Syd Barrett died today. Reports say he was suffering from diabetes, which probably means heroin.
And on the subject of outsider art, or, to get wordy, the Art of Unintentional Beauty, this past weekend I was reminded of a favorite pasttime of mine, a sort of mind-hobby, wherein I make a wish whenever I see a person wearing a T-shirt with text or symbolism they obviously misunderstood or simply didn’t understand when they donned it. It’s the kind of thing that helps me cease straining to find some meaning to it all, cause there isn’t any.
On Saturday, in Prospect Park, I spied a woman working a probably-unlicensed icee cart, and while dishing out cold treats to kids, she rocked a purple shirt with sequined text spelling out Hustler, which could be innocent enough if it weren’t in the same font as that found on the masthead of Larry Flynt’s infamous stroke book/treehouse companion.
So I made a wish.
The subway has awlays been perfect terrain for such wish-making. There was a time, due to construction, when Chinatown-Manhattan and Chinatown-Brooklyn were only connected by the N/R/Q/W, and therefore the non-English speaking ridership rose higher than usual; on a wonderful, spring evening in 2001, I witnessed possibly the greatest Unintentional Beauty of all. An obviously septu-or octogenarian Asian man, sporting brown highwater slacks and white orthopaedic shoes, trucker cap in hand (way before they were co-opted by fashion victims) and looking into space exhausted from his probably three jobs … was wearing … wait for it ….
… a Butthole Surfers’ Locust Abortion Technician t-shirt.
I bit my tongue to avoid other riders thinking I was crazy, a Subway Laugher, but then I also scanned the other riders to see if anyone else noticed — someone else had to have noticed — but no one shared my glee. No one. Bastards.
Although maybe I didn’t really see it. I made a wish anyway. It was a good wish. It concernced buffaloes and thunderclaps.
Butthole Surfers – Sweet Loaf (no, that’s not a typo)
Friend of mine here at the job states he once saw a guy who “looked like he’d had a lobotomy; he was practically drooling” who was wearing a shirt that said I’m your girlfriend’s pimp. (Which is a funny shirt whether you know what it means or not.)
I hope he made a wish.
There’s been other moments. I can’t recall them at the moment. But I’ll always keep reaching for the stars.