An Election Year Message from Green Apple Books

The evolution of a Green Apple commercial:

1. It's campaign season. We should do something political.

2. We have this major online competitor, and we think people should buy their books from us rather than from them for a lot of reasonable reasons.

3. Reasonable is boring.

4. This happens:

2012 CFB Uniform Preview & Critique

A – Exceptional. Design that is unique to the school and/or perfectly captures the specific culture/brand. Technical craftsmanship is without flaws.

B – Very Good. Design is appealing and appropriate. May be a template, but no mistaking for competitors. Perhaps a slight miss on brand and/or minor flaws in craftsmanship

C – Passable. There are issues that need to be addressed in the future, or have overlooked some details. Perhaps a bad branding move, but has a steady foundation.

D – Poor. Too off brand, poor design decisions, and/or poor craftsmanship. Will have to be redone, but there is something worth saving.

F – Fail. Off brand and bad craftsmanship. Poor design decisions and details overlooked.

Air Force
Grade: C-

At first glance this looks like a nice uniform, but once you start digging into the details it really falls apart. Blue and grey is a nice combination. Nike seems to be throwing greys into everything they can now but it works so well for the Falcons.

That’s a really popular helmet design but I’ve never liked it much. The bolt is so thin and takes up such a horizontal space, it seems weak and applied awkwardly. To make things worse they’ve added a white stroke to everything on the grey version, which isn’t at all needed, and ends up looking even cheaper and amateurish.

The same bad decision is made in the jersey where the added strokes don’t help separate the word mark and numbers from the base color, but makes it look clunky, like a bad Photoshop style. It even makes the numbers and word mark harder to read as the grey and white start to blur/vibrate together. Simply removing the strokes would increase the design’s quality so much. We also see an unnecessary panel fill on the shoulders that Nike loves so much. I like shoulder elements like this when there’s something to support it.  Right now its just a fill-in-the-blank design.

Appalachian State
Grade: B

This design comes right out of the Nike catalog but they did a good job of putting together a respectable uniform.

The helmet is a slick, simple design and the athletic gold is never a bad choice for a lid. What holds it back is the shotty logo (also seen on the jersey sleeves) but I try to over look logos when critiquing uniforms design. They added a gold stroke to white numbers which is unnecessary and, like Air Force, makes things harder to read. It also causes a lack of unity with the helmet which uses no white or extra edge strokes. Why they would want to highlight Nike’s FlyWire I have no idea, but damn that is some tacky shit. Why not use yellow thread to sew the whole jersey together while you’re at it?

You can see white outlines on the pants stripes too, another element that’s out there doing its own thing. This uniform is so close to being so good, but the bad details really holds it back.

Grade: D+

When Nike gets things right they make some great uniforms. When they’re off, they can really disappoint. Arkansas is the latest example of the latter. Nike threw every tacky, bad trend they had at the Razorbacks. Harsh gradient numbers, anthracite into a color palette (and identity history) that dosent support it, fill-in-the-blank panels, and a white alternate helmet.

Arkansas wants to look like they’re heading into the future and separate themselves a bit from the many other red and white schools, but what they’re wearing is already played out and they look like the poorest red and white school in the nation. If you remove all the crap and let this uniform be a simple, solid, red and white design they still stand out and look like they are heading into a bright future rather than a dark present without abandoning their entire tradition. I predict there will be changes next year.

Grade: A+

Last year Army wore a white version of this jersey as a Pro Combat Rivalry design. Now, they’ve adopted the design as their main look, complete with black version and a matte helmet.

This is Nike at their best. Everything here is done well and appropriate and if they still wear their digital camo uniforms im going to do a back flip. This is one of my top 5 uniforms in CFB. If anyone should have that tough matte helmet it’s Army. A perfect fit. I love the stencil numbers, the stripe on the undershirts, and the company badges on the sleeves. Theres no flaw in the design at all. Maybe elements you don’t particularly like, but nothing here is wrong.

Bowling Green
Grade: B

Last year I ripped BG for their new design. It seems they came to their senses after realizing they looked fucking ridiculous. They addressed the 2 main issues in the number font and pants stripe. This font works well with their primary logo and word mark and they just gave up the pants stripe altogether which is probably a good idea.

Theres not much left to not like, but the wing design on the shoulder is questionable. It’s out of the Nike catalog which anyone can use but as far as I know, only Eastern Michigan uses is other than BG. The main thing is it has no unity with the other elements. The numbers are stroked, the word mark has 2 or 3 strokes, but the wing is a 1 color element. The wing itself isn’t a great design either, there’s no motion, no integration into the jersey design, just a wing sitting on top of the sleeve.

Central Michigan
Grade: D

This feels like CMU told Adidas they wanted to look like a Nike school. Its closer to Arizona State than what Central Michigan has worn before. We’ve got some major consistency and lifeless trend issues here.

Theres 2 different helmets with this set, the new addition being a matte black of course and sports a new stripe design. If you’re going to do an alternate helmet this is about as good as you can ask for. It’s different enough from the standard to be interesting but not so different that it looks like it dosent belong.

4 different jersey options all of which are the same template except for the black option. It’s a totally different design that features “Central Michigan” across the chest, a different stripe design, and a different number font. Personally I like the black design best. It’s rare to see piping on uniforms any more and most of those designs fail because the lines will highlight the odd shapes of the shoulder pads or a big lineman’s flabby body so as they get pushed around and distorted you’re just seeing that instead of a nice flowing line. This won’t be any different. The undershirt has something that we haven’t seen very much but I have a feeling it will be a new trend. I don’t mind a nice design on the sleeves or a cool slogan but a generic “Fire Up” or cheesey “Chips” isn’t very inspiring.

