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Monday Morning Uni Watch

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Good morning, and happy Halloween! Hope everyone had a good weekend, as I did.

Now then: We had a very uni-notable day in the NFL yesterday, beginning with the Bears and Cowboys going color vs. color in Dallas. I didn’t love the way this looked on the field — I felt like the colors clashed and vibrated more than they complemented each other — but there was something very Halloween about it, especially with the Bears wearing their orange alternates, so I’d say it was okay from a seasonal/holiday standpoint. You can see lots of additional photos here, here, and here. And for more thoughts on NFL color/color, check out Phil’s post from Saturday.

In other news from around the league yesterday:

  • The Broncos went ahead and wore their idiotic white/navy combo for the first time in team history, complete with the mismatched side panels. Unfortunately, they won, so we may have to see this combo again (additional info here; additional photos here):
  • The Jets debuted their new black helmets, which looked ridiculous, and also added black end zones (additional pics here):
  • The Lions wore their mono-grey alternates, which is probably my least favorite uni combo in the entire league:
  • The Bills ruined what could have been a beautiful game by going full Smurf:
  • Eagles center Jason Kelce had some Halloween fun, wearing a Batman mask on the sidelines and then exhibiting some cross-sport support by dressing up in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform for his postgame interview:
  • Not a single home team wore white.

Tonight’s game will feature the Bengals and Browns in what promises to be a very Halloween-appropriate uni matchup.

(My thanks to Michael Hochman and L.J. Sparvero for their contributions to this section.)


 

ITEM! Uni Watch on the Air

Longtime Uni Watch reader Trevor “Teebz” Alexander, who runs the Hockey Blog in Canada site, also has a radio broadcast called The Hockey Show. He had me on as a guest a few days ago, and we talked about Reverse Retro, the NHL’s post-Adidas future, and more.

It was a really fun discussion, in large part because Teebz is such a great guy. You can check out my segment here.


A Different Kind of DIY

Uni Watch reader Rich Meyer plays bass in a band called Ghost of Past Mistakes. The other night they were part of a Halloween-themed bill in which each band dressed up as a particular music act and played a full set of their music. Rich and his band decided to play as Ghost of Todd Rundgren, and Rich went the extra mile by DIYing himself a set of Rundgren’s mid-1970s “Cosmic Cowboy Chaps.” I also like his “Me” name tag — a reference to Rundgren’s 1973 hit “Hello It’s Me.”

“To make the chaps, I used a system of foam paper connected by double-sided Velcro tape,” says Rich. “Each leg had three panels, and the eyes were hand-drawn with pencil sketches, paint markers, and Sharpies. I wore the chaps via a belt made of shoelaces, which went around my waist.”

Not quite a uniform, but certainly uni-adjacent. Nicely done, Rich!


A Special Anniversary

It was 35 years ago today — Oct. 31, 1987 — that I attended the Halloween Parade in Manhattan for the first time. While I was there, someone gave me a quarter with a hole drilled in it, which I put on my key ring. After I told that story a few times here on Uni Watch, reader Jeff Barak suggested that I do a project about the special objects that other people keep on their own key rings. That was the genesis of Key Ring Chronicles, which I edited and curated for four-plus years on the McSweeney’s website.

I still have the “emergency quarter” on my key ring, just in case I ever need it.


 

And Speaking of Important Dates...

Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin turned 17-and-a-half yesterday. I don’t usually celebrate half-birthdays, but I’m doing it for her this year because she’s reached the age where the half-year mark seems notable, plus she’s had a few health issues lately and is finally starting to slow down a bit after a lifetime of seemingly endless kittenhood.

That said, she’s still a bundle of happiness, the World’s Greatest Purring Machine™, and a daily joy in my life. I hope we have lots more half-years together. Happy 17.5, Caitlin!


 

Jerry Lee Lewis, 1935-2022

Jerry Lee Lewis died on Friday at 87 — a surprisingly advanced age considering the life he led. He was, by all credible accounts, a megalomaniac, a borderline psychopath, a wives-beater, a tax delinquent, a bigamist, a child abuser, and one of the greatest and most important American artists of the 20th century. The odd dualities of his existence are captured nicely in this excellent obit — highly recommended.

Lewis gets lots of well-deserved credit as a virtuoso pianist, but I appreciated him even more as a vocalist. Like a lot of singers who had little formal education, he had a supremely naturalistic style, easily sliding up and down the vocal scale and finding little microtones here, little nuances there. I never get tired of listening to him sing, even on his middling material (and he cut a lot of middling material in the latter stages of his career).

