The Corner

Culture

Chet, Jimmy, and Other Greats

Couples dance the opening waltz at the traditional Opera Ball in Vienna, 2009. (Herwig Prammer / Reuters)

The title of my latest Jaywalking podcast is “Waltzing Around,” and there is indeed some waltzing, as you see in the photo above. Actually, I play a spooky, dark, Halloweeny waltz: that from Khachaturian’s Masquerade. Wonderful composition. There is also music by a pair of Czechs — Smetana and Dvorak — and a pair of Americans — Rodgers & Hammerstein (true, one did words, only). I also discuss a variety of issues, political and social.

In my previous Jaywalking, I made mention of Jimmy Van Heusen, who, with Sammy Cahn (lyrics), wrote a Chicago song, “My Kind of Town.” I said something about Van Heusen’s Dutch name, and our American pronunciation of it. I’d like to share a letter from a reader, who wrote,

Like Jimmy Van Heusen, my family comes from Syracuse and while they did not know him, we have heard of how he came by his name.

When a young man in Central New York, he wanted a stylish name to fit his intended career. Looking through a magazine, he fixed on an ad for men’s dress shirts and chose “Van Heusen” as a good one.

His real name was Chester Babcock, which probably wouldn’t have looked as good paired with Sammy Cahn. Bob Hope picked “Chester Babcock” as his character’s name in one of the Road movies.

Yes, that was The Road to Hong Kong (1962). All of his life, Jimmy Van Heusen’s closest friends called him “Chet” (short for “Chester,” of course) — which is a pretty cool name itself, IMO.

Most Popular

How to Avoid a China-Led World Order

As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, it has opened our eyes to China’s rapidly expanding role in the international order and global economy. Beijing’s outsize role in the World Health Organization has come under attack, as has the muscular diplomacy used by China’s foreign ministry in responding to ... Read More

How to Avoid a China-Led World Order

As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, it has opened our eyes to China’s rapidly expanding role in the international order and global economy. Beijing’s outsize role in the World Health Organization has come under attack, as has the muscular diplomacy used by China’s foreign ministry in responding to ... Read More
Education

Science, Coronavirus, and Notre Dame

A few weeks back, the University of Notre Dame outlined its plan for reopening campus in the fall, detailing the way in which the administration hopes to bring students back to South Bend to resume in-person classes. Like the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities in the U.S., Notre Dame shifted all ... Read More
Education

Science, Coronavirus, and Notre Dame

A few weeks back, the University of Notre Dame outlined its plan for reopening campus in the fall, detailing the way in which the administration hopes to bring students back to South Bend to resume in-person classes. Like the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities in the U.S., Notre Dame shifted all ... Read More
Elections

Biden’s Middle-Class Tax Pledge

Biden is pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. As I note in my Bloomberg Opinion column, Democratic proposals to increase income taxes keep getting narrower in scope. In 1993, President Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress raised income taxes on households making more than ... Read More
Elections

Biden’s Middle-Class Tax Pledge

Biden is pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. As I note in my Bloomberg Opinion column, Democratic proposals to increase income taxes keep getting narrower in scope. In 1993, President Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress raised income taxes on households making more than ... Read More