The first International Break of the season is one of the longest weekends of the year. Yes, we get to watch the United States play a pair of games against Peru [TONIGHT at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1] and Brazil [Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2]. Games that we will play down the significance of, unless Bobby Wood nets a couple of late winners, in which case, we will willfully read far too much into both of them.
Yet the narrative, the sweet Premier League narrative on which we are hooked, is on sudden pause. The turbulent drama at Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho floundering, John Terry in precipitous decline, Cesc and Matic having misplaced their mojo, is suspended, as if frozen in time. The torture of Eva Carneiro is fogging in my memory to the extent I am not quite sure whether it took place this season or last. It even feels like Anthony Martial signed for Manchester United so long ago that he surely must have gone through puberty by now, surrounded, as he is, by Louis Van Gaal’s attempts to live out the Emperor’s New Clothes fable at Old Trafford.
How to get through the weekend? Savor those last moments of seersucker, linen, and any white fabric against your flesh one more time. Tell someone you love them. Watch some MLS. Savor some NWSL. Use the time to make multiple token gestures to those you love. You can call in those favors next weekend when the Premier League returns with a vengeance: Everton cling on for dear life against Chelsea in El Blazerico; two traditional powerhouses square off -- Crystal Palace hosting Manchester City in a clash of second and first place teams in which Rog’s presence will surely curse the Eagles; and then United and Liverpool flounder around like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.
Some good news: the International Break spares you from our television show next week. We return with our Rosh Hashanah Special Monday, September 14 at our regular time of 11 p.m. ET with special guest Rabbi Kyle Martino. We’d like to thank “Transporter Refueled” star Ed Skrein for joining us in the Panic Room this week to talk his beloved Liverpool, being confused for Martin Skrtel in a restaurant and, naturally, Filipino stick fighting.
This week’s full episode is available HERE.
This week’s After the Pies Digital Extra with Ed Skrein is available HERE.
Slide Into Seersucker (for the final time this year (Sigh)),
On behalf of
“Positive” Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly
Producer Lexi: @lexitan
While we lament the lack of Premier League football this weekend, our spirits are buoyed by the fact that BlazerCon is just more than two months away (Nov. 13 and 14 in Brooklyn). The notion of so many GFOPs travelling across the country to be together warms our cockles. We have some big news about the event we plan to announce next week. And please keep your feedback coming. Thus far, GFOPs have sent in some magic ideas. We particularly enjoyed a Raven from Ryan Becker.
Ryan Writes: A lot of people who attend Comic-Con dress up as their favorite cartoon, movie character, anime character, etc. as part of the event. My question for BlazerCon is this: too keep in spirit of Comic-Con, what type of outfit would you wear for attendance?
On this week’s Pod, Davo floated the idea of dressing as Marouane Fellaini with Jack Wilshere nibbling on his nipple. He also announced a prize for his favorite costume: the best bottle of bourbon he can get his hands on. Disclaimer: it will be tough to get Pappy Van Winkle now that Chelsea have signed him.
BlazerCon tickets and all information is available HERE.
II. A USMNT Flashback Friday
As we mentioned above, we are just hours from the Von Trapps tilt with Peru at Washington, DC’s RFK Stadium. We have a Raven we’ve been saving for such an occasion. It comes from GFOP Tim Morris of Metuchen, N.J. Tim owns a piece of American soccer history. Twenty years ago, his parents purchased him what has become football’s equivalent of Betsy Ross’ flag. That sweet faux denim 1994 USA World Cup strip. Tim donned it almost 21 years ago when he went as Alexis Lalas for Halloween. And, despite the jersey's slightly snugger fit, he still wears it to matches today. At this summer’s Gold Cup tie against Haiti, Tim tells us he was offered $400 for the strip from a fellow supporter. Alas, Tim turned it down saying, “I’d sooner part with a kidney. At least I have a spare.”
