About the tee shirts
I’ve been thinking about tee shirts for a long time.
I remember the first tee shirt I loved. I wasn’t even one I owned– I saw it on a girl who was a year older than me. She was in seventh grade. It was during an intimate, bonkersweird time for me when I left behind the safe version of who I was (naive, awkward, always with my face in a book) and transitioned into figuring out who I wanted to be (it started with Courtney Love and moved into a world of zines, vintage clothing, and a number of embarrassing social fails).
The shirt caught my attention, and my memory of it is swept in slow motion. I can still see it vividly as she got onto the bus for the ride home after school. It was a simple screen print of Jan Brady’s face, grimaced in an uneasy smile, and “Jan” in that distinctive Brady font. It was simple. It was three colors. And to anyone else, it was probably just a callback to a cheesy show we all grew up with.
For me, that shirt was like a beacon. It signaled that there were girls in agony before me, who were sadly defined by their pain and subsequently were seen as a punchline. And it signaled that maybe the girl who wore it might understand that sort of thing too. I never spoke to her, but every time I saw her in the cafeteria after that moment, I remembered the shirt and imagined the friendship we woulda/coulda/shoulda had.
Lost Angeles, Do You Feel Me?
“If I can’t go to heaven, let me go to LA” – YACHT
I moved to Los Angeles five years ago to escape from a future bent more on practicality than on any hope I had in myself. I was lost, but not without destination. I remember driving four hours from my old hometown into the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, and finally opening up the door to my new apartment. It was one tiny room, with a bathroom that was shared with 12 people down the hall. There were cockroaches during the summer and a permanent smell running through the building that married nail polish remover with old beef stew. But to me, it felt I was finally on my way to belonging to something bigger. I knew I was one step closer to the person I had always dreamed of being.
Los Angeles is as ruthless as it is glimmering with possibility, and in that first year I spent my time doing what I didn’t expect, like so many others do when they arrive. Here’s what I remember: working a security job at the Norton Simon and then going directly to my friend Salpi’s house to party, dancing like crazy to bands I’d never heard of, driving EVERYWHERE listening to whatever songs I could–songs that were, all at once, gentle and sparse, subsisting on 64 oz diet Cherry Pepsi’s every day and not actually eating (please don’t do this!), and laughing really hard at people who were getting noticeably upset while driving (because even stuck in traffic, the truth was they were still HERE, in Los Angeles, and wasn’t that something to be grateful for?!). On my days off, I would go to a new neighborhood with my notebook and some pens and draw everything that looked good to me. I drew. A LOT. Our fair city is huge and spread out so even now, years later, I still haven’t visited all the little pockets hiding out here.
My life has changed considerably since then, but I find myself just as excited and in love with Los Angeles. I can’t imagine calling anywhere else home—for all of the smog, gentrification, and traffic, there is so much I adore about being here. Los Angeles did for me what it always does: helps people find themselves when they’re ready. There is nothing gentle about this city: the sun is as blinding and unchanging as the heat it generates, many folks are forced into a harsh financial situation due to rising rental rates, and there’s a reputation of people being superficial, fake and advantageous. Still, it is the place I am the most comfortable in. It embraces my own wacked-out ideas. For a person who constantly felt like the weirdo, it is the place that makes me feel, well, normal. It’s as much about the fantastic people I’ve made my friends here and as it is about the histories that are so public.When I need it, Los Angeles feels like relief, like I’m sinking deeper into my eccentricities and uniqueness.
When you are in Los Angeles, you are constantly being hit with new ideas and thoughts. As a result, you are constantly evolving. That’s what this collection of t-shirts is all about: just when you think you’e found yourself, you discover something new and head in a completely different direction. I thought about modern day pin-ups, with their contouring and very real accessibility in social media. I thought about that feeling of driving more than an hour from one side of the city to the other, and knowing you really were in a different land. I thought about the fact that this city is as malleable now as it was when the first set of palm trees were brought here to create a false oasis.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re all lost.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, because it means that someday, we can be found, whatever that finding means to each of us.