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Funbag

Hoodie Addiction Is Real And Also Not My Fault

2:05 PM EST on December 5, 2023

Bill Belichick wearing a hoodie
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about microwaves, blitzes, clown suits, and more.

Your letters:

Steve:

You're a hoodie guy. You've noted that you own many. I also enjoy the ability to go hood-up and block out minor annoyances, and they are so damn cozy! The question is: when has a hoodie lived out its life in your rotation? When the edges are frayed and it is losing threads bodily? What about when the printing has all but worn away or the inside has become a pilled hell? Do you ever toss one? Related: Pullovers or zip-ups?

Steve, I get rid of hoodies when either my wife gets sick of me wearing the same one repeatedly (this area of fatigue is a frequent experience for her), when I somehow pit them out (this also happens with alarming regularity), or when I buy/receive another hoodie that I find even cozier. Back in October, my sister got me a UA hoodie with a fleecy lining for my birthday. This was an upgrade from the everyday hoodies I’d been wearing before that, so I looked up the product number on the new hoodie’s tag and bought a few more in different colors. And I always rock a full zip hoodie. I need layers that I can shed easily, and then put back on just as easily. Call it a tic.

But let’s blow this out a bit. I said I’d talk about my hoodie addiction when I had no other ideas to write about. Well guess what, kids? Today is that intellectually barren day, and of course I’m wearing a hoodie for it. I wear a hoodie every day, everywhere I go. I work in my hoodie. I eat in my hoodie. I nap in my hoodie. I even have a collection of SUMMER hoodies, made of very thin material, that I wear even when it’s 90 degrees outside. If I’m not wearing a hoodie, it’s because my wife and I have to attend a funeral. The second we’re back from that service, off goes the coat and tie and I’m right back in Hoodieland. I won’t wear anything else. My mom has bought me a lot of nice sweaters over a lot of recent Christmases. I wear them about once a year. She might as well have bought me a bunny costume.

I know this is a problem. I’m a 47-year-old professional. I should dress in accordance with both my age and my standing, regardless of whether I’m at home or at an arraignment. Also, my wife would kill to see me in a different silhouette, any different silhouette.

And so would I. I don’t wanna look like a schlub every day, so I went to the department store this fall to break the streak and buy a new load of daily outerwear, sans hoodies.

I came back with two hoodies.

This is because a hoodie is a perfect garment. It’s warm. It protects me, a fair-skinned lad, from the sun’s lethal UV rays. When my hood is down, it offers modest (and now required) neck support when I’m sitting in my recliner. And when the hood is up, it shields the microphone on my hearing aid from the racket of a passing wind blowing directly into it. Can an Oxford shirt do any of those things? It cannot. This is why hoodies have been in fashion for the entirety of this century. Once people like me discovered hoodies, we became unable to wean ourselves off of them.

And you know who’s to blame? Not me, because I kick ass. No, I blame BIG FASHION for failing to provide a better, more attractive option. Because the state of high fashion right now in this country is fucking appalling:

You’re shitting me, right? This looks like fucking dress-up time at my wife’s preschool. Compared to this, I look like Robespierre in my stupid hoodie. I need all of our top designers in Paris, Milan, and Cody, Wyoming to show some goddamn VISION, and I need our celebrities to do likewise. Lady Gaga used to show up to awards show in a meat dress and now she’s hawking migraine pills. Chris Pine gets “what a fit!” praise for showing up to a premiere with a bad dye job and clothes that he bought at an estate sale. Jonah Hill dresses like a college kid with a gambling problem. Where is the leadership here? The only time I get inspiring fashion statements now is when an NFL or NBA player is walking off the bus. Otherwise, NOTHING.

As you may have surmised, I have no fashion sense of my own. I need to be told what to wear and how to wear it, and I shouldn’t have to look to fucking Zuck for that guidance. So get off your ass, Michael Kors, and get back into that design studio. I want comfort and I wanna look hot. You’ve got one year and a budget of $500 million to make it work.

Matt:

What's the point in NFL teams still having cheerleaders? Does anyone pay attention?

Horny guys still pay attention, yes. Not me, though. I disapprove of NFL cheerleaders and am disgusted whenever they grace my TV screen. I never, EVER surreptitiously go back 30 seconds in the broadcast to check them out if I’ve accidentally skipped past them appearing on the telecast out of the commercial break. That would be super cringe and a betrayal of my core values. I don’t want cheerleaders exploited, and so, on principle, I refuse to find them super duper hot.

