Category Archives: Detroit

Moving

So, as you might’ve noticed there is very little activity going on here these days. Well, that’s because Brigid and I are moving! It’s actually pretty far when you consider all things, but we’re not “going anywhere” in the sense that friendships will be shattered or jobs will be changed.

Brigid and I, after some discussions over the spring and summer, decided to sell the house in Howell and move closer to Detroit proper. So we bought a house right on the Grosse Pointe Woods/Harper Woods line and will hopefully be closing/moving at the end of September.

We’re both really excited at the opportunities this presents us with.

So expect more news eventually. Also expect the third-annual “Kit Day” posts soon-ish.

Cheers, everyone.

For the Love of Low-Tier Soccer

Sláinte motherfuckers!

I wanted to take some time to talk more about low-tier soccer in America and also in þe olde Ængland.

For those outside of the loop, the soccer tiers in England go very deep. Beyond the 4 “top” flights (Premier League, Championship, League 1, and League 2) there are many, many regional leagues full of plucky amateurs, bar buddies, and small towns that scrape together to put a team on a pitch.

It’s honestly amazing how deep it goes and how passionate people can be about the sport. Soccer is, in a nutshell, fractal. No matter how deep you look or how far away you get the image and passion are always crystal clear. It doesn’t matter if it is Newcastle United playing in front of 55,000 people, Detroit City in front of 7,400, or Kendal Town in front of 200.

And until recently that sort of passion was unheard of in the United States except in baseball.

And that’s a good point of comparison. Americans love baseball. They’ll gladly root for a local, low-tier baseball team over the more distant professional teams. There is local, civic pride on the line and it is a place for locals to root for other locals. There is a strong sense of community that isn’t found elsewhere especially in the shallow attempts of the big teams to check off the “look, we care” checklist of Breast Cancer, Troops, and potentially one or two local-ish charities.

There is no doubt that this sense of community has lead to the explosive success of Detroit City. Detroit is a city that thrives on community and the “Detroit vs Everyone” mentality. It’s an intoxicating favor that is quick to take over the minds of Rust Belters everywhere.

More now than ever I think low-tier soccer in America will win. They will win  against the NCAA and they will win against the domination of bigger leagues like the MLS. As I see the rise of teams like MPLS City SC, Detroit, Chattanooga, and nebulous non-team in Mobile, is seem communities that will weather greater storms.

And in their wake more and more teams flourish. Is the age of the one and done NPSL team over? I think so. That isn’t to say they won’t crop up from time to time, but that the time frame when a sizeable chunk of teams would pop up and die the next off season is probably over for good.

People, not owners, see the success of teams like Detroit and Chattanooga and they will replicate those successes with their own local flavors.

And in time the lower-leagues will be saturated more and more until a system like Promotion and Relegation becomes not only possible, but desirable to all involved. I don’t think the issue with pro/rel is one of the chicken and the egg. It is one of needing to build a strong, stable set of low-tier teams worthy of the system. We don’t have that yet, but it is seeming more and more likely every day.

The idea that Americans won’t root for low-tier soccer teams is become more and more of a bad dream with each broken attendance record.

It doesn’t take the reward of promotion to build a community – it takes a nucleus that a community can thrive on and that is a team. If you want pro/rel you need to support the little guys. You need to grow communities that can support a team going up as well as coming back down.

On the flip side the NASL continues to look like it is in dire straits. Strikers attendance has fallen to the point that their worst can no longer be rounded to 1,100 and is now just 1,000 – not bad for an NPSL team. Only three teams have posted any sort of growth on their average attendance numbers with the over-all average per game down 13%. I am very interested in what Puerto Rico can do when they join in the fall. In the end though I think there are some teams in the NASL that are untenable from an economic standpoint. You cannot pay for a tier two team on a seventh of the attendance of a tier four team.

Anyway, I wanted to give some love to a low-tier team over in England that I am particularly fond of: Kendal Town FC. If you follow my twitter or facebook you might’ve caught a tweet or share of some of the action over at Kendal Town, a tier eight team based in Cumbria, one of two counties at the very north of England.

With a bit of time on my hands I decided to design a pair of kits for them in the way I usually do (on Adidas’ website because I’m generally artistically bunk).

Home Kit

Kendal Home Full

Kendal Home Shirt

With the new range of Adidas kits I wanted to extend the range of the red on the Kendal home kits. Usually it is reserved for just the socks but here it extends up into the stripes, sleeves, shorts, and the Adidas logo. The pin striping on the white is a nice touch as well, methinks.

Kendal Town sometimes alternates their shorts between white and black, here I stuck with the black. I have a preference for black over white in kits, I’ve spoken about this regarding Newcastle. With magpie kits I prefer black to dominate, I think the color is more imposing and makes the kit look more finished as compared to more empty.

Away Kit

Kendal Away Full

Kendal Away Shirt

As for seconds, I went for a combination of Kendal Town’s usual blue kits while maintaining the distinctive magpie colors. The all-blue kits are broken up with some white highlights and the centerpiece of the shirt – the black and white sash. This beat out some other designs, some that were a tad white-heavy

I have to admit that even if I could, I probably wouldn’t do completely custom kits. Probably because I can’t and I’m suffering from delusions, but also because I like the idea of “designing” something that can actually be made tomorrow. I also like that constrains the possible to a smaller set and means you have to focus on other elements like color and style branding.

Too many teams these days, looking at you USMNT, completely ignore color and style branding. Every kit is as removed from the previous as I am from Ganymede. New colors! Weird colors! Hoops! Stripes! Blank! Sash!

What’s so fucking wrong with building a brand? We’re going to buy your kit anyway and it is nice to be able to see a Celtic kit from a mile away. It is nice to recognize that’s Newcastle, that’s Man City, that’s Sunderland.

Modern kits, man, it’s what’s wrong with modern soccer.

