Tee Totalling

Within the framework of this blog (as well as in real life) I’ve often lamented the loss of style in the modern world.  I’ve droned about hipsters, men without hats, pomades, etc. but must admit that there’s one item of casual dress that I wholeheartedly embrace:  the time-honored tradition of the T-Shirt.  I am such a fan that I must periodically return to my overstuffed t-shirt drawer and begin the painful process of weeding my collection of ratty, threadbare shirts.  It’s horrible.  I hate getting rid of my treasures.  So much so that I clutch tenaciously and feverishly to at least two different favorites, and in reality there are way too many.  Once as black as the darkest night, now they’re sort of light charcoal, and so theadbare and worn that when held to the light they resemble some loosely-woven mesh.  Cheesecloth, maybe.

However, the field must be tilled ever so often and fresh soil risen up to the daylight.  That’s what I do.  I churn my shirts, so to speak, and the ones that haven’t been seen since last summer are the first to go.  This process brought some old memories to mind, specifically thoughts of old t-shirt fads long gone.  Today’s Realtree fad will soon fade, and hopefully those ubiquitous “KEEP CALM AND BLAH BLAH BLAH” shirts will disappear from public consciousness, at least until the great retro 2010’s craze of 2025 rolls around, at which point reproductions will fly off the shelves again.   Certainly some trends will continue as they always have: throwback soda and candy logos, band tees, beer and sports teams…these will never perish from the chests of frat boys, hipsters, and concert-going blue-collar types. Ever.

The same can’t be said for these bygone relics…

 

Big Johnson

Technically, these shirts were introduced in the late-80’s, but they really seemed to take off circa Spring Break 1994.  Seriously, you couldn’t go to to the mall, the sports bar, or the beach without seeing some dude with a Big Johnson shirt.  The whole gag consisted of thinly-veiled sexual innuendos, like “Big Johnson Surf Boards…If It Swells, Ride It!” or “Big Johnson’s Casino…Liquor Up Front, Poker In The rear!”  They seem dated now, and the jokes are so stale they’re probably made of the same material as your basic M.R.E.  But the catchphrases were brand-new at the time, and twenty-something bros found them hilarious.  I mean, who can argue with this gem?

Subtlety.  A lost art.

Subtlety. A lost art.

 

Hard Rock Cafe

This one makes me a bit sad.  The Hard Rock Cafe still exists and seemingly thrives, most notably the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, as well as vacation destinations such as Myrtle Beach and exotic Detroit.  However, the corporation seems to be just as dedicated to spreading the good old-fashioned American rock-n-roll experience to the rest of the unwashed world, with locations in Jakarta, Angkor, and Phuket (how that never made it to a Big Johnson shirt, I’ll never know) in addition to European strongholds like Oslo and Amsterdam, because there’s nothing else to do in Amsterdam, right?  Duh! The sad part is how the internet and cable television have sort of taken the mystery and adventure out of seeking out a place to get over-priced (but still pretty tasty) burgers whilst surrounded with all sorts of rock-n-roll memorabilia.  I remember sitting in the New York Hard Rock (see, that even sounded cool in 1988), scarfing down a burger and Dr. Pepper, while overhead loomed the awesome, gnarly axe-shaped bass guitar of the God of Thunder himself, Gene Simmons.  Nowadays, I can go on Ebay and shell out some hard-earned PayPal cash and own the sonofabitch.  (The axe, not Gene Simmons, although if the price were right…)  I could also order a Hard Rock t-shirt from the comfort of my living room, and never have to spend time at an airport or drive the six-plus hours to Toronto’s Skydome (that’s what they used to call Rogers Centre) to get the same exact shirt I picked up there in 1991.  The excitement, the discovery, the Kerouac-like feeling of literally being on the road, going somewhere; maybe somewhere you’ve never been.  The pride you felt when you pulled the shirt on and left your apartment and somebody read the words “Hard Rock Cafe Miami” and met your eyes with a look of envy and wanderlust.  Those days are over.  Thanks a lot, stupid fucking internet.

The SkyDome logo had a snappy, ultra-modern redesign.  This was it.  No, really.

The SkyDome logo had a snappy, ultra-modern redesign. This was it. No, really.

