‘Somewhere in Middle America’

Leaving aside the worn and vulgar Internet meme, the video embedded above seems especially like a hurried, vain (and tediously boring) attempt to jump on an already crowded bandwagon. Perhaps that is the point. (Obviously, that is the point, right?) It is an ironic, art-as-art-type thing. My pop senses are obviously underdeveloped, as is clear by my referencing a nearly-20-year-old song in the title of this self-indulgent post. In any event, I don’t mean to pass judgment on the content; I don’t live in Omaha anymore, anyway.

What is notable is that, except for a handful of proper nouns, the filmed proceedings could have taken place anywhere that isn’t New York, Chicago or Portland. Here again, this is probably subtle, sophisticated ontological commentary that has gone over my head. But it seems to me that Omaha really is, as my dated Counting Crows reference would suggest, merely “somewhere” in middle America and not at a clearly defined “there.” A sort of dialect-less everyplace.


Say what you want about Omaha, but there is no creperie (as above, at the 2011 College World Series) at Yankee Stadium.

Let me stop here and emphasize that I love Omaha. It was a great place to grow up and a great place to live. It is blessed with an abundance of fine restaurants, diverting entertainment and yadda, yadda, yadda. What it does not have is an enduring sense of Omaha-y-ness.

Geographically, its location offered no obvious benefits other than proximity to an easy crossing of an occasionally unruly river; had there been a few more floods in the years preceding the first settlements, the Missouri River might have snaked in a different direction and Omaha might have been in a whole other place. Or not existed at all.

Politically, it is an amorphous bruise of bluish purple on an otherwise distended appendage of red, out of place but not exactly free from imperfection or pain.
Culturally, Omaha is perhaps better appreciated as the largest city in western Iowa rather than a part of Nebraska. Except that Nebraskans are inexplicably notorious for mocking Iowans (e.g. Idiots Out Wandering Around, etc.).

Other nearby, and not necessarily more pleasant, cities have much more vivid identities. Centrally-located Des Moines is suffused with state politics, the state fair and all things Iowa. Minneapolis is about water in the summertime and frozen water in the winter. Denver rests its ego on the shoulders of the Rockies, and Kansas City, well, Kansas City was (or perhaps still is) a magnet of shopping and culture, the urbane Plains city that Omaha is striving to become.

Omaha has borrowed from its neighbors, of course, but it hasn’t become like them. This is a fact that is brought home every time you try to tell someone where you are from.

Say that you are from Omaha, and people not from Nebraska or a bordering state will most likely have no idea what that means. They won’t know anything about Omaha, other than a few obvious cultural protuberances, e.g. College World Series, Henry Doorly Zoo, maybe Joslyn Art Museum. Maybe they are a music fan and will ask you if you have ever listened to Conor Oberst. Maybe they like college football and will ask you about the Huskers. You will have something to talk about, maybe, but these aren’t everyday Omaha things. These are extra things, the things that you look forward to most of the rest of the year, the things that take up parking spaces, and hotel rooms, and booths in ordinarily uncrowded restaurants. They aren’t Omaha things. Trying to understand Omaha, for instance, through the Saddle Creek record label is like trying to understand ancient Athens by reading the “Iliad.”

Say that you are from Nebraska and your interlocutor may not be any more informed, but they will make an assumption, i.e. that you are from a rural area. Should you really be from one, a bond is formed. Otherwise, you quickly sound like a fraud.

I was just talking to someone who lives in Wisconsin about fishing. I mentioned that I was from Nebraska, known to be a habitat for the fish in question, mostly so that he would know I had actually seen one in person. His first question to me was, Do you do much pheasant hunting? Ugh. Of course, I don’t, I should have said. I am not from Nebraska, I’m from Omaha. Which is to say, I am from somewhere.