I never saw Lewis. I certainly had plenty of opportunities — when I moved to NYC in 1987, he was still touring through the city every year or two, as were Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino. But although I loved all of those guys’ music, and still do, I decided I didn’t want to see them going through the motions on the oldies circuit (Berry, in particular, was notorious for giving uneven performances while backed by hastily assembled local pickup bands). I now regret this a bit, especially for Lewis, because I’ve been told in recent years that he still gave his all onstage, maybe because his narcissism wouldn’t allow him to do anything less.

As for all his well-documented personal problems, I always got the distinct impression that Jerry Lee was a profoundly unhappy person inside, and that all the misery he caused other people was a reflection of the pain he felt in his own life. I’m glad that pain is over now. R.I.P.


 

What Paul Did Last Night on Saturday and Sunday

One of my favorite things about Halloween weekend in New York is Bike Kill, an annual event in which lots of artists, punks, bicycle activists, anarchists, radical queers, and other freaks (as well as comparatively normcore but freak-friendly people like myself) gather on a dead-end Brooklyn street and ride custom-made mutant bicycles. Most of the participants wear Halloween costumes, which adds to the spectacle. Sometimes I ride a few of the bikes, but this year I just enjoyed the show.

My favorite bike this year was this amazing bicycle sofa:

Bike Kill always makes me happy. So much creativity! The best thing is seeing the people who bring their children — I can only imagine how amazing Bike Kill must seem to a kid, like being in the middle of a circus! Plus it plants the seed of art and adventure in young minds, which is a good thing. You can see a few dozen photos I took here.

Speaking of creativity, I went to a friend’s house for a party yesterday afternoon, and one of the other attendees did a great job with the Halloween-themed snacks:

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Comments (52)

    Shows how horrible NFL uniforms are these days when that Broncos combo isn’t close to the worst. Lions, Bears, Jets, Seahawks and Cards were all-time lousy on Sunday.

    I’ll agree that the Jets and Bears have never looked worse.
    The Lions mono-gray is indeed an eyesore, but not a terrible as their flirtation with a black jersey back in the 2000’s.
    I’ve grown accustomed to the mono-navy of the Seahawks(hard to believe that they’ve been out of the silver/royal for 2 decades)…not saying it’s wonderful, but it’s light-years ahead of the highlighter color rush set.
    The Cardinals need a refresh but the white-over-white does a decent job, while the new all-black alt is their new low.
    As an aside, The Houston/Tennessee matchup was a bona fide contrast stinker. I miss the days when the Titans would pack their ‘Titan/Luv Ya’ blue pants for games at the Texans…whether it was trolling or tribute, those looked great with the white jerseys/navy socks.

    Paul, I can’t agree more with your regret of not seeing JLL and some of the other pioneers of R&R. Chuck Berry used to do the Chesapeake Blues festival every year outside of Annapolis (and close to where I used to live ). Every time it came around I said I’d catch him next year. I wish I would have gone the first year I could have. I’ve made it a point not to wait anymore if there is an artist or band on my to do list now.

    I was lucky to see Chuck Berry on his 75th birthday (2001) at his “home”, Blueberry Hill restaurant and club in the Delmar Loop just outside of St. Louis. That was a real treat, nice small venue (only 5 rows deep). Concert was good. Of course he did not have the energy of the 1960’s, but the songs were there. The “Duck walk” was performed (albeit a bit slowly) and he went back and forth singing with the crowd. Top 5 concert for me if only for the absolute nostalgia of a real rock’n’roll show.

    Personally, while I don’t love that Broncos combo, I think it’s far from their worst. Nothing could be as bad as their orange Color Rash set.

    I saw Chuck Berry in DC in the late 80s. I thought it was kind of cool that played with local musicians. I was sitting pretty close to the stage and he was wearing white pants, so with the lighting being what it was, I could see the outline of his tighty-whities. Funny the things you remember after 30-some years.

    I appreciate your efforts to reconcile the great songs musicians have made with their imperfect and troubled lives. A lot of so-called music fans nowadays throw out the baby with the bathwater, nullifying artistry which fairly ought to stand on its own. The artist should not be confused with the art.

    Hi Paul, I didn’t know much about Jerry Lee Lewis and your write up inspired me to learn a little more. While on a few other sites, I’m seeing that he was 87, not 85.

    Happy half bday to the uni watch mascot, I’ve got a pup about to turn 16 so I know how special it is to still be able to enjoy their company after all these years.

    RE NFL this week: The orange Bears simply don’t look like the Bears, but the look is another reminder that orange/orange/white is a solid design, and I think that should be the Bengals look rather than going with a black jersey.
    Thought the same about the Bills going with the blue pants last night. Had me wondering what segment of fans actually likes that look? While I may dislike it, I can see the attraction to full mono, helmet included, like the Seahawks have. But the matching dark pants with a lighter helmet just looks completely out of sync, be it Bills, Cardinals, Patriots, etc. Can anyone explain the appeal of that to me?

