Time for another round of “Question Time,” where
I get to talk about myself even more than usual you folks get to ask me anything about anything, uni-related or otherwise. Here we go:
Are there any famous “uni failures” that you thought actually worked (e.g., LA Kings Burger King, Islanders fisherman, Phillies solid burgundy, etc.)?
I’ll always have a soft spot for the Mighty Ducks’ “Wild Wing” design.
Any plans on visiting Seattle again?
Funny you should ask — I’m going to be in Seattle in a few weeks, and I’m happy to announce that we’ll have a Uni Watch party on the evening of Monday, April 8. Not sure yet about the venue, but those wheels are already turning (please don’t send suggestions, as I already have too many promising-sounding places to choose from, thanks). And this party will feature a unique attraction that’s never taken place before. Further details on that in another day or two.
It’s been several years since you visited Boston. Any plans to come back?
Not at the moment, but I wouldn’t mind coming out for another visit. We’ll see.
Do you see an end to trend in which sports teams continue to adopt a wide variety of uniforms? It’s getting to be pretty ridiculous.
As long as people keep buying this crap, the teams and leagues will keep putting it out there. Want to encourage uni sanity? Don’t buy jerseys or caps. Simple as that.
Here’s something I’ve always wondered: The blog’s perspective seems to have a backward-looking bent — i.e., older/simpler/less corporate is better. Why is that? Is it because you are partial to the uniforms of your youth? I tend to think that we shouldn’t like things just because they are old, but this blog, generally, looks down on uni innovation. Why, for instance, does the UW community hate what Nike and Oregon (or UA and UMD) are doing? They are absolute game-changers in uniform design, fabric technology, and have actually made uniform innovation part of the schools . It seems like we should love these things.
It’s true that I’m a classicist — I think the classics are classic for a reason, whether you’re talking about the Cardinals’ uniform, the Rolling Stones, or the missionary position. More to the point, though, I think you’re defining several terms differently than I’d define them, or at least ascribing different cultural values to those definitions than I would. Simply because something is different, for example, does not mean it’s “innovative.” And simply because something is a “game-changer” does not mean it has changed the game for the better. And why do you equate “simpler” with “backward-looking”? And why is “less corporate” something you apparently dislike? (You’d prefer more corporate?)
What I’m really saying here is that yes, I may have some cultural or generational biases, but you appear to have quite a few of them as well. That’s fine, of course. It would be nice if our respective biases matched up, but it appears that they don’t. That’s life.
My standard is simple: If I think something is good, I say I think it’s good (and usually try to explain why); if I think it’s not good, I say I think it’s not good (ditto). There’s no agenda beyond that.
With such NHL teams as the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and New York Islanders experimenting with different design concepts and then reverting back to their original jerseys, do you believe that speaks more to a classic design that never should have been tampered with, or more to jersey designers these days not being able to get it right when redesigning a team that has been around 30-40 years?
Little bit of both, I’d say. See above regarding classics being classic for a reason.
Would a Melbourne Storm membership card request be rejected because of the color purple?
Yes, unless the request was submitted on May 17, which is Purple Amnesty Day.
What type of vehicle to you drive (other than your bike)?
I own a 2002 Mitsubishi Galant. It is a beautiful metallic hunter green, which is my favorite color. Completely unremarkable car in all other respects — it has four wheels, they’re round, and the radio works. That’s really all I need from a car.
Which U.S. location would you suggest to be a great, if not the best, New Year’s Eve destination?
The best New Year’s location is in your home, hosting a dinner party (or in someone else’s home, attending a dinner party).
You seem to wear the same type of cap in all photos of you. When did you start with that type? Do you have any ball caps with team logos or other types that you wear (e.g., Mets)?
I have three similarly-styled baseball-ish caps — fairly short brim, flat on top — that I’ve been rotating for many years now. I think I began wearing this style about 10 years ago, when I received a brown cap as a freebie at a chocolate promotional event (this was back when I did a lot of food writing). I also have a wool Irish skipper’s cap that I sometimes wear.
I used to have an old 1917 Brooklyn Dodgers throwback cap. I think that’s the only cap with a logo that I’ve owned in the past 25 years or so. I have no interest in wearing a Mets cap — not because I’m ashamed of being a Mets fan, but because I’m just not interested in wearing current MLB caps. Not my thing.
Why do you wear that stupid hat all the time?