III. Gomis’ Goal Celebration, As Explained By a GFOP
Late last night we received a Raven that caught our eye. GFOP Jeff Ives is a massive fan of AS Saint-Étienne, the French club at which Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis broke through. According to Jeff, Gomis’ patented panther goal celebration stems from his days with Les Verts.
One of the greatest players in the club’s history is Malian striker Salif Keita, who banged in 125 goals in 149 appearances for the team. His nickname: The Panther. (Little known fact: Keita also spent time in the NASL with the New England Tea Men.)
Since Keita’s days, Saint-Étienne has embraced the panther as a club symbol. Jeff passed along THIS Tifo from a Saint-Étienne Lyon game as proof. And since the Keita-era, a number Les Verts players have paid tribute to the Panther, including Brazilian striker Alex Diaz, who dropped to his knees and did the celebration after banging in four goals against Marseille in 2000. Four years later, Gomis broke into the Saint-Étienne team and continued the tradition. And thus, one of the Premier League’s most unique and most frequent goal celebrations is explained.
IV. Celebrating Baldness
GFOP Ian Wright (not THAT Ian Wright) Writes: I'm a bald. The moment I realized there were problems in Sector 1, I shaved it all. Recently I have been overwhelmed with life and not found the time, so I now have the pronounced baldness. I have started to think about NOT shaving it and going full on celebration of being a bald rather than accepting and minimizing its aesthetic impact. Any thoughts on a movement for balds not just accept the balding, but to relish and highlight it once again?
Rog Writes: Ian. This thinking is an inversion of an inversion of an inversion. It makes my tiny brain hurt. Yet, if I understand it, I think it might shed some important light on what is going on inside the mind of Steve McClaren.
V. Justin Wilson Memorial Fund
We dedicated last week’s Pod to Justin Wilson, the IndyCar driver who died after he was struck in the head by a piece of debris at Pocono Raceway. IndyCar’s “Gentle Giant” is survived by his wife Julia and daughters, seven-year-old Jane and five-year-old Jessica. The team at Dale Coyne Racing has set up a fund for Jane and Jessica.
Team representative Trevor Moore wrote to us after we talked about Justin on the pod, saying, “Most don't realize that despite the inherent danger IndyCar drivers take, many are paid less in a year than Falcao's weekly wage warming the bench for Chelsea or United.”
They are accepting donations HERE.
VI. A Literary XI
A patch is on the way to Johnny Wright from Portland, Ore., an erudite GFOP who sent us his All Literary Football Club. It’s a 4-3-3 (and subs) that exclusively features literary giants:
GK Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Nothing gets by that man.
LB Raymond Chandler - Rangy. Raw, stripped down play, just like he wrote his dialogue.
CB Agatha Christie - A crafty tackler and tough broad. Doesn’t even wear shinguards.
CB Ernest Hemingway - Papa was tough as nails and would stop anybody. He wears the captain’s armband. And leads the clubs in yellow cards.
RB Chuck Palahniuk - A gritty and no-holds-barred style of defender. Little bit of a lunatic.
LM Stephen King - He never runs out of ideas. Inspires fear in opponents.
CM George Orwell - He can foresee what is going to happen in the match with eerie accuracy and predict just where to put the ball. Listen to his warnings about the opposition’s attacks.
RM Robert Louis Stevenson - We need a Scot on the club, that mustache is intimidating, and he would be more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll on the pitch.
LW Bill Shakespeare - An elegant, beautiful player. Though somewhat selfish on who gets credit for goals.
Striker Hunter S. Thompson - He’s a crazy risk-taker with no fear. (Or loathing.) An aggressive and attacking scorer. Doc might be seeing three balls, but he can kick the one in the middle.
RW Harper Lee - She may only give you one great goal, but it will be a classic.
Subs: J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and Jules Verne - Come off the bench to provide prolific creativity.