Hyphenate Them All, and Let God Sort It Out

There is, I have learned, a broad gray area between editing and jittery, ham-fisted niggling. Consider the hyphen, so squidgy and so inconspicuous. And so much discussed. It is a key, of sorts. Fresh copy editors happily indulge in frequent hyphenation, which leads ripened ones to nourish the idea that moderation in hyphenation is a sign of sophistication. The would-be (hyphen!) authorities, falling assfirst out of the journalism tree, who compose whole hyphen chapters festooned with examples and exceptions, do not help. What is needed is a practical rule, simple to remember, that people who do not obsess unnaturally over these things can apply without fuss.

The problem is, this is not easily forthcoming. The battleground, chiefly, is the phrasal adjective (or compound modifier), when two or more words immediately precede, and together describe, another word. Phrasal adjectives appear when you turn expressions like a minimum of two drinks into a two-drink minimum. The whole point is an echo of the schoolyard coda, Go along to get along. Linking two to drink with a hyphen demonstrates that two and drink go along together to describe minimum.

The importance of the hyphen is easily demonstrated by any phrase that contains a negative or pejorative adjective like unfair, corrosive or hazardous, as in the phrase hazardous-materials team. A strict reading, without the hyphen, can lead to ambiguity. (Is the team hazardous? Be honest, it probably is.) Using a hyphen makes clear at least one meaning of the sentence; writers tasked with discussing a bumbling, rubber-suited (hyphen!) cleanup crew are on their own.

In fact, it is this ambiguity that leads experienced editors to argue that many hyphens are unnecessary. The classic example, proffered by the hyphen advocate Bill Walsh, is orange-juice salesman. No one, these subtlety-seekers (hyphen!) argue, is going to think the salesman is orange. Not so fast. I have seen enough handwritten faxes sent to newsrooms in the dead of night to know that sooner or later, somewhere, someone is going to think so; and enough other people will be tripped up by the absurdity, if only momentarily. If you are writing to be clear, then be clear.

Once the careful writer has embraced that simple-to-remember (hyphens!) rule, refinements and exceptions can be considered.

  • Extra hyphens are needed in phrasal adjectives of more than two words, as in championship-game-winning hit, and in cases with more than one phrasal adjective, as in second- and third-grade students.
  • Skip the hyphen with quotation marks (“ice cold” beer), proper nouns (that Ted Williams swing), and in most phrases that end in -ly (an early morning meeting). These already are sufficient clues that a phrasal adjective is at work.
  • If, despite the ambiguity, the meaning of the phrasal adjective remains substantially clear, as in health care plan (a “care plan for health” equates roughly with a “plan for health care”) or if part of the phrasal adjective can be deleted without substantially changing the meaning, as in light blue scarf, then the use of a hyphen can be safely dispensed with.

Examples like these are not as common as you might think, however, and a great many can devolve into matters of whisker-tugging (hyphen!) debate, as in foreign aid bill or real estate agent. Never mind that often what you are dealing with is not a phrasal adjective at all.

What you are left with is a nettlesome problem, perhaps not worth the calories expended in thinking about it. But if it matters to you, and if you are not sure what to do, hyphenate first and wait for someone else to ask the questions.

Justice Wears a Pantsuit

Our communities of today however resemble nothing of those from even a century ago, let alone 800 years ago, at the grand jury’s origins. We are today a pluralistic society (in New York City, this is to say the least), bound by interests, information and needs no longer constrained by geographic location. It is unlikely that a panelist would ever know a defendant brought before the grand jury today and even less likely to comprehend their background, lifestyle, community or the particular circumstances that surround the charges. With the ability to understand the accused in a meaningful way now lost, the effectiveness of the grand jury is lost with it.

Having just served on a grand jury, I can relate to the above sentiment, though it was expressed more than 10 years ago. It represents a fairly high-minded critique of the grand-jury process, which remains valid, I suppose, but it was the ragged edges of my service that concerned me.

Firstly, I don’t believe I or any of the jurors who served with me fully understood their roles or many of the concepts they were expected to consider while reaching decisions. I am not saying there was a systematic miscarriage of justice, but my fellow jurors were already carried away by conspiratorial or nullifying impulses — “Why can’t you vote for that?” “Because it’s weed, man.” — and the legalese they were compelled to traffic in derailed deliberations more than once.

