Tag Archives: Rambling

The Rumbles of a Michigan Flag Discussion

For many reasons, Rick DeVos is probably not the kind of person you expect to be retweeted on this blog. I’m not going to go there tonight, or perhaps ever as a political mouth and not necessarily a political ear.

Say what you will about Rick (as a person) or the DeVos family (as a force in politics and business), Mr. DeVos has brought up an interesting point: Michigan’s flag is kinda… well… let’s just say it fits in well with most US states.

That is to say… bad.

It’s bad, okay?

There, I said it. Michigan’s flag sucks. It is yet another seal on a bedsheet with some Latin logos and deer thrown all over it. There might be an eagle too. All things you can hunt in Michigan.

Rick has asked for some flag designs, my guess is that it has to do with his “Art Prize” thingie. Get a bunch of art and flags related to Michigan, how Michigan stands out in people’s minds. For me it is a chance to stretch my inner designer again.

Before we go too far, I want to bring up the long-sacred  rules of flag design:

  1. Keep it simple – A child should be able to draw the flag from memory
  2. Use meaningful symbolism – Symbols on a flag should promote the ideals and beliefs of the people the flag represents
  3. Use 2 to 3 colors – This is an extension of rule #1 and also makes the flag easy to convert to greyscale if done correctly
  4. No lettering or seals – Letters and seals are for seals, not for flags which should be instantly recognizable at a distance
  5. Be distinctive or be related – Flags should show common heritage while also standing out in the crowd

Where does Michigan sit?

  1. Fail – Michigan’s flag is very complicated, with a seal and three animals plus a bunch of Latin.
  2. Sorta Pass – Michigan’s flag throws enough against the wall that some of it sticks. Elk and deer for our forests, Eagle for America, mottoes and stuff represent the people in the state. However, it is way too much and is starting to get out dated. Deer might’ve been majestic in 1840 but now? They’re mostly just roadkill. Michigan isn’t roadkill. Plus it can be exchanged for any forested state in the US.
  3. Fail – Clearly Michigan fails. It has a ton of colors, some for only small details.
  4. Fail – Michigan’s flag is a seal on a bedsheet.
  5. Sorta Pass – Michigan’s flag gets a sorta pass here. It is definitely related – it’s related to all the other seals on (almost always blue) bedsheets that dominate the flags of the United States. But on the flip side it doesn’t stand out in any way.

While I doubt that Rick has any major plans for pushing for a change of the Michigan flag, without a doubt we need a new flag; it just isn’t the most pressing thing facing the state right now. On the flip side a new flag might be the perfect way to get people united behind improving our beautiful, wonderful, and amazing state.

I’ve already posted an idea here and with Rick, but I’ll post it and some others for your viewing pleasure.

Two Lakes/One Michigan Flag:

Michigan

This 1:2 flag represents Lake Michihuron and Lake Superior with Michigan nestled in the middle. The two stars represent the Upper and Lower Peninsula united within a green forest. It is important to never forget that the Upper Peninsula is a part of Michigan, it isn’t just a vacation spot or where you can get a cheap piece of land for hunting. That’s why I want to show it as one with the Lower Peninsula instead of  always separate.

Also, I recognize that my opinion on Lake Michihuron being one lake, but trust me when I say geography agrees with me – they are one lake with one surface that rises and falls together. Say it with me: Michihuron (/ˈmɪʃəhjɚˌɹɒn/).

And like last time, it retains its distinctive look in greyscale.

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Lake Above/Forest Below:

This one maintains the same two peninsulas, one Michigan theme as the one above. The Light blue is replaced with a more traditional navy. The navy maintains the start contrast difference between the blue and white so that in greyscale it still remains distinct. It also ties it back in with the rest of the US by including the stars and that traditional navy blue. This uses a more standard 3:5 ratio.

The Michigan Square:

I think we all know that a certain neighbor to the south uses a weirdly shaped flag, so why can’t we? I’ve switched to a 1:1 ratio while maintaining the colors from above. I’ve moved the green to the fly (the side not attached to the pole) so that when draped it will stand out from the other navy blue flags.

