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, March 11, 2014

T-shirt #355 - New York - Cow - Moon - Big City

TODAY'S COUNT: 10 blog posts remaining in the T-shirt year!!

T-shirt #355 - New York - Cow - Moon - Big City

I lived in new York for a while in 1985 doing a college internship at MARVEL COMICS. Yes, I went to Mecca. It was a surreal experience.

My first time in New York City was with my father in the fall of 1984 when we went to visit to check things out for where I would live and where I would work when I did the internship. I can't even remember where my dad and I stayed, though I am sure he could verify this for me with his calendar from that year. I may update this when I get the information.

I remember that my father and I went to see the film Stop Making Sense together when we were in New York for that two or three days in 1984.

I was there January-March 1985, and I have visited many times since. I fell in love with the city, and so today's blog post is dedicated to New York City and a tour of pictures and text by an artist I discovered online. More on that in a moment.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on New York and my time there, I have a New York category that contains my other New York blog entries. This was the first New York T-shirt I ever bought, though it was not bought in 1985. I was too cool for such T-shirts back then.

For now, a short anecdote. I am mad for maps. I can be seen in these pictures with my wallet-sized New York City maps. However, I was map-less when I first arrived in New York in January of 1985.
I remember there was no snow then, which was odd as I just left a terrible ice storm in Michigan.

That first night, I wanted to go to Chinatown, as it was a siren call to me. Eschewing maps or looking at the maps posted in the subway station or on the train, so as to try to not look like a tourist, two of my friends and I (Bayard Bugbee and Margaret Wood) hopped on the southbound train caught in the Times Square subway station. I believe it was the NUMBER ONE train. I knew Chinatown was south of us and a quick glance at the map, when no one was looking, would take us there. However, I had not made a mental note of which street we wanted, and I had very limited experience with the subways thus far.

When I felt we had gone far enough south, I suggested we disembark at what I think was Houston Street. This was a Sunday night in January, maybe 9:30 p.m. We came up out of the tunnel to abandoned and empty streets with metal doors shielding business and few street lights. This area of the fashion district was closed up tight, and there were few to no open businesses.

Also, coming out of the tunnel, we were disoriented. Which way was south? How far were we from Chinatown?

It's always possible to triangulate your position once you leave the subway station by locating the Empire State Building. We were south of it, and so I quickly learned how to pick directions. We started walking but the streets were dark and scary, as I said. Eventually, I believe we got back on the Subway, and this time I located Canal Street on the map, and we found Chinatown. We ended up at a restaurant called Big Wong, which we thought was hilarious, on Bayard Street, which we thought was fortuitous because we were with a person named Bayard. Also, later, I discovered Christopher Street, which seemed equally coincidental that in all the city there were streets named for me and my roommate.

After that night, I bought myself a lot of maps of New York and learned the streets and the grid numbering system for better navigation.
This is the shirt I am actually wearing today.
OFFICIAL BOILERPLATE TEXT OF THE LAST TWENTY POSTS COUNTDOWN: Hi. Thanks for reading. I am posting this "boilerplate" text everyday for the last TWENTY posts in the T-SHIRT blog year, which started on March 22, 2013. I will close out daily transmission on March 21st, day 365 of my T-shirt blog-tastic extravaganza spectacular. I will give myself a short hiatus of total non-transmission or  publication for an as yet undetermined period of time, though I am estimating about two weeks. After my blog vacation hiatus, I will resume T-shirt posts on a regular basis, also as yet to be determined (weekly? Twice monthly?) to finish blogging about all the T-shirts that were not featured in the blog year. At some point, once I feel I am rolling along nicely, I will begin regular posting through my main blog: SENSE OF DOUBT. T-shirt posts will direct to the T-shirt blog from SENSE OF DOUBT. I will continue to post THE WEEKLY COMIC LIST, the features of occasional T-SHIRTS I AM WEARING THIS WEEK, book reviews, comic book reviews, and other popular culture nonsense as I have been for a year now but all will go up at SENSE OF DOUBT and some will direct back here to 365 T-SHIRTS. Ultimately, I will begin Internet publication of my fiction, primarily the comic book satire episodic story called POP! among other projects. So, in summary, 365 T-SHIRTS will continue though intermittently. SENSE OF DOUBT will host my main blog presence and fiction writing as well as links to any T-shirt posts shared here. I hope you will continue to follow me in my journey as a writer and a content provider. Thank you for your kind attention and time you have spent with me on this and/or any other day this year. I am humbled and blessed by your readership. - chris tower, blogger, originated 1403.02

I am a day late posting this text for the blog and it's snowing right now, so my choice of this T-shirt to wear yesterday was prophetic, though the credit goes to my wife who was watching the forecasts closely. I have a snow day today from my class, and so I am catching up on bloggery before I get to work.


