Low Life

The Death of Decorum

January 11, 2010

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The Death of Decorum

When punk hit London in the late 1970s, it was impossible to buy bondage pants or hair dye or even a leather motorcycle jacket. Punk back then was about using whatever was available to be ridiculous, even if that meant walking down the street in your pajamas. It made their parents furious and that’s all that mattered.

As a parent who grew up punk, I had mixed emotions when I first saw a Puerto Rican high school student walk into a bodega with her pajamas on. It made me mad, but not because she was fighting the system. It made me mad because she was being so fucking lazy.

Since then, seeing urban youth go to school in their pajamas has become all too common. The teachers see no need to tell children school is different than their living room and the single parents back at home don’t seem to give a shit either. “Oh well,” I think to myself. “They’re not my kids. They’re not even my culture.”

“I’m not saying you need to hospitalize everyone who accidentally spills your pint but what if someone slaps your girl? You’re going to run over in your soft flannels, penis swinging like a pendulum, and kick his ass?”


So I head off to the airport. I’ve got some meetings in LA with my people and I’m wearing our requisite blazer and dress shirt. That’s how we do when we fly. We employ a modicum of decorum. Right? No. Not right. That hasn’t been the case for a long time. Outdoor pajamas aren’t reserved for lazy rap fans in New York’s Lower East Side. They are the one great unifier that brings all lazy, self-indulgent Americans together, regardless of race or background. In fact, one could argue they’re about to replace denim as the nation’s go-to comfort pant (what the hell is so uncomfortable about denim by the way? It’s a cotton twill, not a horse hair shirt.) We’re at the point now where you ARE special if you put your pants on, one leg at a time.

Anyway, on my way to the plane I see this guy. He’s a grown man in his pee pee jam jams replete with an Ultimate Fighting Championship motif (I mean, it’s not going to be race cars or something, come on, he’s a grown man). The irony of the UFC logo is it brings me to the central reason these ubiquitous peejays are so irritating. As men, we’re supposed to be at least kind of prepared to throw down at all times. I’m not saying you need to hospitalize everyone who accidentally spills your pint but what if someone slaps your girl? What if someone slaps his girl? You’re going to run over in your soft flannels, penis swinging like a pendulum, and kick his ass? It’s the same reason I have been actively trying to ban flip-flops on men since they became popular. We’re not meant to be that cozy. We’re men for fuckssakes. You can’t defend anyone from anything when your shoe is hanging by a thread and your clothes are made of a blankie.

After returning from LA, I headed upstate with some friends to get drunk, watch fights on Pay-Per-View, and basically give my eyeballs a timeout from all the abuse I had inadvertently put them through. I very recently built a house there and had no idea I was actually driving into the eye of the storm. Almost every Catskills resident dresses like a Puerto Rican high school student. In the ER (long story) I sat next to a morbidly obese woman whose pajamas were hiding the expanding bedsores she got from playing video games all day. At every fast food joint, hardware store, shopping mall, and pharmacy, couples merrily pushed their carts in sleepover pants. You couldn’t get away from them.

See this guy? Shortly before taking this picture I was next to him at the Doctor’s office (longer story) and when asked to provide the nurse with his driver’s license number, he said, “342 309 4… 5… um, 5? Something like that.” Yeah, that’ll do Bozo. We just need to know roughly what your license number is. That’s how filing works. You classify your patients in big loose groups that are impossible to accurately locate. What really drove me nuts was why he couldn’t tell the nurse the number. He doesn’t have ID because he doesn’t have his wallet. He doesn’t have his wallet because he doesn’t have fucking pockets! So, we’ve gone from an inability to identify with manhood to an inability to even identify yourself at all. Nice one America!

I spent the 80s wearing bondage pants, a studded leather jacket and singing for bands like Anal Chinook and Leatherassbuttfuk. I appreciated the older punks who wore whatever they could find, but this isn’t that. This is a new low. The pedantic punk precept of “Fuck the system” may roll your eyes but at least they were willing to step into the fray and engage. Today’s pajama people could give a shit what happens with any system, anywhere. All they care about is going back to bed. Let’s pray they die before they wake.

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