A nice amalgam of steel and skill in that side. If we were to make any adjustments, we might play Charles Dickens as a deep-sitting midfielder. Sees the entire field. Casts a wide net. Capable of cheek, but picks his spots. And, Toni Morrison would certainly be a fan favorite with an uncanny ability to elicit emotion. Send us your Literary XI via RAVEN. A patch to our favorite.
VII. The Bridge Between Seersucker and Corduroy, From Our Tailors at Freemans
Labor Day marks the end of seersucker season. And while we very much look forward to cutting to corduroy, doing so too soon can be a dangerous game. We asked our tailors at Freemans Sporting Club in NYC to help us mind the gap between two of our favorite fabrics.
Freemans Managing Director Kent Kilroe Writes: The secret to bridging the transition from summer seersucker to fall corduroy is the Kashmir goat. You might not have seen that coming. Well, young Padawan learner, much like the goat itself, cashmere’s anomaly is that it is both elegant and functional. The fineness of the weave makes it warm and breathable. The metaphorical Yin - Yang, Summer - Fall, Wax on - Wax off fiber of the animal kingdom. Choose a lightweight worsted cashmere because it’s woven in a way that makes it almost as durable as Merino wool and it’s less likely to pill. Make sure the jacket is unlined and you are ready for battle. Don’t be afraid of a little color. Everyone likes a man with personality. And remember, Audentes Fortuna luvat – fortune favors the bold.
This issue’s #PatchAtThePark submissions come from Manchester City vs. Watford at the Etihad; New York Red Bulls vs. DC United at Red Bull Arena; UC Irvine vs. Loyola Chicago men’s soccer (love the new Adidas Anteater kits); and the U.S. Open. But our favorite comes from GFOP Chris Haberle, who sent us the below picture of his daughter’s first match, Sounders vs. Timbers.
IX. Vladimir Putin’s $3,200 Workout Threads
We’re just going to leave this RIGHT HERE.
X. Three Questions With Our Proprietor of Pies
Men in Blazers is an operation fueled by pie and Guinness. The reason Rog shuts outs the light at the end of each television show is so he can pocket whatever part of the guest’s pie they’ve not eaten. For a snack later on. Gareth Hughes is the founder of Dub Pies, a New York City-based pie purveyor that we’ve partnered with for BlazerCon. In this issue’s Three Questions we go inside the mind of the Liverpool-born, New Zealand-raised Hughes and ask about pie’s history, its place in football culture, and how he actually gets the science inside each pie.
MiB: Give us your personal story. At what point in life did pie loom so large you knew you wanted to devote yourself to them professionally? #SubmitToPie
Hughes: As a British-born Kiwi I'm the result of two melded pie-centric cultures. The (meat aka savory) pie is king in the UK & New Zealand, so pies have always loomed large for me personally.
My New Zealand master's degree led to recruitment work in the corporate sector and a transfer to the pie-barren culture of the USA in 1996. Green card in hand I made my way from the West Coast to NYC in 2000, working odd jobs - bartending, yellow cab driving - until Sept 11. I then managed a disaster assistance center on Chambers Street for a year before the emotional burnout sent me back to New Zealand to recover. With recovery came the desire to operate my own business, so I looked for New Zealand-based ideas that might transfer well to NYC. While doing this I repeatedly heard the mantra - "do what you're passionate about."
Figuring no-one's more passionate about pies than me and believing NYC deserved pies as part of their food landscape - I did a quick crash-course in pie-making and started the business in NYC at the end of 2003.
MiB: Tell us more about the history of a pie as a food.
Hughes: Ancient Egyptians are credited with creating the first pies. Pie pastry wasn't meant to be eaten then - rather, it was a way to preserve the food inside. The ancient Greeks had pies too, as did the Romans. The Roman Empire brought pies to the UK and the British Empire took pies to the rest of the world. These early pies - particularly the British pie (forbearer of our New Zealand-style pie) - usually had meat-based fillings.
