Saturday, July 10, 2010

"If you found ONE, they probably made a THOUSAND."

Your author would have looked just as stupid in this in 1991. 

Pretty much everyone I know who lived in Brooklyn in the 90s fondly remembers Domsey's, a Williamsburg-Bridge-area clothing place legendary for its by-the-pound offerings in the basement.  I found many staples of my ridiculous art-school-era "look" by sifting through piles of rags, ducking the bulldozers that were shoving bales of clothing, and pulling out the most gloriously weird stuff I found.

Nothing topped the mighty GRUNGE jersey, though.

A baseball jersey with an African-tricolor motif (red and yellow front panels, green sleeves, and a black back and hood), with five-inch-tall lettering spelling out the decidedly-not-Afrocentric word GRUNGE.  It was the sort of thing a computer simulacrum would wear when it appeared to the United Nations, had it learned the ways of Earthlings entirely by watching VHS tapes of MTV from 1991. I found it around late 1999 or early 2000, long after it would have been timely in its misguided squareness.

The best thing about the jersey, other than it being hilariously ugly and uncool, was that it was produced by Spike Lee's short-lived 40 Acres and a Mule stores, themselves a time capsule of that period in the 90s when independent film still felt like something...well, independent.  Unless the piece was a custom (not likely, given the price point of the 40A stuff when there was a store on Dekalb Avenue by Pratt), the GRUNGE jersey was a product which had been given the green light at least a few times between the drawing board and the coat hanger.  I like to think that Spike Lee himself looked at the design on paper and said "Yes - this is exactly what I need to promote my brand as a vital aspect of Brooklyn Afrocentrism.  Look out, Moshood!"

My wife (a costume designer who certainly knows her way around bulk clothiers) put it well:  "The chances are, this was not a custom, and if you found one, they probably made a thousand of these."

Sadly, before I was able to finally wear it to a Spike Lee signing, I realized that it had been several years since I last wore it (and that I never even wore it in a promo photo for my late hip hop project, for which it would have been a perfect statement of my "it doesn't matter if you cheer my name or hiss me" persona).  I ended up selling it to Beacon's Closet in Williamsburg about six months ago, and have since kinda-sorta expected to see it worn by some yahoo on Project Runway or in a band-promo photo in L Magazine

I wonder if, ten years from now, I'll see a piece of clothing made in 2010 that so completely got 2010 wrong.  Or am I now too old, too distanced from anything resembling the cool stuff?  Would I even recognize square anymore?

1 comment:

  1. The bathroom self-portrait is the icing on the cake, particularly because the newest Bravo reality show -- "Work of Art" -- is about "actual artists," one of whom continually disappears into the bathroom to take art-school-esque photos in the mirror. Said "artist" is a buxom dishwater blonde and bears absolutely no resemblance to you except that, to me, she looks like someone's idea of another mid-to-late 90s version of the equally iconic token white girl in a hip hop video. (albeit, one shot in a strip joint). Talk about chopping up the high with the low...