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David F. Walker
Category: T-Shirt Confidential (formerly T-Shirt of the Week)

T-Shirt Confidential #4

Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

As with most of the shirts featured in T-Shirt Confidential, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not actually wearing this shirt. In chronicling my life through the t-shirts I have worn, the one hard truth that I have to face is that I have put on a lot of weight over the years. Many of the shirts I own, no longer fit. Don’t get me wrong, I can still put this one on, but it is with the utmost shame and disgust that I must admit how portly I have become over the years, and to see me rocking this bad boy is nothing short of just plain sad.

I got a lot of wear out of this shirt over the years. It was given to me by two of my best friends—Ron and Kevin—back in the summer of 1986, after we all graduated high school. The Meat Puppets were playing in town with two local bands (I think the other two bands were the Hellcows and Napalm Beach) at the Pine Street Theater. I had never been to a punk show, and Kevin and Ron dragged me out for this event—a sort of going away party for me, as I was soon heading off to New Jersey for college. What’s funny is that I have no memories of any of the bands, which is sad because I was neither drunk nor stoned. I did catch some of the first two bands, but by the time the Meat Puppets took the stage I was in the parking lot trying to make time with some chick whose name I can’t remember. All I remember about her is she had a tattoo of a spider, so over the years she has simply become known as Spider Chick.  All of this went down more than thirty years ago. A few weeks after that show I was off to New Jersey.

Me back in 1986, much younger, and not nearly as fat.

I wore this shirt a lot in the summer of 1986. Maybe it was because it reminded me of my friends back home. People would walk up to me and say, “I love the Meat Puppets,” and I would respond, “Yeah, they’re great.” The truth is that not only did I not see the show that night; I don’t believe I’ve ever even heard a single song by them.

T-Shirt Confidential #3

Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

Talk about bringing back memories. This is one of several different shirts for a band called Drunk at Abi’s, which was pretty big in Portland during the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was in my early 20s back in those days, and while it sounds like a cliché to say it, I don’t think there was ever a more vibrant time in the Portland music scene. There was a ton of buzz being generated out of Seattle, most notably by bands like Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden, but no one had really broken big yet. Back in those days you could see a group like Nirvana in a really small club, and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers were only playing 1200 seat venues. It was really amazing.

Some of the hottest bands in Portland at that time included Sweaty Nipples, Hitting Birth, Pond, Crackerbash and Hazel. These were all great bands, but I had a close connection with Drunk at Abi’s, and they were my favorite. The earliest incarnation of the band was formed in late 1988/early 1989 at a party hosted by Abi Lawrence and her sister Valory. I was moving to New York, and my two friends JR Pella and Von Porter got drunk and started jamming, which is basically how it all got started.

By 1990 I was back in Portland, and Von and JR had formed a band. Originally I was hoping they would call themselves Jesus Truck Repair, after a local mechanic shop, but Drunk at Abi’s really made sense. (Eventually some other band called themselves Jesus Truck Repair, but they didn’t last long). At first they were a pseudo power trio with no drummer (?). JR was the singer, Von the guitarist, and a guy named Mike Flick was briefly the bass player before being replaced by Ray Gruen. Tom Peterson was the drummer, and he had gone to high school with JR and me.

DAA had a pretty fast rise in popularity, and for most of that time I was around, helping out in whatever way I could. One of the best shows was a special $1 showcase at a club called LaLuna. The show was completely sold out, there wasn’t enough security, and at any moment it seemed like a riot would break out. Me and some friends jumped in started helping cover security.

It seems like most of my social life revolved around either DAA’s gigs or the video store that me, Von and JR worked at (it was a lot like Clerks). At the height of the band’s popularity they opened for national acts like Rage Against the Machine and The Dead Milkmen. Unfortunately, the band broke up in either 1992 or 1993. It was probably harder on me than the rest of the band—it was like my parents had gotten divorced.

Below is a track from their first EP.

T-Shirt Confidential #2

Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

This shirt was given to me by my cousin Sean back in 1995. FREEZE was the hip-hop label he was working for at the time. Somewhere, in my vast collection of material things (which includes waaaay too many t-shirts) I also have a few CDs from FREEZE, but this shirt got more wear than the albums ever got play.

