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Suicide Machines – Just Do It.

The Suicide Machines - Just do it

My Vintage T-Shirt

Suicide Machines – Just Do It.

If memory serves correct, the first concert I went to without parental supervision was a Suicide Machines show at the Metro in Chicago in 1997. Some friends and I took the Green Line from Harlem/Lake in Oak Park down to the Loop, transferred to the Red Line, rode it up to the Addison stop, walked past Wrigley Field, and found ourselves at the doors of adolescence. Thirteen years old with a pack of Newports that a homeless fellow purchased for me, a long chain wallet hanging off a pair of gaberdine slacks, and my brother’s brown Chuck Taylors, I was ready to skank the night away.

Like most concert shirts I owned then, it was too big for me. Tucking it in or rolling the sleeves wouldn’t have looked right. Before showing it off the next Monday at school, I’d need to chop and crop it. I didn’t have the foresight to think about growing into the shirt as I got older.


Vintage Long sleeved 1997 Suicide Machines Revolution T-Shirt Front

Within about twenty minutes of my first period math class beginning, the room’s intercom system chimed and the voice on the other end summoned me to the vice principal’s office. No stranger to being called out of class to answer for some youthful transgression, I couldn’t recall any recent incident that would have put me on the path to detention.

He’d been made aware that the shirt I had on was not appropriate, deemed that by the middle school’s librarian. The year prior I’d similarly been reprimanded for wearing a White Zombie t-shirt with the phrase “die fucker die” printed on it so that bald prick wasn’t surprised to see me under the circumstances.

Vintage 1997 Suicide Machines Just Do it T-Shirt Back

I played it stupid and asked what about the shirt was inappropriate? He let out a sigh of incredulity. He directed my attention to the gun displayed prominently on the front of the shirt, expressing that the imagery was “too mature” for the fifth through eighth graders that would be exposed to it had I been allowed to wear it.

He neglected to mention the fraudulent Nike swoosh and infringed trademark, so I guess those design elements weren’t problematic. My punishment would be the embarrassment of having to wear my gym shirt for the rest of the day. I’d get my revenge on him five years later by egging his car on a random Tuesday.

Eventually this shirt, like others from my childhood were lost to time. When I began to hunt for these relics from of my youth, this item was at the top of my list. It never showed up in any of my online searches and my network in the vintage community is cursory at best, non-existent at worst, so I couldn’t anticipate knowing anybody that could help me find it. I’d needed to start thinking like the forty-year-old I am, not the thirteen-year-old I was.

I was one of the younger concert goers that evening. The folks that were between eighteen and thirty years old at that time would be firmly entrenched in a midlife crisis around now, some even nearing retirement age. While I pondered how I would be able to reach my target demographic, in a moment of clarity, I theorized that anybody that might have this shirt I’m after would probably be active on Facebook.

Suicide Machines Concert Ticket Stub

Locating a Suicide Machines fan group on Facebook was as easy as it sounds. I asked permission to join and a few days later I was accepted and made a post inquiring about the shirt in question. Within an hour of posting, the first commenter said “Lemme look, will take a few days, but sure I have it.”

Over the next six weeks I periodically checked in with the commenter to keep him on task. It was a busy time of year for him whatever that meant. He had delegated his wife to going through their storage items to find it from what I could gather. After the gentle reminders, I was finally sent a photo of the just located shirt. It was exactly what I was looking for.

I was willing to pay pretty much whatever number he would offer up to get it into my collection. He was a fan helping a fan out and probably didn’t consider gauging me on the price. I venomed his wife $60 including shipping and impatiently waited.

It took some effort to remove the overwhelming and unreported stench of cigarettes from the garment. Guided by the coked-up voice of pitchman extraordinaire Billy Mays, I didn’t just clean the shirt, I OxyCleaned it. By unleashing the power of oxygen, I was able to get the shirt brighter and smelling less like my grandmother’s 1986 Toyota Corolla hatchback.

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