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Brandon Wardell is a very funny comedian: We caught his stand-up act in San Francisco last fall and he crushed it; a few years back Bob Odenkirk tha god hand-picked him to go on tour and do a joint comedy album together; and he's a tight follow on Instagram and Twitter, where he's done things like invent a friendly viral emoji sheriff and get suspended for impersonating Dead Joe Biden. He also co-hosts the podcast "Yeah, But Still" and popped up w/ a selfie stick in the Curb Your Enthusiasm season 10 premiere.
More important than any of that, though: he gets off consistently bold fits, to the eye-catching extent that when you image-search him, one of the top results is someone trying to sleuth out who made a fleece he wore on I Think You Should Leave. (By Parra, sold out.) Speaking of expert-level fleeces, not just anyone could rock the Salomon tie-dye pullover we put in our Rare Vintage Fleece Guide a few weeks ago, but Brandon copped it like a damn champ.
We hit him up last week as part of our H.T.G. Homey Outreach Campaign, where we ask interesting ppl about some unique / cherished thing they own. He chose a circa-1990 Bootleg Bart shirt...
HTG: Your "G.I. Bart" shirt is wild. How did this come into your life?
Wardell: "I was on tour in Portland last August and went into this vintage spot called Heir. It's Bart in full military garb, holding an assault rifle in one hand and an American flag in the other, parachuting down into the Middle East. He's saying 'Hussein you can't touch this,' like M.C. Hammer. I think he might also be a black Bart? For a bunch of reasons it’s a shirt I can’t really just wear out -- I need to be in the company of people who I know -- but it’s nice as an archival piece."
HTG: There’s a whole grody sub-genre of Desert Storm Bootleg Bart shirts -- I haven't seen yours before, though.
Wardell: "It's funny, I’m rewatching a lot of season 2 through 8 Simpsons right now, and there are perfect episodes, like 500 jokes per episode, but it’s also tender: There’s a lot of heart, sweet family stuff and nothing really implying that Bart is an imperialist or anything. No pro-war-Bart-centric episodes. It's sort of the same thing where you read old Calvin and Hobbes and Calvin doesn’t have a piss fetish, and yet culture really ran with him pissing on everything."
HTG: Bootleg Bart got put to so many different purposes in the early ‘90s: Ppl were making these racist-imperialist Gulf War Bart shirts, and at the same time there were revolutionary Malcolm X Barts and pro-Mandela Barts ...
Wardell: "This is the only one I own, because I just happened on it. I haven't developed a huge Bootleg Bart collection, but that could easily change. By the way, as far as Black Bart, I was watching an episode where you see Dr. Hibbert’s whole family, and his son looks exactly like Black Bart. So there's a question, in terms of canon, where a lot of the old Black Bart shirts might actually be Dr. Hibbert’s son?"
HTG: You were born in 1992, so this shirt pretty much captures the moment when you arrived on the planet. What does it mean to you on a personal level?
Wardell: "Well, I came of age during the Iraq ‘reboot’ so that’s sort of my cultural relationship with the shirt. Obviously I was a baby when MC Hammer was big and the Gulf War was happening but I still know about all this stuff. And the fact that he's parachuting over Iran in 1991 and however many years later you've got John McCain saying 'bomb bomb bomb Iran' -- it's weirdly prescient."
HTG: It's still relevant, in a few bleak ways.
Wardell: "By the way, vis-a-vis early Simpsons, do you remember the episode where Flanders wears the Assassins? They're so sick. A friend pointed out that the new Aimé New Balances look a lot like them. The Assassins are kind of a dream shoe of mine -- people have tried to do DIY real-world versions but they don't look good. But yeah there's a full Flanders fit check in that episode and he looks good. I do think Ned Flanders is an underrated fashion icon. People don't talk about that enough."
HTG: Have you been going extra hard on e-commerce these days?
Wardell: "Slightly harder, because it’s the only option, but right now getting fitted feels kind of like a fool's errand, because who are you doing this for? Also I feel like, being a comedy guy, I can’t just post earnest fit pics with no twists. If I cop a new piece, at best it's an Instagram story. It disappears after 24 hours. I posted a story with that Salomon fleece you wrote about — thank you for exposing me — but posting a grid fit-pic in quarantine just feels wrong."
Thank you @bswardell
for coming by! If you’re unfamiliar with who he is, check him out he is hilarious!
Follow Brandon on Instagram here and Twitter here
Find the "Yeah, But Still" podcast here
Check out Portland's Heir shop here
-Bootleg “G.I. Bart” shirt (same as Brandon's) here
-Bootleg Bart "Saddam Sucks" shirt here
-Bootleg Bart "Yo Iraq" shirt here
-Bootleg Bart x Hard Rock Kuwait City shirt here