Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Clothes Make The "Man".

Hello, Dear Reader.

My infinitely better half has asked that I go through my closet and purge any older clothing to make some room for new stuff.  I'm fine with that since I see articles of clothing in there that appear in photographs taken on a cruise I went on six years ago.  Not good.

Problem is, she also wants me to purge some of my beloved t-shirts.  How can I explain to her that every one of them is like a precious, unique child to me?  I can't possibly part with any of them...

I understand it when women confess to having a "Hoarders"-like issue with shoes.  I struggle with something similar: I have a t-shirt fetish.  It's true.

Before I explain, here's my take on clothing itself.  First off, I refuse to wear visible brand names.  Why?  Because if rich clothing designers want to use my ass as a walking billboard, they'd better be paying me to do it instead of the other way around.

Second: I don't believe in trends.  Personally I think it's sheer madness that people throw away all of their clothing every year in lieu of re-buying a brand new wardrobe that some douchebag designer proclaims is "in style".  I guarantee that those styles are often fleeting and ridiculous.  I consider such spending tragically wasteful.  You'd think I'd be a huge fan of the show "Sex in the City" since it features hot women sitting around talking about gettin' busy, but their disposable and superficial habits would probably piss me off.

Thirdly: Just because you see me wearing a lot of t-shirts it doesn't mean that I'll wear one you give it to me as a gift.  For example, one sweet, well-intentioned girl at work had the unenviable task of getting a "Secret Santa" gift for me.  She bought me a shirt that read "Don't Steal From the Government: They Hate Competition".   At first I really liked it and even wore it out a few times but eventually I had to realize that it just wasn't for me.  It looked like the sort of shirt that a crusty, old man at a "Tim Horton's" coffee klatch would wear.  And I only rarely go to "Tim Hortons", so there!

Fourthly: I will never wear what I describe as "faux kitch" t-shirts.  Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?  They're newly produced t-shirts deliberately designed to look like fake thrift-store finds that places like "Old Navy" normally sells.  "Old Navy" is the most white bread, non-threatening clothing store on the planet.  It's a place for people who think "The Gap" is one step away from "American Apparel".

I can say that because I'm guilty for shopping there myself. 

But I'll never buy any of their bogus t-shirts.  "Old Navy" is positively lousy with these awful things.  I'm talking about the kind of kooky graphic T's with hackneyed designs advertising fake businesses often with lame sexual innuendo type names.  Here's one example:

And this is one of the more respectable ones.  Usually they're more tasteless and redneck, like "Big Dick Mushum's Open-Wide Bar-B-Q Flame Pit and Hooter Gropatorium."

Total bulls$%#.

Speaking of redneck, that's a whole subclass of pathetic.  It's bad enough to be accused of being a hick but to openly embrace that label is just sad.  I will never understand the mentality of people (especially Canadian people) who routinely wear t-shirts bearing images of NASCAR, rebel flags, rampant wild animals like wolves or eagles, or the regrettably deathless phrase "Git 'er done!"

So, with all that eliminated, I'm left with t-shirts that I employ for the following purposes:
  1. Pimp stuff that I like.  It's helpful when people recognize it because it instantly signals to me that you're someone reasonably cool and, as such, won't be amongst the first people up against the wall when I eventually become Emperor.    
  2. Hopefully amuse the crap out of friends and strangers alike.
  3. Use myself as a human billboard for pompous and self-righteous social commentary.
  4. To cover my nipples and not scare the young 'uns. 
I can further break these into the following sub-categories:


I have a mindless habit of buying t-shirts as concert souvenirs.  It's kind of a stupid thing to do since they're typically grossly overpriced and made of fabric so thin you could read passages from the Bible through it.