Assistant district attorneys act as jurors’ official legal adviser, but their “advice” manifests itself mostly in rereading already confusing instructions and rejecting jurors’ questions. This actually is the law; no case-specific written instructions can be provided. There ought to be a neutral party, a retired judge, who can breeze by and provide a layman’s definition of “legally sufficient evidence” or “reasonable cause to believe,” or to make it clear, for instance, that a person can be accused of assault without there having been a fistfight.

[11:10 PM] Me: Can’t wait for jury duty to start. Will be like vacation, maybe. Except I won’t be getting drunk in the afternoon.

[6:27 AM] Bob: Do they catter in for you…do you got to take notes or did you delegate

[10:06 AM] Me: What the hell is “catter in”?… You’re lucky I don’t delegate someone to text with you.

[10:20 PM] Bob: Catter…that’s a fell’r what cooks vittles for other folks what can’t cook for themselves…igit…fancy pants foreman jury fella.

Secondly, I was surprised that assistant district attorneys seem unaware that the jurors they were talking to were, more often than not, bored to distraction or plainly irritated. Both conditions affect deliberations and decisions, and could be easily mitigated by less mumbling and a more collegial demeanor. To the point, it was no coincidence that the more polished and charismatic lawyers consistently got favorable votes. The district attorney’s office should provide its attorneys with a seminar in public speaking or something, advise them to press their suits and shine their shoes, and most of all, to provide occasional off-the-record asides that give shape to seemingly unconnected, and never-ending, witnesses and exhibits.

Finally, and excuse me for being several decades late on this, but who was it that inflicted the pantsuit on women?

[4:34 PM] Me: I have legally sufficient evidence, and reasonable cause to believe, that you are a fathead.

[5:27 PM] Bob: So you must of been awake for some of the instructions…so far so good…make me proud

The Game of Getting Out of the Way

Crowd dynamics: The wisdom of crowds | The Economist: Where the cognitive approach falls down is in the most packed environments. “At low densities, behaviour is cognitive and strategic,” says Mr Moussaid. “At high density, it’s about mass movement and physical pressures.” At a certain point crowds can shift from a controlled flow to a stop-and-go pattern, as people are forced to shorten their stride length and occasionally halt to avoid collisions. This kind of movement can develop into something much more frightening, known as crowd turbulence, when people can no longer keep a space between themselves and others. The physical forces that are imparted from one body to another when that happens are both chaotic and powerful: if someone falls over, others will be unable to avoid them.

I know you did not ask me, but: On a crowded New York City sidewalk, never make eye contact with the approaching pedestrians closest to you. Always look past them to those who are two or three people in the distance. You will not invite collisions; the approaching people will instinctively avoid walking into an unseeing barrier, but will hesitate, if only for an instant, if he or she can check your eyes for clues on which way you will pass. This delay gobs up traffic.

In addition, looking ahead of you also allows you to see obstacles sooner, allowing you to develop and adjust a strategy for getting where you want to go.

(Also, if you must check your cellphone, step to the side!)

Some Things Are Worth Taking Seriously

From Behind the Bar: What Makes a Good Bar? | Serious Eats: Drinks: 4. Overall Execution — My favorite bars are distinguished by the fact that they do a lot of things very well.

No. 4 on the “list” excerpted above is enough to show that it is not a serious attempt to tackle an admittedly frivolous question. It also is not true; many good things fit snugly in esoteric niches.

The list’s preceding three (unexcerpted) criteria (community, passion and atmosphere) are no more helpful and, pointedly, act as vague signposts to the silliness. What is “community,” anyway, if not code for the assholes you have to sit next to? Does passion for making money count? And doesn’t everywhere have “atmosphere”?

What makes a good bar, anyway? Start with these four points, which risk being labeled as curmudgeony, then get back to us: First and foremost is a good bartender. This is a person of any sex, preferably attractive, who can be consistently triangulated using these adjectives:

  1. Skillful. A good bartender can quickly pour a draft, change a keg and make a basic, classic cocktail without thinking, needing help or asking for clarification.
  2. Sociable. A good bartender can relate to any customer, but his or her tolerance and amiability should not cultivate hateful or obscene acts.
  3. Skillfully social. A good bartender must still leaven his or her drink-making and conviviality with an awareness for other, less chatty, less demanding customers. 