It looks like all the pants are the same design but the logo on the black pant is much larger. My personal favorite uniform combo would be maroon helmet, black jersey, and yellow pants.

Eastern Michigan
Grade: C-

The grey addition really kills this color palette.  They’re forcing green on top of grey and having to use white to separate it. The grey matte helmet could not be more dull and lifeless. If they used grey as an accent color it could work and give some depth to the elements in the uniform, but trying to make it part of the primary theme is not a good idea. I like all the green and white stuff, and hope they wear that a majority of the time.

Georgia Tech
Russell Athletic
Grade: F

This is Russell's premier design this year, nothing else they have done for this season has been a major change or for a major school. GT and Russell, I want you to know this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. (probably not, actually)

Im not sure if this is all Russell's doing or how much input GT had in this, but regardless the uniform is trying so hard to copy Nike's success in most areas and with their original ideas i just don't even. . . 

The helmet features a gold honeycomb/hive pattern which isn't the worst helmet i've seen. It's done by HGI so as cheesy as the idea is it's pulled off as well as you could ask for. Maybe it's just me but gold on white always has this nice vintage connotation that is hard to beat (even though theres nothing at all vintage about this uniform, but not a big deal). The hive pattern works pretty well as a special helmet or 1 off, but this is something they're planning on using every weekend. That will be hard to get used to. 

The jersey is where things get confusing, frustrating, and highly disappointing. There are 2 different templates being used and theres a white version for each, the only difference is the side panel and blue sleeve looping, so you have to wonder what the hell is the point here? Why couldnt a decision be made on one template? There is absolutely no reason to have these 2 templates unless they're running a season long focus group test to find out which one people like best which only suggest theres no confidence in either one. It dosent even matter which one they go with anyway because they both fucking suck! The number font is a poorly crafted modern sans made even more clunky and awkward by the outlines. A colored name plate 'ala Philadelphia Flyers might be cool but this is such a weird shape that is very out of place. the short side stripe jersey is the better (less awful) of the two as it at least attempts to house the hive pattern and separate it from the main jersey color. The other's twist-stripe creates a visual tension like a twist in a balloon animal. I wonder if the players can feel that pain in their ribs? it looks like it. I don't think i even have to mention how bad the hive pattern is with it's various treatments. In the numbers, it looks like a bad Photoshop layer style.

The pants are just as bad, but at least they're consistent. Theres 2 different pants stripes to try to match the jerseys. The hive overload continues here. 

The sad part about Russell is not that they're trying so hard to copy Nike, but that they just have really shitty taste in design and Georgia Tech has to take some blame too. They havent had a good uniform in years (thinking back to the Calvin Johnson era). There is not a single element or inch of this uniform to be remotely proud about. The idea of covering the uniform in a honeycomb/hive pattern is the silliest part. It's not a bad ass or cool, or even a likable design, it's cute at best. It's as much a connotation to Winnie the Pooh and honey bees as it is Yellow Jackets. There's nothing to save here, even the color palette is drab with that gold.

Under Armor
Grade: D+

I really liked the 2011 uniforms (except for the Pride unis) and they’ve made some tweaks to them here. Problem is, I’m torn over the 2012 version. I think the 2 color stripe on the shoulders worked better than the pattern of color (you see it on the pants too). Now, it really looks like a crash test dummy outfit. I think they removed the tortoise shell pattern from the shoulders too which was a good move. On the red jerseys the texture cause the shoulders to appear lighter in color, so it was almost a pink and red jersey.

This new helmet is much tamer than the Pride helmet, but somehow is a worse design. long horizontal straight lines don’t flow over a helmet’s curves or occupy a strong space well at all. If there is one thing you shouldn’t do with a helmet design, it is this. The complex flag design is too much in a small area. You have this large amount of white space around it and it just allows you to focus on everything that is awkward about it. If they keep the black helmet and shell helmet they will look great, but this over use of the flag is killing it.

Grade: A

This is one sharp set! They have great colors to start with, and thankfully they and Nike realized that no more were needed. You cant go wrong with any of these combinations but yellow jersey/maroon pants is my favorite.

Could they be any simpler? It’s an excellent modern design that is absolutely timeless. Theres no stripes, no other elements besides numers on the jersey and a logo on the helmet, what could you change? The matte helmet looks great in maroon and the logo is strong and bold. I even like the double outline on it. The black face mask works as a nice neutral color, not fighting for attention with the helmet and still feeling modern where grey would have a stark contrast and really feel out of place. 

My favorite part is the number font, the 4 and 5 are just gorgeous. The new word mark is in the same style, If there’s one thing I would change, and I can see it happening soon, its that there’s a brick pattern inside the numbers. I think that’s an awesome texture idea for collateral, but leave the pattern out of the uniform. It’s not really school specific anyway; most campuses have brick buildings.

Mississippi State
Grade: C

This is a great design that comes up short because its so much like Texas A&M. Adidas redesigned both uniforms this year and used some of the same ideas for both. Both schools are maroon and white and have the same stripe on the jerseys, except here we see a ribbon design.

I really have to question every decision they made here. Why when these 2 schools have the same colors and now play in the same conference did you give them the same stripe treatment? Why are the grey pants so light (what’s the point when you have a white option)? Whats the purpose of having the same helmet but with 2 different face mask colors? It dosent seem they were interested in doing much to separate themselves from Texas A&M and if they were, Adidas did them no favors either.

