Categories
Commentary Journal Uncategorized

It’s A Wonderful Life In Indiana, PA

I have the good fortune of living in the town where iconic film star Jimmy Stewart, who played the lead role in the classic holiday movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” was born, raised, and to which he often returned.  The article-2528752-1A468BBF00000578-209_634x480town of Indiana, PA is the county seat of Indiana County, PA, which for decades has laid a somewhat dubious claim to the title “Christmas Tree Capital of the World.” We’re not the biggest producer of Christmas Trees in the world any more, but we were the first place to grow them as dedicated crops, and the business still means a lot to our local identity.

As Philadelphia Inquirer writer Jeff Gammage wrote, way back in 1997, “Trees cut from its mountainside farms are shipped everywhere from Mexico to England, Florida to Arizona. They are wrapped in brown paper and sent via UPS to Pittsburgh, or strapped onto the roofs of cars that drive in from all over New York State.

One couple travels here each year from Philadelphia to buy a tree, which their dog picks out. Another family pops a bottle of champagne over theirs, christening it for the season.

In Indiana, you can drive from lot to lot and spend $79.50 for a 15-foot Fraser fir or $11.93 for a five-foot white pine, then cruise through a gaggle of glowing Santas at the Festival of Lights or shake hands with Queen Evergreen, the tiara-clad promoter of Indiana County Christmas trees.”

We take this Christmas business seriously, and in the years since Gammage wrote, our seasonal celebrations have expanded to include an “It’s a Wonderful Life” Light-Up night that features a 5o+ unit parade starring the high school marching band playing Christmas songs, floats from a cross-section of community groups, organizations, athletic and dance teams, and even (my favorite) a corps of farm folks stoicly piloting a squadron of beautifully restored antique tractors.

img_3691
Photo From: https://bestmountainfamily.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/its-a-wonderful-life-in-indiana-pa/

There is a bonfire in the center of town, free cocoa and crafts, an increasingly accomplished Jimmy Stewart impersonator wandering the crowd and, of course, Santa delivered on the back of a firetruck into the hands of the teaming masses of children.

This year, we had an additional treat: groups of travelers who were on bus tours visiting Indiana to see the Jimmy Stewart Museum and to enjoy the festival were seated on floats and celebrated as the welcomed visitors they are. I imagine we’re not the only town to show our appreciation to our guests, but I’ve never heard of anyplace else that puts visitors in a parade. Very cool.

We celebrated in equally warm fashion on one of the coldest evenings we’ve had to date, gathering with friends at a local pub for dinner and cocktails before watching the parade, then going back to Dave & Laura’s for beers, snacks, conversation and camaraderie by a roaring fire.

Earlier that day, I bemoaned to my wife that it just felt too early this year, that I didn’t have any sense of anticipation, but after an evening like that I was raring to go. Holidays 2015–bring it on!  I’m ready.

All Photos Below are from The Indiana Gazette

Categories
Commentary

NCAA Division II Basketball: IUP Contends For National Championship

21754110_26286

Hey, just a shout-out for the men’s basketball team from my alma mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, led by one of the best point guards I’ve had the good fortune to see, senior Devante Chance, and a host of other talented players.  If you want to see some fantastic basketball, without all the hype and histrionics, just a bunch of good, hardworking kids, the game will be broadcast live at 3pm EST on CBS.

https://www.indianagazette.com/news/indiana-sports/crimson-hawks-earn-berth-in-national-title-game,21754110/

Categories
Commentary

Football Thoughts 9/22

connerI had written a couple of football-themed posts last week, but faced with finishing them up and posting them here, I just wasn’t feeling it.

Perhaps it was because my beloved Steelers looked terrible over the first two weeks of the season, especially getting hammered by the hated Ravens in week 2–but I don’t so.

It’s been a real up and down season for my favorite teams.  The local high school has been masterful and dominant at home, with the players I knew personally having very good performances, but both of their away games have been resounding defeats. It’s good that they’re winning at home in front of family and friends, but those losses have to be just as difficult as the wins are gratifying.

