Baggy Pants: From Fashionable To Criminal

Ever see some hip-hop dickhead walking around the mall with his ass hanging out? Well, I started that fashion trend years ago!

My pants sag. I can’t help it; it’s the way I’m built. I’ve got a round belly and a flat butt and it’s a constant struggle to keep my pants up around my waist.

A couple of assholes steal my signature look!

One of my most traumatic grade-school memories is sitting on the floor of the gym during a school assembly and hearing giggles and titters from the rows of students behind me. I tried to ignore it until someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Hey, man, everybody can see your butt crack and they’re laughing three rows back,” he said.

Blushing deep red, I wiggled and squirmed until my pants were back in place. But a few minutes later they had drooped back down again. It was a very long assembly.

I’ve had this “sagging pants issue” since childhood. Belts help, but they are by no means foolproof. They just give me something substantial to grab onto when I’m hoisting my pants back up. A former girlfriend used to call me “Deputy Droopy Drawers.”  Cute.

The Awkward Years … Every Year

But then, as I transitioned from a teenager to a twenty-something, I was suddenly “fashion forward.” It’s believed that the baggy pants craze started in prisons, where inmates aren’t given belts (to prevent hangings and beatings) and, as a result, their pants sag. But by the late 80s, the trend had made it to gangster rap videos, then went on to skateboarders in the suburbs and high school hallways. Soon the droopy pants look became a part of everyday fashion for kids a decade or so younger than me. I was a fashion pioneer, baby!

But now I’m bordering on being a criminal. Several communities have recently passed laws banning saggy pants. In one Louisiana town, wearing pants low enough to show your underwear or bare buttocks will get you a $500 fine or up to six months in jail. In Trenton, New Jersey, Councilwoman Annette Lartigue is also drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. Under Lartigue’s proposed law, wearing drooping pants will not only get you fined, you’ll also have to answer questions from a city official about your employment and educational status.

“The message is clear,” Councilwoman Lartigue explains. “We don’t want to see your backside.”

Trust me, Ms. Lartigue, you don’t. But what can I do? My belly…my butt…!

ACLU To The Rescue!

Fortunately the American Civil Liberties Union is on my side. When a baggy pants ban was recently enacted in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACLU stepped in with a cry of racial profiling.

“This ban is going to target African-American male youths,” says Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “There’s a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed.”

So what if I’m not black (and hardly a youth) – I will not be discriminated against just because I’m a misshapen male who can’t seem to keep his pants up! I will stand alongside my baggy-pants brethren (lots of plumbers and carpenters, in addition to all the hip gangster wannabes). We shall overcome!

Now, if I could just find a way to stop stepping on the hem of my pants…

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Originally  published in Wayne TODAY, September 2007.

Laughing Loughner Has To Go!

I’m posting this in honor of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who officially stepped down from her post last month. Fuck Jared Loughner!
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Why is Jared Loughner still alive?

Why did Time put this attention-seeking douchebag on its cover? Boo!

Dozens of witnesses (along with half-a-dozen security cameras) watched Loughner (allegedly) walked up to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on January 8 and shoot her in the head at point blank range. They saw him fire on others at the political event outside a Tuscon Safeway, killing six, including a federal court judge and a nine-year-old Girl Scout. Thirteen others were wounded in the shooting.

Whatever your personal view on capital punishment, Arizona has the death penalty. One of the arguments in favor of the death penalty is that it deters criminals from committing similar crimes.

Crazy Laughter

When Jared Loughner was formally charged with his crimes last month, he entered the courtroom smiling. He chuckled as the charges were read. Then his attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Not guilty.

Despite dozens of witnesses and confirming video, Loughner still entered a plea of not guilty.

This paves the way for a long, costly trial for Loughner. No doubt his mental competence will be questioned in court. Clearly Loughner’s a madman, but there’s also strong evidence he planned his crimes well in advance. In fact, police seized signed notes from Loughner’s safe that read “I planned ahead,” “My assassination,” and “Giffords.”

I feel bad for Loughner’s parents. I feel worse for his victims. But ultimately there’s no one to blame but Jared Loughner himself. Is he insane? Probably. Is he a danger to society? Unquestionably.

We live in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty. Our legal system grants everyone the right to a swift and fair trial. That’s one of the things that makes America great.

But what about swift justice for victims?

Hey, Hey, Hey. Good-bye

If there was ever a case for eschewing the standard legal machinery and fast-tracking execution, Jared Loughner is the guy. It’s hard to think of another case where someone’s guilt was so blatant. Despite his attorney’s plea, Jared Loughner is not “not guilty.” He’s a cold-blooded, premeditated murderer.

Why should we pay for him to sit in prison, read books, and surf the Internet for the next 65 years? Why isn’t he strapped into Ol’ Sparky, riding the lightning to a Judgement Day beyond the humanity he so despised?

Random acts of violence are happening with greater frequency because A) The world is full of mentally unstable people, and B) It’s easy for them to get guns.

But maybe, if Loughner were executed within weeks of committing his murderous spree, the next campus shooter or workplace rager would think twice before resorting to violence.

So, why is Jared Loughner still alive?

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Originally published in Wayne TODAY, February 2011

Follow Me! Like Me! Friend Me!

Happy new year! I have joined the world of social networking!

Does my butt look big in this blog?

Check out my Facebook page and my Twitter feed! (@haikubob). There will be exciting updates! Stimulating information! Thoughtful messaging!

Thanks to everyone who has supported Autism Dad and my other work in 2011. Lots of exciting things planned for 2012. Joining the ranks of social networking is just the beginning!

