T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 17

tsotw-button-1.jpgSome people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

WEEK 17: Here we have a bit of ancient history—an old relic from my misspent youth, that represents more than almost any other shirt in my collection. But in order to tell the story of this shirt, and what it means in the Life & Times of David “BadAzz MoFo” Walker, I need to provide a little background.

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My cousin Sean is my oldest, best friend on the planet. More than a cousin, he is like my brother. I love him dearly, and I know he would not object to my describing him as a hustler, because that’s what he is. Even when we were kids, he always had some sort of hustle going on. Back in high school, he and a good friend of his, Martin Epps, started a company called Graffiti Magic. This was in the early days of hip-hop, when breakdancing was just becoming a national craze, and films like Wild Style and Beat Street were trying to capture what was going on in the streets of New York.

Those of you with any sense of history know that back in those days, graffiti was a huge part of hip-hop. (I don’t have time to get into the history of graffiti in hip-hop, or the significance it had within the cultural movement, but if you don’t know, check out Wild Style or the documentary Style Wars). My cousin Sean, being the enterprising hustler that he was (and still is) started Graffiti Magic with Martin as a company that painted elaborate street-style art on the back of people’s coats. Sean and Martin went and got graffiti artists in the New York City area, and had them painting murals on the backs of coats and jackets that they then sold to white kids from the suburbs.

While all of this was going on, the Statute of Liberty was undergoing a major “facelift” in preparation for its 100th anniversary in 1986. This t-shirt was Graffiti Magic’s commemorative shirt to mark that event. The illustration was done by a cat named Seen. Anyone who knows anything about graffiti should know the name Seen, as he was one of the most well-known artists to come out of NYC in the late 1970s and early 80s. He has since gone on to make a name for himself as a highly-respected tattoo artist.

I was given this shirt by my cousin the summer I graduated high school. In August of 1986, I packed up my stuff and moved from Portland back to the east coast. I would be heading to college in New Jersey in September, but the month before that would be spent kicking around with Sean and Martin, as we chased girls and generally got into trouble. The three of us had our sights set on this Puerto Rican hottie named Anna. As I recall, she was from Boston, wanted to be a model, and was about as smart as a bag of rocks. But she was fine, and that’s all that mattered to us. Sean had a girlfriend named Cassandra, which was confusing, because that was the name of his younger sister. Cassandra (Sean’s girlfriend, not his sister) had a girlfriend named Shawn (which really confused things), who I ended up hooking up with. Shawn Davis was the first bonafide freak I ever got with, and in many ways was a preview of what was to come my way for the next twenty-one years.

So much stuff happened that summer, and much of it happened while I was wearing this shirt. It seems impossible to believe that so much could happen in a month’s time, but life was an adventure for me and my friends. I remember that Martin drove this piece of crap, yellow Toyota hatchback, and that was our chief mode of transportation that summer. Martin’s car had this crappy cassette player, and we would listen to Run DMC’s Raising Hell as we drove all around looking for fun. One afternoon we drove into New York City, where we almost got killed by a garbage truck.

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The trip I remember the most was to the Bronx, where I met Seen, the guy who designed this shirt. I remember the trip so vividly, because my cousin and Martin warned me that Seen’s wife was one of the finest women on the planet, and that I had to be careful not to stare at her for too long. “I’m not an idiot,” I said. “I can keep from staring at some fine-ass woman.”

“That’s what everyone says. But Seen’s wife is so fine, it’s hypnotic,” said Martin.

I laughed, because I thought him and Sean were full of shit. But low and behold, Seen’s wife was pretty much the best looking woman I had ever seen up to that point in my life. And while I tried not to stare at her, she was hypnotic.

Right after labor Day weekend, Sean and my grandfather drove me to New Jersey, where I started college. I planned on returning to Connecticut in two weeks time, to see Shawn Davis, who was my kinda/sorta woman; but while I was away at school, she hooked up with some other guy and dumped me.

There are very few times in my life that I wish I could just go back to, even for a little while. But that summer of 1986, spent with Sean and Martin (and Ted Pirro), was one of the best times of my life. It was like something out of some sappy coming-of-age teen comedy, only it was my life, and it was great. More so than any other shirt, this one represents the last days of my childhood. When it was first given to me, I was just out of high school—young, dumb-and full of cum. And when the summer was over, I began to embark on the road to adulthood.

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