My university alma mater, IUP, has been similarly up and down, losing an ugly one last week after an initial blowout win, then winning yesterday–albeit barely–over a feeble Lock Haven team.  It’s difficult to get excited about that, but until this weekend Pitt was chugging along behind an old school running back, James Conner, and a quarterback, Chad Voytik, with a heart of Everest proportions.  It is difficult not to cheer for a high character kid like Voytik, and his very young and inexperienced Pitt was 3-0 and looking like they’ll be competitive as the season moves. Still, they blew it Saturday against Iowa.  They just let it slip through their fingers  Pitt has been mediocre since–since forever, it seems–and just good enough to raise our hopes before dashing them with a late season collapse. I hope that’s not what we’re in for this season.

I realized Sunday that it is all the controversy over domestic violence and child-beating that has let the air out of my NFL fandom.  Jonathan Dwyer, the latest player to be accused, played for the Steelers until last year.  He allegedly gave a head-butt to his girlfriend when she turned him down for sex, then threw a shoe at their 18-month old for good measure. Not the best seduction tactic, eh? As numbskulls go, he’s worse than the spreadsheet guy. The idiot.

But seriously: you make a million bucks to play a child’s game, and you head butt a woman?  As I said: idiot.

He had a lot of promise, and a few good games, but never managed to stand out.  Still, I cheered for the guy.  I hate that most of all because I feel like I got played for a sucker. I hoped he’d get things going and succeed. Now, I hope to hear that he’s flipping burgers after a nice vacation in a very small room.

I was talking to a fellow today who was trying to make the point that lots of guys hit women and kids, not just football players, but the media goes after athletes because they’re famous–and because most of them are black.  While I wouldn’t rule out a racial factor in terms of enforcement, the argument that “lots of people do it” doesn’t carry a lot of water, and I told him so.

He said, “it’s that German word: Shay-don-froid.”

Schadenfreude?

“Yeh, that one.”

And I suppose it’s true.  Charles Barkley famously said that he was not a role model, and not coincidentally he has been one of Adrian Peterson’s more vocal supporters, taking the “its a southern black thing” route.  It makes me wonder how those folks feel, having Charles Barkley calling out the entire group as child abusers–but more importantly, Barkley is wrong about being a role model.  It’s not something he gets to choose, or dismiss.  Part of cashing that check and living in those rarefied heights–all for playing a child’s game–is the public stage.  For all an athlete would like to say that he gets paid to perform, not to be a celebrity, there’s a compact he’s making, an agreement to be our hero, to thrill us and disappoint us.  It should be no surprise, when they fail us so completely, not as athletes but as human beings, that we are compelled to cast upon them our amplified, collective scorn and disappointment.

Adrian Peterson has earned several hundred million dollars between his salary and his corporate sponsorships, all because people enjoy watching him run up and down a green carpet 16 weekends a year.  It’s a pretty good gig.

The Steelers played the late game, at 8:30 pm.  I wouldn’t have watched if it had been regular mid-afternoon game.  I had better things to do, like mulch the flower beds, and as it was I didn’t bother to raise my “Steel Nation” flag on the porch, but I did watch the game, though without my usual rapt attention.  There’s something about my fandom that died when Rice cold-cocked his fiancee, and I’m not sure that it’s going to grow back.  The Steelers won convincingly last night, with both LeVeon Bell and LaGarrette Blount running for over 100 yards–a rare feat, and just the sort of football I love: hard-nosed rushing.  At the end, I was pleased by not exhilarted, as I’ve been after some games.  I couldn’t help thinking of perspective: in the pre-season, the young, bone-headed Steelers running backs got busted for posession after firing up a joint in traffic, in broad daylight, in a fancy black camaro convertible–because nobody in Pittsburgh, a city that is not only still working out it’s racial issues, but as invested in it’s football team as any city in the nation, is going to notice a pair of  handsome, young, muscular African American dudes in an enviable car firing up a big joint at a red light.  Duh.  A lot of folks probably recognized these guys on sight.  There were calls for their suspensions after their arrest,  not so much for the drugs but for missing the team flight.  Now, compared to the alleged crimes of their NFL brethern, those charges are mentioned only as an afterthought, which actually is a good thing (but that’s another post).

Categories
Commentary Journal Photo I Like

Sunday Morning Rumblings

I don’t have a particular topic in mind, and while it occurs to me that I could open up my links to news pages and scour the daily dose of mayhem, gloom, and marketing for the latest tragedy/outrage/scourge/feel-good moment of the day, so that I might feed my hungry inner commentator, I sometimes feel that the media–like well-intentioned advice–is best left ignored.  There’s something to the old “ignorance is bliss” chestnut.