If you’ve never been, check out Historical Football Kits, I can guarantee you’ll lose a few days there. But it is also, for designers, a great way to soak in those ideas of brands. English kits rarely change dramatically, especially not the first/home kits. The biggest change in the Newcastle kits in the last 100 years was a switch from blue to black shorts and the occasional white (instead of black) socks.

MLS teams often have trouble focusing on this. Hell, even Detroit City had some trouble with this (and I’m not helping of course) going from solid rouge, to rouge on rouge, to rouge and white, back to solid rouge.  Hopefully a pattern can catch on soon.

Anyway, I have some ideas for bigger overhauls of brands and stuff that I might do in the future. Who knows, maybe one day a team will trot out in something I’ve designed.

NGS Kilts – Order Form, Pricing, What Changed, and What’s Going On

tl;dr:

Prices for kilts made more accurate; 25% deposit now, rest later; prices will fluctuate so nothing is final; up the fucking city; you have until 31st August; order sheets.

January 2017 update: There will likely be a second round of orders. Please do not send anything to the address given on the order sheets in this post as I no longer live there. Keep watching this site/my twitter for updates and thank you for your continued interest in NGS kilts.


Hey guys! The Detroit City season is underway and we’ve already packed Keyworth up to the brim with 7,410 supports, fans, and bewildered Hamtramck locals! We’ve crushed the Bucks, carried Louisville in PKs and have shown that we’ve weathered the off season, rumors, and came out stronger than ever before!

During the off season I began work on designing, registering, and producing an NGS/DCFC tartan that we can turn into kilts and other fun items for our burgeoning army of rapid supporters.

So where are we on all that?

The Design

Final - NGS Tartan

This was the final design that I came up with and got approved by Sarge and Ken. Anyone familiar with the NGS will recognize the colors motif pretty quick. We’re rouge and gold on a background of black and white, with a grey little train-track running through the middle as an homage to our new home in Keyworth.

There isn’t much “deep” history here. Not like every thread count means something. No long stories to tell. It is a tartan. It is ours.

Registered

After designing I got it registered with the Scottish Government. It is ours and always will be ours. They would not add the restriction that people from Ohio couldn’t wear it without coming to a game and shaking Sarge’s hand but I wasn’t going to press the issue with a bewildered and honestly rather tired Scottish bureaucrat.

Making it Real

This is where things get… complicated.

You’ve likely seen that I’ve posted links to order sheets before, tried to get people to send them in, pushed back dates, and eventually fell silent.

There’s a reason for that.

I found a supplier more than happy to make our dreams come true at an extremely reasonable price: SportKilt. I decided to do a test run with my personal tartan, going through all the steps and eventually including checking CAD and thread selections. I placed my order and was surprised at the protectionist taxes we levy on imported wool.

So I had to rethink how we were going to do this.

Here is the updated order sheet.

I had to bump all the prices in order to reflect the 25% tax on imported wool. It sucks. It hurt. But these prices are still significantly better than I expected when I first started this whole thing. Prices range from $245 for the smallest base kilt to $433 for the largest fancy kilt (excluding options). This is an increase from $210 and $380 respectively.

Sashes and capes are no longer priced for labor-only. They now include a yard of material at $45.

Children’s kilts were also increased, now ranging from $74 to $128 from the original $60 to $110.

Women’s skirts reflect the same price increases as the men’s kilts.

I’ve also extended the time-line to the last day of August. You have until the 31st of August to get me your order forms and your money.

Which brings me to the ordering part – When you give me your order sheet (in person or by mail) you MUST include a 25% deposit (rounded to the nearest dollar). Since we’re talking international importing/exporting prices fluctuate and so do conversion rates. The number of orders changes the price of fabric as well. Right now we’re assuming we get enough to get the best price, but too few orders will increase the price from $45/yard to $62/yard.

When I get a final price from the supplier/SportKilt I will update you and have you write a check for the remainder of the balance.

 

An Open Letter

Hi Tom and Dan,

Well… Hi Tom, Dan’s blocked me on twitter apparently for that time I reminded him that he can’t just say Detroiters support the Cavs. Or maybe he did it on MLS’ orders in which case expect your list of required blocks soon – I’m on it.

Anyway, I literally just wrote about this.

Convenient.

I’m not going there right now. In fact, I’m going to try to be as nice as I possibly can. Which is really hard given the mental situation I am currently in. I’m not going to talk war plans. I’m not going to talk fighting this at every turn. I’m not going to talk about doing everything in my power to stop you. I’ll even drop the “Fuck MLS” tag for just a regular “Soccer” tag.

See? Meeting you half way.

I’m just going to offer the olive branch once.

Hey guys. Heard you want to put an MLS side in Detroit. That’s cool. That’s cool. I’m sure lots of thought and planning has gone into this announcement. And there’s a lot more coming, of course. You’ve got a whole team and culture to build.

But.

But what if you didn’t?

What if instead of trampling over what already exists like a three year old left to their own devices in the flower beds, what if you help us grow Detroit City FC further?

Sure we aren’t exactly… sanitary for the big TV markets and stuff… sure we’re not exactly the kind of people you’d bring to your big fancy parties with your fancy finger foods.

But we are Detroit.

We are the life blood of this city, this city you both are so apparently interested in helping.

We bus kids into games.

We rebuild old stadiums.

We help our vets and we recognize losses to the community.

We follow our team through thick and thin.

We, or at least most of us, are willing to listen to what you have to offer. We want to believe you’re here to do good. We need you to prove that.

I’m not going to list any demands (yet). Nothing like that. What I want is a chance to show you want DCFC has is unique.

Have you come to a game?

Have you stood in the midst of the supporter’s side? In the smoke? In the songs? In the greatest party in Detroit?

I invite you, Tom (but also Dan if you pass this along to him), to join us at any DCFC game. USOC, FCUM match, at Keyworth or not… join us and see the soul and heart of Detroit. See the excitement in people’s eyes. See the passion. Smell the smoke.

