After I graduated, I moved to Chicago with my college roommate. We lived the typical aimless life of 22 year olds in a new city, and I will always cherish the memories we made there. I made some great friends, gorged myself endlessly on macaroni and cheese pizza from Ian’s Pizza on Clark Street, and had a pretty fantastic time before I ran out of money and had to move back to my parents’ couch.
But one of my favorite keepsakes from my time spent in the Windy City is a horrendously tacky Christmas cardigan I got from The Christmas Sweater Depot in Irving Park. Yes, The Christmas Sweater Depot. Picture, if you will, a giant warehouse that looks like your great aunt’s closet during the holiday season exploded in it. As far as the eye can see are racks and piles of vintage Christmas clothing, on the floor and on tables at various heights—oxfords, vests, turtlenecks, and most importantly, a sleighload of tacky Christmas sweaters. One can spend hours, and often does, looking for the perfect holiday diamond in the rough; that one piece of yuletide apparel that is beautiful in its heinousness.
For me, it was a blue women’s cardigan with vented sleeves that was adorned with a litter of white terriers, all sporting Christmas scarves and hats. I was in love with Cardi the moment I first laid eyes on it, and I have worn it with pride to almost every holiday party I’ve attended since. Here, you can see my friend Erik and I warmly embracing at a winter soiree from a few years ago, my sleeves a tapestry of canine Christmas cheer.
Unfortunately, Ugly Christmas Sweater parties have become such a holiday staple that the demand for sweaters like that has surpassed the supply and AMERICA just can’t stand for that kind of gap in the marketplace. Go on Google and search “ugly Christmas sweater” and you’ll find thousands of them newly minted, ready to be purchased and gawked at. Yes, it’s a little disheartening that the prestige of a good bad vintage sweater has been lost, but it was inevitable, and I’ve come to terms with it.
But this year, I have seen an alarming trend that I will NOT stand for: Bands manufacturing their own ugly Christmas sweaters as merchandise.
In my spare time, I moonlight as a music journalist with a weekly new music column at a site called Brightest Young Things, so I do my best to keep up with all the hot tunes those cool kids are listening to these days, as well as what’s going on in the industry, and I must say, this newest trend of Christmas Sweater band merch is an alarming one that besmirches both Christmas sweaters and the bands hocking those wares.
Sure, it makes sense for some bands, like Blink182, whose biggest hit involved reveling in the finer points of prank calls…
And maybe for dance-punk Canadian’s like Death From Above 1979, who enjoyed giving different ridiculous reasons for the 1979 aspect of their name...
But what about a band like Queens of the Stone Age who, while always hinting at a good sense of humor, just released one of the best rock albums of the year? Do they really need to jump on this bandwagon, especially with a graphic of reindeers in heat?
And I mean, I know Metallica gave up any semblance of street cred the minute Lars Ulrich started pouting over Napster downloads, but isn’t this just kind of ridiculous?
Aren’t these “totally badass” metal bands (that with the exception of Slayer I have never heard of) losing a bit of their edge by knitting satan skulls and pentagrams on these poly-cotton blends (also a no-no when it comes to Xmas sweaters; go wool or go home)?
I get it.
Christmas is one of the best holidays of the year. Even the metal heads want to get in the holiday spirit. But this is fucking Christmas. Put on a too-tight women’s cardigan with vented sleeves and holiday terriers like the rest of us and pass me a winterdoodle.