I love the word mark on top of the numbers. If they let that be the design hero element and removed the jersey stripe, it would do so much for the whole design. Only thing we’re left with is a reflection of A&M.

Grade: B-

The design ideas are all over the place with this set. Its hard to grade because each set is so different. The only things that ties them together are the numbers, word mark, and colors. The jersey designs are completely different.

The standard helmet is a nice evolution. There is a subtle tiger stripe pattern in the yellow stripe which tapers at the front and reflect the lines in the logo nicely. The matte helmet is as well done as any matte I’ve seen with a powerful, oversized logo. I think some white in the logo there would help though. It’s a different logo when you drop the white.

With the black jersey we see a nice update to what they wore last year. The white jersey is more lazy fill-in-the-panel nonsense from Nike with an awful 2 tone FOLO* (faux polo) collar (AKA “toilet seat collar”) yet somehow with the 2 crap elements combined they don’t seem as bad. The numbers on the shoulders also help break up what would otherwise be a barren land of greyness, and where the hell did the grey come from? Why not black, or yellow?

The yellow jersey is by far my favorite. The FOLO collar looks good here because of the addition and direction of the stripe off the shoulder, all leading your eye to the center and down to the number. It’s a nice flow and repetition.

The pants are all the same, just 3 different color options. The pants stripe has the subtle tiger pattern too and flows nicely up the leg and has a sort od claw mark quality to it.

*FOLO = term is ©Brandon Moore & Matt Kauzlarich 2012 :)

Under Armor
Grade: B+

The Northwestern stripe is the prominent design element on these new uniforms. It’s inspired by an old design, but they’ve done a great job of making it modern. No one else has a jersey like this, but I think we will see similar ones start to pop up now. This is a great use of a stroke on a number as it separates the number from the stripe and makes it very readable. There’s also a brick pattern within the numbers which, like Minnesota, I think is fine but a bit pointless and would do better to remove it. It probably will be removed anyway once the fad has run its course.

I would love to see a white stripe on the purple jersey but I think it’s best how it is. They keep the 3 colors balanced nicely and the number remains readable and separate from the background. I like that they left the pants blank too, as to not over use the stripe. There were smart decisions made in every detail of the uniform.

The only thing I might fault it for is that the stripe doesn’t run all the way around the jersey and just abruptly ends on the side seam.

Grade: C-

Nebraska breaks a lot of their identity habits here for the Unrivaled Series. I’m just guessing this game between Nebraska and Wisconsin is the 2012 version of last year’s Under the Lights, so we’re seeing the letters on the front of jerseys being a repeated, successful idea.

It’s almost strange to see someone come out with an alternate helmet now and its not matte. I like the gloss black helmet but the most important part (the logo) really gets lost on it. just making the N white would be a big improvement.

It seems they made all the wrong decisions with the jersey. Those stripes just do not fit on this jersey cut. We have black on red with the elements and it looks unfinished and cheap because of the lack of contrast. I almost don’t mind the black N, but white would definitely be a better choice. There is nothing eye catching about the jersey. It’s a bit of a mess.

The pants repeat the color problems of the jersey, and at this point it’s too much red. Red is a loud, attention whore of a color and that makes this uniform way too intense. It’s hard to look at.

I love the idea of Nebraska wanting to do something different and throw some black into the uniform. I just don’t think they’ve given us much to like.

Grade: A-

Of all the 2012 uniforms this is my favorite alternate and probably right behind Texas A&M overall.

Look at the line weight/consistency here. This uniform (without measuring everything myself) looks to be perfect in that area. The weight of the W's and stripes through out are the same, even the numbers. The rounded numbers are a nice fit because they provide a contrast to the rigid angles and straight lines of everything else. They also have a vintage charm; modern numbers are mostly blocks. The jersey design uses the TechFit template to its fullest potential where sleeve stripes and shoulder loops just don’t work on the sleeveless cut because they end being way too short. This Titans-like design does work. It also gives the uniform a better color balance, incorporating enough red to not be boring but not so much that its too loud (like Nebraska). the W on the chest looks great as 1 color, no outline. it may be Adidas' new style (or it could be just a recycled idea), but i have no problem with that as of now. It’s good to see something there that works, besides a number. The undershirt stripe is a bit odd though. Sure it matches the helmet but it’s forced. Just not much of a reason for it to be there.

The pants are almost Wisconsin's regular digs. The double stripe works and does flow with the undershirt stripe; the negative areas matching, and color consistency like seen with Texas A&M. The W on the hip dosent have much of a home there, its not integrated into the the design, its just sitting on top of the stripe. A missed opportunity there, but for the sake of the minimalist design, it might have been best to leave it off.

The helmet looks great too. I dont think theres anything better than a 1 color logo on a helmet (Nebraska, Indiana, Indy Colts, Kansas State, Texas, etc). i like the black face mask too. It’s a modern neutral, what grey was back in the day, black could be today. At least it works here well enough, especially with the black cleats and gloves. It doesn’t grab your attention like a white mask would, it takes a back seat in the design and lets the W really shine.

I’m a bit disappointed with Nebraska but I’m glad to see these 2 schools try something different. Their identities are well established and they both are wearing the best uniform design they've ever had, currently. Perfect time to change it up a bit and break up the repetition of simple red and white game after game.

