One of the byproducts of resurrecting my old company Cliffhanger Research and Development for the slate of current projects starting in 2015 is the memories of the past that were good at the time, but matured over time into something better. It hasn’t been just recently where I have dedicated myself to completely changing the way people think about virtually everything. I have always known that it would likely take a few hundred years—but the effort is worth the wait. And in my case I started trying to re-educate people at a very early age.
When I was just 22 years old I started a philosophical line of t-shirts that were poised to directly compete with the No Fear Gear line. One particular shirt from that line sold by the multitudes. It was so popular in 1992 that I literally sold a shirt right off my back since it was the only one left. I remember it vividly, I was in the food court at Tri-County Mall wearing a shirt design seen in the below pictures. I was buying food at one of the restaurants there, and the clerk loved the saying on my shirt so much that he literally bought the shirt I was wearing since I was sold out at the time. I left the mall shirtless and proud.
I knew it at the time but the design on that shirt featuring the Indian on the back was more than just a message against development over Indian lands. I have been particularly obsessed for most of my life at the casualness that archaeology has been destroyed in America so to preserve the belief that Indians were the first inhabitants of North America—which wasn’t true, and that they had higher wisdom over the new capitalist country—which wasn’t true, and that American’s had no right to westward expansion over Indian land—which of course is preposterous. Indians didn’t own American land—they lost the war for it as one culture came out on top, and that was the end of the story as far as I was concerned. Yet it wasn’t quite enough.
I spent several evenings in a Waffle House restaurant drawing the designs that became the Cliffhanger line of shirts, and this Indian one provoked much talk around my booth as I purposely ate my omelet each night while coming up with just the right concept. Most watching me draw the picture thought that it was a conversation message. Others thought it was religious—especially accompanying the saying that was on the front. Others thought that I was up to something else all together. For me it was a fun moment and I had a taste of what it must have felt like to be Pablo Picasso in Paris creating his art for the first time to a skeptical audience with great voraciousness and eccentricity. My sketches were relatively simple artistically, but the story they told was quite extensive and worthy of discussion that erupted around the Waffle House at 4 AM in the morning.
Those who know me today understand why I blame Christianity for being a weapon against historic understanding. Many churches—particularly in Europe are built on old “pagan” sites so to show how the new religion had conquered the old one. In much the same way we are presently going through the same purge with the religion of Islam as they are deliberately attempting to carry mankind into another Dark Age with sheer intimidation and brutality. But before the Muslim, European conquistadors were just as brutal eradicating the Mayan, the Aztec and gradually all of the North American tribes not out of desire for their land so much but to destroy the intelligence of a people who came long before during the Archaic Period—in that little known age from 8000 BC to about 1000 BC well before the Hopewell and Adena Indians came to be during breeding with the Chinese who had been trading in the area in the years leading up to 1421 AD. What was being done was a religious purge by one over another and the great crime against not only the Indians, but humanity was that the last remnants of their mythology and folklore was wiped out and destroyed with great aggression. The unfairness to them was not out of broken treaties due to greed, but in suppressing what was already in the New World that the powers of Europe wanted to conceal.
Living in Liberty Township, Ohio I watched first-hand as construction crews plowed right through burial mounds of the people from the Archaic Period discarding the bones and relics like trash found around the footers of almost every American home—where construction crews fresh from their lunch breaks toss in their discarded trash too lazy to carry it away from them off site—so they bury it once the backfill the foundation of a home. Native Americans used the Great Miami River as a main artery to get deep into the land of Ohio and Liberty Township was a popular hunting ground and burial-place. That history was wiped away, first by the greed of the developers but there was something even more sinister at work. There was a deliberate erasing of history going on by the zoning boards at the time who were supposed to protect the past. Without question many of the deals which destroyed the archaeology of my Liberty Township were struck from the pews of churches where developers and zoning officials broke bread together over communion to approve new developments before the public hearings on Monday evening knowing that Indian mounds were present. And so it goes that most of the only remnants of archaeology left in Liberty Township are those from the English settlers who came shortly after the French and Indian War. Progress was used as the mask that destroyed the evidence of a culture that had long been in America before even the Hopewell or Adena. I should know because I walked nearly every mile of farmland in Liberty Township when I was a kid and I know what was destroyed to make way for the various neighborhoods who now overload the voting booth at election time in favor of Lakota schools—named after the Indians only in the hope of hiding the real crime of erasing their culture from memory—because of their pagan roots.
So I poured all that emotion into a t-shirt design and started a company around the premise which did quite well carrying me all the way to a large apparel trade show in Chicago by the age of 24. Most people my age were still immature partiers looking for their way through life—but even then I was being called an old man whose mind didn’t fit my age at all. At Chicago many of the older trade show patrons were astonished by my designs, and my age. Inside the McCormick Center there were very expensive deals taking place, but at night I was sleeping under the stars next to the lake at Meigs Airfield—because I couldn’t afford a hotel in Chicago at the time. I spent my last dimes to attend the show with my product line and to send my family to the south to open our store and manufacturing facility for Cliffhanger Research and Development in Gatlinburg Tennessee.
It all started with that simple shirt designed at a Waffle House in 1992 and the controversy that followed. It was a good controversy as it made people think which my real intention was always. I knew even then that I wanted to commit my life to changing not just the way people think but what they think about. Of course it’s not a short process, and currently I’m only twenty years into the project.
One of the treasures from my children’s childhood was that I gave them copies of their own versions of that shirt so that they could learn something from the message—particularly the one on the front. My kids grew up sleeping every night in their shirts and eventually wore them so thin that the material nearly wore away into dust. So for Christmas this year I had a reprinting done and gave it to them as one of their presents. They had asked me five or six years ago for new updates and it took me a few years to dig up all the old stuff so I could get the original artwork—but in 2014 I finally got around to it once again. Now they can use them for sleep shirts as they did once before or just have them in the closet for conversation with their own kids. There are plans to resurrect some of the other designs to bring out a modern line of t-shirts which is fun, but it will never be the way it was in 1992 when expressions on t-shirts were a fairly new concept. Today such expression is everywhere, so the shirts don’t have near the same appeal even though the art on them is timeless. It’s a different market in a different time. It is unlikely that anybody, anywhere would purchase the shirt right off my back these days as they did then—because everyone is so overwhelmed with messages of all kinds that nobody pays attention to little things anymore—like what people are wearing and what they mean.
But for my family it was fun to resurrect the design. It signifies the start of a quest that I knew very well from the outset at that Waffle House long ago at 4 AM in the morning as springtime winds beat at the window through layers of pouring rain that I was making some kind of history in the process. That journey would likely extend out for a few centuries but the starting point was literally at the restaurant table with a nice steaming omelet freshly made accompanying my obscure designs that for a few nights had the entire restaurant peering over my shoulder and asking questions that would resonate through the halls of time.