What’s in a name? Just about everything. In an age when there were band names like The Pretenders, Heaven 17, A Flock of Seagulls, Squeeze, REM, the Violent Femmes, Husker Du, and (my favorite name) Drivin’ and Cryin’, we knew we had to get something good. This name had to be somehow redolent of the Beat Generation plus the Beatnik (a media took the cool but dangerously subversive Beats, mixing it up with sputnik to create: Beatnik!) with a slight homage to Maynard G. Krebs.
Finding a name was weighing heavily on us, and being a triad of hyper, type A personalities (yes, even the bass player wasn’t laid back!), we all wanted to come up with it. But together we brainstormed: one late winter night in particular. We’d been walking around the village, then we wound up at One U for a drink & whatever. It was easy to stay skinny ‘cause we were all in our 20’s and didn’t have much cash. I mean, it wasn’t in the budget to be eating out except for occasional slices of pizza and the heavenly Mamoun’s falafel (it was $1.50 at the time, I believe. Started eating at Mamoun’s when the falafel was 75 cents. . . but that was in the seventies, when I’d skip school and take the train to the village, from Queens).
So, at One U that chilly night in March, Tom, Bruce and I sat at a table in the front of the place (at One U, you sat in the back if you were dining, most often) scrawling names on bar napkins. The guys were joking around about the Hollywood Squares. . . with Charlie Weaver to block (get it -- the Weavers reference?). Then we realized we were just steps away from Washington Square park, and that great monument. . . symbolizing bohemia and freedom and a life away from those “squares” uptown.
This was during the yuppie era, when the haves and the have nots were separated by what they did, what they wore, where they worked, and what they believed in. Sure, we were from middle and upper-middle class homes, in the suburbs, but our hearts were into idealism, a true democracy, perhaps tinged with socialism. . . and living the artist’s life.
If I had the ability to be somebody else (with a REAL job and respect in the world), believe me, I would have. . . I really didn’t choose writing and music, they chose me -- and at the time, music also chose Tom and Bruce. That was how it went back then, at least. . .