Join us and not only will I recomp you your tickets, I’ll buy you a pint, buy you a burger, and buy you a smoke mask so you can really get into the heart of it all.

Sure it doesn’t sound like much to you, but you probably made this afternoon what I made since moving to Detroit four and a half years ago. But it is offered openly and freely. I’d like for you to accept it. I’d love for you to have real talks with Detroit City’s owners and it’s fans.

I promise. I promise you’ll love it if you give it a shot.

Please?

Pleeeeeeeeease?

Don’t kill my team. Because if you try, we will fight back.

Faust

Faust: Who holds the devil, let him hold him well, He hardly will be caught a second time.

During the first DCFC season, my friend Zak and I had fashioned some cheap and easy flags. For mine he spray painted a quick trio of fleurs de lys on it in no more than two minutes and called it a day. Meanwhile he found a rouge-colored fabric with golden fleurs de lys sewn into it.

received_10155245222385643

The next year I decided to get a bit more advanced. Zak had dropped out, so I was on my own. I bought a blank white flag, marked it off, and covered it in rouge, gold, and white checkers. It was janky, the colors looked like shit, and the lines between them were blurred and runny.

Over-all it blew. But it made it to quite a few matches. And as I told one supporter who called it shit but was empty handed, “It’s better than yours.”

Checker

20130512_131912

The next two seasons I was flagless. Generally it was pretty liberating, not having to worry about where the flag was, keeping track of it, or worrying about someone running off with it (like anyone would steal that piece of shit). But I missed having one. For some reason I had it in my head that I needed a flag.

This season all that changes.

I’m back in the business of making a flag. This post is/was not written after the fact. I am saving it as a draft and publishing it upon the completion of the flag, which I have dubbed “Faust”. As I work I will add more to the post so you’ll get a stream of thought. Generally I’ll break writing periods with quotes from or about Faust.

Faust, for the uninformed was a German folklore character who sold his soul to the devil for all sorts of powers.

I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.

Unlike previous flags, no small deal of work went into designing Faust. The basis was the flag of the Kingdom of Württemberg. The banner at the bottom reads Furchtlos und Trew [sic]. I would keep that and fix it to the correct Furchtlos und Treu meaning “Fearless and True/Loyal”, a great line for any hardcore supporter.

20150704_195751

I wanted a way to mesh this flag with the flag of Detroit.

1280px-Flag_of_Detroit,_Michigan.svg

My thought was to work on the crest in the middle. Instead of Württemberg and Swabia, my thought would be to create a simplified version of the above: a field of stars, a gold lion on red, fleurs de lys on white, and alternating red and white stripes.

2000px-Coat_of_Arms_of_the_Kingdom_of_Württemberg,_1817.svg

 

I worked on simplifying the Detroit flag. I removed the needless crest. Replaced the fleurs with something a bit more complicated, then replaced that with something less complicated but still more traditional than the ones on the Detroit flag.

Meuble_héraldique_Fleur_de_lys.svg

Concerning the lions of England, I knew at first I’d rather a single, better detailed lion than three smaller ones. Plus I wanted it in a more active pose.

Lion_rampant_-_Heraldry.svg

So I looked at some more complicated, active lions. And I mean, really, that one has a sword! So the sword won.

The blue field of stars should’ve been simple. The Detroit flag has 13 for 13 states, but their pattern is kind of lame. I chose to replace them with something based off the flag of the United States when Michigan was added to the Union.

US_flag_26_stars.svg

Lastly I flipped red to the top so the red banner would be on the black half of the flag. So here is the first main version of the Faust:

KoK_V1_Release

Some other changes would be needed. Originally I liked the black lion and the gold stag – it made a good reference to Michigan, but it was a bit complicated and the black wouldn’t show up well on the black and red banner.

First I considered a skeletal crow and a a skeleton as supporters.

41wEevSctvL._SY355_ human-skeleton-vector-294186

But with zero artistic ability I switched to the Tudor dragon which is rouge and gold paired with a golden lion.

Tudor_Dragon_Badge.svg

Heraldic_Lion_(Two_tailed)_05.svg

The dragon, however, is a really cool image. So the decision was made to double down on the dragons.

I worked on simplifying the golden shield around the crest, knowing that if time and paint permitted I could always add the the leaves and texture back in. Another minor detail I wanted to fix was the super tall helmet on top made especially tall with an extra fleur de lys on top.

The idea came to combine the fleur with the crown and find a simpler helmet to go on top.

Royal_Crown_of_France.svg

So the crown of France will have to do.

The final design for Faust:

KoK_V3_Release

(Dragons further flattened for painting)

God help us — for art is long, and life so short.

Eventually I had to get working. It wasn’t long before the itch got the best of me and Brigid and I ran out to two Jo Ann Fabrics to get enough polycotton and gold trim to put this together. Brigid came for the Japanese food.

I divided the build into four phases:

Phase 1 – Combining the halves

Phase 2 – Painting

Phase 3 – Trimming

Phase 4 – Basing

Phase 2 is far and away the longest, or at least most tedious step, itself having a main coloring phase and a second detailing phase. So here we go. First I sealed off a spare bedroom in our house and put down a thick painter’s canvas. Next I laid out the red half, then marked an inch deep onto it to overlap the black half. The I laid out the black half and pinned them at the end.

20160201_171137

Over two days I glued the two halves together.

20160201_173337

It wasn’t perfect but I managed to not completely cock it up.  After gluing I wanted to stitch it just to be careful that there wouldn’t be a completely failure if it got caught in the rain.

IMG_20160202_190455

It wasn’t a terribly good stitching job, and it caused quite a bit of bleeding from the fact that I didn’t do a terribly good stitching job. Otherwise it was a a basic backstitch job.

Stitching took three nights (doing a little bit at a time so not to completely start to loathe the project), after which I let it sit for a few nights until I had time to get paints.

