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.