75. Employees Who Took Stock Options In Lieu Of Cash
The Sham:In Russia in the 1990s, Russians had their crown jewel companies stolen from the taxpayers in a scheme that relied on selling the population on the idea that they'd be given vouchers - essentially stock options - and become millionaires, earning much more in the short and long term than what they'd earn in state subsidy benefits by keeping the companies in state hands. Well, they got bamboozled. They lost their benefits as revenues dried up after the privatizations, the vouchers were worthless, and a half a dozen guys became billionaires. Poor Russians were just too unsophisticated to get it. Then a few years later, in the US, increasing numbers of companies, particularly the dot-commers, convinced their employees that they'd make more in the short/long-run by taking lower wages and benefits and working longer hours in return for stock options, which also made them "associates" rather than employees, and therefore obviated the idea of unions. Nearly all wound up merely getting bad pay and worthless stock options and no union benefits. How do you say "sucker" in Russian?.
76. Skate Punks In Pricy Outfits
The Sham:Do we even need to bother to explain this one? We wouldn't have put it in but for the fact that it's EVERYWHERE.
77. Ex-Lefties Who Became Right-Wing Attack Dogs
The Sham:Give Eldridge Cleaver his due: he packed up for Cuba, grew bored of the local pussy, wanted to live in the creature comforts of Northern California again, so he turned Republican and flew home. What's David Horowitz's excuse? Naturally, he had to have some kind of profound, Biblical-like transformation of character of the "I was blind and now I see" sort. In reality, Horowitz and his ilk were merely sleazy little crowd-followers, shouting with the hippies while it was socially profitable, and shouting back at the few remaining harmless hippies long after most of his generation had already defected. And for that they consider him to be a maverick who really knows what he's talking about.
78. Academic hip hop
The Sham:In the 90s, Cornell West hustled his way to the pinnacle of academic success at Harvard, gaining literally the most prestigious professor gig in the world despite having only published a single "important" book. But that wasn't good enough for him. He had to go out and produce a worthless hip-hop album that's lacking a single rhyme and which his own website compares to breakfast cereal ("it feels so good, you hardly notice it's good for you"). Then, when Harvard prez Larry Summers told him to get back to work, he went all Rodney King and accused Summers of racism. He's since left Harvard for Princeton, where he's still livin' the Storytelling dream and has proven he never forgot hip-hop's primary mantra: get paid. As an aside, serious academic discussion of hip-hop as rebellion by guys like Robin D.G. Kelly (again the middle name!) earns this an extra _ Flockhart.
79. Fake caring about sex trafficking
The Sham:After the fall of Communism, when the West no longer had the dissidents to bleat over, they desperately sought a new victim. Ideally Straight White Female. Luckily, by the mid-late-90s, the NATO troops and UN workers banging ex-USSR whores in Bosnia gave human rights groups a new victim to rescue. But it's not like anyone really cared about the whores - unlike dissidents, rescued whores were simply shipped back to their wretched, dead-end villages that they escaped from. Because post-Soviet poverty is not recognized as a tragedy.
The Sham:Somewhere at the beginning of the 90s, after Basquiat had already been discovered by Warhol, lived it up and died a heroic death on smack, white art students picked up where black ghetto kids left off. They preferred pot to smack, practiced in the safety of abandoned suburban train tracks and then graduated to scrawling their tags with a Sharpie on late-night subway rides. Eventually they'd work up the confidence to hit the streets with spray paint and, within a month, they'd be in front of a juvenile judge who'd fine their parents a few hundred for property damage and slap 'em with probation and a promise of jail time if it happened again. Their tagging career ended there but, by acquiring a story to tell, it would guarantee at least 5 alt-chick one-night-stands in their lifetime.
81. Straight edge
The Sham:Like many 90s fads, straight edge started in the violent margins of the early 80s punk scene, particularly Minor Threat, but it was only in the 90s that every suburbanite high schooler got turned on by it (via post-Minor-Threat more popular incarnation, Fugazi), and saw it as one of their branding choices. It turns out straight edge got its defining "X" logo in the early 80s from the Xs bars would put on under-aged kids' hands so they could get into the concerts. So, this anarchy-inspired movement was based on... obeying the law! By the 90s, whole colonies of skate rats ran around with various-colored shoelaces on their combat boots that would define what degree of straight edge they were. Like the pre-revolutionary Russian commies, it was a movement rife with divisions: vegan or just vegetarian, no caffeine or just no drugs, Ian MacKaye peaked with Minor Threat or Fugazi. And every division led to violent spats between the adherents. Of course, by the time they became legal, they usually abandoned the no-drinking creed, and were left with a bunch of silly tattoos, including the obligatory sXe.
