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"Has Johnny really nothing to satorially rebel against?", or "Is 'the look' dead?"

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,779
Location
London, UK
I think the loss of youth culture has ties in the tightening of the control society has over our youth. In the 60s and 70s, it was no big deal to be arrested en masse protesting a war, or burning your bra, or fighting for societal change. Now, protesting brings serious jail time, with the possibility of being beaten to death by some rogue enforcer who will never be held accountable for it. Lighting something on fire in public will get you charged with arson, and resistance is met with the hard crushing iron fist of sacrificing your life. Young people aren't allowed to formulate their own anti-authoritarian subculture, because if they get arrested for whatever charges the sheriff deems necessary, it's no longer just a weekend in jail. Now, a rap sheet follows you. You face job loss, and risk future employment opportunities.

Let's face it, employers are far less accepting of weekend resistance than they were in past decades. They watch your social media, they track your actions, and any little tiny act that might somehow damage the company image is met with immediate termination. In the era of corporate overlord, one simply can no longer afford to be seen as a hippie, punk, or gangster. In today's world, it's better to keep your head down and your tie straight than to stand out in a crowd.

This is something that is ingrained into our children from the age of tiny tots: don't stand out, don't act out, follow direction without question, and you'll go further. 40 years ago, a 6yo acting out in the classroom was given detention. Now they call the cops, and you get a rap sheet a mile long before you've reached the 6th grade.

Certainly kids these days do seem to have to think more like that - and not by choice. When I was graduating the first time round, I had no idea what I wanted to do (only that I did not want to spend the next forty years as a small-time solicitor in a backwater). That's how I fell into postgrad - and from there, academia. Never planned. Now I teach kids who, at twenty-one, have already completed a bunch of internships are are highly career-focussed. I both admire and pity them in equal measure.

Notably, here in the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office has told companies to back off scouring social media that way as it was considered an invasion of privacy (exploiting the blurred line between work and non-work life). Before that, some companies in the City were demanding on applications that social media account details be handed over - including passwords. Some even treated a lack of photos of bad behaviour as a sign that there was "sometghing wrong" - either an awkward / odd individual, or a fake account for the benefit of employers. Because, after all, who could possibly live a fulfilling life without binge drinking and taking stupid photos every weekend, eh? :rolleyes:

I found it curious that the greaser look — slicked back hair, engineer boots, jeans rolled at the cuffs, a pack o’ smokes rolled up in the T-shirt sleeve, etc. — made a resurgence of sorts three or four (closer to four) decades later. Aficionados of the look might tell me I’m all wrong, that the 1950s and early ’60s greaser look ain’t at all like the retro rockabilly style, and those students of the look might rattle off a long list of clear distinctions that would be wasted on all but themselves.

Absolutely. At Goodwood Revival every year, there are both a bunch of sixties Brit rockers (think: Ace Cafe scene) and the Yellow Hornets, a late 40s, Americana motorcycle club type outfit. Superficially described, they seem the same, but in reality, worlds apart.

I've never really seen the Greaser thing, but my understanding was that it was a later, retro thing that was to the original rockabillies as Happy Days was to the fifties. The Greasers', well, Grease to the Rockabillies' The Wild One.

Rockabilly, at least here in the UK, is interesting among the vintage subcultures in that it contains a large contingent who are living it as a 'realworld' lifestyle, as distinct from something preserved in aspic or wishing it was still 1958. Sure, you get that element who turn up at weekenders and spend it all in the DJ room because they won't listen to any music that wasn't recorded in the 50s, but there's also a very large contingent who are lviing the rockabilly thing like it never went away, and thus it has adapted here and there over time.

Gotta admit, though, that I kinda like the rat rod thing, and a fair amount of greaser/rockabilly style is found among that bunch. It’s automotive art, accessible to people of modest means. That’s the point of it, it appears. It’s as if to say, “hell yes, we’re trailer trash, we wear it on our sleeves.”

