At the wake of my late coach Trent Richards, whose funeral will be this morning, I was walking through the photo displays and noticed a race brochure with a familiar logo on it. I burst out laughing, which is not the appropriate thing to do at most funerals, and bent over to take a photo of the race brochure. Here’s what it looks like.
Now there’s a lot of things wrong with this logo. It’s busy as hell for one thing. And it’s rather sexist to boot. But in 1981, this is the kind of thing that was used to market races.
I have to laugh at the beer can holding the gun, a little tipsy to boot. And the beer cans in general. What a hoot. And decent hooters, let’s admit that much. It was 1981. The Hooters restaurants would come into being only two years later in Clearwater, Florida. So I was leveraging the mood of the times.
My friend Trent Richards was race director that day. Hence the contract to design the race brochure and logo. I can tell you that this was done entirely by hand. The drawing was sketched out in pencil and inked in by pen. Then I used a graphic material called PressType to lay in all the words. By hand. Letter by letter.
This was tedious work, and lots of things could go wrong. It was pretty easy to run out of certain letters when using PressType. When that happened, one had to improvise and create letters out of less common letters on the sheet. More than once during my graphics career from 1980 through 1984, I’d be up late at night doing logos or brochures and be forced to create a new “e” from a “c” and an “h.” This involved tight and dedicated pressure with a tool that looked like a cross between a plastic fork and a vibrator. It came to a point that could be used to press type into place. Hence the name.
You’ll have to pardon me for the flag the comely young gal is holding. “I went all the way!” is most definitely 80s-style humor. One must recall that shows like Three’s Company made jokes like that all the time. I was instructed to do the same. “Come up with something sexy,” was the instruction given by the race committee.
Okay, maybe it’s not that sexy. But you know, I did know how to draw a hot chick in my day. That hair. That kitty cat face. Pure 80s kitsch.
As for the race itself, it featured plenty of beer just like it says. And some dope decided that it would be a smart thing to drink a bunch of that beer before the race even got started. We found him on his back in a soggy ditch. His tongue was thick and clogging his throat. The combination of a hot day and all that beer in his system had caused him to faint. We later learned he may have experienced liver failure of some sort. Thankfully, he did not die.
But that was the last year they held the race. Probably the organizers realized that a promotion that combines so much beer and running in the early summer heat was a bad idea. Which makes me think strange thoughts every time I read about these races where people drink beer and run. it sounds fun, but it’s a really, really bad idea.
Still, the innocence of those days when everything was everything brings back some nostalgia. Everything was over the top if you could do it. And everything was fair game if you could promote it. Remember Reagan was President and a wave of conservatism was sweeping the country. Young people attended wearing polo shirts with popped up collars. It was suddenly hip to be square. In another few years Huey Lewis and the News would sing the song celebrating, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, but perhaps not. The lyrics went like this:
I used to be a renegade, I used to fool around
But I couldn’t take the punishment and had to settle down
Now I’m playing it real straight, and yes, I cut my hair
You might think I’m crazy, but I don’t even care
Because I can tell what’s going on
It’s hip to be square
It’s hip to be square
I never bought that line about being calculatedly square even in jest. Who needed that kind of approval to succeed in this world? Perhaps some vain or shallow types. But that whole repressive/regressive/hip conservative schtick was contrived.
Okay, I’ll admit to wearing a popped collar or two. And sporting Colors By Benetton sweaters and Colours By Julian ties, pants and shirts in the early 80s. That was the fashion of the day. And look at those ads by United Colors of Benetton. There are some to this day who would call them controversial. Too colorful in terms of skin and diversity. Proving that some members of society have not advanced much since the 80s. or the 70s. or the 60s. Or the 50s. Or the 40s. Or the 30s. Or the Civil War. Color and diversity is just threatening to some people.
God Forbid, we also wore running shorts that did not cover our male thighs. And we wore singlets and shorts that were lighter than silk. Some today might still brand these 80s fashion trends less that masculine.
It was such an everything was everything period of time, the early 80s. In some ways kind of geeky bad. But in others, way ahead of its time.