I Knew Who Che Guevara Was Way Before I Bought This T-Shirt

By Michael Kincaid

You know, a lot of people get involved in revolutionary politics after they buy their Che T shirt, but I’d just like to point out that I knew a fair bit about him beforehand.

In fact, having watched the movie and almost finished reading an entire Rolling Stone article about the guy, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert.

To start with, Che – or the Chemeister as his friends used to call him – was, like, a totally kick-ass motorbike rider. You can see this in the movie when he takes the low side on that bend, ends up in a ditch and still walks away. That was one sweet move, my friends.

Then he went to Cuba with his buddies and nationalized the foreign-owned businesses, a move that would later lead to the invention of the sport known as river tubing.

The real irony of the Cuban revolution (apart from the one about Coca Cola, and how Cuban cigars are now seen as a sign of conspicuous consumption) is that Che wasn’t even the coolest guy in the posse. That would have been Emilio Cienfuegos, a very charismatic character and a real soldier’s soldier. What’s more he used to wear this totally wicked hat.

But try getting a Cienfuegos T shirt. Impossible.

Che was more of a cold-hearted tactician, but he did gain some notoriety for his snappy turn of phrase. Some of his more famous quotes were “¡Hasta la victoria, siempre!”, which roughly translates as “Let’s get pizza, tomorrow!” and the even more polemic “Why the hell can’t I grow a decent beard like Fidel’s got?”.

This last case of beard envy lead to the Cuban Facial Hair Crisis back in the 60’s, an incident where world annihilation was only narrowly avoided when JFK (or it could have been Martin Sheen) promised to stop boning Marilyn Monroe.

Or something like that.

Che’s not even the only celebrity in my T shirt collection – I’ve got one of Kurt Cobain (I was into him way before he was famous – back when he was on Growing Pains) and this other one of Vladimir Lenin who, besides being the father of the October Revolution, also co-wrote Eleanor Rigby. Which makes him a pretty cool guy, too, but I guess that’s the subject of another article.

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