Peter:

After your accident, how long were you able to play the “I almost died” sympathy card? I feel like I would have only gotten a couple weeks post hospital with the wife, a couple months with the kids and it would still work on my mother.

Today actually marks the five-year anniversary of the brain hemorrhage that almost killed me and put me in a coma for two weeks. I’m in a much better place these days, but it took years of not only assessing the long-term wreckage from the accident, but also treating it properly. I didn't start going to therapy until 2020, and I didn’t get on the right anti-anxiety meds until this year. Prior to that, I had a good number of anger issues.

So yes, I played the “I almost died” card a lot in the wake of my TBI, but more as a weapon than anything else. If my wife or kids set me off, I’d use it to guilt trip them. “I almost died, you know.” Given that I was unconscious for the worst part of my accident, and given that I was wielding my near-death out of spite, playing that card was not only unfair, but cruel.

My wife, to her credit, never took the bait. She treated me like the unreasonable asshole I was being, and I haven’t played that card in years because of it. I’m not special. It’s great that I’m still here, but that doesn’t mean I get to lord that fact over people I care about. The people you love most are the ones who see through all of that cheap bravado and demand that you be better, for their sake and your own. I had to learn that the hard way.

I could still probably play the death card on my mom and have it work, though. She’s a softie like that.

Charlie:

"Christmas with the Devil" aside, why can't we have a sincere metal, indie rock, or punk Christmas song? Why is the only good Christmas rap song from the '80s? I know the songs are kitschy and cute, but something modern could make people happy.

Because Christmas music is its own distinct genre. The best modern Christmas songs—“All I Want For Christmas Is You,” “Underneath The Tree”—work within that genre instead of trying to break free of it. You need jingling bells. You need bright, cheesy lyrics. You need either a big band sound (even “Christmas In Hollis” uses a festive horn sample) or solemn church energy in the background. All of that shit appeals to listeners young and old, and all of it is what makes a Christmas song a Christmas song. It’s also why “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bell Rock” do not rock. Stray too far from the formula and your song won’t have enough of that nebulous Christmas spirit. It’ll just be novelty song bullshit.

Also, the barrier for entry into the Christmas song canon should be high. We’re talking about songs that people like me not only listen to every year, but WANT to listen to every year. It’s not easy to make a song that passes that kind of test, and it would be unpleasant if they let just any shitty attempt by like The Lumineers to into the rotation. We already have enough interlopers like “Wonderful Christmastime” in the mix; we shouldn’t have more of them. Christmas songs need to be timeless, which is why “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” fucking blows. That shit was funny once, mister radio deejay. Once.

Shane:

In dystopian movies/shows that feature people killing each other on television (Squid Game, The Hunger Games, The Running Man), the shows are ratings juggernauts and all anyone talks about. Let’s say society stops teasing around and goes all in on the first legalized Hunger Games. How do you think it would fair in the ratings? I think that the initial buzz around it would be massive, but after that fervor has died down, people find out that watching crap. In comparison, people still tune into “Survivor” because it’s comfort food and the dynamics can be interesting between the people. 

No one would watch that shit. I think the failure of Power Slap made that evident, but I also think you understand this innately. No one likes to watch snuff films. Now that Henry Kissinger is dead, no one jacks off to footage of war atrocities being committed. I’ll happily watch people getting killed in movies and video games, but I’m also the kid who was terrified of the Faces of Death VHS box every time he went to the video store. Shock docs like that, fake or not, made me instinctively recoil, as it did millions of other people.

And you might say to me, “Yeah Drew, but you watch football.” But death isn’t the point of football. In fact, I watch risky stuff like that to see those guys avoid dying on the field. It’s football players’ ability to survive the game, at least in the immediate, that provides the thrill. You only need to go back a year in time to the Damar Hamlin game to know how unappealing the show becomes when actual death is on the table. No one in the crowd wanted that game to continue, because they were human. We’re a species that’s just fine with mass killing when it’s one degree removed from us, but put it in our faces and suddenly we remember that we don’t care for death in the slightest. I know I don’t. I already died once. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

HALFTIME!

Jack:

Let’s say there was an outfit you could wear that would keep you at your desired temperature no matter how hot or cold it was outside, but it was a clown outfit. And if you wanted your face protected you would need to put on the full clown face paint as well. Would you wear it? Even to work?

No, because then I wouldn’t get to wear my hoodie.

