There are entirely too many non-shady shady characters walking around New York, which has become a massive problem for those of us who make money in the nightclub business. Non-shady shady characters are people – mostly men – who aren’t actually shady by necessity, but look, act and become shady because they think that being a shady character is trendy and fashionable. This is an error in judgment – and taste – on their part, but the disease continues to spread, and it seems like there’s nothing any of us can do to make it stop.
I think I addressed this a few years ago when I questioned both the “dirty scumbag” and “abrasive greaseball” modes of dress that have become the norm around here in recent times. People in New York seem to enjoy looking like disreputable guttersnipes when they go out to bars and clubs. They achieve this look not by shopping in thrift shops and consignment stores, but by deliberately dressing – and acting – like bad movie clichés.
I once ran afoul of an Ed Hardy type who told me his “hands were registered with the police,” and how he “didn’t want to be deadly,” but his “pops made (him).” This is a prime example of how stupid people are: obliviously using a line that’s been ridiculed – making fun of this line is, in itself, a cliché - for longer than any of us have been alive, in hopes of frightening me into respecting his nonexistent “ch’i.”
I don’t know why I find it all so distasteful. I think it’s because I’m still young – and possibly inexperienced – enough to be startled when people my age start doing “adult” things like getting divorced or going to prison for pedophilia. I have that same reaction when I see people my age and younger looking as though they should be facedown on a table in some “waterfront bar” from a bad Who’s The Boss? episode where a determined Angela dons a leather jacket and boots to offer salvation to a sullen, despondent, drunken Tony after his embarrassing behavior at Samantha’s private school compels him to flee Connecticut and hit the bottle. Or did I dream that one?
This isn’t about Guidos or giant juiceheads or any of the other elements of irritation I’m always writing about here. It’s about people – guys, for the most part – who wake up one morning and decide they want to look like someone the world won’t trust as far as it can throw. It’s about groups of these people who get together and mimic each other’s behavior and mannerisms until they reach that one fatal point-of-no-return when they’re genuine, card-carrying scumbags who drug drinks and stab bouncers.
People can redeem themselves, sure, but that summit always exists – the day you finally fling yourself over the ridge and turn into something you may not have been the day before. It’s the day a guy becomes an addict, or the day a girl turns into a slut. There’s a point in time when you turn, going from one to the other. Sometimes I wonder how I never reached it.