My understanding is thatthe rat rod thing started among guys who were building their hotrods on tight budgets as ongoing projects, while also dependent on them for day to day transport. The flat black paintwork so commonly seen on them now came from cars being driven at the stage of having been undercoated, while the driver saved for the top coat or awaited a dry day to get it done. I'm sure that's when some of the more cash-strapped guys decided to have a go at pinstriping... The rust, so carefulyl curated nowadays, was likely originally the simple result of acar being kept outside in all weathers by guys who couldn't afford a garage.

Thirty or more years ago I had a couple of pajama tops I wore as I would any other shirt. But those were satin pajama tops, not flannel, in solid colors with white piping and big white buttons.

Hell, I’d do that again, if I came across the right pajama top.

The right pj top like that could make for a rock and roll shirt as cool asany that go for big money now. I'm forever seeing what look like cute, short-sleeved women's tops that would go great with denim for a casual rockabilly lady look, only to realise they're the top half of a pj set.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,779
Location
London, UK
It is interesting in this global world in which we live how certain "tribes" look the same in multiple areas of the world. A skater boy looks much the same in Seattle as one does in Glasgow, A Goth is identifiable at a distance whether they are in Munich, Brigham City Utah, or here in Vancouver. With the older Millenial the hipster look is pretty much the same on either coast or either continent.

A grumpy part of me thinks the kids have it too easy to 'buy' a look online these days rather than be creative, but I'm sure that's also in large part a subconscious over-compensatory excuse that my own subculture dress was limited back in the day by a strong element of parental control (they who control the purse strings...). I do think it's wonderful, though, that however they identify nowdays, they have this opportunity to be brought together by what they have in common rather than forced to conform to what's local, or be divided by mundane flag-waving or such. And it's so much easier to find things nowadays - I often regret how long it took me to find what I was into, but as the eldest in a house where my parents stopped listening to new music in 1972 (and even then it was the bleedin' Carpenters they chose....), in the 80s and into the 90s, it wasn't easy to track stuff down! I remember in 1992 wanting to buy a single and having to wait for it to chart so the local shops would stock it... KIds these days have it easier in that regard, and I think that's great. Evne if it does make it harder to think why we see maybe fewer subcultures than we once did...

The undergraduates I teach are, of course, all in their final year of a law degree so often out interviewing at corporate firms. I guess that has squeezed a lot of the individuality out of them. Still, what I wouldn't give for a class full of punks and goths....
 

scottyrocks

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,160
Location
Isle of Langerhan, NY
I think the loss of youth culture has ties in the tightening of the control society has over our youth. In the 60s and 70s, it was no big deal to be arrested en masse protesting a war, or burning your bra, or fighting for societal change. Now, protesting brings serious jail time, with the possibility of being beaten to death by some rogue enforcer who will never be held accountable for it. Lighting something on fire in public will get you charged with arson, and resistance is met with the hard crushing iron fist of sacrificing your life. Young people aren't allowed to formulate their own anti-authoritarian subculture, because if they get arrested for whatever charges the sheriff deems necessary, it's no longer just a weekend in jail. Now, a rap sheet follows you. You face job loss, and risk future employment opportunities.

Let's face it, employers are far less accepting of weekend resistance than they were in past decades. They watch your social media, they track your actions, and any little tiny act that might somehow damage the company image is met with immediate termination. In the era of corporate overlord, one simply can no longer afford to be seen as a hippie, punk, or gangster. In today's world, it's better to keep your head down and your tie straight than to stand out in a crowd.

This is something that is ingrained into our children from the age of tiny tots: don't stand out, don't act out, follow direction without question, and you'll go further. 40 years ago, a 6yo acting out in the classroom was given detention. Now they call the cops, and you get a rap sheet a mile long before you've reached the 6th grade.