Dedicated readers, after waiting all weekend, crowd around screen to drink from my cup of wisdom.
Dedicated readers, after waiting all weekend, crowd around screen to drink from my cup of wisdom.

Before I go further, here’s a picture I’m including because, let’s face it, people don’t click on, let alone read, blog posts that don’t have any pictures.  (Ignorance tempered by cynicism should be mistaken for wit.)

The real reason I haven’t posted this weekend is that Peter Freuchen, the subject of my previous post, is so awesome a figure, and the photo of him and his wife so magnificently iconic, that I have been reluctant to create a new piece that would–that does–push him down the feed.  That’s the kind of photo that might actually justify closing a blog with a sigh and a “I can’t do any better than this.  It’s over.”  But not to worry, I’ll trudge on.

Has that ever happened to any of you–you like a post so much you don’t want to post “on top” of it and make it slide down from the top of the blog.

It’s been a mixed bag weekend.  The Steelers got hammered by the Ravens (which, admittedly, is better than getting hammered by teams I don’t respect, but still)–yet I missed most of the game in favor of dinner with friends.  The local high school won in dramatic, overwhelming fashion, and my Alma mater got pummeled despite being nationally ranked before than game.  Pitt won, tipping scales towards the positive.

ForSalePics1035My 3-year old lawnmower broke and requires a real pain in the ass repair–I can do it, but I have to remove the mowing deck and drill a hole–and while that sounds straight forward enough, it’s hours of fun.  Sigh.  The good news: my wife bought me a really sweet vintage cub cadet from a guy up the street, for a great price.  It’s built like a tank and the engine purrs like new.  I started it three times.  Fourth time: nothing. There’s a minor electrical hitch somewhere, or maybe the starter died.  Talk about “Are you kidding me” moments!  Even needing a repair, it’s a great deal on a great machine, but enough is enough.

warlockOn the plus side, my neighbor gave me a big, beautiful  beer for no other reason than he’s a good guy, and my daughter went out for Chinese food with her boyfriend.  The latter might not sound like a big deal, but you want to know what I found in the refrigerator at midnight last night.  Opps!–I stumbled and that General Tso’s accidentally fell in my stomach.  I hate when that happens.

the general

Categories
Journal

I’m Ready For Some Blogging; Yes, And Some Football

It’s been a beautiful week, in terms of weather. We’re at the tail end of a five days of lovely, warm weather–Summer’s last gasp, I suspect-=-a little warm, but blue skies and puffy clouds, regular but not incessant rains that have kept everything green and vital, and cool nights.  I’ve been keeping busy in both my job (mindless labor) and my work (the novel), while ignoring this blog for several days because I haven’t had much to say that interests me.  Sorry, but it’s not as if you missed me, right.

It’s not an excuse. I have 89 pieces in my “drafts” file, another file with close to 200 “found” internet photos and other questionably acquired tidbits waiting for their shot at greatness, but every time I sat down to do some writing this week I’ve either drifted off to sleep* or wasted all my time reading other blogs–your blogs.

The week didn’t start out great.  We have a corner of the garden that is largely unkept, owing to the presence of a clump of what I’ll generously call “vintage’ raspberry brambles–spindly things that never produce fruit, but which my wife in her eternal garden optimism thinks may surprise us “this year.”  On Monday (Labor Day!) I announced, string trimmer in hand, (“announced,” mind you, not “asked”) that the berries–and the entire corner of the garden, would be giving way to the future.  I pulled the cord and bravely slashed into the brambles….

evil incarnateFive hundred really pissed off yellow jackets later, I was doing the “hornet dance’ down the garden path, slapping at my ankles and thighs and…that’s right–inside my shorts.  I was lucky, getting only 7 stings and another dozen or so glancing shots.  The little bastards.  No, it was my fault.  I’d remarked to someone just last week that I’d gone through the entire summer without a bee, wasp, or hornet sting and very nearly wrote a blog entry of all the various indignities I’ve suffered at the tiny winged terrorists–not to mention all my juvenile acts of vengeance.  Not to gloat, but I survived to weed whack another day, and the pain was somewhat

They didn’t.

