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Hot tome: A coffee-table book celebrates classic post-punk T-shirts

March 3, 2010 | 10:30 am

TeesWe all have a beloved old rock T-shirt or two in our possession. But for Cesar Padilla, owner of New York's Cherry vintage boutique, retro rock tees are a passion. And the retailer and collector, who's been amassing music tees since 1980, has now turned his obsession into a book.

In "Ripped: T-Shirts From the Underground" (out March 9), Padilla captures more than 200 tees made by (or in homage to) post-punk artists and musicians of the '70s and '80s from his collection. The shirts -- which are shown in all their sweaty-stained glory -- chronicle a musical movement that hinged on the DIY. This was an era when bands silk-screened their own T-shirts (and posters and fanzines) to sell at their club dates. Even the mass-produced shirts looked homemade.

Shirts emblazoned with indie icons including Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Germs, Talking Heads and Kraftwerk are represented, along with some of Padilla's rarest finds: a Plaster Caster tour shirt worn by Cynthia Plaster Caster to all her recording sessions and a tee worn by doomed Sex Pistol girlfriend Nancy Spungen, among others.

Padilla said he wanted to do the book "to set the story straight. All previous T-shirt books weren't really cutting it and were telling a story I did not participate in."

It's true that the shop owner is well connected to the scene he's chronicling. His old friend, musician Lydia Lunch, wrote the book's introduction, and Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore and New York designer Betsey Johnson (also friends) contributed.

The parting message? "Don't co-opt someone else's movement," Padilla said. "Make your own and most importantly do it yourself."

-- Emili Vesilind

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