16.07.2010: In which The Cory Clouston Fashion Review has its first special guest: Dave; we talk about the hockey jersey as manifest destiny


[Editor’s Note: this is from a conversation that happened months ago, but is presented here as a sort of Foreigner’s Greatest Hits]


David to me
show details Jan 4
So, randomly:

I’ve been jonesing for a circa 1993 Canadiens jersey with 33 and Roy
on the back. Trying to find something game-worn or whatever is crazy
(though perhaps not much more crazy than the prices they charge for
jerseys in general), but the NHL makes replica jerseys for $220 or
whatever that look pretty close to (though not exactly) what they
looked like in 1993. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who
apparently makes wicked can-hardly-tell knock-offs for $80ish.

Anyway, it’s some kind of nostalgia, connection-to-my-father thing. He
basically lived The Hockey Sweater, except he was one of those
rocket-fan kids beating up the leafs-sweater kid. And Roy was my
favourite player growing up and I was *really* happy when they won and
I was 13.

So it’s mostly dumb, but I’m mulling it. You ever get the urge? For a
guy who’s such a big senators fan I’m surprised you don’t already have
one.

That, and I want an Expos hat, a Rubick’s cube, and a 1958 Gibson
J-200 (like the one Springsteen used to record Nebraska).

Conrad to David
show details Jan 4
I do sometimes get the jonse for a hockey jersey, especially one with the name of a player who was immensely likeable and a character guy and maybe scored a memorable winning goal in the run to the finals but played a bit role overall, like Dean Macammond or Vaclav Varada. There’s also such a hilarious tradition of utter awfulness in the Sens’ expansion days that it’s tempting to get a Tugnutt, Rhodes or Marsh jersey, semi-ironically but also because history is history, right? The team used to be one of the worst ever. That’s sort of an amazing achievement in its own right. But there are some factors that stay my hand like Vito Corleone’s mother begging for her slow-witted son’s life:

1) The prohibitive cost. I loath spending $80 (let alone $200) on a nice shirt, so it’s hard for me to justify spending the same on niche wear.

2) My favorite team doesn’t have quite the history of a Habs. To wear a Sens jersey sometimes feels like one is going through one’s “cowboy boots” phase.

3) Games are pretty much the only place I’d wear a jersey, and I don’t go to that many games because the arena is in Vladivostok.

3a) I really wouldn’t wear it. There’s such a general douchebaggery associated with jerseys when not worn because of 3) or the aforementioned history of some teams. It’s as if the jersey conveys, more than a baseball cap every could, that one is, through-and-through, a sports dude first to all else. So much so that one will wear what is ostensibly a sports uniform around town when it isn’t game night or when one isn’t playing road hockey.

4) The Sens jersey isn’t really an aesthetic marvel to behold.

There are obviously many caveats to my disparaging position. Add to them that my dad wasn’t a sports dude, that I never played hockey, that my girlfriend would make fun of me and probably get insecure about the person she entered into a partnership with, and it’s pretty much sewn up that you should actually get one.

Having said that, I am very much a t-shirt man. Getting an old vintage t-shirt posits that one is a fan of the team, enough so that one can claim to prefer an older variation of it, but not so much so that the team transcends any of the brands one is known to display any fidelity towards or preference of. A t-shirt is the hedging of one’s bets.

Some miscellanea:

– As a non-Habs fan, and fully acknowledging what you’re saying about history, family, tradition, etc. isn’t getting a Habs jersey with Roy on it kind of like saying “My favorite country in WW2 was America”? Or, “My favorite player in Space Jam was Michael Jordan”? Like, obviously you liked Roy when he was on the Habs. Any Canadian who likes hockey thinks he was a genius king.

– I kind of think of the Habs as Rangers North: unlimited money, endlessly evoking their own tradition (French Canadian players, rookie goaltenders, Habs alumni in the front office) over sound management decisions.

