I will happily admit to being sort of a soccer poseur. After being relegated out of my pops’s youth soccer league at age 10, I didn’t pay much attention to the beautiful game for a solid twenty years. It didn’t help matters that during what ought to have been my formative soccer years, I was attending a suburban crudhole filled with jerk-ass soccer players. (Although, in hindsight, the mid-’90s peroxide blonde “alternative” jerk-ass soccer player is a beautiful archetype that I feel oddly nostalgic for, as it is rapidly fading into history.) On the whole, I actually didn’t much care for soccer at all.
During this past World Cup, however, I inexplicably caught a low-grade case of football fever — something about the sounds of the vuvzelas and living in a predominately Mexican neighborhood did it. I got very excited about the whole thing. When it was all over, I actually thought, well, maybe I won’t go as far as selecting a Premiere League English football club to get behind (I don’t even know what metrics could be applied to making such a decision). But maybe, I thought, Major League Soccer could be something interesting to think about.
Until I looked at the team names. They all suck. They really suck.
They all sound like third-rate expansion WNBA teams. “San Jose Earthquakes”? “Colorado Rapids”? What the shit is “Colorado Rapids” supposed to mean? That doesn’t even sound like a sports team. It sounds like a town off the interstate where your car breaks down and you buy a Slim Jim in the gas station while the tow truck comes from three towns over and some redneck makes fun of your shirt and you buy one of those newspapers that’s all personals ads for truck-drivers and prison inmates. Not very inspiring.
There is, in my limited experience, a poetry to football club names. They’re not named for vaguely threatening singular nouns or natural disasters. They are named for neighborhoods, and places of employment, and defunct athletic clubs, and weird inside jokes from the 19th Century. They are at least a dozen teams in London, and not one of them has the word “London” in their name. It’s Crystal Palace F.C., Chelsea, Arsenal, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur, Leyton Orient.
So to that end, I’ve taken the liberty of renaming each of the MLS teams to more closely conform with my own expectations for what a soccer team’s name should sound like. Please enjoy.
Chicago Fire » Bridgeview Town FC
The stadium’s not even in Chicago proper. Which is fine, but the fact that’s a dumb pun on top of that makes it inexcusable. Show some pride for little Bridgeview. An alternative would be naming for the long-gone White City, from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, but White City FC sounds a little racist.
Columbus Crew » Linden South End FC
The “Columbus Crew” sounds like a gang of jocks that come down from OSU and crash your little sister’s graduation party. Again, naming the club for the city neighborhood it’s located in makes a much stronger statement.
D.C. United » Columbia FC
Nice try, guys, but “United” should only apply to a team that is formed when two hated rivals finally put aside their differences and join forces. Until the D.C. club merges with the Arlington Avvalanchez or whatever, “Columbia FC” should do it.
Kansas City Wizards » Village West Rangers FC
There is no reason to drag wizards into this whole thing. Apparently they’re building these guys a new stadium in a mixed-use development near the Speedway called “Village West.” Sounds good to me. Plus, maybe “rangers” kind of sounds like something with cows. You know, like stockyards, or that kind of thing. I don’t know.
New England Revolution » Lexington & Concord FC
Why fart around with vague historical references? Just go for it, dudes.
New York Red Bulls » Brooklyn Celtic
“But Andy, the team’s not in Brooklyn.” No, you’re right: it’s in New Jersey. But come on, teams that play in New Jersey get to call themselves “New York” all the damned time. It’s absurd, but it’s life. “Brooklyn Celtic” was a respected American soccer team from back in the bad old days, when American soccer teams had better names. So Brooklyn can have a team that plays in New Jersey. That’s fine.
Philadelphia Union » Chester FC
Again: not in Philadelphia. It’s in Chester. We’ll just use that.
Toronto FC » Dufferin Gate FC
Actually, I guess “Toronto FC” is hard to argue with. Or maybe “Toronto City FC.” But it looks like the team plays at a stadium at Exhibition Place, which was once the site of a 19th Century structure called “Dufferin Gate.” I like the sound of that. Let’s go with it.
C.D. Chivas USA » C.D. Chivas USA
This one generally seems reasonable.
Colorado Rapids » Commerce City FC
Another one where the name of the suburb the club’s actually located in has a better name than the major city it supposedly represents. Though I’ve heard Commerce City is pretty crappy.
FC Dallas » Tree City FC
This club is based not in Dallas proper, but in Frisco, Texas. Listen to this gem from Wikipedia about the city of Frisco: “Since 2003, Frisco has received the designation ‘Tree City USA’ by the National Arbor Day Foundation.” That’s outstanding!
Houston Dynamo » Dynamo Houston FC
Apparently “Dynamo” is also the name that all the KGB- and Stasi-backed football clubs in the old Soviet bloc had, but why not, let’s just keep it anyway. Maybe switch the two words around.
Los Angeles Galaxy » Carson South Bay FC
Teams in huge cities shouldn’t be named for the whole city. It’s too expansive. Just a small part of it. Since the club doesn’t play in LA proper but in nearby Carson, I think this geographic designation is more specific and more appropriate.
