Sunday, November 09, 2008

FAQ me: Why I changed the name

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People who know me, or who have been following this blog, or who've been following me on Twitter know that I recently had an identity crisis. One day recently, out of nowhere, I switched the name of this blog from Black Fonzie to Mister Fonzie. Why'd I do that? Am I giving up the "Black Fonzie" brand forever? Did I have a stroke or something? Find the answers to these questions and more below.

Q. Hi there.

A. Hey.

Q. What did "Black Fonzie" even mean, anyway?
A. Black Fonzie was, and still is, the name of a band. A good friend of mine -- we'll call him Jones, because that's his name -- started this band, and he and I are the only members (occasionally we may ask if someone in the audience plays drums). The band is the world's most popular, best-selling, fictional acoustic/metal/rock/funk/jazz/instrumental/wedding covers combo ever conceived. We have never performed together. Despite this, Black Fonzie has recorded several albums:

(1) "You're Not The Regular Mailman": A four-part instrumental suite concept album consisting of music heard in pornographic films, ranging in style from baroque to jazz to metal. Personnel: Dan on rhythm guitar, lead guitar, slide guitar, steel guitar, acoustic guitar, triangle, sexophone, flute, and harp; Jones on rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, mouth noises, drums, and muted trumpet.

(2) "Santa Up My Chimney": Black Fonzie's Christmas album, featuring all the holiday favorites, including snippets of the above album remixed with sleigh bells.

(3) "We Are Your Overlords": A double-disc tribute to Led Zeppelin, featuring 23 cover versions of the "Immigrant Song" riff played over and over (special hidden bonus track: "Livin' Lovin' Maid").

There are also reputed to be several live bootlegs in circulation. Black Fonzie has yet to perform live in front of an audience.

You may begin to suspect that this is all rather difficult to explain when people ask what the name means.

Q. Sorry, I wasn't listening -- so what's "Black Fonzie" mean again?

A. Easy shorthand: the "Black" means evil, as in Black Sabbath. The "Fonzie" means cool, as in Fonzie.

Q. Why did you call this blog Black Fonzie?

A. I liked the name, so I started calling everything I signed up for on the Internet "Black Fonzie." First I used it for my email, then for a couple of usernames here and there, and then this blog, then more usernames, and more sign-ins, and eventually it was everywhere.

When I started this blog, I was writing a newspaper column. I only meant to use the blog for my own personal use, as a way to make a database of some newspaper columns I had written. They would be searchable so I wouldn't repeat topics, and then I could share the columns with people I knew who weren't in my paper's circulation area.

Eventually a few other people started following my blog, and then more people, and I kept using the name "Black Fonzie" for different things all over the goddam Internet. Pretty much anywhere you see Black Fonzie, that's me.

Q. Do people ever ask you what "Black Fonzie" means?

A. All the time. I've tried various ways of shortening the long explanation, and it never seems to come out funny. This is why mankind invented the phrase "You kind of had to be there."

Q. Hey, have people ever mentioned to you that "black" could mean "black" -- you know, as in "black"?

A. Um, yes. It doesn't, though. "Black Fonzie" is not a reference to an African-American version of Henry Winkler's "Happy Days" character. No. The thought honestly never occurred to me until years had gone by and I'd been using the name. Call me stupid, but it never came up.

Q. Yeah, but isn't that what people would think?

A. Yes.

Q. Have people online ever thought you were an African-American guy?

A. Many times, yes. Then they see my picture and go back to their knitting.

Q. I see. Is that why you're changing the name? So people won't get confused?

A. Partially. Lemme put it this way. Let's create an in-joke right now. Remember Spuds Mackenzie? The bull terrier that sold Bud Light to little children in the 1980s? Go on, read the Wikipedia page, relive your youth -- I'll wait.

OK. Now, the dog's first name was "Spuds." Another word for a potato is a "spud." Let's say you sat around shooting the shit with a friend one night, and you decided they should've changed the dog's name from Spuds Mackenzie to Potato Mackenzie. And from Potato Mackenzie someone threw out Mashed Mackenzie. And perhaps that devolved into a series of in-jokes featuring different methods of preparing potatoes followed by the word "Mackenzie," which would be utterly hilarious if you did this very late at night and had partaken of several Bud Lights. So on it goes from Mashed Mackenzie to Scalloped Mackenzie, to Baked Mackenzie, to Mackenzie Au Gratin, to French Fried Mackenzie. And this is the one you latch onto. Somehow it seems the funniest one. Eventually it becomes shortened to French Mackenzie.

Years later you open an e-mail account named French Mackenzie, and start a blog called French Mackenzie, and start calling yourself French Mackenzie online everywhere. Sooner or later, someone's going to say, "What are you, French? Comment allez vous?"

And it's not their fault for thinking that -- it's your fault for picking a name that sounded funny at the time but could be easily misconstrued to be something it's not. Either way, you get sick of explaining the whole thing about the potatoes.

Q. That was baffling. Anyway, I get the gist. You're not Black Fonzie anymore.

A. I'm now going to call this blog Mister Fonzie, and will be using that name as an alter ego online. It's pretty hard to misconstrue that one. And I'm in the process of switching over many of my usernames. But there are some things I just can't switch, because it would be too involved or impossible. So I'll be using both names, but in general trying to use Mister Fonzie wherever I can.

You can still call me whatever. "Black" is Mister Fonzie's first name.

Q. Now I'm really confused. Why don't you just call your blog by your real name?

A. Sit on it.

1 comment:

OasisDouglas said...

Why Fonzie? Have you thought of dropping that and just going with Mister?

Then you could be Mister Mister... that would be a new one and Something Real.

However, no matter the name... I'm a fan. (and have an original Black Fonzie bootleg on eBay if you're interested)

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