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Hiking the Appelation Trail:
Jason Torchinsky defends his brand

[ by Jason Torchinsky ]

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but a turd by the name of a rose would still smell like shit. This may not seem a particularly earth-shaking revelation, but it never hurts to remind ourselves how lucky we are that we have a different word for pretty much everything. It is also important to be reminded how words can become more than words; they can become commodities. The commercial world already understands this, and is very willing to defend their "rights" to certain words as much as possible.


My name is Jason Torchinsky. As far as names go, "Jason Torchinsky" is perhaps notable for two reasons: One, it’s something of an odd mix of a common, perhaps forgettable, first name, coupled with an ethnic-looking, rather intimidating mass of pointy and round letters. Hell, according to an old tape I found, when I was two years old I couldn’t even pronounce it.

The other reason my name is notable is that it is extremely uncommon. I’ve never met another Jason Torchinsky, and the only other Torchinskys I know at all are members of my own, loud, immediate family. I’ve heard of some other Torchinskys, rumors of one here in Los Angeles, stories of one in the wilds of Canada, and a few about a Torchinsky named Abraham who has something to do with a university and a tuba. But I’ve always regarded these stories with the same skeptical but open manner I usually reserve for aliens and the Loch Ness Monster.

Growing up with an uncommon, hard-to-pronounce name is a lot like being made to take guitar lessons as a kid: it sucks at the time, but, later on, you start to appreciate it. (Not that I’ve ever had a guitar lesson, but I imagine it would be nice if I knew how to play.) Sure, each and every time I got a new teacher, or had to sign up for something I was forced to endure the manglings of my name, my correction, and, often, the icy stares back at me, like I made the name up just wanted to showcase their poor grasp of phonetics.

But, as time went on, I started to like the fact that when people mentioned Jason Torchinsky, everyone knew who they were talking about, something which the innumerable Scott Thompsons and Brian Johnsons would never enjoy. Which is why what I have to say now is all the more shocking: I have found another Jason Torchinsky. Now I’m sure lots of you Lisa Smiths and Kim Lees may be wondering what the big deal is, but you’re just going to have to try and place yourself in my sweaty shoes. This shouldn’t happen. It’s not right.

Thanks to the very mixed blessing of the World Wide Web, I found, last year, the homepage of the Jason Torchinsky who was not me. And, boy, was he not me! For example, in college, I was very opposed to stupid student governments. I found them to be almost universally composed of ninnies and power-hungry dorks. So, in my column in the school paper, I challenged one of the more reprehensible members to a public wrestling match in the center of campus. There were crowds yelling, I won, everyone had a good time. Now, on the doppelganger’s page, I learn that he is a student at William and Mary and not only holds a post on the student government but has pledged his summer to working with some conservative senatorial candidate. Our vast differences of opinion and ways of living make this an even more serious issue: it has become a branding issue. I’ve spent a good portion of my life establishing who I am via the things I say, the actions I take, and the work I produce. When people who are at least somewhat aware of who I am see the Jason Torchinsky name, they know what to expect. So, to defend my brand, I sent "Jason Torchinsky" the following letter, written by my friend with a law degree and nothing better to do with it than write letters like this:


May 8, 1999

Jason Torchinsky
Resident 3882
Lane Williamsburg, VA 23188-2580

Good sir,

I refer to you as "sir" not because I am ignorant of your name. I know it well. It is the causa causans of this letter and the name of my client, Jason Torchinsky: the man upon whose life you have imposed yourself.

My client’s complaint is simple to understand and I hope that you are an understanding man. Jason Torchinsky was born on June 2, 1971, well prior to your conception. As my client grew he consistently engaged such activities as to establish an image and style which he has carefully and at great personal and out-of-pocket expense put forth to the world via media including but not limited to magazine and newspaper publishing, books, creative performances, political campaigns, web publishing, and his own everyday actions in and out of the workplace. The considerable amount of time Mr. Torchinsky has invested branding his name vests in him certain proprietary rights to that name.

It is in the best interests of all parties concerned that you cease and desist from any further use of my client’s name and that a legal change of your name be conducted in an immediate and timely manner at your expense. Clearly, your parents knew or should have known that the name "Jason Torchinsky" could have current ownership but they failed to research that possibility.

My client realizes that altering your name may seem a burdensome proposition at this time. However, he feels that such a transition will prove quite advantageous to you as your world view seems inconsistent with the views already firmly attached to the name "Jason Torchinsky" and in the future you may wish to disassociate yourself with these contrasting views.

A prompt response to cure this situation is expected so that further action will not be required. If you would like, my client is willing to provide you with a list of acceptable replacement names to expedite this process.

Thank you in advance,

Christopher C. Boznos, JD