In my recent Internet research to complete Sunday's entry on Shi, I discovered this tumblr:

by this clever UK twenty-something woman with a passion for comics, music, and poetry.

On her tumblr, I spotted many of these New York pictures, though I added a few more to my set for a total of fifteen to share with you today. The pictures come from this site:

Though if you want to tour the main NYC portfolio, click the next link:

The following pictures and text is all by Vivienne Gucwa. Check out her site. She also SELLS her images.

She has captured much of why I love New York, and thus, in the spirit of web 2.0, I will share fifteen of her images and text, without permission, but in the hopes that doing so draws more attention to her work. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Text for each picture appears below the picture. :-)

Flatiron Building and 5th Avenue Building Clock - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
I have always loved the ornate clocks that line 5th Avenue, especially the Fifth Avenue Building Block that has a prime destination near the Flatiron Building. At 19 feet high, the cast-iron clock was installed in 1909 was made by a Brooklyn Iron Works company. It's a type of clock that was introduced in the 1860s. They were popular with business owners who wanted to attract extra attention and also served a functional purpose as time-telling pieces in a busy area of Manhattan. The juxtaposition between the Flatiron Building, one of New York City's iconic skyscrapers and this cast-iron clock has always put a smile on my face. The Flatiron Building, which was completed in 1902 is also a landmark in Manhattan. Its name is in reference to its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. ---

Autumn - New York City - Overlooking Union Square
- By Vivienne Gucwa

On cloudy days in autumn, the trees stick out from the ground below like paintbrushes heavy with memories of the sun's embrace.
And the city, weary in preparation of shorter days, clamors to hold onto every last bit of color and light.
I love this view of Union Square Park looking towards the Empire State Building and the beautiful skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan. It's particularly gorgeous in the autumn when the trees change color before descending gracefully to the ground. ---

Staple Street - Tribeca - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
There are streets that I return to over and over again. These streets tug at memories I haven’t made yet while yanking memories I treasure from the deep recesses of my mind. They haunt me in all the best ways. They represent the New York City in my mind. Everyone seems to have a different version of New York City in their mind. It's the version that they look for when turning a corner and glancing down a street. My own version of New York City was formed early on. It's a result of falling in love with a combination of streetscapes in classic film noir cinema, futuristic sci-fi city environments in literature and film, and years of traversing New York City on foot. This is one of those streets that I could have only dreamed existed until I turned a corner one day and stopped dead in my tracks as I looked down the street towards the skybridge that crosses between buildings. It’s Staple Street in Tribeca. A tiny alley-like street, it contains one of the most fascinating pedestrian bridges (also known as a skyway, traverse, skywalk and a host of other terms) I have ever seen in New York City. Some history about this street: “In 1894, New York Hospital built the House of Relief, a downtown clinic, on Jay from Hudson to Staple, with an ambulance entrance facing Staple. In that year The New York Herald noted that the hospital was sending its ambulance out as often as seven times a day, sometimes on emergencies involving sunstroke, ”which so often occurs in the lower part of the city,” perhaps because of the large number of men working outdoors on the docks. In 1907 the hospital built an annex across Staple Street (replacing the saloon/row house at Jay and Staple) as a stable and laundry, connecting it at the third-floor level using a pedestrian bridge. Although Staple Street was then just an industrial alley, the hospital had the architects Robertson & Potter design a handsome little building with a terra cotta plaque bearing the ”NYH” monogram on the Staple Street side. The monogram is still there.” - from “Streetscapes: Staple Street in TriBeCa” New York Times By Christopher Gray, February 2001 ---

Flatiron Building Sunset - Autumn - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
Late autumn in New York City has its own brisk beauty. Cold air sharply punctuates the end of every wind gust and the sun retreats earlier and earlier every day. Autumn clings to December in the brief moments before the trees drop their leaves to the ground for good and every afternoon sunset reaches through the sharp cold with its lighted fingers in one last dramatic attempt to bring warmth to the city. --- This particular view is of the Flatiron Building, one of New York City's unique and classic skyscrapers, as seen from inside Madison Square Park during autumn. ---

Density - Above Chinatown - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa

There are streets that, for me, fill in the image of New York City that exists in my mind.

