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Patching Holes

May 1, 2012

When I was in high school, I had a pretty beat-up old Levi’s jeans jacket. Along with my signature hoody, this was pretty much my daily uniform for five years. And, of course, the Ray-Ban aviators. Hey…it was the 80’s.

I was a big military freak back then. I could tell you how fast an F-18 could fly, how many rounds an M-16 had in a standard magazine, and all sorts of other useless factoid nonsense. At some point, the brutal reality of war finally sunk in, and I grew out of it.

But not before my jeans jacket had a few military patches sewn into it.

Yeah. I can sew. I took home-ec.

Then a few school patches showed up. Then a few science fiction shows. And before you knew it, most of the back and half the arms were covered in patches.

And, man, did I get ridiculed for it. Seriously ridiculed, in the way that only high-schoolers can ridicule. I took it, not because I was particularly brave. More because I knew I was never going to be ‘one of the guys’. Or one of the popular ones. And, well, frak them.

The jacket got dismantled at some point, and the patches got put in the huge foot locker I use to keep heirlooms, personal stuff, awards, report cards, etc. But I always looked back fondly on the ‘patch jacket’, regardless of the misery it caused me.

As the comics convention circuit in Toronto matured, a few dealers always ended up at every con. One sells nothing but T-shirts, patches, and pins. I love this guy. About a third of my T’s come from this dude.

And, alas, I started buying patches at some point.

Sigh. Another collection.

This one will never get as big as my comics or my books. Hell, I could buy dozens of them and not fill a shoe box. But they have an allure, even if I never make another jacket.

As the collection has grown, I’ve started to look more carefully at what I’m missing, what I’d like to own in the future. My finances are still not in great shape, but I am solidly in the black, and a few per con over the next few years should fill out the collection nicely.

Here’s what I got so far. You can view higher-res images from my Flickr set here.

National pride

The first patches to go on the jacket were the military patches. Aside from the Snowbirds patch, these are all authentic Canadian military issue, and, I guess, they’re now also vintage. The stripes are worn by sergeants. The patch in the middle is for the Canadian Airborne Special Forces Regiment, then cool, but now much maligned for the hazing rituals and other brutal policies that have leaked out in the last twenty-odd years. The Latin “Osons” roughly translates as “those who dare”.

Old School

The next bits were the school emblems. The blue patch was from my primary school, St. Brigid’s. It is actually the first award I ever won…for science. I made an irrigation model out of plasticene (that didn’t work), with a huge essay on the subject. My high school was Cardinal Newman, and The Newman Bulldogs was the name used for most of our inter-school teams. This actually isn’t a patch, but what remains of the hoody they forced us to buy for phys-ed. When it literally disintegrated during class from years of abuse, I cut the logo out and sewed it onto the back of the jacket. KVN was a construction company which largely mixed and poured concrete. My father worked there for most of his adult life. It’s one of the few remaining things I own that was either his, or given to me by him.

In real life

Aside from science fiction, military, and school patches, the rest were, of course, jokes or weird personal bits. Most of these came from the clutch of head shops that littered lower Yonge St., near the Eaton Center (alas, now gone). The basement of what is now 333 Yonge (the HMV Superstore) was several inter-connected head shops that smelled like weed, dirty socks, and cheetos. I loved these stores, even if I never actually used drugs.

Wiarton is my father’s home town. Willie’s the most accurate groundhog in North America. Ha! Take that, Phil!

It doesn’t matter where you go. There you are.

The upper-left patch is the only one that made it onto the jacket. All the rest are more recent purchases. I need about another four patches to have the entire set. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is still ricocheting madly around the pop culture landscape, with several quotes, homages, and oblique references popping up each year. Do yourself a favor and watch the film. It’s a cult classic.

Blade Runner

The Tyrell Corp patch is recent, but the Rep Detect patch was proudly worn on the jacket.


The V patch also went on the jacket, but the Pure Pwnage patch is recent, and a buy I regret. I don’t know what I was thinking that day.

Most of the rest of the patches were never on the jacket, and have accumulated more recently.

The beat peculiar

More cop patches. I’m not sure if Sheriff Carter and Detective Murphy have much in common, beyond constantly getting their butts kicked by robots. But Eureka (now in it’s final season) and Robocop are great shows/movies.

Make Mine Marvel!

These were patches I wish were on the jacket. It’s fair to say that Chris Claremont and Frank Miller provided me with my education outside of school while growing up. Both of their extremely well-written runs on X-Men and Daredevil allowed me access to a larger and more vivid world while teaching morals and ethics in a way that didn’t preach. If the jacket ever gets re-constituted, these are the first things getting sewn onto it.

So say we all

I’m missing the patches from the original 70’s show, which I also loved.

Stargate Command

I can’t say I’m a true fan of the franchise, but I have probably watched most of all three shows in repeats. Strangely, though I love MacGuyver, I always thought Ben Browder was a better lead on SG-1 than Richard Dean Anderson.

The Classics

Both Star Trek and Star Wars, which I both loved in high school, were never part of the jacket. These are all very recent purchases.

Watching TV

These have all been purchased over the last five years. I’m hoping the Alpha Moonbase patch is actually from Space:1999, but I’m beginning to suspect it’s from another show. Hot Wheels is in this shot because there was nowhere else to put it.


The Ceeb

Yeah, I have a few of these. I wish they made a Massey Lectures patch! Both of these are classic logo designs.


Available at every tourist shop in Canada, coast-to-coast. I actually should have patches for Alberta and BC, the only provinces I’ve ever lived in besides Ontario. Actually, I’ve only visited Alberta, but it was a visit to see my brother, and is fondly remembered.

The Canadian flag is, of course, worn by more Americans overseas than Canadians, who pose as us because we’re so nice and polite. We’re so polite we won’t even mention this publicly. Don’t worry…your secret’s safe with us.

The future

There’s a lot missing: Autobots, Decepticons, teenage mutant ninja turtles, klingons, and some famous spaceships. I would also like to expand from The Snowbirds, and include patches from other precision flying squadrons.

And hey…I should have a Leafs patch.

I love patches. And I miss the patch jacket. I’m a little too old (and a lot out of shape) to cosplay, but maybe I’ll make another to wear to cons. I certainly have enough patches now to cover most of the surface area.

And it would be cool to wear what I love again.

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