Back in the saddle after a long, but waaaaay too short weekend. I had to work on a story about an elusive but fascinating musician. Here's a couple of hints. He is a talented violinist with savant-like skills. But he's homeless and battling a variety of problems from physical disabilities to addictions. He plays on street corners in a tough neighborhood, 'cause he has no other stage. In elementary school teachers predicted he'd be with some major symphony by the time he reached his 20s. I'm not quite done. But when the article's complete, trust me, it'll move you. Also, Mrs. B and I spent the weekend getting prepped for our new dog. I assume he's meeting with Rev. Jackson, right about now, because he has to have that below-the-belt snip snip before we can bring him home this evening. I'll have pics of him tomorrow, assuming all goes well today.
On to business, then.
You know I've written in the past that one of my biggest pet peeves is too-baggy clothes on young men and boys.
Well, it's back in the news. Newsweek, to be exact. The magazine has an "exclusive" story about a push by David Dicks, Flint, Michigan's new police chief to criminalize saggy pants.
Dicks has ordered his officers to start arresting "saggers," as these young men are called in the Newsweek article, because they are a national nuisance. He says their style is "immoral self expression" and deserving of jail time and/or fines.
This is a tough one for me. I love the spirit of what Dicks is doing, 'cause I think the saggy style is stupid. I'm not dissing hip-hop culture. I love elements of hip-hop culture. I'm one of the billion different faces of Gen-Xers who grew up to the tunes of Run D.M.C. and Public Enemy and MC Serch, and all the other artists whose clothes fit.
Just an aside, coincidentally, I did my occasional Q&A for today's paper with my buddy Joe Gannascoli AKA Vito Spatafore from The Sopranos. And when I asked Joe Soup to share with our readers his biggest pet peeve, he cited the saggy trousers.
Anyway, as much as this style annoys me, I'm bothered by it being criminalized. Unless saggers' butt cheeks are showing - not their boxers, but their actual cheeks, or their front set of naughty bits is showing - again, not their boxers, but their actual bits, then this is one "crime" that can't be enforced without, at a minimum, drawing cries of classism.
Think about it. If you criminalize baggy sagging pants and arrest guys who dress like that, then you're gonna have to start arresting young women who wear tight, low-riding pants that reveal the tops of their undies.
Which is worse? As a guy who loves women, naturally I say the man shorts showing is a much worse offense. But my bias is blatant. And if I was a defense attorney in Flint, I'd have a field day with that question.
In the realm of pop culture, tasteless as it is, this is a legit style, albeit one that often has young men with perfectly straight legs walking bow-legged to help keep their pants from falling down around their ankles.
The style has caught on in the punk music culture scene, as well.
Regardless, it's dumb. And I'm not saying that as an old fogey. I like to think I'm a relatively stylish guy. And I know that young people often dress differently than grown folks. But there's nothing creative or interesting about that particular style.
And I seriously doubt that most of the young men who subscribe to it - from the 'hoods to the corn fields - realize that it originated in prison. Ask an old, gray inmate or former inmate who can talk about being behind bars and they'll give you two versions of the origin of saggy pants: one says that pants sag on male inmates, because often they can't have belts, for fear they'll hurt themselves or someone else with the belts; the other version says that male inmates who have been designated "girlfriends" are compelled to wear their trousers saggy, so as to indicate that their man cheeks are in play, so to speak.
I've heard people try to defend the style, saying it developed in urban communities where poor kids had to wear over-sized hand-me-downs. But that's a crock. I'm sure there are poor children in poor communities who wear hand-me-down clothes that are too big. You do what you gotta do to get by. This style isn't about poverty. If you don't believe me, check out the brand labels on the next pair of jeans you see sagging below the butt-cheeks.
Anyway, again I applaud Chief Dicks' intentions, but I don't think it's the government's place to be fashion police, unless those fashions are literally obscene.
What do you think?