Next is a good selection. There must be something for the good bartender to serve. The good bar should, for instance, be able to appease the beer snob without being forced to serve everything in a stein or goblet. Over all, in this age of craft beers and boutique vineyards, this probably just boils down to having a “wide” selection.

A good bar also has room for the next customer, whether it be places to sit or stand. A table would be nice, but an empty stool is fine — and a clear spot out of the way of traffic is enough. Let the college students stand like commuters on a subway car.

Finally, do not forget about a good restroom. Seriously. Be wary of the bar owner, however possessed of senses of community, passion and atmosphere, who cannot provide what even a Midtown Starbucks can: a toilet that can be used without soaking your pant cuffs and assaulting your senses.

On Irene, and the End


[11:08 AM] Bob: So kinda anticlimactic then… thunderstormish… little flash flooding
[11:21 AM] Me: Apparently, elsewhere it was worse. All it did was stress me out, and compel me to eat a lot of Doritos.

The lesson I learned from Irene is that in preparing and fretting, I really did not know what I was preparing and fretting for.

Coincidentally, several months ago, I consulted acquaintances about how to prepare for a hurricane. I had already consulted the numerous, seemingly official online guides (from N.O.A.A., City of New York, Red Cross, FEMA, to name a few), but, you know, I was asking around. The suggestions I received were, in the main, unhelpful. They did not seem so at the time, however, and I adopted a few of them.

For instance, I was encouraged to buy energy bars, and cans of soup and vegetables; indeed, most of the hurricane checklists suggest the same, though these usually whittle this down to something like, “stock up on nonperishable food.” In hindsight, I have concluded that such purchases are largely a waste, if only because I do not typically have these things on hand, and would now be compelled to eat them. In reality, it seems to me that even a poorly stocked pantry would be adequate, but that is really beside the point.

The caveat here is that I live in a dense urban area (Brooklyn), and my connection to the electrical grid is underground. Not to mention, I am within five minutes’ walk of a half dozen grocery stores. Looking back, about the only thing I had to worry about was damage to my apartment building, which is, by the way, made of brick and situated outside the most desperate evacuation zone.

And that is the point that in my precautious, fretful endeavors I was missing: if the hurricane is going to be so destructive that I will need food and water to last several days, actually having food and water is going to be the least of my problems. What, after all, is going to be left? It occurs to me that there really are only two potential outcomes of a hurricane’s making a direct hit on New York: 1, either it is so large and destructive that large areas of the city are unlivable, and the subway and other infrastructure are widely damaged, or 2, it isn’t. Or to put it another way, either the grocery store across the street will open in a day or two, or it won’t for weeks.

The problem was not really how to feed myself, it was how to be ready to leave for good. I mean, who am I? Snake Plisskin?

What I needed was a hurricane-survival guide for the not-really-upwardly-mobile, childless New Yorker.

[9:16 PM] Me: Need your help: if I buy beer with hurricane money, but after the hurricane, is it still hurricane beer?
[9:28 PM] Bob: The purchase has to be made with the notion…and maybe a twinge of panic…that hey if this is real I won’t be able to go to the bar…I better put some of this bottled water back and get some beer and scotch too…might need it for medicinal purposes…thinking on the order of this example…gets you hurricane beers even if it turns into a good ol Nebraska gulley washer

To begin with, I made sure I had money, several hundred dollars. On the face of it, this was in case I couldn’t use an A.T.M. for a few days. But it provided indispensible peace of mind.

I also had a radio and flashlights, of course, and plenty of batteries. The benefit of these are obvious.

I had about 10 gallons of water, though New York’s water system relies mostly on gravity and requires little treatment, so it is unlikely to be overwhelmed by a storm.

I gathered the necessary components for a so-called go-bag — that which is needed for an immediate evacuation — but I did not actually pack them in a bag. These items included, but were not limited to, my passport, my renters insurance policy, licensing information for my dogs and sundry clothing items.

