In Which I Learn That I Live In Me

A map with place names replaced by the most notable people from there (according to Wikipedia).

There’s a site out there that scraped Wikipedia entries from the last few years, and then put up a map of the United States where the place names were replaced with the person associated with that place (in apparently whatever capacity) whose Wikipedia article was looked at the most. For Bradford, Ohio, and perhaps not entirely surprisingly, that person happens to be… me. Yes, that’s correct, on this map, I live in me.

I say “perhaps not entirely surprisingly” not because I am in fact hugely notable but a) because the set of people associated with Bradford, Ohio who also have Wikipedia pages is small, comprising as it does of six people, only two of whom, including me, are still alive, and b) of the six of us, I’m the only one with a significant online footprint, and who is still active in the field for which he is notable. I do wonder who came in second, however. In any event, the competition for “the most wikipedia’d person” is much less fierce in Bradford, Ohio, population 1,800, mostly farmers and blue collar folks, than, say, Chicago, or even Dayton.

The map renames also tell you a little about general Wikipedia browsing habits, since there’s a statistically high preponderance of serial killers (see Cincinnati’s new name on the map) and celebrities, and not necessarily the ones you would expect, which is why Boston, as an example, is currently named “John Cena.” Clearly Wikipedia readings tilt toward currently living and currently famous people. Also some folks have more than one city named for them. Stephen King is all over Maine, for example, which is not a surprise, but he’s also the new name for Fort Wayne, Indiana. Apparently he lived there briefly as a child. He’s also the new name for Sarasota, Florida. Pick a state, Steve.

Finally, some people are not where you would expect them to be. Max Yasgur, upon whose farm the Woodstock music festival was held, is neither the new name for Woodstock nor Bethel, New York, but the former Marathon, Floria (and who is the new Woodstock? David Bowie. Who was not at Woodstock! Go figure).

Aside from me I was amused to see a few cities renamed for friends: Sandra Lee (aka “Dr. Pimple Popper”), who I went to school with, gets a city, as do Wil Wheaton, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson and Neil Gaiman. I suspect there may be more, but the site is not searchable so finding them is not easy unless you already know where to look.

If you want to have a place name named for you on this site, it appears the secret is generally to be alive, currently famous or at least notable, and to live or have lived in a place that is very small and/or has not had any other famous or at least notable people from it, ever. Seems easy enough, and I wish you joy in the work.

In the meantime, I’m happy living in me, existentially and otherwise.

31 Comments on “In Which I Learn That I Live In Me”

  1. What a fun site! It turns out, my family used to live next door to the the new name for the town I gre up in.

  2. Charlie Manson for Cincinnati seems so right. Especially if Cassius Clay gets Louisville. (Probably as Muhammed Ali, but, hey, Bowie references…)

    Surprised to see the Wright Brothers now win Dayton, especially given who did. It’s not called Lowe-Patterson AFB.

  3. I live in Peyton Manning. I guess football town wins over cow town.

    I was surprised that the new name for Colorado Springs is Nikola Tesla, though. I looked into it and he apparently had an experiment station there in order to study the “conductive nature of low pressure air.” Neat!

  4. I grew up in a porn star! Now I live in Joanna Newsom. She has seen me sing because I’m in a choir with her mom.

  5. Steve Jobs got five cities that I’ve seen so far (San Francisco, Portland, Mountain View, Cupertino, and San Jose). At least Woz got Los Gatos.

  6. While I’m not a US citizen, I have lived there for a year. Guess “the middle of nowhere” is a tie between Marcus Joel Borg and Torrey Westrom, although the closest one I’ve actually heard of is Chris Pratt, who lives quite a bit away though. (Well “quite a bit” by my standards, not by US standards”)

  7. If they’d done Writt-Pat by itself, would the new name be “Roswell Alien”? (Does that part of the conspiracy theory makes it to Wikipedia?)

    I was just reminded that a former FBI agent turned foreign spy lived in my home town. Not all localities (zoom in on DC, Dupont Circle and Capitol Hill have new names) are named for people – Homewood Alabama is now “Little Big Town” (a country group). I guess renaming Fort Payne, AL for the band Alabama would be a bit recursive (it’s now Randy Owen, btw). I currently live in Dinah Washington. I approve.

  8. My town got David Lynch. He’s not from here, and I can’t figure out why he’d be picked, even given most of our famous locals (like Bing Crosby) are dead. Very odd. But I was sure it would be for a serial killer or serial rapist, so, I guess film maker is an improvement.

  9. My town gets David Lynch because he was born here. Local legends tie many of his movies back to here, but I think he’s debunked all of that. We’ve had other famous residents, so I have no guess as to who could come in 2nd. Dana Carvey maybe?

    But at least I don’t live in Richard Spencer, Evel Knievel, or L. Ron Hubbard, all of whom are nearby. Ugh.

  10. Not surprised to see my home town with Gordon Parks (writer of The Learning Tree, based on his life growing up in my home town), the film of which was also filmed there (and I tried to get in the film as an extra when I was six or seven).

  11. Other commentors have mentioned it already, but I’m surprised by how many Bay Area cities are now named “Steve Jobs”. I assumed he’d have Cupertino because it’s a small city and he’s pretty famous, but I didn’t expect him to claim San Jose (or Mountain View for that matter). I’m glad that Wozniak got Los Gatos at least.

    Incidentally, the town where I grew up is named Chrisann Brennan who, based on her wikipedia article, is famous for writing a book about her relationship with Steve Jobs.

  12. scalzi emails are always interesting….and that is a rare accomplishment .

  13. This is how my wife learned that her hometown in Illinois (Gibson City, pop. 3000) is the birthplace of Frances McDormand. She (Frances) didn’t live there long, but it’s the kind of thing you’d think would get mentioned in passing somewhere.

  14. Ah, still the hometown of the Master — Ray Bradbury! Perhaps because he mentions Waukegan so much in his writing and so much is named after him in the former Waukegan, Illinois.

  15. So my hometown is Logan Marshall-Green? Why not Spaulding Gray or Brian Howe or Linda Laubenstein?

  16. My town got Henrietta Lacks. As Daniel Tiger says, this gives me mixed-up feelings.

  17. I must be getting old, because things are getting just too weird from me. And I was considered a truly weird person growing up. Also, apparently I live is Seth MacFarlane, Who knew.

  18. Also, apparently so shaken by the weirdness that I was unable to preview and edit!

  19. Oh, wow. I apparently live in a serial killer, one I’ve never heard of. (But I was born in Barack Obama, so there. And my wife is from Cardi B.) Very interesting idea.

  20. Bruce Springsteen gets neither Freehold nor Asbury Park, NJ, but instead Bradley Beach (??), which makes me question the validity of this entire exercise…

  21. You have now officially become the Scalzi-boros! Or is it a Scalzi-oshka Doll?

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