Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, December 15, 2021

“Ambush”, the latest release from Rampage, has been on my iPod for a few months now. I got it as the Free Single of the Week off iTunes, and liked it enough to listen to it, but haven’t kept it in my go-to rotation.

But for some reason, my iPod’s shuffle setting has ticked up “Ambush” on a regular basis over this past week. That being the case — and the fact that I like the track’s groove enough to not fast-forward to the next random selection — I’ve noticed one set of lyrics that stands out for me:

Brooknam is just where I’m from

“Brooknam” being, of course, a designation for the rough parts of Brooklyn, combining “Brooklyn” and “Vietnam”. It signifies Rampage’s street cred effectively enough.

The use of “Nam” as a recognizable shorthand for a warzone, to be subsequently applied to any rough-and-tumble American neighborhood, speaks to the social resonance that the Vietnam War still has decades after the war ended. The source above traces “Brooknam” as coming into existence only ten years ago, so it suggests a good degree of currency.

Hearing this lyric brought to mind an even older example of this same New York-Vietnam amalgamation, albeit a wholly-fictional one. The groundbreaking mid-1980s graphic novel “Watchmen” includes a very brief (and somewhat cryptic) reference to “Viet Bronx”. The same idea can be inferred: A warzone in the run-down south Bronx, where gang warfare is still an unfortunate fact of life. (This may or may not materialize in the upcoming “Watchmen” major motion picture.)

Not sure any other boroughs/neighborhoods combine well with either Vietnamese syllable. “Staten Nam”? “Viet Harlem”? The applications may have run their course with the nicknames used in the title of this post.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/15/2007 02:33:07 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture, Movies, New Yorkin', Wordsmithing
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