There is plenty of stuff I could be writing–it’s football season and I love football, for example. Two of “my teams” that began play last weekend–Pitt, and the local high school–did well.  Pitt clobbered Delaware, which I despise for no other reason than because it is the alma mater or Baltimore Ravens Frankenstein Creature, er, Quarterback Joe Flacco**.

Think that’s cruel?  I just did a google and–it isn’t just me.  It’s a freaking meme; how good to know I’m not alone.
Flacco-Frank 2 Flacco-Frank 1

 

But I digress.***

When “my” sports teams win, it’s satisfying.  I’m not one of those chumps who follow whatever team happens to be winning (just look at all the Seahawks gear out there–until last season NOBODY outside of the pacific northwest) so I endure plenty of suffering and disappointment.  I’ve often thought about how pleasant it must be to simply switch loyalties when the chips are down, but I’ve bragged up my loyalty for so long that were I to do so the ignominy would be unendurable.

IHS vs Mars
Excited players after a big score. More importantly, my daughter is one of the kids in the background.

The local high school took out a highly ranked adversary, against all odds and prognostications, with the two young men who spend time with my daughters making significant contributions to the effort.  It was exhilarating, inspiring, archetypical  small town Friday night stuff.

iupNow we need to get my college alma mater, IUP,  and the Steelers on the bandwagon this weekend–and the high school needs to lock down a team that won 55-0 last week.  We’re a little stoked for the both games–we’ll likely listen to IUP on the radio while working in the garden on Saturday, but we plan on making the Steelers thing into an event.  We’ve already got some Victory IPA in the fridge, and I’ll be making stromboli, from scratch.  We’re playing the Browns, and even though the Browns have been terrible for years we love to hate them as much as the dreaded Ravens (who used to be the Browns, you know).

*Have you ever fallen asleep sitting and dreamed that you couldn’t stand up–your balance askew, you stumble, your knees go weak like you’re the Scarecrow from Oz?

**Flacco actually signed with Pitt, but he ran away like a coward little child rather than compete with Tyler Palko for the starting role. The baby–he’s playing for the wrong Harbaugh .

***I’ve been very intentionally trying not to use this phrase, but the heart wants what the heart wants, I suppose.

 

Categories
Commentary

Southpaw–My (hair)Brush with Celebrity

I worked the past week as an extra in a movie to be titled “Southpaw,” directed by Antwon Fuqua and, as I mentioned the other day, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forrest Whittaker, and 50 Cent.  Arriving on set last night was another star, Rachel McAdams.  I have no designs on a career as an actor, but it seemed like a fun thing to do. While Pennsylvania’s fantastic Film Tax Credit brings a lot of Hollywood to western Pennsylvania, like The Fault In Our Stars, The Dark Knight Rises, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jack Reacher, Promised Land, and The Road, to just name a few, it is not common for a major motion picture to be filmed ten blocks from my home.  So, I rearranged my life and signed up.

It was a lot of fun.  I met some cool people, and a lot of weird people–some the kind of weird you expect when folks are mass-hired for temporary, low-wage jobs.  Others just weird in the way that doesn’t necessarily show until we’re thrust together in close proximity, in a situation with lots of down time and a lot of external stimuli to react to.  You’re sitting shoulder to shoulder with people, waiting to watch millionaires play pretend, and it’s pretty natural to look to one side and say, “Hey.” Or “having fun?” Or “sandwiches again for lunch?” The next thing you know, you’ve got a fleeting friendship–you’ve got, um, maybe the best word for it is “buddies.”

There was the guy who sat down beside me and said “Explain String Theory to me real quickly….”  Uh yeh, right.  Or the pudgy bald guy who blurted out, “the last time I bedded an 18-year old I was 36,” as a non-sequitur, as if he’d been holding that line in reserve all week, waiting for a good moment to let if fly.  For his trouble he got awkward, nervous laughter and some wincing. Finally–and most famously, the haggard, 90 pound older woman with the unnaturally black dyed hair, homestyle tattoos, and witchy poo face who rasped in her cigarette-scathed voice about her career in musical theater and all the professional wrestlers she’s bedded. One of the extras told me later that she’d shown up at his yard sale last summer and loudly told similar stories until he gave her the stuff she wanted for free and begged her to leave because she was scaring off the other browsers.