I have spoken about this before in older posts. Everyone seems to have their own image of New York City that, for them, represents so much more than just the geographical spot that New York City inhabits on any sort of map. These streets are the embodiment of a core concept that has defined New York City for many decades. The sheer density of people that grace these streets with their presence seem to imbue streets like these with the weight of their aspirations.

New York City has always been a destination for those seeking a generalized concept of a better life. As an economic lighthouse and representation of (the steadily crumbling, nearly non-existent concept of) the American Dream, New York City has attracted people from all over the world especially during the last century.

I grew up the child of an immigrant to the United States. My mother's family fled Eastern Europe after World War II. They (including her) were victims of the war, concentration camp and labor camp survivors who carried with them mental scars so deep that it took years for them to gain even a small modicum of a foothold here.

I have always felt disconnected from her experience though. My mother who wanted her children to blend in rather than stick out as she did when she immigrated here, did her best to give me and my brothers a fairly normal American childhood where we grew up in Queens. It wasn't until a decade ago when I started to ask her about her own immigration story after starting to delve into my own fascination with the history of New York City that I started to understand the gravity of what it means to come to a place like New York City with little more than a massive amount of dreams.

And so, shortly after moving to the Lower East Side from elsewhere in Manhattan I came across this street (the one in this photo) since it sits in a neighborhood that borders the Lower East Side and Chinatown and it felt as if I could finally understand what it must have been like for my mother and for all those who came here to America with eyes full of hope. It's not that my mother settled here. But rather that it's as if this street has been steeped in a time when the world and New York City was a different place, one that held out vast amounts of heady fortune in its outstretched hands. The world has changed quite a bit since my mother first set foot here. It's harder (dare I say almost completely difficult) to come here with next to nothing and make a decent life for yourself. The hands are still held out but they are no longer outstretched for everyone.

When I look at this street today, I see many of the original tenements that were standing one hundred years ago when waves of immigrants came to New York City following their own hazy image of what New York City embodied in their minds and those who traverse this street today are not so far removed from my mother who traversed the streets of New York City for many decades. It's as if, for the few minutes that I spend gazing at this street below as I often do, I am connected in a deeper way to all the dreamers that called and still call New York City their home.

Heart of it All - Above Chinatown - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
This is one of my favorite views of Chinatown. The view is of East Broadway, a main street in Chinatown that extends into the Lower East Side. A girl sits on one of the rooftops eating a bowl of food in the upper right hand corner of this photo. The Municipal Building sits in the distance. This particular spot is a Chinatown neighborhood known as ‘Two Bridges’. Two Bridges sits along the East River and has long been a dwelling spot for many different immigrant communities over the years. It sits alongside the infamous and historic Five Points area where Irish, Jewish and Italian gangs battled to the death in the mid-19th century. It is currently home to a large community of Chinese immigrants and many of the buildings are tenements dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. ---

New York City - Pell Street - Chinatown - Rainy Evening
- By Vivienne Gucwa

Looking through the bleary-eyed clouds that fill the sky above, the cracks of the city's streets and sidewalks stretch across its body like wrinkles on well-worn skin while street signs and buildings melt into each other pouring themselves into a river of colors.

And in the twilight of the afternoon's memories, the sky's tears fall.

The Infinite Sprawl - The Empire State Building and the New York City Skyline
- By Vivienne Gucwa:
On a hazy day, New York City stretches on indefinitely: infinity sprawling out like a somnolent feline. Clouds cast a bone-white hue on the tops of skyscrapers that jut out of the landscape: their axis-mundi-aspirations propelling them skyward. The day languidly yawns, its heavy eyelids blurring the horizon. --- Despite growing up in New York City, I hadn’t been to the tops of any of the iconic skyscrapers with observation decks since I was very, very little. The Top of the Rock is an observation deck on the top of Rockefeller Center. It closed in 1986 for renovations and reopened in 2005. When I was younger, I went on a few school trips to Rockefeller Center to go on the NBC Studios tour which was a lot of fun but since it was the late 80s and early 90s, the top was closed to visitors. In recent years, I decided to finally visit the Top of the Rock. The Top of the Rock is the top of what is also known as the GE Building. It’s an Art Deco skyscraper that is in the center of Rockefeller Center. The GE Building used to be known as the RCA Building until the mid 1980s when GE incorporated RCA and NBC. The building is 850 feet tall (70 stories) and since the address is 30 Rockefeller Center, it is usually referred to as “30 Rock”. What I find really incredible about the observation decks at Top of the Rock aside from the views is that there is so much room. There are three observation decks in total and all three are designed to resemble the upper decks of a 1930s luxury ocean liner complete with deck chairs. Two of the decks on the the 67th and 69th floors include outdoor terraces which are enclosed in transparent, safety glass. The top deck which is on the 70th floor features a completely open air, unobstructed 360-degree view of New York City and beyond. The day I went, there were barely any people up on the top deck with me since the weather wasn’t ideal. However, I think it’s often less crowded than the Empire State Building’s observation deck even in beautiful weather. At 850 feet above street level, the view is jaw-dropping and includes complete views of Central Park and the Empire State Building which you can’t really complain about. ---

