Since the beginning of July, there have been a few developments on the rock t-shirt front (a strenuously silly subject I devoted an entire category to here) that I have been reticent to address (beyond my jokey/inflammatory post about Adam Duritz's many crimes in that capacity). As has been cited many times, I take the sporting of band-endorsing t-shirts entirely too seriously. Lots of folks agree with me, sure, but lots of folks also think I'm a complete idiot as a result. The fact that I'm a 45-year-old with a closet full of increasingly ill-fitting band t-shirts doesn't really help.
But I’m repeatedly scolded in various circles about this for being a juvenile jerk and/or an elitist and/or a sad old rock-dork and/or a misogynist and/or a precious music snob and a host of other colorful names. As a result, I've been tempering my usual vitriol on the subject in the wake of a few events (see below) as best I can. It's ultimately not worth it. My opinions are entirely too predictable and they're not going to change anything. Sniveling little teenage shits and vacuous celebs whose lives were very probably not deeply affected by the music in question are going to continue to don these garments. It's just going to happen, and the planet will continue to rotate.
By this point, I don't need to pen a multi-paragraph screed about the sanctity of the Black Flag bars or how the then-derided hardcore punk community acted as a palpable antidote to the tyranny of the popular, sporty and beautiful when I was in high school. I don't need to point out that while, yes -- these are essentially just silly t-shirts that have band names and silly insignia emblazoned on them, -- what they say represents a great deal more to certain people than others.
So basically, I don’t need to post here about how depressed and irritated I was upon seeing, say, Kristen “Twilight” Stewart sporting that Black Flag shirt or that chicken-chested dink in Snow White’s Poison Bite wearing a Misfits shirt. If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you probably know all that already.
More to the point, however, there’s been a story making the rounds over the past couple of days that took the collective wind out of the sails of those of us who may seem unduly precious about band t-shirts. In a nutshell, Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat/Fugazi fame (above, photographed by Pat Graham) signed off on a t-shirt deal with Urban Outfitters. Ian’s not alone, of course. My heroes in DEVO did much the same thing not too long back. Regarding Ian's take on the matter, click here to read the whole story.
I think what I find so surprising and objectionable about this particular instance is that Ian MacKaye pretty much set the template about getting involved with every aspect of his art and how it was presented and disseminated. Why doesn’t Discord Records make t-shirts? Strikes me that it would be a great source of revenue for the label. Given Urban Outfitters' track record of controversy and its CEO's' right-wing-leaning views, I find it kind of astonishing that Ian wouldd be okay with essentially climbing into bed with the very thing he formerly opposed in all its forms .
Maybe I’m just being idealistic?