Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sports Logorama

Watching Rooney’s overhead stunner got me thinking again about corporate sponsorship, and the strange fact that the USA of all places seems to be the sole bastion of logo-less jerseys. In the UK, often the only way you can tell Man Utd and Arsenal apart is by the gigantic advert plastered across the jerseys. Australian sports are the same, though the jerseys themselves tend to be more individual.

Compare that to the US, where even the matter of a tiny Nike swoosh can cause pages of outrage. Strangely, the land of the free and home of ultra capitalism has got it right*, and the rest of the world is wrong. From the linked article:

Let’s start with a simple premise that I think everyone here can agree with: Uniforms are special. They serve as the primary bond between fan and team. Players come and go, yet we keep rooting for (or against) that uniform, no matter who wears it.

That’s exactly right. Just look how quickly Chelsea fans swooped up Torres jumpers after his defection from Liverpool. The trouble is these shirts are totally spoilt by ginormous corporate logos. Who wants to ponce about in Aon logo kit, or decked out in Omega Pharma-Lotto cycling gear, advertising reinsurance & pharmaceutical companies?

Case in point: I pulled out my old Arsenal jersey with the Dreamcast sponsorship, and my nephews didn’t even realise it was Arsenal. Sigh. Whereas there’s no mistaking a Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks or Bears top: the only branding is the team and years of tradition.

After cycling, Rugby League teams may be the worst offenders. Front, back, butt, sleeve, sock, and shoe logos paint the logorama picture. The only teams to escape that fate to some extent are St George (sponsored by a bank of the same name - though there’s a great ambush marketing opportunity there for some other bank), and the Mighty Bears back in the days they were so desperate that they were sponsored by their own Leagues Club. Genius.

* Except when it comes to stadium naming. For example, Candlestick Park became 3Com Park for a while, and various other stadium naming atrocities abound. Ugh.

www.Sydney Morning Herald.fail

Leads this morning on the SMH website:

  • Police car crash: one dead
  • Run over by a taxi: man fights for life
  • Pair seek to use dead son’s sperm
  • Tourist dies after buttock implant jab
  • ‘Child locked in bathroom for years’

Appalling sensationalism. And this site represents an (allegedly) quality broadsheet.

ƒ Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

I don’t even know where to start. Or finish. In fact while reading this I twice had to turn away and read entire other books - William Gibson’s Zero History and Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. Because to read IJ through from cover to cover in a single sitting was simply too much.

It’s impossible to really describe, other than to say it’s about addiction. And being human. And obsession - particularly the obsession of the man who wrote it. You can’t read it without desperately wondering about DFW’s mind, mental state, brilliance, breakdown, death. As David Edder’s writes in the introduction, “At no time while reading Infinite Jest are you unaware that this is a work of complete obsession, of a stretching of a young writer to the point of, we assume, near madness.”.

It’s got 100 pages of crazy footnotes, minute breakdowns of life in a tennis academy, political and artistic intrigue combined with high farce, and, most convincingly, detailed and depressing spirals into the world of the hard core drug and alcohol addict.

Those long sections about AA/NA are crushingly compelling, and an insight into a terrible world most of us know nothing about. Where getting through a single day, a single hour, is a victory. There’s a fantastic passage toward the end where a character realises that if he just takes each second, if he can just bear one second at a time, he can get through. But if he lets his mind project longer than that, he’s gone. It’s incredibly moving and heartfelt.

It’s not an easy read, it’s exhausting, but also exhilarating and rewarding. It almost demands post-reading meta research - and there’s plenty out there to support further investigation, from critical summaries to infographics to posters. People love it, and hate it, often at the same time.

It’s also a long book, and I was glad to finish, but the more I read the more enthralled and awed I became. It took around 300 pages before I started to click into the rhythm and pacing (and where I had to take the first break), which reminded me of Shakespeare: until you settle into the language and meter it’s a struggle to stay afloat. But once you do find that zone it’s wonderful. The closest comparison in terms of novels is probably Ulysses, which is equally tough to break into but equally rich once you do. Ulysses too drives the reader to further research, and leaves you incredulous at the skill of the author, 

Edders again: “[DFW] was already known as a very smart and challenging and funny and preternaturally gifted writer when Infinite Jest was released in 1996, and thereafter his reputation included all the adjectives mentioned just now, and also this one: Holy shit.”

Bang on. Holy shit.