Are you aware there are many places where pretty much the opposite of what you wrote is what is reality? People get away with amazingly immoral (and illegal) stuff nowadays, and depending who you are, and what you believe, will determine what happens after that.
 

scottyrocks

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,160
Location
Isle of Langerhan, NY
I found it curious that the greaser look — slicked back hair, engineer boots, jeans rolled at the cuffs, a pack o’ smokes rolled up in the T-shirt sleeve, etc. — made a resurgence of sorts three or four (closer to four) decades later. Aficionados of the look might tell me I’m all wrong, that the 1950s and early ’60s greaser look ain’t at all like the retro rockabilly style, and those students of the look might rattle off a long list of clear distinctions that would be wasted on all but themselves.

We have a thread here by @LizzieMaine that identifies 'The Fifties,' as opposed to the 1950s, as beginning with ShaNaNa's appearance at Woodstock in 1969, before they had a recording contract, and thus, almost no one was aware of them. They were the second-to-last act, right before Jimi Hendrix. Sort of an aligning-of-the-stars for them, one might say, and the beginning of the American Graffiti, Happy Days, Lords of Flatbush Fifties craze.
 

GHT

I'll Lock Up
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9,336
Location
New Forest
A grumpy part of me thinks the kids have it too easy to 'buy' a look online these days rather than be creative, but I'm sure that's also in large part a subconscious over-compensatory excuse that my own subculture dress was limited back in the day by a strong element of parental control (they who control the purse strings...)
In my student days most of us would get summer jobs, the bus companies advertised for students, it was well paid, I worked on Bournemouth's trolley buses, being electric you didn't need to be twenty one to drive one, a car licence would suffice, nor did you need to hold a special bus licence, PSV (Public Service Vehicle) crazy, or what? You did ten weeks, covering the full time staff who took their annual leave, at the end of the ten weeks you would get back all the income tax paid. And as a self respecting Mod, that money would finance whatever the latest must have fashion item was doing the rounds.
 
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Location
My mother's basement
We have a thread here by @LizzieMaine that identifies 'The Fifties,' as opposed to the 1950s, as beginning with ShaNaNa's appearance at Woodstock in 1969, before they had a recording contract, and thus, almost no one was aware of them. They were the second-to-last act, right before Jimi Hendrix. Sort of an aligning-of-the-stars for them, one might say, and the beginning of the American Graffiti, Happy Days, Lords of Flatbush Fifties craze.

ShaNaNa was (is?) a fun novelty act. But if the retro-’50s greaser “look” caught on then, in 1969 and the first few years after, as anything other than something to affect at a costume party, it somehow escaped my notice. (I recall taking in a ShaNaNa show at the Seattle Paramount c.1972. It would be fair to call it a greaser-themed costume party, with live music.)

“American Graffiti,” which some called “the first movie about nothing,” was, to my way of seeing it, about how much the culture had changed from the period it depicted (“Where Were You in ’62?”) and 1973, when the film was released. It was as if George Lucas et al were saying “let us take a look at where we were a mere 11 years ago, and where we are now.”

As I said earlier in this thread, I was a good decade too young to have ever been a “greaser,” as they were called in my part of my world when the look was current, not retro. ShaNaNa and “American Graffiti” and “Happy Days” and all of that had absolutely no one of my acquaintance adopting the look. Although I do recall fellows a decade or more older than me who still presented themselves that way. I took it as an “anti-hippie” statement, but perhaps that’s assuming too much. It’s every bit as likely that the run of those guys adopted to look when it was current and decided it still suited them, a decade or two later.

The rockabilly thing came on quite some time later, didn’t it? And those into the “look” wore it as their regular presentation, not just something to affect on Friday night?


.
 
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scottyrocks

I'll Lock Up
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9,160
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Isle of Langerhan, NY
My take on that is that ShaNaNa was merely a kick-start, as it were. Would Happy Days, a tremendous hit, mainly due, in the second season, to The Fonz's morph into a more significant character, and the leather jacket, have come to pass if SNN hadn't been at Woodstock? I don't know, but I would bet dollars to donuts that SNN had an influence.
 
