Many sporting partnerships would yield unique names
Posted: Thursday April 13, 2006 12:01PM; Updated: Thursday April 13, 2006 4:32PM
Back in the Golden Age of Sleaze, the Trocadero was a temple of gritty, dirty, Philadelphia-style nastiness. Rough drinkers brown-bagged it at the Center City strip joint, and the Depression was permanent. The original Troc bumped and ground to a stop in 1978, but the burlesque-baroque columns, tin cornices and breasty escutcheons of its gimcracky facade on Arch Street still seem to commemorate the day impresario Maxie Furman popped a chocolate into his mouth and was struck by inspiration.
"Emma Nems!" he exclaimed, and promptly hung that candy-coated "nom de Troc" on the next exotic dancer he booked. Maxie also named Cella Fane, Sue Baroo, Anna Cyn, Libby Ration, Marsha Diane (Does the Gaza Strip), Takya Vestoff (the Cossack's Delight) and Carlotta Tendant (You'll Want to Park Here All Night). He also claimed to have discovered Bermuda Schwartz, which is something like claiming to have discovered Camden.
Ever since the city of Macon christened its minor league hockey team the Whoopees, I've been thinking of other communities whose names might lend themselves to similarly Furmanesque couplings, like, say, the Spokane Words or the Juneau Whats or the Nome Chomskys. Imagine a Pusan football team called the Boots, or an Algiers soccer squad dubbed the Hisses. And while you're at it, consider the Cali Flowers, the Vichy Swabs, the Charlotte Tans, the Delhi Contessas and the Augusta Winds. Back in the mid-1980s the Houston Astros did, and wisely chose not to identify their new Class A farm team in Kissimmee, Fla., too closely with that town. They named the club the Osceola (County) Astros instead of the Kissimmee Astros.
With the New Jersey Nets planning to move from the Meadowlands to downtown Brooklyn in 2009, owner Bruce Ratner faces a similar predicament. He hasn't yet decided whether to rename his franchise the Brooklyn Nets or something less generic and more evocative. Among the most inspired are the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Bagels and the Brooklyn Heights. But the hometown favorite is the Brooklyn Accents.
To tap into the largess of corporations, it wouldn't be surprising if Ratner offered naming rights to the team's proposed arena at the Atlantic Yards -- in much the same way the Selwyn Theater in Manhattan recently signed an $8.5 million, 10-year deal to change its handle to the American Airlines Theater. New York City is now awash in naming offers. In time, they may even extend to municipal landmarks.
Sure, some pairings sound relatively benign: the Calgon bath oil bead company might do well to prop up The Algonquin, thus creating the Calgonquin. And the Lefrak City complex in Queens could bequeath part of its profits to the Frick Collection, thereby forming the LeFrick & Frak Collection. But St. Patrick's Cathedral should resist all overtures from Lawrence Taylor. Even if the church kept its name, late-night talk show comics would endlessly riff on Lord & Taylor.
Other sporting partnerships sound equally unpalatable. If somehow the well-oiled boxing historian Bert Sugar and former Brady Bunch actress Eve Plumb pooled their cash to save the Staten Island Ferry, well ... care to work this one out for yourself? Let's suppose Cy Young's grandchildren banded together with Kadick Investments to endow the Empire State Building. You'd half-expect offices at the Cy-Kadick State Building to have padded walls. I also fret over the consequences of an alliance between Johnny Unitas' heirs and the Museum of Modern Art. Would arts patrons think twice about spending a day at Johnny U-MoMA? Who can predict what would happen if onetime big league ballplayer Jesus Alou lavished lucre on the Chrysler Building? At the very least, religious zealots would overrun the Jesus Chrysler Building.
I was pondering this the other day when Don Elbaum, the matchless boxing matchmaker, told me about his newest protégé, a junior welterweight named Elad Shmouel. After the 19-year-old Israeli scored a second-round knockout Friday night at the Blue Horizon, the crucible of Philadelphia prizefighting, Elbaum christened (if that's the word) him "the Kosher Pit Bull." "That was Elad's first choice, but my second," Elbaum said. "I would have preferred the Kosher Hotdog. He could have gotten endorsements from Hebrew National."