– I don’t really know enough about the Habs. I don’t know who I’d recommend getting over Roy. I would say Gainey, ’cause he was awesome, but as a GM he’s such a complete knob I couldn’t do it. ($5M per over 5 years to Brian Gionta? Lose Komisarek and sign Hal Gill? That man builds a pro sports franchise the way I build my fantasy hockey team.)

Conrad

P.S. Habs suck!

David to me
show details Jan 4
This is a way more reasonable analysis of the pros and cons of
purchasing a circa 1993 Patrick Roy Canadiens jersey than I could have
possibly expected. I love you.

Let me respond in-line:
> I do sometimes get the jonse for a hockey jersey, especially one
> with the name of a player who was immensely likeable and a character guy and
> maybe scored a memorable winning goal in the run to the finals but played a
> bit role overall, like Dean Macammond or Vaclav Varada. There’s also such a
> hilarious tradition of utter awfulness in the Sens’ expansion days that it’s
> tempting to get a Tugnutt, Rhodes or Marsh jersey, semi-ironically but also
> because history is history, right?

See I kind of love this approach for you because it’s sort of the
intense-fan, or the thinking-fan, or the thinking-man-fan approach, where your reasons for connecting yourself to such-and-such a player are unique and deep-rooted, and possibly you want to communicate that you’re not just a block-headed jock but someone who brings play and whimsy and irony to your fandom.

> 1) The prohibitive cost. I loath spending $80 (let alone $200) on a nice
> shirt, so it’s hard for me to justify spending the same on niche wear.

Yeah agree.

> 2) My favorite team doesn’t have quite the history of a Habs. To wear a Sens
> jersey sometimes feels like one is going through one’s “cowboy boots” phase.
Hm. I kind of think I’m going through a “liking sports” phase, maybe.
> 3) Games are pretty much the only place I’d wear a jersey, and I don’t go to
> that many games because the arena is in Vladivostok.

I want one for wearing around the house and going to friends houses to watch games. Football games, tennis, whatever. It’ll be my ‘watching sports’ garb.

> 3a) I really wouldn’t wear it. There’s such a general douchebaggery
> associated with jerseys when not worn because of 3) or the aforementioned
> history of some teams. It’s as if the jersey conveys, more than a baseball
> cap every could, that one is, through-and-through, a sports dude first to
> all else. So much so that one will wear what is ostensibly a sports uniform
> around town when it isn’t game night or when one isn’t playing road hockey.

See I’m not sure I feel this. For me a lot of this avoiding-a-certain-kind-of-manliness/dudedom hasn’t been a factor for me in a long, long time. In fact I grew up so femme–and have been consistently treated as such a “sensitive guy”–that people finding out I’m into sports is a constant surprise. If anything I think a doughy, hipster-haired, obviously femmie “nice guy” like me wearing a big flaming jersey is more of a culture-fuck than wearing a hipster-tshirt, or whatever. And this is really specific to my situation, I think… so the above works perfectly for you, I’d say, but since I just think my vibe in general could never, will never, just through-and-through would never-ever be taken for a sports dude that me playing dress-up-sports-dude is some kind of reclamation of/taking on of some sort of masculine role that I miss/feel nostalgia for/in some ways regret losing. If anything I worry more about being a
class poseur–like I’m into sports because it’s “authentic” for
non-intellectual, lower/middle class dudes and I’m stealing from that sort of authenticity the way a trucker hat or “gangsta style” would.

In other words I worry about the opposite problem. I worry not about being thought of as a through-and-through sports dude, but that because I so clearly can’t pass for one and in some ways don’t perform it well, I’ll just be a poseur.

Part of this relates to my fandom too. Like I can’t place most of the
names in your email and don’t follow the franchise actively. I know
way more about tennis or the Patriots. It’s an
aesthetico-nostalgic/personal choice.

> 4) The Sens jersey isn’t really an aesthetic marvel to behold.

