There are fewer more distressing sights than that
Of an Englishman in a baseball cap.
—The Libertines, “Time for Heroes”
When I was in college I spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The guys I hung out with were from all across the British Isles, and I was impressed and sometimes intimidated by their classical education. Dudes could quote whole passages of Shakespeare and Milton like it was nothing. Over pints we would often get into discussions about American culture, or the lack thereof. Fuckers turned me from an Anglophile into a true blue patriot. My main comebacks were always: jazz, rock and roll, and hip hop. I was right, of course, but since I’d never been taught the formal principles of logic, the Brits usually won the argument. But I was right. And their Levis agreed with me.
During my breaks, I travelled extensively albeit aimlessly around the U.K. and Ireland. I had a lot of amazing experiences but was often disappointed by the gross Americanization of the cities. McDonald’s was everywhere (even if they made you pay extra for “tomato sauce”). So our culture, for good or ill, had inarguably spread across the sea.
It was obvious everybody wanted to look American. Jeans, Nikes, Sub Pop t-shirts, etc. But, as with paying 15p for a packet of ketchup, even the best imitators were just a little off. The craziest thing I ever saw was a jacket on an older man on the street. To this day I wish I had gotten a photo of it. It was a black varsity jacket that said “New York Yankees” across the back. Under that was a football helmet. The helmet was emblazoned with the confederate flag.
Think about how wrong that is for a minute. Talk about Engrish!
Anyway, the thing that got me thinking about this was the Kraftwerk feature in the recent issue of MOJO magazine. The interviewer meets Ralf Hütter backstage and notes that he is wearing “black Converse baseball boots.”
He means Chuck Taylors, of course. The classic Converse All-Star high-top. Rolled out in 1917 for basketball players.
Baseball boots? It’s just too wrong to let slide.
But it’s ubiquitous overseas. Google returns about 203,000 results for the phrase “Converse baseball boots.”
Where did they come up with baseball? On the one hand, this might just be cultural since many Americans refer to all “athletic” footwear as “tennis shoes.” Minus the “boot” part, I guess using “tennis shoes” generically is equally incorrect. Come to think of it, “sneakers” and “gym shoes” aren’t particularly accurate either.
But come on. Baseball boots? That’s fucked up.