My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas (chosen people and all that”¦), but Uni Watch hedge fund analyst Jenny Strasburg and I had our own little Christmas celebration last Wednesday, before she had to fly home to spend the real holiday with her family. And even though I stayed away from the computer for most of the day, the specter of Uni Watch seemed to hover over me all day long.
We began by checking out the Design Triennial exhibit up at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. There was one entry that included a critique of corporate branding, including the Nike swoosh, so of course I enjoyed that. But there were also two entries that featured actual Nike products, including — get this — a purple Nike running suit. Jenny saw this before I did and tried to steer me away from it, but it was no use. After staring, transfixed, for about a minute, I vomited all over the display.
Okay, not really, but I wanted to.
The exhibition also included some work by a menswear designer named Thom Browne. I’d never heard of him before, but the little placard accompanying his display included the following quote from him: “I love uniforms. They make everything so easy.” And sure enough, his work features lots of stripes, piping (sometimes lots of piping!), even striped socks. I’d never wear any of this stuff, natch, but it was still cool to see uniform details seeping into haute couture.
From there we went down to the New York Public Library, where they had an exhibit on the history of “rakish” menswear. Lots of great stuff, as you can see here and here. But what really stopped me in my tracks was an illustration of a dude with one vertically striped pant leg, accompanied by the following caption, which I copied down on the spot:
As early as the Middle Ages, striped cloth had achieved a reputation as the “Devil’s Cloth.” Stripes were associated with deviance and criminality. Even after striped garments like hose had become socially fashionable and a hallmark of heraldry, the design evoked licentious connotations. Young Renaissance warriors (and civilians) wore their eye-catching stripes with bravado — knowing that their rakish appearance would test their society’s tolerance level.
Explains a lot about my preoccupations, no? (Maybe explains Sean Taylor, too.)
We eventually made our way back to Uni Watch HQ, where we cooked this into this, and then it was time for presents. Let’s just say Jenny knew who she was shopping for. Among other treats, here’s what I scored:
• This book, published in 1952. It would be worthwhile for its cover photo alone, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Imagine my reaction, for example, when I saw the title of Chapter 7. There’s a fair amount of uni-centric text scattered throughout the book, including the following account of the players lining up to receive their uniforms:
Each boy stood patiently until he received his equipment. Then with a shrill yell he rushed over to the grassy part of the field, carefully laid down his pile, and hastily began pulling on the uniform on top of his T-shirt and pants. After checking the uniform for size, each boy carefully bagged the trousers in the approved big league manner. Then, with cap pulled down at a studiously careless angle, he fled for home.
Gotta like that.
• This book (see link at right), which features hundreds of New York Daily News photos from the golden age of New York baseball (including some taken just a few blocks from where I live). There are way too many amazing pics to go over here, so I’ll just showcase a few: Willie Mays and Monte Irvin co-owned a liquor store, and looked mighty sharp while running it; check out the great old logos on this TV camera; and here’s another reason why I’m proud to be a Brooklynite.
My good fortune continued the following day, when I had drinks with Uni Watch publicist Carrie Klein, who surprised me with this swell trinket (here’s a bottom view). Isn’t that nice? It has taken all my willpower and self-restraint to refrain from removing the little perforated hole-punch.
Two days after that, on Xmas Eve, I went over to my friends George and Scout‘s place, where a small but festive crowd had gathered. We ate the Meal of the Seven Fishes (count ’em: oysters, smelts, cod, some sort of little bait fish thingies [sorry, I forgot to snap the photo until they were almost all gone], mussels, angel hair pasta with whiting sauce, and scallops), and then my buddy Dave Herman (who last year got me a pair of New York Rangers socks) gave me the gift to end all gifts. Now, as some of you know, I’m am extreeeeeeemely fond of beef, pork, lamb, and the like. And of course I’m also fond of uniforms, and of a certain National League baseball team. All those things came together when Dave presented me with this. Yabba-dabba-do!
All in all, a swell holiday. Hope yours was, too. If you got any cool uni-related swag, feel free to send photos this-a-way.
Uni Watch News Ticker: A while back someone mentioned in the Comments section that Kirk McLean had the word “Weird” written on the underside of his skate, but photographic evidence was lacking — until now (with thanks to ESPN.com photo czar Sean Hintz for the blow-up inset). According to this page, the “Weird”-ness started when McLean “was deemed too ‘normal’ by the [Vancouver] team trainers,” so they added the inscription to his skate. ”¦ Speaking of goalie weirdness, check out the illustration of Marvin the Martian on Patrick Lalime’s stick. ”¦ Remember our discussion of target-like hockey jersey logos? That came to mind when I saw this photo of what Yutaka Fukufuji, now in the Kings’ organization, used to wear in Japan. ”¦ Here’s a rare non-Japanese contribution from Jeremy Brahm: “In 1998, Real Sociedad of the Spanish First Division, had a fan killed by neo-Nazis. So for one game, the team wore his name, A. Zabaleta, on the back of their uniforms as a tribute to him.” ”¦ Nice bit about the 49ers’ throwbacks here (with thanks to Chris Kaufman). ”¦ The January issue of Smithsonian magazine includes this photo, with the following caption: “According to team lore, the Harlem Globetrotters first take the court in January 1927. They are a road team in the Midwest — not New York — and the name promotes the players, who are black. Soon known for trick shots and comedy routines, they will bring basketball to new audiences in more than 100 countries. As for Harlem, the team finally plays there in ’68.” ”¦ Totally cool auction items here, here, here, and here. ”¦ Another racer-backed women’s hoops school: Alabama State (as spotted by Richie Murray). ”¦ More archival college photos, this time courtesy of Steve Delaney, who writes: “I’m a student at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. I was looking through a PDF file today of our alumni magazine and saw some real photo gems. It’s a 44-page document and you’ll really want to focus on pages 18-23. In there you’ll find a photo of field hockey players from the early 1900s (apparently we had the second college field hockey team in the US). And in the early days, Hood had a tradition of giving blazers to deserving athletes (not unlike present day varsity jackets). You can see examples of those on pages 19 and 23.” They apparently gave out varsity sweaters, too. ”¦ Nice camera work by Brian Terreson who noticed that LaDainian Tomlinson had a rip just below his nameplate on Sunday. ”¦ Matt Leinart appears to have been shopping for maternity clothes. ”¦ Some logo creep is a lot more annoying than others. ”¦ According to this article, Browns WR Braylon Edwards “faces league fines for violating uniform code by wearing white shoes — covered partially with black tape — while his teammates wore black shoes, and two different colored gloves” in Sunday’s game against the Bucs (with thanks to Chris Marcinko). ”¦ Good article here about advertising on MLS jerseys.