But I’ll get back to the people.  The process–hundreds of us worked for a week to create what can’t end up being much more than 15 minutes of film, and even that feels long.  The costs are astounding.  Extras salaries alone, not counting overtime and the bounty of food they provided, cost somewhere around $60/minute for 14 hours or more a day (I worked 56 hours last week).  Scenes are filmed multiple times from multiple angles, with long waits for “reversals” when the cameras are flipped from one side of the shot to the other.  Yesterday, for example, this was my day:

  • Arrive
  • Stand In Line To Check In and Receive Pay Voucher
  • Stand In Line For Wardrobe Check (I looked “great”) after a cursory glance.
  • Stand In Line For Hair and Make-Up.  If nothing else, “Southpaw” has provided me with a lifetime first: hairspray.  I have worn hairspray 5 days straight.
  • Get a pass from Make-Up (I looked “perfect,” of course).
  • Have my somewhat undisciplined hair brushed and sprayed into a helmet suitable for the amphibious invasion of a hostile nation.
  • Browse the breakfast buffet (bagel, banana, donut holes and coffee)
  • Sit and wait…for the next 2.5 hours.  Talked a little, tried to read, mostly slept.
  • File onto set (along with 300 others–it’s a large scene), take seats, and wait.
  • Filming begins, 3.5 hours after arriving, lasts about 4 hours
  • Sent on break for about 40 minutes, told not to eat “lunch” (it’s 530 pm) because it’s not lunch time yet. It’s break time.
  • Told to eat “lunch”–it’s been sitting there on the tables all this time.
  • Told to wait.  Some people sent home.
  • Assembled in a group for my scene, stand around in that group for half an hour.
  • Costume change.  Predictibly, I look “great.”
  • Stand around in the same group of people, in a different place, for a breakdown of the scene.
  • Led inside for scene–it’s a really cool one, lots of conflict.  Jake Gyllenhaal is tremendous and Miguel Gomez brings tons of charisma–he’s almost a scene stealer. One of the extras, a guy I’ve talked to all week, gets a bump to a speaking role–just one line, but he’s building a film career so it’s a big deal.
  • Break.  We’re led off the set for a short break while the crew arranges things for the reversal–some people lose their places, but I just have to slouch so a camera can shoot over my head: this may be my big moment to get my face on the film in a way that I’m actually recognizable, and I’m slouching!  Ugh.  It’s karma for a lifetime of arrogance about my above-average height.
  • The scene is just fantastic–the best part of a long week–and we’re dismissed.  It’s 11:45 pm.
  • Stand in line to have pay voucher signed and verified.

More later….

Categories
Uncategorized

Hangin’ With Jake–Hope You’re Not Jealous

jake-gyllenhaal-takes-his-dog-for-a-walk-in-nycApologies for being absent of late–please don’t take it personally.  I still love you, but I’ve been busy hanging out with Jake Gyllenhaal. Really. Sort of.  Wish I could say more, but I’m pledged to secrecy.

Categories
Uncategorized

Friday Morning Rock & Roll Idol: The Clarks

I went to college with these guys at IUP back in the days before the days of yore–back when my hair was brown and The Coney was a little bitty hole in the wall along Carpenter Avenue in Indiana, PA.  Scott Blasey’s voice still makes me think of beer in plastic cups, because they’d run out of the glass ones.

Sidenote: the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran a nice bio piece on Clarks frontman Blasey earlier this week.

Categories
Commentary

On Dan Snyder, The Redskins, Free Speech and Flag Desecration

Wow!  That’s a lot for one little article, eh?  A few weeks ago, I posted on my support of the effort to encourage Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins NFL football team, to change it’s name. A similar post planted elsewhere on the web stirred up a dialogue with a fellow I know from our high school days back around 1798.  I like this guy a lot, have a ton of respect for him and his perspective, agree about half of what he believes while the other half, well, I don’t agree with it.  In any case, I wanted to follow up on that original article with his response to me, and then–since it’s my Blog and I’m Emperor here, my response to him.  It’s good to be an Emperor–I always get the last word.

