Does your town need renaming?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

The venerable comic strip “Gasoline Alley” is wrapping up a storyline in which the dastardly assistant mayor schemed to change the town’s name from Gasoline Alley to the ostensibly more modern Electric Acres (without even offering a compromise such as Hybrid Hollow).

Sentimentality saved the day in the funnies, just as it usually applies the brakes to abrupt municipal name changes in the real world. (“I have no idea which jurist, general or fur trader our town was named for. Neither did my father. Neither did my grandfather. We can’t change! We have a proud tradition to uphold!!!”)

Still, considering the number of streets, bridges, military bases, buildings and sports teams that have undergone radical name changes in recent years, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more cities throwing caution to the wind and charging a name makeover to the ol’ credit card.

Think of it as less hackneyed bloviating about “Our infrastructure and workforce are second to none” and more cities singing, “I feel pretty, oh, so pretty…”

There’s certainly no shortage of experts who would graciously dig up some dirt on the pioneer, statesman or industry for which any given town was originally named. I have it on good authority that the founder of Northeast Mugwump never once (*gasp*) requested a paper drinking straw. True, neither paper nor plastic drinking straws had been invented during his lifetime, but we can’t let pesky technicalities stand in the way of cleaning house.

Random renaming projects would be a good start, but maybe we should rip the Band-Aid off and reboot the whole country at once, like the movie industry revamping an intellectual property franchise.

Sure, it might be confusing to mimic Hollywood and have every “Mount” changed to “Plains” and every “Creek” changed to “Ocean”; but as William Shakespeare (the bard of the soon-to-be Funkytown-on-Avon) said, “What’s in a name? That which we call Lower Podunk by any other name would smell of hog rendering plants, asbestos factories and vape shops.”

I realize there might be whimsical minor eruptions of chaos in the short run, but look at the silver lining: it might keep the Postal Service too preoccupied to raise stamp prices again.

What’s the best way to pick the names? Committee of local professionals? Artificial intelligence? Beats me. I’m leery of letting schoolchildren decide; we might be saddled with an excess of gravitas for years to come. (“I was born in Taylor Springs, but when I was five we moved to Swift City. But I do most of my shopping over the county line in Kelce Corners. My big sister moved to TayTay Town, and if I can’t figure out which TayTay Town, we are never ever getting back together.”)

Of course selling the naming rights to some global corporation is one option, but there would be strings attached. (“Hope you enjoy your new name. But please be advised that we’re moving all the street cleaner, crossing guard and fire department jobs overseas.”)

I would love to write more on this subject, but I promised to lend an ear to a young man who recently relocated near Santa Claus, Indiana.
“Maybe one of my children will live long enough to discover who the town was named for. My money is on Louis Pasteur, inventor of the cotton gin, but then again…”

I think his former high school is hurriedly changing its name.

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.