If theres one area Adidas is kicking every ones ass in, its these promo shots for the uniforms. UA does this jank photoshop light explosion to display their new designs. Nike makes everything look like they're in a damn cave. Adidas uniforms against the soft brown of brick and decent lighting without having the models do a Hulk Hogan flex impression is very well done. It’s almost a locker room environment. Application and environment are everything with design, and its important to capture that in presentations. I like being able to actually see and focus on the damn thing

Notre Dame
Grade: D-

This is a design for 1 game which will be worn against Miami at Soldier Field. Like I said with Nebraska and Wisconsin, its nice to see Notre Dame do something a bit different because their current identity is so strong, but can get repetitive if not boring. After last years Under the Lights success, its no wonder they would want to do it again, and they worked with Troy lee Designs again to do something very unique.

I love asymmetrical design, but this helmet may be the worst helmet design ive ever seen. Maryland’s Pride helmet was loud and bold, but it was 1 design which was acceptable. This helmet tries blending 2 designs together. The 1/3 blue piece is instantly awkward and the 2 different textures’ (engine turn gold and gloss blue) juxtaposition makes it worse. The white-out Irishman on the side is also shocking, I don’t ever recall seeing that logo in 1 color. The logo isn’t placed correctly on the helmet either (at least not in the promo shot). It’s too low and forward. The arm of the Irishman is getting cut off by the face mask and is strangely sitting right over the ear hole. The 2/3 split is probably the correct idea, in that it is true asymmetry with the “heavier” side (darker color) being the smallest, rather than a ½ split which would be a symmetrical balance. But one reason for doing asymmetrical design is to create an unsettling, odd, disruptive feeling which is what ends up happening here. So the execution for the idea given is fairly good, its just a bad idea to begin with. For Notre Dame, doing something that is totally unfamiliar is a big risk and I don’t think it all comes together well here, Last years Shamrock helmet worked as it was a nice evolutionary piece in the identity. This is too out of place and way off brand.

The number font and word mark are very cool, a prestigious vintage look that works really well together on this navy jersey. I would love to see this number font make a return in another design. We see the inclusion of this thin white stripe in every piece but its different on each piece. Its probably worse on the undershirt because it can be mistaken as an arm band, but even then I can live with that. It just dosent have a place or a reason for being. If there was more unity with the other applications it could work on the sleeve but we just get 3 different treatments and leaves us wondering what the hell is going on. It dosent need to be exactly the same on each piece, variety is good, but its too different here.

The pants stripe is way too wide. If a player wears pads in his pants it gets so distorted and warped that it becomes a terrible, bloated eyesore. The Irishman logo is squeezed onto the hip and looks as if hes trying to push the sides away to keep from being crushed. If he has some proper space to breath and not create a tangent against the stripe edge it could be tolerable, but I don’t like seeing the same logo on the hip as the side of the helmet. It feels redundant. If you cut the stripe in half you have the edge of the helmet design. But I think we’re just left wanting to see that whole stripe again elsewhere or not at all. The good thing about it is its only on one side, which completes the asymmetrical idea. 

You can see with each piece they’re going for a vintage racer look and nearly pulled it off but what holds it back are some really strange almost amateurish decisions that makes it fail. I usually don’t mind golds not matching especially in vintage uniforms, but when you have 3 or 4 different golds together it really looks cheap. The texture of the helmet, numbers, and pants are all completely different. The color corrected promo photos from Adidas is trying to fool us, but the photos from the unveiling show the ugly truth. All of the inconsistency, unfamiliarity, and odd design decisions just dosen’t  hold together. I love risky design and people being brave with their elements, but even as a 1 off uniform, It’s a bad design and I think Notre Dame fans are going to agree.

Grade: B+

Oregon might be the Apple Computers of college football. They’re a rebellious brand that does not follow tired, played out traditions but look to improve upon the status quo. Chip Kelly has done that with the football program and their identity reflects those values perfectly. They are the trend setters and now that so many have copied their look, it’s perfect time to change again. Nike hasn’t given us much to look at yet, but its clear that the 2012 Rose Bowl uniform will be the new design template.

We’ve seen a couple of different helmets with the wings on the side. So far, a carbon fiber helmet with chrome wings and a green helmet with green-chromeish wings are available. Their primary logo is one of my favorites but dropping it from the side of the helmet isn’t a bad move. The wings are as recognizable as the logo and these chrome helmets will never be mistaken for another school. Think of the wings as their own swoosh. There also appears to be a texture on the face mask

So far 4 jerseys have been released but I wouldn’t be surprised to see 1 or 2 more during the season. The number font is much better than the old Belotti Bold, which seemed too warped. This font is almost the same but is tall and strong. The numbers look like they have some kind of iridescent color, which is reflective of the wings of a mallard. I absolutely love that! The wing texture on the shoulders I don’t though. The flow of the wings are interrupted and cut off at the seam of the shoulder/chest with no proper conclusion. They simply go on and on until they run out of room and so its another one of Nike’s lame “fill in the panel” techniques which ruins an otherwise unique and wonderful pattern. The fact that they’ve made the wings so contrasting with the jersey base color (save the green version) makes it even worse. You can clearly see how bad it’s executed on the yellow jersey.

Oregon’s identity they had up til last year is one of my all time favorites. That wing design on the shoulder was made for that location and fit so perfectly, the total opposite thinking behind this design. There are things to love here and things to hate, which makes it the most frustrating design I’ve seen this year.

