Ever noticed how teen fathers try to look cool when they push the ol’ stroller around? They usually use only one hand, walking almost beside the pram with the other hand casually placed in their pocket. There’s a method to this madness: Any cute girl who looks his way won’t see it if he pushes it with only one hand. Yeah. Anyway, that “How you doin’?” that comes out of his slyly upturned mouth as they pass him in front of the Widdle Wee Ones Outlet is enough to make any girl go blind with wanton lust.
Suffice it to say that teenagers weren’t meant to have babies. They were meant to date, and experiment with drugs, and listen to music their parents hated. People who came of age in the ’80s have kept up this behavior well into their late twenties, putting off marriage big time. All of which has led to the millennial version of the baby boom. The old ’80s hardcore and hesher kids are settling down, getting married, and reproducing. (Or at least reproducing.)
And that is responsible for punk rock and heavy metal baby clothes.
“My wife and I looked all over for cool clothes for our son that wouldn’t make him look like an Easter egg,” says Mark Devito, a longtime part of the Bay Area metal scene and creative director of the East Bay-based metalbabies.com, the leading — okay, only — heavy-metal-themed baby clothes manufacturer I could find on the Web. “We couldn’t find anything except licensed goods from actual bands. I didn’t necessarily want my son to promote certain bands — it was more that I wanted to find cool gear that wasn’t insulting to the child, wasn’t offensive.”
Insulting? Offensive? Who in the heck would make baby clothes that fit that description? Well, people have. Witness the following baby onesies and T-shirts: “My Daddy is a Mother Fucker.” “Fuck Cookies and Milk. Give Me Titties and Beer.” “I Just Shit My Pants.” Can “Suckin’ Titty” be far behind, people? Or how about this, for boys: “I Just Came Out of a Vagina and Will Spend the Rest of My Life Tryin’ to Get Back In.”
Devito’s shirts, on the other hand, are pretty witty. One says “BA/BY,” AC/DC style, with “My Day to Yell” as a tagline. There’s also “Nappeth Baby Nappeth” á la Black Sabbath, and “Last Diaper” written in Def Leppard skript, with the tagline “I Ain’t Dry.”
“I went from my gut as far as what I would like to … be able to buy for our child,” he says. “It just happened to work out that the designs were things that a lot of my friends and their spouses felt comfortable putting on their children. I think it is a niche that needed to be filled.”
Apparently so. The Web is full of punk rock baby clothes startups (to wit, “Anarchy in the Pre-K” onesies). Just as those of us who grew up in the ’70s were given tie-dyed PJs and the Free to Be You and Me record by our hippie parents, today’s counterculture breeders are buying their spawn They Might Be Giants and Ween records and dressing them up in tiny little bowling shirts and leopard-print jumpers. There’s something that just doesn’t sit right about dressing a baby up in a sharkskin suit or giving it a dog collar, but for the most part, unless the kid is wearing sunglasses (on dogs, hell yes, on children, noooo) there’s really no reason to call Child Protective Services.
Devito is lucky enough to be the art director for Cinderblock, the supersuccessful Berkeley company that provides tour T-shirts and stuff for bands. He therefore has access to all the screenprinting he’ll ever need, though he says he’s talking to bigger companies that want to license his ideas. Not bad for a guy who started out painting demons on the back of stoners’ jackets at Berkeley High. “From there it went to painting backdrops for bands,” he says. “I painted a huge logo for Testament with a giant pentagram and a goat’s head on the living room floor of my parents’ house when they were away on a trip. Unfortunately, the silver paint that I used for the pentagram soaked through, right onto the wood floors. They came home to find me on my hands and knees scrubbing a large pentagram off of their floor.” Yooops. Just try and remember that, Mark, when your own son uses your Beatles’ Butcher Babies album as a trowel in the ol’ sandbox.
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