Real Salt Lake » Salt Lake County FC
Using the Spanish term “real” — which means “royal” — is just ridiculously pretentious. This is the equivalent of a naming the shittiest cookie-cutter suburban apartment development “Le Royale Oakes Apartments at Wyndmere.” Again, “City” is already in the god-damned name, so we could just do “Salt Lake City FC.” That said, I like the “county” designation, and we need at least one team with “county” in the name. You’re it, Salt Lake.
Seattle Sounders FC » Seattle Occidental FC
Again, let’s go with a neighborhood. Seattle is a city of neighborhoods. This should be easy. Actually, now that I look at it, the team plays in kind of a downtown-nowhere arena, and “Central Business District FC” isn’t so inspiring. However, it’s located at 800 Occidental Avenue. Great name! “West,” get it? Totally mythical.
San Jose Earthquakes » ???
I give up. You think of something.
You imagine a tiny street, crisscrossing a grid. Utter darkness, completely hidden in the shadows of taller buildings nearby. The houses are seven inches apart. Probably cobblestones. The street is named for a person that has been dead for over 300 years, or for someone on the Mayflower (Brewster, Winslow). The very rarest, the most exotic, especially in the Midwest. I have never lived at an address with a single-digit house number. They are reserved for rare book collectors, plutocrats and magicians.
Cozy. One imagines a walk-up brownstone, or a row of brownstone walk-ups. A short walk to the bodega, or party store, or news agent, or corner shop, whatever you call it where you live. Probably hard to find parking in the immediate area. You’d likely have to walk a few blocks. Historic preservation markers may be nearby.
All my addresses in college had three digits in the address (106 Birchwood, 409 W. Gaulbert). I imagine many of you reading this from a three-digit address. Urban, but too not crowded. Thirty blocks or so outside the city center.
Impossible to know. Every house I lived in up to the age of 22 had four digits in the house number (9509, 3604, 1001), as does the house I live in now, as do the next few I expect to live in. Four is the median, the baseline. The smaller or larger the number is than four, the more exotic it seems.
Likely on a long, looping street named for a tree, or a miles-long two-lane with a name like “Airport Way” or “Frontage Road.” You cannot catch a bus to an address with five digits. You’ll have to drive, and you’ll have to drive for a long time. Way out past the proving grounds and the wildlife management area. One imagines absolute silence.
I pray I never have to visit an address with a six-digit house number.
The newspaper obituary photo drop box at the Pioneer Press building. It’s these sorts of odd Ben Katchor-ish details that make downtown St. Paul feel so out-of-time in a way that downtown Minneapolis does not.
It’s bleak. The burn is very clean, but the lamps flicker in odd ways that catch the waves in the glass of the windows. It reminds you that the windows are very old and that the window installer responsible for their installation has almost certainly been dead for a very long time. I am not sure why I thought an all-oil lamp light diet would be an effective method for combating seasonal affective disorder.
I am using LAMPLIGHT FARMS™ brand lamp oil and cotton wicks. LAMPLIGHT FARMS sounds like the loneliest place in the world. What do you think life would be like if you worked on LAMPLIGHT FARMS? Very early bedtimes, I’d imagine.
And hard days in the field, harvesting wicks. Or whatever one does on a lamplight farm.
LAMPLIGHT FARMS is one of those brands named after a presumably fictitious location, like ORGANIC VALLEY or ICE MOUNTAIN, that doesn’t register as odd-sounding until you really stop to consider how absurdly made-up it sounds. Still, LAMPLIGHT FARMS sounds much more sinister than ICE MOUNTAIN. LAMPLIGHT FARMS sounds like slow descents into madness and jilted lovers and moonless nights. It sounds like dead Victorians to me.
Canada to India, Australia to Cornwall, Singapore to Hong Kong: millions of dead Victorians, all.
Back when we were smartypants teenagers, and I was trying to sneak Velvet Underground songs onto mixtapes for Jimbo, and Dave would confidentially complain to me that the sound of Richard Thompson’s voice on all those Fairport Convention records Jimbo always played made him physically ill, and Nate unreasonably insisted that Dave Clark was a better drummer than Charlie Watts, and Dave bored everyone with endless fifteen-minute noodling versions of “Interstellar Overdrive” or “Section 43,” the only band all four of us could always agree on was the Kinks.
Like it was never there. The day after the tree was cut down, there was some dirt and sawdust scattered on the ground. But there’s been fresh snowfall recently, so it’s all been covered.
In the meantime, I need to find more good uses for the “Millions of dead Victorians” tag.
This tree at Layman’s Cemetery, right by my bus stop on Cedar, had been spray-painted earlier in the winter with a tell-tale neon orange Dutch Elm Disease ring. Some workers from the Parks and Recreation board were out late last week with a few trucks, preparing to take it down. By Friday, it was gone.
This is maybe the one advantage to having a lo-fi phone camera like the one I have. A clear, hi-res shot of the scene would have simply depicted five guys in Carhartts and a van in the snow. The poor quality of this photo, though, emphasizes all the right qualities: the landscape looks bleaker, the objects in the foreground look like Victorian black paper silhouettes, and the city workers look like a group of pallbearers. I know this sentimentalizes the scene, but that doesn’t strike me as a terrible thing. The tree was almost certainly as old as the cemetery itself.