Kramer

Kramer is the name my mom’s father’s parents gave at Ellis Island because they thought it they might have an easier time with it assimilation-wise than Garfinkel. In Eastern Europe, if you want a WASP-y sounding name, you usually choose something German rather than British. My mom’s wing of her extended family calls itself the Kramer clan.

For most of you reading, the name Kramer will have a different association.

I have a similar build to Michael Richards and some of his birdlike awkwardness. I’ve been here:

In my early twenties I felt like I wanted to start dressing cool but wasn’t sure how to get started. Kramer is a goofy dude but he always looks sharp. He has some of the same fashion sensibilities as my grandfathers. Papa Kramer was tall like me, not a flamboyant dresser but he liked bright colors and patterns. Grandpa Hein had even more adventurous ideas about colors and patterns. Once I started intentionally modeling my wardrobe on Kramer, my personal look completely came together.

Seinfeld is comfort food for me. It simulates hanging out with Mom, the Kramer clan and the majority of my schoolmates. It’s like how King Of The Hill and Garrison Keillor simulate my dad’s family. But Seinfeld has some authenticity problems. Like, we’re supposed to believe that George, Elaine and Kramer aren’t Jewish. Frank and Estelle Costanza are supposed to be Italian? Whatever. Cosmo Kramer? More like Schlomo Kramer. My sister’s nickname for the changing of Jewish names and identities to fit into America is the semantic nosejob.

A few other fakinesses of Seinfeld: the slap bass riff on the soundtrack is a sampling keyboard. Aside from a few outdoor establishing shots, the entire show was shot in Los Angeles, even the street scenes.

But for all its TV fakiness, Seinfeld is sometimes remarkably psychologically truthful.

Sometimes it even has Buddhist wisdom.

“My name is George. I’m unemployed, and I live with my parents.” This kind of confident embracing of one’s own self with all its shortcomings is a powerful thing. It’s the basic psychological strategy at work in Barack Obama’s confessional writing. It conveys and inspires inner strength.

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