We’ve had a lot of chatter in the Comments section lately about the use of Native American imagery on uniforms and logos. So it felt like a nice coincidence the other day when my friend Rob Walker told me about a clothing brand called No Mas, which specializes in politically charged appropriations and recontextualizations of sports logos — like this T-shirt (note the tears), this patch, and these jackets (click on the thumbnails for bigger views — they’re amazing).
But No Mas’s designs go way behind Indian symbology. Check out this Baghdad Oilers tee, this Astros appropriation (there’s also a jacket; here’s the rear view), and this totally brilliant ode to Wilt (if you don’t get the joke, look here).
In some cases you have to look closely to get the point. This jacket, for example, seems pretty conventional, until you see the back. Others are simpler but just as clever, like this backed with this. Some of the messages are strictly sports-related, like these two jackets, whose rear designs speak for themselves. And then there’s my favorite of the whole lot.
It helps to know that the guy behind all this is really, really smart. His name is Chris Isenberg, and you can read Rob Walker’s excellent two-part interview with him, which touches on a lot of sports-related topics (some of them logo-related), here and here. Isenberg and one of his buddies (who simply goes by “Large”) also maintain a sports blog on the No Mas site, and it’s impressive stuff — sharp, articulate, and willing to cut against the grain. Two recent entries, for example, do a good job of arguing that this whole “Ali invented rap” thing is bullshit at best, condescending at worst.
Isenberg lives in Brooklyn, but I haven’t met him yet. I’m looking forward to rectifying that soon (we were supposed to have dinner last night, in fact, but he had to cancel at the last minute). Want to get your hands on some of his merch? Unfortunately, many of the designs I linked to earlier in this entry are no longer available, but you can get some of them here and here.
Update: If you’re interested in any of the jackets or other art pieces shown in this entry but not listed in No Mas’s online store, contant Chris Isenberg directly, here.
I wound up using this as an opportunity to get my dad a cool Xmas gift. As long as I can remember, he’s always said Ernie Banks personified everything the game should be about, so I got a 1969 Banks jersey for him. And even though the 1919 Black Sox nearly destroyed the game, for some reason I still love those jerseys of theirs, and Eight Men Out is one of my favorite movies too, so I bit the bullet and got that one for myself. Threw in a cool Houston Colt .45s hat, too — something you’ll hardly ever see. So yeah, I went a little nuts, but it was fun.
Congrats again to Derek. I hope to have word soon on which helmet was chosen by Pete Ellingsworth, who won the Gridiron Memories helmet raffle.
Elms [Family] Tree: Last week I mentioned that reader Elena Elems had helped ring in the holidays by graciously sending a tin of stirrup-frosted cookies to Uni Watch HQ. Now her sister Vernona has contributed a pair of cat toys for Uni Watch mascots Tucker and Caitlin. “Since I live in Washington, D.C.,” she writes, “I thought I should send the kitties something political (and bi-partisan, since I don’t know if they’re Republicans or Democrats).” The result: catnip toys shaped like George Bush and Hillary Clinton, which are being licked, swatted, and generally ripped to shreds at this very moment.
A big thanks to the Elms gals, who are giving sibling rivalry a good name. If you too would like to see your cookies, cat toys, or other gifts showcased in this space, the address is 671 DeGraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Looks like the Gators may be wearing that 100th-anniversary patch in the BCS title game after all (with thanks to Josh Coney). … Our occasional discussions of pointed collars are put into new perspective by this photo of the 1903 Georgia Tech women’s hoops team (good find by Mike Raymer). … Speaking of Swoosh, Inc., you’ve probably heard that they’ve struck a big deal with Virginia Tech. What you may not have heard — and what I didn’t realized until Pat Kenny pointed it out — is that the deal was secret until the Roanoke Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain it. Details here. … Excellent interview here with Panthers equipment manager Jackie Miles. … Gee, what a surprise. … Carlos Beltran sure does love that Jesus guy. The cap is part of this auction lot (spotted by Eric Stangel). … Good shot here of Jeff O’Neill clearly wearing a necklace. The odd thing is that he doesn’t wear uni No. 18 (or play first base), so what’s with the pendant? (An assist to Dan Sherman, who also sent along links to two eBay auctions — one for what might be history’s most amusingly ugly hockey jersey, and another for a jersey with the coolest uni number ever.) … Several readers have noted that CCM has a new logo, as seen here on Alex Ovechkin’s helmet. … Kudos to the Indianapolis Police Dept., which has decided to ditch the black — or, more specifically, decided not to use black in the first place. Details here (with thanks to Blaine Williams). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: Radim Vrbata, who normally wears a visor, was wearing a full-face cage last night. … Also from last night’s comments: Nice article in today’s New York Times about NHL goalies. Note that the circa-1954 photo at the top of the article shows two different Rangers wearing the captain’s “C” — what’s that all about?