"Where can I get a CBGB t-shirt?" asked a thick-accented gentleman behind me. I was in Butterflys on West 8th Street today, fruitlessly searching for a youth-small-sized 'Batman' shirt for my daughter (she'd asked me for one earlier this week after coveting her little brother's). The gents behind the counter looked at the tourist blankly. Because I have a very big mouth, I spoke up. "Well, technically, you shouldn't be able to get one anymore," I said, "but you'll probably find one at one of the t-shirt joints on St. Marks Place." The gentleman thanked me -- and actually shook my hand -- and took off, while the Butterfly clerks glared at me for chasing away a potential customer. Hey, it's not my fault they don't stock'em.
Under normal circumstances, I'd bristle at the notion of someone sporting a CBGB t-shirt that wasn't actually procured at the venue in question. But, y'know, it's gone and blah blah blah blah fuckin' blah. I've wasted too much bandwidth, energy and breath complaining about such trivialities. If dudester wants to wear a CBGB t-shirt (or, more likely, buy one for his nephew), who am I to rain on his parade? By this point, the iconic t-shirt has largely lost its meaning anyway. Before you ask, yes, I have one. I bought it after a show in 1989 by Gavin Friday. It now lives in a drawer at my mom's place out in Long Island. I rarely sport it, and usually feel like a ridiculous choad when I do.
Later in the day (as I was sneezing my way down Broadway after a brain-numbing search for cippolini onions in Garden of Eden on 14th Street), I watched a repulsively-chiseled and impossibly tanned young adonis come striding my way wearing a curious black t-shirt. The legend on it simply read "315 Bowery," with "John Varvatos" just underneath. I couldn't stop myself from sneering (not that he noticed/cared). Is this a double-standard? Probably. Why should I lament new tenant Varvatos' claim on the place (and accompanying desperate attempt at similar significance) if I'm resigned to admitting CBGB itself has been long-reduced to a cliché? I don't know, but as far as I'm concerned, anyone who wears a '315 Bowery" Varvatos t-shirt is a fatuous douchecake. Is that a juvenile opinion? Probably. Sue me.
Meanwhile, check out The New York Observer's review of the New York Dolls' show at Varvatos' vile haberdashery here.