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Wednesday was my birthday, so I celebrated the same way I always do: I threw myself a party at a local restaurant. For years my birthday party invitation has included the line, “Please, no presents — just your presence.” But this year I neglected to include that line (after all these years, I figured everyone knew the drill), and as a result several friends brought along some very nice gifts for me — nothing life-altering, but lots of small gestures that made me smile. Today I’m going to play a round of show-and-tell with them.
The closest thing to a uni-related gift came from my friend Liz McGarrity, who gave me the box shown above. It’s plain white on all sides, except for that one panel. I love so many things about it: the way it says, “Supporter, Athletic” (instead just “Athletic Supporter”); the misaligned rubber stamp; and the fact that dozens of these boxes were probably stacked up on a shelf in an old sporting goods store, all with their one printed panel facing outward. That’s a nice image.
The box also turned out to be a fine example of truth in advertising:
The truth-in-advertising trope continued with a colorful gift from my friends Jon Hammer and Karen McBurnie:
The box now containly only 900something of toothpicks, because we put several of them to good use in the course of the evening.
My friend Amy Fritch got me a cool bowling calendar thingie, set to the proper date — my birthday:
Last year my friend Aaron brought me a little houseplant (which I promptly killed — sorry, Aaron). This year, sticking with the green thumb theme, he brought me a bunch of flower seeds that he’d recently picked up in Iceland (!):
My upstairs neighbors Sam and Em are the best neighbors a guy could hope for — all the more so now that they’ve given me this groovy cast iron bottle opener shaped like ”¦ uh, what is it, exactly? A whale shark? Something else? Take a look:
I can assure you that the bottle cap in that last photo never stood a chance.
The lovely and talented Kirsten Hively used this 2007 photo of Uni Watch mascots Tucker and Caitlin (a rare shot — they’re buddies but almost never snuggle like that) as the basis for this beautiful little embroidery:
Kirsten also got me a very special vintage item — this badge from the American Legion’s 23rd annual national convention, held in Milwaukee in 1941:
Not a bad haul, right? Lucky fella. My only regret is that I was having such a good time that I didn’t photograph much of the food except for this spectacular pork chop, which everyone got a piece of:
In some ways, the best birthday present of all took place the following day, when my friend Heather McCabe took me to a very special place: the Danish Athletic Club in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. It appears there will not be a 121st, as the club is likely to shut down at the end of the year due to changing neighborhood demographics and what we might politely call actuarial realities.
The DAC is precisely the sort of place I love, and I’m a little embarrassed — upset, even — not to have known about it until Heather recently told me about it (she was brought there during her youth by her great aunt Mackie, who lived in Bay Ridge at the time). It feels like a cross between a Wisconsin supper club and an Ohio VFW hall, which is another way of saying it’s pretty much Perfect. You can see photos and descriptions of our visit here.
My amazing extended birthday continued on Saturday, when my friend Robin and I drove up to Connecticut to interview a guy named Robert Rosencrans. He was hugely instrumental in the development of cable television (including a lot of sports-related programming — it you’re curious, there’s a massive interview with him here), but I was interested in him because I have his mother’s report card from when she attended the Manhattan Trade School for Girls nearly 100 years ago. She went on to design Mamie Eisenhower’s inaugural ball gowns in 1953 and ’57. It was a great visit and a great interview — you can learn a little more over on the Permanent Record blog.
Thanks for indulging me with all this non-uni content. Things will get back to normal tomorrow. Oh, and thanks to many, many of you who sent birthday wishes my way via e-mail, text, Facebook, etc. on Wednesday — you’re all aces.
