I hoarded absolute crap for a long time. In fact, I still do, but the most extreme of my pack rat tendencies have waned significantly over the course of many moves. I now allow myself to pass broken furniture and warped records on the street. I've even managed to part with much of my absolute crap collection. Of course a few precious items still remain, but these are the ones embody the whole reason I started rooting around in dumpsters and hauling all this whatever around in the first place (or at least that's what I tell myself). A fine example of one of these items is my crazy psychedelic cat shirt.
In the height* of my junk collecting days I found this shirt in a garbage bag on Polk Street, not far from where I worked at the time, Out of the Closet. I believe it was 2004 or so. I remember I had just started that job. When I found it I was on my way from OTC, walking toward my buddy Mike’s house. Mike let me in to his place, and upon entering his bed/living room I immediately focused on a book laying open on the bed, a psychology text with the exact image on the shirt printed on one of its pages. I made a comment about my find, showing it to him. He explained to me who Louis Wain was (note the kind of awesome typo in our website's description of the book I just linked to there), and told me the whole deal with his crazy cat drawings. A long obsession with outsider artists began for me, finding myself especially fond of art by the mentally affected. I became aware of the existence of a whole mess of intriguing painters and illustrators- Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfli, Alexander Lobanov** (my all time favorite next to George Herriman probably, but Herriman wasn’t a violent deaf mute) to name a few.
Anyway, the Louis Wain shirt has been on my back more than any other since its inaugural wash. It has traveled with me on just about every trip I’ve ever been on, and has won me compliments and interesting conversations with people of all walks (a pretty unforgettable one with a cop in Austin TX deserves honorable mention). Sadly though, it's now so torn up I can't be wearing it to Green Apple anymore. Too revealing. In fact it's so thin I'm going to have to slow its rotation down altogether. I’ll miss it when it totally goes, so from now until then it’s gonna’ have to be a special occasion shirt, treated with dignity and respect.
* “Height,” meaning I was still willing to root through a dirty garbage bag just sitting on Polk Street.
** As far as I'm aware Lobanov did not make enough art (or at least capture a large enough audience) for anyone to publish a collection of his work. Documentaries on him as well as images of his work are widespread online. I highly recommend taking a look.