After I did get paints I got back to work pretty quick:

20160206_164512

20160207_131420

20160207_152802

Surprisingly, all of this happened without a major fuck-up, which is some sort of record for me. Hence I wasn’t surprised when:

20160208_181718

20160208_183243

A gentle reminder to would-be painters, all yellow paint is neon green until proven otherwise. Luckily I was able to soak most of it up with a paper towel and then paint directly over it with zero wait. Not sure how the back looks as of writing but the back is the least of my worries.

20160208_184318

I lost a shade of gold, but in the end… I lost the need to constantly swap colors, so I’ll call it a win.

Just take a look at our patrons, and you’ll know
Some don’t appreciate us, others never will.

The next big step was getting some chalk and chalking out the helm, the ribbon, and eventually the dragons. I initially wanted to save the details for later, but I broke down in time and just started scatterbraining across the 8×8 canvas.

20160214_102138

Eventually some equipment would need to be replaced. Brushes break, cups dirty, but my poor old printer was just getting too old. Plus it was like $50 for new ink cartridges so for $100 on Amazon Prime I got a new ink with a free printer thrown in. Oldest joke in the book, but work with me here.

This one has wifi. No more wife emailing print-outs to me.

Usually one paints a tifo by first projecting the image onto a wall, hanging the fabric, tracing the image, and then painting it on. Colors are limited and even the small details are huge. Here, no luck. Projectors are expensive and the small details require getting up close and personal, often free-handing the actual lines. For the most part I use tracing, which in turn means lots of printing, cutting, and taping.

20160210_180457

20160210_182434

Then once the stencil is made, it is traced out. One of the reasons I made everything as symmetrical is that I can use the stencils “twice” – once on each side.

20160210_182850

20160210_183133

Plain, white blackboard chalk is surprisingly hard to find. I’ve checked at multiple places multiple times over the year and have never actually found white chalk, always just an empty hook next to the colored blackboard chalk no one wants because it stains everything.

20160210_184425

20160210_190507

First coat of the red banner, right before getting scatterbrained.

20160216_165751

20160216_172659

Second coat of gold on the ring, first on the helmet. Genius Kendall. Also, by this point the brush death toll started. A 1″ brush Brigid grabbed so I wouldn’t have to dedicate a single night to a single color died about halfway ’round the ring.

20160216_174206

So while the gold dried I decided to work on small details instead of cleaning my remaining 1″ brush twice.

20160216_180804

At this point I also realized that my old printer had slightly enlarged certain print outs. So my fleurs de lys were too big to fit two abreast.

So they got staggered in a weird pattern. Had I know earlier I would have aligned two to the right and one center and to the left. But fuck it. Perfection was never the goal. So I finished the third fleur and then went to wash my brushes…. and promptly killed my good 1″ brush by rinsing it under too-hot water, causing all the bristles to loosen and fall out.

For fuck’s sake, Kendall.

20160216_181408

All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.

Bought new brushes today. Grabbed two and didn’t grab cheapos. The first order of business was going to be the crest I was hoping to finish it first so I wouldn’t be sitting on the supporters to get at it later. This would include the helmet too and then eventually the motto. The first day back to work was a red day.

20160218_171903

Traced out the lines.

20160218_172942

Looks good.

20160218_180342

And promptly went about adding a second coat to the banner.

With the red done, it was time to move onto the first of the arty parts of the project – the Lion in the red field. The Detroit flag uses a stylized version of the English coat of arms – three Lions. I wanted to simplify this, but also add a Detroit flair. The choice of a Lion holding a sword was a simple one.

20160220_145436

Worked upstairs on this one.

20160220_151737

Freeeeeee!

20160220_154221

It fits! Mostly because I specifically shrank it.

20160220_155044

A quick trace later.

20160220_161352

And the gold paint added.

And before anyone asks what’s happening to all the brush cleaner, don’t worry, I’m no litterbug.

20160220_164748

That’s right. Kitty litter. It’ll go into the trash, not the best but beats down the drain because I’d never do that…. ever… really.

I waited to finish the Lion’s sword, teeth, and claws until I was getting the white paint out, basically when I did the stars.

20160220_190155

Going with an inverse stencil to keep the spacing.

20160220_190235

FUCK.

20160220_193354

Squished that second star in. Still. Fuck. Anyway, shitty picture – but that is the nearly finished crest. Just needed some black outlining and that needed a a bit of bravery because we were getting into freehand territory.

20160227_163513

Practiced outlining with the dark red for the banner. It doesn’t look good up close but fuck it. Paint was not sticking well.

20160227_165012

This bit I could free hand, or use basic existing stencils like a ruler or a spool. However eventually I’d have to at least trace the main guidelines.

20160227_172805

So I cut apart the existing stencil.

20160227_172824

Boom! Looks good considering I’m shit at art.

20160228_100523

More free handing. Super, super proud of the calligraphy I was able to do. Probably wouldn’t be able to do it again. But I got it when it counted.

20160228_101540

The traced crest and the motto. Furchtlos und Treu for sure. But with that there were two things to go… two things I had been postponing – the highly intricate crown… and the two massive dragons.

That which issues from the heart alone,
Will bend the hearts of others to your own.

So, that crown… kinda royalist… don’t you think? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t care about things like that. But I do. It was grating on me for a while. Not only was it intricate and hard to paint, but it also symbolized something I don’t support – monarchism. If only there was some sort of hat that represented freedom and democracy… Wait! There is!

20160305_144401

It’s called a Phrygian cap and is a symbol of revolution. It appears in a lot of French Revolutionary scenes as well as the coat of arms of Argentina.  It’s also on the seal of the US Senate.

20160320_141013

That was easy. 😉

Now those fucking dragons.

20160303_182937

20160303_182955

It’s pretty big.

20160303_185119

Finished. It was something like 13 or 14 sheets of paper all told. I don’t have the final count any more. It was a lot though, but it is for a good cause.

