October 28, 2002


"WHY SHOULD I CHANGE MY NAME? HE'S THE ONE WHO SUCKS!": The DC sniper has finally been caught, his name was John Muhammad- I've got a feeling he'll amend that to John "Not Al-Qaida" Muhammad as soon as he gets to jail. Or perhaps he'll go back to his original name, John Williams. But that would be bad news to the tens of thousands of Americans with the name John Williams, most of whom will likely feel a lot like the "Michael Bolton" character from the movie "Office Space." There's the Spielberg composer, of course, and the former Seahawks running back John L. Williams, on top of two early-'90s NBA players, one known as John "Hot Rod" Williams and the other, because of his girth and inferiority to the other, became John "Hot Plate" Williams. I have a great deal of sympathy for them and every other John Williams, except of course for Ted's son John Henry Williams. He can get mistaken for the sniper and get beaten to death by a horde of angry Virginians for all I care.
At any rate, it must really suck having the same name as a serial killer, as evidenced by the "Seinfeld" episode in which Elaine dates a man named Joel Rifkin, or the "Cheers" in which Carla is forced by family custom to re-name her son Benito Mussolini. I myself have an acquaintance named David Berkowitz, whose parents were living in New York in 1977 (when he was born) yet for some reason still gave him the same name as the Son of Sam. There must be thousands of Americans named Richard Ramirez and Susan Smith, and if you've read this blog before you've probably heard all about the 43-year-old computer programmer and klezmer bandleader from Pennsylvania named Ben Laden. I guess the lesson to be learned from this is that if you're going to go and kill people, you're best off making up a name for yourself that nobody else has. Either that, or don't kill anyone.

Posted by Stephen Silver at October 28, 2002 03:51 AM
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