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In a Starched City, Selling T-Shirt Subversion

From left, Kyle Burk, Aaron Beckwith and Matt Wixon, who have full-time jobs and work part-time at Capitol Hill Books, run the T-Shirt Insurgency.
From left, Kyle Burk, Aaron Beckwith and Matt Wixon, who have full-time jobs and work part-time at Capitol Hill Books, run the T-Shirt Insurgency. "We don't think we can affect anything, so we just make fun of it," Burk said. The shirts are sold at the store and online. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

After accumulating about $10,000 in expenses, they are starting to break even, Burk said. "I'm technically the chief financial officer, but we are not really good at keeping records," he said.

The insurgents hire local designers to come up with the graphics. American Apparel, based in Los Angeles and described as a sweatshop-free business, prints the shirts. Each one costs about $8 to make and is priced at $15 to $17. The insurgents say they have sold about 100 to 200 through the Internet during the past year and about 500 to 600 in the bookstore, where all three work part-time.

On weekends, the three sell their T-shirts from a stand outside the used-book store. Beckwith, Burk and Wixon said they want to make enough money to buy the store when its owner, Jim Toole, retires. Wixon called the store a "holy space." They are passionate about words.

Beckwith describes himself as a "left-leaner," but the others profess no political affiliations, though their shirts suggest otherwise, particularly those that say "Some Blood for Oil" and "Your Mom Hates Freedom."

The three friends celebrate what they call mock politics.

"I would never vote for a Republican," Burk said. "But I hate Democrats, too. The insurgents feel like the political landscape is occupied with people we don't agree with."

If Democrats take the White House, the insurgents said they will aim their barbs at a new target.

"We're not necessarily entrenched on the left," Wixon said. He wore a T-shirt his brother, Andy, had created with the slogan "The more I know of men, the more I like chickens."


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