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.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

T-shirt #173 - Ani DiFranco - Little Plastic Castle

T-shirt #173 - Ani DiFranco - Little Plastic Castle

I went through an Ani DiFranco period from about 1996 through 2003. I am still a fan, but I am not listening to her music as frequently as I did during those years.

Because I was on such an Ani kick and purchased so many Ani T-shirts (four in all), I have more blog time to elaborate on why Ani DiFranco is so great.

I found five tickets from concerts as seen in the photo from my ticket book below, but I think 2-3 tickets are missing as I thought I had seen Ani perform eight times.

An Ani DiFranco concert is a joy to behold. It is clear that Ani is having gooey gobs of fun on stage. She laughs unabashedly and shares her thoughts and feelings between songs. She is one of the most energetic performers I have ever seen. The power seems to cascade from her in waves, bolts, and rolling balls of electrical aura energy, crackling through the venue. If you ever get a chance to see her, and this is the kind of thing you would enjoy, I strongly recommend it.

I already blogged about Ani DiFranco in T-shirt #121, in which I shared about her poem "Grand Canyon" and my use of it in classes and my two favorite songs, as I happen to like the quieter stuff.

This shirt features a quote from the song "Swan Dive" off her eighth studio album Little Plastic Castle from 1998, which is definitely one of her best.

Arguably, her best period may be from 1995-2001.

I have not felt any of Ani's albums really worm into my consciousness and nest since my favorite, the 2001 double effort Revelling/Recknoning.

Though Evolve (2003), Educated Guess (2004), and others since 2001 are good, but there has been something missing for me. However, I am open to the argument that what is missing is not missing from her but from me. By 2003, I had begun to move on to other music, and though I still love Ani DiFranco and count her among my favorite artists, my ardent passion and insatiable hunger for her work has diminished somewhat. Maybe I have just not listened to her newer albums enough. I feel a new Ani binge coming on.

The quote from the shirt "I don't care if they eat me alive, I've got better things to do than survive" is one of the great lines in Ani's catalogue.

"Swan Dive" is a song about taking chances. It may be chance taking in a romantic relationship. It may be chance taking in career, in life, in family, or friendships. That's the thing about Ani's songs. She often leaves them open to multiple interpretations.

The line on the shirt comes from her "Swan Dive" into shark-infested waters, but the question of what it is that she has to do that is more important than surviving, the uncertainty of what happens to you after you take the chance and it eats you alive, hangs unanswered in the song like an empty word balloon in a comic strip: "i'm going to do my best swan dive/in the shark-infested waters/ i'm gonna pull out my tampon/ and start splashing around/// 'cuz i don't care if they eat me alive/ i've got better thing to do than survive/ i've got a memory of your warm skin in my hand/ and i've got a vision of blue sky and dry land."

It seems that the person, the love, is a life raft, a saving grace, but whether this is a past relationship, or whether she is re-entering an old relationship that was painful and "shark-infested" is open to interpretation. Or this may not be about relationships at all (though I think it is).

Okay, sure, some of you readers are thinking I could do a better and more thorough, close reading of this text, but, hey, this is supposed to be a short one. Plus I would prefer to let the music speak for itself without too much pedantic analysis to distract from the impact of the art.

But if you want to investigate on your own, I will share the lyrics for "Swan Dive" after the video of a live version.

Ani DiFranco - Swan Dive (Live in New York)

"Swandive" - by ani difranco - off 1998's Little Plastic Castle

cradling the softest, warmest part of you in my hand
feels like a little baby bird fallen from the nest
i think that your body is something i understand
i think that i'm happy, i think that i'm blessed

i've got a lack of inhibition
i've got a loss of perspective
i've had a little bit to drink
and it's making me think
that i can jump ship and swim
that the ocean will hold me
that there's got to be more
than this boat i'm in

'cuz they can call me crazy if i fail
all the chance that i need
is one-in-a-million
and they can call me brilliant
if i succeed
gravity is nothing to me, moving at the speed of sound
i'm just going to get my feet wet
until i drown

and i teeter between tired
and really, really tired
im wiped and im wired but i guess its just as well
because i built my own empire
out of car tires and chicken wire
and i'm queen of my own compost heap
and i'm getting used to the smell

and i've got a lack of information
but i got a little revelation
and i'm climbing up on the railing
trying not to look down
i'm going to do my best swan dive
in the shark-infested waters
i'm gonna pull out my tampon
and start splashing around

'cuz i don't care if they eat me alive
i've got better thing to do than survive
i've got a memory of your warm skin in my hand
and i've got a vision of blue sky and dry land

i'm cradling the hardest, heaviest part of me in my hand
the ship is pitching and heaving, my limbs are bobbing and weaving
and i think this is what i understand
i just need a little vaccination for my far-away vacation
i'm going to go ahead boldly because a little bird told me
that jumping is easy, that falling is fun
up until you hit the sidewalk, shivering, stunned

and they can call me crazy if i fail
all the chance that i need
is one-in-a-million
and they can call me brilliant
if i succeed
gravity is nothing to me
moving at the speed of sound
i'm just gonna get my feet wet
until i drown...

My wife made a cake.

Cake for breakfast.

My wife is an artist and a genius.

I love my wife.

I love her more than I love Ani DiFranco.

I have not always been able to say that about the people in my life.

Ani may not have made me cake, but she has given me a great deal of art and thought and energy and feeling and memories that I hold dear.

More on Ani with the other two T-shirts before the 365 days is done.

For now, one other video from Little Plastic Castle and one of her "hits," at least with her fans.

"Gravel" Ani Difranco (1998 - America)

- chris tower - 1309.10 - 9:45