As Far As I Can Tell

T-shirt Politics

While in New York I stopped into one of Urban Outfitters’ flagship, hipper than normal stores. In the basement, near the back, they had a huge selection of printed T-shirts. Most were styled to look used and from the 70’s, saying stupid or silly things. There was a really disturbing one though, printed with patriotic colors and proclaiming Voting is for Old People on the front. The design is supposedly ironic, but really just irresponsible. It promotes the idea that voting “isn’t cool”, which will be taken at face value by many of their younger and trend whoring patrons. Similar in nature, though not as direct is the American Rat Race shirt.

What’s going on here? Why are politics being so blatantly ignored and dismissed by fashion designers? There’s a fine line between irony and apathy, and if ironic critique of our two party system was the goal of this design, then it horribly failed. Or maybe it’s only ironic if paired with a trucker cap.

Another news story about the issue can be found here, and MTV News has a video clip about it.

Update: 3/1/2004
NPR aired a story about the T-shirt controversy today. They also named the designers, Vintage Vantage, who are responding to the negative press in the most immature fashion possible. An example is the February 18th post on their press page where they make fun of Kat Storemski, the woman featured in the MTV interview by calling her a “dork” and making this mocking graphic. The next post makes fun of Russell Simmons for speaking out, and a glance at their product page for the shirt calls upon “the Camp Cool faithful” to support them. So yes, we’re dealing with assholes here.



Tounge-in-cheek irony— maybe… Or it could this be a move by the Republican-party-contributing Urban Outfitters owner Richard Hayne to dissuade his liberal clientele from voting…

Posted by: Craig on February 27, 2004 12:36 PM

I agree, voting & political activism should be taken more seriously. I respect anyone who acts on their ideals, even if I don’t agree w/ them. Voting is for old people? Stupid. Voting is for everyone.

Posted by: miguel on February 27, 2004 1:45 PM

On the other hand … voting evidence suggests that older people do tend to vote more (something that I hope will change). But also that older people tend to vote Democratic more than younger people (surprise, surprise). The reason? Older people (our grandparents’ generation) grew up & were politically socialized under FDR. Most voting behavior along party ID (about 60%) can be explained by how your mother voted when you were an adolescent. So, for older people, that’s Democratic. Younger people tend to vote Republican, since they grew up under Reagan. Ironic, eh? We always think older people are more conservative.

Posted by: miguel on February 27, 2004 1:48 PM

Wow. Yeah, they sound like real assholes. Then again, I wonder if people are over-reacting, even giving these jerks the attention they crave? I saw Harvard got involved in the debate. Aren’t there more important political topics today? Either way. Wow. What assholes (the shirt people).

Posted by: miguel on March 2, 2004 1:39 PM

hey folks — john & matt & heather & holden & nacho here. we’re the asshole/jerk/immature shirt people you wanna know why we did it? because it’s funny! it’s funny when people take themselves too seriously and take offense with something that is NOT OFFENSIVE! did you SEE the kat storemski video? she threw her shirt into her tiny little garbage can and it fell over! i’m sorry, but that’s not COOL in anybody’s book. even nacho knows that. so, sorry if we’ve upset you in any way, just know that it was not intentional at all. we like making people smile, we like making people think, that’s all. thanks, the camp cool staffers

Posted by: Vintage Vantage on March 4, 2004 3:19 AM

hi from Florida… “camp cool”? lol uhh yeah sure Here is another quote from Dumb and Dumber for you (besides the senior citizen one you used) Lloyd: Man! You are one pathetic loser! I hope that with a degree from Yale I could be doing more than copying t-shirts. Have a nice day!

