Ever wonder how towns and mountains; streets and schools; or rivers, lakes, and ponds get named?
Where I grew up, in a hamlet on Long Island near New York City, someone with a droll sense of humor platted “Carstairs, Haig, Wilson, Gordon, and DuBonnet Roads” back when the neighborhood was developed in the 1920s. They must have been longing for those pre-prohibition days ‘cause they named those thorofares after a bunch of booze. (Carstairs was a blended American whiskey; Haig was Scotch; Wilson, another blend; Gordon’s was gin; and DuBonnet an aperitif.) The hamlet, Gibson, was named after its developer, William Gibson, setting precedent for Arthur Levitt to name seven “Levittowns” after himself in the 1940s and ‘50s and Donald Trump to slap his name on most-everything he ever built or bought.
There are of course schools named for John Glenn and John F. Kennedy, a score of Lincoln-named cities, at least one Seattle, a King County, and my favorite lake name: Mooselookmeguntic — in central Maine. (And no, it wasn’t named by a guy shouting he’d shot a moose; rather it is an Abnaki word for “moose feeding place.”)
On a trip to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, Donald Trump dumped on the man who was “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the hearts of his countrymen,” chiding the Father of our Nation that he hadn’t named his estate Mount Washington, “If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it. You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”
(You betch’ya, Donald. That Washington guy was someone no one remembers; except for the state, nation’s capital, innumerable towns and cities, mountains, and the $1 bill that has his name and picture on it. Yes sir, that Washington is a guy no one remembers.)
While there’s a lot more to unpack in Trump’s keen insight on presidential history and his view of his legacy, we’ll leave that analysis for another time.
Because what strikes me now is we better start thinking about how we’re going to remember the 45th President of the United State and what we’re going to name after him.
I’d love to hear your ideas.
And to start the conversation let’s begin with the signature Trumpian edifice: The Great Wall of Trump. Stretching from sea to shining sea. Made of steel, or concrete, or venetian blinds, or whatever. It’s the perfect metaphor for Donald Trump: it’s the (new) wall that isn’t there.
Think of all the money we’ll save naming nothing for him. And how environmentally sensitive; not one inch of land will be used for the wall that never was. And he can recycle the sign he was going to hang on the Moscow Trump Tower. Best of all, it won’t cost taxpayers a dime, because Congress won’t give him a nickel for it.
OK, that was snarky.
So how about naming all those steel mills he announced after him? It’s another cost-saver because they don’t exist. He just made ‘em up and hanging his name on vacant land is soooo appropriate.
Now I understand his pal Putin is already honoring him by dedicating a city in his name: Дональд Города (Donald Town). Of course, it’s a suburb of Chernobyl and it’s so toxic (just like Дональд himself) that no one can ever live there.
Of course The Donald always has to build bigger and grander and more glorious than anyone else; so we could build him a final resting place ala NYC’s Grant’s tomb, but better. He could sleep there for eternity next to his wife Melania. And his wife Marla Maples. And his wife Ivana Trump. And next to the loves of his life (not the same as the wives of his life) Stormy, Karen, and the other women who say they slept with him. Heck, he’d need a memorial bigger than the Taj Mahal. (No wait, he built a Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and drove it into bankruptcy. Scratch that idea.)
OK, one last try.
As a kid who grew up in Queens, New York, Trump is familiar with the city’s ‘burbs, such as Brooklyn and Staten Island. There’s a great spot on Staten Island for a Trump memorial: Fresh Kills. It could be renamed “Trump Kills” (kills is the Dutch word for “channel” not what he’s done to truth and honor as well as American democracy, tradition, and dignity) and it is the perfect place to memorialize Donald Trump; Fresh Kills is the largest garbage dump in the world.
It’s the perfect Trumpian site, with size, stench, rats, rot and decay. We can even alliterate, calling it “The Trump Dump.”
Best of all, with a slight twist, we can recycle the words to express our hopes for 2020: “Dump Trump.”
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.