I tend to wear hats when I go outside in cold weather. Makes a big difference in how warm I feel. And once I’m wearing a hat, I tend to keep it on, because I get serious hat head. Like, my hair gets totally molded and shaped. So once I’m wearing the hat, I’m stuck with the hat.
I don’t wear hats during the warm-weather months, however.
What sports stadium/arena would you reopen if you could? And what made that venue so memorable?
If we’re talking about places I’ve been to, I’d bring back Shea, although I wouldn’t argue the case on the merits. It wasn’t a remarkable venue — it was just special to me, because I grew up there.
I’m much more interested in seeing places that were already gone before I was born, though, especially Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds.
Cities like Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Barcelona use the same color schemes for their sports teams. Which city do you think would look the best doing this?
Eh, I dunno — while it’s cool that Pittsburgh does this, I don’t think I’d want other cities to start doing it. I like letting the teams have their own chromatic identity. And if other cities started doing the Pittsburgh thing, then it would be less special and more of a “Me too!” thing. Pass.
Back in the early ’80s when NFL facemasks started to have that second horizontal bar across the middle, some would have it cut off. Was that something the equipment manager would customize or were they made that way?
I’m assuming the equipment managers would do it, but I don’t know for sure. Anyone..?
Why don’t we hold an annual Uni Watch beefsteak for all the readers to attend? You know, sit around, check out everyone’s stirrups of choice, and gorge ourselves on beer and beef? I know I’d be up for something like that!
Not the worst idea in the world, although it’d take a fair amount of planning. For what it’s worth, the next installment of the Brooklyn Beefsteak at the Bell House is coming up next month, and I heartily encourage all NYC-area readers to attend that.
I roll my eyes when I read the same tired clichés in articles and blogs. “Iconic,” “having said that,” “at the end of the day,” and “moving forward” are just a few that I see used over and over by professional writers. As a writer, do you have any words or phrases that you try to avoid because they are so overused?
For some reason I have a visceral negative reaction to “reaching out.” Also “Shocked, shocked” and “threw/thrown under the bus.” I also hate the term “man cave.” And as many readers know by now, I hate the term “politically correct.” Also, I reallyreallyreally hate the overuse and misuse of the term “legendary.”
There are also some terms that are used a lot in the uni-verse (by commenters on this site, by people on Chris Creamer’s site, etc.) that I really hate. Among them: “My eyes!” (along with variants like “My eyes — the goggles do nothing!” and “My eyes — it burns!”); “monstrosity” (when referring to a bad uni design); “abomination” (when referring to a bad uni design); “craptacular”; “fail” (as a noun, as “jersey fail”); “fugly”; “Storm Trooper” (when referring to white uniforms); and “Vader” (when referring to black uniforms).
Not that you’re not busy enough or that Uni Watch/ESPN/Permanent Record aren’t time-consuming, but have you ever thought about adding another medium to Uni Watch like a podcast or videoblog of some sort?
I’m starting to do more video for ESPN — just little monologues to accompany my columns. Honestly, though, Uni Watch already takes up more of my time than I’m comfortable with. I’m not really looking to add more Uni Watch to my life.
Why do you think Reebok isn’t a bigger player in the college football uniform scene, and now that they don’t have NFL anymore do you think they will try to get into the NCAA?
Excellent question. If Under Armour can worm its way into the college football scene, you’d think Reebok could maintain a toehold there if they wanted to have one. So I’m assuming they don’t want to focus their efforts there, although I don’t know why. Anyone..?
If you could go back in time and watch one sporting event, which event would you watch?
Jackie Robinson’s first game.
Do you like ferrets and if so, what would you name your pet ferret if you had one?
I love ferrets! Not only are they adorable, but they prompted what is arguably Rudy Giuliani’s most entertaining and delicious public meltdown. But I can’t imagine naming a pet until I actually see/hold him/her.
Who owns the rights to the Cleveland Browns’ “elf” logo?
Um, I’m pretty sure the Browns do.
What is your opinion on the legalization of marijuana?
Not a drug user myself (aside from alcohol), but I’m generally pro-legalization.
I’m toying with the idea of starting a sports blog. What kind of hurdles did you encounter starting the Uni Watch blog (presumably in relation to selling ads/sponsors, trying to get interviews, etc.), and how did you overcome them?
I had a big head start when I started this blog in May of 2006. I was already established as an ESPN columnist (I had been writing for them since 2004), so that helped open some doors. And I already had a following of readers who contributed information and feedback. The blog was really just a spin-off of my ESPN column, which was already a fairly well-oiled machine at that point.
