Media-savvy political activist Abbott “Abbie” Hoffman (1936-1989) and his second wife, Anita Kushner, welcomed a baby boy in mid-1971.
Abbie’s first two children (Andrew and Amy) didn’t have politicized names, but his third got the name america — deliberately spelled with a small a in order “to distinguish the child’s name from a jingoistic sentiment.”
[T]he birth of his and Anita’s son, “america,” was treated as a political statement, as an affirmation of their optimism about the future and their roots in American culture.
Anita added (years later) that they’d gone with a lower-case a “because [they] didn’t want to be pretentious.”
Another name they’d considered for their son? Tupac.
In the Hoffmans’ book To America with Love, one of the letters Anita wrote (in July of 1974) began:
I met Affeni [sic] Shakur today. What an up. She is vibrant, beautiful, wise with experience. We talked about our children a lot and the heavy history behind each. Did you know she named her son Tupac Amaru, after the last Inca prince who rebelled against the Spaniards? We had considered naming america that. Tupac’s the same age.
(Tupac’s mother’s name was actually spelled Afeni.)
Abbie Hoffman went underground in 1974 (in order to evade arrest). He remained in hiding, using the alias “Barry Freed,” for six years. During that period, Anita and america were under constant FBI surveillance. So Anita and Abbie began to call their son “Alan” as an added layer of protection.
Alan reverted back to his real name at the start of high school (in the mid-1980s), hoping that “america” would impress a “cute punk rock girl” in his class.
The prickly name Choya first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1951:
1953: 5 baby boys named Choya
1952: 6 baby boys named Choya
1951: 9 baby boys named Choya [debut]
Where did it come from?
The western movie Branded, which was released in late 1950. It starred actor Alan Ladd as a gunslinger and “morally ambiguous loner” named Choya. Here’s how the movie started:
Choya, who has shot a man in self-defense, is trapped inside a store as men gather outside, on rooftops and behind wagons, to capture him. His hostage asks if he has any friends. Choya responds, “My guns.” Any kinfolk? “My horse.” And that’s all you need to know about Choya. (The fact that “Choya” is an English spelling for the Spanish word for “cactus” is telling.)
The Spanish word cholla (pronounced choy-uh) doesn’t quite mean cactus, but it does refer to a particular type of cactus. The cholla cactus has spines with backward-facing barbs that are notoriously difficult (and painful) to extract if they become embedded in skin.
Branded was based on the book Montana Rides! (1933) by Evan Evans (a nom de plume of Frederick Schiller Faust, who also created Destry). In the book, the protagonist is called The Montana Kid. The name may have been changed to Choya for the film to help with characterization (as alluded to above) or to reflect the fact that the protagonist is slightly older in the movie (so, not a “kid” anymore).
It’s now more than a decade since Congolese job hopeful Guy Goma found himself offering his not-so-expert analysis of a legal dispute between Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and Apple Corp, The Beatles’ record label, over trademark rights.
Goma, after arriving at the BBC’s West London headquarters for an interview for a job in the IT department on May 8, 2006, was mistaken for a studio guest, British technology journalist Guy Kewney, and ushered all the way into a live BBC News 24 studio.
This was Guy Goma’s unplanned TV appearance:
[The mix-up happened just a couple of months after I started this name blog, incidentally.]
From a 1979 People article about the “eerie similarities” between two Ohio men who discovered, at age 39, that they were twins separated at birth:
Curiously, both had been christened James by their adoptive parents [who lived 40 miles apart]. As schoolboys, both enjoyed math and carpentry — but hated spelling. Both pursued similar adult occupations: Lewis is a security guard at a steel mill, and Springer was a deputy sheriff (though he is now a clerk for a power company). Both married women named Linda, only to divorce and remarry — each a woman named Betty. Both have sons: James Alan Lewis and James Allan Springer.
Penn Jillette, speaking to contestant Paul Gertner during a mid-2020 episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us:
You gave me this pen. And you gave me the pen with a joke — a joke about my name. You said, “Here’s a pen, Penn.”
