Know Thyself & Thy Name

The origin of “Mookie” and how it has influenced my sense of self

Mookie Spitz
3 min readMar 1


People often ask me the origin of “Mookie,” a nickname with cross-cultural echoes from baseball players Mookie Blaylock and Mookie Wilson, to Mookie from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, to the scene in Scorsese’s Mean Streets where young Al Pacino’s character goes apeshit in a pool hall after somebody calls him a “Mook”.

My moniker actually comes from the Hungarian “Muki,” a name given to dogs, usually the sheepherding Puli. The breed is shaggy and rambunctious, having non-step energy and endlessly yapping. Their behavior is appropriate and even necessary for their duties on the farm, but can become a nuisance around the dining room table.

As a toddler I must have already displayed similar behavioral characteristics, my father Laszlo christening me “Muki” to essentially peg me as a small, loud, and annoying little beast. Given his taciturn nature and zero tolerance or ability for any meaningful communication whatsoever, the name made sense and stuck.

Our character is indeed our destiny. Fast forward, and the nickname has carried through into adulhood. Muki since transformed into the Americanized Mookie, the sentiment reinforced after all these years. A compulsive over-sharer since birth, I enthusiastically personify my father’s endearing insult to stake my own claim.

Like the Who people in Dr. Seuss’ Whoville, I clamor to be heard, yearn to be understood. “I am here! I am here!” is my daily mantra as I emotionally compensate for growing up in a household of STFU and screams, an unhappy home where my existence was never acknowledged or validated. For me Silence = Death, a return to muzzled dreams.

So if you’ve ever wondered why my life seems like an open book, why I’m a social media Descartes “I post therefore I am…” and why I take such satisfaction in annoying all of you, the explanation is simple: Little Mookie needs to bark and yap at everyone’s toes to feel heard and valued, a hedge against childhood traumas, laughter in the dark.

And if you’ve ever wondered what triggers me, it’s not differing opinions or even insults — it’s any hint of muzzling. To be silenced is to be invalidated, is to send me back to my room, is to deny my existence even matters. My father named me Mookie, and like any Super- or Anti-Hero, I refuse to let my creator control or destroy me…

What’s your nickname? How has it influenced your life, and what does it say about you, how you’ve lived, and what you aspire to still become?

P.S. What about “Spitz,” you might also ask? German for “point” or “tip,” in Deutschland a ballpoint pen is a spitzplume, the city at the top of the world is Spitzbergen, and a popular cheer at futbol games is “Das ist spitze!” suggesting one’s team is at the top of their game. Meanwhile, a nickname is a spitzname, not sure why, but maybe because it’s preferred?



Mookie Spitz

Chicago native now in New York City by way of LA. Hungarian parents, Korean kids, racks of electric guitars, shelves of Rubik's Cubes, and mountains of LEGO.