You probably don't know him, but Greg "Wolfman" Clandinski was huge in the 1970s.
A small town kid from backwater Oklahoma, at seventeen Greg followed his surfer dreams to California where he discovered all the gorgeous babes from his bedroom posters, as well as outrageous living expenses, violent motorcycle gangs, and sexual competition from rock n rollers he had no reasonable hope of beating. Further, he couldn't actually surf.
He needed a thing. Beachcombers started to snicker and call him "Okie."
Social intuition saved him. He felt the rising groove of the back-to-nature aesthetic and knew this was his path to importance. Men were flaunting chest hair, growing beards, keeping their manes long. 1975 saw the ascension of Barry Gibb and the throngs of babes hanging on his every follicle. Hirsute was becoming cool.
Greg pushed this to its logical end.
He didn't have much in the way of chest hair, but he did have a long mane leftover from his "surfer" days and most importantly: a wolf head. It was one of the only things he'd kept from his Oklahoma days, a prized piece of taxidermy proudly won by outdrinking a local hunter. Greg's belt buckle was put up against the hunter's wolfskin carpet (complete with head and claws) and Greg finished an incredible 22 shots of Jim Beam to claim the totem that would later define him.
All it took was one appearance on Venice Beach and a random stoner shouting, "damn, the Wolfman is on!" for his canine machismo to take root. Greg Clandinski quickly became a recognized piece of the Venice vibe, an essential element to its aura of wild and weird. Rolling Stone would interview him in 1978, and though his rambling, drug-addled opinion was cut from the final version, a picture of the Wolfman and his babes-of-the-week made it into national circulation. The Wolfman was on!
Those were the halcyon years. Drugs, booze, women: everything a wolf could want. Then his story follows the familiar pattern of subpar celebrities into obscurity and irony. For Greg, the end started on July 5, 1988.
That's the night someone stole his wolf head. The Wolfman was already something of a hasbeen by then, reduced to panhandling on the boardwalk and charging tourists $1 for snapshots. The loss of his totem was the final push to bottom. The 90s became a harsh and unforgiving decade. Greg spent most of them shuffling between cardboard boxes and beach towels.
The aughts found a bloated and graying Greg selling t-shirts from a Venice boardwalk vending booth. He slept in his booth the first couple years, then eventually made enough to afford an apartment and some spare luxuries. One of these was an airbrush, which he used to design truly gaudy and horrific t-shirts that tourists mistook for the California spirit and summarily ate up. The idea at first was to maximize profits by printing his own designs on $5 shirts he could then turn for $20 a pop, but Greg came to enjoy the artistic process of design. Then one night while contemplating his fading pate, pregnant gut, and general insignificance, he washed down some cheap dope with a couple bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 and slipped into an existential hole. There he found inspiration.
He would recapture his mojo. He would return to his totem. The Wolfman would live!
He spent the next three months designing the perfect wolf t-shirt. Once finished, he confidently printed a hundred copies and hung them proudly from his booth. He wore a copy himself every single day. A few of the old wastrels threw him a kind, "The Wolfman is on!" reprise, but other than that nobody seemed to care.
He sold all of two shirts over the next two months.
Greg's attempt at stalling a mid-life crisis had collapsed. He was on the verge of developing a truly inspirational heroin habit when a portly tourist from New Hampshire happened by his booth. The man loved the wolf. Further, he owned a t-shirt printing company devoted to nature-oriented products and offered to buy Greg's design. Greg sold it for a paltry $500 but wisely included a 20% share of the profits.
The t-shirt was available for a year before a wave of hipsters discovered it on amazon.com and flooded its comment section with hundreds of testimonies about its overpowering sexual allure. Greg read every one and never felt such magic and kinship.
Shirt sales skyrocketed. Greg was suddenly relevant again.
The Wolfman was on!
Greg lost weight. He began exercising furiously. He bought a hot red Mazda Miata. After six months he began parading his new physique down the Venice boardwalk in his wolf shirt. Waif twentysomething girls in diva sunglasses whistled, hooted, shouted "hey sexy Wolfman!" with coquettish giggles.
The Wolfman was on!
Then one night a confident Wolfman strode into The Crabapple, a well known hipster bar in Venice, proudly decked out in black jeans, snakeskin boots, a mullet wig, and his new Wolfman t-shirt. A few stares met him but nothing earth-shattering like he imagined. So he sat at the bar, ordered a drink, and casually let it slip that he was the designer of the famous Three Wolf Moon shirt.
That did it. Hipsters swarmed the Wolfman. Girls with swizzle stick cocktails fawned and laughed and the Wolfman ate it up, boasting how he had "made this scene" and was a "scorer" of mythical levels, all while referencing himself in the third person as "The Wolfman."
"The Wolfman always scores," he said, sidling up to one nymph.
"Oh my god," she said, giggling, "you are totally for reals aren't you? There isn't like one iota of irony to you." The girl and her coterie burst out laughing.
"Baby, the Wolfman doesn't even know what irony is. He's all wolf. How about a ride back to the lair for some disco biscuits and blow?"
Later that night the Wolfman stumbled home alone to look up "irony" on the internet. The answer threatened to revive his lurking mid-life crisis. So he quickly tapped into his shirt profits to enlist the therapeutic aid of a Hollywood call girl.
The Wolfman is on!
Today Greg "Wolfman" Clandinski can be seen hawking wolf shirts and other junk from his Venice boardwalk booth. If you stop by you can take your picture with him for $1. Autographs are $5.
While technically not part of PostcardQuest2011 (which requires write-ups to be "400 words or less"), this was inspired by its photo-oriented process. The writing began with this photo and found its way to this one.