Quantcast
WHOMST ELSE but BEN PARK could make such aesthetic majesty????

The Ultimate T-shirt for Total Poseurs

Chris Black

This Chet Baker t-shirt for Noon Goons is perfect for those who want to *look* like sensitive patrons of the arts.

WHOMST ELSE but BEN PARK could make such aesthetic majesty????

I am no jazz expert, which means I am perfectly equipped to wear a t-shirt with a photo of a jazz musician on it. I have scratched the surface enough to discover the absolute legends, like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, and, of course, Chet Baker. Baker was a skilled jazz singer and trumpeter who first gained fame in the early fifties, but is (sadly) best remembered for his leading man good looks and insatiable heroin habit. His death in Amsterdam in 1988 was ruled an accident, a fact that is still contested to this day. (The only thing I feel more ambivalent about than jazz: conspiracy theories!) Since his untimely death, Baker has been romanticized and mythologized by everyone from Dave Hickey, to Ethan Hawke, to Bruce Weber, to me, in this very column. Steve Allen called him someone who “started out as James Dean and ended up as Charles Manson.”

So: clearly, I know exactly enough to wear a t-shirt dedicated to the king of “West Coast Cool,” which is great, because just last week the Los Angeles surf/skate brand Noon Goons released a Chet Baker capsule collection at Dover Street Market. My personal favorite is a simple garment-dyed white t-shirt that features our hero with his head down, playing his trumpet, accented by his name in a simple red and white typeface—in case you, like me, are only casually familiar with the visages of jazz icons. This t-shirt lets people know you are stylish, aloof, and sensitive. Maybe you’ve even seen a Ken Burns documentary! You are a patron of the arts who might dabble in the underworld (even though you are eating Doritos while listening to Calvin Harris, aka “none of those things”). My advice: wear cool t-shirts, learn to play the trumpet, and stay away from the dog food!