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My mother's basement
I recently heard a talk on fame and cultural memory by César Hidalgo that would be relevant to this discussion and many others here. Some of what he offered was just common sense — Elvis memorabilia falling in value because most everybody who wants it already has it, and because those most passionate about that stuff are dying off; the Mona Lisa painting not becoming so well-known until some four centuries after it was created, on account of the news coverage accorded its theft in 1911; etc. And some is more provocative. It’s worth your while to look him up and take a listen.

It has me wondering if the greaser look’s cultural currency is due more to its later revivals than its origins. And it has me wondering if and when it will be all but forgotten.

Anyone seen “The Irishman” yet? (Spoiler alert! If you don’t wish to know the ending, read no further.) How ’bout that closing scene, with the nurse tending to the old hit man not knowing who Jimmy Hoffa was?

Will those under age 50 or so know of Hoffa mostly on account of that 2019 film?
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,779
Location
London, UK
In my student days most of us would get summer jobs, the bus companies advertised for students, it was well paid, I worked on Bournemouth's trolley buses, being electric you didn't need to be twenty one to drive one, a car licence would suffice, nor did you need to hold a special bus licence, PSV (Public Service Vehicle) crazy, or what? You did ten weeks, covering the full time staff who took their annual leave, at the end of the ten weeks you would get back all the income tax paid. And as a self respecting Mod, that money would finance whatever the latest must have fashion item was doing the rounds.

I had a Summer job as well ,though it was more minimum wage than anything else! £125 / week in 1998 when I finished, started at £75/week in 1994. 40 hour week, Mon-Sat, 8.30am-5.15pm, rotating day off. I was lucky I had a job; there were so many full time unemployed in NI in those days, it wasn't always easy to find something as a student. I think things have improved now on that front as there's a huge, seasonal tourist industry that didn't exist in the 90s, for obvious reasons.

The rockabilly thing came on quite some time later, didn’t it? And those into the “look” wore it as their regular presentation, not just something to affect on Friday night?

Certainly any rockabilly I've known in the UK is very serious about it to a greater or lesser degree. All on the vintage scene. A lot of the 'original' rockabilly revivalists in the UK got into it in the early eighties; others, typically a little younger, were psychobillies in the 80s and 90s, then got into old school rockabilly as they got older. The irony is that the music was kept alive in the UK until then largely by old rockers and teddy boys, who hated punks in the 70s; by the 1990s, most UK rockabillies were old punks. There are some real hardcore in the UK, then a lot of us who dabble with the 50s look but also dress 40s and 30s. It's rare to see rockabillies who aren't 'full time vintage' in some way, though. It doesn't seem to attract people who are only interested in one aspect but not the whole package in the way that lindy hop does, for example.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
33,047
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
I recently heard a talk on fame and cultural memory by César Hidalgo that would be relevant to this discussion and many others here. Some of what he offered was just common sense — Elvis memorabilia falling in value because most everybody who wants it already has it, and because those most passionate about that stuff are dying off; the Mona Lisa painting not becoming so well-known until some four centuries after it was created, on account of the news coverage accorded its theft in 1911; etc. And some is more provocative. It’s worth your while to look him up and take a listen.

It has me wondering if the greaser look’s cultural currency is due more to its later revivals than its origins. And it has me wondering if and when it will be all but forgotten.

Anyone seen “The Irishman” yet? (Spoiler alert! If you don’t wish to know the ending, read no further.) How ’bout that closing scene, with the nurse tending to the old hit man not knowing who Jimmy Hoffa was?

Will those under age 50 or so know of Hoffa mostly on account of that 2019 film?