The Michigan Tri-color (Horizontal):

A simple white-green-blue tricolor in a normal 3:5 ratio. I’ve removed the stars and made a flag that is very easy to draw from memory but is completely distinct from other American flags as well as just about any flag in the entire world (it the flag of the Komi Republic in Russia flipped). White for snow. Green for forests. Blue for the lakes. It is meant to invoke a common scene in Michigan – snow-covered pines by a placid lake. Simple, but distinctly Michigan.

The Michigan Tri-color (Vertical):

The same three colors as before, the same order – only twisted and given the 1:2 ratio I’m so fond of. Draped in still air it creates the scene from above. Aloft it is a flag like no other. Unique among all the world’s flags as a vertical tricolor that doesn’t use white or yellow in the middle (shared presumably with only Cameroon).

 

So there are five designs, hope you’ve guys enjoyed and you found something you like. Hopefully this all goes over well and Michigan can try to unite behind a new, beautiful flag!

Slán!

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

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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.

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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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So the crown of France will have to do.

The final design for Faust:

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(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.

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Over two days I glued the two halves together.

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Traced out the lines.

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Looks good.

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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.

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Worked upstairs on this one.

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Freeeeeee!

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It fits! Mostly because I specifically shrank it.

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A quick trace later.

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And the gold paint added.

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

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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.

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Going with an inverse stencil to keep the spacing.

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FUCK.

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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.

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

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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.

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So I cut apart the existing stencil.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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That was easy. 😉

Now those fucking dragons.

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It’s pretty big.

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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.

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Positioning. Ignore the missing phrygian cap.

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Traced.

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White details.

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Gold details.

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Starting the red.

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More red.

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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.

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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.

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An nearly complete dragon.

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One down, one to go.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Painting complete.

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

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It’ll never look this good again.

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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.

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First pinch at the bottom.

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Second pinch about a quarter the way up.

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Little extra room.

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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.

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Pretty in pink.

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

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

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All nice and set.

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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.

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And so ends my project!

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

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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

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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.

 

Because it seemed like the thing to do

I just posted about symbols and fake hurling clubs in case you missed it. As a sort of joke I threw a half-assed crest and kit set that I had made for “Pheasants Hurling Club” a semi-serious discussion between Aaron Mink and I about starting a GAA Hurling club here in Detroit.

While I doubt that anyone in great Detroit even owns a piece of ash besides me, it was a fun thought.

The Name

I called the club Pheasants Hurling Club as a shout out to Troity the Drug-Addicted House Pheasant of DCFC fame. One can’t take themselves so seriously these days.

The Colors

Troity

I chose “wine” and “sky blue” because they looked clownish without looking bad. One shouldn’t take themselves too seriously.

The Crest

logo2 copy

It’s a pheasant in our colors. Because we’re Pheasants HC, remember? This isn’t hard. It’s a circle because it’s easy to make in photoshop and would look good on a button. You should never think you’re too serious for buttons.

The Kits

Kits_post

Hurling kits are interesting in one way – from what I can tell there’s only two kits. The keeper wears the one that the team is not. So if the team’s wearing the home kits, the keeper wears the away kit.

I think I meant the blacks as the original home and the hoops as the away, but now it would be the opposite. But like always, the designs are a reflection of what I’ve just decided is the team’s motto – Don’t take yourself seriously, no one else does.

The Obsession of Symbols

I have a very fond obsession with symbols. All kinds of symbols, maybe things you don’t think of as symbols per se. To me a symbol is anything we use to define ourselves whether through common understanding or inside understanding.

We cover ourselves in symbols. Colors. Kits. Flags. Even phrases. We use them as a shorthand of who we are, what we stand for, or who we stand with.

If I were to write:

AEIOU

Most of you would probably think “Very nice, Nick. Those are in fact the vowels in alphabetical order.”

How many of you would instantly think “Alles Erdreich Ist Österreich Untertan” (All the world is subject to Austria) or “Austriae Est Imperare Orbi Universo” (It is Austria’s destiny to rule the world)?

That’s what I see.

AEIOU was a symbolic device of the Habsburgs of Austria. It represented their belief that they were the one true masters of Europe and thus the world, and who could argue? The Habsburgs ruled two of the largest empires for centuries with night falling on their reign only after the end of World War One.

