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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heady lot shirts

All you Phishheads know that a certain segment of the culture at shows is the creative t-shirts that people wear.  A mocking reclamation of corporate America, the shirts often display common brand images that have been morphed into insider song references.  Like Art Spiegelman's Wacky Packages created for Topps Bubble Gum, they are meant to be humorous and fun.  The difference is that Wacky Packages were mainstream as well as very dark.  You  could go into any place where they already were selling baseball cards (in my case, it was Cedar Heights Variety store...I still remember that blended smell of tobacco and gum and walking on a hardwood floor) and get Wacky Packages.  Shirts aren't generally sold in any commercial venue.  And Wacky Packages were warped and weird...dare I say they were wacky.  Phish lot shirts are more fun, light, and happy, happy happy.  

Unless you look carefully, you probably don't even realize that a Phish t shirt is different than the original.  Sure, it is in clear violation of Title 17 of the United States Code, but who the heck really cares?  The big corporations have bigger phish to phfry than to go after those folks who created the "YEM" t-shirt that looks like the IBM logo.  But, you still won't be able to see it or buy it online because we be smart pholks and know that would be pretty darn silly to post online!

It is all in good fun and happiness, and chances are that those YEM shirt wearers are big fans of International Business Machines, or more likely their own fathers worked for big blue and enabled them to have a nice house in Larchmont which enabled them to get into a good school which enabled them to be enabled and enabled and enabled and fall into listening to Phish (because most likely they were a huge computer nerd or stats guy or sports fan who by their very nature are stats guys) which led them to love You Enjoy Myself (because of course when you are in Florence and visit the Uffizi you are happy to know you know this song...or the flipside could be that you , and this would be my own personal experience, had visited the Uffizi during college and had no clue about this song at that time, and only later did you learn the song and come to appreciate its funniness).

I must admit that a very fun past time of mine over the years has been to observe all the variety of shirts out there.  I am not alone in this game...my brother in law told me of an awesome shirt riffing on the Re/Max logo which has the familiar hot air balloon with the word Reba in it.  Only a phan would get that.  (Reba is a Phish song)

This is not unique to Phish:  The Grateful Dead also had its own t-shirt culture.  My very own husband, Stango, had a shirt based on the song "Cosmic Charlie" which featured Snoopy and Charlie Brown.  After viewing its stained pits and holes, I decided that it was worth a shot on selling on ebay, and somewhere around 2002 I sold it to a person in Japan for somewhere around $75.  Yes, for a stained-pit t-shirt.




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