steady grind

The best 9-11 T-shirt ever!

Mere days after the attacks on 9-11 there was an eruption of T-shirts that spoke to the anger felt towards the terrorists and more specifically Osama Bin Laden.  It seemed every where you turned some Patriotic entrepreneur had conceived of a concise and violent message that could be trumpeted loud and clear from it’s cotton canvas.

Though I was as shocked and incensed by the attacks I will admit that the graphic nature of some shirts did make me feel a little uneasy.  Images of Bin laden with a Machine gun rammed up his ass and bullets flying out of his mouth in a bloody spray didn’t make me say “Hells Ya” as much as “ OK I understand your ire but still…”

Soon, however, those heady days of wearable ultra violence waned and gave way to the more subdued but still direct message of Osama in crosshairs with the words WANTED…DEAD.   Not exactly subtle but still workable within the social context. This steady grinding message would be the workhorse of wearable American feelings until Osama was killed.

I had all but forgot about Americas graphically violent silk screen war on Osama until 3 weeks ago when I stopped at a yard sale in Alhambra.

Amongst the usual Bric-a-Brac and power tools there was a cardboard box that caught my attention. 

It was filled with T-shirts and when I saw the design I knew they had to be mine. Austin Powers chastising Osama Bin Laden with the catch phrase “Oh-sama Behave”. It was certainly a message that I agreed with and one that you would be hard pressed to be offended by; you could wear it to a church picnic for Christ’s sake, but it stupendously failed to transmit any real anger.  I was intrigued.

The older gentleman who was running the sale explained to me the genesis of the shirts. “After 9-11 I was mad as heck and I wanted to say so.  I mean, who the heck does something like that? A crazy person that’s who.  So I figured I’d send this Bin laden character a sharp message.  That’s when I come up with the idea to make this T-shirt.”

As he spoke I could see that dormant anger rise again.  He was really fired up but it was clear that he had boundaries that he would not cross. Through gritted teeth he talked about how Osama had “fudged everything up for America” and that the terrorists were a bunch of “Darned hooligans”.   The blazing fury matched any that I had ever encountered post 9-11 but it passed through his strange milquetoast filter that took any of the sting out of his message. “ I thought they would sell like hot cakes down at the VFW but I had a bunch left over.  I mostly use ‘em as shop rags but if you like ‘em I’ll make you a deal on the whole box.”

I tried to act nonchalant but inside I was seething with bargain fever. “ so what are you asking for ‘em?” I queried coolly as I picked up a crystal turtle that I pretended to be interested in.  “ Two bucks each?” he said not sure if he was out of line.

I should have dickered. I could have dickered. But I did not. And after counting I handed him $52 for the entire box of 28 shirts.  It was the purchase of a lifetime and worth every penny.