Posted by: Rob (Kat's Friend) on March 4, 2004 12:51 PM

If you want to protest the “Voting is for old people” T-shirt, there’s not a “Vote, F*cker” T-shirt. You can get it here:

Posted by: miguel on March 4, 2004 2:06 PM

Date: March 4, 2004 To: All concerned voters From: VotingIs Youth Respond to Urban Outfitters New York, NY—As thousands of young soldiers return from their brave tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, it shocks us to see Urban Outfitters newest t-shirt design. We firmly oppose Urban Outfitters Chairman & CEO Richard Hayne, who is trying to profit from his damaging message that voting is just for old people. Based on our experiences at Princeton, other college campuses and on political campaigns, we believe Hayne could not be farther from the truth. Voting is NOT just for old people. Young people have a critical role to play in the future of our democracy. We believe that Urban Outfitters’ message that voting isn’t cool is counterproductive and harmful to the country’s health. It is essential that young people get involved, get interested, and VOTE. We have created a line of products that firmly states, “Voting is for young people.” We want all concerned voters, young and old, to join us in protest. We need to make a statement that young people care, and that politicians in Washington need to listen. We plan to donate 5% of our proceeds to Youth Vote, a non-partisan coalition working to increase the political involvement of millions of Americans. Founding coalition members include Black Youth Vote, Rock the Vote, Student PIRGs and the U.S. Student Association. Support our work. Visit and make your voice heard.

Posted by: Ben Grossman on March 4, 2004 5:55 PM

somehow i feel my typical smart-assed response to a thread like this is rather useless at this point and would just further underline typical youth apathy towards voting. however, i must say that a pro- or anti- voting t-shirt will ultimately not harm or help the turn out in youth voting. but press like this certainly will help t-shirt sales! whoooo! go capitalism! cash in now, honey. also, both shirts are lacking in any sort of design aesthetic… are overpriced… and i wouldn’t be caught dead in either.

Posted by: e_prime on March 5, 2004 12:56 PM

yep, e, you’re right. i also think the t-shirt controversy is much ado about nothing. but. there you have it. i think a cool slogan would be: “vote, if you want to, i mean, it’s your choice”

Posted by: miguel on March 5, 2004 7:11 PM

Make a list. Check.

I’ve been thinking lately about setting more concrete and defined goals, with real timelines and steps to follow. I have a continuing problem with feeling unsatisfied or unaccomplished and I think writing it down could help. The ultimate to-do list, mapped out over years of time with enough flexibility built in that it doesn’t feel like a trap, but enough realism to motivate me. I’ll add creating that grand to-do list to my current, regular one.

This weekend I got my first phone call to go moped riding. I didn’t have time, but I wouldn’t have gone anyway. My mopeds are still broken and sitting in Dan’s shop, plus its way too cold. I hope that 1977 Mopeds opens soon as I’d like to get my bike in top shape well before Moped BBQ 10.

Linky links:

America on the Move
An in-depth exploration of how transportation has affected America.

Shows at the Logan Square Auditorium
The Empty Bottle folks are starting to do shows at the Logan. Lots of good bands coming up; I bought my Bonnie Prince Billy tickets far in advance.




what is a bonnie prince billy, and why are they/he/she/it big enough to prompt two nights?

Posted by: jim on February 24, 2004 7:17 PM

Bonnie Prince Billy is one of the many names that Will Oldham performs under. Check out The Royal Stable for more information.

Posted by: Simon King on February 24, 2004 10:45 PM

that still leaves me clueless. should i know who that is?

Posted by: jim on February 24, 2004 11:46 PM

Maybe. He goes under multiple names such as Palace, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Will Oldham. He’s involved in Palace Records, was covered by Johnny Cash on American III, toured with Björk, and has released enough albums that I can’t keep track anymore.

Posted by: simon on February 24, 2004 11:59 PM

Whether you *should* or not is entirely up to you… for myself, I fell in love with the Palace material soley for the stark simplicity and confoundingly odd yet comforting lyrics. Didn’t see him perform live for several albums worth of material and when I finally was able to see Oldham perform live, he was carrying on as if he was a karaoke singer — cheesy backing tape and act. I swore off him from about ‘97’s “Will Oldham” records, until someone forced Bonnie Prince Billy’s “I See A Darkness” into my clenched fist one day. INSTANTLY, I was in love again. I remember weeping, as if becoming reaquainted with an old friend. Melodramatic, sure… probably as melodramatic as my reaction to his “karaoke”-show. He’s an elusive character. Does very little press… but makes some damn compelling music.