First, in case you missed it, the link to my original post–the responses follow.

https://oldroadapples.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/an-open-letter-to-dan-snyder-time-to-rebrand/

Randy said:  Chuck–I myself do not have an issue with this, with me being part Cherokee…it’s a name and they the Redskins do not use it in a derogatory manner. Why does PC have to come into play with everything? It’s call the 1st amendment…freedom of speech…freedom of expression…why do we not see more advertisements about desecrating the US flag…why is that freedom of speech & freedom of expression. IUP and a lot of universities caved…they should have just left the NCAA and joined the NAIA. The Native Americans have no problem living in tax free reservations gambling casinos and all that….this issue to a lot of them it is about heritage and to a lot of them it’s about money…if you can step on, piss on and burn my flag well then you can say redskin because the constitution that I took a life long oath to protect and defend says you can. Just because people are offended doesn’t mean it should be stopped…if it were that way we would have to just sit in our houses and do nothing not even read a book…that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it…Semper Fi!!!

— Randy

Then I said:

Until recently, I agreed with you on this specific issue, and I’m still pretty much with you on the PC thing, but I’ve given it a lot of thought–not just because of this video, but because so many people seem to feel so passionately about it that I decided it was worth further consideration, and what I came down to was this: it’s not about being “politically correct”–a term I don’t like because it’s emotionally charged, vague and subjective.

I don’t go to church nor subscribe to a specific political philosophy–in general my conservative friends disregard me as a raving socialist and my liberal friends tend to snicker at my rough edges and bluster while, I suspect, being privately horrified by my foul language, gross insensitivity, potential fascistic bend, and questionable intellect –not necessarily a bad thing on any of those counts. I try to live my life by a simple code that I’ve yet to refine, in terms of a definition, but the gist is to conduct myself in a way that lands me somewhere in the center of the being fair, being respectful, and being good.

I think this is an issue of respect.

As for the first amendment, I agree in principle–I would not support a call to force the Dan Snyder & company to change the team name by force or law, but I do support people using their freedom of speech to call on him to do so. And yes, I think he has the right to tell ’em all to go to hell, too.

On the totally different issue of flag desecration, I’m (again) with you on principle: I love this country (though not blindly, I love it for the worst of it as well as the best) and think it’s a foolish, useless, and disrespectful act (see, there’s my “respect” thing again). I understand it’s a protected right, but I still don’t like it. Nevertheless, I enjoy the irony that when some angry yahoo burns a flag he is undermining his own anti-American statement, because in that act of destruction he is proving the greatness of the nation he’s acting against, as well as the freedom and protections that nation provides him. Still makes me sick to see, of course. Does that make sense? I wrote a better explanation elsewhere–I’ll try to find it and tack it on later.

Finally, a flag-burning missive from “the old blog.”

I’ve noted, quite after the fact, that another crop of earnest, unwashed underclass rebels took time out from their busy days to torch tiny paper copies of Old Glory in the sun-dappled comfort of my alma mater’s iconic Oak Grove. Groovy, right?

I mean, I guess you’ve got to go with whatever gets you off, but I find flag burning to be just about the least productive, most self-indulgent and ridiculous form of self-pleasuring protest possible. It accomplishes nothing beyond annoying people who neither care nor understand what you think and wouldn’t change their minds even if they did. But it feels so good! Look how angry I am! See how revolutionary I feel! It’s a ME ME ME sort of thing. Might as well jump up and down and wave a pair of pink pompoms. ME ME Gooooooooooooo ME!

Burning tiny little paper flag replicas, fresh out of the old HP printer, advances the comedy from the ridiculous to the absurd. We’re talking protest and Monty Python skit. Reminds me of the 18″ stonehenge in This Is Spinal Tap.

My comment in the university paper sums up the remainder of my sentiment (conveniently cut and pasted just ahead, mostly because it’s a pretty paragraph that I like a lot). But I’m not merely trying to add some bulk to my blog, I’m gearing up (hear the grinding?) to include some thoughts on patriotism , protest, and participation in the democratic system and this seems as good a place to begin as any.

pposted 10/16/07 @ 12:37 PM EST

My view from the hard left: flag burning is a self-aggrandizing, unproductive burlesque that ultimately undermines whatever issue the action is intended to protest. It’s the polemic equivalent of a toddler’s tantrum. The irony of flag-burning is that the act itself reinforces the very ideals our flag is intended to represent. In burning our flag, one may be voicing his or her dissatisfaction or opposition, but he or she is likewise making a very profound demonstration of the the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy. Better to target our anger at those whose actions fail to live up to those ideals, who misuse the trust and power commended to them, than the symbol these despoilers stain.

Another new feature: an accounting of sounds. It’s like having a soundtrack. An imaginary soundtrack for the Most Widely Unread Blog on the Web.