    It’s hard to know for sure, to me it just screams high school or college style, I don’t get why anyone would wanna look amateurish. The best theory I’ve heard, I believe from Paul, is that the players might feel like superheroes or something to that effect. If true it makes sense to me, not that I agree.

    I have come to agree about the Bears in orange. I think the uniform looks good in a vacuum, but just doesn’t look like the Bears. It is more appropriate for the Bengals or Clemson. I guess I’m glad we got to see it, to see what it looked like. But it doesn’t need to remain a regular part of their wardrobe.

    Happy 1/2 birthday, pretty kitty Caitlin.

    Regarding the musicians you mentioned, I enjoyed seeing Carl Perkins back in the day at Biddy Mulligan’s in Chicago. Of course, he rocked his “Blue Suede Shoes.”

    If Carl were still with us he might say to Caitlin, “Go, cat, go!” <3

    (Here is Carl with an all-star lineup: link)

    Lions vs. Dolphins – mono-gray versus mono-white just looks dull and dreary, like it’s draining all the joy out of the room… much like the Lions themselves. Of course, I’ve refused to watch my hometown team ever since that debacle in Green Bay three years ago had me so wound up I actually became concerned about what the stress was doing to my health.

    Metro Detroiter here, which means that yes, I’ve been plagued by the Lions my entire life. No other team can so consistently destroy any positive emotions you may have so completely as the LOLions. And it is a uni-related post – look like crap, play like crap. They need to go back to the old ‘circus’ wordmark, because no team so exemplifies ‘clown show’ as much as the Detroit Lions Football Club.

    Back in 1991, the Lions looked decent, managed to go 12-4, and put together a complete team effort in all aspects of the game, and thoroughly dominated the Cowboys in the divisional playoff. The entire region – the entire country – said, “what happened?”, and they haven’t done it since. Ever.

    If only they could’ve beaten Mark Rypien in Washington in that conference championship… but nope, they lost in DC like they always do (that one win in 2013 when they went 7-9 and Schwartz got fired notwithstanding).

    Agreed, and I am guessing Paul will come around the white-over-navy Broncos unis eventually.

    We had this issue a few weeks ago with the Lions-Pats game; different teams’ photographers using different settings, resulting in the images from the Lions’ page making the Pats’ throwbacks look a bit on the orange side. The Pats’ photo page for this week’s game has their navy elements showing up more correctly: link

    Happy Birthday-and-a-half, Caitlin! She’s beautiful and she appears to be living the Good Life.

    “(as well as comparatively normcore but freak-friendly people like myself)” brings joy to my heart. If I was a better writer & generally more thoughtful, I might describe myself that way as well.

    Lee

    The Lions are already hard to watch…wearing that mono-soot getup makes it even worse, especially on TV, and double-especially against a team going mono-white as the Miami did yesterday. Contrast, people…contrast. NFL really shouldn’t allow them to wear that.

    I kinda dig the orange-clad Bears for a game or two each year…I thought the orange helmet would be too much, but I don’t mind it at all.

    No idea why Buffalo has insisted on going mono-blue multiple times this year. Blue pants with white jerseys only.

    That mono-black for the Jets is just awful. It actually looks better (relatively speaking) with the black helmet than the green one, but still…yuck. I’ve always thought the Jets (and the Colts for that matter) could use an accent color. But black ain’t it. And the key word is “accent”.

    Listen to me, Broncos…the time is long overdue. Ditch the side panels off the jersey and the prize-claw off the pants, and you’ll have a decent uniform. The white-over-navy would actually be a nice combo without them.

    I loved the LOOK of the Bears-Cowboys game. I wasn’t wholly satisfied with exactly what each team wore (I hate the Bears with an orange helmet, I’d have preferred the Cowboys wore silver pants).
    But just on the TV screen, orange v blue (complimentary colors on the color wheel), I thought it looked great.

    Lee

    I absolutely agree about the Cowboys’ pants. Why didn’t they wear silver? There was no reason for both teams to wear white pants.

    Looks like a lot of fun out there in Brooklyn. Meanwhile we had to endure all these ghastly NFL uniforms. There were so many of them even Washington looked half decent. If the Bears just dump the orange helmets they have a very good alternative with the orange jersey and orange socks, so they were close to winning this beauty contest.. The absolute winner of this weekend is the Todd outfit. Really cool.

    The smurfs actually had white pants, so the Bills all-blues (which are beautiful, as are the Lions all-grays) are actually less smurf-like than their standard home set.

