365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

T-shirt #10: The Walking Dead


I did not start reading The Walking Dead comic from the beginning. Contrary to popular belief, I do not buy and read every comic book published. I do not even manage to obtain all the comics by the major companies each month. I struggle just to read what I do buy, which is arguably much too many comic books.

Image Comics never impressed me all that much. I read early issues of things like Savage Dragon and WildC.A.T.s. I must confess to even buying Youngblood #1. (Hey, Rob Liefeld was in a fanzine APA club I was part of!) But I was not inspired enough to keep up with too many of the titles. Comics like Astro City, Godland, and The Darkness caught my attention. I liked many of those plus Wanted and anything by the Luna Brothers. But generally speaking, I steered clear of Image Comics.

Then one day on the Ultimate field, as often happens, I started talking comics with someone, in this case Darrough West (who has since moved to Chicago; miss you, brother!), and he recommended very highly a comic I had seen in the Previews solicitation catalogue but had resisted buying any issues, as I had to resist so many comics that looked interesting simply to keep the titles I bought each month under 50. (Not succeeding at this goal. I ordered 77 titles for May 2013. Damn Marvel Ultron event!)

At Darrough's urging, I bought the first trade of The Walking Dead, and gave it a try. Within days, I was hitting the comic store for the other (at that time) seven trade paperbacks and buying other not yet collected individual issues to catch up.

By the time the TV series hit the cable airwaves, The Walking Dead  comic would grace the top of my stack each week (meaning it was the first comic I read, usually the same day I bought it). The stories have continued to remain fresh, original, and engaging. I like that Kirkman is in it for the long haul. What does the world look like ten years after a zombie apocalypse? What about twenty years?

As for the TV series, I thought the first season was a little weak at the end (though I liked the first few episodes very much), but the second and third seasons have been excellent.

We have a dilemma in the Tower household tonight, March 31st, appropriately, Easter Sunday. The Walking Dead hosts its season three finale, HBO's Game of Thrones premieres its season three debut, and Liesel and I have discovered a new show, Top of the Lake, which also conflicts with the times of the other two.

For those only watching the TV show for The Walking Dead, you are missing out on some of the best comics published since the turn of the century and millenium. For those not even catching the TV show, if you like to think you are a discerning geek, then, for shame. (If you're not geeky, or cannot stomach flesh eating zombies, then never mind).

- chris tower
1303.31 14:56

Saturday, March 30, 2013

T-shirt #9: The People's Food Co-Op

T-shirt #9: I love my co-op

I had the pleasure of serving on the board of directors of the People's Food Co-Op of Kalamazoo from 2006 - 2010. Recruited by Hether Frayer, I wanted to help the PFC move from its location on Burdick Street to a new, expanded location. The search process and the preparations for the expansion (debt to equity ratios among other issues) proved to be great fun and immensely satisfying work.

Now that the co-op has moved into its own building on Harrison Street and has grown exponentially from its space/size, membership numbers, and revenue levels of 2006, I am proud and very honored to have played a role (albeit small) in the process.

Along the way, I met some great people who are part of the growing group of individuals in Kalamazoo not only dedicated to healthy living (especially in terms of how food impacts healthy lifestyles) but also invested in the business model of the co-op.

I won't extend this daily blog entry too much with an explanation of the cooperative business model, but a few words will emphasize the importance of how I represent these principles when I wear my PFC gear.

I am an owner. The People's Food Co-op is not a club. It is a cooperatively-owned business, whose ownership has grown from a meager 400+ in 2006 (when it was a "membership" structure) to over 2000 owners today (March 2013) who have invested their money in this business, owning it, cooperatively.

The model is not unique to Kalamazoo, and it's hardly a new idea. The first co-op dates back to the Rochdale Pioneers in England in the 19th century. There are great co-ops in Ann Arbor and Traverse City as well as throughout the country.

Anyway, for those who clicked my link and spent some time reading this entry (Thanks!) and who live in Kalamazoo (or nearby) and have not visited the Harrison Street People's Food Co-op of Kalamazoo, get down there! It is a beautiful, full-service grocery with a deli and even a commercial kitchen run by the local non-profit organization Fair Food Matters.

Own up.


- chris tower

1303.30 - 8:08

Friday, March 29, 2013

T-shirt #8: University of Michigan: Dri-Fit

T-shirt #8: University of Michigan: I love Dri-Fit!

Dri-Fit shirts with moisture wicking properties are one of the best inventions of the late 20th century. Moisture wicking fabrics have been a revelation to me. I recommend very highly products made from these fabrics. They do "smell funny" to those with sensitive noses, but the properties allowing for perspiration moisture to be wicked away from the body to evaporate from the surface of the garment rather than being trapped between the body and the fabric or in the fibers of the garment itself allows for such comfort in the heat that I wear them year around (I am almost always hot), though most often in the summer.