Posted by: e_prime on February 25, 2004 8:49 AM

I ♥ NY

This time last week I was on my way to New York City. I had an awesome weekend, but I haven’t had a moment since I got back to write about it. Meredith and I ate delicious food and soaked in the city even though it was a little too cold. We stayed at a perfectly central location, the Chelsea Inn near Union Square. On Saturday we walked everywhere in-between 14th St. and downtown, then took the subway up north and walked 50 more blocks south to the Empire State Building. In the middle of all that walking was shopping, eating, ice skating, gawking and realizing that I really do need to live in New York someday.

While I was sore from so much walking during the trip, Meredith is actually still in pain when she goes up steps. I have a reputation for walking too much whenever I travel. People still holding a grudge include Dan and Bill for Paris, and my mother for Berlin. I don’t feel bad for Paris, but turning around and seeing my mom panting for breath a block behind me was sort of a low point. I still think walking is the best way to see a city, but maybe I should hold off the excessiveness.

You should check out Meredith’s weblog post about the trip. She also put up some photos that I won’t bother duplicating here.

Dear gossip hounds,
Contrary to popular rumor this trip wasn’t some sort of prelude to marriage. Can’t two people go on a surprise romantic trip to NYC for Valentines Day and their 3rd anniversary without getting engaged? Sheesh.



Walking is the best way to view a city. Particularly, purposely getting lost and then walking your way back to places. When I first arrived in Chicago I basically walked around downtown trying to find a certain landmark or place, familiarizing myself with street names and such. Walking is the way to go.

Posted by: Naz on February 20, 2004 6:16 PM

It’s not so much the walking, but rather the intense speed of your steps. You may remember that when I walk with you and your brother I litererally have to jog to keep up, actual jogging.

Posted by: meredith on February 20, 2004 6:46 PM

Bullocks!! We ALL know that mopeding is the best way to see a city!

Posted by: Brendan on February 20, 2004 7:10 PM

New York City

Tomorrow, Meredith and I are going to New York City for the weekend. It’s Valentines Day, our 3rd anniversary, and she’s leaving for France in a little over a month. This is our last chance for a trip before she leaves and I’m really excited. Hopefully the weather holds up because we hope to do lots of walking around, absorbing the city.

I’ll post some photos and details when I get back.



Hey, welcome to the east coast. Have fun. Take lots of pictures. Remember when you and I were hanging in NYC? That was awesome.

Posted by: josh on February 12, 2004 8:39 PM

that sounds like a lot of fun. are you going to try to meet up with mission 23?

Posted by: mark on February 13, 2004 12:53 AM

I don’t think so. It’s a really quick trip since we cant’ leave until this evening and have to be back on Sunday. Hopefully I’ll be visiting again soon and can meet up with everyone I know there.

Posted by: Simon King on February 13, 2004 9:18 AM

okay….on saturday it’s supposed to be windy but 50 degrees, and sunday it’s supposed to be colder than anything. I would suggest meeting up with me, but I don’t want to be the 3rd wheel to spoil your romantic rendezvous. However, if you would like suggestions for romantic restaurants, I can maybe tell you about some.

Posted by: allison on February 13, 2004 9:48 AM

Hopefully that weather holds for Saturday; that’s when we’ll be walking around the most. Do you want to meet up for breakfast on Sunday? I’ll give you a call, or you can reach me on my cell phone.

Posted by: Simon King on February 13, 2004 10:09 AM

have fun, kids. and can i say … ahw!

Posted by: miguel on February 13, 2004 1:57 PM

Sorry Simon, I don’t have consistant internet access…got your note a little late. Hope you had fun, but if you read this before you leave NY, call me!

