Saturday, January 22, 2011

TMBG Shirt #4: William Allen White

This week's shirt features "That Guy" that you've seen in some of TMBG's early videos, or perhaps as a backdrop at a live show. As you may know, his name is William Allen White. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and newspaper editor from Kansas who lived from 1868-1944. Why did John & John want some old guy in their videos, anyway? They're just weird. But why this old guy? Well, according to Flansburgh: "We wanted to use the face of Orson Wells, but were afraid we'd get sued." I think that at this point it's safe to say that TMBG is in no danger of a grudge being held by the estate of William Allen White.
The front of the shirt displays the standard disembodied, floating head of Mr. White above a giant, florescent green letter T. When I walk around wearing this, onlookers stare at my chest and ask, "Who's that?", to  which I reply in an authoritative tone, "That's William Allen White." or if I'm feeling lazy, simply, "That's Billy!" and do not offer any further explanation unless one is asked for, which it often isn't.
Here's Don't Let's Start, in case you're not familiar with how the band has used WAW in their videos. I wonder who they got to hold those giant WAW heads up and dance around (in slow-motion no less, so it would sync up with the music when the footage was sped up). Imagine being able to say, "See that Giant dancing head right there? That's me." Man, those people are lucky. Incidentally, my first ever exposure to TMBG was this video.
On the back, a smaller WAW head accommodates the remaining three initials of our favorite band, this time in red. As you can see, this shirt does not fully convey its message unless both sides are read, and in the correct order. And even then, most people are left scratching their own head. As it should be.

MP3 of the Week:

"Truman" (lyrics) 
A few times, John or John decided to goof on the audience after receiving a big response to being told that they're going to hear a song about a president. This was one of those times: 9/12/97 at TRAX in Charlottesville, VA.


  1. I wish I'd bought that one when I had the chance, I liked it a lot. Also, Kurt from the Fastbacks is wearing that shirt in the Doug Pray film "Hype!" about the Seattle music scene. Neato! (Kurt was in the Young Fresh Fellows, too.)

    1. Just found this shirt today if youre interested in it. Thanks for the artocle. Had no idea what it was but I knew if it was a made in usa giant tag, it had to be a band