Yeah, what’s with that? So many of the original six(ish) jerseys are
AMAZING, especially the non-pictorial/non-representative ones. Like the red wings, the bruins, the leafs. All awesome. The oilers, the whalers, the nordiques, even the jets were pretty good. Some of the newer ones are so, so terrible…

> There are obviously many caveats to my disparaging position. Add to them
> that my dad wasn’t a sports dude, that I never played hockey, that my
> girlfriend would make fun of me and probably get insecure about the person
> she entered into a partnership with, and it’s pretty much sewn up that you
> should actually get one.

Yeah good thing [girlfriend’s name] isn’t at all worried that underneath I’m some kind of violent meat-head. See above where I feel I’ve never been mistaken for anything but a pink cotton ball.

> Having said that, I am very much a t-shirt man. Getting an old vintage
> t-shirt posits that one is a fan of the team, enough so that one can claim
> to prefer an older variation of it, but not so much so that the team
> transcends any of the brands one is known to display any fidelity towards or
> preference of. A t-shirt is the hedging of one’s bets.

pussaaaaaaaay.

> Some miscellanea:
>
> – As a non-Habs fan, and fully acknowledging what you’re saying about
> history, family, tradition, etc. isn’t getting a Habs jersey with Roy on it
> kind of like saying “My favorite country in WW2 was America”? Or, “My
> favorite player in Space Jam was Michael Jordan”? Like, obviously you liked
> Roy when he was on the Habs. Any Canadian who likes hockey thinks he was a
> genius king.

Oh totally, but this is how my sports fandom works. I’m really into
superlative champions. I also think The Beatles is the best band of
all time. In fact sometimes I find alternative/indie/martyr fandom
super-irritating, as if somehow you’re not a real sports fan unless
you suffer like the Red Sox fans did for years or the Mets fans still
do. I get no perverse pleasure from watching the Leafs be the worse franchise of all time, but I *do* want Federer to win Grand Slams until his late ’60s. People who were into Nadal or, worse, James Blake are just forcing it in the underdog direction or are into spoilers.

I’m STILL pissed off about the Giants knocking the Patriots off in the superbowl… why *wouldn’t* people want to be able to have lived through the perfect season, to be able to say “they’re clearly the best team of all time. I was there and it was awesome” rather than like “yeah I saw fuckface Manning spoil the best team of all time using chance and nothing to destroy greatness”.

Seriously I think if I were to get a Jays jersey it’d be
Halladay–unless I went retro then may Joe Carter or something… or try to figure out who my favourite player was from back then… Pat Borders or John Olerud maybe… see in this case maybe I would go deeper than say Alomar ’cause I had a sentimental fav–and if I were to get an NFL jersey it’d probably be Brady or one of the other big quarterbacks, or some big guy from when I liked the Bills like Jim Kelly or Thurmon Thomas.

Aaaaaaanyway, I’m kind of into greatness, and they’re the kinds of
players I like to watch and root for, that and sentimental favs, like
maybe an Oshawa Generals Lindros or Brathwaite jersey ’cause my Mom used to take me to games. I would totally get a Gretzky or Lemieux jersey. Maybe this is connected to the unlikelihood that I would be a sports guy in the first place–and thus not feeling any anxiety about being in a big crowd. I don’t feel with sports, or probably with literature or music really (any longer) or movies or neighbourhoods, like I need to avoid the consensus choice or say something that isn’t obvious. I mean, Shakespeare and Phil Spector were pretty sweet, right?

> – I kind of think of the Habs as Rangers North: unlimited money, endlessly
> evoking their own tradition (French Canadian players, rookie goaltenders,
> Habs alumni in the front office) over sound management decisions.

Yeah I’m not much of a fan of them nowadays. Sentimental choice for sure.

> – I don’t really know enough about the Habs. I don’t know who I’d recommend
> getting over Roy. I would say Gainey, ’cause he was awesome, but as a GM
> he’s such a complete knob I couldn’t do it. ($5M per over 5 years to Brian
> Gionta? Lose Komisarek and sign Hal Gill? That man builds a pro sports
> franchise the way I build my fantasy hockey team.)

