Today’s lead entry takes a break from uni-related content, cuz I’ve got an unusual announcement to make. As most of you know, I’ve done several spoken-word gigs over the past year or so — readings, lectures, “performances,” whatever you want to call them. Now, in a really unusual twist, I’m going to be opening for a rock band, and I’m pretty excited about it.
Here’s the deal: My longtime pal Liz Clayton and I have been asked by our friends the Magnetic Fields (that’s them in the photo above) to serve as their opening act for part of their upcoming fall tour. Liz will be doing a PowerPoint presentation based on her awesome web site devoted to transparently repurposed fast-food outlets, Not Fooling Anybody (a few of you may have seen her present this same program at Union Hall back in January — it was hilarious), and I’ll be doing a PowerPoint devoted to … I’m not sure yet. My topic might be trade magazines (my topic at that Union Hall show), or it might be one of the other things I’ve presented lately, like the design evolution of butchery charts or the cultural history of the baseball cap. Or it might be something else entirely. I’m still deciding.
Liz and I, who are calling ourselves the Forewords, had hoped to do five or six shows on the tour, but it looks like logistical conflicts will limit us to just two: October 10th at the State Theater in Minneapolis, and October 11th at the Capitol Theater in Madison (as you might expect, I’m totally jazzed to be performing in Wisconsin). Ticket info for both of those shows, and for the rest of the tour, is available here. There’s a vague change that Liz and I might also work the shows in Jersey City (Oct. 23), Philly (Oct. 25), or DC (Oct. 26), but those are looking iffy at best.
Allow me to anticipate a few questions you may have:
Why would a rock band hire a pair of lecturers as their opening act?
For reasons not worth explaining here, the Magnetic Fields want very quiet openers for this tour. Plus they’re generally open to doing things in a rather unconventional way. (A long time ago, e.g., I saw their frontman, Stephin Merritt, get onstage in a small club and read a short story through a megaphone. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing that myself.) Plus-plus their audience is kinda bookish, so it’s not as much of a stretch for them to hire a spoken-word opening act as it would be for, say, Slayer. And I don’t mean that as a knock on Slayer.
Okay, but why’d they hire you?
My friend Claudia Gonson, who’s the Magnetic Fields’ drummer and manager (and is also good friends with Liz), attended one of my readings last winter and liked it. Afterward, she told me, “That was great! You should open for us sometime!” I said, “Sure, just say when,” and then I pretty much forgot about it until Claudia brought it up again last month.
How long will your “set” be?
Not long. Figure about 30 minutes total, shared between Liz and myself.
Will your name be on the marquee of the theater and everything?
Not my name, but we’re hoping that “The Forewords” will be listed in big letters, and that we’ll also be listed in ads, on tickets, etc.
Are the shows close to selling out?
I have no idea, sorry.
I’m not familiar with the Magnetic Fields. Where can I hear their music?
You can check out some of their tunes here. I’m sure you know how to track down music elsewhere on the internet.
I don’t like the Magnetic Fields, I don’t care about your friend Liz or her web site, and I don’t wanna spend $27 just to see you talk for 15 minutes. Isn’t there some way I can pay a reduced price just to see you?
Can you put me on the guest list?
If your name is Minna H., yes; otherwise, no.
I live in one of the other cities on the tour. Can’t you please perform in my city, just for me, because I’m asking so nicely?
Who’s going to open for the band during the rest of the tour?
My friend Rob Walker (author, blogger, journalist, and all-around swell guy), who lives in Savannah, may end up doing a spoken-word thingie for the Atlanta show on October 17th. Not sure what’s up for the other dates on the tour.
Will you be having Uni Watch parties in Minneapolis or Madison?
Unfortunately, there won’t be time for that. Ah, the busy life of a rock star.
Hey, Ricko lives in Minneapolis. Will you check out his clip files while you’re there?
Way ahead of you, my friend.
Do the Forewords have a web site?
Not yet. Soon.
Will you have Forewords T-shirts for sale?
No. We might do other merch, like bookmarks or staple removers or pencil cases, but then we’d have to sit at the merch table and sell them, and we’d rather hang out with friends, eat, drink, watch the Magnetic Fields, etc. Still, I really love the idea of having merch for a spoken-word act, so it might end up happening anyway.
Wait, don’t you hate merchandising? Hypocrite!
As I’ve explained many times, I’ve got nothing against merchandising, branding, or marketing as long as they’re done in appropriate places — like, say, at the merch table at a rock show. But if thinking that I’m a hypocrite makes you feel better or scratches your “Gotcha!” itch or whatever, be my guest.
Back in December, after you mentioned that you and “fellow Chosen Person” Claudia Gonson hung out on Christmas Day, her Wikipedia entry briefly included the following: “Is Jewish. Is friends with the guy who runs uniwatchblog.com.” Who put that in there?
Good question. Anyone care to ’fess up?
Will you have any ridiculous stipulations in your rider?