What I ended up doing about food was simple and something that seemed like a reasonable compromise. I bought nuts and bags of pretzels and chips (I already had several pounds of food for the dogs), and then a day before the forecasted landfall, I bought a loaf of bread, extra peanut butter and some apples and oranges. I followed a simple formula of only buying X, such that X is something that I regularly buy, anyway. In addition, and in perhaps the crowning achievement of my preparations, the night before Irene was to arrive, I bought a large pizza and some beer and wine. None of these things “required” refrigeration, and all of them are fun to consume.

[9:34 PM] Me: Last thing, how much hurricane beer is too much hurricane beer?
[9:36 PM] Bob: there is absolutely no quantitative measure ever anywhere that would support a logic statement that at some number f(x)=y, where y is some number of containers of beer where there is to much beer…. it doesn’t even sound logical…laughable yes….so did you really by hurricane beers … And if you did …. did you buy to many….if so there is this company called UPS

To be honest, “having fun” turned out to be my biggest problem.

Because the subway shut down about 24 hours before the storm was supposed to hit New York, there was considerable inertia (and angst) compelling me to stay home. And so all I did the day before the storm was eat Doritos and watch cable television (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Die-Hard,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” etc.), which was itself fairly enjoyable — but not for 12 hours straight, and not while also worrying about the giant unknown chewing up the coast.

I should have had a better plan (i.e. board games, topics of conversation, etc.) for occupying my time. In the end, too, it was another reminder that you cannot solve problems simply by thinking about them. This larger point refers to a train of thinking I see a lot, most often in close family members but also in television pundits who believe that their lack of experience in an endeavor is no handicap. They simply apply their opinions to incoming information and take the resulting mutations at face value.

There is a facet of this attitude that has an admirable sheen, perhaps rooted in the mythological American ideal. But you can’t expect to iron out a serious problem, whether it be in the national economy or in your sputtering toilet, without at least considering the opinion of an expert and, more to the point, without fully understanding the problem at hand.

Irene came and left, of course. I now have a watertight container full of batteries and a still-unopened bag of chips in my kitchen. Really, her legacy, what I will remember most, was my feeling weak and worn out on Monday, and the perhaps three or four pounds I gained waiting for her to arrive. 

On Lobsters, Bunting and Budgets

  • I do not know why the animals in anthropomorphic movies are always dogs or apes. O.K., maybe I do know why, but it seems to me that a more chilling potential horror-movie villain would be fish or crustaceans. If you have ever seen them put out the trash at the Times Square Red Lobster, you will know what I am talking about. God forbid that shellfish ever attain sentience and wander down West 41st Street, because they are going to lose their shit when they see the haphazard manner in which their former brethren are disposed of. Splintered body parts scatter on the sidewalk amid a slick of butter and grease. Bulging sacks of further horrors are pitched casually into a great metal beast, and insult is added to injury by a crunching maw. It is a tableau as dark and brooding as any imagined by a deranged artist.
  • It is nearly 12 hours after Yankees Manager Joe Girardi had Derek Jeter bunt in the ninth with two men on and no one out, and almost no one has groused (e.g. only a fraction of the Twitter posts I can find are critical.) This is surprising (shocking) 1) because of the Internet’s true nature, and 2) because it was such a mortifyingly dumb decision. Jeter’s sacrifice moved up the runners, it is true, but it also gave up an out to a reliever who appeared to be on the ropes. Two of the next three batters walked, and the fourth hit a drive to the warning track that would have tied the game as a sacrifice fly. Except that it was the third out. Jeter is batting .380-something in the last month; getting a hit in that spot is literally what you pay him to do. Thanks, Joe! — Joe Girardi asks Yankee captain Derek Jeter to bunt despite hot night at the plate against A’s – Daily News
  • I am annoyed to distraction by TV sound bites from Everymen and women who archly suggest the federal government live within its means, just like they have to do. I find this grating not because, as The Los Angeles Times points out today, it is a matter of apples and oranges, though that is true. When a family cuts its spending because of “job losses and insecurity,” that is good sense; when a government does it, it makes things worse. No, I find it grating because the Everyman’s decision to buy a house he could not afford is part of the reason we are all in this mess to begin with. — The wrong budget analogy – latimes.com