Categories
Commentary Uncategorized

An Open Letter To Dan Snyder & The Redskins: Time To Rebrand

Not so many years  ago, the NCAA forced my Alma Mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania–located in the town of Indiana, PA–to abandon it’s historic nickname, mascot, and iconography as “The IUP Indians.”  A lot of folks were resentful at the external pressure, a lot more were like me and just thought it was a big waste of time for something that was not patently offensive and, in the eyes of many, actually a flattering reference.

The University had dragged it’s feet, and the first change was to keep the 150px-IUP_Bear“Indians” name but switch out the Indian Chief mascot–and most Native American-themed imagery, for a Bear mascot, which made absolutely no sense except that the school was worried about blithely turning it’s back on 120+ years of history.  Next up, the school spent about a quarter of a million dollars for a consultant whose recommendation was to re-name the sports teams “The Flaming Arrows”–all of the expected jokes, and a few that were unexpected, followed, and the idea was quietly vanished one dark Appalachian night.  A few years later, a new administration spent another ton of money on research, marketing, surveys, and polls our teams became The Crimson Hawks, despite the student suggestion: The Fighting Squirrels, a reference to the population of bold, aggressive throngs of grey squirrels that makes residence in the University’s Oak-shaded campus, striking fear in the hearts of all who dare to snack within it’s confines.  The Crimson Hawks, fortunately, was humorous on a few levels, not the least of which is that there’s no such creature.

Hell3
http://danfemwrestlingfan.deviantart.com/art/Crimson-Hawk-vs-Catwoman-350152318

Well, that’s not exactly true–there is a Crimson Hawk, but she is an Internet-based adults-only comics action heroine described as “the world’s sexiest, most powerful, and most frequently defeated, humiliated and ravished superheroine.” with her own, decidedly NSFW subcription-based website.  No matter what the odds, our heroines always find themselves defeated, bound, and abused.  Opps.

I thought it was was a waste of money, a kneejerk reaction, and a shot at tradition.  When the softcore superhero business came to light I enjoyed a good laugh at the hubris behind lack of due diligence, but from the distance of a few years, it hasn’t been a big deal.  We adapted quickly.   Some people think the nickname is really, really awesome— when I think about IUP sports I think “Hawks,” not crimsonhawks“Indians,” and there is a huge upswing, owing to the marketing aspect of the change, in students wearing IUP colors in t-shirts, sweat-shirts, jackets, etc–which translates, in my eyes, as increased pride.  When I was an undergrad–back when kids carried baked potatoes in their pockets on the way to school just to warm their hands, most of the college-themed apparel one saw on campus was either for Pitt or Penn State–big, well-marketed schools to the east and west of us.  That is no longer the case. IUP is more popular than ever, and making more money than ever from it’s brand.

Now, it’s time for more change.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-nfl-would-never-let-this-ad-air-on-the-super-bowl-so-were-gonna-show-you-it-its-important?g=2&c=ufb1

I have to admit I was ambivalent to the Washington football team name and logo until half an hour ago–not indifferent, mind you, but just of the mindset that in a world of injustice this is a pretty minor thing.  This video set my mind.  The name must go, and the ownership needs to look at the process as a marketing opportunity after years of disappointment culminated with a terrible season and the overdue dismissal of an ineffective coach.

With several of the potentially most electrifying young players in the Washington_Redskins_1000_reverseleague, the future looks bright if they hire the right coach.  It seems like the perfect time for them to rebrand, as well.  They certainly can’t make the argument that it’s prohibitively expensive–nobody is buying branded items from this down-but-not-quite-out franchise right now, so there is no place to go but up–and if a rural Pennsylvania University with less than 15,000 students can find a way to rebound from the embarrassment of the S & M Superhero debacle and rebrand in a way that solidifies its image and its revenue stream, surely the big corporate geniuses in DC can do even better.  Heck, I’ll even give you one for a starter–reach out to the N.A. community, work an apology into the deal (you don’t even need to mean it, Dan), and ask ’em–we’ve always said our name is a tribute, not a slur, so we’re not content with just changing the name, tell us what we can do to go to the other extreme–how can we become the team that IS a tribute.  What should we call ourselves?  How can be change how you feel?

It’s not that hard…so let’s get on it.

***I’ve since posted a follow-up to this entry, just click this link.