Posted by: allison on February 15, 2004 3:45 PM

I’m sorry we didn’t meet up with you Allison. We got wrapped up in trying to see as much of the city as possible and quickly ran out of time. We had an awesome trip though. I’ll post more about it here in the next few days when I get caught up with everything. I hope to come visit you once Eric moves out there and you get settled in. Have you talked to any of the new Mission 23 Moped Army branch kids yet?

Posted by: simon on February 17, 2004 10:25 PM

i’m glad no one on your weblog knows about our super secret engagement.

Posted by: meredith on February 18, 2004 11:19 PM

No one knows, indeed.

Posted by: Naz on February 19, 2004 1:57 AM


If you’re a regular reader of my weblog then you’ll notice things look slightly different around here. The updates include:

  • The frameset is gone, so each page is easily linkable.
  • Also as a result of losing the frameset each page has a nicely displayed title tag.
  • Titles of other entries are viewable before clicking by rolling over their entry color.
  • There is a visual indicator as to what entry in the color bar you are viewing.
  • The comments form now has a URL field that will be used to link your name to your website instead of your email (if provided).
  • It’s all new code, written as valid HTML and CSS with more semantic markup than before. This means the site is more accessible, and looks good un-styled in text only browsers, cell phone browsers, and older browsers that don’t support CSS.
  • Update: I’ve changed the archives to be an unordered list instead of a drop down. Then I wrote a script that converts the list to a drop down for visual browsers. This way it works the same for most users, but text only browsers and search engines can use the archive links as well. If it looks messed up for you then you might need to clear your cache and reload the page.

I got a bit of a redesign myself yesterday when my new glasses came in the mail. Similar to this website’s change they aren’t a huge departure from what I had before, just a subtle evolution.

Simon wearing new glasses



new glasses are always tenuous . good for you. i want to see you soon. i’ve been nearly unemployed for a month and haven’t been to k-zoo. thats silly! also, my mac loves that this looks good in safari.

Posted by: jim on February 5, 2004 2:40 AM

Hey they look good. You got yours before I got mine, damnit. Are you happy with them?

Posted by: Isaiah on February 5, 2004 11:44 AM

those new glasses look remarkably like your old ones. you should write a post detailing the differences. ;-)

Posted by: miguel on February 5, 2004 4:36 PM

Jim: You should totally come to Kalamazoo sometime. The Rocket Star is now open and things are happening. I’m so busy lately I can’t really say what would be a good time if you want to hang out. Definitely not until later in the month, but if you plan on coming let me know. Isaiah: You still haven’t gotten your glasses? At first I was concerned that mine were messed up like yours were, but I’m adjusting to them better every day. My prescription didn’t change much, but they really made me dizzy for a while. Miguel: These are squarer, while my other ones were more elongated. Also, these are entirely black and the old pair was split between clear and black.

Posted by: simon on February 6, 2004 12:07 AM

i think the drop down menu for archives was much more elegant. my two cents.

Posted by: jim on February 7, 2004 3:10 AM

Jim: If you’re not seeing the drop down menu for the archives then you might just need to clear your cache and reload the page. I’ve implemented a script that converts an unordered list to a drop down box. That way the visual browsers that support JavaScript get the drop down but text only browsers and search engines can follow the archive links. Let me know if it continues to show you the list instead of the drop down. Also let me know what browser/os combo you’re using.

Posted by: simon on February 7, 2004 10:15 AM

I’m a regular lurker— we’ve emailed before. Anyway, the update is nice, although it took a little experimentation to discover the new interface. I’ve always been a little torn on the concept of instant acessibility in design. Some would say controls (in products, websites, interfaces, etc) should be prominent and obvious. However I can see the other side— you spend a little time playing, you learn, you remember and no longer require a lot of text/cues to help you out.

Posted by: Craig on February 11, 2004 4:59 PM

i don’t mean to be rude, but you have a big nose. does that bother you? i have a big nose too. it bothers me.

Posted by: jerry on April 13, 2004 6:20 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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