I was into Carbonneau as a player but as a coach he seems like a bit of a bonehead. My other choices would just be other players, mostly from other teams, that I liked as a kid. In fact I was just looking at the Generals jerseys and they look pretty sweet.

I wonder if sports people would think it was weird to wear a hockey jersey while watching football, or vice versa. Maybe what I need is 14 jerseys, to respond to various context-sensitive situations. Agree?

p.s. are you kind of happy the blackhawks are doing so well? They’re your second favourite team, right?

Conrad to David
show details Jan 4

So many of the threads of my e-mail intertwine with threads of your e-mail and then back to my e-mail and back to yours that we’re practically braiding each other’s hair – the wussiness of which could be mitigated were we to do it in hockey jerseys. I also love that you write “I’m kind of into greatness.”

I agree with what you’re saying about the “no one would mistake me for a jock” worry, but what I think I’m trying to get across is that in cases of literally emblematic fealty to a team, all that’s seen is the emblem, and that the personality is necessarily, and inherently meant to be, erased. And I think this is particularly problematic with jerseys for original six teams with their greatest players on them, because there’s no way to distinguish between the sentimental, nostalgic and sweet jersey-as-tribute, and the aggressive-but-doesn’t-know-much casual fan who is attracted primarily by the aggression, stereotypical masculinity, and need to belong to a large, vocal group that is, again inherently, “against” that group of people over there in different colored jerseys. While I can appreciate a jersey that is a testament to greatness, and I know you and that you’ve given a great deal of thought to the topic, I also think the Great Player jersey denotes, in a general way, safeness and accessibility, qualities generally associated with a lack of knowledge. None of these things are particularly bad qualities; I like it when people watch sports without knowing who’s who or what their stats are (because really, who cares, right?) but because only the greatest athletes are known to everyone, and to wear a jersey is to declare oneself a fan of that particular sport and team, to wear a jersey of a greatest athlete is to say “I am a fan, but I don’t know much more than someone who isn’t.” That one hasn’t earned it. Which isn’t, of course, the case for most – Lemieux means a lot to Pittsburgh for a lot more reasons than goal scoring, for example. But that’s the way it can play, especially with non-fans who may tend to just see the jersey and the name on the back.
All of which is unbelievable bullshit of course, because sports are meant to be populist and accessible and no one has to earn a thing to watch them. But there’s jersey politics for you.

One other possibly negative association is with the sort of fan base to which the jersey wearer, however unintentionally, purports to belong. While I tend to resist the sort of “these fans are the best fans” and “those guys are dicks!” notions, I think it’s fair to say that there are tiers of fandom, and accordingly ritualized behavior, that can be scored by team history. As a fan of a small market team sandwiched between two hockey Meccas, I can say that there is something about the unblinking, unquestioning enthusiasm some feel to their team (ostensibly, and perhaps more relevantly, their father’s team) that is unnerving, sometimes frustrating. Enthusiasm is good, but at times mitigates engagedness with the finer nuances of the discussion. Montreal fans are vocal, and proud, and understandably so, but they are also prone to hideous soccer chants, and riots that destroy their own city, and endless tributes to a team that, frankly, won most of their Cups back in the days when you could outright buy the best players from poorer teams and when the league made a rule that the Habs had first choice of all French players (seriously!). And while these associations are paper-thin, they are also fundamental to the notion of jersey wearing – to make oneself appear like others and so declare oneself a part of their group, the same mentality that informs players not standing on the logo in the middle of the dressing room, and why Federer doesn’t have t-shirts and jerseys. This stuff is just so prescriptive that I fear for the way I’m perceived were I to wear a jersey though I think I can back myself up in a conversation about jersey choices if challenged. The same goes for wearing a hockey jersey to a non-hockey sporting event. Perhaps people are too close to particular sports to be “into sports”? I’m not sure. Were I to not know you I might think it weird if I were to see a guy in a Habs jersey, in Toronto, watching tennis. In any case, it’s the prescription of others that scares me, not your idea.
Having said all that, I get the greatness argument, and Roy was unquestionably great, as were his teammates when they won it all. Were you to get a Roy jersey I don’t see anyone questioning it on the grounds of validity of choice. I do think you’ll get some flack from Leafs fans, if they’re even into hockey anymore after years of no playoffs and all the stupid choices Burke made just before this season.