20160303_185412

Positioning. Ignore the missing phrygian cap.

20160305_081640

Traced.

20160305_084617

White details.

20160305_104209

Gold details.

20160305_171645

Starting the red.

20160319_182918

More red.

20160320_140931

Added black details and more red. Still a lot to go… plus… another fucking dragon? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Whatever is the lot of humankind
I want to taste within my deepest self.

20160328_115432

Working down in the basement was hell on my fingers, decided the best thing to do was get a space heater and let that baby wash over me. I also started bringing down a tablet to listen to podcasts and things to keep my brain occupied. After this I noticed shifts went from an hour or two to six hours pretty quick.

20160328_133240

An nearly complete dragon.

20160328_144311

One down, one to go.

20160402_121244

Got the sleeve glued, but not stitched. In this time frame I was thinking about the colors of the dragons. I was thinking that a lot of the flag was very samey looking. After talking to Brigid, I decided to switch the second dragon up. White -> Gold, Gold -> Red, Red-> White.

This would give me some more variety and could also reflect the Polish roots of Hamtramck and have the dragons wearing the traditional kit colors of DCFC – Rouge (home) and White (away).

20160402_122626

20160402_123830

20160402_125109

20160402_134629

20160402_145149

20160402_171204

I got the sleeve and a massive chunk of the white dragon (everything seen above) done in a single shift. I also named the dragons – Danny on the left, Dave on the right.

I am not omniscient, but I know a lot.

I’m headed into the final stretch at this point. Finish the white dragon and then getting trim and re-enforcement on before the 16th of April was the goal. I put zero work in over the week, but was dedicated on getting it finished on the weekend.

On Saturday we did our normal routine of Bob Evans followed by grocery shopping. Then. Work.

It had to be done in time.

20160408_193629

20160409_121148

20160409_124855

In case anyone (no one) was wondering, I used the tape roll to keep my paint cup from getting knocked over. Saved me quite a few times.

20160409_141909

Painting complete.

Now I had to move onto the trimming and the re-enforcements.

20160409_154658

It’ll never look this good again.

20160409_155929

20160409_160817

20160409_173803

Around this time I was horrified to discover that the sleeve around the pole had two pinch points and thus it was impossible to remove the pole from the sleeve. Which means I needed to cut it out.

Luckily I had some fabric lying around from uni when we tried to make bags for cornhole. I was planning on using this for the grommets, but I had plenty so it would also be used to expand the sleeve.

20160410_110736

First pinch at the bottom.

20160410_110744

Second pinch about a quarter the way up.

20160410_114403

Little extra room.

20160410_125426

20160410_125436

I laid out patches for the grommets. This would add a few extra layers of canvas so they wouldn’t pull out easily. The plan was that the grommets would be used as a secondary re-enforcement to the sleeve on particularly windy days.

20160410_130131

Pretty in pink.

20160410_130956

20160410_131009

If my aim was off it was because getting over the sleeve was a pain in the ass.

20160410_131349

I have to admit cleaning the grommet pliers was pretty awesome.

20160410_131910

All nice and set.

20160410_125629

20160410_125641

At this point I undid the ties holding the fringe together and wasn’t happy with the corners. (Un)Luckily I had mismeasured along the top and had to run to JoAnns for more fringe, so I had a foot to play with. I cut some tiny sections out and glued them diagonally across the corners. This really filled it out well.

The last steps were cleaning. I had to get all the chalk off and all the gold lint from the fringe as well, also cat hair, human hair, and just general junk.

20160410_132634

20160410_135642

20160410_135702

20160410_145136

And so ends my project!

Brigid suggested we give Faust some air upstairs in our great room.

20160410_153418

20160410_153451

20160410_153507

Faust stands proud.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way when I had questions or just needed a little encouragement. This project had a lot of twists and turns and a few complications, but in the end everything for my club.

Up The Fucking City!

 

Draft to Reality:

KoK_V1_Release

KoK_V3_Release

20160410_145136

Only took two months.

A Deal with the Devil

Few things are more reliable than the occasional bleating of the MLS2Detroit crowd. Usually something spurs them all, all self-serving. Whether it is Dan Duggan trying to drum up support for his shitty PDL-side or Dan Garber creating a sense of demand for the franchises he is shilling for, at minimum, $100 milllion dollars.

And with the inevitable MLS2Detroit sheep come the wolves of the NGS. Or at least that is the story I keep hearing. It certainly isn’t the story I’m seeing.

The Northern Guard, for whom I cannot speak, aren’t about a league. They’re about a team. That team is Detroit City Football Club.

I think this much they’ll agree with me on. After this remember I am a single member of the NGS speaking for himself and no one else.

I don’t like MLS. In fact, fuck MLS. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I’m blocked by the MLS twitter account for calling their rules on championship stars “Byzantine bullshit”. Now, “Byzantine” is a big word for those interns, but blockable? Really?

Whatever.

Fuckers.

There are a lot of aspects of the MLS that suck. Their commissioner is a twat. Their expansion is based off the needs of billionaires. They ban fans for creating the atmosphere that appears on all the marketing materials. They active work on turning the league into a retirement league for over-the-hill Eurostars. They kill local teams, local culture, and plop down sanitized “darbies” on fans who otherwise never interact.

So if DCFC has to grow, and it is growing, it will eventually outgrow the NPSL with its short season and reliance on unpaid college players bound to the rules of the NCAA.

So where does DCFC go?

Well let’s look at our options, shall we?

We have the PDL… which is also tier 4 and is occupied by the Fucks so why bother? Really it is just a fancy NPSL with a little bit of MLS weight behind it.

We have the USL, tier 3 soccer and the first truly professional league in the pile. There are a lot of MLS “2/B” teams here which for me sort of wrecks the fairness and the prestige. They keep trying to call themselves tier 2and my reaction is always, “You can’t be tier 2 when you’re a fucking reserve league”.