Many countries - particularly the former British Empire - have strong savory pie cultures to this day. It's always seemed odd to many expatriates that the USA doesn't have a strong savory pie tradition and it has always been part of our mission is to change that. One popular theory posits that the success and power of the sugar industry in the USA meant pies were more likely to be made as sweet not savory items - so 'pie' became synonymous with dessert. The evocation of sweetness in the mind of Americans from the very word "pie" has meant that savory pies have - until very recently - remained anathema to American food culture.
MiB: How has the rise of football impacted pie's profile and why do you believe football and pie are as inextricably connected as Hart to Hart?
Hughes: Pies and football are riding the exact same wave crashing down on American popular culture.
It's no coincidence that - as a rapidly increasing number of Americans become aware of the magic and wonder of (British) football, that a rapidly growing number of Americans are becoming conscious of the arrival of the mighty and equally wondrous (savory) pie as a food category in the USA through the valiant efforts of a growing number pie makers nationwide. These two populations are now growing at staggering speeds - but true nirvana lies within the overlap of these two new additions to American culture.
As America's love affair with football finally waxes, more and more followers of the game realize the sweet spot of football fanaticism lies within the British football tradition of eating a pie while watching the game.
It is perhaps a question for all the ages: why are pies and football so inextricably connected? Maybe it's the ease with which one can stand watching a game of footy while holding a beer (or a cup of bovril) in one hand and eating a pie from the other. Maybe it's more simple than that; we all deserve beauty in our lives - football is beautiful, pies are beautiful.
MiB: What is the little known secret to master pie baking?
Hughes: Competition is a good thing and from the bottom of our hearts we really, really want more pie makers to come and play with us here in the USA. We'll even help. Newcomers just need to ask and we'll share all sorts of information - but we aren't going to share our hard-earned pie-making secrets here, sorry.
MiB: What kind of pie sounds terrible, but is unbelievably good and should be tasted by all?
Hughes: We object to the premise of your question and we prefer to not answer hypothetical questions. No pie sounds terrible.
XI. A Guinness Advert From the Vault
The GFOPs at Guinness recently unearthed a series of decades old ads that show the sweet nectar’s connection to football. In this issue, we hop in the George Michael Sports Machine and travel back to 1951 when the below beauty graced football grounds around Britain.
XII. Passing Time in the CPOS
A look at what we're watching, listening to online.
Polygraph uses Spotify in an effort to determine the most timeless songs of all time. We’ve spent hours with THIS.
A gallery of photographs that shows an England that “no longer exists” on CNN. VIEW HERE
Gatorade’s latest “Win From Within” ad featuring Serena Williams #emotional WATCH HERE
BloodBlitz Comedy’s Game of Thrones parody: If Joffrey Was The Hero WATCH HERE
XIII. A Book for Your Library, If You Still Read
John Niven’s “Kill Your Friends” is a Men in Blazers favorite. Davo loves it so much, he put it in the Amazon Emporium this week … for the second time. It’s also an upcoming film, featuring this week’s MiB television show guest, Ed Skrein. You can view the trailer HERE.
XIV. A Poem To Gird Your Loins
In honor of a series of Premier League sides that are overachieving right now. May your dreams remain unmarred.
Let Me Not Mar That Perfect Dream
by Emily Dickinson
Let me not mar that perfect Dream
By an Auroral stain
But so adjust my daily Night
That it will come again.
Not when we know, the Power accosts --
The Garment of Surprise
Was all our timid Mother wore
At Home -- in Paradise.
XV. "Plumb our Annals”
You can watch entire episodes of our crap television show on our NBCsports.com page. Video highlights of the show are available HERE. And digital extras, including our After the Pies interviews, are available HERE. Our entire pod archive is available HERE. If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal,” Vol. I (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play) and Vol. II - The Best of 2014 (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play). The albums are the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews.
Please forward this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.
“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”