The Sham:Back before Live Journal gave every bored office worker in America a soap box, zines were the only outlet for folks who wanted to write something that nobody but friends would ever read. Made by Kinko workers working the graveyard shift and distributed to the local revolutionary bookshop, they were hailed as authentic samizdat. Except that there was a market for samizdat, and risk involved. Zines were just another way to convince grrls that you were authentic, so you could bang 'em.
83. Referring to your tats and piercings as "body art"
The Sham:Vast swaths of the under-30 crowd were able to increase their worth in the 90s with a strategic piercing or, if they were feeling really edgy, a misdrawn Chinese character on a body part that could be easily concealed by a business suit later in life. Middle-class girls were particularly fond of the tongue stud, which let boyfriends lie that it made head better. Wasn't the point of that Rosanne Arquette scene in Pulp Fiction to shame all these body art braggarts?
84. Chicks who shave their heads
The Sham:In the 90s, hordes of first-year liberal arts chicks shaved their heads yet grew out their armpit hair. Still wanna know why we moved to Russia? Then, because they were too embarrassed to admit that they looked terrible, and because admitting as much would be bowing to the patriarchy's oppressive notions of beauty, they kept 'em shaved. Now, ask yourself: when you were a student, were you one of those guys with a pointy beard who'd tell them they were sexy while stroking their prickly heads? If so, bury your shaggy head now.
85. People who bragged about knowing people who live in squats
The Sham:Every punk worth his leather coat had a good friend living in a squat in some industrial part of town. He'd bring grrls out there to check out a place "you have to know someone at because they were afraid of getting busted by the cops," where they'd see live gigs in a basement lined with mattresses for sound-proofing. It was totally punk and fucked the system up by living for free in an unheated space powered by car batteries. There was no doubt when listening to shitty hardcore down there that the system was about to crumble.
86. Day traders
The Sham:Back at the height of the dot.com bubble, right around when "Dow 36,000" came out, talk of "paradigm shifts" was all the rage, and that WorldCom ad with a guy video-conferencing in a tie and pajama-bottoms clocked in endless airtime, thousands of middle managers quit their jobs and sacrificed their pensions to day trade. It was guaranteed. We lived in a New Economy where the individual was Empowered. The mitigating factor to this entry is that these poor fools are now living in their parents' basement, or going door to door for Amway. Somehow, that cheers us up.
87. Phish Heads
The Sham:They dressed like Deadheads, they sold 'shrooms like Deadheads, they smelled like Deadheads, and they planned to follow Phish from the 90s until Trey died. Then Phish broke up. Oh, and Jerry's still dead. Na-na-na-na-naaa-na!
88. Take back the night rallies at all-girls schools
The Sham:The girls at Bryn Mawr and other suburban Seven Sisters campuses would mobilize half the students for a Take Back the Night rally every time a townie whistled a catcall when a girl was
89. Blue collar chic
The Sham:Middle class guys picking up garage mechanic uniforms with cursive names sewn into the breast pocket at the local thrift store and slumming it. Then, while downing cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for a buck a pop at the local hipster dive, peopled with other indy hipsters wearing Confederate hats or T-shirts and scraggly beards, they'd talk about this art instillation they've got planned for their studio in Williamsburg.
90. Bare Midriffs
The Sham:Will someone please tell American girls to cover their lower hips? In the last 10 years, girls' hips have grown wider and wider, expanding like in some bad 80s horror film...and yet, for some reason they have no shame in showing these wide loads to the whole fucking world. All we can assume is that no one has the courage to tell them how bad they look. We're the types who, if we had a booger hanging out of our nose while talking to you, we'd want you to tell us. So we're doing the right thing and telling you: hide your hips, and while you're at it, tie a sweater around your ass. Note: This does not apply to Russian girls AT ALL.