Grade: C-

What I wrote for Arkansas goes ditto here. This is a hot mess of played out trends and poor design elements. What makes it worse is the slight differences in the helmet. Theres not one that’s an iconic standard and im not sure if anyone will realize they’re wearing a different one from game to game. With Oregon, ASU, and Oklahoma State its easy to see they’re wearing something different, theres a reason for being with those designs. The battle scared armor treatment is cool for an alternate, but I see that getting old quick. Having one with black and one with red would be fine if you really wanted mulitples, But there’s that 3rdwith a grey face mask that doesn’t fit any uniform more than the other and is a redundant waste. HGI pulled off the look very well, its just not needed more than once here.

The jerseys suffer from the same FOLO collar as the NFL jerseys. Why anyone thinks that looks good I can’t say. It becomes an element that will either clash or pair with everything else, and with the Rutgers’ design it almost fits but I cant help but feel its still out of place. The word mark and numbers are pulled off fairly well, I do like the custom font and chrome treatment with the outline to make a tight, bold form. Color wise I think the red jersey and white pants (with chrome/red helmet if I have to choose) will look really nice.

The pants stripe is alright enough. It reflects the shoulder stripes and maintains a decent color balance. The Butt Hat name on the pants is never good though. Just another bad, played out idea Nike threw at them.

South Dakota State
Under Armor
Grade: C+

Blue, white, and yellow is one of my favorite sports color palettes. It’s hard to screw up. I think every combination of jersey and pants here looks great as far as color goes, and I’d love to see the San Diego Chargers adopt these colors.

The helmet is the same design from last year but everything else has new elements. This has to be one of the nicest number fonts there is in CFB and pairs very well with their primary Jackrabbit logo and SD monogram. There’s rounded edges and tall straight lines; I don’t see how anyone could possibly dislike it especially in this context. I don’t think they have the brand and recognition to really pull off “STATE” across the chest, I actually first thought this was San Diego State. They have almost the same shoulder design that South Carolina got last year. It’s a weird design that dosent end or begin anywhere or have any kind of movement. It’s a block of color with no real purpose. The road and home jerseys seem to be dealing with that element in 2 different ways as well, but its kind of hard to tell exactly how from only this picture.

The pants stripe is a bit odd for this design, but it’s better than any kind of traditional stripe. The thing with this set of blue and yellow is that they are both so energetic and attention grabbing you need a almost a 50/50 split between them through the uniform so that 1 is not too intense; They balance each other out so the pants stripe does allow for that. The only thing I’m really disappointed about is that there is no yellow jersey. Yet.

Southern Methodist
Grade: B

This is such a cool jersey. It’s an original design that comes through a slight tweak in traditional stripe design. a Northwestern stripe over the shoulder works so well, except like all modern over-the-shoulder designs, are truncated and can be a bit weird to look at when they end so abruptly for no reason. Still, Its enough for me to love it. I’d love to see a blue jersey in the mix as well. I have to assume the helmet stripe will change too and it might be bet if they remove that stripe altogether.

The mustang on the chest is a really nice touch in 1 color and has plenty of space around it so its not crowded. The number font is a new-to-me design. It’s a spur serif as you can really see on the 1’s, and I fear what the 3 and 5 look like when the 2 is so top heavy with such a variation in thickness. A modern, bold, spur serif? I don’t like it.

Texas A&M
Grade: A

Finally we get to my favorite new design of the year! The one issue I have is that it’s so similar to Mississippi State, and that is a problem, but this design is just beautiful. The “12th MAN” on the undershirt sleeve is reserved only for 1 player a game so it is good that the rest of the team won’t be wearing that cheesy bullshit.

The helmet was done by HGI and they’ve made it more of a satin finish than matte which matches the surface texture of the jersey and pants really well. They kept the primary logo the same which I find a bit weird because you can see on the hip the new secondary design where the T has a beveled treatment. A small miss in consistency. The grey mask is a perfect choice, it softens the contrast of the previous white mask look while tying into the the grey used in other parts of the uniform. It’s a small detail that becomes the cherry on top of this sweet design. There is also a white alternate version that works just as well.

The jersey takes inspiration from a previous A&M design and teaches the rest of the manufactures a lesson in stripes. Whether or not every player wears the undershirt, they all end up in the same design. The undershirt is a part of the design that enhances it when added and doesn’t take anything away when removed. The school name across the chest is a strong, bold statement that A&M has always had. The numbers are a new design that dosent go too far from traditional block but adds some value to the identity with the beveling inside. I absolutely love that detail on both maroon and white jerseys. It’s not a harsh gradient or cheesy texture, just a well done flat design. It’s not been easy to get people to embrace it though. Last year I did a concept for the Kansas City Chiefs that featured beveled 2 tone numbers and everyone hated it. Theres not been much love for these either, but I just don’t get it. This is such a nice touch that I’m glad someone had the balls to apply to a big time school.

The pants stripe carries through the alignment and rhythm started in the jersey. The pants stripe is the same width as the negative space on the jersey stripes and the colors correlate correctly as well. Most of the time I like hip logos and I like this one. Its not forced into a design here, it actually holds its place on the stripe well.

I want so badly to grade this out as an A+ but the slight difference in primary and secondary logos as well as the identical treatment to conference rival Mississippi State keeps it from being any thing unique or perfect.

Utah State
Grade: B-

Utah State gets the standard Nike treatment: white helmet, matte helmet, grey uniform, texture within numbers, fucking yawn. It’s the same recycled ideas we’ve seen this year more than ever, but at least we can appreciate the execution of it. They also have new logos which designer Fraser Davidson worked with Nike on to complete the identity package.