On Damned, Dirty Apes


Rise of the Planet of the Apes — ‘Human, all too human’ | Dr Nik Taylor | Science | guardian.co.uk: “We are left with a clear message: if animals were more intelligent they would deserve better treatment. This message also contains a warning: if animals were more intelligent they would also need more control, lest they become a danger to the humans who seek to capitalise on their use. Those who are praising this film as an animal rights piece or who believe it challenges the current status quo regarding the place of animals in human societies are mistaken.”

The compelling thing about the original “Planet of the Apes,” and to a lesser extent its tiresome sequels, is how turbulent social problems, which would have been very real to moviegoers in 1968, are reflected in the plot. Not unlike any number of episodes of television series like “The Twilight Zone” or “Star Trek,” the fantasy in “Planet of the Apes” is a thin veneer. Obvious themes of slavery and racism are buttressed by the political subtext of the overall, inexorable decay of stabilizing institutions. When Charlton Heston, as the astronaut George Taylor, is abused by muscle-bound, militaristic apes, it is a painful echo from a decade of unpopular war, unseemly unrest and unprovoked assassinations.

The “Planet” series also reflects a deeper, more resonant wound. In the first of four sequels, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), it is revealed that an underground community of nuclear-bomb-worshipping human mutants has survived the apocalypse that allowed the apes to take over. In the film’s climax, the apes attack the mutant cult and blah, blah, blah the film ends when Heston’s character, in an ultimately futile attempt to derail further sequels, chooses to (spoiler alert!!) destroy the world rather than leave it to be ruled by apes (or mutants or anything, really). It is a perverse, very human notion, to shun defeat or constructive compromise; it thrives in political discourse today.

In other words, the apes are not the ones who are the problem.

‘At Long Last and for Goodness’ Sake’

‘Oppressed by the Awful Dread of the Unknown’ | Site unseen: “Can it just be said that, at long last and for goodness’ sake, Theodore Roosevelt never, ever, saw a Bigfoot?”

While we’re at it, can we also just say, at long last and for goodness’ sake, that sun tea is not dangerous?! Presuming you’re using fresh, clean water and a freshly cleaned container, and you follow common guidelines — not leaving it in the sun for longer than a few hours, for one — making sun tea is no more hazardous than any other kind of food preparation. As the admittedly self-interested Tea Geek put it two years ago:

“In other words, there is theoretical danger, but no evidence that the risk has shown itself in the real world. … the risk was more likely to come from poor food handling practices than from the tea itself.” — Tea Geek Blogs » Sun Tea Winner (Plus a Rant About Information Drift)

Hundreds of online posts and articles cite serious dangers from bacteria like alcaligenes viscolactis, but the hazard is usually overstated and not even unique to sun tea. Most sun-tea alarmists root their fears firmly in directives from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but this august body has NEVER issued ANY advice on the subject. Revealingly, the wags who cheerfully advise that brewers instead make “refrigerator tea” do not seem to realize that it poses the same “risks.”

Thankfully, mine is not a voice in the wilderness; observe, for example, the comments section on a she-was-not-even-trying about.com post headlined, “Is Sun Tea Dangerous?

The bottom line is that if you can make a hamburger or save uneaten potato salad from a picnic without sickening yourself, you probably have the wherewithal to make sun tea.

What Is in a Name, Besides Humiliation?

Report: Ohio State fans who named kids after Jim Tressel show no regrets – College Football News | FOX Sports on MSN: “Four years later, and with the coach awaiting the terms of his departure from OSU, Kati Bockover said that there was no doubt her daughter would remain a Tressel. ‘We love [Jim Tressel]. We’re proud of him,’ she added. ‘People are asking if she’s changing her name. Absolutely not. No remorse, no regrets, no way.’ ”

It is perhaps way overdue to propose the expansion of the not-often-heeded conventions for buying an athletic jersey for application in the area of baby-naming. There is a similarity in the economics behind both decisions: for baby names, the gravity is apparent; for jerseys, the cost is prohibitive. Little can be done for the poor souls in Ohio, of course, but others contemplating as-yet-untainted names (Usain, Oksana, Ironhead, etc.) can still benefit.

