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    alex beam

    The same-name identity crisis

    President Nixon, at a news conference on March 15, 1973.
    Charles Tasnadi/Associated Press File
    President Nixon, at a news conference on March 15, 1973.

    It’s Richard Nixon on the line.

    I wanted to reach the author of “America — An Illusion of Freedom,” to find out what it was like to practice law in Southern California burdened with, or buoyed by, the same name as the California senator who later became the 37th president of the United States. (This Mr. Nixon uses an e-mail address in which “pres37th” comes before the symbol @.)

    “It’s been a roller coaster, having that name,” the 74-year-old attorney told me. “Sometimes you’re in court, and the judge looks askance at you. I thought I would finally capitalize on the name to promote my book about the Supreme Court rewriting the Constitution. Frankly, I’m not getting as many hits as I thought I would.”


    I asked Nixon, who thinks America has been moving “back-asswards” for decades, what he thought of his namesake. “To be honest, Richard Nixon was not my favorite president,” he replied. “He wasn’t conservative enough.”

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    So many people, so few names.

    Have you noticed that Steve McQueen is back in the theaters? And here I thought the “King of Cool” had vanished into the Mexican desert, Ambrose Bierce-like . . . Oh, wait. This Steve McQueen is British, black, a commander of the Order of the British Empire, and the director of the intensely moving film “12 Years a Slave.” My error. But there are so many Steve McQueens around, such as the actor’s grandson, who played Jeremy on the TV show “The Vampire Diaries.” Fox-TV’s Dr. Gregory House had a pet rat, also named Steve McQueen.

    I’m a friend of Roger Simon, the Politico columnist. There is another, more conservative scribbler named Roger Simon, who writes for the website Pajamas Media. (Don’t ask.) Last month Pajamas Roger suggested that Politico Roger was “off his meds” for attacking the government shutdown, using strong language.

    There is no peace between the Roger Simons. According to Pajamas R.S., Politico R.S. once stood him up for an interview. “Meet the Press” once flew Pajamas Roger across the country, only to learn they had booked the wrong guy. When I showed my Roger some of Pajamas Roger’s rantings on this subject, my man commented: “I think if you rearrange the letters Roger L. Simon it spells: Narcissism.”


    I was surprised to learn that my friend Jeff Jacoby ran for Congress in Wyoming last year. In days of yore, Jeff and I had adjacent offices in the steerage section of the Globe building, and we enjoyed each other’s company. But wait; Wyoming has one congressperson and her name isn’t Jeff. The Jeff Jacoby who didn’t make it to Congress is a funeral home director from Cheyenne. Oops.

    I met John Tierney at a swank dinner last month. This isn’t the New York Times science writer John Tierney, and it isn’t the North Shore Congressman John Tierney, either. This Tierney, a personable and intelligent man, is a retired Boston College political science professor who came up to tell me how much he enjoys my writing, etc.

    During the evening, it emerged that John’s brother-in-law is James Fallowzzz (a.k.a. Fallows) the prolix chin-puller who writes for the Atlantic magazine. I felt obliged to tell Tierney that a member of his family once wrote to the Globe, complaining about my relentless mocking of Fallowzzz. I did lay off Fallowzzz, but I have yet to hear from John Tierney again.

    John — tweet me! @imalexbeamyrnot. One of the Alex Beams I am not is the longtime proprietor of the famous Memory Lane Car Museum in Mooresville, N.C. Samuel Alexander Beam, Jr., “the only grease monkey to have graduated from Davidson College,” as he calls himself, was thriving when I checked in earlier this week.

    At the end of a friendly chat, Mr. Beam ventured that he and I might meet in heaven, if not on this earth. I chuckled. Who knows how many Alex Beams they’ll be accepting into heaven? I suspect his claim may be more secure than mine.

    Alex Beam’s column appears regularly in the Globe.