Remember last week when I said that the usual shit I put up here feels indescribably trivial in the wake of current news events? Well, here’s just such an idiotic and ultimately meaningless post about something stupid and silly that’s really burning my goddamn toast, but what am I gonna do? Stop posting entirely because the world is a horrific place rife with senseless gun violence, racism and injustice? I can’t do that. Consider this, then, a palette-cleanser, should you be looking to distract yourself from the horrors of the day. But make no mistake -– those horrors are real and they matter. This bullshit? It doesn’t really matter, but I’d like to think there’s at least a little more substance to it than playing “Pokemon Go!’
My fellow New Yorkers doubtlessly remember the old Lone Star Café on the corner of East 13th Street and Fifth Avenue. Well, after the Lone Star closed (and the giant lizard up top decamped to a TriBeca pier, later still to decamp to, I believe, Texas, appropriately enough), it became a bar called Mr. Fuji’s Tropicana. I should also note that well prior to it becoming the Lone Star, it was initially built and conceived, I believe, as a Schraft’s Ice Cream parlor. Anyway, after Mr. Fuji’s closed, the space turned into a deli of no great distinction. That waffled on for a few years, then they unsurprisingly closed, and the space became gradually derelict, until it was fully torn down at some point in the last decade. End of story? No, just the preamble.
In any case, in the footprint of that old Lone Star was built a -- WAIT FOR IT -- luxury condo. The ground floor of said condo, however, sat empty for many, many moons until relatively recently, when a women’s wear shop with the somewhat cloying name of Brandy Melville opened up. Great. Whatever.
It being a solely a woman’s clothiers, I never gave it a single thought until I recently noticed that they were selling what I believe to be a somewhat crazy rare item, and one that speaks VERY SPECIFICALLY to a certain demographic, i.e. fuckin’ MINE.
Y’see, Brandy Melville sells band t-shirts. I’m sure I shouldn’t be surprised by this, being that –- as discussed here –- vintage rock t-shirts are the “look of the summer.” Fine. Whatever. That shouldn’t bother me, of course, but it does.
But among the Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Grateful Dead shirts, I instantly recognized an item that leapt right out at me. They were selling two variations --- white and black – of a Ramones shirt featuring the original artwork for Road to Ruin. That’s the shirt just above, but here’s a close up of the illustration in question.
Okay, now why is this significant, you ask? Well, this particular bit of artwork -- lovingly rendered by one Gus MacDonald –- was scrapped from the eventual release of the 1978 album, primarily because the image featured founding Ramones drummer Tommy behind the kit, when –- by this point -– he’d “left home” (a Ramones in-joke) to be replaced by Marky Ramone, then fresh from the ranks of Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Estus. This dilemma was resolved by having Punk Magazine co-founder and fabled illustrator, John Holmstrom tweak the original image to include Marky and subtract the more fantastical elements of the original design (specifically the snake and otherwise inexplicable crab claw). Holmstrom also gave the final image a bit of credibly punk edge, given that MacDonald’s original vision -– while still very goddamn cool -– looked a bit more like something you’d find on a KISS or Meat Loaf sleeve. Should you be unfamiliar, too young or just plain clueless, here’s Holmstrom’s final version. I have a reverentially framed promo poster of this that now hangs on the wall of my great friend Rob D.
So, anyway, back to Brandy Melville -- WHY ON EARTH are they selling Ramones t-shirts with this comparatively esoteric design on them to –- and let’s be fucking honest here -– a clientele who invariably HAVE NO GODDAMN IDEA about the backstory (much less does it probably care). This isn’t me being sexist or misogynist –- obviously fervent, minutia-crazed Ramones fans come in both genders -– but why sell stuff with specific collector’s appeal at an outlet that a specific Ramones collector, under most circumstances, WILL PROBABLY NEVER VENTURE INTO?
Here’s another thing. I’ve tried to find the same Gus MacDonald design t-shirt elsewhere online, and I cannot seem to do it. Am I to believe that the only place to find this item is the cushy, unlikely confines of a shop designed with -– again, let’s face it -– the Soul Cycle set in mind.
There’s invariably more to this story.