Jewish World Review Sept. 16, 2005/ 12 Elul, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Sunday at the Theatre | Walking passed the tattoo and body piercing parlors, passed the ugly vulgarity of the storefronts featuring a wide variety of merchandise that I'd never wish to buy, my wife and I headed toward our destination — The Matrix Theatre on Melrose Avenue. The play is "Honour," a dramatic show about love and marriage and loyalty and devotion and yes, honor. A play about established middle class values portrayed on stage by established middle aged actors in a playhouse situated smack dap in the middle of Melrose Avenue — an area so totally devoid of such traditional things that it might as well have been on Mars.

I parked the car on the street about a block and a half from the theatre and since it was Sunday afternoon, there were no parking restrictions. We knew full well before we got out of the car that we didn't fit in to the environs. To begin with we were over fifty, next we were clean, and lastly we were nicely dressed. No one, not one person we observed on that street fit into even one of those categories.

The area, once upon a time about fifteen or twenty years ago, was a chic if somewhat avant-garde shopping street for the young trendy and want-to-be-trendy in-crowd. Tourists soon latched on to the place as somewhere to go to maybe catch a glimpse of a celebrity or two and buy funky souvenirs from Hollywood. Melrose at that time had an edge to it, but it didn't feel scary as it does now. It wasn't dirty either, as it most definitely is now, with trash cans on very corner overflowing onto the sidewalks and gutters. The sidewalks look like they haven't been swept in years. So do the people.

We got out of the car and joined the hundreds of ugly, dirty, tattoo-laden, stud-faced, heavily made-up strollers which gave the avenue the look of an enormous Halloween block party. Quickly, we hustled our way to the theatre entrance and made our escape inside. There were theatergoers already there, and it was a bit of a relief to see people who looked a little more like us and less like the night of the living dead parade outside.

When did it become "cool" to be dirty? Why is it wonderful to wear ripped, torn clothes — with pants that drag on the ground? When did it become fashionable to show off a big, blubbery stomach? Ugly, dirty, crude is "in." Sophisticated, clean, and well-groomed is out. If you happen to be fat, you're in luck; you are finally in like Flynn.

For those who would like to join today's fashionable crowd, here are a few pointers for you: Just buy clothes that show off your big fat middle and bubble but- (you can wear either loose, droopy falling-down styles, or tight fitting, clingy garments. As long as what you wear shows off your fat to its best advantage). Be sure to get tattooed around your big belly and spare tire so that it shows when you wear an open midriff. And while you're at it, better get plenty of tattoos on your legs too, since you'll want to mostly wear baggy shorts everywhere you go.

Part of the new scene is proper footwear. Throw out all those stupid-looking enclosed shoes you own, and go out and invest in several pairs of flip-flops. Flip-flops are great because they are easy to put on, and you can wear them anywhere. An added bonus to wearing flip-flops is, because your feet are basically uncovered, they get nice and dirty in no time at all. Street dirt, mud, gum, spit, and just about anything else you can think of that happens to be on the ground can wind up stuck on your feet. Pretty cool, huh? Perfect for the new dirty fashion statement.

Next is the hair. Do something radical with it, anything at all as long as it is outrageous. Cut it all off and get your head tattooed. Or dye it a day-glow color and grow it down to your waist. Streak it; corn roll it, spike it, anything you want to do with it is good .just make sure it doesn't look neat and clean. In some tribes people actually put animal dung in their hair. Think about it — it might be just the touch you've been looking for.

When getting all dolled up in your hot new trendy wardrobe, don't overlook one of the most important aspects of being totally today; be loud. Talk loud, laugh loud, cough loud, even breath loud. And not only loud, but don't forget to be vulgar and crude to boot. Never whisper when you can talk loudly; never talk loudly when you can shout; and never shout when you can scream at the top of your lungs.

Buy a cell phone and take it with you every place. Talk loudly into it wherever you go, whether you are physically with someone or not. Call attention to yourself in every single way you can think of. Disrupt others everywhere, at all times, and you will be fashionably in style. Loud, Obnoxious, Ugly, Vulgar and Egocentric. The LOUVE generation.

Who says it's tough to be in style? Drunks, hoboes, druggies, and crazed street people have been "with it" for years.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby