May 21st @ Free Times Café

In a bid to keep these missives contemporary and up to date with the latest important information, and as a public service, I am writing today to let folks know that the fastest rising boy’s name in the U.S last year was Kylo. The name has now entered the coveted top 1,000 boy’s names and occupies number 901 due to an amazing 2,368 point jump in popularity (I know I make stuff up all the time but even I couldn’t make this up).

One explanation for the rise is that Kylo is the name of a character in the latest Star Wars series and apparently many Americans (and probably Canadians too) look to Star Wars when deciding what moniker to saddle their children with for the rest of their lives. What makes this particular name significant however is that Kylo is a villain in the series, not a hero. I don’t recall a similar jump in the choice of Darth as a name for boys after the first set of Star Wars films.

Kylo’s meteoric rise to name stardom has not propelled some real life villains’ names into the Hot 1000 however. For example neither Adolf nor Osama made the Top 1000. In fact Adolf’s popularity as a name peaked in 1928 when it was number 950. (For hours of mindless fun you can go to this site – https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/index.html – and enter names to your heart’s content).

Although a fast riser, Kylo has a way to go to crack the Top 10. And if you’re interested, perhaps showing that Americans are convinced that the end times may be coming, the most popular boy’s name is Noah – who said they don’t believe in global warming.

Also interestingly, at least to me, is the fact that the name Donald is on a slow but steady decline. It was in the Top 10 from 1923 to 1941 and since the year 2000 has seen a constant drop from 217 to 488 – it’s lowest placing since these stats were compiled.

The rise of Kylo – and perhaps the decline of Donald – speaks to the power of the media of all forms in shaping many of our personal decisions. Sometimes when we speak of media we mean blockbuster films and major TV shows, but in this Internet era, there are many more media outlets that don’t necessarily have big numbers but can nevertheless have an impact. Can I give you an example? Of course I can (it’d be pretty weird to get to this point and then just throw up my hands – and of course if I threw up my hands then I couldn’t use the keyboard and this would never be finished).

In 2008 the name Gordon slipped out of the top 1,000 for the first time. It remained outside looking in until it re-entered in 2014 and has stayed ever since. What has accounted for this development? While researchers are not all agreed (if anyone is looking into this at all), I believe the only rational explanation is that, starting in 2010, Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room began posting videos to You Tube. By 2014 we had 11 videos circulating and that obviously marked a critical mass sufficient to push the name Gordon back onto the list.

If that is the power we can have just by way of video, imagine if you will, the awesomeness of seeing Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room live! Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine this – you can be there and be part of the G.A.L.R. experience. On Sunday, May 21, we will be on and around the stage at the Free Times Café (College just west of Spadina, where it’s always been) playing our wildly eclectic range of music (and our collection of videos can only offer a hint of the varied musical forms you will hear played live). The show starts at 8 and will finish around 11 – and since Monday is a holiday for some reason that we can’t articulate but don’t want to question because we need a Monday off in May – you’ll be able to stay until the end. To celebrate the rise of Kylo, the fall of Donald and the re-entry of Gordon, there will be no cover.

Hope to see you there.

Jonathan

P.S. Please be warned that “wildly eclectic” and ”varied musical forms” means that bagpipes will be played – but not all the time – thank God.