I think the "greaser" thing has become so abstracted from any connection to the actual, historical 1950s that it's taken on a significance like that of the popular image of "the cowboy," another cultural trope that has little to do with actual, historical 19th Century Western ranch hands. "The Cowboy" became what he is due to mass merchandising of the image in the early years of the 20th Century thru cheap fiction, "Wild West" shows, then movies, pulps, radio, and so on, just as "The Greaser" became what he is by marketing of the image from the 1970s onward.

"The Cowboy" is nowhere near as pervasive a figure as he was fifty years ago, but he's still recognizable -- and likely "The Greaser" will remain a cultural figure even after nobody who actually remembers the actual, historical 1950s is left alive. Figures like these become convenient vessels for whatever cultural product the Boys want to pour into them. That doesn't mean, though, that future generations will build "lifestyles" around the Greaser image, any more than kids today play "Cowboys".
 

Bushman

I'll Lock Up
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4,138
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Joliet
Are you aware there are many places where pretty much the opposite of what you wrote is what is reality? People get away with amazingly immoral (and illegal) stuff nowadays, and depending who you are, and what you believe, will determine what happens after that.
In my experience, who gets away with what is largely dependant on the number of digits in their bank account.

Will those under age 50 or so know of Hoffa mostly on account of that 2019 film?
I find it interesting that, while most people my age and younger know of Jimmy Hoffa, we know him more for his famed disappearance than for his labor unionizing and organized crime affiliations. The concept of finding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa is considered right up there with finding Bigfoot or the Holy Grail.
 
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^^^^
I get several notices daily from a Facebook group devoted to photos of drinking establishments, so I’ve seen hundreds of period photos of late-19th and early-20th century saloons. The shots of bars out in the rural West show that what we generally think of as cowboy attire isn’t entirely a creation of the costumers at the movie studios. There really were wide-brimmed hats back then and collarless shirts and vests and boots and of that. But you’re as likely to see a derby and a three-piece suit in those photos as that full-on cowboy drag. And the boots and hats you’d find at your local Western wear retailer find few true matches in those old photos.

I haven’t researched the matter in recent years, but I suspect it is still the case that cowboy hats outsell “city” lids (fedoras and homburgs, mostly) by a wide margin. A person doesn’t have to drive more than a half hour or so from where I sit at present to see people wearing cowboy hats as everyday attire. And not just a few people, either. I won’t be here to see it, but I’d bet that 50 years from now cowboy hats and boots will still find their market.
 
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LizzieMaine

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True, but people didn't become aware of The West as a cultural phenomenon until it was sold to them as such -- you didn't have city people in 1901 walking around dressed in cowboy attire, but they gladly would plunk down their half a dollar to watch Buffalo Bill riding around in an arena dressed up in a fancified version of "cowboy clothes." It was that fantasy version of the West that people embraced -- not the actual grimy, grubby, smelly, rotten-teethed reality of frontier life -- just as it's the fantasy free-wheeling version of The Fifties represented by the Greaser that has been embraced in our own time and not the "rolling readjustment" real-life Sears and Roebuck 1950s. Tropes always have a longer and more potent life than reality, and I think it's true that all "vintage" subcultures are based on those tropes.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
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33,047
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In my experience, who gets away with what is largely dependant on the number of digits in their bank account.

I find it interesting that, while most people my age and younger know of Jimmy Hoffa, we know him more for his famed disappearance than for his labor unionizing and organized crime affiliations. The concept of finding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa is considered right up there with finding Bigfoot or the Holy Grail.

When I think of people named "Hoffa", Jimmy comes to mind for me only after I first think of Portland.
 
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Having worked on a cattle ranch (couldn’t do it now, alas; I’m just not up to it physically anymore), I can confirm that it takes a decidedly misty eye to find much romance in it.

But I’m a misty-eyed sort, at least sometimes. Keeping those cattle alive and growing and making more cattle is a dirty and physically demanding undertaking. But there is a beauty in it.

