Tag Archives: Rambling

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:

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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

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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

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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.

_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.

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.

English is Dead, Long Live English

The English language has died.

Time of death? Probably sometime in the 1100s.

Cause? Sudden Influx of Normans Syndrome (SINS).

Next of kin? English.

Wait. What?

I’ve decided, rather willingly to become irate about pedants bitching about the “devolution”, “worsening”, and nearly literal “death” of our wonderful, beautiful, resilient language because people say “literally” to mean “figuratively”, “irregardless” instead of “regardless”, and “who” instead of “whom.”

Madness!

Anarchy!

Fucking teenagers and their 133t-sp34k and their iPhone9s and their having of the pre-marital sex!

Blasphemy!

Simple and true, our language has died and it was slain by… pedants who insist on made-up rules drawn from Latin, long-winded explanations of how to use what should be simple words, and a need to correct people on when to use specific spellings or “well” vs “good.”

Language, I will and have argued, are not owned by editors, pedants, professors, or teachers. They are not owned by dictionaries or websites. Languages are owned by their speakers going so far to say that there is no correct way to truly speak a language.

English is a prime example of this because it has so many speakers both native and those who rely on it as a lingua franca. It also has a very high percentage of speakers who are well educated and productive members of the so-called first or developed world. It means we have a lot of free-time to bitch about how English is used and spelled.

Only rarely though are the pedants, though, discussing grammar. Often “Grammar Nazis” are really “Writing Nazis”. They’re focus is not the correct use of are language, rather the adherence to spelling and the proper use of commas, and apostrophe’s. Only really rarely do they try to dig any deeper then that and the two big times its they whom are wrong.

me-fail-english-thats-unpossible_605

 

“Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.” Okay, that is some real grammar. Why? “Uhh… because it is a rule.” No it’s not. “Yes it is.” No it’s not, it comes from Latin. Do we speak Latin? “No…” Fine, then it isn’t a rule for English.

“Well, as long as you don’t split the infinitive.” There, another grammar point. Why? “Hey, don’t start with me, pal.” No. Why? Why can’t I split the infinitive? It’s two words: to go. To play. To read. To snore. Again, it is a fake rule ripped from other languages. The infinitive in Latin (and in most languages) is one word. GehenSpielen. Lesen. Schnarchen. I can’t split the German infinitive because the infinitive is one word.

Well, technically I could it is called infixing. But we don’t have infixing in English which is fan-fucking-tastic.

O. SNAP!

When people often talk about the “death” of English it is either the so-called misuse of common words or people spelling things strangely, often more phonetically. Neither of those is hugely indicative of the health of our language. Vocab is to a language what wall paper is to a house.  Replacing words only yields an encryption, not a new language, unless enough people replace all the same words the same way… and then you get a dialect. Unless those people have an army, then you have a language.

Languages are deep. They have winding, unique histories and they are forever changing. Vocab is the easiest to change because the spoken-word is so very prevalent. Languages are primarily spoken, thought, shared. Even writing like this is more of a conversation, it is more spoken than written – because I don’t edit it, I don’t follow stupid conventions, I literally literally write as I think and that yields a very natural flow of the language rather than some APA approved bullshit.

Vocab changes all the time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes dramatically, sometimes it makes sense. “Knight” and “Knave” share the same etymological root, but are in many ways opposites. “Faggot” and “Fascist” are similarly linked (they both come from “a bundle of sticks”). “Boy” meant “servant” and “girl” meant “child” regardless of gender. “Hot” can mean temperature hot, it can also mean “sexually attractive”. German has an example of the opposite, geil means “horny” but young people often say it to mean “cool”.

The word “fuck” comes from the Proto-Indo-European word that meant “to strike”. The Latin word for “fist” pugnus shares that root as well. The word “poke” does too, (probably).

So that basically comes to the crux of my problem. Pedants never seem to want to turn back the clock farther than when they were in High School. There is no pedant on the internet seriously arguing that English was best in 988 or that we should really be speaking Proto-Indo-European because that was when language was “best”.

