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Creators of Pro-Police T-Shirts Are Hoping They’ll Be Bailed Out

It seemed like a great idea.

Design a pro-police T-shirt that thumbs its nose at those agitprop bus bench ads (“America’s Finest?”) that implied that San Diego cops are trigger-happy.

Think of sales! In San Diego alone, there are 1,300 cops, plus wives, girlfriends, relatives, friends and other law-and-order supporters.

Thus, three right-thinking San Diego entrepreneurs created a T-shirt to make both a profit and a political statement.

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On the front: a silhouetted figure with a shooter’s target on the chest, police badge over the heart. On the back: “AMERICA’S FINEST. The REAL Targets.”

The three thought they had a tacit agreement with the San Diego Police Officers Assn: The association would endorse and promote the idea in exchange for 20% of the profits for the widows’ and orphans’ fund.

But after a thousand of the shirts were printed, the Police Officers Assn. either changed its mind or clarified its original position, depending on whose version you believe.

The association would not be involved in the T-shirt project.

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“We’re just trying to put this bus bench stuff behind us,” said Harry Eastus, the association’s general manager.

Plus, Eastus said, there was concern that the T-shirt’s message could be misread into a weirded-out invitation to shoot at cops.

Without the association’s support, sales are somewhat south of sluggish.

“We were left holding the bag,” said Bob Smith, one of three partners in Reality Check, Ink.

Less than 50 of the 1,000 shirts (selling at $14.95 each) have been purchased. Cops canceled their orders.

Geoffrey Schiering, 23, another partner, hopes to find a market at the Kobey Swapmeet. Stores have shunned the T-shirts as too controversial.

Schiering notes that the bus bench ads were done with public money but the T-shirt rejoinder was strictly venture capital (about $5,500).

“I still hope people will bail us out.”

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Life and Life of Amiri Baraka

Taking it to the streets. Or: No armchair activist.

In an age of temporizing, black poet and playwright Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) is still angry about racial and economic matters.

He’s a no-excuses Marxist who feels neo-Fascism and Ku Klux Klanism have America--particularly black America--by the throat. He calls himself a “revolutionary optimist.”

When he lost a fight for a tenured job at Rutgers University, he likened the English faculty to a bunch of Afrikaners, male chauvinists and Ivy League Nazis.

And thus the world premiere at the San Diego Repertory Theatre of his play about a real-life African-American gangster, “The Life and Life of Bumpy Johnson,” is being much anticipated.

Among the characters: Bessie Smith and Langston Hughes.

Final rehearsals are set to begin this week. Baraka’s presence, though, is dependent on the court schedules.

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Baraka, 56, was arrested last week at his home in Montclair, N. J., on charges of disorderly conduct and inciting a riot.

Stemming from a brawl that erupted at a late-night party hosted by Baraka’s teen-age son, who was also arrested. More than a hundred people at the party, 10 arrests, two cops slightly injured.

Baraka told the New York Times it was all the cops’ fault: “These cops were just giving me the fisheye. Then they started wrestling with me and shoved me up against the side of the car.”

Baraka or no, “Bumpy” opens with previews Jan. 26.

Veteran Peace Singer

It’s news to me.

* The Coalition for Peace in the Middle East has arranged for a headliner for its march next Monday night in downtown San Diego: singer Country Joe McDonald.

For newcomers: His “Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin'-To-Die-Rag” was the anthem of anti-Vietnam War activists.

* North County joke.

What do you call a real estate agent during a recession?

“Hey, waiter.”

* North County bumper sticker: “Consultant.”


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