More to the point, I like dressing for the season. When summer ends, I get excited for Pant Season. When winter ends, I get excited to bust out the gams and parade around in my finest cargo shorts. The way I dress informs my mood, and likely yours. So it’s fun to have the calendar turn over and be able to wear shit that I haven’t been able to wear in months. Sometimes I dress wrong for the weather and pay the price, but am I not already coddled enough living in a climate-controlled home, shopping in climate-controlled malls, and driving around in a climate-controlled car? It’s okay to endure the consequences of the elements on occasion. It can even be invigorating. What fun would it be to go sledding in my magic clown suit and not feel the winter wind lash at my cheeks? No fun at all, I tell you.

Plus, I’d look like a dipshit.

Peter:

Not to be all Easterbrook here but is the Cover 0 blitz on 3rd or 4th and long the stupidest defensive play? It’s the end zone fade of defensive calls. Coaches that call it should be immediately fired regardless of outcome.

Well, my team just blew a game when they did NOT blitz on third and long in the waning seconds. Not to Back To The Vikings this question, but my teams serves as a useful example here because Minnesota blitzed less frequently than just about any other team a season ago. They played a Cover 2 shell on every down and gave offenses a free 10-yard gain on just about every play. Fast forward to this season, with Brian Flores as the new defensive coordinator. No team blitzes MORE than these Vikings. In the process, and with nearly the same group of players, they’ve gone from 31st in yards allowed in 2022 to 13th this season. At the same time, no team drops eight men into coverage more often than Flores’s defense, either.

So blitz-or-don’t-blitz isn’t a binary thing. You have to time your blitzes correctly, and you have to disguise them with even greater precision. If you’re a fan like me, you’ve screamed at your team to blitz anytime they’ve failed to mount a decent pass rush, and then screamed "WHY DID YOU BLITZ?" whenever they’ve gotten burned. I’ve seen teams bring the house in big moments and have it pay off. I’ve also seen that same call fail, and to great comic effect. Some of it is coaching, some of it is execution, and some of it is dumb luck. If your DC is Gregg Williams, it’s usually all three.

Matthew:

We religiously microwave our dinner plates so that we don't put hot food on cold plates, which results in the occasional quizzical look from dinner guests. Sometimes this exchange devolves into, "Yeah, we don't own a microwave" to which I deem is batshit insane. How is one supposed to efficiently heat up soup and leftovers and such? Are we at the death's door of BIG MICROWAVE?

As long as college kids and bachelors exist, we will always have microwaves. Sometimes you get a performative Luddite like Tim Marchman who doesn’t own a microwave on principle and, in fact, will tell you that they’re not good for anything. “We don’t miss it at all!” is almost always the subsequent talking point to the declaration that you don’t own a microwave/TV/air conditioner. But people like that are few and far in between. Total microwave oven sales in the US this year are expected to near $2 billion. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Nor should they. I’d never ditch our microwave. Most food and drink tastes better reheated in the oven or on the stovetop, but that requires time and doing extra dishes. The microwave eliminates both of those things, which can be of vital service to working parents, hungry kids, and the terminally lazy. That’s why you still see a microwave in nearly every American kitchen, and why people who don’t own one are weird and annoying.

One thing I don’t do, though, is nuke my plate when it’s bare. When I was young, my mom would briefly put the dinner plates in the oven before a fancy meal. One time, I touched one of those plates without realizing she’d preheated it. Burned like a motherfucker. That scared me off of ever doing it myself, be it in a microwave oven or a conventional one. Not worth endangering my precious fingers for it.

But I do prep my coffee by nuking the milk before pouring the coffee into my cup. That keeps it hotter than the sun.

Justin:

I am someone whose happiness is always six months behind him. In my day-to-day life, I feel frustration, boredom, anxiety, etc. But in six months I will look back upon this period with nostalgia, and only remember the best parts. There are other people out there, I believe, whose happiness is always six months (or more) ahead of them, and that's what compels them in their day to day. How do I reach the perfect balance and feel nostalgic for now? Sorry if this one is depressing... just firing one out there into the universe to see what comes back. 

Your problem is hardly uncommon. In fact, it’s the basis for the entire Hold Steady song catalog. You live through bad times, you let time pass, you launder your memories through the sepia-toned prism of nostalgia, and then you feel better about your life. This is completely natural. It’s also why pop culture this century has consisted largely of recycled children’s programming.

As Jason England wrote here a few months ago, “Nostalgia is history without moral reckoning. That’s precisely its appeal.” That can be true on a personal level as well as a cultural one. The reason you can’t find satisfaction in the now is likely because you are unhappy. You said so yourself. You feel frustrated, bored, anxious, etc. So, if we go by what England wrote, you need to reckon with whatever is making you all of those things right now. Maybe it’s your job. Maybe it’s your family. Maybe you’ve got money issues. Maybe it’s another thing. I can’t know, but I do know that while doing the dirty work of addressing whatever problems you have is a daunting prospect, it will ultimately prove rewarding if you do it.

