I recently saw American Splendor, a movie about the life of the underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar. It’s a fantastic movie, and currently sits near the top of my favorite movie list. I’ve never read any of his comics (I was a fan of the typical superhero comics back in the day), but after seeing this I’ll probably be picking some up. A particularly powerful monologue is delivered near the end of the movie, and if not for the cruel mistress that is American copyright law, I would probably post a video clip. Unfortunately plain text will have to do:
My name is Harvey Pekar – that’s an unusual name – Harvey Pekar. 1960 was the year I got my first apartment and my first phone book. Now imagine my surprise when I looked up my name and saw that in addition to me, another Harvey Pekar was listed. Now I was listed as “Harvey L. Pekar”, my middle name is Lawrence, and he was listed as “Harvey Pekar” therefore his was a – was a pure listing. Then in the ’70s, I noticed that a third Harvey Pekar was listed in the phone book, now this filled me with curiousity. How can there be three people with such an unusual name in the world, let alone in one city? Then one day, a person I work with, expressed her sympathy with me, concerning what she thought, was the death of my father, and she pointed out an obituary notice in the newspaper for a man named Harvey Pekar. And one of his sons was named Harvey. And these were the other Harvey Pekar’s. And six months later, Harvey Pekar Jr. died. And although I’ve met neither man, I was filled with sadness, ‘what were they like?’, I thought, it seemed that our lives had been linked in some indefineable way. But the story does not end there, for two years later, another ‘Harvey Pekar’ appeared in the phone book. Who are these people? Where do they come from? What do they do? What’s in a name? Who is “Harvey Pekar”?
I work with phone books all day long, and I rarely give much thought to the significance within its listings (familiarity and contempt and all that). But this made me think about how we create such intricate and complex systems that organize our world, making connections that we might otherwise not notice.
So thanks to the magic of Google, I bring to you this random collection of things which share my name, but nothing else (in the course of searching for these things, I’ve found Chinda to be a very common first name, so I’ve limited it to surnames and business/place names):
Chinda Barbeque: a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Glendale, CA.
Chinda International: a toy company in LA. We found one of their stuffed animals at a local florist a few months ago.
Chinda Institute International: a martial arts dojo in what looks to be Pittsburgh. I’m pretty sure that guy isn’t related to me.
Monalisa Chinda: again, I’m pretty sure there’s no relation. Apparently she’s a fairly well-known Nigerian actress who has been in more than 80(!) movies. Her recent divorce has apparently stirred much emotion among her fans.
Yuk Chinda: I guess she is some Cambodian Television journalist? There’s a ridiculous amount of her videos on Youtube, and somehow they are all 5 star rated.
Chinda, Honduras: a municipality in Honduras with a population of about 3,000, almost all of whom are Lenca subsistence farmers. The charity Water for People does work there to expand sanitation (PDF).
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Fine Chinda and Gifts: somehow I feel this is a typo. Unfortunately (for both me and this business), it’s a typo that occurs all the freaking time.