The Manhattan Bridge and the New York City Skyline at Sunset
- By Vivienne Gucwa
This image inhabits a very special place in my heart. It was taken near the tail-end of a storm back. It had rained only an hour before I made my way across the Brooklyn Bridge and as the sun started to set over New York City, the storm clouds parted just enough to allow the most magnificent amount of sunlight wash over the Manhattan Bridge. As the rest of the New York City skyline faded into the languid haze in behind the gorgeously lit bridge, I knew right then and there that photography was something that made me feel more alive and at one with myself than anything else in the world. --- Can also be found in the limited and standard print editions of The Plus One Collection photography book. You can read about it here if you are so inclined: http://nythroughthelens.com/post/17337889238/the-plus-one-collection-the-photographer

Sunday Morning on Orchard Street - Lower East Side - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
On cold city mornings, birds pepper the bone-white sky with movement. And through the haze left over by clouds caught in the scuffle between autumn and winter, the wind rushes through the streets like the ghosts of yesterday's thoughts. ---

Doyers Street - Rain - Chinatown - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa

On evenings when the sky

seduces the city

with its tears of happiness,

the streets shine

Manhattanhenge, 42nd Street and Tudor City Place Overpass, Midtown New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa 
This was taken during last year's Manhattanhenge sunset.The experience was rather intense. Even though I got to the overpass an hour and a half before sunset, I was told that many photographers had set up their equipment as early as 3 pm. When the sun started its very dramatic descent all that could be heard was the sound of cameras clicking away. It's definitely a phenomenon I don't plan to ever skip now that I have experienced it. While the sun's dramatic dip only lasts for a few minutes, it's enough to take one's breath away for the entire duration. The city is bathed in the light from the sun and the most beautiful red glow is cast through the streets. Manhattanhenge is a semiannual occurrence in which the setting sun aligns with the east–west streets of the main street grid in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The term is derived from Stonehenge, at which the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices. It was coined in 2002 by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. --- 

The New York City Skyline from Above
- By Vivienne Gucwa
The sun dances slow with the skyscrapers of the New York City skyline in the summer as the clouds kiss the horizon and haze emanates from the collective heat of these intimate encounters. --- I love viewing the New York City skyline in late summer. While the visibility is often limited due to the haze, there is something really exquisite in the way that the foreground skyscrapers appear in this sort of view. This particular view is facing north. On the right side of the image, notable skyscrapers that can be seen are the Chrysler Building and the MetLife building (which stands over Grand Central Terminal). 30 Rock and Rockefeller Center can be seen straight ahead looking out over Central Park and the buildings that line Central Park West. On the left side of the image, a notable skyscraper that can be seen in this view is the Bank of America Tower (with the pointy tip) which stands next to the green MetLife building and overlooks Bryant Park. ---

Every Yesterday - Lower East Side - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
Store gates slumber in the folds of the day when the sun and clouds fall over the city like exhaled breath wrapping the cityscape in sleepy thoughts. And on these slumbering store gates, dreamscapes unfold surrounded by the discarded remnants of every yesterday and every today. ---

New York Alley - Lower East Side
- By Vivienne Gucwa
When I was younger, I thought that New York City was teeming with alleys and narrow streets fueled by an over-active imagination and a predilection for film noir cityscapes. I wanted to believe that New York City harbored the best and brightest of in-between places and worn out spaces. The truth is that while New York City does have alleys, they are a pretty rare sight. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to the ones that do exist. ---


COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 10 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first published - 1403.11 - 20:20
final publication : 1403.12 - 9:36