Okay, so I’ve been on the road for most of the past week or so (more on that in a minute), and I was mostly off the grid during that time, but occasional bits of news managed to trickle my way. So I’m aware, as I’m sure most of you are, that people have been chanting “Off with his head!” at some of Sarah Palin’s recent campaign rallies. At first I assumed this sentiment was directed at Barack Obama. Last night, however, the ugly reality became clear.
I direct your attention to this screen shot from last night’s post-debate analysis. As you can see, a certain enormous-headed sports mascot was among those milling about the Hofstra gym. It’s not clear what he was doing there (there’s gotta be an easier way to sell Citi Field season ticket packages, no?), but it appears to have been a set-up. Check it out: As onlookers watch in horror, an assassin brazenly approaches the hapless mascot, lifts off his head and removes it, leaving the mascot to wander off in disgrace. You can see a slideshow animation of the entire sickening sequence here. Off with his head indeed!
Political implications notwithstanding, this raises all sorts of mascot issues: Has anyone ever seen Mr. Met without his head? Will young Mets fans ever recover from the sight of his decapitation? How big a breach of mascotiquette was this? To address these and other burning issues, I immediately consulted my pal Liz Clayton (who, in addition to being my bandmate in the Forewords, runs the excellent Mascot Stalker site). Her reaction was blunt: “Someone should be FIRED.” And I don’t think she was referring to Omar Minaya (even though I am).
All of those screen shots, incidentally, are courtesy of our own latter-day Abraham Zapruder, L.I. Phil, who also points out that America’s latest national celebrity-for-a-day, Joe the Plumber, has already scored a Nike endorsement deal (although I think that might just be a stylized plumber’s crack logo, not a swoosh).
And to think the Rev. Nørb stood me up to watch rollerderby instead: Speaking of the Forewords, I’m happy to report that our world-debut tour was a big success (despite a typo on the marquee in Minneapolis, something I suspect we’re gonna have to get used to). The audiences were receptive and responsive even though they had no idea what they were in for, and the whole thing came off very smoothly. If any Uni Watch readers were in attendance, I’d be interested in hearing your impressions. Sorry, no video — just this photo (taken by Collateral Gammage at the very beginning of the Madison show) and this photo (taken by reader Tod Foley in Minneapolis), neither of which is particularly illuminating — but I’m sure we’ll be doing more of this, so stay tuned. And if anyone wants to book us for future events, feel free to be in touch.
While I was in Minneapolis, I had a summit meeting with Ricko, which was even more of a treat than I’d anticipated. I knew he had loads of archival files, and I knew he’d done lots of personal artwork. I didn’t realize, however, that he’s also done a lot of commercial artwork or that he’s a big uni collector. But the biggest surprise was that he’s a uni modifier. Small example: See the stripes on these pants? Ricko painted them onto the fabric. Seriously.
I have lots more Ricko stuff to share, but I’m gonna hold onto it for now, cuz I think he might be ESPN material. Gotta show some of this stuff to my editors and see what they think. Details to follow shortly.
After the short Forewords tour, Collateral Gammage and I spent a few days knocking around Wisconsin. The highlight was a visitation to the holiest shrine in all of bowling, Milwaukee’s storied Holler House, whose basement is home to America’s oldest pair of league-sanctioned lanes. They still use live pinboys, and normally you have to call ahead so they can make sure to have some kids on pinsetting duty, but we got lucky by walking in unannounced just as a league was wrapping up, so we convinced the kids to work another coupla games for us. As always, proprietress Marcy Skowronski was a total sweetheart. With the National Liquor Bar closed and Art’s Concertina Bar now having been sold and given a makeover, Holler House now assumes the mantle of my favorite bar in Milwaukee, and hence in America (at least until I make it to the Polish Falcons, which was closed when we swung by but whose bar and lanes look extremely promising).
The rest of the trip was a blur of autumn foliage, corn, soybeans, frozen custard, adorable pets (that’s my friend Kelly Hogan’s pooch, Augie — they hosted us at their house after the Madison show), more bowling sightseeing (that place wasn’t open, but it sure was purty), a visit to the octagon house in Watertown (also closed for the day, but we had fun walking around the grounds), chocolate overload (we hit about half of the outlets mentioned in that article), fun lodging, and my friends/heroes Julie and Johnie (they’re currently featured in this exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum, which we checked out on Sunday before staying at their farm in Whitelaw on Monday night).
October Raffle: Our friends at Helmet Hut produced the vintage helmets used in the new movie The Express (more info on that here), and now they’ve generously chosen to mark the occasion by having me raffle off an Ernie Davis Syracuse helmet. Like all Helmet Hut products, this one is authentic in every detail and is identical to the one Davis actually wore in his Syracuse days.
