On what was one of the best days to be a New Yorker for some unlucky individuals it was the worst day to be in New York City. Easter Sunday has forever been a day to put on one’s finery and strut the city’s pedestrian strips. The Grand Concourse, Lenox Ave, Jamaica Ave, Fulton Street, Pitkin Ave, Coney Island, 8th Street, 34th Street and above all Times Square. 42nd Street, aka the Deuce, as it has been known to me all of my life. This was the destination on a Sunday afternoon in April to catch a karate flick or play some arcade games.
The Deuce was always filled with adventure and sometimes danger, but I rolled deep with my brothers and we always seemed to know someone else also chilling with their boys. The Deuce was the place that youth from different backgrounds and different boros could meet up and chill. I want to say that the stories of people having their wigs pulled back on the Deuce is all hyperbole, but it isn’t. You could definitely catch a bad one if you tried to play the strip for dolo, but all in all, the Deuce was for stunting with your boys while you rocked the freshest wears. For me, that was more than likely some Polo Ralph Lauren gear.
Polo was the shit we rocked because it looked like nothing else out there. The polo knit had more flavor than the Izod Lacoste joints and def more style than the Le Tigre knits. The vibrant colors and embroidered crests and patches made you look like a king. Sometimes you might do something less than royalty to acquire an I.T. into your possession. For the love of ‘Lo you would go all out and defend your pieces with that same ferocity. To own an I.T. with the shield, sailing flags or the cookie patch you had to be about your shit. Not so much today where the game doesn’t require that same crackhead desperation from young people who regularly wear sneakers costing more than $200.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing either. I know too many brothers whose lives were irreparably damaged because of their addiction to the lifestyle. While Nike has begun to release sneakers in a set of varied colorways that practice had been Ralph Lauren’s steez from early. Imagine having every color of a goose ski jacket? The lifestyle can get that addictive. It’s good to see a renaissance of the appreciation of the ‘Lo lifestyle that the ‘Lo-Lifes made so popular. What’s not good to see is that the young people who emulate the lifestyle think that violence is an integral part of it. The violence that marred the conclusion of the Easter Sunday ‘Lo-Life photo shoot does not represent the movement, and it was not a gang initiation ritual.
I want to gird against the mainstream media notion that Polo Ralph Lauren represents gang attire simply because young Black teenagers (no Kamron) are wearing it. What Polo Ralph Lauren clothing has always represented to me and the lifestylers that I know personally is the apparel epitome of the American dream. The ideal that we had somehow moved ourselves into the next level of class and sophistication. Polo Ralph Lauren describes the aspiration of the wearer, if not the ambition and the acumen. Don’t believe the hype when it comes from the mainstream media. They seek to negate our influence on the brand itself, but we all know who made Polo a billion dollar buisness? Don’t we?