Saturday, April 21, 2007

You know you're doing something right if your G-ride is a Mercedes. While going through some recent documents, we came across an incident in which a Reseda SS was busted in the act of tagging a wall by undercover West Valley cops. What surprised the cops was the twenty-something tagger's ride -- a three-year-old Mercedes 320 SUV. Very clean. Freshly detailed. And not stolen. It was registered to the tagger. The giant RSS he hit the wall with exceeded the $400 threshold of misdemeanor vandalism so the Mercedes owner/tagger is facing felony vandalism. Apparently the tagger already had an I-card on file and was not a wannabe.

This incident has to tell you something about 1) The state of the economy when even local G-Sters can afford rides the average citizen cant't 2) The amount of money available on the streets or 3) Poverty may not be a significant causal component of illegal activity. Take your pick. I'm confused.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

If there's any doubt that the gangster mindset has become a bankable commodity, you don't need to look any further than the record business and the clothing industry. I won't mention the name, but there's a clothing line based in the greater LA area that markets what they call "authentic jailhouse street wear." The T-shirts, jackets and hats sport the label's logo in addition to things like "186.22" (the California Penal Code section that covers gang membership), "LA County Jail 1750" (the High Power Module) and "P-Bay SHU" (Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit).

While I fully understand the concept of wearing something ironically and the idea of reverse cool (hip young mothers, for instance, dressing like Doris Day and Lucille Ball) there doesn't seem to be any ironic content in this clothing line. It appears to be a flat out glorification of jail life and gangsterism. I don't know who's buying this stuff, but I can almost guarantee that nobody who's been in the SHU or the high power module would wear a T-shirt to fondly commemorate the event.

I would bet that this clothing is aimed at the wannabe fringe, young people who probably haven't got a clue what prison life is really like. And frankly, it's a bad message.

Unfortunately, this bad message isn't restricted to wannabe gangsters. Some gang cop groups are also marketing clothing that looks an awful lot like classic gang wear. These guys should know better. When the good guys and the bad guys start looking the same, it's time to re-examine your premise and figure out who you really are.