Santa 2016 turned

I love traditions and one I’ve kept for 15+ years is to visit the Dutchess Community College Foundation annual craft fair in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Thanksgiving weekend. I arrive by 9:45, after a stop for coffee and munchkins at Dunkin’ Donuts, to get a good parking spot—it starts at 10—and to stand at the door when it opens to be among the first at an exhibitor’s booth. Stephanie Stillwell has a fan club and sells out of her best pieces early. [See an example in the photo above.]

A mother with grown daughters—also Stillwell fans—usually wait with me. We recognized each other the second year and enjoyed chatting ever since.

Last year they weren’t there.

Stephanie told me that one of the daughters, [in her 50s], had suddenly died and that the family was having Thanksgiving out of town. She promised to send me contact information so I could offer my condolences—I don’t know their names or where in Dutchess County they live.

Again this year they weren’t at the entrance so I rushed to Stephanie’s booth with others. The first thing Stephanie said, even before saying “hello,” was that she couldn’t find the mother’s address and apologized for not getting back. I started to pick some wonderful quirky gifts when the mother appeared. We hugged for a long time and spoke for a short time. She said she was OK.I still don’t know their names.

When I was a kid, my mother said “hello” to countless people on the street and in the grocery store in our Manhattan neighborhood. She was better than I at names but often she’d respond, when I’d ask, that the person she’d greeted was Miss O’Reilly’s friend or someone she saw repeatedly at Mr. DiMaggio’s deli and that she didn’t know their name.

Are there people whose paths you cross of whom you’ve grown fond and/or are happy to see whose names you don’t know?

Nameless

 

Service of Nicknames

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Nickname

My friend Helen is known as Auntie Mame or Mame by a swath of her family, for the character Patrick Dennis created in a play and movie about an independent woman. My husband, whose full name ends in III, was known by his family as “Terzo, third in Italian. He was born in Naples.

My father got a kick out of gangster names, especially Greasy Thumb Guzik [photo right]. Then there are famous criminals like the Boston Strangler, Teflon Don or Birdman of Alcatraz. In show business there was ‘Ol Blue Greasy Thumb GuzikEyes—Frank Sinatra and Satchmo, Louis Armstrong [photo below, center].

Americans tend to shorten names [which I don’t consider is quite the same as a nickname]. They think it’s friendly. A friend who once told me he preferred “Robert” was called Bob by most. Another friend, Nancy, used “Nan” in her email address so many call her Nan, not her favorite.

I’m known as JM by much of my family. I suspect someone on the American side started it when I was small as Jeanne-Marie was too long and difficult to enunciate, especially in a world in which “Mary,” “Jane,” and “Polly” resonated. In addition, my parents intended folks to pronounce the first word like jahnne, not gene. It must have seemed unnatural. Eventually the French side of the family picked up the initials.

We still shorten names a lot, but I don’t think we use nicknames as much. Would you agree? Is it because we’re not creative, that nicknames tend not to be PC, or that they are simply out of vogue? Do you have favorite nicknames?

 louis armstrong

Service of What’s in a Name

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Hello my name is

You may have read that a state judge ruled that Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks could not change or alter its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. The 1,000 student private college hoped to overturn a 1937 bequest by the son of Paul Smith which stipulated that the college would “be ever known” as Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences. Mrs. Weill, the wife of financier Sanford Weill, was planning to pledge $20 million to secure the name change. She knew about the college because she’d owned a home nearby. 

Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences

Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences

“While the college has argued that the stipulation ‘nearly fatally impedes the ability of Paul Smith’s to seek large gifts from a single donor in order to make the investments it needs to remain viable,’ Judge John T. Ellis of State Supreme Court in Franklin County ruled that Weill’s pledge did not give the college license to violate the provision in its founder’s will enshrining his father’s name on the college in perpetuity,” according to Philanthropy News Digest.

“Disputes over naming rights have become more common in recent years and include the transformation of Avery Fisher Hall in New York City into David Geffen Hall and the renaming of the Miami Art Museum as the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade. ‘This decision is a big, big deal,’ said Doug White, an adviser to philanthropists and nonprofits who teaches at Columbia University. ‘It’ll help define what the court system thinks of the idea of changing the name of an organization like this.'” 