To get in on this raffle, send a blank e-mail with your name in the subject line to the raffle address (not to the usual Uni Watch address, please) by 10pm eastern next Tuesday, October 21st. If you’ve enrolled in the Uni Watch membership program, you can send up to four separate e-mail entries; non-members are limited to one entry. And that leads us to…
Membership News: In case you missed it late last week, all new membership program enrollees will now receive a $10 gift card from Distant Replays (not good on clearance items, one gift card per enrollee) — a particularly great deal when you consider that the membership fee is only $15 to begin with. Meanwhile, you can see lots of cool new designs in the membership card gallery.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Cheesecake artist extraordinaire Rob Ullman has done some new pin-up commissions for Uni Watch readers. This one was for my friend Carrie Klein (the illo was a wedding present for her brother and new sis-in-law, who’s shown wearing the Big Papi jersey) and this one was for Uni Watch reader David Kendrick. Then there’s this one, which Rob describes as follows: “Given to friends as a wedding present by my friend Alycia Kiley (it was a challenge making that Bengals jersey look decent).” … Boy, the good old days weren’t so good when it came to mascots. That’s Maryland’s Testudo the Terrapin, circa 1950s (nice find by Andrew Tanker). … That Cardinals prototype jersey that was up for auction (but didn’t sell) back in February appears to be back on the block (with thanks to James Poisso). … “I was in Modell’s today and came across these youth shoulder pads, made by Schutt,” writes Matt Powers. “Look familiar?” … Lots of good stuff currently on eBay, including some vintage stirrups (I may bid on those myself), an old baseball uni with a great sleeve patch, another interesting old baseball uni, a cool old band uniform hat, vintage equipment catalogs from Wilson, Rawlings, and Reach, and Reach again (trust me, that last one’s gonna go for a LOT of money). … Vince reports that the Drudge Report featured a pair of Lake Erie Monsters bobbleheads yesterday. … Jim Bullard just tipped me wise to this site, which makes, among other things replica leather helmets. Also old-timey jerseys, old school baseball gloves, even old-fashioned balls. … Looks like bullpen buggies may be making a comeback in 2010, at least if these guys have anything to say about it. If you poke around the site, you’ll find lots of good old photos. … Here’s one I haven’t seen before: A high school coach in Virginia was so disgusted by his team’s play that he had them change uniforms at halftime. Details here (with thanks to Tris Wykes). … I’m sure you’ve all already discussed the fact that the Texans wore blue socks on Sunday, instead of their usual red. While I would’ve preferred a white sock with blue stripes (to cut down on the leotard effect), I still think the blue hose are much preferable to the red. Let’s hope they stick with this. … The Canucks’ alternate jersey will supposedly look like this. Note that there have been several tweaks, none of them good, to the original logo. … Kevin Wang notes that the Stars’ helmet logo decal, which used to be green outline in gold, is now solid gold. … Is that a cedilla on Pierre Garçon’s NOB? If so, it’s an NFL first (great spot by Chad Stegemiller). … Good article here about the U.S. national soccer team’s jersey prep for World Cup Qualifiers (with thanks to Darin Doughty). … NCAA coaches will be wearing a special armband on October 25th to raise awareness of muscular dystrophy. Details here (courtesy of Corey Buck). … I’m sure there’s something out there stupider than this; I just can’t imagine what it would be. … Remember how Shea Stadium’s outfield wall was painted light green with black distance numbers (instead of dark green with white numbers) during the first homestand of the 1967 season, and how this was the only photo documentation we had? Now Bill Heatley has come up with more. “I dug up some color negatives I took as a 12-year-old on April 20, 1967 — Tom Seaver’s first win,” he writes. “As you can see, the outfield fence is painted light green with dark blue numbers.” Actually, the numbers look black to me, but he’s promised several more (and clearer) photos once he digs out all his old negatives, so stay tuned. … Doug Keklak reports the BC Lions of the CFL have turned their entire helmet decal into a memorial for their late CEO Bob Ackles, who died in July. The official text: “The BC Lions Football Club announced today that players will wear the popular and unique black third jersey combination including the distinctive orange helmet for two home games this season beginning with [October 10th's] tilt versus the Edmonton Eskimos. The 2008 version of the orange helmets will feature a stylized paw logo emblazoned with the name ‘Bob’ in honour of late Lions president and who passed away in July. At the conclusion of the 2008 season, the club will auction off the helmets with net proceeds to benefit the BC Football Hall of Fame -– a project that Ackles began before his passing.” The Lions have a decal on the regular helmet, and also a logo on the field. … Referees in the Division III MIAC used pink whistles last weekend for breast cancer awareness. Thanks to Matt Nelson for the pic.