The site had no ads (except maybe some Google text ads — I don’t recall) for the first six months or so. I began getting inquiries from advertisers around Thanksgiving of 2006. These days the ads are a mix of small companies that seek me out and establish a relationship (No Mas, ShirtWhiz, etc.) and ad-serving companies that provide the rotating ads that you see on the site. It’s not big money, but it’s some nice extra pocket change.
Who would you rather go to the opera with – Barack Obama or Anna Nicole Smith’s dead body?
Trick question. Everyone knows I hatehatehate opera.
What is your shoe size?
I usually wear a 9.
I hope to be attending the MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field in July. What’s the best buffalo wings place/bar/joint to try around the area? Any other cool sports bars to hit up?
The area around the Mets’ stadium is really great if you’re looking for a carburetor or a muffler, but not so good if you’re looking for food. But there’s plenty of decent food at the ballpark, so you should be fine there. And about a 10-minute drive from the stadium is the completely awesome Lemon Ice King of Corona, which is not to be missed. As for sports bars, I hate them, so I’m the wrong guy to ask.
What do you think of the new Sporting KC uniforms?
They’re not terrible. Or at least I don’t think they are — I’m an awful judge of soccer uniforms. I kinda like the two-tone thing, though.
What is your favorite recipe for eating lamb?
I like to get a rack of lamb — eight bones — and quickly sear all sides in a skillet. Then I take a tablespoon or two of fresh rosemary and thyme, a few cloves of garlic, and some salt and pepper, pulse it all in a food processor to make an herb paste, slather it all over the lamb, and then roast it at about 350º for about 40 minutes (or, if it’s summer, put it in the smoker). Dee-lish.
With the infinite potential of uni info out there, and the nearly impossible task to review your all of digital archives (which may someday be considered an obsolete medium), have you ever considered writing a book — either fiction or non-fiction — to be a physical document of your career (whether it is uni-based or another esoteric subject that is sometimes lost in time)?
Some writers really obsess about writing books — it’s the ultimate feather in their cap, the big thing they’re always striving for, the totem that validates their writerly status. But I’ve never felt that way. Maybe it’s because I used to work in book publishing, so I have no romantic illusions about the industry. Also, I did publish a book back in 1997, which was fun, but it didn’t exactly change my life.
In general, I tend to think more like a journalist than like an author. I also prefer the immediacy of journalism (your work is published very soon after it’s written) to the long lag times that are inherent in book publishing. I have several book ideas in the hopper, but I’m in no hurry to pursue any of them, because I’m already overextended with journalism/media projects. My thinking has always been that if I find myself at loose ends, with no steady journalism work coming in, then I’ll know it’s time to shift gears and pursue one of the books. Until then, I’m happy with the way my work is currently documented.
If for some reason the Mets added purple to their color scheme, how would you react?
Very, very poorly.
We all know your low opinion of buying/wearing team jerseys (you jeeringly refer to them as “$200 polyester shirts”). My question is, is your stance against buying/wearing team jerseys more for the corporate reasons (too expensive, maker’s logo creep, etc.), or is it instead because you are of the “It’s silly to wear someone else’s name on my back” ilk?
You’ve actually hit upon two different issues here: (a) things that I’m opposed to and (b) things that just aren’t my bag.
Let’s start with why I’m opposed to jersey sales: First, yes, there’s the overpriced/corporate thing. I’m also uncomfortable with the extent to which being a fan is now equated with being a consumer. Most of all, though, I think jersey sales are bad for the uni-verse, because they become the tail that wags the on-field dog. If not for jerseys sale, we wouldn’t have BFBS, we wouldn’t have the flood of awful alternate jerseys, etc.
But even if we ignore all of that, wearing a Mets jersey (or whatever) just isn’t my bag. I have no interest in wearing a mass-produced item that a jillion other people are wearing, especially if we’re all gathering in the same place (a stadium, a bar, etc.). I mostly wear vintage clothing, including vintage jerseys, in large part because I like the idea that there’s a unique story behind each item. But that’s just my personal preference, not something I’d try to argue as a matter of policy.
Do you know why patches on baseball hats (World Series, All Star Game, etc.) are almost always worn on the wearer’s left of the hat?
I don’t know this for a fact, but I think it’s because there’s usually a TV camera in the first base dugout, so the pitcher’s cap logo is more visible if it’s on the left side of the cap.