  1. RETIRED PLAYERS ONLY. The first rule has to be that you should not wear a jersey with (i.e. name a baby after) a player who is still playing. Not only is his or her performance on the field a potential liability, but active players also are slightly more likely to make negative news (i.e. fail a drug test, get arrested for drunken driving, date a Kardashian). Never mind the risk that they be traded to a rival team. Before settling on a player’s name, all are advised to wait for the player to reach a stately, doddering old age.
  2. REPLICAS ARE O.K. Given the ethical ambiguity of supporting big-time sports with the hundreds of dollars an authentic jersey can cost, leeway is here granted for any clothing that comes close to resembling the real thing. In the same way, parents who want to name their child after a sports figure in a slightly oblique way, say, “Payton” in honor of Walter Payton or, uhm, “Catfish” for Jim Hunter are given the go-ahead. Such names have the added benefit of being obscure; the singer Erykah Badu has a child named Seven, and it is assumed it is not to honor Mickey Mantle.
  3. STYLISTIC QUIRKS ARE NOT. In the same way that women are advised to avoid any sports accessory in pink, a thumbs down is offered here to the recent flag-honoring caps pimped by major league baseball (the same goes for caps in argyle). These look even more ridiculous on the head of an ordinary person. The corollary here for parents is to stay close to the herd when it comes to spelling. That means absolutely no babies should be named “Jeet’r” for Derek Jeter or “Glyde” for Clyde Drexler. “A-Rod” is right out.
  4. KEEP IT CASUAL. Most wags advise fans to keep their jerseys untucked, if only because you tend to look ridiculous trying to lend dignity to something so juvenile. Most players on the field lean toward the disheveled. For parents, this advice translates as, Allow your child to use a nickname or a middle name if he or she does not share your inane sentimentality. You don’t have to be an alcoholic, born-again Christian country star to behold the power of a name.

(Jersey-Only) Addendum

  • Consider matching the fashion protocols of your team. To wit, if your team does not put names on jerseys, you should follow suit. Your peers will know which player you are honoring, and you will avoid the condescending sneers of soreheads.
  • Consider, too, if it is necessary to also own a so-called throwback jersey, following the same policy. Many teams did not have names on jerseys before then 1970s.
  • On a related note, consider matching your choice of player name to a jersey style he or she might have actually worn.
  • There really is a lot of good, fun stuff written online about buying and wearing jerseys. But what I really want to write is that jerseys should properly hold the same place in your life as cutting class and drinking soda two liters at a time. Once you are out of the eighth grade and have things to do, put the jerseys away.
  • But that seems harsh.

Others said:

Fan Nation
“If you’re a ‘real’ fan, show your support for one of the other guys out there…don’t just blend in with all the other fair weather fans.” … “You’re better than that, you know that your team is more than its star…don’t be that guy.”
River Avenue Blues
“You should only be wearing baseball attire of a team in your current ballpark. The lone exception to this is if you are sporting merchandise of a closely affiliated rival. If you’re wearing Red Sox gear at a Yankees/Twins game, I know who you’re rooting for. If you’re wearing Diamondbacks gear, you just look stupid.”
Heard It From Hoard
“By the way, not everyone agrees that wearing jerseys is cool. I caught a female comedian named Whitney Cummings on the Tonight Show last week who questioned why so many guys wear jerseys while watching their favorite teams play on TV. As she pointed out, she doesn’t put on scrubs to watch Grey’s Anatomy.”
Field Gulls
“I stay away from the white jerseys, because, frankly, I’m too goddamn fat. A white jersey would make me look like a beached whale, and a neon green one would make me look like a whale that beached itself after swimming past the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.”