I've been to a crazy amount of concerts, so my collection would be huge just from this alone.  Now I don't always buy a commemorative shirt.  I didn't for "AC/DC", "The Dixie Chicks" and..urm, "Frozen Ghost", but this is the exception rather than the rule.  Here are some of my favs, graphically speaking:

When me and a co-worker went to see "KISS" in concert last year we vowed to make our own shirts in an effort to prevent the already-obscenely rich Gene Simmons from becoming richer.  Knowing of my "Star Wars"/stormtrooper fetish he managed to find this tremendous image on the interwebs:

Turned out pretty good, huh?  Funny thing is, Gene got the last laugh anyway because I ended up buying an official shirt as well.  Surprise, surprise, it was grossly overpriced and I've been writing this blog with it pulled over my head as proof of it's transparency.

This next shirt has a bit of a story attached to it.  Back in residence in 1991 a floor-mate who worked at the campus radio station started raving about a new busker-style band.  After hearing their low-fi indie tape everybody in my inner circle was pretty impressed.  A few months later we learned that our new favorite band was scheduled to perform in our very own residence building's Multi-Purpose Room!  What luck!

We lobbied as hard as we could to get as many people as possible to go with us, but there were no takers. Everyone was more interested in the same ole' pattern of getting hammered in their rooms and stumbling downtown.  Only six members of our posse went and only about twenty people in toto even bothered to show up.

Regardless of how few people were there, the band performed as if they were in front of a jam-packed Wembley Stadium.  Having played the band's "copied to infinity" tape continuously for the past three months, we spent the entire show jumping around like crazed idiots about four feet away from where the band performed their high-energy set.

During their brief intermission, the band themselves sold all of us copies of their "official" indie E.P. and the following uniform which we wore that night with pride:  

Looking at the shirt now, it could be argued that it was, in fact, gay pride, but I'm okay with that.

Although we made enough noise that night for a hundred people I wonder if the meager turnout caused them to write "Hello City"?

The moral of this story, kids: see bands before they become famous, elitist, incarcerated, too expensive to see, and/or dead. 

As such I've got some shirts to pimp bands I love and sadly will never see live:

And here's what I wore on my last day of work:

Sometimes a chance wearing of a certain "T" can lead to a fortuitous friendship.  I can actually credit the following garb for meeting an acquaintance I still value immensely:

One of the handful of decent people I met at my last place of employ (who was a complete "Rage" fiend) saw me wearing this one day and thought: "Okay, that dude's got taste.  I must get know him!"

I just didn't know he meant biblicallyWhich reminds me, why don't you call me anymore?!!  Was I just a plaything to be used and then disposed of?!!  Huh?  Huh!!!??  Answer me!!!!

*Ahem*.  Sorry about that.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that a publicly posted blog is not necessarily the best place to air such grievances.  I apologize.  Now where was I?    

Oh, yes.  Here's the next category:


Here's an image of God-amongst men Bruce Campbell as "Evil Dead's" Ashley J. Williams I procured in Dallas, Texas:

Here are two awesome shirts I just bought in, of all places, Corner Brook, Newfoundland:

I positively love that old-school "Star Wars" shirt by The Brother's Hildebrandt.  It reminds me of a more innocent time before the prequels dithered my childhood.

I've been stopped by people several times while wearing this one:

One dude asked me "Oh, man!  Where did you pick this up? I gotta have it!"  Protective of the image's exclusivity to my chest I told him with Samantha-like bitchiness: "Oh, sorry, 'dude'.  I got it in Scotland.  Find your own unique 'Pulp Fiction' image.  Now get out of my face before I scratch your eyes out!"  

This one created a near-riot in an "Ashley" furniture store (?):

There I was, minding my own bidness watching some bad video on a display monitor, killing time while my wife looked at boring furniture when I suddenly hear from beside me:

"Whoa!  That is the coolest thing I've ever seen!"

I turn around to see a spiky-haired twenty-something furniture salesman in a dress shirt and tie staring at me as if I'm George Lucas incarnate.  Before I have a chance to open my mouth he tells me:

"Wait...wait right there! Don't move!"

