Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Everything In a Name

My name is Toby Shuster and I am not a writer. Nor have I ever done anything particularly noteworthy. Yet I feel, with the amount of time I’ve spent on Google, that I would like a proper place within the province of Google.

All that emerges when you Google 'Toby Shuster' is 'Toby Shuster's Bed and Breakfast', in Jerusalem.


A couple months ago, I e-mailed Toby Shuster, in Jerusalem, saying something along the lines of, “Hi, Toby Shuster, I’m Toby Shuster! What are the chances, eh?”

She never replied, even though her slogan reads: "There are no strangers here, only friends we have not met..."

I forgive you, Toby Shuster, of Jerusalem. While it does seem odd that you do not actually provide breakfast at your bed and breakfast, running your own B&B is very time-consuming, I'm sure.

It appears as though I have little to nothing in common with Toby Shuster of Jerusalem. We have the same name and dark brown hair. That is all.

Once, I spent a year in England, where I soon discovered that the first half of my name is a sham. The Brits were incredulous that a girl could be named Toby: "What's your real name? Don't you know that you have a boy's name and you are a girl?"

I guess the only logical explanation for having a traditionally male name stems from my parents' fondness for the name. Likewise, they probably thought that giving me the ultra feminine middle name, Rose, would counterbalance the masculinity of my first name.

When I moved to New York, in October, I almost lived with this pet artist.

Above the bed, that I almost slept in, was a portrait of this deceased dog:

his name is Toby.

Things didn't work out with the pet artist. It's probably better that way, as I am not much of a "pet person" and while I do appreciate the illustrative value of Ms. Zador's work, I think that in the long run, sleeping beneath one of her portraits would have driven me to insanity.

ANYWAY, I want to reclaim my name on Google, hence the blog.

And so it goes: Another blog, written by a twenty-something girl, who just moved to New York and wants to see as much as she possibly can, in order to make up for the 40 hours a week spent on the computer.

Isn't this exactly what the Internet needs right now, to really clog up the cyber waves, just like cholesterol?



Blogger ultrafknbd said...

So here goes the conversation on a bike ride I had just this Sunday (note: the following is presented verbatim unless it appears otherwise...then it should be considered improvised rant disguised as, um, verbatim):

Me: I think some famous writer said his favourite writer was some guy he knew way back when who was never published or even saw the literary light of day. Wait, maybe it was the most intelligent person he knew. Same point, me thinks. Mel Brooks – and I’m pretty sure to a certain extent ‘bout this one – says the funniest person he knows is some guy who lives a few blocks away and runs the corner store. It was something like that but you get my point. Writing and conversation inspires me when it's soulful, writing that may otherwise not see the light of day. I’m no Henry Miller but I can run the written sprint…okay, maybe I can’t compete but I participate. And there are plenty out there than can not only sprint but can write the distance with aplomb. So sharing writing and thoughts without commodifying it is pure anarchism, pure soul...it’s the moment when your voice becomes more than an echo of the self.

Other biker: What the fuck are you talking about?


And so I thought of this when I read your maiden voyage...

Harvey Pekar, melancholic extraordinaire and radical (rather than apolitical bucolic curmudgeon (and no, his Dave Letterman rants against GE doesn’t count in the film because it looks like flippant frenzy rather than, what it really was, informed rage) brimming in American Splendor) wrote about living in the same city as another Harvey Pekar:

The next spring a new phone book came out. Imagine my surprise when I turned to my name and saw that, in addition to me, another Harvey Pekar was listed! I was listed as Harvey L. Pekar…My middle name is Lawrence…He was listed simply as Harvey Pekar – no middle initial…Therefore, his was a purer listing. But I learned to accept it. Each year I would feel less strongly as I saw the other Harvey Pekar’s name. Then in 1966, I noticed that a third Harvey Pekar was listed in the phone book! This filled me with curiosity. How could there be three people with such an unusual name in the world, let alone in one city?

I once got a long distance call at midnight for a Harvey Pekar. It was a woman calling from Florida. I didn’t know her. She had mistaken me for one of the other Harvey Pekars. The call caused me to wonder what sort of person he was. Of course I had no way of knowing…

Then one day a person I worked with expressed her sympathy to me concerning what she thought was the death of my father. I know my father to be alive and in good health and asked her where she’d gotten that notion that he’d died. She pointed out an obituary notice in the newspaper for a man named Harvey Pekar. One of his sons was named Harvey. These were the other Harvey Pekars.

Six months later Harvey Pekar Jr. died.

Although I’d met neither man, I was filled with sadness. “What were they like,” I thought. It seemed that our lives had been linked in some indefinable way. The next year’s telephone directory contained only my name. But the story does not end there, for two years later another Harvey Pekar appeared in the directory! What kind of people are these? Where do they come from, what do they do? What’s in a name?

Who is Harvey Pekar?

And so...

...who is Toby Shuster?

8:13 PM  
Blogger Heart As Arena said...


10:27 PM  
Anonymous macki star said...

it's silly...i know...'cose I'M too MACKI STAR...but not the one you wrote about...i'm Australian, with latinamerican blood line...and here i am...searching for my nick and you've got a "friend"? named macki star....i don't know...i have that name for over 15 years now...
it's silly ... i know.

2:17 AM  
Anonymous afterthisnap said...

Lucky you. I have to contend with the New Testament and the Star Wars trilogy.
I could cure cancer one day and all you would be able to google are devotionals and fansites. i.e. Luke-son of Darth Vader, Luke-desciple to the son of God, etc.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Randy Benham said...

Dear Toby Shuster (from New York),

My wife and I would like to take a little time to paint a picture for you regarding who "Toby Shuster" from Jerusalem is!

We have been staying at Toby Shuster's B&B in Jerusalem for the past two weeks as we tour Israel. I will be honest with you in that this is our first B&B experience, and that we traveled 1/2 way around the world to do it.

Our experience since we arrived at "TOBY SHUSTER'S B&B in JERUSALEM" has been more than wonderful! We walked into a beautifully decorated home full of hospitality in the heart of Jerusalem. The second we walked in we were treated as family and with love. Our privacy has always been respected, and Toby went all the way to make our vacation comfortable, enjoyable and relaxing. And on top of that we received a wealth of information from Toby to help enhance our stay while in Israel.

Each morning a wonderful Israeli BREAKFAST was waiting for us on the table.

We are sorry to say that we will be flying home tonight and will miss Toby Shuster very much as she has become part of our family.

BED & BREAKFAST IN THE HEART OF JERUSALEM, YOU CANNOT GO WRONG WITH "TOBY SHUSTER'S B&B". Only a 10 minute walk to the Old City and downtown area. And the B&B is located in the safest part of Jerusalem, walking anywhere is no problem.

Randy and Terri

12:47 PM  

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