Antidotes to swaglessness
Great tees, bad tees, beautiful synth lullabies & more "unbeatable recon"
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane, your 100% reader-supported masterpiece of modern electronic-mail… where we’re kicking things off today with a Spyplane Holy Decree.
The other day, Blackbird Spyfriend Ben Detrick, who co-hosts the excellent basketball & culture podcast Cookies Hoops, posted a gnomic tweet (collaged below) that caught our eyes…
Ben conjured a deeply haunting image, in just 7 words, of “the wearing a heather gray shirt regretter” …
The tweet did not go viral, because it contains a very niche hip-hop reference (to Smoothe da Hustler and Trigger the Gambler’s 1995 NYC underground rap classic “Broken Language”), stilted syntax, and a Mach 4+ insight that the masses are clearly not ready for — a burning truth that we have to enshrine here in the newsletter with an official BBSP Decree:
Heather gray tees are not what’s up and if you wear one you should be full of regret !!
It’s hard to put yr finger on exactly why heather-gray tees are such a bummer… Part of it is that they’re ugly, but we like all kinds of ugly things here at Spyplane HQ. Heather-gray tees, however, are drably ugly, as opposed to compellingly, stimulatingly ugly. They’re unadventurous. They can’t even commit to being gray, they’ve got to knit in little flecks of other s**t!! Most of them look sad, cheap and a little stinky, and the ones that look expensive — on that luxe loopwheeled Merz b. Schwanen level — just make you wish that all the time, labor and long-grain cotton that went into producing them was spent achieving an effect more compelling than “I’m about to put in work on the chin-up bar at the high-school gym in 1953, fam !!”
That throwback energy is where the confusion originates: the heather-gray tee shirt gets lumped in as an “unfussy,” “classic,” “workwear / heritage” staple. No doubt there are photos out there of Paul Newman and Steve McQueen looking great in them, which tricks ppl into thinking they are sexy, eternal slappers. But Paul Newman and Steve McQueen looked great in anything, and they looked much better in white t-shirts (sick) than heather-gray ones (lame), so that’s a red herring.
Much like “no-show socks” — the unholy subject of an earlier Spyplane Holy Decree — heather-gray tees are acceptable ONLY when they function as effectively unseen sweat-absorbing infrastructure: something to exercise in, sleep in, do yard work in, etc. (This helps explain the hard-to-articulate paradox that heather-gray sweatshirts are acceptable, and can even be popping: they read as cozy, sturdy, rough-and-ready outdoor-appropriate jawns, rather than depressing & unsightly.)
Blackbird Spyplane tends to practice a 100% positive “come as you are” philosophy as far as dress codes, but we are also earth’s no. 1 pro-social dope-joints newsletter, and when you hit the streets in a heather-gray tee you reveal yourself as someone so unconcerned with adding a little grace note of charm, calm, beauty, and/or idiosyncrasy into the public tableau that it verges on sociopathy 😉!!
MOVING ON — let’s talk about a few things that are, by contrast, mad cool: