Tattoos, Choppers and White Shaved Heads: Officially Over

Everything runs its course.  Sooner or later, new fashions, fads, styles and basic common sense catch up to even the trendiest craze and burns it out.  I can think of a dozen things just off the top of my head that were in when I was a kid and that are not now.  Some of them have come back and gone away again.  Nobody is surprised when fashions change.  Hell, an entire industry is built upon the whims of fashion changing abruptly and often.  Fashion is just another way of saying trend or fad.  The fashion in TV is reality tv.  The fashion in cars is crossovers, minis and hybrids (give me a hybrid crossover mini, fast).  The fashion in athletic shoes is rockers.  The fashion in cell phones is smartphones with touch screens.  Et al ad nauseum.

But eventually, something else will come up and then that will be the new thing that every producer, provider or network chases. It happens that way because of who we are.  We’re fascinated by shiny things and we are copiers of success.  Also, most of us want so badly to fit in that we’re willing to do even clearly stupid things just to feel like one of the gang;  just to be part of the family. We are driven by evolution to be a part of a group, a tribe a family.  We have it hardwired into us.  Sometimes, that programming leads us to do things that seemed not so bad as kids or in its first form, but after time, after the original intent is lost, after the seeds of why are gone, there are things that have mutated into something that they never should have or hung around so long that they seem ok, even good, when in fact the first occurence of it was angsty rebellion and defiant ugliness.

But every fashion, every trend, every fad has a beginning a middle and an end.  There is an eventuality to it.  One of the immutable laws of the universe is that there’s a time when that thing, this thing, any thing is over. Here are a few of the things I hope are over.  Things in fact, that I’m saying are over. Done, kaput, fini.  Stick it with a damn fork already. Fade to freakin black.

1. Choppers as TV Culture. 
Bikers have been modifying motorcycles since motorcycles have been around.  After WWII there was a glut of surplus bikes dumped on the market and guys could get a cheap ride, but they had to be mechanically capable of maintaining the damn things since spare parts were not exactly available down at the corner parts store.  Piecing bikes together from disparate parts eventually resulted in the first choppers.  Bikers created and continued to identify with the chopper culture.  And we identified bikes, choppers, tattoos, sluts, criminals (to some extent hippies), draft dodgers (60s-70s culture) and multiple layers of dirty or nefarious lowlifes with bikers and thus choppers as well.  Leather, skulls, skanks, lifers were all connected and they were all “tough as shit”.  Living in that life was hard and if you did it you were, by extension, hard.  But it was dirty and fringe and outlaw and that was a clear division.

Then… A bunch of aged yuppies and bald pony tailed tech stock millionaires decided that it would be cool to have Harleys.  They had money and they felt like they could buy “Tough”.   That’s when leather jackets went from $100 to $600 and that’s when guys with specialty bike shops started popping up building custom designed choppers.  When rich guys started showing up at Sturgis (the yearly migration point for bikers) riding $75,000 bikes it was pretty much over.

And then… Faux biker culture mated with reality tv culture and begat a series of shows where high school dropouts who couldn’t keep any job other than building or fixing bikes started making custom bike designs for the rich and famous.  Or worse, they were made for a company to use as a PR piece to get an hour or two of nationally syndicated tv time for the cost of building an unridable motorcycle that looks great on a magazine cover with a big-tittied bikini girl faux-blowing the exhaust pipe but that nobody can ride because A) it’s  uncomfortable and unstable B) there’s no insurance for it anywhere to be found and C) because it drinks so much and holds so little gas, this $75,000 paperweight has a range of fifteen miles.

We’re now at the farthest point from actual biker culture that we could possibly be.  Bikers are mostly just broke ass criminals living GED lives of pot, meth and shitty rental furniture.  They barely make ends meet and the idea of spending $75 grand on a motorcycle, any motorcycle, even a motorcycle filled with heroin is really just outside of their experience. 

Choppers are uncomfortable as hell to drive and just plain unstable as bikes.  Harleys and most other big bore bikes suck gas through big fat straws like tomorrow is floating in crude oil. And riding anywhere on a chopper for more than 30 minutes makes you feel like you’ve been beaten with sticks by somebody who really knows how to beat a guy with sticks.  Yeah,riding bikes is also fun, but it ain’t “all that and a bag of chips” and unless you truly are a biker, love the bug strikes that leave a scar on your forehead and just really want to take a shower in highway water behind a row of trucks, stick to the air-conditioned comfort of your Tahoe.

Here’s a good bottom line.  Skulls, motorbikes, flame tattoos and other death metal imagery: when they started making kids’ temporary tattoos out of that shit… it was over.  If it ever was cool, it ain’t now.

2. White Guys with Shaved Heads.
If you’re bald, this is not about you.  I’m not bagging on bald guys.  Naturally bald is fine. 57% of adult caucasian males have some form of balding.  That makes balding the majority and thus the norm.  No, what I’m doing is declaring an end to really pale white guys capable of growing normal full heads of hair trying to achieve some kind of cool by shaving their heads.  It’s not a good look for you.  It never has been.  It looks like you’re wearing a five o’clock shadow helmet or some medieval skullcap. Add a couple of tattoos and you’re walking the thin line between skinhead Aryan brotherhood and crazy hill folks dancing with snakes and dating the livestock.

I have only ever known one man who looked good with his head completely shiny bald.  He had a perfectly shaped head without scars, dents, freckles, moles or blemishes.  He was 70% bald to begin with.  He has piercing blue eyes that focus your attention on his face.  He has zero tattoos, smiles nearly all the time and wears good, clean, new clothes that look like they cost extra.  He goes way out of his way not to look like a skin head and it works for him.  He’s the only guy it has ever worked for.  Maybe Mr. Clean or Michael Chiklis, but the former was a drawing and the later played such a hard-assed cop on TV that you’ll never think Aryan brotherhood while you’re glad-handing him at the network meet and greets.

You know who shaved heads works for?  Black guys.  I don’t know why, but it does.  Maybe it’s because the tattoos don’t show up so much or maybe it’s because instinctively you know they’re not nazi skinheads.  But it works for them and that gave the white guys a reason to try.  You don’t see a lot of Asians doing the shaved head thing.  Monks mostly but they get away with it because of the robes and the fact that they can probably kick your ass quickly, quietly and one-handed.

3. Super Baggy Hip Hop Style Pants. 
Come on.  It’s been more than 20 years now. No fashion is intended to live that long and this one is universally regarded by everybody except the dumbasses wearing them to be the stupidest version of pants that has ever been.  It is especially stupid in that the guys who normally wear them are also called upon more often than the rest of us to flee, on foot.  I know a few cops and they all agree that if they have to chase a guy, they want him to be one of those morons wearing super baggies.  If they can also be wearing the hat on sideways then police can be pretty sure that every decision the guy makes will be wrong and he’s going to pretty much walk himself into the back of the patrol car. 

Let’s face it, any pair of pants that you have to hold onto with your hands to keep them up is not an effective garment.  And the stupidest thing about this mostly black or hispanic thing that a certain group of rebellious young men do in order to thumb their noses at the man, was popularized by a white kid, in a boy band, created by a fat bald Jewish white guy, photographed by an elitist white clothing designer and placed into a series of magazine ads specifically targeted at well-to-do fashionistas 30 years ago.  The baggy pants showing the underwear thing was then taken to such an extreme that a guy would have to stand with his legs spread as wide as possible and or holding them up with one if not both of his hands and leaving him completely handicapped for every endeavor including simple walking or running just to keep from losing his pants altogether.  Sean John’s made a mountain of dollars off of those fools as did every other clothing designer in the world.

OK, it’s over.  Stop making them.  Stop selling them.  If you stop selling them (talking to you, designers), sooner or later they will be gone.  Find a new stupid thing to talk teens into.  They’re easy.  They’ll do anything they think is cool or will make them more popular or stick out less or throw a big FU at their parents.  But the pants thing.  Please, let us be done with it.

4. Piercing something other than Your Ears
When I became aware of body piercings, the only people who had them were circus people, hookers, and Gypsies.  The wider fashion of body piercing began in the California leather S&M scene back in the ’70s. During the ’80s, porn stars and demi celebrities got perforated. Madonna got a navel piercing and soon girls everywhere had to have one.  This was yet another way of “being different” just like all their friends. Now, if Snooki were to get a frontal lobotomy–assuming she hasn’t done so already–would thousands of wannaskankabies follow suit?

When I see a girl with a nose ring I want to moo at her and if she has one of those itty bitty diamond piercings on the side of the nostril, I feel like I need to pop it for her. I guess I’m just never going to understand why some people think that having extra rings, rivets, and what-not inserted into them will make them look better? It adds nothing and usually detracts from beauty. That must be the point.  Not making it better looking but to make it ugly.  That way the cringing and disapproval is focused on the accessory.  It’s not me that’s ugly, it’s my forehead spikes.

The thing that I think of most often with any of the forms of body modification; piercings, inserts, tattoos, plates and stretchings is that the person doing these things either doesn’t expect to live very long or is incapable of seeing themselves old.  I’m just really glad that I never had to see my Grandma’s full sleeve and neck tattoos all smeared together or watch as her bar bell nose piercing drooped below her lips.

5. Sideways Turned Goofy Assed Hats. 
Do the guys who wear them that way know that the rest of us are thinking of them as cartoons.  We don’t say to each other, “Damn J-dog, look how bad ass Killa be wid his hat all cock sideways an shit!”  No, what we’re saying is, look at the dumbass who has missed the crucial point of the hat and has marked himself publicly as the kind of moron that believes lookin wack is a good thing and that it somehow imparts street cred to suburban kids named Stone.  (By the way, street cred is only of value on the street and the cred just makes other dumbasses look for you so they can get their own cred… so really, not something a person hoping to live past 22 should be looking for.)

I’ve known guys who would only ever wear the hat backwards or off to the sides.  On a sunny day with the sun directly in their eyes and them nearly blinded from squinting, they would never, ever think to use the hat for the intended purpose and put the bill of the hat in front to shade their eyes.  It would never occur to them and if you suggested it, they would ignore it as STOOPID because, “man, you just don’t get it.  You got to have da look or you won’t be hittin it wit nobody.”

True dat, Thug.  True dat.

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