I know this firsthand thanks to my TBI recovery. It took fucking years to get to where I am now. But the alternative would’ve been staying angry and remaining incapable of dealing with my problems in the now. That’s probably why I listened to so much Skid Row during that stretch. Nostalgia is a comforting mirage, and a distraction from putting in the effort to make yourself truly happy.

So get to work, Justin. I’m pulling for you.

Kristopher:

When I’m in bed, starting to drift off to sleep, and my mind is in wind down mode and in a (hopefully) pleasant and relaxing train of thought, I’ll change my body position and completely lose what I had been thinking about. It's gone without a trace, and I'm aware it's gone. The relaxing, lulling reverie has disappeared and all of a sudden I'm more awake, grasping to retrieve it. I've never heard this discussed and wonder if it's because it's not common, or if it's a phenomenon we all have forgotten when back in waking life. I'd be interested if this is a typical thing that you also experience.

I don’t have quite that same experience, but of course I lose half-dreams if something stirs me. That is common. In my case, what usually happens is that I’m drifting off to sleep, and suddenly I’m having an express dream where I’m falling or in some other kind of danger. The second I make impact with the ground/wall/punch, I wake up with a little shout. Then I think to myself, “Damn that was freaky!” and close my eyes again. It’s weird, and it only happens early into the night. But I don’t sweat it. We all have our sleeping tics.

This is where I have to inform you, Kristopher, that everyone in the comments section will suggest that you get tested for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is the No. 1 unofficial diagnosis of all armchair doctors online. But I don’t have sleep apnea. I just have heart disease and brain damage, that’s all.

Aaron:

I'm visiting NYC from a Midwestern city and I'm not doing a great job at navigating the subway. I've been other places like Chicago and had no problem, but NYC's system makes no sense to me so far. For example getting on the correct train to a south Brooklyn neighborhood involved following inlaid tile work that said "Manhattan" with an arrow pointing up the stairs. On that train there was a painting of a baseball game and I said to my partner, "Why are the guys on the same team wearing different color jerseys?" They replied, "I think they are supposed to represent all the different color subway lines." Is it really that complicated or am I just some dumb hick? 

I have a story of my own NYC subway idiocy to tell in a moment, but lemme address Aaron’s problem first. It’s not that taxing figure out the subway in NYC if you have a little practice. You need to have the map open on your phone. You need to know your boroughs, you need to know uptown (that’s due north) from downtown (that’s due south), and you need to know which trains are local and which are express. A lot of trains are named after their final stop on the line, so sometimes you have to double check the map to see in which direction that final stop is located. Then you have to check to see if you have to switch trains at one of the connecting stops (Times Square, etc). This is forbidding if it’s your first trip, but you eventually get the hang of it.

You should also be aware that the New York City subway has a fun habit of shutting down and/or switching entire lines at random. You also never know if the train you’re on will suddenly decide to skip the station you were hoping to get off at. That’s Eric Adams working his magic.

As for me, I went to New York a few months ago and spent a solid 10 minutes fighting with a busted Metrocard machine before jumping the turnstile like a common THUG. When I told the staff about my issues trying to buy a Metrocard, they told me that you don’t need a Metrocard anymore; you can just tap your phone or credit card at the turnstile now to pay and enter. I am a fucking dunce.

Email of the week!

Steve:

Artists should get just one chance to release a self-titled album, and only for their very first album. After that, you have to get more creative. And yet, there are so many established bands self-titling way down the line. Cold War Kids just released their tenth album and called it, "Cold War Kids." Are bands just sitting around asking each other what they want to call their next album and someone is like, "Always thought our band name was pretty cool." And the rest of the band is like, "Yeah, let's go with that"?

I’m also bored by eponymous album titles, but I understand why bands choose them, especially deep into their careers. If you’re an established band, the thrill of naming an album has diminished thanks to your previous efforts. You fought with each other over what to name your last album. You fought with your producer. You fought with your label. At a certain point, you can’t be bothered to put in the effort anymore, so you self-title album No. 8 and tell the press, “We felt like this one really embodied what Gorilla Maxwell is all about.” This bores me as a consumer. But if the album in question kicks a whole lot of ass, I’m always willing to forgive.

I do like Steve’s rule, though. Cold War Kids should let me name their next album. My suggestion: Tear Down These Balls.

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