 

Hypercolor

I must admit that I was never cool enough to own a Hypercolor t-shirt.  Apparently, I was the only human in North America that walked the streets with a regular old shirt that didn’t change color when someone held their hand on it for like five minutes.  For the uninitiated, the whole gimmick was due to a revolutionary dye that changed tint when it experienced a change in temperature.  You’d put on a purple shirt in the coolness of your bedroom, go out to catch the bus in 80-degree weather and MOTHER OF GOD!!  MY SHIRT IS NOW RUSTY ORANGE!  Then they got tricky and started printing the damn things in tie-dye patterns, so it was a swirling cauldron of ambiguous chromatics, dizzying and dazzling onlookers and passers-by.  “WHO IS HE?!  A WEATHER-LORD OF TIME AND SPACE?!?  ONE OF ELTON JOHN’S BAND MEMBERS?!  YE GODS, LOOK AT HIS MAGICAL ATTIRE!  BEHOLD HIS COMING!”  Plus, yeah; when someone gave you a hug, you could totally see where they put their arms around you.  Show-off motherfuckers, gettin’ hugs and shit.  Some bullshit, right there.

Show me on the shirt where he touched you...

Show me on the shirt where he touched you…

 

I know I’m leaving some out.  I decided against the brand-name trends, like United Colors of Benetton, Gotcha!, et al., because that sort of thing is in constant flux.  Remember when a couple of years ago you saw FUBU everywhere?  Yeah.  But hey, feel free to suggest others in the comments section.  Especially you youngsters that might remember stuff from the turn of the century that old guys like me sort of missed. (Those shirts Guy Fieri wears, for example.)  On second thought, nobody mention Guy Fieri.  The rest is fair game.  And as always, thanks for reading.

 

Everything’s Cool.

I was going to call this post “Everything’s Cool, and That Ain’t Cool” or steal from Pearl Jam and say “Everything Has Changed; Absolutely Nothing’s Changed.”  But there’s really not a whole lot of negative to my thoughts on this subject, so I figured I’d leave it with the simple, hopeful, calming “Everything’s Cool.”  Because it is.  Literally.

There was an article earlier this year in Vanity Fair that basically said that stylistically we’re exactly the same as we were in 1992…twenty years ago.  The article points out that the styles of 1952 were vastly different from those of 1962, and those were different from 1972, and all of ’em were nothing like the fashions of 1982, and so on.  Basically, every ten years there’s a new way of doing things, and from car designs to clothing to music. There’s a big change with each passing decade.

Except, you know, Steve Jobs.

Not anymore.  According to the article, we’re stuck in a stylistic wormhole, reliving the same things for twenty years.  My initial reaction to this reality is:  Um…so?

In this very blog I’ve mentioned how cool it is that I can, in this 21st century, elect to wear a wide-brimmed Fedora and listen to Operation Ivy on my way home from seeing “The Avengers” in IMAX to play Black Ops II on my HD television before switching over to TCM and watching “Invasion of the Saucer Men” or settling in for a night of Star Trek (the original series) on Netflix or reading The Dark Tower.  I mean, I can literally do whatever I want from whichever time I choose.  Music, books, movies, television, fashion…all mediums and all genres and all styles and so on have been archived so well over the ages that we now have the sum of EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED at our fingertips.  That’s very powerful.  I can pick up a Nook or an iPad or whatever and read Chaucer or George R.R. Martin.  I can look at sketches and read translations from Copernicus or “A Brief History of Time” by Hawking.  That is so incredible.

Or hell, combine the two! Save time!

As for fashion, I’ve kind of developed the following philosophy regarding trends in fashion:  FUCK FASHION.  Have I been caught up in one trend or another over the years?  Sure.  And anyone who says otherwise is lying.  I rocked a blazer with a t-shirt during the early-2000’s.  But you know what I realized?  I also rocked that look in the early-90’s.  I was too young to really rock a blazer in the 80’s, when that seemed like the thing to do (thanks, Miami Vice!) but I’m sure I would’ve.  Also, that style combo wasn’t born in the 80’s anyway.  You know who started the shirt-sans-tie/blazer combo?  Jed fucking CLAMPETT, that’s who.

Well, I reckon it ain’t lupus! Can’t rightly figure what in tarnation it is, though.