Ever bucked bales? Try it sometime. You’ll soon learn that chaps ain’t just for the leather bar on Friday night, and that calluses can’t develop soon enough.
 
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10,389
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vancouver, canada
I had a Summer job as well ,though it was more minimum wage than anything else! £125 / week in 1998 when I finished, started at £75/week in 1994. 40 hour week, Mon-Sat, 8.30am-5.15pm, rotating day off. I was lucky I had a job; there were so many full time unemployed in NI in those days, it wasn't always easy to find something as a student. I think things have improved now on that front as there's a huge, seasonal tourist industry that didn't exist in the 90s, for obvious reasons.

I was last in Northern Ireland in '96 and it definitely did not appear prosperous. We had no accommodation booked and showed up and the door of a B&B in Eglington and the host was not sure how to respond to our request. He appeared more flustered than anything else. We wandered about Londonderry for 4 days and I think we were the only tourists in the whole damn place. Certainly overdue for a return.

Certainly any rockabilly I've known in the UK is very serious about it to a greater or lesser degree. All on the vintage scene. A lot of the 'original' rockabilly revivalists in the UK got into it in the early eighties; others, typically a little younger, were psychobillies in the 80s and 90s, then got into old school rockabilly as they got older. The irony is that the music was kept alive in the UK until then largely by old rockers and teddy boys, who hated punks in the 70s; by the 1990s, most UK rockabillies were old punks. There are some real hardcore in the UK, then a lot of us who dabble with the 50s look but also dress 40s and 30s. It's rare to see rockabillies who aren't 'full time vintage' in some way, though. It doesn't seem to attract people who are only interested in one aspect but not the whole package in the way that lindy hop does, for example.
 
Messages
10,389
Location
vancouver, canada
I think the "greaser" thing has become so abstracted from any connection to the actual, historical 1950s that it's taken on a significance like that of the popular image of "the cowboy," another cultural trope that has little to do with actual, historical 19th Century Western ranch hands. "The Cowboy" became what he is due to mass merchandising of the image in the early years of the 20th Century thru cheap fiction, "Wild West" shows, then movies, pulps, radio, and so on, just as "The Greaser" became what he is by marketing of the image from the 1970s onward.

"The Cowboy" is nowhere near as pervasive a figure as he was fifty years ago, but he's still recognizable -- and likely "The Greaser" will remain a cultural figure even after nobody who actually remembers the actual, historical 1950s is left alive. Figures like these become convenient vessels for whatever cultural product the Boys want to pour into them. That doesn't mean, though, that future generations will build "lifestyles" around the Greaser image, any more than kids today play "Cowboys".
Over the past 5 years I have toured the west of the USA for 2-3 months each year. I was surprised, (and delighted) to discover how much alive the cowboy culture still is. Came across so many custom saddle shops, hat and boot shops, small towns with hitchin' posts not just for selfie moments, and a few times honest to god cowboys on horses coming into town. Oh, and not an electric or hybrid vehicle in sight.....in fact even sedans are scarce and the F150 is considered a compact vehicle.
 

Benny Holiday

My Mail is Forwarded Here
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3,757
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Sydney Australia
Rockabilly as a subculture here was and is a lifestyle dedicated to the aesthetic of the music and the style of clothing, cars etc associated with it. Much to our parents' either delight or utter confusion, we fell in love with the music the same as they had three decades earlier, from "doo wop" to the Stray Cats, which were then the big champions of the music. It was a badge of honour and a source of pride to wear your hair pomaded in the ducktail and pompadour/waterfall/Tony Curtis look and wear the clothes all the time. You were often derided by the squares and harassed and, in my case I was the only one in my whole town who was into it. I fought my way through senior high school to earn the right to look the way I wanted to.

