You may have noticed my last name. I wrote about the first two earlier, my last name has been a constant source of interest and humor. There is a certain balance to my eyes, that along with a tilt of my head says “Yes, we are related, thank you for being the three hundred fourteen thousand one hundred and fifty ninth person to mention it. You are proportionately interesting”.
When I was much younger, there were two other Cashes. Mohammed Ali (Cassius Clay) and Johnny Cash. I was ever so happy when Cassius Clay changed his name, it helped in avoiding a number of schoolyard fights, and gave me a deep understanding of conscientious objection. I am proud of my twisted connection to Mohammed Ali, he taught me how to stand up for my beliefs.
So did cousin Johnny. Yes, through a genealogy I have never seen on paper, I am related to the Man in Black. For the longest time I didn’t really believe it, but my Aunt Bernay confirmed it a few years before she died, and it is not within my imagination that Bernay would ever stray from the truth. There are the similarities, watching the video “Hurt” is like watching a movie of my father aging through the years. But the most important thing is, if Bernay said it is true, it is true.
Johnny provided a number of influences. Many people at the time (and perhaps still) fail to realize his activist nature, even “Ira Hayes” missed the attention of the masses. Johnny spent time in prison, not as a prisoner, but as a performer. He was a long time advocate of prisoner rights. He was, like me, a complicated and difficult to read person. We both use it to our advantage, but it also causes some less than pleasant consequences.
Some of you associate me with a different “MiB”. I found the irony of being on both sides of the double entendre exceptionally humorous, even using it as a screen name on a couple of forums in which a few people knew my name, but most were just science fiction fans, and almost no one knew about the third connection. Which is one reason that I so adored “Griffin” in the film “Men in Black 3”.
Of course, being social in the 80s, I actually did wear black quite a bit. I continue to do so, when I worked with printers black was a natural, my friends who wore white were typically wearing black by the end of the day anyway. It suits my figure and personality, and works as something of a trademark. Our friend Yuko brought a gift of a narrow black tie with skull and crossbones designs from Japan, I’ll be wearing it at the next appropriate occasion (though not a job interview, to which I typically wear a black shirt and a Jerry Garcia tie).
Being a Cash has its benefits, we are an unusually friendly bunch, and always happy to meet relatives whether we know the lineage or not. Rat’s restaurant (named for the character in “The Wind in the Willows”) has Chef Shane Cash in the kitchen, and Buddy Cash and I probably wouldn’t have met had it not been for the name.
So the other day, some friends were laughing about fashion faux pas, with an article about wearing black the center of the discussion. Imagine my dismay. I don’t pay much if any attention to “fashion”, primarily because I can’t be bothered to care about something that is less meaningful than the art of speaking to trees. What you think about what I wear can only be important to me if I care what you think, and if you spend your days worrying about what people wear…well you’re off to a bad start. Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name.
I’m the man in Black.
- Hello, I’m A Johnny Cash Stamp (thedailysouth.southernliving.com)