Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In My Closet—D.I.Y. Morbid Angel Shirt


The year was 1991, and I was lucky enough to be living in the epicenter of death metal culture, Florida. Earache records could do no wrong then (we'll just try to forget Fudge Tunnel for the sake of this piece), and Chuck Schuldiner was practically reinventing death metal as he and an impressive list of studio musicians recorded "Human" in Morrisound Studios. It was a heady time for sure.

My family was broke as hell at the time, and sadly we could not afford proper metal attire for me to wear. Yes, I did manage to buy an Obituary back patch at the record store next to Bird Bowl in Miami...but that took months of saving. If I wanted a metal shirt, I was on my own. Back in the day, we didn't just buy our shirts. By god, we made them.

Enter Mr Delpino. Mr Delpino was a bug eyed drunkard of an art teacher at the school I attended. He was best known for multiple stints in rehab, drinking on the job (out of milk jugs he kept under his desk) and speaking to the class through a lapel clip-on mike. He would often leave the classroom as he was teaching, only to keep on teaching through the microphone. Hearing him take a piss in the bathroom through the small speaker at the front of the room as he continued to talk is something I'll never forget.

Anyway, I signed up to take his class because I heard that he allowed students to do silkscreening during and after class. I was hooked. During that semester I produced three shirts, the highlight of which is this fine Morbid Angel shirt you see here. I wore this shirt proudly all the time back then, knowing it was a one-of-a-kind item. It worked well with my black sweatpants. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I picked a white t shirt (the two other shirts are white also), except that perhaps I already had the shirts, and my mom refused to buy me black ones so I could screw them up by screening crap on them. It was an unusual choice for metal shirts to be sure, but also a smart one considering the blistering Florida sun. I was super metal AND weather conscious. What a combo. Ladies....I was a catch!


Looking at it now, I think the most redeeming quality of the shirt is the design in the front. I'm not sure where I came up with the idea for doing a typographic representation of the song "Immortal Rites", much less combining it with Morbid Angel's pentagram/cross/6 combo. A good bit of work seems to have gone into the word "immortal", while "rites" seems like an after thought. As I think about it now, I'm sure my mom was thrilled when I brought the shirt home. Not only had I ruined my white t shirt, but I had chosen to put this crap on it? Great. Unlike many people my age who look back on their younger years in shame, I look at this shirt with pride. Well, okay...and also some shame.

15 comments:

  1. this shit is like watching "the goonies" or something. a bittersweet blast of nostalgia.

    i grew up in yugoslavia and "official" metal attire was in short supply and too expensive. the same went for screen printing. so we illustrated our T's - with markers. each was one of a kind and you could only wash them a couple of times. i could barely speak a word of english, but i had a "speak english or die" T. and another one with the suicidal tendencies' ST logo. given its ephemeral lifespan, i chose carefully the occasions i wore it to. the ladies didn't know this, but if i appeared in my ST shirt, it meant i was showing them great respect.

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  2. oh...i know exactly what you mean. i made shirts with markers also growing up. i too grew up not speaking english and yet i had a "speak english or die" patch in my jacket. ooops.

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  3. chris, that is a very heartwarming story! we'd love to see images of those shirts, any chance you still got them?

    lucho, i might be wrong here, but didnt i design the front of the shirt? i think i did. the tratment on 'immortal' seems like something i'd do....

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  4. No way, fudge tunnel was awesome.

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  5. sorry, 'krusher, they're long since gone. i was immune to childhood nostalgia until recently (this year i'll be a 30-year-old fart with polos, loans and a BMW), and now i regret throwing stuff away. stuff that would remind me that you die a little by "growing up".

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  6. ...and how times, no matter what anyone says, have changed.

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  7. Once I drawed the Entombed logo on my denim jacket...
    And I don't think white shirts were "uncool": Pestilence's Martin Van Drunen used to wear a white Autopsy shirt in some Consuming impulse-era photosessions...

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  8. i'll remember fudge tunnel and remember them fondly.

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  9. fudge tunnel were great, much better than the majority of garbage flooding the earache warehouse at the time.

    i had a DIY Capitalist Casualties shirt in high school. it was cool.

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  10. Amazing post. And the best shit about it happens to be the details about Mr. Delpino. Incredible. The pissing with the mic on story is fucking CLASSIC.

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  11. DIY Cap Cass shirt somehow is not as cool. i dont know why. seems like bands like that meant to have ppl make their own shirts. does that make any sense?

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  12. mr delpino is one of the few people i have encountered in my life that i honestly think would be odd enough that a Crumb style documentary could be made about him. i only had him as a teacher for one semester...and yet for that short amount of time, i found out so much weird crap and heard him say so much out there stuff...what a man.
    chuck schuldiner often wore white tshirts, with and without kittens on them. that would always make me feel better about myself back then.

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    **** (4 stars)

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  14. i also had some diy shirts- one of the d.r.i. moshing man logo, done with red and black marker on a white t-shirt. i wore it to gym class a couple of times- imagine the lovely smell since i couldn´t wash it.... i also made one with the steel fury logo. this one was a bit more sophisticated since i actually used textile colours. unfortunately, i completely screwed up the proportions, and the writing was rather sloppy... i also did some homemade patches for my vest because i couldn´t afford to buy enough real patches for it at first. i cut squares from an old jeans and painted the band logos with marker. i only remember the one with the logo of the (horrible)speed metal band angel dust, but i definitely did some more. as soon as i bought enough others, they disappeared very fast. i also remember that once in 1991 or so, i saw one guy in a record shop who had cut out the letters "anthrax" in leather and had them stitched on his vest. (sure his mom got some bleeding fingers from that one). please note that the letters did not resemble the anthrax logo at all.

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