In the meantime,enjoy this column from August 2010 about how much Facebook, MySpace and Twitter suck. and why I’ll never use them. Ha-ha, I’m a douche bag! But I’m learning to be a better douche bag!

Anti-Social Networking: Off-Line and Out-Of-Line

I was at a bar recently, watching an old friend’s band play, when I ran into a bunch of other old friends, people I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade.

There were well wishes and fond-remembrances all around. But then some of my old chums chided me for my reclusive lifestyle.

“Why aren’t you on Facebook?” one friend asked. “Are you, like, morally against it?”

No…not really. Well, maybe a little.  I see the benefit of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. It’d be nice to keep in touch with friends, share info, photos, video, etc. But I have some reservations. Here are a few:

Time Sucker – Like anything worthwhile, social networking sites are only as rewarding as the effort you put into them. That takes time, and who has that to spare? If I had an extra hour a day, I’d spend it working on projects I already don’t have enough time for. I wouldn’t spend it sending messages to an old grade-school chum, filling him/her in on everything that’s happened in my life since kindergarten. Sorry if that makes me a bad person, but time is precious. I’ll catch up with old classmates at the next reunion, or the next time a friend’s band comes to town.

What if you don’t respond to an old chum’s request to be added to your buddy list? Then you’re a big jerk. Suddenly you’re saddled with a social responsibility you didn’t ask for, and if you’re not careful you can turn an old friend into a new enemy.

False Friends – What is a friend, anyway? Social networking sites produce a new kind of friend, the “cyber-friend.” A main goal of social networking seems to be amassing a sizable friend-list, and getting “added” to the friend-lists of others.

It’s cool having “hundreds of friends” on your page, but if you never interact with these people beyond a few text exchanges are they really friends? A friend is someone you spend time with, share experiences with. Good friends are often those you’ve shared a particularly bad experience with. A friend is someone who helps you, whom you support in return. It’s more than clicking “Add A Friend”.

I worry young computer users have a different definition of “friend,” and may find themselves lacking the social skills to form rewarding relationships with real people. I’m old school. I made friends the old fashioned way, pre-Internet, when you had talk to people, look, listen and form a bond. You had to make friends. It took effort, but it was worth it because you found people who liked you for you, not because you lengthened their buddy list. Computers make our lives easier in so many ways, but I’m not sure making friends is one of them.

The Many Faces of Rob Errera – Like most people, I’m a different person at different times. I’m an Editor-In-Chief sometimes, a columnist others. Sometimes I’m a property manager, landscaper, Ebay reseller, musician, writer. My kids see Daddy, their teachers see Mr. Errera. In the privacy of our bedroom my wife calls me The Gangster of Love (and, on occasion, The Space Cowboy).

Who gets represented on my Facebook or MySpace page?  And do I really want all those various facets of my life commingling? We’ve all been to weddings, funerals, or some another big event that produces an awkward moment, like your poker buddies chatting with your boss, wife or mother. A social networking page creates this powder-keg of awkwardness 24/7.

I have friends who shut down their Facebook/MySpace accounts after a few months for one or more of the reasons listed above. It’s easy to join a social networking site, but difficult to un-join, from what I’m told – yet another reason I’m hesitant to enter the social networking fray.

Starting a blog is on the to-do list, however, since, unlike most bloggers, I’ve got plenty of rich content to share. More than two decades of TODAY columns await worldwide exposure. It’ll be an awesome blog.

Of course, I’ll need a FaceSpace page to promote it…

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originally published in Wayne TODAY, August 2010

Let’s Burn The Dead And Heat Our Homes

According to New York Daily News columnist, Jay Maeder, two high-tech crematoriums in Sweden are piping posthumous candlepower to local energy companies. In short, the bodies of the dead are now heating thousands of Swedish homes.

crematorium
DEAD HEAT — Using the heat from crematoriums to power homes? Dying to try it out!

This has caused quite a public uproar in Sweden, a controversy fueled all the more by the fact that the crematoriums kept their newfound energy source secret for six months. Company officials are quick to defend the practice.

“It only makes sense,” says Helsingborg crematory official Sorje Stolt. “It’s environmentally friendly and relatives can console themselves knowing that the death of a loved one benefits the whole community!”

Church leaders are rather put off by the whole deal (“No one wants Aunt Astrid heating up the living room!”), though some have to admit, the idea of harassing the power of burning corpses does  follow the old “ashes to ashes” schematic.

People Are The New Fossil Fuel

Adopting this “putting the dead to work” ideal globally makes a  twisted kind of sense. Hey, look at the dinosaurs; we use their remains to heat our homes every day. Using “fresher” fossil fuels is, well, you know, just forward thinking.

Besides, the results of burning the dead for fuel would be spectacular. When a beloved individual (like Mother Teresa or Princess Di) ventured to the Great Beyond, we could hold a magnificent public ceremony, dedicate a light bulb in their eternal memory, and then haul their carcass into the fire. It’s so primal, so…Viking. It is any wonder that this controversy originates from Sweden?

Although this “death warmed over” idea may appeal to energy conservationists, there’s something unquestionably ghoulish about it. It is said that a society’s compassion can be judged by how well they treat their dead. Burning them for fuel ranks pretty low on the scale, right above selling hunks of human flesh to soup kitchens and using severed heads as paperweights.

I’m not sure when these “burning” ideas will reach America’s shores, but I bet when they do, some people will be all fired up, while others will be dying to give them a try. Heh, heh, heh.

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Originally published in Wayne TODAY, Sept. 1997