You’re a big fan of meat. What do you think of vegetarians (or vegans) and the issue of factory farms and all the social and ethical issues that come along with them?
I love meat, but I have no illusions about the problems associated with it. Personally, I’m lucky enough to have access to really good meat — ethically raised, locally sourced, sustainably produced, blah-blah-blah. But most people don’t. There’s no question that our current meat production system (like the rest of our food production system) is unsustainable. At some point there’ll be a shakeout, which means people almost certainly won’t be eating as much meat 100 years from now, or maybe even 40 or 50 years from now. And that will largely be a good thing.
As an animal lover, I respect vegetarians (although I think vegans are a bit nuts). I also realize it’s no fun to be part of a marginalized group, and that definitely includes vegetarians. Whenever I write a “Culinary Corner” entry about meat, I always feel a little bad for the vegetarians in the readership. Not bad enough to keep me from writing the entry, mind you, but I do think about such things.
Recently I was having a friendly back-and-forth with a reader who said, “As a far-left punker who’s in the same demographic as you, I dig where you’re coming from 90% of the time. Now if i could only get you to go vegan, we’d be getting married!” As I explained to him, I think I could give up meat way more easily than I could give up butter.
I really hate the “shirt tail” bottom hem on the current NHL uniform. If it’s there to keep the sweater from tucking in to the pants, I don’t think it works. Will it ever go away?
I hate it too. I assume it’s here to stay — at least until the next “innovative” template comes around.
Who comes up with the short blurb at the end of your ESPN articles (“Paul Lukas, a lifelong 49ers fan and a passionate anti-purple partisan, views this year’s Super Bowl matchup as one of history’s purest expressions of good versus evil,” or whatever)?
I do. I just swap in a new one each time.
I’ve noticed that you define Uni Watch as a “media project.” That caught my eye because I’m a project manager by trade, and by definition a project has a start and end date. So, my question is this: Have you considered or even already determined an end date for Uni Watch?
I wasn’t aware that a project had to have a predetermined time frame. If that’s how projects are defined in the business world, well, okay, but I think that’s a very limiting definition, and I would argue that most people view the term very differently. Personally, I have lots of projects: Uni Watch, Permanent Record, One-Man Focus Group, Show & Tell, the Candela Structures, etc. None of them has a defined time frame. In each case, my goal is simply to explore the project until it feels like it’s run its course. That’s when it’s done. It’s not based on a schedule; it’s based on when the goals feel like they’ve been met.
In the case of Uni Watch, I’d say this project feels like it’s closer to its end than to its beginning. But I don’t have a firm end date etched in stone or anything like that.
How would you fix the Bengals’ uniforms?
I know lots of people love the Bengals’ helmet, but I’ve never cared for it. So I’d start there. You could still retain some bengal striping elsewhere on the uniform (maybe even as a center stripe on the helmet). But changing the helmet would be a good first step.
How come you don’t like “softball tops”? While I understand your thinking on the Yankees or other teams with such traditional uniforms having colored alternates, I don’t understand your discontent with an integral part of what makes baseball jerseys so interesting.
I guess I disagree about softball tops being “so interesting.” Maybe if they used completely different chest lettering, instead of just reiterating the team’s basic design in a different color — that might be interesting (or it might just be a disaster). As it stands now, though, colored baseball jerseys always feel like BP tops to me. I really don’t see why any MLB team needs more than a home uni and road uni. After that, it’s usually (although not always) diminishing returns.
Was the title of your New Republic column (“One-Man Focus Group”) deliberately chosen for the initials “OMFG”?
I wish I could say we were that clever, but it’s really more of a happy accident. Here’s the backstory: Back in the late 1990s, I was the marketing columnist for Fortune magazine, where my column was called “One-Man Focus Group.” We never thought about the name’s acronym, and I don’t know if the term “OMFG” even had any currency back then. Now fast-forward to two months ago: An editor from the New Republic called and asked if I’d like to do a column for them. We kicked around some ideas for the column name, and I said, “You know, if you don’t mind using something that I already used a long time ago, I think ‘One-Man Focus Group’ would work really well.” (I came up with the column name back when we used it at Fortune and it belongs to me, so I can re-use it.) The editor agreed, and then we both sort of realized all at once that it reduces to “OMFG.” That sealed the deal.