When I saw a Dri-Fit University of Michigan logo shirt, I had to have it. I bought this shirt last week after starting this blog and after UofM won it's second round NCAA game to enter the Sweet Sixteen.

Big game tonight against the Kansas Jayhawks.


- Chris Tower
1303.29 14:58

Thursday, March 28, 2013

T-Shirt #7: Batman Incorporated (Spoiler Alert!)

T-Shirt #7: Batman Incorporated (Spoiler Alert!)

SPOILER ALERT. If you like comic books, specifically Batman comic books, do not read any further if you have any attention of reading any Batman comics any time soon.

Robin is dead.


Today's shirt (March 28)  is a promotional shirt for a relatively new comic book from DC called Batman Incorporated, created by Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart, and Frazier Irving, first published in 2011.

Batman Incorporated premiered after Batman returned from the dead following the events of Final Crisis (and no, I am not going insert links for all of these comics!). Ostensibly, in the comic, Batman franchises the Batman idea so that more heroes can police the world in the name of "Batman." The comic is quirky and far-out in the way of many Grant Morrison comics, for those acquainted with him.

I liked the shirt for many reasons. Obviously, I am a huge Batman fan. An issue of Detective Comics was my first ever comic book, purchased back in 1966. I have many Batman shirts as you will see over the next however many days this blog lasts. (I have no idea how many shirts I have, so this blog is how I am counting).

But wait. I said Robin was dead. Back to the subject of Robin and how it ties into this shirt. I am not diligent about reading the comics I buy. Sometimes, a title that I am not addictedly compelled to read immediately will stack up. I had four issues of Batman Incorporated in my stack when I saw the "Requiem" story arc and found out through the gossip mill (better known as the scuttle-butt discussed at the comic book store) that DC had killed the current incarnation of Robin.

Batman's son, Damian Wayne, assumed the mantle of Robin starting around 2009.

Yes, Batman's son.

Go read the Wikipedia entry if you are truly interested. But if you do, you will learn why the introduction of Talia, R'as Al Ghul's daughter in the most recent Dark Knight movie is so significant for Batman fans (unless you already know).

Grant Morrison and team killed off Robin, Damian Wayne, in a recent issue of Batman Incorporated, which means that DC will achieve a sales spike for the death issue, the issues following the death, and the issues when it introduces a new Robin, which, for those keeping count will be Robin number six (technically, not counting the one by Frank Miller).

My friend Charles Skaggs wrote a great posting about one of the best issues in the current death of Robin story arc. Read it here:

DAMN Good Comics -- BATMAN AND ROBIN #18

I still like the shirt. It looks international.

-chris tower
1303.28 16:43
Photo courtesy of Liesel MK Tower

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

T-shirt#6: Discipline

T-shirt#6: King Crimson: Discipline

"So I unplugged my shirt, and said, listen I am with this band, and we're making a recording..."
From "Thela Hun Ginjeet" - King Crimson - Discipline

In 1981, I was working at Kalamazoo College's student radio station WJMD when an album arrived in the mail by a band that I had not yet discovered: King Crimson.
I had heard of Robert Fripp, who was the erstwhile leader though not the front man (he hides), because he had played with David Bowie, notably on Heroes and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).

King Crimson formed a new iteration after the demise of the 1970s prog-rock, art rock band versions of itself with Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and Bill Bruford along with Fripp..

Though I just put the album on the turntable to give it a listen, mostly due to its attractive red cover art with the knot design (as seen on both the shirt and the other accompanying image on this page), the effect produced matched hooking myself up to an electroshock therapy machine. The music at times drove forth urgently with galvanic yet very controlled intensity while at other times textures shifted into ethereal and bucolic wonderment. I was captivated. Discipline quickly became one of my favourite albums, and King Crimson became one of my favourite bands.

This is my third King Crimson shirt featuring the art work from the Discipline album. I bought my first shirt when I saw King Crimson live in concert in 1984 at Pine Knob, but that shirt has been lost in time and space for many years (contrary to what this blog may suggest, shirts, especially T-shirts, do not last forever).

My second King Crimson Discipline shirt is a polo-style shirt, which I may display if I actually do not have 365 T-shirts. (Do polo shirts count for this theme?) This shirt, the actual T-shirt, was purchased at another live show in 2006 for the Power to Believe tour.

The shirt mirrors the main theme of the album: discipline. Fripp embodies strong discipline with his precise and complex guitar work. I wear the shirt when I have to remind myself of the importance of discipline to achieve a goal, such as when I am buried in work and have a deadline for a huge project. Today, March 27, I am finishing final grades for one of the schools for whom I teach, and I must remember discipline in all things. The shirts helps: DISCIPLINE.


-chris tower
1303.27 10:40

Photo courtesy of Liesel MK Tower

updated 1403.19 because of the video problem has been fixed, apparently. But the video on this page was taken down because of copyright infringement or some such. So I am replacing what I had here originally with the entire album. Take that Fripp!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

T-Shirt #5: Do you want to move to Mars?

