Smells Like Defunct Team Spirit
Full Frontal likes to keep up with the times, which these days means stepping back in time--to an era when 'fros were fresh, Vietnam was our current quagmire and the American Basketball Association was the grooviest game on hardwood. Since we can't afford those 400-buck Wes Unseld jerseys LeBron James is sportin' when he ain't courtin'--and we're pretty sure Wes Unseld couldn't either--Full Frontal was forced to look elsewhere for some throwback sports threads. Turns out the maker of some nifty retro apparel resides right here, warehoused right behind Café Brazil off Central Expressway: Classic Sports Logos, the 3-year-old baby of SMU grad Chris Anderson, who makes available T-shirts emblazoned with the insignias of some 100-plus defunct basketball, football, hockey, soccer, etc. franchises. No more scouring eBay for those Dallas Tornado tees; the dude can hook a brother up for $19.95 a pop, shipping and handling extra.
Anderson, who teaches in the communications department at his alma mater, used to work for one of the very teams whose logo he'll stamp on a tee: the now-defunct Rapid City Thrillers of the Congenital Basketball Association, for whom Anderson toiled during the '88-'89 season right after graduation. He started Classic Sports Logos in 2000, after a sports apparel dot-com he was working for went busto: Anderson saw how many Internet sites were devoted to the insignia of the doomed--the "pageantry of sports," he says--and figured, hey, surely people would want to own a 100 percent cotton piece of history. So he got a trademark attorney (an old pal from SMU), acquired the rights to a few teams and started making and selling shirts on eBay. When people took the bait, he opened shop and figures to sell a few thousand shirts each year on his Web site (www.classicsportslogos.com), because, shockingly, there's no local retail outlet. Go figure, but most orders come from Pennsylvania.
How do you pick which teams to make available?
Some of them are just cool, some have that retro look and feel, and sometimes customers will say, "Why don't you have this team?" And, of course, there are licensing issues. But the customer's not always right, and it's terrible. I made that mistake a few times, where we go through the trouble of acquiring a license to add it, and they're the only one who buys it. So you learn quickly they don't always know what they're talking about.
What are some of the popular ones that surprised you?
The Saginaw Gears, a hockey team from the '60s, and the ABA team the Baltimore Hustlers, who never played a game because the league made them change their name before they ever played a game. People love it, and I don't know why--the name, I guess. And a guy who likes to gamble says anything with any gambling reference, gamblers love.
Do you have a favorite?
They're all like your babies, but I love the old Soviets, the tennis team. Old-timers may not like me wearing it, but it's a cool shirt. The Soviet Union had a cool brand and they lost it.
Who owns the rights to these logos? I mean, all of these leagues are long gone; who even remembers, like, 99 percent of these teams? Like, the Jacksonville Tea Men? I assume most fell into public domain years ago.
What we figured out from trial and error is sometimes leagues, when they can't get the rights to particular logos, they alter the design or color slightly, so there are copyright issues involved. It's so confusing. I don't think even the government knows what's going on. And there were cases where we thought a logo was in public domain, and then some random old guy from some small town in Iowa calls and says, "That's my logo," and it's probably not, but as a courtesy I take it off. It's like, who cares? In some cases we said, "Why don't I pay you a couple hundred bucks a year and see how it sells and go from there?"
Who's buying these things these days? People who aren't making LeBron James money, I assume.
I get a lot of orders from women for their husbands. Customers say, "My dad took me to this team when I was a kid," or, "My husband was a season-ticket holder in the '60s," so they have an emotional connection. And we get people who don't know a team and thought the logo was cute and cool. But customers do skew older--they remember the team. And sometimes, I am shocked. --Robert Wilonsky
Sack of Kittens This week in Sack of Kittens: Unchecked Aggression. Looks like? Four guys who appear to have closets full of ill-fitting black concert tees and regular jobs delivering pizzas. Not surprisingly, they hail from Arlington, which seems to be developing some sort of clone army of young men with bad skin, clothes, music and tempers. Presumably for Pizza Hut, because we don't know who else would have any use for them. Bonus: Singer-guitarist Cody Jinks looks like a scrawnier version of Creed's Scott Stapp. Sounds like? When a band named Unchecked Aggression releases an album called The Massacre Begins, it pretty much takes away all the guesswork. You should also know that anyone who uses "killer" as an adjective--and these fellas use that word more than "the"--will likely be lacking in the lyrics department. It's an awful truth, but one we must face together. Predictable influences? Jinks, drummer Anthony Walker and guitarist Ben Heffley name-check all the usual suspects: Metallica, Pantera, Cannibal Corpse, Anthrax and, obviously, Slayer. Not-so-predictable influences? Bassist Bryan Fowler lists among his favorite bands the Eagles, Chicago and Alabama. Bad form, sir. Sample song titles? "Smell of Blood," "Kill Me Again," "Hell Razor" and "Why Am I Mad?" Though the last one might be rhetorical, the best answer is "because I'm in a shitty metal band." We're paraphrasing, of course. We also would have accepted "because my bass player is a big puss." Number of kittens in the sack they're currently standing on? Eight, and they're trying to start up a mosh pit.
Unchecked Aggression performs February 23 at the Curtain Club.
The NBA trade deadline arrives this week, and none too soon; rumor has it the Mavericks are looking to move Shawn Bradley for a pound of ground round. This week also marks the beginning of the filing period for Dallas' mayoral candidates, though Mary Poss has already begun running a TV spot that looks as though it were put together by a junior-high A/V club making a Comedy Central demo reel. So Full Frontal thought, for no apparent reason, to contact some NBA scouts about their thoughts on Laura Miller's would-be replacements, some of whom are old favorites (Billy Jack Ludwig, Al Lipscomb) and some of whom are wily newcomers you've never heard of (Karl Muller, Erik Saenz) and never will again.
Current position: Council member, District 9
Scouting report: One Eastern Conference scout reports that Poss doesn't have a much of an inside game, unlike Miller, who "knows the right players and can dish off when in trouble down low." The longtime council veteran is respected around the league for her ability to block shots, but her defensive game could grow awfully "offensive," says another scout whose name rhymes with "Hom Ticks." Plus, says one scout, Poss also has less style than the current mayor--"Steve Nash has bad-boy hair, but Mary has bad hair"--which could lose her votes with the big-ticket crowd.
Current position: Sitting at home
Scouting report: Lipscomb has his fan base, but scouts wonder if a town already weary of jocks in trouble with the law will put up with a creaky, cranky and convicted vet too long out of the game. "That's the reason Mark Cuban passed on Stanley Roberts," says a scout in reference to the beleaguered former Sixer recently reinstated after a years-long probation.
Current position: Attorney
Scouting report: Jordan's been on--and around--the block plenty of times before; expect him to attract little interest, as usual, befitting the man whose sole jock experience dates back to his wanting to dome the Cotton Bowl. Says a Western Conference scout, "D.J. likes to jack the three, but he's always rimming it." Full Frontal says, "Pass."
Erik Saenz and Karl Muller
Current positions: Unknown
Scouting report: Says one observer, "Saenz and Muller are true wild cards. Then, so was Antoine Rigaudeau, and look where that got you." Indeed, both have as much chance of getting elected as Rigaudeau does of snagging a rebound, though Muller at least sounds like a foreigner, which counts in these here parts--eh, Dirk?
Billy Jack Ludwig
Current position: Lying down
Scouting report: Was watching basketball games before they cut the bottoms out of the peach basket. Says scout, "Still has better knees than James Donaldson." --Robert Wilonsky
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.