There’s the NASL, tier 2 and the “wild west” of all the professional leagues. With their expansion into California their position on the pyramid is safe for now, but there are a lot of other issues we’ll get into.

And lastly the MLS – the sanitized big league with the cash, the clout, and contracts.

Who does DCFC go with? Where do we expand?

My gut reaction, and my heart’s reaction is “NASL”. Go with the wild boy. He’ll treat you right and we’ll go far together.

But. And this physically pains me to say. My final answer would probably be “MLS”.

O snap!

Fires rage in the comments below.

Give me a second.

I fucking loathe the MLS. FUCKING LOATHE everything about it. But do you know what I loathe more?

The idea of a world without DCFC.

That hits me hard. I want DCFC to survive above everything else. I want to go to DCFC games when I’m 80. I want to fucking be buried in  rouge and gold knowing that DCFC was a world-wide name, a symbol of Detroit’s rise from the ashes and a club renowned for its involvement in the community and the loyalty of its fans.

The USL is a league to get pigeon-holed in. You either bounce out of that league quick or you fucking die in it.

That leaves the NASL and the MLS.

So why one over the other?

Want to see why?

NASL Attendance

Source.

That’s why.

Strikers 52% down?! Cosmos, the reigning champions, down 13% plus a decrease of 1,400 from 5,000 to 3,600 in one week. Jacksonville down 36%. The only team that is up is fucking MinnU and they’re leaving for the MLS!

These are terrifying numbers if I’m honest. The NASL looks like it is entirely propped up on the rush of fans to new teams like Miami and Rayo. It’s like a fucking ponzi scheme or something.

Indy Eleven, the big success story that sold out like every game last season? Down 7%.

I’m sorry, but I’m not seeing a sustainable league here. Based on the average DCFC outdraws two of these teams and is not far behind a couple more. And now we have a bigger stadium to call home and the FO announced on twitter that we’re down to 200 season tickets left. I’m assuming we were selling about two or three thousand.

Now these numbers are based on only a handful of games but each of these includes the fucking home opener. That’s supposed to be a big match. It’s super hyped up! First game of the season! But here its coming with a whimper instead of a bang.

So the reality is, from where I’m sitting, unless the NASL cleans up its act really quick, it’s going under and its going to be soon. The only real hope is for new expansion teams to breath life into its quickly withering body. And I don’t want to risk losing DCFC for a fucking league I don’t owe anything to. That’s what we mean by club over league.

Now, obviously, I will follow DCFC regardless of where they go and I’ll support to the greatest of my ability, but I don’t see the NASL working out. I just don’t.

The USL could work but its a pretty big could. For the USL to work in my eyes you need to divide the independent teams from the reserve teams. Let the USL be its own league with its own character and then we can talk.

So really, what league does that leave?

It leaves the MLS.

And that is, when you boil it down, the key issue. There are no alternatives in the US when it comes to soccer. And this is why so many people are MLS or nothing (beyond they simply don’t know about the other leagues).

So what are some likely scenarios?

Well, assuming USL stays its course (a mix of indie and reserve teams), NASL stays its course (the wild west, ghost towns and all), and the MLS stays its course (sanitized franchise corp) this is how I can imagine it playing out.

 

Detroit City announces move to NASL around 2018, but league is looking shaky. Loses a few “core” teams either to bankruptcy or smaller leagues (looking at Strikers and Edmonton). Cosmos not looking good either, but league considers their history too important.

New teams keep giving a boost to the league, but nothing ever seems to pan out past a season or two.

By the time DCFC enters the NASL there are serious problems showing. Owners might reconsider at this point, fearing attaching themselves to a sinking ship, however staying semi-pro would be equally ruinous.

Detroit plays two or three seasons in NASL, but in that time the league basically sags under its own dead weight. Teams drawing 2,000 fans are hurting teams drawing 12,000. Without TV exposure any chance at success for bigger teams is nonexistent. MLS begins openly courting rumors they might be planning on stealing the cream of the crop, DCFC among them.

After that I would assume that we’d jump over, especially if NASL is in a nose dive. MLS isn’t worried at this point. They know they can claim any city recently devoid of a club as their own. They aren’t going to help anyone out of the wreckage. Teams that escape will escape on their own merits. Rumors of backroom deals are all bullshit. Does Detroit make it? Honestly not sure.

Anyway, that is pure speculation. But realistically I just can’t convince myself the NASL is okay unless we see a turn around on those numbers and soon.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a pessimist, and this is why I usually keep my mouth shut during the MLS/NASL debates. One is abusive and the other can’t hold down a job.

In the end they both suck.

And in the end I stick with my team through thick and thin.

 

Musing on Flags and the Such

Been working on a major flag project lately.

Hint hint.

I have a whole write up that I’m putting together for when it is done and unveiled going into the ins and outs, lots of pics, probably really dumb, but if anyone is interested when the time comes.

But in my off time I’ve… also been working on flags, or at least thinking about them.

The flags of many US states and even more US cities are abysmal failures in design, often containing little more than a seal on a bed sheet. Detroit itself has one-upped everyone by putting their seal on a clusterfuck of other flagsDetroit

As Detroit City showed, dropping the colors to two (preferably rouge/gold) and removing the seal actually creates a lovely flag.

_DSC0285_large

(Photo – Jon DeBoer)

Anyway, recently I took a wind of Michigander pride (before having it dashed by the likes of Rick Fucking Snyder) and designed a Michigan flag (which I posted to r/vexillology to a… mild welcome) and tonight designed a Rustbelt flag in general.

Michigan Flag

Michigan

This is one of those basic flags that’s supposedly full of symbolism. Sometimes I like that – a flag with layers and a story, not just colors on a piece of nylon. Two bodies of water (Michihuron and Superior) surround a forested land (two blue bars and a green in the middle). The land is divided into two halves (two stars and the 1:2 ratio) but in the end is a united whole (stars inside solid green bar).

Simple. Elegant. Slightly reminds one of a flag likely found in a place where “President” is a title held for life or as long as the military stays loyal.

I’m personally a fan of the 1:2 tricolor design, same as used by the Republic of Ireland. I like when flags escape the usual 2:3 and 3:5 ratios.

As for the colors; a blue different from the usual dark blues used by many states (including Michigan) reflects the (once) clear Great Lakes and forest green for… well… our green forests.

One of the things I wanted to practice with this flag is grey scale contrast – that is colors that when put in grey scale are still apparently different. This is why you often want to keep flags down to only three or four colors – so the contrast is different.

Michigan_BW

So here is the flag in grey scale and you can see that all three colors and still completely distinct. Why is this important? Well, often times, when printing letterheads or other documents, states use grey scale to save on printing costs. Right now most flags become a blackish smudge. This flag maintains its elements even when losing its color. So success!

Rustbelt Flag

Rustbelt Cities copy - red fix

Another 1:2 flag from yours truly, this one with a bit more complicated of a design (though a common motif for the region). What better to represent the Rustbelt than an actual rusty belt across the middle?

Right now the background is white, though it was suggested to me to use grey for steel/iron. That might work, actually, but for now let’s leave it with the more traditional white.

To break the monotony, in the canton I’ve  added eight stars to represent eight cities that come to my mind when I think of the Rustbelt – Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Rochester. They’ve been spaced out geographically across the top, leaving some room if I was pressed to add more.

Why eight? Just ‘cuz. Originally it was nine, but Green Bay is significantly smaller than I thought, so it got dropped. One downside to the current set up is that it sort of forms three distinct regions, not really hitting up that “unity” spiel I was going for. Maybe I should add Grand Rapids or something in Indiana as well as Erie, PA and get a better cohesion going – then again I don’t really think of those cities when I think of the decaying ruins of once-proud industrial cities.

Anyway, feedback welcome as always; and before anyone asks, yes – book two is going well and is totally not chaffing under my other flag commitments. I swear.

Kit Nerd Day?

Apparently some people had some suggestions for the home kit. While I stick by mine with the rouge/rouge combo, you can’t argue that these aren’t damn fucking sexy as well.

Like last time, I don’t own the rights to any of this nor did I get permission. I am an amateur/fan with basic access to a kit customizer so don’t think that these are real. They are intended only as possibilities of what future kits can look like. For more info/reasoning check the post from earlier today.

The Other Home Kit – Because Hoops and Because Rouge AND Gold

Hoops_16_front

So here is the Rouge AND Gold kit for the bhoys.

I certainly can’t complain. These are some damn sexy kits. Are they my first choice? That’s… uh… hard to say. There are definitely a lot of pluses to these. First, the hoops are more apparent. Second, we finally have gold in the Rouge and Gold. Third they are an older Adidas model and are therefore cheaper. Fourth – holy shit do they look good.

I have to admit those are some strong reasons to say that this kit is the better.  As I write this I think less and less of my original design and more and more of this one. So there you have it, I guess? The new Detroit City home kit for 2016.

Other views:

Hoops_16_shirt_front Hoops_16_shirt_side Hoops_16_back

So here’s the line up (with an alternate away so we don’t out-do the collar):

Hoops_16_shirt_front Away_16_shirt_front_alt Alt_16_shirt_front

Early Renders

These are some earlier ideas for the home kit, before I went straight rouge and rouge.

These two have some white accenting on the socks and on the kit itself. I ended up thinking that it was a bit like last years: just too much. So I simplified them a bit.

 

Home_16_front Home_16_back

While this one only retains the white on the Adidas logo. Even this felt so of… weird. So I set the logo to be rouge too, it helped the sponsor stand out and just made it nice and clean.

 

 

home_16_shirt_front

The “Kit” Post – 2016

Did you know I was a kit nerd?

Really?

No?!

Come on.

Seriously.

Okay, before we get started some usual disclaimers – I’ve used images without permission (sorry DCFC and Flagstar), I haven’t edited anything other than transparencies (and in one case made the Flagstar logo white as to stand out on a rouge kit). Hope you guys don’t mind. This is done completely on my own. To potential sponsors this is in no way an official thing, this is one fan’s ideas of the best looking kits.

Also this is going to become a “thing”. Each year, perhaps far enough ahead to actually influence decisions I will post the annual Kit Nerd  (tagged “Kit Nerd” for search-ability) post, detailing my biased and subjective opinions on DCFC kits and what I personally want to see in the coming year. I will do my best to always back-up my arguments but realize that kits are subjective and since I am an admitted kit nerd/buyer that my opinions might not always be popular. I.e. – I would want to buy these kits, not just think they look good. These are the kind of kits I WANT in my closet costs be damned.

The other “thing” is that I’ve been keeping the kits up-to-date on the wikipage.

Next – some thoughts on last year’s designs with several months of hindsight.  Last year’s designs were very over done. I was having a ton of fun with the cit customizer so I went ahead and just puked color over everything with the exception of the gold alternate kits. They look, in short, pretty bad. 90s bad. Actually, not that bad – but you know what I mean. They sort of remind me of training kits, which tend to be a bit more… busy.

Third order of business – thoughts on the actual kits from the 2015 season – I liked them. We stuck with Nike and some patterns have been emerging which I am going to work with here in the three new designs. First – we seem to have colors starting to lock down. Home – rouge, Away – white, Alt – black. That’s cool. I will note that there is a serious lack of gold in any of this, but I’m actually okay with that for the most part. Rouge, white, black is a great combination and one I am more than happy to work with.

Specifics regarding the kits: the home one was my least favorite – the white stripes didn’t “do it” for me, they just broke up the nice rougeyness of it all. I’m going to focus on bringing that back. The away kit was great, loved the decision to add the collar and despite being plain, they were classy as shit. The alternates were great as well. Simple black with white shorts.


