The big surprise about Portland, at least for me, is that it turned out to be the best neon signage town I’ve encountered in years, or maybe ever. Everything was beautifully, magically aglow and awash in deco details — not just the stuff you’d expect, like coffee shops, pizzerias and other eateries (also look here, here, here, here, here, and here), theaters (see also here and here), bars (also here, here, here, and here), arcades, bowling alleys, motels (here’s another, and wait until you see the one I stayed in), and hotels (one more here), but also less obvious candidates like bakeries, florists, pharmacies, vacuum cleaner shops, car services, the Salvation Army, the local homeless shelter, hardware stores, rug stores, paint stores (here’s another), sportswear shops, apartment houses, and dry cleaners. Anchoring all of this is the magnificent “Made in Oregon” sign, which stands sentry over the Burnside Bridge (for further details on this sign, look here; to see literally thousands of additional Portland neon photos, look here).
I don’t mind saying, however, that Collateral Gammage and I chose arguably the best neon sign in town for our motel: Behold the Palms. Is that totally the shit or what? And dig that crazy monkey! Go, monkey, go!
Kay’s is also no slouch in the neon department, and that’s where a contingent of Uni Watch readers gathered two Sundays ago. Here’s a quick recap:
• The suggestion to use Kay’s as our venue came my ESPN.com colleague Rob Neyer, who lives just a few blocks away. He wore a Benny Distefano jersey — supposedly game-used, although Rob said he was somewhat dubious of that, since it fits him so well (he’s a small-ish fella, much like myself). Thanks again for choosing such an ideal venue, Rob — much obliged.
• The man, the myth — ladies and gentlemen, this is Jeremy Brahm, and I can honestly say it was a thrill to meet him. He said he wore the Rangers jersey as a welcoming gesture to his NYC guest (i.e., me) — isn’t that nice? He also brought along a ton of Japanese baseball literature, as well as his college volleyball jersey (rear view here). Thanks for everything you do, Jeremy — you make Uni Watch a better place on a near-daily basis.
• That wasn’t the only logo tat on display, as Travis Demers lifted up his 1995 Braves jersey (complete with Pedro porthole action!) to reveal a Yankees mark. Travis had interviewed me on his local radio show a few weeks prior to my visit, and it was a treat to meet him in person.
• Here’s Ryan Wantland, co-principal of the excellent Pennant Race Gear T-shirt operation, one of Uni Watch’s new sponsors. I invited him to bring some tees along to sell if he wanted, but he declined, explaining that he didn’t want to turn the party into a sales pitch. Classy move, Ryan.
• This is Rian Davis, wearing a Seattle Rainiers cap.
• These were all really great people, but the star of the show was unquestionably Scott Little, who drove down from Longview, Washington. He supplemented his pillbox Angels cap and U. of Oregon bowling shirt with a No Mas tee, plus he brought along a big box of show-and-tell goodies (see also here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). And here’s the kicker: As we all kept asking, “Whoa, where’d you get that?,” his answer was always the same: “Thrift store. Paid about six bucks for it.” I was a little skeptical about this claim, but I had a follow-up rendezvous with Scott a few days later, and now I’m a believer. More details on that in a subsequent blog installment, probably later this week.
As always, it was a kick and a privilege to be able to meet my readers. Big thanks to all who came out, and for all the kind words — much appreciated.
Duck Season: Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, yesterday I received this photo from reader Matt Dorsch, who said he found it on a Washington Huskies fan site. “Whoa,” I thought, “the diamondplate is now reflective!” Matt said the NOB lettering was supposedly reflective as well. Intriguing, but I hadn’t heard anything about this, so I called Oregon’s athletic dept., where media relations rep Andy McNamara told me the shoulder trim and NOB lettering on this uni design have always been reflective. “Nothing new about it,” he said. “But it usually doesn’t show up unless the light is hitting it just right.”
Hmmmmm. Everything about this feels fishy. On the one hand, I don’t recall seeing or hearing anything about the Oregon uniforms being reflective. Could this be a big surprise they were planning to unveil on Saturday, and now that it’s leaked they’re trying to deny it, just to preserve the surprise? On the other hand, I repeatedly asked Matt to give me the URL of the page where he first saw the photo, and he hasn’t responded, which makes me question the photo’s authenticity. If anyone knows more about any of this, let’s hear it. (Update: Several readers have now confirmed that the jerseys have always been reflective. My bad for not having realized this.)
Uni Watch News Ticker: This has to be filed in the “Rumor” category for now, but Chris Josephson, who’s part of the Rangers’ TV crew in Arlington, checked in last night with the following: “I’ve heard from a few different people in the press box that the Rangers will have a few jersey changes next year. First off, none of the jerseys will say ‘Rangers’ anymore — every jersey will have ‘Texas,’ just like the current road grays and blue alternates. There’s also talk of a red alternate being thrown into the rotation. No word on what it will look like. I personally hate the idea of a red jersey, but fans have been calling for red’s return because the Rangers haven’t made the playoffs since the team got rid of the red about 10 years ago.” … You can see a short video clip of the Twins’ “Minnestoa” typo here. … Odd scene last night in Baltimore: Before the start of the Orioles/Chisox game, the two teams picked up a suspended game from April 28th — except the first 11 innings of that game had been played in Chicago. So the O’s were technically still the road team, but they wore their home uniforms, and the Sox wore their black alts. The two teams wore those same uniforms again for the regularly scheduled game. … This shot shows John McCain and Olympic gold-medalist Misty-May Treanor at Sunday night’s Marlins/Diamondbacks game in Arizona. The weird thing, as Corey Zoldan points out, is that May-Treanor is married to Marlins catcher Matt Treanor, yet she gladly donned the home team’s jersey instead of wearing her hubby’s colors. Pretty weak. … Latest Nike conspiracy theory can be found here (with thanks to Matt Shevin). … Next time you’re pissed off at the postal service, just blame Flying Elvis (great find by Adam Hutchison). … James Blake is a big Mets fan, so he wore this warm-up top while entering the court for his U.S. Open match yesterday and then wore this shirt, complete with a sleeve logo, during the match itself. Very nice, but it’d be even nicer if Blake would ditch the black (big thanks to Brinke Guthrie and Jonee Eisen for the screen shots). … Meanwhile, Blake’s opponent, Donald Young, used a Sharpie to black out a swoosh on his cap (credit L.I. Phil). … Some cheerleading uniforms at an Ohio high school violate the school’s dress code (with thanks once again to Brinke).