No Sports Sports Review: Bethlehem Steel FC Becomes Philadelphia Union II (Yawn).

This is one in series of quick takes on various logo updates for 2020. No one has the energy for clever deep dives right now, myself included. So I try to get right to the point.

This one is a little personal for me. Union II was, until last year, a new iteration of Bethlehem Steel FC. I live in the Lehigh Valley, and Bethlehem Steel, the company (which officially closed in 1996) remains iconic in local and American history even now. In its heyday, it employed thousands and thousands of locals, pumped out steel that helped win WWII and build the Golden Gate Bridge. It also sponsored the original Bethlehem Steel FC, a legendary club from the days of the professional industrial leagues. My great-grandfather worked for Bethlehem rival American Steel (owned by JP Morgan) and was, himself, an industrial league semi-professional athlete. Family legend says he once out-pitched Satchel Paige in a barnstormer, and I’ve decided to take that as fact.

Anyway, I’m not a huge soccer fan, but am I huge mark for anything historical. I liked having the Bethlehem Steel FC iconography revived, and I thought the team’s logo was good. It incorporated the classic Steel imagery with the Union’s excellent snake.

Here are the reasons for the team’s departure. It’s a bummer, especially considering that the Lehigh Valley metro is, according to many metrics, able to support an MLS team of its own.

As for the new logo of the rebranded squad, meh. It’s just a rehash of the Union’s (very fine) visual identity.

The End of the Cold War as Summated by “Brands of the World”

When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything: the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks. – Fight Club

We all know that companies (and specifically, the economic polices set forth by mercantilism) played a huge part in the founding of European America.  It’s probably safe to assume with The Narrator that when they run out of stadiums, giant companies will, indeed, have a hand in naming the stars in the next push of industrial expansion.  Behold, friends, The Facebook Nebula.

There’s a reason “branding” has become such a ubiquitous noun-verb in recent years, and it’s obviously tied to our increasing consumption of dynamic visual media.  In a nifty meta-critical move, sites like Brand New and Brands of the World help we consumerist natives remember our lives in corporate logos even as they help curate (you knew it was coming) good and bad design features from which emerging and veteran creatives can draw inspiration or caution.

I’m working on a new infographic for the blog that I hope to put up later today.  During my research, I was struck by the succinct political history implicit in what’s going on here:

Put your shoe on, Nikita.


Considered in light of the grist-milling  Soviet system, “designer: unknown” and “contributor: unknown” become rather chilling political statements.  “Status: Obsolete” heralds the world we still live in:  Soviet weapons and technology still unaccounted for, Soviet scientists still off the grid, regional economies still shaky, but also millions and millions of people more free; in some places, truly, in others by comparison and in degree.  Imperfect, even dangerous as all of this is, we’re reminded again and again that people cognizant of their dignity as human beings will rise to demand that dignity recognized, that sovereignty civilly reckoned with if not yet fully honored.

The CCCP’s obsolescence was as far from inevitable as is the rise of true freedom in Russia even now.  Consider all that remains to be seen as revolution moves through North Africa and possibly beyond.  We have seen freedom ramp up, and if and when it coalesces into free societies and governments, it will be the people that name everything: Free Egypt, Free Tunisia, Free Libya.  Free Iran. What might these emerging societies teach us about our own bondage to the Dutch West India Companies of our day, and to entrenched political attitudes that keep us from the business of prudent, engaged, informed civil life? Might this be the end of the world as we know it?  Let’s hope.


Martian Starbucks by firexbrat via Flickr.