We’re going off-uni today, because I want to talk about an aspect of visual culture that I’ve thought about for years but never written about until now.
So: When I was putting together that New England travelogue last week, I was struck, as I always am when seeing photos of myself, by the sight of my hair parted on my left side. I’ve parted my hair on the left since I was a little kid, so nothing about that should surprise me. But like most people, my most frequent view of myself comes from a mirror, so I’m used to seeing my hair parted on what appears to be the opposite side (or to put it another way, the way the rest of the world sees me is different than the way I conceive of myself). When I see a photo of myself, the reality of the left/right situation always catches me by surprise.
I’ve always wondered if other people with asymmetrical hairstyles have similar responses when seeing photos of themselves. Has the spread of social media and selfies changed this, because we’re more used to seeing photos of ourselves than we used to be? And what about actors and models, who are presumably more accustomed to seeing themselves as they truly appear (in photos, on video, etc.) — are they thrown by sight of themselves in the mirror, or are they sort of self-image-ambidextrous, able to conceive of their hair being parted on either side?
That leads to another question: Mirror imagery notwithstanding, could I part my hair on the other side? Personally, I can’t imagine it. For starters, I’m not sure it would look good — I feel like I’m already parting it on its “natural” side (although that’s probably just a construct). But more to the point, I’m so used to the physical act of doing this way that I’m pretty sure I’d be all thumbs if I tried doing it on the other side.
But there are at least two public figures who apparently had no such problems:
1. At the beginning of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, he parted his hair on his right side:
But at some point during his four-year term — I’m pretty sure it was in 1979 or ’80 — his part suddenly migrated to his left side:
I remember noticing this at the time (I would have been in ninth grade, or thereabouts) and mentioning it to one of my friends. He looked at my like I was nuts, but I still wondered — had Carter’s barber suggested the change? Was it part of a larger repackaging of his image? Was it just personal preference? Why hadn’t anyone else noticed or talked about it? (Footnote: The latter style, with the part on the left, is what he still uses today.)
2. For most of Dan Rather’s career, from the 1960s at least through the late 1990s, he parted his hair on his left side:
But at some point toward the end of his tenure at CBS, he switched to a much shorter haircut — with the part on the opposite side:
I understood that the shorter cut probably had to do with Rather’s receding hairline and thinning hair and so on, but why switch the side of the part? Again, I noticed right away (and thought it looked awful) and was surprised when nobody else mentioned it.
One final thought: There’s a product called a True Mirror that, as its name implies, will give you a true image instead of a mirror image. I’ve never used the product, but you can create the same effect by positioning yourself (or an object) at the center of two mirrors that meet at a 90 º angle. There will be three images created — left, right, and center — and the one in the center will be a composite true image, as you can see in this very short video clip:
Restaurant bathrooms sometimes have this type of mirror arrangement, with two panes meeting at a right angle. Whenever I encounter such a situation, I take a few seconds to position myself in the proper spot, so I can see my hair and face as they actually appear. It’s always a bit unnerving.
Ah-OOO-gah! Received a fairly brilliant contribution yesterday from reader Adam Shechter, as follows:
To my surprise, the Islanders have installed new goal horns at the Barclays Center. For the preseason games so far, they’ve piped in noise from the ones at Nassau Coliseum. The new ones, apparently, come sourced directly from New York City subway trains.
This brings up a question has always interested me: New hockey arena, new goal horn? Different teams have come up with differing answers: Pittsburgh stuck with theirs from the Igloo, but the Devils ditched their old one from the Meadowlands when they moved to Newark. When the Whalers left Hartford and became the Hurricanes, they took the horn with them to Raleigh. (YouTube can confirm anything these days.) The Coyotes, perhaps aware of the mess they left behind in Winnipeg, took a new horn in Glendale. When the Thrashers were sent north to reconstitute the Jets, they restored — in a different arena, no less — the horn from the original Jets team.
Next up: the Red Wings, who are opening up their new place in a few years.
Confession: I think most goal horns are obnoxiously loud. (I think the same thing about the player-substitution horns at NBA games.) But I really like singling out cross-venue horn continuity as an element for further investigation. Great job, Adam!
Baseball News: Looks like NFLer JJ Watt was wearing a red Brewers cap the other day. That’s from the Brew Crew’s Polish heritage game (good spot by Everett Corder). ”¦ Nice powder blues — with Northwestern-striped stirrups! — for San Jose State (from @jthesnayke). ”¦ Did you catch Trevor Noah’s Daily Show debut on Monday night? At one point he made a Mets-related joke and they showed the team’s skyline logo over his shoulder — but it was the old logo, with the “NY,” which hasn’t been used since the late 1990s. I emailed Phil immediately (I knew he was watching too) but didn’t get a screen shot. Fortunately, @MaxScholl did. ”¦ The MLB online shop, apropos of apparently nothing, is now selling cream jerseys for every team. ”¦ The Dodgers clinched the N.L. West last night, but their TV network mistakenly awarded them the N.L. pennant (from Matthew Prigge). ”¦ My buddy Bill Scanga spotted these Mets soft drinks in a Japanese shop in Manhattan.
