Some 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.
Originally posted as T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 8 (August 5, 2007)
Here’s a shirt I haven’t worn in many years, in part because I’ve gotten a bit too husky for it to fit that well, and also because it’s a 50/50 cotton and polyester blend, and I really hate how those feel. But I love the design so much, and there’s such a great story surrounding the shirt, that I can’t get rid of it.
The time was either 1994 or 1995, and although I can’t be sure which year it was, I’m inclined to think it was 1995. Me and one of my best friends—Ron, the guy who’s into chaining girls up and spanking them—drove up to Tacoma, Washington, for a Free Leonard Peltier rally. For those of you that don’t know who Leonard Peltier is, he’s a Native American activist and member of AIM (the American Indian Movement) who is currently serving multiple life sentences for the murder of two FBI agents. During the 1970s AIM was very active in fighting for the rights of Native Americans, including issues dealing with land rights, healthcare and poverty. AIM had become engaged in a deadly conflict with supporters of the U.S. government, which including fellow tribesman, and much of the violence was being played out in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During this time there were more murders in Pine Ridge per capita than anywhere else in the United States. On June 26, 1975, members of AIM got into a deadly shootout with two FBI agents. Despite evidence to the contrary, Peltier was convicted of the murders.
Since this column is about t-shirts, I am not going to go on at length about Peltier or his case. If you don’t know anything about this complex subject, I suggest you read the books Agents of Repression and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Also check out the documentary Incident at Oglala. All three of these sources can better educate you than I can.
So, Ron and I were in Tacoma for the Peltier rally. Our friends Julie and Dena had joined us for the event. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had a great time. I had attended similar events in Portland, but this one was different. There were more people, and what felt like a greater sense of community (although maybe that was just my imagination). As it turned out, there was a big powwow going on in Tacoma that day, and some people at the rally invited us. We went to the powwow after the rally, and that’s where I got this shirt. In no way, shape or form does it convey the seriousness of Peltier or his plight, but it does serve as a great reminder of that weekend. For the record: I do have a “Free Peltier” shirt as well.
After the powwow in Tacoma we drove up to Seattle, where Julie and Dena spent the night at the apartment of Gabriel, a mutual friend from college. Ron and I crashed out at the apartment of a chick named Tanya, who interestingly enough lived in the same building as Gabriel, just down the hall from him. Tanya was this hot redhead from Canada who I met when she and her “husband” had been in Portland. Tanya was married to Mike, who was an amateur boxer, so she could stay in the country. I met them one night at a club, when Mike was in town for a fight. Tanya invited me to the fight the next night, and the only reason I went was because I was hoping that somehow we might end up back at the hotel having sex. There was no actual plan for this, just the desire on my part. Unfortunately, Mike got his shoulder fucked up in the fight, and I ended up driving him to the emergency room where I kept Tanya company for several hours. All hope for nookie was left in the ring, where Mike had dislocated his shoulder.
Tanya and I stayed in touch after that, so when Ron and I came up to Seattle, she let us stay with her. At that point in my life I had never met a woman that I wanted to sleep with more than Tanya. Unfortunately, my spine was even less developed than it is now, so it never happened. Of course, during this particular trip she had a boyfriend who simply called himself “X.” This cat was so black he was blue, and he had that harder-than-you stare down so well it almost intimidated me.
At this point it should be noted that I had been up for over thirty hours, and was exhausted. But rather than go to sleep, me and Ron went to some club in Seattle where my friend Daniel’s band Hitting Birth happened to be playing. After that we crossed paths with Tanya and her friends. Even though I was sleep deprived, I was the only the person who was sober, so I ended up driving the group of us back to Tanya’s, where we partied some more. One of her friends was trying to get me to drive her home, and, I suspect, have sex with me. But at that point I had been up for 36 hours, and I couldn’t be sure if this woman was really coming on to me, or if I was just delirious from lack of sleep. So instead of driving this woman to the other side of Seattle, and risk not getting sex as well as being up for another hour or so, I did something I had never done before in my life, I opted out of potential poontang in favor of sleep. I’ve never done it before, and I hope to never do it again.
And that is the story surrounding this shirt.