I’m a gun owner. I use them for to keep nuisance animals like snakes, opossum, squirrels, and beavers away from my cabin, for the occasional clay pigeon outing, and for deer, duck, rabbit, and quail hunting. Though I know many people who use handguns for protection, I don’t feel that need. Keeping the cottonmouth population down is my biggest reason for owning a shotgun. With your anti-gun logo on the site, do you see any situation where owning a gun is acceptable?
Before I answer your question, I should point out that the “anti-gun” logo you’re referring to is an ad, from an advertiser who prefers to remain anonymous. It doesn’t link to anything (at least for now); it just communicates a simple message, although that message is in the eye on the beholder. I really like it, because it has kinda functioned as a Rorschach test. Based on e-mails I’ve received (some angry, some appreciative, some puzzled), people variously interpret it as a Newtown memorial, a call to end gun violence, a call to ban handguns, a call to have Federal agents take everyone’s guns away, a call to repeal the Second Amendment, and more. Anyway, if you’d like to run a “pro-gun” ad, or an anti-cottonmouth ad, or whatever, I’m always happy to talk with potential advertisers.
Now then, as to your question: I can think of many acceptable situations for gun ownership, including the ones you cite for yourself.
This past NFL season, many players were wearing totally blank gloves. Brandon Marshall was one example. Was this solely due to the new Nike Contract? And what company makes said gloves? I can’t decide if it’s refreshing or cheap looking.
For gloves — like for everything else worn on the field — there are league-approved manufacturers (i.e., those that have promotional deals with the league) and non-approved manufacturers. If a player feels strongly about a particular non-approved brand of gloves, or footwear, or whatever, he can wear that brand, but he can’t show its logo. That’s presumably the case with the blank gloves you’re seeing.
Do you read much and have you read any good books lately?
I don’t read nearly enough books, and I especially don’t read enough fiction. The last book I read, which I finished maybe a month ago, was the biography of Yo La Tengo. Weak writing, but very solid reporting, and I know about half the people mentioned in the book, so that was fun.
I have decided to pursue a masters in journalism. My BA is in anthropology (I know, really applicable in today’s job market…), but I always thoroughly enjoyed writing all through my undergraduate degree and I am really set on making this into a career, even after considering the amount of long nights and debt I’m going to get myself into. So my question is: Where did you get your degree? Any programs that stand out in your eyes? Any advice for an aspiring journalist/writer?
I went to college at SUNY-Binghamton, where I got a four-year BA in political science. I also took a lot of philosophy, a bit of English, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t remember. I took exactly zero visual arts courses, which was a huge mistake and is the one thing I most regret about college. I do not have a journalism degree, and I’ve never had any interest in going back to school for that (or for anything else).
My degree and coursework have had little to do with my career. But college was still instrumental to my eventual career path in at least three ways:
1) College is where I learned critical thinking.
2) I wrote and edited a lot for my school paper, which taught me a lot about everything from reporting to print production.
3) I got heavily into music and records, and I began writing music criticism, which was my introduction to the larger world of cultural criticism.
My advice: Don’t go heavily into debt just to get a journalism degree. Debt is a sucker’s game. If you’re a good writer, you don’t need j-school; if you’re a bad writer, j-school won’t be enough to save you. Instead, write for your local alt-weekly, start a blog, start a zine, etc. In other words, do things to develop your voice. Figure out what you want to say and keep working on the best ways to say it. If you have some favorite writers, it’s fine to emulate them at first, as long as your goal is to eventually become better than they are.
Read lots of newspapers and magazines (good magazines, not schlock). As you read an article, imagine how the writer made the choices he or she made. Why start with this paragraph? Why take the story in this or that direction? Would you have made the same choices? How would you have approached these stories? (I still do this all the time when I’m reading.)
Don’t just think of yourself as a writer or journalist. Think of yourself as a creative agent who happens to be using writing as his medium. Good luck.
Uniforms using unique color shades appear to be more the exception than the rule. In the NFL, for example, almost every team that uses orange uses the same orange. Should teams be more creative in this regard? If so is there a color that should be more exploited?
I agree that color palettes have become too standardized. It’s mainly about production costs: If everyone uses the same shade of orange (or navy, or whatever), then you can use the same dye lots for all your production runs, which is more efficient and less expensive.
Naturally, I’d love to see more shades of green, since that’s my favorite color. But a wider, more nuanced color palette would be good for everyone. I don’t expect we’ll be seeing that anytime soon, though.
When it comes to wallets, are you a bi-fold or a tri-fold kind of guy?
