I called him “Ironic T-Shirt Jesus”. He was a sullen, tight-lipped goofball with Cher-length hair and granny glasses. With the Simpsons t-shirts and the 70’s bands t-shirts and the little smarmy slogans about high-end software products. He was assumed by his peers to be “witty” but that wasn’t wit. It was a tepid amalgam of pop culture references that impressed ex-baristas and others so immersed in their own desperate longing to even quantify such prattle. Once in a while roused from his workmanlike somnambulism to offer up what passed for humor in this chamber of white collar hell. I found him loathsome.
But one day, ITSJ came in with one of his t-shirts. A t-shirt that offered up a mock-up of the above image. I think it was tailored toward some sort of gamer festival (natch). Did he realize it was a take-off of a hyper-meta meme that maybe a dozen people in the world could know about? If he was one of them, if he was someone who was familiar with the famous Louvin Brother album “Satan Is Real“, maybe I had him wrong. Maybe he had real chops and maybe I underestimated him. I loved that album, and moreover, discovered it through the “Incredibly Strange Music” magazine put out by RE/SEARCH. He had to know that. He had to.
So I stood up and got his attention.
“Hey, I know where the design for that t-shirt originated.”
He smiled a little. But I’m not sure if it was because of where that particular t-shirt came from or where the design itself originated.
I said “Louvin Brothers, right?”
I lost him. “Huh?” He suddenly got his annoyed scowl back.
“Louvin Brothers. ‘Satan Is Real’! Here…” (I pull up the image of the album cover and show him)
“Oh…” And he sits back down.
And we never spoke another word, ITSJ and me.
Fuck you, Ironic T-Shirt Jesus.