Thanks for the correction on the spelling of Wicca. I don't think
you're nit-picking, merely overestimating the cultural sophistication
of the 'bangers' and 'hangers' I attempted to describe. I should add
that their clothing is cheap and readily available.
The pentagram is sometimes found sprayed about on building walls, not
by Wicca practitioners, but by either Devil's Disciples or Latin
Kings, I'm not altogether sure which. The student who wanted to
where the pentagram to school was neither a 'banger' nor a 'hanger',
she was a Wicca practitioner, and her religious freedom was
curtailed, although I see the sense of it. She might possibly
explain herself to school administrators. Some of her classmates
take the pentagram to mean something else.
415 may have been East Bay, or somewhere down the penninsula. . . .
I was told Oakland by a policeman who knows considerably more about
gangs than I. I'm aware of the change in Area Codes around the Bay --
no the gang didn't change its name. Why should they? Do they get a
paycheck from the telephone company? I'm sure about the number 415:
it was spray painted on my trashcan just last week.
I too have seen "Punk is Dead": on bumper stickers. The kids in
the 'parade' that I'm talking about are wanna-bees: still young
enough to want a good looking (read splashy on black) tee shirt. The
ethnic mix of this neighborhood is 1st and 2nd generation hispanic,
3d and 4th generation Polish, German and Hillbily (make it 9th or
10th generation on the hillbillies). You're just as likely to hear
Los Tigres del Norte on a weekend afternoon, and see tee-shirts
(splashy on black) dedicated to the continued well-being, or
something, of the Virgin Mary, as you are to see anything advertized
nationally as "youth".
What you see little of is bumper stickers of any sort. The families
of the young Wanna-bees cannot afford to have their sons get a
driver's license, because of the instant and horrendous increase in
basic insurance rates. This means that the kids can't get a job that
pays enough to pay for the transportation to and fro -- a sound
economic argument for going with the gangs. "At least some of those
guys make money selling weed, and they don't have to go
anywhere. . . ." It's just one of the ways that our 'culture'
insures a supply of 'soldiers' for the gangs.
Of course, the people who make money in a gang are the people who
have passed the initiation: basically being on the trigger end of a
drive-by shooting. Although technically, I don't think anyone has to
die, it's been known. The son of one of my neighbors is serving a
sentence now for driving the car and supplying the gun. The other
boy, who pulled the trigger, is serving a slightly longer sentence.
Both were minors at the time of the shooting, but were due to be
tried as adults because the shooting was gang related. My neighbor
borrowed $15,000 to pay a lawyer to get a deal (plea) that any Public
Defender should have been able to get. I forget the details, but the
boy will be eligible for parole in 5 years. Don't panic, there was
no excess of mercy. The average time served for violent crimes in
this country is just under seven years. Mandatory, multiple-decade
sentences are for people who shoot drugs, not people who shoot
bullets. By the way, the victim died, bringing the total of
irrevocably damaged families to 3.
Thanks again for your comments.