My hotel room number must be an odd number, preferably prime. (This demand would carry a lot more weight if I were actually being put up in a hotel.) Also: I really like toast, and I especially like toast made from the second and next-to-last slices of the loaf (i.e., the two slices just inside the heels), which are denser than the rest of the slices because of the way the dough gets compressed against the ends of the loaf pan. So I’d like my dressing room to be stocked with six or eight of these particular slices — let’s call them the rider slices — along with a toaster and some salted, pre-softened butter. Thank you.
Is it true that the opening act always gets the hottest groupies?
That’s what I’ve been told.
Thanks for your kind indulgence. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Uni Watch.
Chat-A-Tat-Tat: I’ll be doing a live web chat on ESPN.com tomorrow at 3pm eastern. They haven’t yet given me the URL where it’ll be taking place, but I should be able to post it here on the site tomorrow morning.
Signal Flare: Yo, Phil Miller, are you out there? If so, please give me a shout.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The NFL has confirmed for me that the captaincy patches will be worn again this season. Toss in the league-wide Gene Upshaw patch and the various commemorative patches and we’re looking at a very patch-y season. Can’t wait to see how they fit the Super Bowl patch into the mix next February. … I didn’t watch the MLB home run derby back in July. But according to this item in yesterday’s New York Times, it included the following voiceover: “The State Farm Home Run Derby, brought to you by State Farm, proud sponsor of the State Farm Home Run Derby.” … Weird to see a shin guard being worn so high. … More logo-branded socks — and not Phiten this time. Also: Note the purple shoelaces! … Wade Harder notes that officials in the Clemson/’Bama game had the Adidas logo on their caps (additional view here). I don’t recall seeing that before — is it a new thing? … Speaking of which, what’s that little tone-on-tone mark on this official’s cap? Is that a Rawlings logo? … The Canucks will honor Luc Bourdon this season “with an element added to each player’s helmet,” which I assume means a decal (with thanks to John Muir). … Also from John: Now there’s a collection. Details here. … Starting next year, Maryland will be outfitted by Under Armour. Further info here, and there’s a photo gallery, which includes a peek at what will apparently become their hoops uniform, here. … Here’s an NOB issue I’d never thought of before (with thanks to Dan Netser). … Johnson C. Smith University’s football team wears some crazy two-tone pants. Additional pics here and here (courtesy of Tyler Rodgers). … Yesterday’s post about those 1977 All-Star Game mystery photos resulted in a lot of theories (this was my favorite) but nothing I’d consider plausible, much less definitive. Todd Radom helpfully sent along the official A.L. team portrait, which helped clear up a few issues, but the fundamental mystery of the guy in the Yankees road uniform remains. … The fetishization of Gene Upshaw’s death is proceeding nicely. … The MLB Network’s logo will look like this. I don’t have enough room here to describe how bad it is, but let’s start with this: What the hell is that triangle doing on the bottom, other than filling up a triangular space that they didn’t know how else to fill? … Tantalizing communiqué from Rob McGill, who says he found an item on a “long-dead blog,” from “a kid who worked in the archives at This Week in Baseball.” The kid supposedly reported the following: “I found some really cool stuff [from 1977], including a story about a game where the Royals had to wear the Brewers’ road uniforms during a game because their uniforms didn’t make it to the stadium on time. It was crazy, you had the road brewers against the home brewers.” I’ve written about lots of situations involving lost uniforms, but I don’t think I’ve heard about this one before. Anyone..? … Wanna see John McCain in a basketball uniform? Here you go, bottom row, second from left (with thanks to James Yeh). … Yet another Nike conspiracy theory that I had nothing to do with (but Brinke Guthrie did). … Nothing made me smile yesterday as much as this, this, this, and this. They’re from this eBay listing, which was posted in last night’s comments. Great, great stuff. … Congrats to reader Matt Powers, who’s been training to be a football ref and had his first gig yesterday — “four way JV scrimmage up in Nyack with Mamaroneck, Horace Greeley, and Somers,” he says. “Even better, I came home to find my membership card waiting for me — the perfect ending to a great day.” … Latest example of advertising where it doesn’t belong: Go to your favorite MLB team’s web site, look at the September schedule, and check out Sept. 16th. “A Star Wars-themed promotion at the stadium that day?” asks Sean Wilson. “Nope. That’s the day LucasArts releases ‘Star Wars: The Force Unleashed,’ their new videogame. They seem to have struck a deal with MLB to promote this with this stupid picture of Darth Vader on the schedule of EVERY team. Not baseball-related at all but on the schedule anyway is. Maybe not a new low, but pretty bad nonetheless.” Au contraire, I’d say it IS a new low. … Reebok is going to equip all the Champions Hockey League teams woith Edge uniforms (with thanks to Paul Richard Cook). … The NBA’s OKC team’s new identity will finally be revealed today at 6pm eastern, and aren’t we all just dying from anticipation. … Buttons strike again: In last night’s Padres/Dodgers game, Chip Ambres hit a grounder to Angel Berroa, who got in position and fielded the ball but didn’t come up throwing — because the ball had lodged inside his jersey. Much like Sarah Palin’s daughter, Berroa chose life, opting to have the baby and marry Ambres.