Seen on a T-Shirt No. 128

 

Forever Forever

 

Without context this phrase is meaningless, but (like so many conjured phrases in Vietnam) when I saw it on a T-shirt it made perfect sense. It was a deep and oblique commentary on the state of so many things: love, life, war, the future — it was the shortest Zen koan I’d ever seen, a wishful and fatalistic paradox that jammed me up for the rest of the day.

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Possible T-Shirt Slogan Ideas No. 17

 

The Junior Officers Club

Up To You

Don’t Stop

Fix The Machine

Love Is Love

Smooth Operator

If It Ain’t Broke

 

T-shirts with American slogans, cliches and catchphrases are all the rage in Vietnam — and the text doesn’t have to make sense to be popular. In fact, the more oblique the better. For example, one shirt I spied sported an attempted knockoff of the Chanel No. 5 logo sitting atop the simple imperative, “Smile and dress well,” a suggestion many Vietnamese take to heart. Another shirt displayed the stacked words “Breakfast Coffee Pancakes,” a rudimentary sentiment I couldn’t argue with. My favorite so far though was a jacket promoting some kind of local sports organization, the back of which was plastered with this long-winded-but-thorough description: “Professional Exciting Sports. American Activities in the Flush of Youth. We Appear Every Time So Fine in Style.”