I love this outlook in current trendy fashion.  Quick:  what’s the popular male hairstyle called these days?  Is it the high-top fade? The buzz-cut? The side part? The pomp? The shag? I’ve seen every one of those at the mall in the last few months.  What the hell is that mullet-shaven-skater cut that Skrillex is rocking?  Who knows?  More importantly, WHO CARES?!? Hell, I’ll make the question easier:  what’s the trendy female hair style?  Or hair color?  The bob?  The pixie?  The Rachel? (remember that?  Everyone wanted hair like the characters on Friends!)  In a world where Miley Cyrus goes with a near-buzz cut and one out of every four chicks sports either that bright fuchsia color (sometimes just highlights) or wears shiny blue extensions, I suppose anything goes here, too.  Katy Perry wears blue or pink wigs. Rockabilly chicks sport sleeve tattoos and Bettie Page ‘dos. The Katniss braid shows up here and there.  Short, sexy, sassy haircuts mingle with luxurious manes of auburn curls.  It’s literally all good, and it seems that for once (I am an outsider here, so forgive my naiveté) women are genuinely excited to see/meet someone with a strikingly different hair style than their own.  “Oh my GOD!!  I love you hair!!  Who does it?!?”  seems to have replaced “Uh, the 80’s called and they want their bangs back.” That’s so nice.

Just…so much…HAIR…

Sometimes I wear a suit.  Like, a real suit and a tie.  Sometimes I wear shorts and a hockey jersey (sidebar:  nobody cares about you anymore, NHL.  Not many people did before, but now?  Forget it.  You’ve effectively fucked yourself after an amazing playoffs including a first-ever Stanley Cup awarded to a team in the SECOND-LARGEST TELEVISION MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES!  Good job, assholes.  You all suck.  Owners, players, etc.)  Sometimes I wear a “Portal” t-shirt and some jeans.  Now and then, a baby-blue guayabera shirt and some linen pants.  And any time I wear one of these wardrobes in public, it’s like I don’t even get a second glance.  I love second glances, because I crave attention. It’s becoming harder and harder for me to glean that oh-so-wonderful attention simply based on my clothing alone.  Now I must stand in the middle of the Glenbrook Mall food court wearing nothing but an old Chick-Fil-A napkin that I’ve poked a hole in with my pecker (see, the napkin is impaled on my business) and a beaver-skin hat that I’ve set on fire before anyone even nods knowingly at me, like they’re in on some sort of joke.  I must essentially be a one-man flash mob these days.  It’s too much work.  And the reason for that is that anything goes.  Really.  Literally. Anything. Wife-beater-wearing women, utilikilt sporting fellas, old-school Mod Cloth dresses and slinky tube skirts.  Flat-brimmed caps with the sticker on ’em and tweed newsboy caps.  High-top Chuck Taylors, black Doc Martens, leather flip-flops, two-tone wingtips, alligator skin stiletto heels. Faded blue denim jackets, Hurley hoodies, Dickies work jackets, stoner-riffic bajas. Flannel shirts, athletic-fit moisture-wicking polos, pearl-snap western shirts.  All of it.  It’s all good.  Some of it has changed very little in the last twenty years.  Some of it hasn’t changed at all in fifty years.  Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Sigh. It’s not a chihuahua skirt, goddammit!!

Except, of course, for one tiny little issue.  The idea that maybe, just maybe…the reason that anything goes right now is that, well…there just aren’t any more ideas.  Nothing new.  We’ve reached the end, and so now we just recycle everything that’s already come to pass.
This theory is supported, of course, by looking at our popular entertainment choices.  Hollywood is staggeringly bad, simply re-hashing or re-booting old films instead of offering original, entertaining fare.  Another option, of course, is taking old television shows and making them into movies.  Then again, looking at the television itself and seeing recycled shows like “Hawaii 5-0” and “Dallas” and you realize that we are indeed pretty much done giving a shit.  Musically, things are as bad as they were in the woeful 1985-1991 time period, when the likes of Foreigner and Boston walked the Earth side-by-side with atrocious crap like Every Hair Metal Band.  At least then we felt like something was coming.  Something new and slightly dangerous was bubbling up and threatening to upset the entire music industry.  I just wish I believed that something like the Grunge Revolution was going to happen again.  ‘Cause I’ll tell y’all right now, the answer ain’t dubstep.

This image speaks for itself.

In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just have to make do. I’ll avoid the Red Dawn remake like the plague, but revel in the fact that my black leather Brando-style motorcycle jacket will always be cool.  Unlike Crocs and Affliction shirts.  Seriously, that crap is stupid.  Stop it.