You are what you wear
I have a rule. My rule is: If you’re wearing a T-shirt with a logo or slogan on it, you have to know what it means. However, I suspect that not everyone I see on the street is following this very important rule, so I’ve put together a short crib sheet:
1. Adolf “Adi” Dassler was a German shoe manufacturer who started his own company in the 1930s. His brother, Rudolf, also worked for the company, but they later had a falling out, and Rudolf went on to found PUMA.
2. A banana republic is a small, politically unstable third-world country whose economy is dominated by outside influences. (The economies of such countries are often highly dependent on a small number of exports, such as . . . bananas.)
3. In Australia, a stagnant pool of water is called a “billabong.” (“Once a jolly swag man / camped beside a billabong / under the shade of a coolibah tree . . .”)
4. Penn a Wlas (English: “Land’s End”) is the western tip of Cornwall, near Penzance (whence come the pirates of whom you’ve “often” heard). It’s a famous landmark for races and sailing, so a small American sailboat equipment company decided to use the name. When their first batch of promotional materials came with a wrongly-placed apostrophe, they couldn’t afford to have them reprinted, so they stuck with the typo, instead.
5. In the Northern Hemisphere, the north face of a mountain is typically the coldest and steepest (and therefore the hardest to climb, for all you “because it was there” types).
6. Patagonia is an area of South American which now spans parts of Argentina and Chile. It was settled by the Welsh (among others) in the late 19th century.
7. “Quicksilver” is another name for the element mercury. The term was common in the 19th century but is attested as early as c. 1000 AD (albeit spelled “cwic seolfor,” which I would love to see on a T-shirt).
8. The “rhebok” is a type of African gazelle, spelled “reebok,” in Afrikaans. The term became the name of a shoe company, when its founders randomly saw it in a dictionary (which had been published in South Africa).