The blue and white helmets both look very nice with the logo working just as well on both versions. You get to the jersey though and the bad details show through. White stroke on a grey number, white stroke against a grey jersey, it all cheapens the look so much especially with the texture inside of them. None of the word marks use strokes and they separate themselves from the jersey much better for it. With such a busy front, you’d expect to see something on the shoulders or sleeves but both are blank which I actually like. It’s a clean minimalist look that isn’t overly cluttered like most designs. I think the number font is very nice as well, the rounded bottom edges and sharp top edges pair perfectly with the word mark and primary logo, so I suspect its all the same font.

Not sure if the pants stripe is necessary, it’s a bit out of place. It seems like a single color stripe would work best here which would provide a better balance in both shape and color.  

Grade: D+

I don’t know why Nike wants to make me hate them so much. There’s no care put into this set. Lazy fill-in-the-panel design on the gold jersey which also has a useless and ugly white stroke on the number. Must there be a complete lack of gold on the black and white pieces? Number trim isn’t enough here. If they ever pair the white helmet with gold jersey and white pants I will just have to laugh. They don’t have bad colors. They don’t have a bad logo. But outside of the number font, this set just has nothing to like. Every new decision was a bad one.

- - - - - - Awards - - - - - -

Best in Show – school: Texas A&M; manufacturer: Adidas

Personally my favorite of the bunch is Texas A&M, but only slightly over Army, Minnesota, and the Wisconsin alternate. I felt last year Adidas was right on the coattails of Nike in the design department and I think they are now very equal, but both companies recycle ideas far too often. 

Worst Design – Georgia Tech

The only school to earn an F this year. 

Most Improved – Bowling Green

The biggest improvement made from last year is Bowling Green who I gave a D- to last year. 

Biggest Loser – Arkansas

Arkansas took the biggest fall. I have little doubt they will be doing dramatic changes within 3 years.

Best Typography – Minnesota

As instantly classic as it is modern. Word mark, primary logo, and numbers are all beautiful pieces of work.

Best New Logo – Utah State

Almost by default, Not too much to choose from this year, but the alternate bull mark is the best of the bunch. Also an honorable mention to the update of Purdue's train logo which will be featured on the front of the jerseys. Both logos design by Fraser Davidson and Nike

Best New Helmet – Army

The matte gold is a perfect choice for this school. Tough, rugged, utilitarian design. I give Silver to Oregon (liquid yellow being my favorite) and Bronze to UNLV

Most Creative Piece –  Northwestern

For the new jersey stripe placement. The white jersey is gorgeous. 

The Fuck Are You Doing? – Nike

For the Paint-By-Number or Fill-In-The-Blank shoulder panel designs as well as the 2 tone FlyWire collars which also make an appearance in the NFL.

August's Apple-a-Month Club Selection: Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura

Wait, where did August go? I swear I left it around here somewhere.

Well, now that another month has snuck by without my noticing, it's high time we updated you dear readers on the exploits of the Apple-a-Month Club by introducing our August selection, Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura.

We first heard tell of Gone to the Forest months ago -- first from a sales rep whose enthusiasm for the book seemed particularly noteworthy, then over drinks with a fellow bookseller and longtime book buyer who works for a certain other legendary San Francisco bookstore. His raving about Kitamura's novel really sealed the deal, and we got on hands on it as soon as we could (this persuasiveness having nothing to do with the aforementioned drinks involved, I promise).

And then there was Julie Orringer:
“Gone to the Forest is a mesmerizing novel, one whose force builds inexorably as its story unfolds in daring, unexpected strokes.  Kitamura’s prose brings to mind Cormac McCarthy or Jean Rhys, but the music of these lines is all her own—lyrical, sharp-edged, spare, and unafraid. Be warned: you’ll find yourself reading long past midnight, out of breath and wide awake.  This is a bold and powerful book.”
And then there was Salman Rushdie:
One thinks at times of both Coetzee and Gordimer, but Kitamura is very much her own writer, and makes you feel keenly the tragedy of her three lost souls.” 
And THEN we found out that Katie Kitamura loves Green Apple (I hear the phrase "bookstore crush" was used), and while we had already made the decision by that point to send it to our subscribers so clearly we're not just being biased here, flattery never hurts.

Long story of accumulating book-buzz made short, in August, our subscribers were among the first to have a copy of Gone to the Forest put in their hands. Here's our pitch, to add to the chorus of deserved praise this novel has received:
Gone to the Forest is the story of a family in an unnamed colonial country  in an unspecified time, drawing the reader's attention directly to the riveting events taking place in a family in turmoil, with only hints of awareness that the larger world they inhabit is on the brink of civil war. The novel begins with a slow burn; Kitamura's pose, mesmerizing in its sparse, curt description, is a perfect vehicle for this tension as she conveys the complexities of fear, love, and home in the briefest of momentsGone to the Forest offers what few novels can: a story that feels at once eerily familiar and completely singular. In Kitamura's expert hand, it's a story that's sure to spellbind you.
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Summer Means Ice Cream

As “summer” nears its end, the warmest days of the year are finally here, at least for those of us who live in western San Francisco.  So let’s talk ice cream.

We have a dozen or so ice cream recipe books on the shelves at any given time here, but of local interest are two newish additions to the shelf, both with a distinctly local flavor: Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book and Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones (the Bi-Rite Creamery’s entry).

They have a lot in common, from a predictable passion for good ingredients to clearly written recipes, from lavish full-color photographs to quirky flavors.  Both even feature mostly custard-based ice creams (vs. Philadelphia style ice cream, which is uncooked).  Mostly, the differences are in the tone and attitudes of the authors and in the details of specific recipes.  It’s almost as if one is the punk rock dude’s guide to making ice cream and the other comes from your smart, friendly, capable girlfriend.