T-Shirt #5: Mars One: Funny thing, my wife bought me a T-shirt. It's not really funny as in laughter evoking by itself. But it's quirky and cute.

One morning last year, I asked my wife Liesel: "Would you like to go live on Mars?"

I was just checking. I wanted to see what she would say. I have always liked the idea of going into space. Moving permanently to Mars is a neat idea but maybe not realistic.

This subject came up because of Ray Kurzweil.
"Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil is an American author, inventor, futurist, and director of engineering at Google" (Wikipedia). 

If you like science, Ray Kurzweil runs a great Twitter feed of science news here:



KurzweilAI is a newsletter/blog covering nano-bio-info-cogno breakthroughs in accelerating intelligence
California/Mass · http://kurzweilai.net

Google has hired Kurzweil to work on AI, which is an exciting proposition.

There is also a great website: Kurzweil Acclerating Intelligence.

I like to follow Kurzweil and watch the news he shares. He sends A LOT of Twitters, and they are always entertaining and informative.

Late last year (2012), he sent this
Mars One plans to establish human settlement on Mars in 2023

Liesel called me a "dork" for asking about going to Mars, but then, she searched the Internet and bought me a T-shirt from the Netherlands based Mars One project and gave it to me as a birthday present.

Kuzweil has updated the search for people to colonize Mars here:


At this time, we have no plans to move to Mars, but I do like the shirt.
- 1303.26 7:46

Monday, March 25, 2013

T-Shirt #4: Original Star Trek - Command - Gold

T-Shirt #4: Original Star Trek - Command - Gold

Star Trek! One of those Facebook ads that show up because the social web 2.0 knows I love Star Trek snared me. Now that I am married, I am a lot more comfortable showing my true geek self. Not that I was all that shy about it before I got married. But there was quite a bit of hiding my in the closet, so to speak. I think the "closet" comparison is somewhat apt, not to minimize the way the term is usually applied, which is far more serious. Now, I am more comfortable with who I am. Also , geek (or nerd, if you prefer) has become cool. I always loved these uniforms. Once the ad caught me in its trap, I sprung for the blue and red ones, too. Damn. "Now, would be a good time to beam me up, Scotty..." - 1303.25 9:25

Sunday, March 24, 2013

T-shirt #3: Michigan in Hebrew

T-Shirt #3: Michigan in HebrewI love these University of Michigan international shirts "sporting" different languages. I noticed that Moe's in Ann Arbor carries several others, such as Arabic and Russian. I would like to collect several more, and I happen to be in Ann Arbor on April First, so....we shall see. This is my second Hebrew shirt for UofM. I have always felt a deep connection to the Jewish faith.
This shirt and picture is all the more special because the picture was taken by my Dad. He came over to my house to help move a cabinet, and without my asking, he brought his camera. Proof of synchronicity! I had considered asking him to bring his camera for just this reason, for this photograph, but did not want to impose. Not only did we move the cabinet from the kitchen to the bathroom, but we accomplished one other household task all while Michigan opened a can of whoop ass on Virginia Commonwealth University! Say hello to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1994. Is an Elite Eight showing possible? I might have to buy some more Michigan shirts...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

T-shirt #2: Michigan in Chinese

T-shirt #2: Michigan in Chinese

The University of Michigan has been a part of my life always. My father graduated from the Blue in the 1950s, and my sister graduated from there in the 1990s. I almost went there, but instead, I chose Kalamazoo College.

I have followed Michigan sports with my Dad and my sister all of my life. It means a lot. I lived in Ann Arbor for most of a summer and spent a lot of time there. It's a favorite place. Today, March 23, 2013, Michigan plays its second game in the NCAA tournament, a milestone it has not been able to pass since 1994. Here we go. Go Blue! Make the Sweet Sixteen!

Also, apparently,


means literally "Michigan University add gas!" via my good friend @chris dilley. He doesn't really like sports, but he knows Chinese. I like this because I have a lot of gas to add to most any moment in time.

If Michigan wins, T-Shirt #3 may be the one I have that's in Hebrew. If they lose, I might have to mourn until football season.

Friday, March 22, 2013

T-shirt #1: Son of Satan

 T-shirt Number One: An auspicious beginning, yes? The subject matter/name of this T-shirt is likely to turn away many potential viewers/readers. This may be part of the clever intention. I am mad for comic book themed T-shirts. Retro images from the 1970s are my new kick. The day I passed on ordering a retro Machine Man shirt, this one arrived at the comic book store. I had forgotten that I had ordered it until I saw it in my weekly comic book pull, which is part of the fun (and the endorphin addiction) of ordering, buying, and owning T-shirts. However, the tales of Damion Hellstrom from the Marvel Comics of the 1970s are among my favorites. I am a little surprised that there is no mention of the controversy such a comic character stirred up in the 1970s, though I have no direct knowledge of any Bible thumping disapproval.