Neither. This is my wallet. I’m told that it’s a motorcyclist’s wallet, but I don’t know or care about that — I just like it. I bought it in 1989 or ’90. It originally had a chain, but that broke in ’96. I don’t miss it.
I realize you like to cook. Do you like to watch cooking shows? If so, which one(s)?
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I loved watching Sara Moulton’s show on Food Network, and also the original (Japanese) Iron Chef. I don’t care as much for the current crop of cooking shows (plus I just don’t watch as much TV as I used to), although I occasionally find myself watching a bit of Chopped.
This is the part where I’m obligated to mention that Guy Fieri is more or less everything that’s wrong with America. So there, that’s out of the way.
Are you familiar with Zack Hample, the famed ballhawk with over 6000 baseballs in his collection? Have you had the chance to meet him or maybe do an interview with him? I’m asking this because he has put some uni-watch centric stuff in his blog posts and book, usually regarding the jerseys/shirts he wears to his games.
Heard of him but never met or communicated with him. Seems like he has enough exposure/coverage/etc., so I don’t feel a strong urge to seek him out.
Now that you’ve had a few months’ experience, what’s it like living down the street from the Barclays Center?
Definitely not as bad as I’d feared. As I’ve mentioned before, the main damage can’t be undone (businesses that were forced to close or relocate, buildings that were torn down, etc.), but I’m happy to say that the side-effects of the arena being in operation have been minor.
Do you know any history on how San Diego chose PADRES as their nickname? It is a rather unusual name for a sports team.
“Padres” is Spanish for “fathers,” and refers to the Spanish Franciscan Friars who founded San Diego in 1769.
Regarding your recent trip to the Daytona 500, what did you think of the paint schemes, and the look of the cars in general?
Honestly, the car liveries didn’t make a big impression on me. Maybe it was the distance from our seats to the track, or maybe I was too focused on all the other aspects of my first NASCAR experience. Sorry.
I was thinking a lot about the subjectivity of uniforms and how we tend to admire the looks of our heroes from when we were young. With you being a Niners fan, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say you admire the aesthetic of Joe Montana and that era of players. But as the generations shift, so do the overall aesthetics. So, looking forward, what do you think will be the next generational changes to the aesthetics of sports?
Hey, if I could predict that, I’d be a wealthy man, right? In general, though, I think we’ll keep seeing a move toward what I refer to as the superhero aesthetic. It’s just a question of how that aesthetic is going to be expressed. (As for the Niners, I always thought the pants piping was too wide in the Montana era, and I’m really pleased that they fixed that when creating the team’s current Montana-esque set.)
I admire your ability to use inanimate objects as the source material for interesting story ideas. Has generating ideas for articles always come naturally to you, or is it a skill you had to develop?
For the most part, I’ve generally been able to come up with lots of story ideas without too much difficulty. I used to worry about running out of ideas, or hitting a wall. But then it occurred to me that I’ve always found the world to be an interesting place, and that’s pretty much what drives my work. As long as the world remains interesting to me, I don’t think I’ll have any trouble coming up with things to say about it. (Finding editors who’ll let me say those things is a different challenge, but that has usually worked out for me as well. It just takes a bit more effort.)
Do you know what happens to sideline gear once a season is over? I’ve often wondered what an NFL team does with all the rain gear, cold weather gear, hats, gloves, etc. The apparel is new every year, and it seems to me that it could be put to good use specifically in urban areas through homeless shelters and the like.
Good question. We’ve all heard about what happens to phantom championship gear, but I’ve never heard about obsolete sideline gear. Anyone know?
Is it still possible to obtain or purchase a copy of your Beer Frame zine?
The only issues I still have copies of are Nos. 8 and 9. If you’d like to purchase those, they’re $4 apiece. Send a check or well-concealed cash to me at 671 DeGraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217. Much of the material from the first six issues is available in my 1997 book, Inconspicuous Consumption: An Obsessive Look at the Stuff We Take for Granted, from the Everyday to the Obscure, used copies of which can be had for a penny — literally! Beer Frame T-shirts, complete with a Brannock Device on the back (the same image as the one tattooed onto my right arm), are available here. And I still have a few copies of the Beer Frame CD, Object Lessons: Songs About Products, featuring written-to-order songs by the Mountain Goats, The Scene Is Now, Nothing Painted Blue, Men & Volts, and Vehicle Flips. That’s available from me for $20.
That’s it for this time, gang. My thanks to everyone who submitted questions. We’ll do this again soon.