None of them argue to bring back grammatical gender to English, which English had two (Masculine and Neuter).

None of them argue to bring back all of our missing cases. We all know the subject, the direct object… the indirect object. What about the instrumentitive case (which was already dying by the times the Normans showed up)? The genitive? What if I told you that English completely lacks declination. Do we want to bring back fucking declination? Or more complicated conjugation?

No.

No one in their right fucking minds wants to bring back any of that. Because it is complicated and insane.

What English needs, what English has direly called out for these last two centuries has been spelling reform. Our spelling is no longer phonetic. Sure it isn’t as bad as Irish, but our language is hanging onto spelling rules and functions from the 1300s and 1400s because of pedants who cling to the glorious past (and realists who don’t want to replace a billion street signs). All those extra Es on shit? All those extra letters were probably pronounced – because we had no formal spelling rules (remember dictionaries are a modern invention) so people wrote words like they sounded.

Shakespeare wasn’t adding that “e” on the back of his name out of boredom. It was probably literally literally pronounced “Shaykes-peereh”.

So you want to know what? I don’t fucking care that teenagers misspell words. Let them. Maybe they’ll be open to the idea of finally instituting an English spelling reform.

So the next time you see someone chatting in slang or simplifying the spelling of words remember it is they, not you, who is ensuring that English reaches the next generation of users. And hopefully the find it stronger and more useful than ever.

The English language has died and it was killed by pedants.

Long live the English Language.

Only in Defeat

Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?
That is the only time a man can be brave.

-Game of Thrones

How can you be supporters when your team loses?
It’s only when our team loses that we can truly be supporters.

Losing hurts.

Always has, always will. If defeat doesn’t sting then did you really lose? If losing what you were fighting for doesn’t hurt did you really care? Do you really need it? Why did you fight at all?

Detroit City fell to the Bucks three to nil. Three. to. nil.

Saying it hurts.

It hurts to lose.

You might be able to tell from the pictures in the papers, but what I am saying is true. Detroit City lost to the Bucks. But what of it? We lost. Fuck the Bucks, we have a game to think about on Friday. We move on. When the team came over we embraced them (often literally). We chanted and waved flags. There was a party in Detroit and no one slept that night.

But it hurts. We bury that pain deep down, we look to better days, we move on. But it throbs at the base of our necks and until the next victory there will be nothing to cure it.

However, even in defeat there is victory.

The real battle is in the stands. Every article on the event can be summed up like this:

Dan Duggan’s Michigan Bucks beat Detroit City FC 3 – 0. They played nice soccer. But you can’t tell from our gallery of images because the Northern Guard show up, made themselves at home, and then chanted like madmen for 90 minutes plus stoppage. They were so awesome that even Bucks fans left DCFC fans. Kids loved them, parents wanted to be with them, and in the end that’s all that mattered. Because DCFC lost the battle but is winning the war.

Give or take 500 words.

We won because the battle wasn’t just on the field. It was off it as well. It was in front offices, in the stands, and in the minds of those there. When the Bucks show up with no sponsors and we have Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers; when Ultimate is decked out in Sam’s Hardware and Nobody Bank and we have Henry Ford Health System and Flagstar Bank. We have an official beer, an official bank, outreach programs, charities, and presence. The Buck’s have… well… they have a lot of silverware.

And let’s be honest – the Buck’s have a long, storied history… that no one cares about. What’s a history if no one reads it? Nothing. It is a book collecting dust on a shelf. Twenty years of obscurity and the best you can do is go on about how you never really meant for it to be a fan experience?

Yeah. Whatever.

Detroit City FC can walk out head held up high. We lost. So what? It hurts, but we’ll move on. We’ll remember this if we meet again. And in the end, the battle on the pitch was a small slice of a bigger battle. A battle of culture.

So fuck it.

Fuck you Daniel Duggan. Fuck you and your shitty fucking team and your shitty fucking pricing plan. Yeah. Don’t act like we wouldn’t fucking notice you dropped the price of tickets once DCFC wasn’t involved you two-faced price-swapping twat.

Go fuck yourself.

Fuckyouzard