Next thing I know he's frantically running around the labyrinthine store like a decapitated chicken.  I can hear him screaming:


Next thing I know I got the world's geekiest assemblage of retail staff gathered around me in a semi-circle, taking digital photos and cooing over me like Carrie in a shoe store.  By now my wife is probably getting super-pissed since there's no-one on the entire floor who can answer her recliner-related queries.   

"Where...where did you get it?" one managed to whisper in awe.

"In Scotland," I hastily replied.  "So, find your own unique 'Star Wars' shirt.  Now get that camera phone out of my face or I'll beat you to death with my Gucci handbag!"

I tend to use my torso to espouse my cockeyed and frequently half-baked philosophies about this wacky world we all live in.  What I find most interesting is the variety of reactions I get from these things just based on where I'm at.  Case in point:

I think this is likely my favoritest shirt in the world.  I wanted this because people always view the image of Che Guevara as fashionable without knowing a lick about the man.  In fact, the next time you see someone wearing his face on a shirt just ask them for a brief bio or at the very least, his friggin' name.  If they can't give you that at least, you legally have the right to punch this person in the throat.  No court in the land will convict you.  I promise.

Wearing this got me in some unexpected hot water one day at of all places, "The Chickenburger", a 50's-style hamburger stand in Bedford.  An older lady with an unusual accent saw me wearing this and demanded of me:

"Do you know who that is?"

Expecting a test not unlike what I'd just described and thinking that a punch in the throat might not be a suitable side order, I proudly responded:

"Yes, it's based on an image of Che Guevara."

"And do you who he was?" she returned without pause

I took a nervous pull from my chocolate milkshake, hoping it's icy yumminess might untangle the budding knot in my stomach.

"Yes.  He was a revolutionary leader originally from Argentina." 

She tapped her foot and asked through clenched teeth:

"And why do you wear that?"

I paused for a second, choosing my words carefully in an effort to dismantle what seemed to be a now-ticking conversational time bomb. 

"I wear it because other people wear his image all the time and have no clue who he is and what he stands for."

She was clearly rolling this over in her head while I spoke.  Before I had a chance to finish she weighed into the arena again.  I braced myself.

"But really," she began in the most condescending voice she could muster, "You wear it because you think he's a rebel.  And that's what you consider yourself to be, am I right?  You're a rebelIt that it?"

I couldn't believe it.  This woman was getting hostile!  I'd come the "The Chickenburger" for a late-nite snack indulgence and unwittingly walked into a tense "Crossfire"-style political challenge. 

"Ummmm, no.  I just like what the image says about how an historical figure can be transformed into a frivolous, disposable, pop-culture icon by the power of marketing."

Mistaking her cold stare for acquiescence I unwisely kept my gums flapping:

"Besides I believe in his philosophy that it isn't enough for leaders to just instigate revolution.  They have to go down amongst the people most effected by upheaval to witness the impact they've had first hand and share  their fate." 

And with that she pounced:

"Listen to me, I'm from Bolivia and I can tell you that that man (she pointed to the historical/fictional amalgam on my chest) did very bad things in my country.  He created a lot of unnecessary misery and strife and certainly did not suffer with those he effected."

For a few moments we just stared at each other like two samurai warriors on either side of a bridge.

"Um, can I have my hot dog now?" I asked.

After leveling a withering glance at me that could have stripped paint off the side of a battleship, she heaved out a sigh of disgust, whirled around, stomped over to the grill, and (with her back to me) slapped my food on a tray, stalked back and then practically dropped it in front of me.

In retrospect I wonder what the loogie content was for my meal that night.  I'm sure it was off the chart, but it was likely nothing worse than what was actually in the hot dog itself.

Most times the reactions I get are considerably less passionate but wildly diverse.  Take this shirt for example:

When I wear this shirt downtown at the "Farmer's Market" hippies stop me and say "Woah, man!  Yeah, right on, man!" (best read in the voice of Tommy Chong).  But when I wore it to work in Sackville it might as well have read:


Of course you must understand that Sackville is the only place I've ever been where you can actually read graffiti that says "I Love Television".  Frankly that's like spray painting "I LOVE PROCESSED CHEESE" on the side of a Saputo truck.