Let’s start with Humphry Slocombe.  As I said, the roughly 40 recipes are clear and feature all the shop’s hottest flavors, plus some that rarely appear, from their top seller—Secret Breakfast, which includes bourbon and corn flakes cookies—through the rarely appearing strawberry (or, as they call it, “Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream.”).  The really unusual recipes are those involving veggies, beer, meat, and cheese. The book also includes a few sorbets, sundaes, sauces, etc.  Overall, it’s a solid book and fairly priced at $19.95 from Chronicle Books.

The Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones lacks the attitude, and makes up for it with thoroughness and 90 recipes.  There’s no lack of creativity, though—the book includes flavors like Earl Grey, Crème Fraiche, and Salted Caramel.  There are also a good number of non-ice cream recipes, including sorbets, cookies, sauces, ice pops, and more.  It is also a good deal—nicely produced, clearly illustrated, and bound in a hardcover for $24.99 from Ten Speed Press.

Take your pick—the edgy recipe book or the sweet one?  You won’t regret either one, so maybe just get them both.   

Graphic Language: Moving Forward & Getting Better

It’s better to fail doing something different, than to successfully follow in someone else’s footsteps.

The reason being is because trying new things, experimentation, breaking the rules, and ignoring your comfort zone is part of what progresses art forward, even if its just your own. The other parts may be finding how to do your own work (in the way Picasso talked about seeing the world with your eyes open, or how David Carson just “does what feels right to me”) and “stealing” ideas from others (another Picasso idea) but that’s for another post.

Different is good. It’s what makes art/design personal. It’s what creates new movements. Being different is breaking your routines and habits. So, don’t just think about being different from everyone else, but yourself as well. Try new things, new mediums. If you paint with acrylics then try spray cans. If you draw with pencils then try it with markers. If you only design logos, try doing a tri-fold brochure. The point is to keep moving forward both horizontally and vertically. Or in other words, be an expert in something, but also be well rounded. I promise you it will make you better.

Break the rules. You know how you’re not supposed to use more than 3 fonts in a design? well, that’s not bad advise, but next project say “fuck that!” and use 10! Or here’s a common art school project: try making a piece of art/design that doesn’t use any design elements or principles. Just try it.

Do you normally work in an office or from your living room? Go outside. Go to a coffee shop. Go to the beach. Or the middle of Montana. Change your environment, and it might change your art as well.

So what does it mean to fail in design? I think its anything you can learn from to better your craft, that was created by doing something new. Learning what not to do as much as what to do next time. That can also relate to ideas as much as tangible visuals. That’s not to say we can’t learn from successful pieces that are well crafted and lots of people like. But that often comes from playing it safe and standing close to the status quo. Don’t be boring. Try making something that just makes people say “what the fuck?”.

We can learn a lot from those who come before us, and its important to do so. But at some point we have to take off the training wheels and ride our own path. Be inspired by others, be influenced even, but don’t let others’ style and ideas be your only fuel for creation.  Most importantly, just keep creating. Stop thinking about it and just do the damn thing! That next piece is your ticket to getting better. And you can't get better unless you get to that next piece, so get to it.

San Francisco Punk -- Then and Now, Mostly Then

Reissues outsell new records. That's why shops, mailorders, and labels continually invest in them. People would rather buy something they know is good than something they have to try out. Also, every year there are new folks who are getting excited about these artists for the first time. This summer, reissued works of San Francisco punk from the '70s, '80s, and '90s have brought some long-awaited material back to the public. In this reporter's opinion, there is some seriously good shit to be had.

     In the fall of 1976, a teenaged Penelope Houston left Seattle to enroll at the SF Art Institute, up on the hill in North Beach. By 1977 she was fronting the Avengers, and her shorn blonde hair and leather jacket graced the covers of their records. By the time the band split in 1979, they'd recorded quite a bit of material, but only a single and a 12" EP had appeared. In 1983 the local label CD Presents released a self-titled Avengers LP, with almost all of their recordings. By the time I'd heard of the band, all of this material was out of print. As the years went on a few singles and live recordings appeared. It's only now, at long last,  that the LP has been reissued. Four Men With Beards is doing the vinyl, while Water Records is doing a double-CD version, with live recordings, outtakes, and a comp track--one of their greatest songs, 'Cheap Tragedies,' which appeared on the legendary, long out of print Rat Music For Rat People LP.


       In the winter of 1978, the British group the Sex Pistols played their final shows on an ill-fated American tour, finishing their careers (as did the Beatles) here in San Francisco. A twenty-something Texan, Gary Floyd, was at the show, and he retunred to Austin eager to contribute to the emerging punk scene there. It took too long to form a band, so he flyered the city with posters for non-existent shows featuring his non-existent band, the Dicks. But before long, the band was real. 1980 saw their first single, Dicks Hate the Police, an instant classic reflecting the, uh, tension between good-ol'-boy cops and Texas queers and freaks. In 1982 their first LP, Kill From the Heart, was released on Los Angeles's SST Records. At this time the band relocated to San Francisco, but after a particularly difficult tour the other guys headed back to Texas, leaving Gary to reform the band. This new line-up released the Peace? 7" in '84 and the These People LP in '85. All of this material went out of print, with Kill From the Heart and Dicks Hate the Police commanidng high prices on the collector's market and being repeatedly bootlegged. I'd never heard either LP until Alternative Tentacles reissued both this summer. The CDs contain the 7"s, and 1-2-3-4 Go! also reissued Dicks Hate the Police on vinyl. Kill From the Heart blew my [freakin'] mind--thrashy, bluesy, 90-second (give or take) songs guaranteed to inspire disgust in decent, patriotic people (racist police will be particularly offended.) Now I can see how the greatest punk history website in English was inspired to borrow this LP's title for its name. These People continues the attack, specifically targeting militarism this time, but with less thrash and more rockin' blues. Gary was and remains an incredible performer, so don't miss out when his solo projects perform.

