Keep Your Day Job:
Tie Dyes, Veggie Burritos,
and Adam Smith in the
STEVEN GIMBEL and BRENDAN CUSHING-DANIELS
There was nothing like selling tie-dyed t-shirts in the parking lot. Weaving between cars and tents, watching the drum and hackysack circles, smelling the veggie burritos and chicken kabobs cooking, dueling bootlegs, each as good as the last, occasionally pausing to let an interested eye browse my wares. They were quality shirts: bright colors from the Procion fiber reactive dyes and tight patterns—off-centered diamonds, double spirals—they were solid ten-dollar shirts.
But they were ten-dollar shirts, not twelve-dollar shirts and certainly not fifteen-dollar shirts. A ten-dollar shirt was a wellmade tie-dye or a plain shirt with a silk-screen design. A twelvedollar shirt was either a silk screen with a nice complementary dye job or a design that was particularly beautiful and intricate or had a slogan that was novel and clever. The fifteen-dollar shirts were the new injection dyed shirts that were suddenly the rage. The old school tie dyers would bitch amongst ourselves that they didn’t fold, they sewed the shirts to get the designs so perfect; they cheated by using syringes to perfectly place the dye instead of mastering the spray bottles and rubber bands; and most of all the guys selling them weren’t the ones who made them anyway, they just bought them in bulk. But no one denied they were stunning. Whether it was a mushroom, a globe with actual continents, or Jerry’s face, the designs and the colors were incredible. They were fifteen-dollar shirts.
It was a rebel life; escaping the boredom of a straight job to make cool shirts, sell them at shows, and then fall asleep in a