Maimonides

Maimonides

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, this year only nine of the top 100 gifts from Americans have been anonymous so Mrs. Weill is in good company. Anonymity, wrote Lorne Manly in “Privacy Matters” in The New York Times, is the choice of those who don’t want to be bothered by others looking for support, don’t like publicity or who believe, as did Maimonides, that such obscurity is a good thing–sixth in the eight levels of giving.

I wrote in an earlier post that promoting a high profile person who gives a large donation helps draw in additional money far better these days than a heart-wrenching story. For this reason, do you believe that the law should be changed to help a small institution like Paul Smith’s modify its name? If your college had a new name, would you care? Is holding to some 78 year old bequest ridiculous? If you were Mrs. Weill would you give the money even if the college can’t modify its name?

Changes coming

Service of What Doesn’t Have to Be

Monday, January 6th, 2014

slipping on ice

Walking around Manhattan a day after last week’s snowstorm some sidewalks were so clean they could have been in Arizona and others slippery and treacherous; some crosswalks had six to eight inches of ice water and slush that stretched into the street more than a healthy leap, [with slick pavement ahead], and others are merely moist.

There was no reason or consistency for the inconsistency, but the danger doesn’t have to be. Which got me thinking of similar instances.

Observant Waiters

waiter in dinerMy nephew eats out a lot. He’s easy-going, a generous tipper and he remembers names of restaurant owners and wait staff and they know his. 

However, when a waiter tries to take away his plate too soon–or that of his guest–his teeth grind. When he asks the waiter to leave the plate alone it’s obvious that he’s aggravated.

Waiting until everyone is finished before clearing may not be the kind of etiquette taught at a neighborhood diner, but pleasing a regular should be tops on the lesson plan. Watching the reaction of diners is an efficient training tool so customers need not be irritated.

Take Back that Name

Cook your ass offDan Barry wrote a very funny “Loose Ends” column, “One Cooking Show You Shouldn’t Try at Home,” in The New York Times. The name of the new show that gave Barry a chance to share a bunch of guffaws: “Cook Your Ass Off.”

Wrote Barry: “Now, to be clear, we are not talking about one of those community-access channels featuring an endless scroll of the local senior center’s lunch menu, or a man interviewing himself in his paneled basement.” The show is on HLN which is part of Turner Broadcasting Systems’ Cable News Network.

Turner’s spokeswoman told Barry “It is really supposed to be a playful, entertaining spin on the cooking competition concept…It’s a little tongue-in-cheek.”

I think it’s sophomoric and the result of lazy writers.

Cop Traffic

traffic jamI was caught on a NYC Third Avenue bus in tremendous traffic on a Thursday afternoon during the Christmas rush lugging very heavy packages. A 10 minute ride took over an hour as the bus cooled its heels, along with hundreds of cars and taxis, near no handy subway stop.

Anyone who has been to the city at Christmastime is thinking, “So???? What’s so surprising?” This traffic jam should not have happened. It occurred because people from all lanes on the wide avenue were turning right onto 34th Street and the traffic policeman at the cross-section seemed oblivious to his job—to control the flow. An illegally parked car on the avenue right in front of him added bottleneck to the paralysis.

There are so many things that don’t have to be. Can you add some?

Plus sign

Service of Unintended Consequences II

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Unintended consequences

Let’s Face it

Facebook sent printed invitations to media, delivered by messenger, for a product launch. Hmmmm. Is social media already passé?

Fertilize New York

CompostWe learn on wnyc.org: “Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed expanding a successful pilot program recycling food scraps to more single-family homes, high rise buildings and schools. Within three years, the Bloomberg Administration says, the hope is that recycling food scraps will be mandatory and as much of a routine as recycling glass, metal and plastic.”

While I love the concept of a food scrap composting initiative, I think the Mayor needs to first address the way city food is sold and the space constraints of millions of residents. We buy much of our meat, fish, fruit and vegetables packaged on Styrofoam trays covered in plastic wrap so off the bat we need two kitchen trash receptacles.

New Yorkers’ microscopic kitchens—especially those in Manhattan–are the brunt of jokes and jibes. In mine there’s barely room for one tiny garbage can which works as we put out garbage daily in the morning and it’s picked up in front of the door. We keep empty bottles on a counter and put them out for pickup separately. A second can to capture just food scraps will be a challenge for space. Devoting more countertop to hold garbage is more than unsightly, it’s a health hazard and potential rodent attractant.