By Brinke Guthrie
Nothing says the mid-1970s Swingin’ A’s quite like this poster, sent in by Richard Paloma. And speaking of posters, this 1971 ad says, “Official NFL posters $1 each.” Of the ones on that ad, I had the Vikes and the Chiefs. Boy, if they would just repro those!
In non-poster finds:
• I had these! A complete set of 1971 Kentucky Colonel “Pro Star Portraits” by the Great Volpe, of course. Got ’em at the Marathon gas station.
• Here’s a great-looking 1960s bobblehead for Les Habitants.
• MLB Opening Day is still a couple weeks off, but if your team is already doomed to the cellar, get this vintage 1960s “Baseball Crying Towel” ready.
• Nice set of 20 MLB pins from the early 1960s.
• Hey brewers fans, do you love Barrel Man? Then you’ll love this 1950s scorecard, submitted by Lou Sherwood. (That’s from when the Brewers were a minor league team, natch.)
• You should be able to complete your 1970s NFL helmet goalpost kit collection with this large set, which features four goalposts and 41 helmets!
Here’s a terrific-looking 1970s Tudor NFL game — with the Bengals! Never seen them in a Tudor game before, and I sure had the Bengals among my 15 or so teams I kept organized in a tackle box. Of all those little players, I have one left. And get this Tudor NFL Playbook to go along with it! (That play looks like a Z Post Slant, no?)
Seen something on eBay or Etsy that you think would make good Collector’s Corner fodder? Send your submissions here.
March Madness Pool: My thanks to everyone who responded yesterday to my call for someone to run this year’s NCAA bracket pool. I ended up giving the job to Will Rausch (he was the first person to respond), who has now set everything up. I now surrender the floor to him:
“Hello, Uni Watch readers. Over the next three weeks, the NCAA will hold a tournament to determine the D-I men’s basketball champion. Perhaps you have heard of it? In honor of this, the annual Uni Watch March Madness bracket is back. You can join tournament here (password: stirrups). If that group fills up, as has been the case in previous years, you can join the second group here (same password). Scoring and rules are the same as the past: one point for correct picks in the first round, two points in the second, four in the Sweet 16, eight in the Elite Eight, 16 in the semis, and 32 for picking the champion. One entry per person, please.”
Thanks, Will. The winner will receive a freebie prize from my swag bag. Get crackin’!
OMFG: My latest “One-Man Focus Group” column has a Uni Watch spin, as I’ve taken a look at sleeved basketball jerseys.
Uni Watch News Ticker: More teams wearing green from last weekend: the Dallas Stars; lots of college baseball squads, including Mississippi State, Southern Cal, Arizona State, Villanova, and Northern Illinois (eww, I hate that mesh); the Halifax Mooseheads; the Idaho Stampede; the Chicago Slaughter; and the Peoria Rivermen, among several other AHL teams. Also, in one of the MLB games for which I didn’t have photos yesterday, the Tigers wore green jerseys. Also-also, the D-backs didn’t just have green caps — they had green base coach helmets (from Dennis Anderson, Stan Capp, Josh Claywell, Bryan Farris, Michael Hersch, Rob Holecko, Ed Kozak, Anthony Nuccio, Chris Ruebel, Brad Smith, and Mark Snider). … The Dolphins will unveil their new logo and uni set on April 18. … Shame on New York State officials, who are reportedly considering corporate sponsorship for the Tappan Zee Bridge (thanks, Phil). … Great story about the Nats’ equipment habits. Key quote: “Nationals reliever Drew Storen, who studied product design at Stanford and designs his own shoe patterns for fun, used 37 baseball caps last season, according to his former roommate Tyler Clippard, who only used one” (from David Goodfriend). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s another example of an NBA team that wore sleeves: the St. Louis Bombers. Scroll down to see two photos of them. … Miami hoops player Rion Brown wore striped socks for the ACC championship game (from Benjamin Page). … I can’t decide if this is really awesome or really sad: A youth league baseball team in Florida couldn’t find a local sponsor, so the league ordered up some jerseys with “No Sponsor” printed on them (from Mike Edgerley). … Here’s a slideshow of bad restaurant uniforms (from Bryan Martin Firvida). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Stephen Curry of the Warriors blamed last Friday night’s loss on the sleeves (from Matt Beahan). … A hockey goalie at the U. of Vermont has put Taylor Swift on his mask (from Joe Giza). … Arsenal’s new home kit may have been leaked (from Patrick Runge). … “I watched the Japan/Puerto Rico WBC game on Sunday night,” says Jake Kessler. “The announcers were commenting on how Japanese ace pitchers are ofen assigned uni No. 18. The Japanese WBC pitching staff has four guys who usually wear No. 18. The senior 18 got to wear it, and the rest picked new numbers.” … Excellent article about how Nike and other outfitters are having an impact on European soccer roster makeup (from Eric Schmid). … This is pretty cool: A Louisville newspaper has combined two of the city’s greatest passions — college hoops and the Kentucky Derby — by creating horse racing jockey silks for each school in the NCAA tourney. You can click on each one to see a larger version (big thanks to Brian Davis). … Speaking of cross-sport concepts, Danny Garrison’s latest set of NFL teams recast as soccer teams is for the AFC South. … John Lesnik was watching some old MLB footage from the late ’60s and spotted this interesting Twins bat boy. … “In Sunday night’s 30 For 30 installment about the NC State tournament run in 1983, they showed clips of the postgame press conference, and Wolfpack players Dereck Whittenburg, Lorenzo Charles, and Thurl Bailey were clearly wearing New Mexico Football jackets, as you can see here and here,” says Patrick Woody. “Not sure what the circumstances were, but it’s really kind of charming that things were still loose enough back then that you could throw on some random jacket you (presumably) found in a locker room. Can you imagine that happening at a Final Four press conference now, in the age of making sure the Gatorade label faces the camera?” … “Sunday’s Milan-San Remo bike race (the longest one-day race of the year) was held in snow and rain,” writes Bernie Langer. “The race had to be stopped halfway through because conditions were too dangerous, and cyclists were bused down the course to where it was only raining. So lots of pictures of cyclists in full-body outfits in bad conditions. Also, here’s American Taylor Phinney after boarding the team bus mid-race, with ice frozen to his helmet.” Further info on bad-weather cycling here, courtesy of Sean Clancy. … New retro Sunday alts for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (from Ryan Boyle). … Those rumors about the Bobcats making a big announcement were apparently just that — rumors. … Ever see one of those old-school walking sticks with those little medallions? Perhaps unsurprisingly, those medallions are widely available on eBay. Some of them are really nice. Kinda remind me of bicycle head badges (from Markus Kamp). … And speaking of head badges, check out this one — with Ted Williams’s signature! That’s from an old Sears bike (from Phillip Garza). … A collector has found a copy of the phantom program from the 1958 match between Manchester United and Ipswich that was canceled after the Munich air disaster that claimed the lives of 23 people associated with the team (from Tom Moore). … Remember, Passover starts next Monday evening, which means you can now get Coke, Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, and other products made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. … Here’s a slideshow of the NCAA floor being laid down at Rupp Arena (from Josh Claywell). … The news of my faux-Twitter work on the next edition of Madden was featured yesterday on Kotaku. So not only am I working for a video game that I’ve never played, but I’ve been featured on a top video gaming site even though I have approximately zero interest in video games. At this rate I should have my own video game (which I’ll have no idea how to play) by next week. … Steve Eminger, who wears No. 44, lost one of his helmet numerals last night (from Bill Stewart). … The Brewers have posted a photo of the bobblehead that’ll be given away for Polish Heritage Day, or whatever that promotion’s gonna be called. “I’m guessing this will be a pretty good approximation of what the on-field jersey will look like,” says Geoff Poole, and I’m inclined to agree. … Longtime reader and hockey-blogging stalwart Teebz has a new project of interest, which I’ll let him describe: “I’m looking to build a visual catalog of musicians in hockey jerseys. I’m not interested in T-shirts or sweatshirts or jackets, because anyone can wear those. I want to create a vast pictorial collection of musicians wearing genuine hockey jerseys. It may also be interesting to see which musicians are wearing jerseys because they’re true fans, or if they accept jerseys based on their tour stops (*cough*TaylorSwift*cough*). Please read over the list found on this page and send any images you find to this e-mail address. Thanks!” … “I am a faculty member at the University of Phoenix out of Chicago, and the school has recently started an ad campaign about ‘lucky socks,'” writes Mike Konkoleski. “Because of this, all teachers received a pair of their own socks, emblazoned with the school’s phoenix logo.” … Aussie football news from Leo Strawn Jr., who reports that the Melbourne Demons will wear a members’ jumper on Aug. 18.