Dark Side of the Moomorabilia
For Christmas in 1986, my parents managed (as they always did) to surprise me with a particularly cool gift. I wasn’t the type to ask for a lot growing up. At least, not once I got out of grammar school and toys became less important. That year, I unwrapped a box that I couldn’t even begin to guess what was inside. Just as well. It took the instruction manual sliding out to identify what it was: a CD player.
Being that I’d gotten the player—you guessed it—there were a couple of CDs tucked away for opening later. One was Robbie Robertson’s self-titled solo CD.
The other was the new Pink Floyd album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. I was reminded of that disc last week, because somebody on the radio mentioned the sold out October 5th, 1987 show held at Madison Square Garden. Especially memorable for me, because I was there. And now, 26 years later, I can admit to feeling just slightly guilty, because the official tour tees were $25 bucks apiece, which was a little pricey for a shirt to a kid who’d just graduated high school. That, however, didn’t mean I didn’t find stuff to spend some coin on.
One of the highlights of the show was the pig shooting across the arena ceiling, harkening back to the Animals album. Sure enough, after the concert, outside the ‘Garden, I ran across several bootleggers selling decidedly un-official tour shirts. One of these showed said pig, along with the floating bed and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” tower, with laser lights streaming across the black cotton, and the tour dates on the back. $15 bucks? I knew I hadda have one. The Dark Side of the Moon throwback tour shirt? Oh, heck yeah, that one was coming home with me, if not going home on my back on the train ride to Long Island. There was a “One Slip” knockoff coffee mug, and a Dark Side mug not too different from the one shown below. A marching hammers baseball cap that came very, very close to traveling home with me, were it not for the fact that the thing was so cheaply manufactured that when I re-sized it to fit my head and pulled open the plastic strap, the nubs literally came right off. Sorry for said bootlegger, the coolness of the marching hammers couldn’t overcome the fact that the hat would have fallen apart on my way home.
There were some cool posters, too. The Wall poster, a “marching hammers poster”, a Syd Barrett poster, and a rather lousy reproduction of a band photo that looked like someone had taken a snapshot of the original with a 35mm camera and simply taken to a poster printer.
Me? I was set on some new threads to wear to school. The Madison Square Garden show was a hot ticket, after all. So, I picked out two tees, prepared to pay the slightly discounted 2-for-$25 rate. Until.
You already know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yeah, that was me, buying unlicensed merch in the shadow of the Penta Hotel across from the ‘Garden-because it was what I could part with and still afford a train ticket home.
“Three for thirty.”
“Take one of each, I’ll give you the third one for five bucks. Three for thirty.”
As Marlon Brando might have said, the guy made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. All three designs for five bucks more than what one tee would have cost me inside. Much cooler designs. And still enough in my wallet to get out of Manhattan with. In short: Sold!
Of course, the unlicensed, unofficial, un-quality controlled shirts weren’t exactly top of the line. Still, they lasted out the winter, which is all I could really expect from a ten dollar tee shirt I’d bought off a guy selling them out of a backpack while trying not to attract the attention of the cops. One, in fact, actually lasted quite a long time. Unfortunately, the reason for its longevity was due to the fact it shrank to the point of being unwearable. Eventually, it took up a spot in the back of my closet where I could still enjoy the design, even if I couldn’t squeeze into it any more. I know that’s not saying much, considering I was a reed-thin kid, but oh well, you live and learn.
The Moomorabilia I bought at that concert still makes me smile. I still remember showing up for class at Fordham a day or two later and having my friend Sean ask me, incredulous, “You went?! How the #*!$ did you get tickets?!” Good times.
Kinda amazes me that some of the designs that were throwback, or ‘classic’, or ‘replica’ fare are still showing up on merch today, more than 25 years later. Dark Side. Animals. The Wall. Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Wish You Were Here.
Ever go the cheap route like yours truly and scarf up some “moomorabilia”, or other knockoff tour treats? What’s your favorite concert purchase ever? Does a hanger in your closet, even now, hold a spot for a favorite tour tee, even if you couldn’t fit into it with the assistance of a pry bar?
C’mon, let’s hear it. You don’t need to feel guilty any more.