What about what we wear?

The discussion about hats came up on twitter recently. “No one I know wears a [flatcap],” said one indignant (and rather uneducated) user. “Well half of the Northern Guard does,” said Killted Ken.

Flatcaps are a symbol. They can represent Irish influences. Working class influences. They were popular in England for centuries as a cheap hat, their significance as a poorman’s hat brought about by short-lived law requiring men over eight to wear a hat.

What about soccer kits? What do soccer kits tell us about people? Their colors, their designs. Hoops. Stripes. Sashes. There’s lingo and basic elements. A lot of it is based off what you like. I’m not sure that the colors or anything meant anything. I’m probably wrong. Those colors, back in the 1870s meant everything. There’s a lot of combinations of claret and blue in England.

Maybe they’re all copying.

Recently, in my boredom and partially out of a desire to procrastinate, I created twenty hurling kit sets (home/away+socks) for the “premier” hurling (called Caman in my books) league using the Azzurri GAA kit builder. Part of it was an exercise in thinking about the different cities I had created for my story. What did these cities do? What sort of people lived there? What did they do and how would that affect their favorite teams?

What did different designs and colors mean? Some patterns and themes emerged as I worked on them. I also tried to think about our own trends in sports, drawing differences between EPL and MLS. Here are a handful, hope you enjoy.

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh (and the next entry) feature in their old incarnations in the sequel to Sun-King. They are based very much on my beloved Detroit City FC (as is obviously apparent in the colors) but also in the fans. The “Union” in the name is used by teams to reflect that they were originally founded by working-class people, this is backed up by the hoops (which I took from Celtic). The fans are rowdy, dedicated, ready for a scrap, and pile into the bars before and after every match. Macenburgh itself is very much based on Detroit (including it’s southern suburb Southfields). Rozenn is a huge fan of Union, dragging Einar to a game in book 2 where she of course starts and ends a fight with the supporters from across the river.

First Blackwater

First Blackwater

When I first named “Blackwater” I wasn’t actually thinking about PMCs or anything. It was originally named after Dublin (Dubh Linn – Blackpool). As I was writing Blackwater and Macenburgh traded places as the working class and upper class sides of a single massive metropolis. Blackwater sounded more exclusive so it took over. Blackwater’s fans are mostly wealthy or conservative in general. The two teams and their rivalry draw from the Old Firm derby (Celtic v Rangers) hence the blue details for Blackwater.

ACC Aurora

ACC Aurora

Whereas the Macenburgh and Blackwater teams are ancient fixtures in their cities, ACC Aurora represents that new breed of sports team, eager to stand out and eager to build an ancient identity in a few short years. In the books it’ll be hundreds of years before they are even founded. They represent a disneyfied team – bright colors and weird patterns based on the local  scene. In this case the auroras above the city of Aurora, far north of the “arctic” circle of this world. They aren’t the worst team, they certainly aren’t the best. They are young and thus their owners make silly mistakes or are in general less interested in keeping with traditions or words of wisdom. Hence purple kits.

Dockyard Union CC

Dockyard Union CC

This team quickly became one of my favorites, those kits on the right are a good reason. Like Union Macenburgh, Dockyard is a Union club. In my world they are a very St. Pauli-esque club. Punk, anarchic, supporter-run, vulgar, and ready to shout-down fascists at the drop of a hat. While they hold Macenburgh in high esteem, they reject the idea of capos in the crowd, opting instead for spontaneous chants and lots and lots of pyro – mostly stolen from the docks.

First Valkburgh NCC

First Valkburgh NCC

I nearly wasn’t going to include this one. This is the team from Einar’s hometown and that he (secretly) roots for despite Rozenn’s passion for Macenburgh dominating their sporting relationship. Nicknamed “Rangers” that is more an homage to Sun-King and the “Nyrnish Rangers” who are head quartered in Valkburgh. Before any real-life Rangers fans jump on board, the Nyrnish Rangers were an elite scout force turned traitorous IRA-esque militia. Their colors green and brown harken back to these military roots. I also wanted a team that had unusual colors without going into the realm of the disneyfied teams.  Brown was an interesting choice, again inspired by St. Pauli.