I don’t know if other people ever take the time to think about what a particular article of clothing means to them, but this shirt means a whole hell of a lot to me. Sean gave it to me while I was on a trip visiting family in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. It was the early part of 1995, and I was still dealing with the death of my oldest friend in the world, who had been killed three days before Christmas in 1994. I bought my first video camera right before this trip, and my plan was to make a documentary about my family. Sean and his girlfriend Licia (who would later become his wife) were expecting their first child—the first of the new generation. I was determined to record a bit of our family history, so that when Sean’s daughter grew up, she would be able to know something about the people that came before her.

During that visit to the east coast I also took my grandfather on a road trip from Connecticut to southern Virginia, where he and my grandmother were originally from. It was important to see where they had grown up and met, so even though his health was not the best, it was important that I take him on this journey. I saw the cemeteries where many of my relatives were buried, and even met Miss Dora Hall, my grandfather’s grade school teacher, who at the time I met her was pushing up on 100 years old. On the ride back we spent two days in Washington D.C. with my good friend Bryan and his lady Maria. This time with my grandfather on the road represents some of my greatest memories, and I was wearing this shirt during much of that trip.

Me and my grandfather in Washington D.C. back in 1995.

It is hard to put into words what that trip back home really meant to me. Shortly after, Sean and Licia’s first daughter Nandi was born. In many ways this marked a new beginning for me and the rest of the family. I interviewed quite a few of my relatives during that trip, mostly older folks who have since passed away in the twenty-three years since Sean gave me this shirt. I never finished the documentary…but maybe some day.

T-Shirt Confidential #1

Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

Back in 2007, I launched a regular feature on the original BadAzz MoFo website called T-Shirt of the Week (TSOTW), which ran every week for approximately six months before I got lazy. When I was forced to rebuild the site several years later, I didn’t bother to re-post TSOTW. I’ve decided to relaunch TSOTW, only now it is T-Shirt Confidential. I’ll start with updated versions of the original posts (which will be posted every Wednesday), and then start posting new stuff (until I get bored, distracted, forget, or run out of stories to tell). Thanks. Enjoy.


When I originally launched T-Shirt of the Week, this was a fairly new addition to my t-shirt collection, and one of more than a dozen different designs promoting Logan Smalley’s documentary Darius Goes West, or DGW for short. The hands on this shirt are spelling the American Sign Language letters for D, G, and W. “Know about it” is the tagline for the film. This is my favorite of the DGW shirts, which were sent to me by Logan’s mother, Barbara. Below are several other designs, including the “13th crew member” shirt, which was given to people who had gone out of their way to help DGW.

I had the privilege of screening Darius Goes West in early 2007 at the Longbaugh Film Festival, which I programmed and ran for five years. Darius Goes West is an incredible, life-affirming documentary. In a nutshell, the film documents a group of young men as they travel cross-country with their friend Darius Weems, a 15 year-old with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Their initial goal is to get on MTV’s Pimp My Ride so that it will trick out Darius’ wheelchair, and in the process call attention to DMD, the number one genetic killer of children in the world.

To say this documentary changed my life would be an understatement. Because of this film, I went on to become a volunteer counselor at summer camps for young people with muscular dystrophy, meeting some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known.

Me and Darius in 2010.

Sadly, Darius died in 2016, but not before I had the honor of spending time with him in person in 2008 and 2010. But it wasn’t just Darius, Logan (both of whom were the inspiration for the name of the main character in my novel Super Justice Force), and the rest of the DGW that changed my life – it was all the other people I met through my volunteer work as camp counselor. Recently, two of my campers lost their battles with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (Nick died in January 2018, and Justin died in March 2018).

Me and Justin at Camp Promise in 2010.

After the deaths of Nick and Justin, I sank into a deep depression, much like the depression I fell into after Darius died. For a time, I started to regret having met all of the young people I’ve worked with who have DMD, knowing that there was a very good chance I would outlive all of these amazing people who were young enough to be my own children. But I soon realized that despite the grief of loss, my life has been enriched by all of these people, and I wouldn’t trade the experience of knowing any of them.