Good Bye Chicken Kiev, Hello Fowl Kyiv?
If you’re like me (which I doubt very highly) you’ve noticed a slow-building and insidious trend in the renaming of major global cities. Cartographers are calling this syndrome Global Conforming. This sop to the signage industry began with the ancient city of Peking, which overnight in the 70’s became Beijing, thereby eliminating Peking Duck as my go-to Chinese restaurant order (Under no circumstances will I ever order Beijing Duck). Then Bombay, India decided it couldn’t deal with its pleasingly exotic name and renames itself Mumbai. Mumbai – which sounds like you’re trying to say “Monday” with a mouthful of Novocain. Not a good look India. Or a good sound either. So now Bombay Sapphire becomes Mumbai Sapphire? Nope. I’m not drinking that jungle juice.
As an American against the unwelcomed name changing of major cities or (AAUNCMC), I propose we turn back the fonts of time to the way things should be. And that brings me to Kiev, Ukraine. Kiev was a national capital when dinosaurs walked the Earth (not really, but you get the point). Why in tarnation, or in any nation, has Kiev suddenly (and without permission) become Kyiv? Really? So long Chicken Kiev. Hello Fowl Kyiv. Johnny Cougar back to John Mellencamp – that I get. But this politically correct urban renaming is done with all the clinical sterility of a Stepford wife doing laundry. To me these unilateral name changes should be called what they are: The Signage Industry Full Employment Act.
As I’ve said many times before, this kind of unilateral substitution of something we’ve grown fondly familiar with is right up there with the 2 Darrin’s’ Syndrome – the unannounced replacement of Dick York with Dick Sargent on TV’s Bewitched. The kind of unexplained substitution led an impressionable 9 year old (me) to question the loving bonds of his nuclear family and produced gnawing anxiety in the mind of a child. I was that child. “Will my daddy be here in the morning? What if he’s sick or his ratings are down – will he be removed like Dick York? Will I awaken to a new daddy that central casting sends over with all the heart and feeling of UPS package drop?”
When is it ever a good idea to replace one Dick with another Dick and then fail to explain why a new Dick is walking around the house when the old Dick was loved by everybody (need to rephrase this before publication)?
But this stealthy Kiev to Kyiv renaming irks me in ways that gives me a rash near my Beyoncé tattoo and has led to copycat renamings by other municipalities. The entire world of signage is on edge wondering if St. Petersburg will revert to Leningrad, or the 7 continents to recoalesce back to Pangea, or if brooding Matthew McConaughey will readopt his birth name of Osgood Fancher. Now that this Pandora’s Box of rebranding has been opened, a crush of opportunists have rushed in to propose name changes to other municipalities and landmarks. Through the SOIA (Stealing of Information Act) I’ve compiled a list of these renaming proposals:
- China has had a surprising gender reveal party. It’s a girl and is reverting to its original name: Cathay
- Newfoundland is updating its time signature and is renaming itself Recentlyfoundland.
- New York City has voted to restore its original name, New Amsterdam, and replace Broadway with a canal.
- Liverpool is rebranding itself Beatlespool. Citizens will now be referred to as Beatlepudlians.
- Walla Walla, Washington has switched the order of its Wallas and will now be known as Walla Walla, Washington. The change was transparent to the public, but the Signage Industry made a fortune switching the Wallas.
- For reasons known only to themselves, San Francisco’s city fathers wanted to rename it Bangkok. City mother’s had other ideas: The Titty by the Bay, The Land Down Under and Love Pita, USA. After all was said and done, San Francisco will remain, as always, way too expensive to live there.
- In Paris there are attempts to rename the Eifel Tower, the Eyeful Tower. Other less charitable groups want to call it the Awful Tower. Still others want to convert it to a Middle Eastern Restaurant – The Awful Falafel. And what if you were eating at the Awful Falafel and one of those colossal awful falafels fell off the waffle – that’s a mouthful – both to say and eat. Well it might be messy, but at least it’s lawful.
And now in an effort to raise badly needed funds (as opposed to “goodly needed funds”) some cities are having their names corporately sponsored. For example
- Oslo has sold the rights to its name to AT&T and will henceforth be known as “Oslo presented by AT&T”
- Rock guitarist Angus Young has offered Washington DC $3 million annually to rename our nation’s capital Washington AC/DC.
- As expected Niagara Falls sold out to Pfizer and will become Viagra Falls.
Unless you’re trying to start an identity crisis I say all things should keep their original name (unless it’s Adolph or Oswald). Contributions to support original names can be sent to AAUNCMC (formerly known as DLRAC – Dave’s Little Rant Against Change).