NFL News: The great graphic designer Michael Beirut, who’s done some work for the Jets, says doing work for a sports team is a fraught, high-stakes proposition (from Neil MacLeod). ”¦ Can’t believe we haven’t seen this before, but Roger Faso notes that the cut-out on the SpeedFlex helmet look a lot like those old helmet phones. ”¦ The Bengals will wear their orange alts this Sunday. They have a good record when wearing that jersey. ”¦ “Look like Mike Wilhoite, among other 49ers, was doing some charity work the other day,” says David Dinsmore. “But check out the jersey — there’s an SAP advertising patch, which is normally found only on their practice jerseys. Except this isn’t the practice jersey — it’s a game jersey. I guess they throw the advertising on their game jerseys for public appearances now. Yuck.” ”¦ The Jets didn’t yet exist in 1953, so this football-themed Jets cereal was ahead of its time (nice find by Paul Dillon). ”¦ Gene Sanny was looking at some old photos of former Pats QB Steve Grogan and noticed his nose bumper logo being held on with Scotch tape and one of his facemask bars having been sawed off. “Ya gotta love back when they weren’t so nit-picky about uniforms,” he says.
College Football News: A sports columnist in Ohio has figured out that college football uniforms increasingly look like shit (from Jason Hillyer). ”¦ Red-black-red this week for NC State, and black-grey-black for Colorado. ”¦ Oklahoma wants to “stripe the stadium” this weekend and — surprise! — they have suggestions for the licensed apparel you should buy to achieve their desired effect. Nice gig if people are foolish enough to play along. This might be a rare instance where I’d endorse wearing purple (or green, or orange, or blue), just to fuck with them (from Matt Upton). ”¦ South Carolina QB Lorenzo NuÃ±ez will now have a tilde on his NOB (from Ben Vermeil). ”¦ Mono-black tomorrow night for Cincy. ”¦ New hand-painted helmet for Maryland. ,,, Speaking of Maryland, they claim to be the first school to go with NOBs. Is that right? I feel like we’ve discussed it before but can’t recall how, if at all, we resolved it. ”¦ Our own Phil Hecken is quoted in this article about the chrome helmet fad.
Hockey News: Very entertaining article by a guy who doesn’t like how center-ice logos are often sliced in half by the red line. Never thought about that before. Recommended reading (from Jim Collier). ”¦ Ooooh, check out the 1923-24 Melville Millionaires! (Nice find by Alan Kreit.)
Basketball News: This is pretty funny: 15 years of Andre Miller at Media Day. “So many unis, so many hairstyles,” says @holycalamity. … New uniforms for Wyoming. Here’s a promo video (from Jon Spencer). ”¦ Interlocking “AS” now on the rear neckline for Arizona State (from Eric Lewitke). ”¦ New uniforms for Hartford (from @HawksInformer).
Soccer News: Religions as soccer uniforms? Sure, why not (from Phillip Foose). ”¦ The Seattle Sounders are adding an extra jersey ad this Sunday. ”¦ New jerseys for the Baltimore Blast. Man, do those look like a kid’s Photoshop concept or what? (From Marc Viquez.) ”¦ Cool infographic on German national team home kits through the years (from Mark Emge). ”¦ New uniforms for Costa Rica (thanks, Phil). ”¦ This is pretty cool: Hamburg’s current team portrait re-creates the team’s crest (big thanks to Gillaume B.).
Grab Bag: Here’s an awesome ice bag design, but it’s a major missed opportunity for an infinite regression. The bags on the hand truck should show a robin with a hand truck, and on and on. ”¦ Military intelligence: Boxing is required for freshmen at the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies — even though a surprisingly large number of cadets end up with concussions as a result. Key quote: “The injuries regularly sideline cadets from varsity sports, academics, and military training, West Point officials said. Cadets too concussed to complete the boxing class are required to repeat it. ”¦ Now some parents and policy makers are asking whether the military needs to find better ways to instill perseverance than having its best and brightest repeatedly punched in the head.” Even worse, the Army was so scared of that article coming out that they tried to stonewall a Freedom of Information Act request about the boxing-related concussions until they could plant more upbeat news items in other media outlets (which, as it turned out, they were unable to do). Scandalous all around. ”¦ Pinktober has now spread all the way to the Eiffel Tower (from Jonathan Daniel). ”¦ Good infographic on visual changes through years in Aussie rules football (from Craig Snyder). ”¦ Here’s a site called Vintage LaX, which features tons of old Canadian lacrosse photos (from Michael Sullivan).
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What Paul did last night: It’s always fun to be out at the rock and roll club with a special someone, and it’s even better when the band is wearing uniforms. That was the case last night at Baby’s All Right, where L.A. indie dynamo Mike Krol and his band took the stage wearing police uniforms (a motif lifted from his current album, which is totally the bomb — don’t miss). The show, which featured Krol hopping on the drum kit, pointing strobe lights at the audience, and doing lots of other shit that people in police uniforms don’t usually do, was spectacular in the most literal sense of term — a true spectacle. His band kicked ass, too (I had worried a bit about that, because on record Krol plays all the instruments himself). Such a great time that I didn’t even mind the club’s choice of wristband color.
If you’re not familiar with Krol (I’d never heard of him myself until about a month ago), you can listen to his first two records here.