 

Some other teams of note:

Union Waldenhof – Essentially the Newcastle United of this world.

Kairnburgh ACC – Based off Liverpool, good but never quite good enough.

Waldenhof City – The rich team that almost always buys their way to the top.

Southfields CC – The team in the burbs who wonder why no one takes them seriously.

NCC Fovel Town – That team you’ve never heard of and then are surprised to find out are significantly older than your side.

Launburgh ACC – That club out in the middle of nowhere with a tiny stadium.

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.

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(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.

Anarcho-Linguist

I have a soft spot for dialects and minority languages, languages that might be on the brink of forever falling out of us. Not sure what drives me to this, why I feel a kinship of sorts with people I’ve never met and who’d probably not like me much if we did because I’d be asking them stupid questions about their language.

Recently I’ve seen an increase in posts about “good grammar”. What makes writing effective and there seems to recently be a huge focus on minute details and spelling, as if there is a standardized form of English, which there is not, actually. There isn’t a standard dialect of English written or spoken.

And that’s a cool thing.

When you read about France French being “correct” and Quebec French being “wrong” it comes from this standardization. France controls French and therefore is able to classify the Quebecois as essentially outside the Francophonie.

But we can’t do that in English… usually. There are exceptions to this, one of which I actually plan to share some thoughts on (knowingly as a well-off white boy).

I saw a post the other day that said “I don’t judge people on their age, nationality, or race… I judge them on their grammar.”

News flash… that means you judge people on their age, race, nationality, region, and class.

When we make fun of southerners for their dialect, we are making fun of them for being the other and oftentimes for being uneducated. We are usually making fun of them for being poor. Or for being “belles” who are haughty and above us, shallow or back-stabbing. How many times after the Kim Davis bullshit did you see a comic with her speaking in a stereotypical southern dialect? How many? Because I can nearly guarantee 100% of the time it was to make her seem simple and uneducated. Beneath us.

Where we are born, what language we learn first, and the dialects that we pick up around us govern to a large degree how we speak English. It could take years to pick up Scots or Ulster-Scots. I don’t use the word “treelawn” because I chose to. I don’t end sentences with prepositions because I want to. And I certainly don’t pronounce “water” as “wader” like every other American because it sounds prettier.

I speak the dialect of English I grew up with.

And here’s where the problem begins to arise: We don’t chose our dialects, but we are judged by them. And no dialect of English is judge more than AAVE (African American Vernacular English), sometimes poorly referred to as “Ebonics”, a word which will ne’er again appear in this post.

The lack of understanding of AAVE, what it is, how it works, and exactly how prevalent and self-consistent it is leads to people making very rash, very harsh judgement on its speaker for nothing but their language. All of this is very touchy, and honestly it is often impossible to have this discussion and walk away with any friends left.

AAVE is a self-consistent dialect/creole/language prevalent in the African-American community. It is the result of many pressures ranging from economic, racial, to historical. It is mutually intelligible with English but sits on a fence with dialects like Scots on whether or not it is a language and calling it a language has repercussions to it. Calling it a language might legitimize it. Calling it a language would shed light on the difficulty that kids growing up speaking exclusively AAVE have transitioning to a setting where only AmE is acceptable.

But it also would act to further isolate its speakers from work and opportunity. The way I see it is this: the second we call AAVE a language hoping to achieve progress someone will use it as an excuse not to hire someone based off language aptitude but deep down it is because of race. The second AAVE becomes a minority language things change and it isn’t predictable.

We’ve long equated adherence to a non-existent set of rules to education and mobility. Whether consciously or subconsciously the effects are real and it impacts people day in and day out.

Watch a video of a British comedian making fun of an American accent. Now imagine the the punch line was, “So that’s why I didn’t hire him.”

Good thing you learned the right dialect, I hope.

 

 

Anyway, I had a point but in writing this I started to get pissed. So I’ll end it there. Stop judging people on their grammar. It makes you a twat.

Bitching and Moaning

Okay let’s do some bitching and moaning because it is about time. Everything below is my uneducated and rambly opinion. You are free to disagree, but some of these are problems that are not new to this season.