    I was just thinking, all-blue being “full Smurf” could have some unfortunate implications…

    … though we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on the Lions’ grays.

    The bike kill video was so fun to watch. My fave bike was the one with the tiny front wheel and handlebars behind the seat. Caitlin is looking good as always!

    I saw Lewis do a few songs in 2018 at the big rockabilly convention my wife goes to every year in Vegas.

    On the one hand, you knew you were in the presence of music royalty, personal issues aside. Lewis had obviously slowed significantly, but still had personality and a want to play. He’d engage in chatter between songs, even as his voice had quieted with age, and yes, he did play Great Balls of Fire, though he was a long way from putting his foot up on the piano or setting the innards aflame.

    On the other hand, it took a lot of effort on his and others’ part for him to play. He could barely walk and had to be helped to and from his piano seat by two people. His daughter spoke for him before the end of the show. It felt difficult enough to be uncomfortable.

    I’m not a musician myself, so I can’t speak to how strong the drive is to keep playing until you basically can’t anymore. But knowing some of these guys also weren’t spectacular with their money, and that families may have incentive to try and build a potential estate as much as they can, you wonder sometimes if they’re playing because they want to, they have to or they’re being made to.

    I can see the problem with the Lions’ all grey look, which for me is an issue with the colour chosen, But in general, why are mono looks so often maligned on UW?

    1) Because many of us think of it as more of a high school or college look, not an NFL look.

    2) Speaking only for myself, I like contrast in the various parts of a football uniform. I like the pants to contrast with the jersey and the socks to contrast with the pants.

    3) Speaking only for myself, I don’t like mono in football because it looks too superhero-y. With the helmets and the exaggeratedly broad shoulders (due to pads), the mono look ends up looking way too much like a costume instead of a uniform.

    Thank you to you and Phil for your excellent responses.

    Coming from a soccer background, I value differentiation between the opposing teams’ uniforms. I therefore don’t love when one team is in dark + white and the other is in white + white (nevermind the helmets), as overall it’s too much white.

    I understand and agree with the points about contrast throughout the uniform. I guess my ideal matchup would be colour + white vs white + colour.

    Echoing what Paul said in a way, but my issue with mono *color* (as opposed to an all-white road uniform) is that traditionally, football always shied away from this particular look, leaving mono (matching) shirts/pants to baseball. With few exceptions (BFBS done well, for example), most teams look AWFUL in matching tops/bottoms. It’s especially exaggerated when teams wear leggings that match the pants color. Even *if* a team chooses to go mono, the look is greatly improved when contrasting color socks (leggings/compression pants) are used. The yoga pants (Superhero) look just doesn’t belong in the NFL. College/High School? Knock yourself out…but keep that look for the amateur ranks.

    As an aside, with very few exceptions — like gray/gold/yellow — I detest dark pants on teams with light (white/gray/silver/gold/yellow) helmets. The darker pants look better when they match the helmet. Teams like Buffalo, Miami, Indy … for the love of all that is holy … please stick to your white pants at all times! Chargers (white hats) with gold pants are the exception. But in almost all instances, if you have a white hat, wear white pants.

    Darker pants than the rest of the uniforms feels inherently bottom heavy, and draws attention directly to the pants. While the pants are part of the uniform, you typically want to draw attention to the helmet or jersey. And when you pair matching dark pants and jerseys, you negate the helmet. Watching the Bills/Packers game this week it creates this visual like the Bills helmet isn’t really there, fades into the scenery and all you notice is the matching jersey/pants.

    NFL is the only league left without ads on the jerseys and I hope it stays that way! It seems to be much more well run than the NBA/NHL/MLB.

    Oops, I meant to post my Browns-Bengals take here but posted it on the Ticker page instead. If anyone is interested.

    I had a chance to see Wanda Jackson a few years ago but passed. Now that she is no longer touring I totally regret it.

    Paul, would you have preferred the Bears wearing their normal navy helmets yesterday? I love a good color-on-color matchup but that orange lid was too much for me.

    How long has it been since no home team wore white? Down the rabbit hole I go…

    I carry my old Army dogtag on my key ring. Along with a religious medal I received as a gift just before I left for basic training.

    I didn’t mind the Broncos unis at all. In the pic above, Wilson totally pulls it off with his sock/cleat combo but Gordon looks kinda ridiculous with his.

    It was reported on UW yesterday that the Cowboys would be wearing silver pants.
    Was there a correction?

    Pro Football Talk, (a generally very-well respected source) had stated the Cowboys would be in silver pants (the GUD originally had them in white pants, then they too, after the report, changed the ‘boys to silver pants). Ultimately the team went with the white pants, but we were reporting based on the fact that the Cowboys would be in silver pants.

    link

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