T-SHIRTS + ME
T-shirts with Logos.
T-shirts with sayings.
T-shirts with designs on them.
How do we each choose what we put on?
I admit, I can be a t-shirt snob. It has nothing to do with sticker price or brand. It’s more about an originality factor. And I’m not gonna lie, I kinda like a person 5% more if the t-shirt they are wearing is an interesting one; a good t-shirt and good socks (but the socks are for another story.)
Actually, my first introduction to Giant Robot was from a t-shirt. Around 8 years ago, I saw a guy walking around 3rd Street promenade in Santa Monica with a Giant Robot shirt on. I went up to him and asked,
“Who is this Giant Robot?”
That led me to search out the magazine.
Even now when I wander into the store on Sawtelle, I usually rifle through the t-shirts. I am guaranteed to find a fun selection of unique art designs I know I won’t see anywhere else.
So—it’s been a long time since I bought a t-shirt at a concert but Battles were just in town. In my life, inspiration often comes from a jolt of the unfamiliar. Hearing Battles for the first time did this to me. For anyone who isn’t familiar with their music –I would describe them as an energetic type of meditation—heavy instrumental perhaps. Their unique sound has creatively stirred me when some of my favorite tunes distract with heavy lyrics. That being said, I was pretty excited to finally see them live.
I asked my friend Zuleikha Robinson to come down with to The Mayan theatre downtown to see the show. When I got there, my excitement was heightened even more by the glowing t-shirt stand to the right of the stage.
“I have to get a Battles T-shirt!”
Well—I had 13 bucks in my pocket. Darn! Of course not having the full $25 on me turned getting that shirt into a mission. Z lent me $11 and as I was about to start bargaining for that last buck, a kind stranger saved the day.
Thanks guy wearing the black flannel.
“People at Art openings are pretentious and weird.” I hear variations of this comment all the time.
Either of these scenarios sound familiar? Standing next to a person by the bathroom for 10 minutes and not even saying a polite hello—much less making an introduction? Or even more awkward; standing next to someone whom you know is your Facebook friend, but neither of you are acknowledging this fact or each other? I rarely have this interaction with the same person when we meet in a restaurant, nightclub or even at Trader Joe’s—so what gives? Uncomfortable moments like these have got me thinking. Is it the other person? Is it me? Or could it possibly be something to do with the art venue?
The weird thing is, I go to museums often and I really do love art. I have become somewhat obsessed with artists such as, Brancusi, Dali, Hokusai, Freud, and Murakami to name a few. Yes, these are Masters, I know, I know, and yes, their works are mainstream and accessible, so it is not a surprise really that I like them.
Yet nothing has been more nerve wracking at times for me, than going to an art show. You know, one of those great gatherings, with great up and coming artists, like the ones that you get invited to on Facebook? Something like those. So I’ll get an invite to one of these shows; and having the predisposition of a hermit crab–but knowing that I could use a little of that stuff called “culture”—I’ll throw my Repettos on and venture out from under my rock.
Here’s a dirty little secret…
Sometimes, I don’t even know who the artist is, or even the art medium that I am about to show up for. Quelle Horreur!! I know, I know, but off I’ll go. Then, it will happen that I get there and I have the awkward experience of either showing up way too early; or, being stood up by certain friends of mine (who will remain nameless ahem, but know who they are.)
As soon as those neon, dark-under-eye-circle-magnifying lights hit me—so do the butterflies. This calls for activities such as; typing a faux text on my blackberry; pretending to have to use the bathroom–and then often—just walking out. It’s kind of involuntary. Halfway down the street, after pulling out of my ‘karma good’ parking spot, I will have a little “what is my problem?” moment. If I do end up staying, I am tense, awkward and hyper-aware of every movement of my body. I’m not really enjoying the art because my brain is slowly melting as I try to adjust to being in the space correctly.
New people. Art. Florescent lights. People. Noises. Music. Nowhere to sit. Nowhere to hide. Nowhere to sit. How am I standing? Ahh.
Then, after settling into the place, I will often find myself taking on another behavior, even more bizarre. I will float around, avoiding eye contact, ignoring certain individuals and having light, safe conversations, mostly avoiding the topic of the event that I showed up for in the first place; the Art.
“I saw you but didn’t get a chance to talk to you.”
Huh? We are in a space about the size of a matchbox and are having a hard time connecting?
What a peculiar condition.
Well, having the propensity towards a hypochondriacal nature, I do sometimes self-diagnose. After much self-examination, I have come up with a little theory. What clinically might be known as a form of social anxiety might possibly have a more accurate diagnosis. I have taken the liberty of naming this condition:
Art Show Syndrome—or—with all due respect, A.S.S. I see A.S.S as a benign condition that affects a person’s attitude, posture, and vernacular in various degrees while participating in the Art Scene. A couple of weeks ago, I started an unqualified behavioral study of myself and other art goers surrounding me. Though I have not done enough research to argue what the causes or cures are for everyone, I think I have found a few simple facts that are at the root of my own A.S.S behavior. I will share.
Maybe some of you can relate…