Almost ten years ago, while sloppily composing the entirely rushed “biography” blurb for the About Me section of this blog, I blithely asserted that I had “every intention of wearing silly band t-shirts well into [my] forties.” I was a comparatively carefree 37-year-old when I wrote that.
Practically a decade later, I’m now quite beyond the perilous Rubicon of “well into my forties,” and yes — I am indeed still sporting a frankly ludicrous array of rock t-shirts. As an increasingly silver-topped 47-year-old, while my once-fervent fandom for comic books has cooled and I now enjoy the original “Star Wars” films significantly less than I ever used to, my tribal instinct to wear rock t-shirts — somewhat worryingly — has not waned in the slightest.
Given my current circumstances, I am actually afforded the opportunity to wear them quite often, if not regularly. I just sometimes worry that said practice is becoming, well, unseemly.
About six years ago, you may remember, I endeavored to slightly curtail my habit by putting my no-longer-wearable shirts into storage. All that really did, ultimately, was free up shelf-space, and since closing my increasingly unaffordable mini-storage space in 2012, those shirts are now back here in our apartment. Oy.
As mentioned in myriad previous posts, I feel about these shirts much the same way I feel about my compact discs — to part with them would be like ripping up photographs. Most of them are now inexorably imbued with some personal, anecdotal significance. Even if they are — by all standards — no longer wearable (for any number of reasons, though mostly related to my girth), I can’t part with them. Does that make me a hoarder? I’m afraid of the answer. My collection certainly rivals — or at least equals — Adam Duritz’s. Again, this is not necessarily a good thing.
In any case, as a first step in grappling with the problem, I decided to borrow a page from the arguably icky likes of photographer Terry Richardson. As mentioned back on this post, Terry apparently has a fetish (one of many, doubtlessly) for rock t-shirts much like I do, and catalogs them on his website. I decided to follow suit, and started a Tumblr site for same.
What wil you learn from Loud Laundry? Well, you’ll doubtlessly glean that I own entirely too many Killing Joke shirts, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise at this stage of the proceedings.
Honestly, I’m not sure why I’m doing this, but it seems like a step closer to putting them in perspective. If I can keep them here in the digital realm, maybe I can let some of them go in the physical realm.
More to the point, this isn’t even all of them. I still have some in boxes out at my mom’s place, and some in the cramped storage space in our basement. Sadly, there are some that I no longer own that I wasn’t able to document. In the old days, particularly worn shirts would go to my mom. I have fond memories her wearing my old X shirt (from their show at Columbus’ Newport Music Hall on the Ain’t Love Grand tour in the late fall of 1985) while whipping up dinner.
Incidentally, my very first rock t-shirt was a Pink Floyd The Wall one. The front featured a crude rendering of Gerald Scarfe’s fabled illustration from the inside of said album’s sprawling gatefold (the wife, the teacher, the mother, Worm the Judge, etc.) and the back had the signature light/prism/rainbow motif from the cover of Dark Side of the Moon. These designs were silkscreened on a poor-quality black garment that honestly felt like cheese cloth. I bought it in the spring of 1980 at an establishment on Madison Avenue around East 63rd Street called — and I shit you not — The Happy Head Shop (suffice to say, poor quality knockoff rock shirts were not their primary stock in trade).
As you’d rightly imagine, I wore it lovingly until it fell apart (that’s me in it at the top of this post, taken at a goddamn Wyoming dude ranch in the summer of 1980).