I had a friend in the scene who, in the mid 90s, started to listen to jump blues and then swing music a lot. Those styles had always been peripheral to the Rockabilly scene, but in 1994 some of us started going to see an 18-piece swing orchestra up at Paddington and dancing there. All we knew about the 1940s was the War and zoot suits, which we'd seen photos of in Lowrider magazines. Anyway, this buddy of mine was wearing wider-cut trousers, 40s ties and braces, two-tone brogues and a black fedora. He was a guitarist and he asked me to join him in starting a swing band called the Radium Club Hepsters. That was good four years before Royal Crown Revue et al made it out here. It was the beginning of what led me to swing and jazz, fedoras and vintage clothing beyond Rockabilly, and eventually to this forum.

I don't know if Rockabilly will continue here. I don't see younger kids coming into it. They come out and dance, absolutely, and they might wear the odd bowling shirt or Aloha shirt; but by and large the hard core followers are in their 50s now, the teenagers of the 80s who first revived the music and style here. The overarching culture has changed so much. Organic music, played on real instruments, is at the margins, while electronic doof doof computer noise and rap seem to dominate everywhere. In the 80s, we had the Stray Cats and Shakin' Stevens on the charts to lead the way. I don't think any of the Rockabilly bands around today, talented though they be, would be able to accomplish that again because the market, the culture, the social media influence, it's all so different now. 20 years ago, we'd do gigs in public outdoor spaces and we'd have the crowd 15 rows deep around the stage, aged from 15-40 entranced by the rhythm, demanding to know what music it was, why isn't it on the radio? We'd sell 50 CDs straight off the bat. Now, people wander by at those sort of gigs, stop to see if you were on some reality TV show like The Voice or X-Factor or whatever, and then just walk off without stopping to let the music speak to them; they're just looking for their own 15 seconds of fame or what they can post on Instagram: "Oh look, such-and-such from The Voice were playing here, and here I am in a selfie in front of them."
 

Bushman

I'll Lock Up
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4,138
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Joliet
While cremation seems like the most effective way to hide a body I am sticking with him encased in cement in the Meadowlands....much more romantic scenario.
Maybe it's the Italian in me, but I still imagine a fish picked skeleton lying on the bottom of Lake Michigan with concrete encasing the feet.

Over the past 5 years I have toured the west of the USA for 2-3 months each year. I was surprised, (and delighted) to discover how much alive the cowboy culture still is. Came across so many custom saddle shops, hat and boot shops, small towns with hitchin' posts not just for selfie moments, and a few times honest to god cowboys on horses coming into town. Oh, and not an electric or hybrid vehicle in sight.....in fact even sedans are scarce and the F150 is considered a compact vehicle.
Chicago may not be the cattle slaughterhouse it once was, but even in the far outlying suburbs at the edge of rural Illinois and the Chicago suburbs, it's not uncommon to spot a few people sporting muddy western boots and a big curled brimmed hat. And not just older men, either. Many of them are younger. I even remember going to high school with a few guys who did bronco bucks in the state rodeo.
I haven’t researched the matter in recent years, but I suspect it is still the case that cowboy hats outsell “city” lids (fedoras and homburgs, mostly) by a wide margin. A person doesn’t have to drive more than a half hour or so from where I sit at present to see people wearing cowboy hats as everyday attire. And not just a few people, either. I won’t be here to see it, but I’d bet that 50 years from now cowboy hats and boots will still find their market.
The cowboy is an image that is uniquely American in every sense. Around the world, the American continent is noted for the look of the cowboy, which is spurred on (no pun intended) by the global exportation of Hollywood westerns and Marlboro Men. There are few places left in the world where you can't say, "I'm from the United States," and be replied with a broken English variation of "Ah, cowboys! Bang! Bang!" Cowboys represent the American visage of the rugged loner making his life out on his own. It's a very romanticised look and idea.

Because of this, the idea of western wear is a wide seller not just as day wear and workwear, but as souvenir wear too. Tourists, both domestic and international, who find themselves in the American West, will undoubtedly want to pick up REAL western hats and boots as a momento that they visited this once wild wild place.
 
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