In giant apartment houses with hundreds of tenants, renters send garbage to the basement via a shoot. Color coded bags–blue for compost, white for paper, green for bottles, pink for plastic and yellow for other garbage–would solve the one-shoot-in-tall-buildings issue if tenants could be bothered to buy them, keep them straight and comply.

Only in New York

Bike sharingSome New Yorkers are using the bike sharing Citibikes for exercise in the fresh air. Seems they pedal in place without anyone having to slip in a credit card or join the rental system. That’s a New York kind of moxy that makes me smile.

What’s in a Name?

The “Borghese v Borghese: Battle for a Royal Name” story in The New York Times seemed different from the usual intellectual property fights. In her article Christine Haughney cited a law professor who mentioned examples that I thought only underscored the dissimilarity. One was Chick-fil-A, known for the slogan “Eat More Chicken,” that sued a folk artist who tried to trademark “Eat More Kale.” 

Princess Marcella Borghese. Photo: Wikipedia

Princess Marcella Borghese. Photo: Wikipedia

While I think that example is a stretch, an even bigger one is to ask a family to drop its name and heritage.

Revlon bought the Borghese cosmetics brand, according to Haughney, along with “the words and phrases BORGHESE, MARCELLA BORGHESE and PRINCESS MARCELLA BORGHESE” and subsequently sold the Borghese Company, now in private hands.

The first problem occurred as a result of a press release about one of Princess Marcella Borghese’s grandchildren. He was to appear in a TV program. His grandmother was mentioned as well as the fact that she “started the famed self-named cosmetics line, Borghese Inc.” The grandchild was warned against “causing any false impression in the marketplace that there is a connection or relationship between yourself and Borghese Inc. and our cosmetics products.” The next hiccup between the Princess’s descendants and the company came when the grandson applied for a trademark for pet shampoo and conditioner—La Dolce Vita by Prince Lorenzo Borghese–to be sold by PetSmart. The Company sued.

Am I reading too much into the symbolism of a social media giant choosing a traditional form of communication? Should tiny NYC kitchens and the way food is sold and tossed in giant apartment buildings stall a compost program? Do you know of other typical out-of-the-box takes on services like NYC bikers using parked vehicles for exercise? Should a family member be forbidden to sell his/her name and others prohibited to use that last name in business forever?

Tiny nyc kitchen

Service of a Name

Monday, July 9th, 2012

name-badge

If I bought Bloomingdale’s or Macys, would I change the name to B’s or M’s or at all?

I have trouble remembering the name of NYC bridges when the city fathers and mothers name them after somebody instead of leaving them as I’ve known them–Triboro now Robert F. Kennedy; 59th Street now Ed Koch. The same with buildings: I still think “Pan Am” when others mention MetLife.

wall-street-journal-logo1So I stopped to write this post when I learned that Rupert Mudoch is considering changing the name of The Wall Street Journal to WSJ. Is he that enamoured of Tweets?

I know about shortening names. Much of my American family called me JM and then many on the French side did and in first grade, I chose Jeannie instead of Jeanne-Marie because I hated being called “Gee-Anne Mary.” The mouthful, pronounced correctly or not, was so much longer than anyone else’s name. But I wasn’t a brand with an internationally recognizable logo.

pollingIn The New York Times’ “Behind the Scenes, Behind the Lines” column, Christine Haughney wrote “Murdoch Isn’t the First to Consider Renaming The Wall Street Journal.” The history, according to Haughney: “In 1946, a Princeton, N.J., polling firm concluded that that name was a handicap to the newspaper’s growth, and no part of the name was spared. As recounted by Richard F. Tofel in ‘Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,’ ‘Both ‘Wall Street’ (with its narrowly financial and Eastern connotations) and ‘Journal’ (evocative of magazines) were said to be problematic.'”

She continued: “This assessment came as Mr. Kilgore was in the midst of guiding The Journal to its stature as one of the nation’s leading newspapers. The names editors considered included World’s Work, The North American Journal and, um, Business Day, Mr. Tofel writes. (That last one has a familiar ring to it.) A former editorial page editor, William Grimes, suggested The National Journal. Kenneth Hogate, Mr. Kilgore’s boss at the time, wanted to call it Financial America.”

When Kilgore became editor and took control–Hogate, who liked the name change idea, had died– he dropped the subject which he didn’t think a good one, Tofel told Haughney.

What do you think of a name change for The Wall Street Journal? What do you think of name changes in general?

name-change

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