Refs in the NPSL

Refs in the NPSL are usually somewhere between complete shit and utter shit. There are exceptions, Donovan, the ref from the May 29th game against Twin Stars is generally a good, fair ref and a decent person. Who ever was on the field today was a fucking idiot. His calls were so bad Lansing was calling him out!

The two biggest were the ignored penalty we should have gotten for a literal tackle against WMB and Lansing’s third goal which was wildly offside. That would have evened the score to 2-2 which was about what we had earned. Lansing got two legit goals, DCFC got its one.

But things like strikers getting shoved to the ground and then being called the ones to have committed the foul is 90% of the shit calls from NPSL refs.

They fucking suck and honestly it is the #1 reason I want out of the NPSL.

Lansing United

When you score – go celebrate with your fans you fucking pricks. Don’t come taunt us. Don’t taunt us for two reasons – first, your fans paid to be there and support you; recognize that and go celebrate with them for fuck’s sake. Second, NGS does what it can to make sure we stay under control, but it only takes one asshole to make the poor life choice to stick a bottle in your eye socket. For the love of Thor’s salty balls, don’t taunt opposing fans. That’s just a universal truth.

That single Sons of Ransom Cunt

Stay on your fucking side of the goddamned bleachers you thick-skulled moron. What the fuck were you thinking?

Detroit City Football Club

I’m pulling out the full name here because like my mum starting a sentence with “Nicholas” I need a chill to run down your spines. This is season four. Honeymoon is over. We, I, love Detroit City to death but the era of you can do no wrong is over. Time to take this shit seriously. I know you do, but it is time for all of us to take this shit seriously and that means getting feed back in more ways than smoke and cheers.

Offense – For the most part the offense looks good, but I personally feel that we hold onto the ball too long. We lose it a lot in the last third and it can be a pain. I feel like a lot of student players are still in the collegiate and academic sports mindset of “beautiful” soccer. That they have to pass and be team players. Every now and then just shoot it. Shoooot it. If you want we can get Sarge shouting it into a megaphone again.

Middle – For fuck’s sake can we please string together more than two passes in the middle without losing it? Seriously. I feel like fully 40% to 60% of our passes in the middle land at the feet of a player not wearing our colors. Along these lines, stop with the long pass forward. Even Brigid was getting irritated by this and she doesn’t understand soccer or even really care about sports. It seems like every single pass in the air has about 25% too much power. They go over our guy’s head and into the feet of an opponent. This has been our weakness time and time again. We are constantly losing it in the midfield and we are constantly losing it to long passes.

Wings – Alex the Great is getting a new/second nickname (as per Moz’s suggestion): 7-11 because that kid is always open and he’s a fucking beast (not sure what that has to do with 7-11 but work with me here) I feel like we always have one winger completely open and the defense and mid never seem to notice. Eyes up from the grass and lets position ourselves. Get the balls wide. Not every field is as narrow as Cass and we might not even be at Cass for much longer.

Defense – Communicate. If NGS is too loud, learn sign language. Deaf people been getting along just fine. But the constant miscommunication in the back is hurting and it is hurting hard.  On top of that I counted no less than four times in the first half of the Lansing game that the Lansing #10 was not only unmarked out on the wing, but onside. That’s fucking unacceptable. We’re lucky he was shit and was only good at shooting balls 30′ over the goal. Eyes up. Eyes FUCKING UP.

Goal – I’ll keep this short and it is going to hurt. There is a reason why we call Bret Mollon the brick wall and no one else.

 

Anyway, let’s end on a happy note – aye? This has been depressing. Here are my three standouts for the game.

Dave FUCKING Edwardson with a goddamned rocket from out of the box for his first ever Detroit City goal! Holy fuck. I can watch that all day.

That honestly made the whole day worth it. But as always, our beloved Geordie put up a good fight disrupting Lansing plays and taking control of the ball for the good guys.

Alex Isaevski is a mother fucking beast. That kid runs for days. He’s a winger. He’s a defender. He’s a fucking striker. There’s nothing Alex the Great can’t do. Fucking MotM, Fucking MotYear right there. Watching him is always, always a pleasure.

The WMB, the one and only Flash once again made his presence known, out dribbling hordes of defenders. He’s skills are honed to a razor’s edge. Let’s get some people up there to help him, there’s only one Messi guys.