Pondering Posters Past

By | June 12, 2011

According to CNBC SportsBiz writer Darren Rovell, there is an artist in New York City with a novel idea: he is bringing back some of the classic sports posters of the late 1980s and 1990s. Growing up during that time, I remember, if not had, a few of those posters. As a matter of fact, between my friends and I, we probably had more than half of the artist’s collection.

But thinking about those few highly stylized posters made me reminisce over all the posters I had. From age 10 to 18, the walls of my bedroom were always decorated with something, from posters to a massive collage of full-page Sports Illustrated photos to Hooters calendars to even a negative note a girl once wrote me (negative motivation!). But for the sake of memory and brevity, I want to share with you guys some of the posters I had.

The first posters I had were all Mets-focused. I had a Dwight Gooden poster, a Howard Johnson poster, and a Mets collage. Continuing with the all-Mets theme, I also had a 1986 World Series pennant, a 1993 Mets vs Marlins inaugural series pennant, and several Mets hats hanging throughout the room. If memory serves me correct, I also had an “American League All-Stars of the 1980s” collage. Overall, however, my room was a shrine to my favorite team.

While my Mets fandom didn’t wane, my need to vary my bedroom’s appearance did. As I grew into my teens, I started to incorporate some of the more stylish baseball posters seen in the aforementioned artist’s collection. I had the famous Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire “Bash Brothers” poster (framed, no less!) and a poster of White Sox slugger Frank Thomas entitled “The Hammer”. This was also the time the Mets started their famed “Worst Team Money Can Buy” era, so finding a worthy Met face to post on my wall was quite the struggle.

Like most teenage boys, I eventually migrated into a girls and music phase. After I bought my first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, my walls were quickly covered with scantly clad images of Kathy Ireland, Cindy Crawford, and other top bikini models of the time. I also started listening to gangsta rap and bought posters reflecting my newfound taste, including album art Ice Cube’s “The Predator” and Cypress Hill’s “Black Sunday”. Of course, they went well with my early 1990s fashionable White Sox hat.

After I left for the military at 18, I had to adapt my poster tastes to both roommates and military rules and regulations. Out went the baseball posters and in came posters of December 1993 Playboy Playmate Elisa Bridges and classic rock god Jimi Hendrix. Each roommate I had was fortunately cool with my decorative tastes. My final military roommate even allowed for a poster of The Doors and a Brooklyn Dodgers collage.

When I arrived at Florida State, life in the concrete-walled dorms wasn’t conducive to postering. But I did venture into framed artwork, buying a triptych of Heironymous Bosch’s classic medieval painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights“. It was a piece I really related to and still have. I also wrote an essay on my thoughts on Bosch’s work that perhaps I will post here soon.

I eventually moved into an apartment with a fellow rock and Playboy fan. So while my bedroom featured a “me wall” of my military awards and certificates, in the living room went the art of Elisa Bridges, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix. Along with Bosch, the fact that all the sex and rock ‘n’ roll pictures were framed surely added to the classiness of our decor.

(Sadly, Elisa Bridges died of a drug overdose in 2002. Her death left my roommate and I in a very weird conundrum. We had several discussions on whether or not to leave the poster up. Elisa wasn’t a classic pin-up of the past like Marilyn Monroe or Betty Page, where her death doesn’t deter admiration. But do we make a big deal over taking the poster down? Do we replace her image with that of a living Playmate? How do we tell people the girl on our wall just killed herself? Unsure of the proper protocol, we left the poster up. It matched the furniture.)

After my college roommate and I split ways, I was once again able to decorate my place without the opinion of judgement of anyone. In my first solo bachelor pad, I maintained the status quo with Bosch, Jimi, and The Doors. In the half-dozen or so places I have lived since, I have added posters of Memphis-based Sun Records, a philosophical Native American phrase, a framed art piece of Nigerian desert warriors, and a commemorative poster of the 2009 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival.

Well, this got kinda long. But it’s funny how an upcoming museum exhibit made me reminisce over my personal annals of decoration. Annals that show how I have changed from a kid overly obsessed with the New York Mets to an adult whose walls represent my wide range of artistic, creative, and philosophical interests.

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