Our very own John Carroll recently sat down with Gerald Mayers to discuss the word that’s been gaining the attention of the entire world wide web: HABANA. Is it “the new LOL,” as its proponents would suggest? Or is HABANA just another failed attempt to unseat the king? Here’s what Mr. Mayers had to say:
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did HABANA come from?
Oh, wow, well, I remember just shooting the shit with some pals of mine over brunch. My buddy Roman was telling a great story about his dumb — and I should note, former — tennis instructor. And I was sort of laughing at his story, but also keeping an eye out for the waitress. So she comes over, finally, as Roman’s hitting a huge punchline. And then my mouth tried to exist in too many places at once. Words and sounds married themselves on my tongue. HABANA was born.
Does HABANA stand for anything, then? I always thought it did because of the all-caps.
No, that’s a pretty common mistake. And some people try to create an acronym for it. But we decided early on it would be best for HABANA’s brand if it were capitalized front to back because it gives HABANA real life, as well as credibility.
Were you disappointed to see Merriam-Webster overlook HABANA this year? Many people were shocked it wasn’t selected as a new word for their dictionary.
Disappointed? No. I’m actually thrilled.
Why? Bad news is good news?
No, no. Many people would consider it an honor, but to me, HABANA is more than a word. It’s a way of life. To call it a word is to reduce it. My caddy had a good way of putting it just the other day, in fact: HABANA isn’t a thing, it’s the thing itself. I’m having that carved into wood and hung in my office.
What would you do if a different dictionary tried to pick-up the word for publication this year?
We’ve had discussions about that. All I can say is that my legal advisors and I have drafted the appropriate documents in anticipation of such an announcement.
Are you threatening to sue any dictionary that tries to designate HABANA as a word?
No, John, come now. No one’s threatening anyone here. That wouldn’t be very HABANA, now would it?
Can you announce here on JohnAndNick.com that you will not sue anyone who tries to put HABANA in a dictionary?
I simply can’t do that.
Why not? You seem to be contradicting your earlier comment.
I simply can’t give publications carte blanche to do what they want with HABANA. No one owns HABANA. This movement we’re all a part of is bigger than me, bigger than a dictionary, bigger than the Internet.
You say no one owns HABANA, but our records acquired just this week show that you have copyrighted the phrase and are currently producing t-shirts. Care to comment on that?
I don’t know what records you’re referring to.
These records. Right here. Your approved copyright on HABANA.
I’ve never seen these before. I’d need — listen, I’d need time to review them carefully before commenting.
OK, what about the t-shirts?
What about them?
How can you say no one owns HABANA and then go on to profit from t-shirts bearing the word HABANA?
I thought I made it clear that HABANA is not a word. HABANA is a choice. HABANA is nothing else other than HABANA.
Fine. How can you claim to not own HABANA when you’ll soon be profiting from sales of a shirt with HABANA printed on the front?
I’m not profiting. I don’t know where you got that idea from. Do your records have my bank account information on there? Does it say “shirt proceeds go into Gerald’s trust fund”?
No. It does not say that. But if you’re printing the shirts, it doesn’t seem like a leap to assume you’ll be keeping the money from their sale.
Actually, it’s a huge leap. Because all proceeds from sales of the HABANA shirts go directly back to HABANA. Who is profiting from HABANA? HABANA is profiting from HABANA.
How does a meme collect profits, sir? I’ve never heard of something like that before.
Meme? Did you just call HABANA a meme? Jesus Christ, John. I mean, call it a word if you’re going to call it a meme. Did you come here to disrespect me?
I’m sorry. I’m just trying to find some answers for our audience.
Fine. Next question?
Let’s talk about The HABANA Foundation. Your staunchest critics say that it’s just a front to prop up infamous friends of yours, like James Deegler or Shady Sadie. What do you have—
I’m sorry, but this is an area clearly designated off-limits in the agreement we signed before this interview. I don’t want to do this, but I have a respect for boundaries that you clearly don’t. Turn that off. We’re off the record now. Turn it off now, goddammit, or I’ll HABANA your ass so bad you’ll be shitting HABANA for years you selfish— [tape cuts out abruptly]