When I was in grade school, it would be, “Hey Penn, got a pencil?” “Hey Penn, how’s pencil?” I should have an index of all those pen jokes that were told to me. I’d have over fifty, maybe more than that. It was amazing.
Even her name, pronounced “Ma-veen,” requires a politically charged translation. Christened Marvyne, Betsch added an extra e for the environment, and dropped the r in the 1980s to protest the environmental policies of the Reagan administration.
My family had chosen “Linda” in part because it sounded incontrovertibly American to their Soviet ears, practically an idiom of assimilation unto itself. According to a 2018 study, it is the “trendiest” name in U.S. history, having experienced a sharp rise and precipitous fall in popularity amid the postwar baby boom. By naming me Linda, my parents hoped they were conferring an easy American life upon me, a life free of mispronunciations and mistakes. For them, such a life would be forever out of reach.
Most of the Lindas I have encountered in my age group are also millennial daughters of immigrants; our name is a reminder of our parents’ aspirations and of the immense promise with which our name is laden.
As a 61-year-old man, I have suffered all my life with the name Lynn. My mother simply named me after a little-known celebrity of the early 50s because she wanted a name that was not capable of being shortened. For a while I had people such as Welsh long jumper Lynn Davies to allay the perpetual claims that “it was a girl’s name”. But this led others to believe that it had to be of Welsh derivation. But there are no new male “Lynns” to correct either opinion. All this despite the fact that in the 1930s and 1940s, I believe that Lynn was more popular as a man’s name – especially in America. ~Lynn Jonathan Prescott, Birmingham
From the 2009 book Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity by Leigh H. Edwards:
In [the autobiography] Cash, he explicitly addresses how he represents his identity differently in different contexts, noting how he uses different names for the different “Cashes” he played in different social settings, stating that he “operate[s] at various levels.” He stages a struggle between “Johnny Cash” the hell-rais[ing], hotel-trashing, pill-popping worldwide star and “John R. Cash,” a more subdued, adult persona.
“145” boy names: Montgomery, Sylvester, Quantavius, Constantinos
1 via 154
The girl name Summerlynn adds up to 154, which reduces to one (1+5+4=10; 1+0=1).
1 via 163
The boy name Constantinos adds up to 163, which reduces to one (1+6+3=10; 1+0=1).
1 via 172
The girl name Trinityrose adds up to 172, which reduces to one (1+7+2=10; 1+0=1).
What Does “1” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “1” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “1” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“1” (the monad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“The Pythagoreans called the monad ‘intellect’ because they thought that intellect was akin to the One; for among the virtues, they likened the monad to moral wisdom; for what is correct is one. And they called it ‘being,’ ’cause of truth,’ ‘simple,’ ‘paradigm,’ ‘order,’ ‘concord,’ ‘what is equal among greater and lesser,’ ‘the mean between intensity and slackness,’ ‘moderation in plurality,’ ‘the instant now in time,’ and moreover they called it ‘ship,’ ‘chariot,’ ‘friend,’ ‘life,’ ‘happiness.'”
“They say that the monad is not only God, but also ‘intellect’ and ‘androgyne.’ It is called ‘intellect’ because of that aspect of God which is the most authoritative both in the creation of the universe and in general in all skill and reason”
“They consider it to be the seed of all, and both male and female at once”
“They call it ‘Chaos’ which is Hesiod’s first generator, because Chaos gives rise to everything else, as the monad does. It is also thought to be both ‘mixture’ and ‘blending,’ ‘obscurity’ and ‘darkness,’ thanks to the lack of articulation and distinction of everything which ensues from it.”
“They call it ‘Prometheus,’ the artificer of life, because, uniquely, it in no way outruns or departs from its own principle, nor allows anything else to do so, since it shares out its own properties.”
“All activities emanate from the one” (reading 5751-1).
“As in numbers…all are formations or divisions or multiples of units of one, so the universe and the expressions of all natures within same are the manifestations of that one force, one power, one spirit, one energy known as or called a Universal Force, Creative Energy, or God.” (reading 1462-1).
Does “1” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 19, 55, 64, 109) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe your favorite song is “When I’m Sixty-Four” by the Beatles, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 1, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).