Stuart Moore and Bootlegs

Monday, May 09, 2005

Quick plugs before getting down to business. First of all, while working on the WToT letters page with Josh for issue 4, I was once again reminded of how absolutely insane Stuart Moore’s career has been (Stuart has an 8-page story illustrated by Jason Copland). The guy has edited Preacher, Jonah Hex, Transmetropolitan, the early Marvel Knights’ books (Daredevil, Alias, Punisher) and now he’s writing some amazing books, such as Lonefor Dark Horse, Zendrafor Penny-Farthing Press and Giant Robot Warriors for Ait/PlanetLar (admittedly, haven’t checked out Para yet, but I’m sure it’s good). He takes over the writing chores on DC’s Firestorm starting June 1st, please be sure to check it out and everything he’s done in the past as well. The man was crucial to two of the best lines in comics today (Vertigo and Marvel Knights) and he really deserves your full attention (his Western Tales story is fucking awesome).

_________

I’ve talked quite extensively about how ridiculously retarded Junior High School was. Quick recap, JHS142 was 70% tough-guy black and Hispanic, 29.9% tough-guy Italian wanna-be mobster, and .1% my friends and I. And as for myself, I was a white kid with Puerto Rican heritage that alienated myself from my thug friends and mistakenly thought I had allies that would make Junior High School easier for me, both B and Nick.

All we wanted to do was fit in. In the materialistic early 90s, fitting in meant wearing the proper gear. It was a catch-22, however, because in the recession fueled early 90s, wearing the proper gear meant getting mugged.

I already told you about the jacking of Jansport strings. That shit was trivial, we had no problem with giving it up. We were more determined to hold onto other shit. Like the actual Jansport, for instance. In the Carroll Street train station my friend Jason wouldn’t give up his Jansport. So the kids that were mugging him threw him on the train tracks and refused to let him up until he tossed them his Jansport. Once he gave it up, they left him there. We had to pull him up before a train came.

I, myself, got my nose broken for my San Antonio Spurs Starter Hat. It was fitted; fitted Starter Hats were hot back then. Two kids came up to me, one went to grab the hat. I quickly grabbed onto it and wouldn’t let go. We got into a tug-a-war until his friend popped me right in the face, breaking my nose. I felt back on my ass and made my way to the school nurse, blood dripping everywhere.

So, we had to fit in but our shit kept getting robbed. So, the natural defense was to start getting low-cost bootleg clothing.

Ah, bootleg clothing. Jamsport bags and Nice sneakers. If a thug got tricked up and moved in to house your shit you stopped them by saying, “Nah, it’s bootleg.” Bootleg clothing was like kryptonite.

Now for me, it was even worse. Whereas my friends were pretty neutral in their styles and were able to wear their bootleg gear well, I thought I was straight hip-hop. My bootleg gear was fucking nasty. I’m talking weird shirts with ghetto Tweety Bird on it and zodiac signs. I’m talking fake Karl Kani jeans where a giant insignia (Karl Kani, in cursive) was ironed onto the entire left pant-leg; it took up the whole leg. I’m talking fake Damage jackets, black denim and puffy with bright blue patches covering it. These were the early-90s, these were the days of novelty rappers and African colors – which brings me to the jacket.

The infamous jacket. 9 out of 10 times, if you got out drinking with my friends, they will make fun of this jacket.

This jacket was, quite possibly, sent from heaven. It was pure comedy, the type of thing that only God himself could create. It was a trench coat, for starters. Came down to my ankles. The non-sleeve portion was divided into quarters. The top left side was purple, the top right was orange, the bottom left was green and the bottom right was black. One sleeve was black, one was green. And the hood – that’s right, the hood – was red. It was basically an African flag, oversized trench coat with a hood. And this white boy wore it to JHS 142.

And – AND – I was also rocking my new, faux-silver, real-plastic peace sign.

And I walked into that school-yard like I was the fucking man. Waltzed right up to the handball courts and thought everyone was staring at me because I had the fliest gear of all time. My friends didn’t even pretend, without hesitation they told me I was wearing the stupidest jacket ever made and I was likely to get killed for wearing it. Them haters were jealous.

I never really got shit for it. Looking back at that jacket now, the thugs either thought I was crazy and not worth fucking with or they just felt bad for me. When I go back to Brooklyn (MOCCA, most likely), I’ll be sure to dig up a picture of that jacket. You have to see it to believe it.

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