By day four of a recent "staycation," my family and I had little to do and less money to do it with. My daughter suggested an afternoon of bargain-hunting in the thrift stores.
Everyone piled into the family vehicle and off we went. She asked what I planned to buy, if anything. I told her, without hesitation, I'd be searching for a concert T-shirt commemorating The Rolling Stones' 1981 American tour.
"O-kayyyy," she said. "Good luck with that."
"Preferably a jersey, with red or blue sleeves," I said.
"Riiiight," was her response.
On the way to the shop of her choice — Sand Dollar in the Heights — I told her I was hopeful I'd find what I was looking for because there must be many, many middle-aged men who are now too fat (or too old) to wear these clothes, which they proudly sported decades ago. Maybe their kids don't care about vintage clothing and, needing to pare down their fashion accouterments, they've foolishly tossed them all into a garbage bag for disposal at the resale shops.
As the song says, my daughter reminded me, one man's trash is another man's come-up. So everyone agreed to be on the lookout for any vintage music apparel I might be interested in.
We even decided to consult an expert so we'd know what to seek out. Meg Michelle Cambern is general manager and merchandiser for a quartet of well-known Lower Westheimer vintage resale shops: Leopard Lounge, Taxi Taxi, Pavement and Blackbird. If anyone knows what music apparel consumers are searching for, it's her.
Cambern's first tip was to not limit my search to stuff on hangers.
"We do sell a lot of band T-shirts, vintage and modern, but people also are looking for patches, buttons, bags, shoes and other things," she said. "The world revolves around music, and music plays such a huge part in fashion."
Cambern can say this with utter confidence because she's also a musician, the bassist for local glam-rockers The Freakouts. The band has a sound that pays homage to their '70s rock idols and a decided look to match.
"I don't believe image is everything, but there's got to be something that separates you from the norm that catches the eye," Cambern said. "We've all dressed the way we do before we were in the band, mainly being influenced by everything punk and rock and roll."
"There's a thousand bands out there doing the same thing you are; it's your personality and image that helps separate you from the others," she added.
While spandex and platform shoes might work for them, I was looking for something modest that would also express how I feel about music. So I hit the racks looking for apparel representing artists I enjoy. And as I waded through used 3 Doors Down and Spin Doctors tees, I was beginning to learn something about myself.
My daughter walked over with a four-foot-tall stuffed kangaroo. It had a pouch and a stuffed joey peeking out from it.
"I gotta have this, Dad," she said.
Before I could answer, my son was approaching with a pair of olive-green briefs on a hanger.
"Really?" he asked. "Who is coming to the Sand Dollar to buy underwear?"
Had there been an AC/DC symbol emblazoned across the crotch, I might have spent a dollar or two on them. Not to wear, you know; just to have, in case they had any value to them.
Another thing Cambern taught us was that vintage music clothing can be worth big bucks.
"Some of the band stuff is considered collector's items more than everyday wear," she says. "I'd say any tour shirt you have, hold on to it. It could be worth good money in the future."
She sent me a link to an article that says a 1976 New York Dolls shirt listed on eBay is commanding more than $2,000. A Runaways tee from 1977 is fetching similar bids.
Now I had a new goal in mind. Maybe our broke-ass family outing was about to become one of those moments where an unsuspecting bonehead buys a rare Degas at a garage sale, just because it looks cool.
I wanted to be that bonehead.
The Choice Is Yours
Voting is now open in the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards.
Late last month, we were proud to announce the nominees for the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards. Looks like it got a lot of people talking, which is what we were hoping for. Once again, we''ll be honoring the city's top practitioners of the musical arts in the high heat of summer, at our annual HPMA showcase on Sunday, August 4.
If you haven't already done so, now is the time to start voting on your favorites. This year's online ballot, which will also appear in the June 20 print issue of the Houston Press, is open for bidness at polls.houstonpress.com/polls/hou/musicawardsballot2013/. Call up a browser and start voting; one ballot per person, please. Voting closes at 2 a.m. after the showcase (Monday, August 5), when some amplifiers and ears will probably still be ringing.
Also, hard as it is to believe, it's the HPMAs' shining silver anniversary this year. Twenty-five years, the big 25. It's hard to believe they've been around this long (let alone the ol' HP itself), or that those years could go by so quickly. But rest assured we're working on some suitably special ways to mark the occasion.
Sweet memories of seeing Prince's January 1985 stand at Houston's Summit...with my mom.
Jesse Sendejas Jr.
I've witnessed Prince's live show only once, but it was at a critical moment in his career, on the Purple Rain tour, when he was emerging from underground musician to international superstar.
What I recall about the show is hazy. It was nearly 30 years ago, so give a guy a break. One thing I can say without reservation is going to see Prince live was, and still is, an event. You don't just happen upon a ticket on the day of the show and shelve your other plans to go catch his act. You buy a ticket way in advance, brag about going to everyone you know and make an evening of it.
That's what my wife (then girlfriend) and I did in 1985 when Prince brought the Revolution and special guest Sheila E to The Summit to perform during his career-watershed Purple Rain tour. Before we ever saw Prince sing a note live, we bought tickets and then went over to Sharpstown Mall to eat at Good Time Charlie's and shop in the fashion stores. We had to look the part. I remember wifey wearing lacy gloves and a big purple bow in her hair.
Before the show, we had dinner at Christie's on Main, which had a gargantuan prawn wearing a cowboy hat and shooting pistols out front. It seems like such an "old folks" thing to do now — dinner and a show, as if we were over at Dean Goss's theater.
Maybe it was my mother's idea. After all, she went to the show with us. I was only 19 at the time, and yes, old enough to attend even Prince's scandalous show sans a chaperone. But my mother loved music and was wild about Prince, so she bought a ticket, too.
It was awkward going to see Prince with my mom in tow. It was not a cool feeling to stand next to her when the nubile and scantily clothed Sheila E dragged an unsuspecting fellow on the stage and cooed, "Next Time Wipe the Lipstick Off Your Collar" while giving him a lap dance. On the way home, I shifted attention from those shenanigans by asking everyone, wasn't it cool when the lights went out and Ms. E's drumsticks lit up neon-like during "The Glamorous Life"?
Also, there was Prince to talk about. Mom was always a James Brown fan, so she nearly harshed my vibe by telling us how Prince was basically doing for us what the Godfather of Soul had already done for others years before; but, she admitted, Prince was maybe even better at it. He was the proverbial whirling dervish: spinning, sliding, doing the splits.
I'm pretty sure he opened with "Let's Go Crazy"; it was a natural place to start, since we were all being gathered to "get through this thing called life." I remember the band being exceptional and thinking Prince could really play guitar. I remember wishing I hadn't bought floor seats at the back half of The Summit because we all had to stand for most of the concert, when we could have been sitting comfortably in the lower prom.
I remember a set list heavy on Purple Rain material. I loved 1999 and still rank it just behind Sign O' the Times as my favorite Prince album, so I wasn't disappointed at all with the song selection.
I haven't seen Prince live since that night, but my mother saw him again. She saw him a couple of years later on his tour supporting Sign O' the Times. That time, my baby brother got to stand next to mom while Prince gyrated madly against his guitar and sang "Hot Thing."
Ask Willie D
A Real Hangup
One reader wound up having phone sex with her friend's boyfriend. Oops.
Dear Willie D:
My friend's boyfriend called me late one night and we had phone sex. When he first called, I didn't think of it as a big deal because he's called in the past looking for my friend and to share information about parties and other things.
But after a little small talk, out of nowhere, boom! He asked me what I was wearing. I was completely caught off-guard. But instead of being offended, a chill rushed through my body and I became as horny as I have ever been. It was like all of the tension that had built up inside of me because I couldn't have him just exploded.
In the past, he has given me that "I want you" look and I would just smile and look away. I know I probably should have told my friend, but my feeling was no harm, no foul. I mean, he was only flirting, right? What's wrong with looking?
I feel like such a backstabber for betraying my friend's trust, but by the same token I can't let go of the feelings I have for her boyfriend. I already had a crush on him, but the phone sex escalated my desires and now it's only a matter of time before we take it to the next level.
I know that I have put my relationship with my friend in jeopardy, but I can't help it; I want him. Am I setting myself up for failure?
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The politically correct thing for me to say is, don't do it, but bump all that. At this juncture, you almost have no choice; here's why. Whenever the heart and mind are in conflict, usually the heart wins. Your mind can be saying, "He is wrong for me. I shouldn't go there." But your heart will tell your mind, "Screw you. I like him and I'm going to be with him no matter what."
To be perfectly clear, I'm not saying you should stab your friend in the back by cheating with her boyfriend. I'm saying living in this world has shown me people follow their hearts more often than their minds. And I suspect you will cheat even though you would be wrong as Bishop Eddie Long. The way I'm built wouldn't allow me to betray my friend by flirting with or sexing his girl. I don't care how attractive she is. I would never permit myself to look at her in a sexual way.
You've already said it's only a matter of time before you take it to the next level. Your mind is made up, and nothing I say will dissuade you. So I suspect that unless you get a sudden case of the holy ghost or some uncontrollable force intervenes, you will have an affair with your friend's boyfriend. That says a lot about the kind of person you are.