Here's a variation of the same theme:

I'm quite proud of this one since it was designed by a friend of mine who won some kind of contest.  Here's da proof: 

Although it kinda feels like a case of "piling on", I still wear this occasionally to remind people that "the evil you forget is the evil you're doomed to repeat".  Besides it says "legacy" and Christ knows we're still dealing with that:

Here's an awesome Art Adams rendering of Wolverine, ironically purchased at "Old Navy" which I just finished slagging a few mere moments ago:

And this one I love just cuz' it cracks me up:


I wore this one to work one day to interesting effect.  Now, before you look at it, keep in mind that our department's dress code was very casual, so don't think the experiment was all that radical in theory:

I got a few chuckles and compliments on it and no one took any umbrage, so I thought: "Awesome! People here do have a sense of humor!"  Then a co-worker made a point of reading it out loud during a team meeting.  The next thing I knew I was in the cross-hairs of my boss.

"You can't wear that in here anymore," he told me emphatically.

"But why?" I railed.  "Until she pointed it out, you didn't even notice it!"

"It's offensive," he declared, trying to turn back to the agenda.

"Offensive?  To whom?" I replied.  "I see supposedly Canadian people in here all the time wearing NASCAR shirts and that's offensive to me.  Whattaya gonna do about that?"

"Nothing.  I don't want to see you wearing that shirt in here again.  Case closed."

I paused to gauge his temperament and decided to plow ahead anyways.

"Okay, so what you're saying it that the company is pro-crack for breaks and lunches?"

Annnnnnd that's when he got pissed off.

Speaking of being pissed off, every time upper management did something particularly bone-headed at work I'd often break out this:

Naturally when us drones responded less-than favorably to the latest stupid decision of the week management would often react with fake shock and chagrin, inspiring this purchase:

As such I'd get considerable solidarity from my fellow plebes when I wore this one:

Some shirts are kind enough to summarize my own personal credo's:

And some I wear just 'cuz they make me giggle like a schoolgirl...


Sometimes I like to wear shirts so weird and inexplicable just to look at people's faces as they rub their heads together trying to figure it out what it means.  Case in point:

But here's my existential favorite:

I wore this to work a few times just to f#$@ with people's Kool-Aid.  I barely had a moment's peace with people asking me "Yeah, but what does it mean?"

I'd say to them in turn:

"It means that I loves me some waffles."

What can I say, the shirt spoke to me.  Oh, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 


Some people pick up bottle openers, spoons, coasters, fridge magnets or shot glasses.  Some people bring an extra suitcase with them for all the extraneous crap they're gonna buy.  Me, I never want to shop while on vacation, especially when I'm down south.  But, every once in awhile I see something amusing and I pick it up as a souvenir.

This one's from Puerto Rico:

This one's from St. Thomas:

From the "Hard Rock Cafe" in London:

Straight from Shakespeare's "Globe Theater" in London:

And, finally, the Bahamas...

I don't normally wear these out in public because they make me feel like some ignorant, exploitative a**hole tourist, but I sometimes throw one on when I go camping, to the beach or if I'm forced to look "tropical" for some God-awful reason..  


Knowing my predisposition for all things geeky, I often get t-shirts as gifts. I gave up trying to wear them to work since most people had no friggin' clue what they meant.

Although they test even my limits of nerdiness I still like wearing them amongst my equally geeky friends and/or at sci-fi or gaming conventions where there's a built-in predisposition for this sort of thing.

Y'know, I balk at the dork factor of these shirts but I'd still wear a "Han Shot First" shirt with tremendous pride if someone wants to get me one!  (Hint! Hint!)

That's all for now, Gentle Reader.  Until next time remember: "Every girl's crazy 'bout a smart-assed man."


BONUS EPIC:  Beware!  Some of the shirts on this site are even too extreme for me and that's coming form the guy who once wore this:


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