 

Brand – Adidas (pron: AH-dee-dahs, not uh-DEE-dus)

Like last year I’m going to push for Adidas, which is my favorite kit-maker and has the best kit customizer by far. Seriously Nike, how hard is it to fucking get a kit customizer to work? Don’t make enough selling $5 sweat-shop shoes for $150? Pay someone to fix it.

I know this is unlikely. DCFC has used Nike every year thus far and it sounds like Detroit is getting its own Nike store, making purchasing all the easier. But I’m going to hold my ground – get Adidas and get the girl… or trophy… I don’t know just go with Adidas.

Kit Names – YES

Again, this is me spitting into hurricane force winds but I’d like to see kit names. The owners were very kind to explain why they didn’t have kit names: Nike essentially sends a box with a variety of sizes and numbers and that’s all the team gets for their own use. Some players do seem to have their own number (e.g. Edwardson with 18, Rogers with 6) but in general these need to be fluid to dress whoever is available.

Still, I’d love to see names so names are included in my kits. I am looking forward to a time when we can do this.

Sponsor – Flagstar

Last year I didn’t add a sponsor and gave some wishy-washy reasons as to why. Not this year. This year I’m buckling down and having an opinion. In 2015 DCFC had two main sponsors: our kit sponsor (Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers) and our soul sponsor (Flagstar). Both local, both big deals, but I honestly feel only one came to the table and that was Flagstar. From day one Flagstar seemed very interested in engaging DCFC and the Northern Guard. Yes I can be a cynic and say “of course that’s what a sponsor would do” but look at Metro Chevy – they didn’t seem to do anything but hand out tickets for the soccer camps, something Flagstar can easily do as well.

I felt that Flagstar REALLY wanted to be the kit sponsor but lost out in a bidding war or something. They made handkerchief, they helped bus kids in from the city to watch games, they engaged with the NGS and fans on twitter, the company seemed to really want to be there so I’m going to give them the kit spot for my 2016 kits. Good luck Flagstar, this Ford employee wishes you all the luck in the world.

The Home Kit – Rouge ’til I Die

 

Home_16_front

The hoops WILL return, dammit. They will. It will happen and I will be super stoked.

Working off the issues I had with my designs last year, I’ve simplified the color scheme on this (and all) the kits. I’ve limited myself to two main colors on all the kits, with a third for accents – burgundy and red dominate with white for the Flagstar logo and numbering to stand out.

When I design these I both think about what will look good and if we were to move up what would not be stealing or competing with another team. For example, red and gold is out because A) DCFC hasn’t been emphasizing the gold aspect much and B) I don’t really want to compete with the Strikers and other Red/Gold primary teams.

Yes, most combinations have been taken. Black/Red is Atlanta and though those look great, I’m going to try to avoid it all and stick to Rouge. So everything is some variation of our beloved color except for the Flagstar logo, giving it great visibility while keeping the kit simple and clean.

I’ve definitely been obsessing over the details here, tweaking everything over and over, just to see little variations – mostly with the highlites, and using white for the Adidas logos and such. Perhaps I’ll post failed versions later, but there is little to look at.

Of course, here are some more views.

Home_16_shirt_front Home_16_shirt_side Home_16_back

 

 

The Away Kit – The Collar Means Business

Away_16_front

The brilliant white + collar returns. Again, trying to keep it nice and clear. I’m not a huge fan of plain white kits, but for some reason add the collar and suddenly it works! Add a DCFC logo and a a little bit of rouge and it is just WOW.

Last year I talked about a running element – something that would exist in all three kits – and that was the rouge/gold socks. Obviously here you can see that was abandoned. Socks are tailored to match the kit and here it is two colors – white and rouge.

As I said above, white seems to dominate our second kits, so instead of fighting that let’s embrace it. I’ve started to think of DCFC’s colors mostly as rouge and gold in name only, our logo shows one thing but the field shows another. While I don’t advocate changing the logo at all, I do think gold doesn’t work as well and can be harder to add to the kits. Do we use old gold or a darker yellow? Most companies are pretty limited here usually offering old gold, yellow, and something that belongs on a construction site – as compared to red where you usually have three real options or more (Red, maroon, burgundy, bright red &c).

In 2015 I believe the white kits used black numbering, I went with rouge here. I guess that is my theme this year – two colors a kit.

The other views:

Away_16_shirt_front Away_16_shirt_side Away_16_back

 

The Alternative Kit – The Stealth Kit

Alt_16_front

I teased this on twitter before starting to write this as this was the first kit that really came together quickly.

Third kits are a chance to have fun, really do something different. Some teams do it well, some teams don’t. While I’ve always enjoyed the DCFC third kits I’ve had two main issues in the last two years. First, let’s wear them a bit more. Playoff games, friendlies are all good times to use the third. I get that we auction off the thirds during the selected charity match but… ugh… I want to see them more! Secondly, we’ve always used the white shorts with them, probably as a cost saver.

So with my design I’ve made two big departures from DCFC’s usual methods. First – instead of pairing black with white, I’ve paired it with rouge. I assume their use of white means they can grab shirts from the bargain bin at the Nike outlet by my house, but this is my blog so we get my kits. Second – the shorts are black too. Deal with it.

I’ve been calling this the “Stealth Kit”. It looks mean. It looks like a team that doesn’t fuck around. If this kit was released I’d probably end up divorced and the only thing I’d ask for is the fifty or sixty of these I bought stay with me.

Black has slowly been working its way into the DCFC phenotype. It is one of the main colors of the Northern Guard and so it is not surprising just as DCFC shapes us, we also shape DCFC. This sharing is epitomized right here in rouge and black.

The other views:

Alt_16_shirt_front Alt_16_shirt_side Alt_16_back

 

So there it is! Kit post 2016, hopefully early enough to turn some heads and maybe even affect some decisions.

Any and all comments and criticisms are welcome; twitter, reddit, or even here are all great places to hit me up with your own ideas. Here’s to a short off-season!