     South Florida, early 1990s--four young men form a band whose name is an obscenity, causing them to sometimes play out under the abbreviated moniker F-Boyz. After a few 7" releases, the band relocated to San Francisco's Mission district. When the singer moved back home, the guitar player, Matty, took over on vocals, and they recorded their final 7",  vs. the Hawaiian Mafia, the title inspired, in what would become a recurring theme, by death threats left on their answering machine. When the bass player left as well, Matty and the drummer, Aesop, recruited a new bassist and formed a new band, Hickey. In the band's first three years they had three 7" EPs, two split 7s", and numerous compilation tracks. In '97 local label Poverty Records compiled all of this, along with unreleased material, as the CD Various States of Disrepair. After Poverty went belly-up, an East Bay concern, S.P.A.M. Records, reissued this disc, and soon they were gone as well. In early 1999 the band went "on hiatus," and while Aesop and Matty played out together and with others in a great many bands, Hickey never performed again. Hickey remained beloved owing to their inspiring songs, relentless touring, and amazing stage presence. Matty died in 2002, and Hickey's music (as well as other work of his) was posted free on a tribute website. A live DVD and a reissue of Various States were oft-rumored, but elusive. Finally, this summer saw Oakland's 1-2-3-4 Go! Records release a remastered CD and double LP reissue, with nine new songs recorded after the first disc had come out. I snatched up a double LP upon its arrival here at our Fiction & Music Annex, and it has yet to leave my turntable. These tracks highlight the range of styles the band had mastered, with catchy, melodic, sing-along numbers; epic, four-minute big-guitar meetings of punk and 70s rock; lazy, ugly dirges; compressed, savage, grating attacks; mellow indie rock... I can't stop singing these songs everywhere I go. Seeing the Hickey heart (their logo) spray-painted or etched in cement (like at Duboce at Church by the outbound train stop and the sidewalk at 9th and Irving) always makes me smile.

     To be fair, though, the greatest punk music is being made now, or at least that's the attitude you gotta have to avoid being a washed-up adult. All of the bands discussed above were very popular in small scenes, but largely unknown to the general public, and so it is with today's most inspiring bands. The easiest way to get a weekly dose of new and old obscurities is to visit a website hosting a weekly radio show recorded in a live/work space here in San Francisco. Maximum Rocknroll is a volunteer-run monthly magazine, thirty years old this month! Ever since day one these kids (in the political sense) have been digging in to the best music they can find from around the world. The radio show started in 1977, preceding the magazine by five years. The over-the-airwaves show died when the guy who dubbed all the tapes in real time to mail to radio stations finally burnt out. With the advent of internet radio, the show was reborn and remains strong as [heck.] The magazine is hella sweet too. Check it out in our Annex.      .   

A coupla apples

It's been a while since we last updated our loyal readers (there are a few of you, right?) on the further adventures of our subscription plan, The Apple-a-Month Club. Although the last two installments have gone unreported, I can assure you that the program continues on, with your intrepid professionals scouring the latest and best fiction (and just to be complete, some of the not-best fiction, too) to dig up a book sure to delight, provoke, or otherwise entertain our subscribers.

If our reaction to the last two Apple-a-Month books is any indication, we think that our 8th and 9th books in the subscription plan are two of the strongest titles yet. Without any further ado, then, here's what we have to say about June's selection, Crusoe's Daughter:

"It's been a long time since I've been as surprised and utterly charmed by a novel as I was by Crusoe's Daughter. At once a masterfully written portrait of early twentieth century England and a fun story full of endlessly complex characters, Crusoe's Daughter begins with young orphan Polly Flint arriving at a strange yellow house on the moors which is inhabited by an even stranger pair of aunts. Through two World Wars, a bizarre stint at a mysterious home for artists on the verge of nervous breakdown, the lives and deaths of many of her loved ones and her own rather drastic ups and downs, Polly keeps close her beloved copy of Robinson Crusoe, which she considers her guidebook to all things. With nods Dickens and Charlotte Bronte (and the constant presence of Defoe) but with a wit and voice of her own, Jane Gardham weaves a remarkable tale of a life -- inner, outer, and all the intersections therein."

In July, we chose a novel translated from the French, Marie Chaix's Laurels of Lake Constance (trans. by Harry Mathews):

"History, we all know, is written by winners. Marie Chaix's  novel shows the flip-side of that well-worn axiom, offering a poignant account of a man (a fictionalized version of her father) who made a disastrously wrong choice and, as a consequence, ended up on the side of the losers. It's a novel about war, politics, and family. Even more, it's about distance: the distance between heartfelt conviction and the practical application of those convictions; the distance between members of a family; and perhaps most achingly, the insurmountable distances borne of war."

If either of these (or any of our previous selections) intrigue you enough to join our club for 3, 6, or 12 months, visit our subscription page or call us at the store (415-387-2272) or, hey, come on by! We like visitors.