As for the Hawkies, my love for them stems from the same place as my love of the Sens – that they were brutally mediocre for a thousand years, and then got good. Being a Hawks fan now is a little bit fashionable given their lineup looks like a game of NHL 2010 with all the cheats turned on, but some of the kids on that team have been there a while, and it must be exciting to be a favorite to win it all. I like their chances. I’m going to see them play Ottawa on the 17th, where I think they will annihilate the Sens before all those Sens fans in Leafs and Habs jerseys.

David to me
show details Jan 4
You know what’s weird is that knowing more about this is making me want to buy one less. Originally my idea was like “I want a
comfortable, sweet shirt to wear around the house and particularly
when I watch sports that reminds me of my dad and my childhood”… and then I started thinking and reading about it. It doesn’t take long to realize that it’s pretty stupid to wear a habs jersey to a leafs game, or a habs jersey to a superbowl party… so you start thinking that the only time it makes sense to wear it is when you’re watching a habs game. Which for me is like never.

For utility’s sake I should get a pats jersey, I guess, since they’re
the team I’m likely to go out to a bar to watch. But without the
sentimental factor I’m way less motivated. If I got a generals jersey with Brathwaite on it I would have the bona fides to back it up partly, but then someone would ask me about the generals from like 1996 – present and I’d have no idea.

Anyway I totally get what you’re saying. Whether or not we should
particularly care much–caring some is impossible to get around–for what people who don’t know us, who have the personality erased because they don’t know me, see in a symbolic act (i.e. wearing a jersey) is something to think about. Of course if we didn’t care at all what people thought we’d all wear flannel onesies, or whatever. So the question is some kind of balance between the personal meaning I’m talking about–what the shirt means to me and what it can mean to people who know me/talk to me about it–and what it signifies to the outside world. But I completely get what you’re saying and like… it’s basically so much of a pain in the ass to wear something that will induce snickers and giggles in people around you–’cause they think you’re weird–that it’s not really worth the fun you might get out of wearing it.

But yeah, I’m irritated by the (totally reasonable) idea that this
shirt would only be really wearable in certain very limited situations (at a Habs game) and not elsewhere. Gr.

Conrad to David
show details Jan 4
Having said all that: having an OHL or AHL jersey is like automatic cred. For a tiny while it was fashionable to like Rimouski Oceanic because Crosby was on them scoring 190,000 points a season (also the logo is badass – Sharkboat!), but you pretty much have zero association with minor league jerseys when people see them, which is great. There’s some mind blowing logos in the minors, too. You ever hear about the Iowa Chops?
http://www.iowapork.org/Portals/iowapork/bore.jpg
The Chops’ re defunct now, but these teams seem to get so much leeway in terms of like, “Hey, we’re a minor league hockey team in the fucking American midwest! And there’s a million teams in this league! And we get about 1000 fans out a game! Of course we’re going to call ourselves the Bethausan Bear-a-balloos!” Instant cred.

David to me
show details Jan 4
So how does that work then, do you think? I’m at a leaf’s game or at a bar watching a leaf’s game and I’m saying “I’m a generals fan. no, not in the sense of liking certain players on the teams I’m watching that came through the generals organization… just in the sense of liking hockey in general and being all intense about it”?

I feel like the hockey jersey to me will be mostly a pajama-type item that maybe gets worn to the store if I’m really lazy, so maybe none of this matters.
top

2 thoughts on “16.07.2010: In which The Cory Clouston Fashion Review has its first special guest: Dave; we talk about the hockey jersey as manifest destiny

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s