Uni Watch News Ticker: New NFL gear — Nike T-shirts and New Era caps — is showing up at retailers. It’s all embargoed until April 1, but a few insiders who prefer to remain anonymous have sent me some photos of the new stuff. Now, I never buy any of this crap, so I’m admittedly not the target market here. But for those of you who do purchase this kinda stuff, is it OK by you that the T-shirts are just variations on the same Nike slogan? Is it OK that those two T-shirts with the hand holding the helmet are essentially the same illustration? I’m not trying to be a wise-ass here — I really want to know if that’s cool with you. ”¦ As you’ve probably heard by now, the Heat all wore hoodies on Friday as a gesture of support to Trayvon Martin’s family and in response to truly repellant comments by Geraldo Rivera. That gesture prompted a thoughtful article by Robert Silverman. Still waiting for the sports world’s preeminent hoodie wearer to weigh in, however. ”¦ In case you didn’t hear the backstory, Baylor was not allowed to wear its neon uniforms for yesterday’s game against Kentucky and had to wear neon-trimmed black instead. ”¦ You can see the Boeing douchebaggery patch that the Mariners will be wearing for their two games in Japan in this exhibition game shot (from Jeremy Brahm). ”¦ Here’s UND’s new Sioux-free hockey jersey. ”¦ Fun article about the history of No. 15 with the Jets. ”¦ Reprinted from Friday’s comments: Looks like Nike is getting on the neo-Zubaz bandwagon. … Check out the old Bullets socks being worn by Wes Unseld (from Matt Beahan). … Bruce Richards was at Thurday’s Hornets/Clippers game and saw a fan wearing a basketball-themed yarmulke. … Cross-dressing alert: Some Louisville hoops players have been practicing in MMA headgear (big thanks to Aaron Bernstein). … Katie Baker’s a fine hockey writer and a cool chick (I got to meet her last year at the ESPN Pop-Up Magazine thing, which we both participated in), but I’m not sure I agree with all of her hockey uni rankings. … “There are two different 5K road races that are using the same fun concept of covering runners with colored dust while they run,” says HHH. “The runners wear white T-shirts (essentially a blank canvas) and at different colors of dust are showered on them at various points in the race. By the end of the race, everyone looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. One race is called The Color Run and the other is Color Me Rad.” … For those who want more on the topic of Native American team names and mascots, it turns out there’s a whole book on the subject. “I used it when teaching a geography graduate seminar on Race and Ethnicity at Florida State University (which was certainly an interesting place to discuss the topic),” says Jonathan Leib. … The new album by the Columbus stoner-rock band Mount Carmel features a cover design based on a 1972 baseball card. … PJ Berry of the Pittsburgh Power (Arena football) was wearing some crazy hoop socks the other day (screen shot by Matt Watson). ”¦ Todd Densen was recently on vacation in Israel and met a Bulgarian fellow with some really interesting socks. ”¦ Attention DIYers: Here’s a nice set of authentic Bears letters and numbers. ”¦ There’s another new teevee show about the memorabilia biz (from Rocky Lum). ”¦ John Kenealy reports that the Norfolk Southern Railroad is honoring its predecessor railroads that it has annexed/merged with by painting some locomotives in the old paint schemes. Further details here. ”¦ UNC lacrosse has gone BFBS (from Garrett Schabb). ”¦ Kudos to Archibishop Santorum, who did something everyone should do at least once: go bowling in Wisconsin. ”¦ Look at the photo of David Garrard in the center of this shot. “In what situation would the Jaguars and Colts both be wearing white?” asks Stuard Kushner. ”¦ Man, striped stirrups don’t get any better than these Iowa beauties (big thanks to Jeff Funke). ”¦ Interesting coincidence in Saturday’s Frozen Four game, as the refs wore shiny helmets and the linesmen wore matte (from Jerry Kulig). ”¦ Not an ideal photo, but when Courtney Fortson played his first game with the Rockets after being signed from the D-League a couple of weeks ago, he went NNOB (from Jonee Eisen). ”¦ Kenn Tomasch reports that some guy in South Dakota has a buttload of hockey jerseys. ”¦ Hmmm, a team that represents the whole planet? “One of the schools playing in the Spring High School Invitational Tournament in Japan is called Earth Environmental High School,” explains Jeremy Brahm. ”¦ In case you were wondering about the little duck pins that Tiger Woods and other golfers were wearing this weekend, here’s the explanation (from John Okray). ”¦ Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova played each other yesterday in the Sony Ericsson Open and wore identical outfits. “Doesn’t Adidas make any other designs?” asks Brinke, not unreasonably. ”¦ Sad news out of Mets camp, where super-stirruped prospect Corey Wimberly has suffered a broken hand and will be out five weeks.
Tomorrow: The 14th annual Uni Watch MLB season-preview column. Putting the finishing touches on it as we speak!