Your strutting down the street smoking a cigarette wearing 30 inch wide leg Jnco jeans, have one of those No-Fear T-shirts on and are headed to another night of drinking dodging “spies” and trying to get some action. Its 1997 and you are a yeshiva Rebel, reject, kid at risk, fry, drop out, etc… and the numerous other terms that the Jewish Observer coined in their famous article that discussed the “phenomena” plaguing frum Jewish communities everywhere, it is in this issue which my buddy is trying to find, that we finally learned that frum kids also enjoyed sex, drugs and partying. Until this point it was an underground movement on the streets of Flatbush and Baltimore, this article pushed the issues of “kids at risk” to the forefront of Judaism. They made a lot of profit from it too, by making camps, yeshivas and after school programs that all had the same ad line. “Is your child unable to cope with a normal class size” blah blah blah….
I myself was not a yeshiva rebel but since I did attend a “reject school” as it was known back in the day- and many of my friends were at some point yeshiva rebels or the types who got thrown out of “good” schools I figured I would reminisce about the good old days.
The days when Black Hattitude was cool and every punk love Metallica, when these kids shopped at stores like Gadzooks, Pacific Sunwear and Hot Topic and the pants had to be wide legs, shoes had to be airwalks and sweaters had to have a stripe across the top and the arms. You had to have been thrown out of multiple good schools before you arrived at schools such as Hamilton, Rochester, McKeesport, OTI, Shaya Cohens Yeshiva, Rodinsky, Adelphia, RITS, Richmond girls reject school and Bat Torah, Natan Eli, Ohr Chaim.
If you lived in Monsey you hung out in Viola park and Visznitz on shabbos afternoons and smoked weed at night. If you lived in Brooklyn Playboy and Primetime were the pool halls of choice, as well as any spot in front of the pizza shops on Avenue J. In Detroit they even banned sitting in the pizza store on Saturday nights because it was becoming a big hangout- so the crowds of cracked out rebels went back to 7-11 on Lincoln and Greenfield and paid the cracked out black dudes to buy them 40’s of Mickeys and Old English. In Toronto you chilled in front of Markeys and in Hamilton you blazed in the tunnel of love.
You also lived for the chief rebel events of the year. Purim at Chaim Berlin was huge as well as simchas bais hashoyeva’s in Crown Heights- that got so bad- that they took out full page ads in the Jewish newspapers to announce that “mingling will not be tolerated”. Woodbourne was the biggest event of all, when every Saturday night especially shabbos nachamu would be a huge scene of yeshiva guy/girl rebels looking for weed, pussy and fights, Woodbourne was also banned for teenagers- all the papers always had ads that said “don’t le your kid go to Woodbourne.” In LA it was all along Pico blvd and especially in front of Warm Stone Pizza.
The look was unanimous- you had to grow your bangs long and shove them underneath your little black velvet yarmulke that barely clang to the front of your head, the farther up front the more rebel you were. You had to wear the wide leg pants- especially the ones with little characters on the back that made it look as if your pants were hanging all the way down. Chain wallets were common, as were t-shirts from companies like stussy, quicksilver, no-fear and billabong. Everyone had to have their airwalks or airwalk look alikes. The girls just dressed like they do now, except the big thing back then was tight black stretchy skirts that showed the panty line with a pair of sneakers. They also loved wearing really tight denim skirts from Stevenson that we guys referred to as street sweepers.
You also have heard some version of the Sternberg Hot Dog story- I will not go into details- but if you have heard it- you probably grew up in the mid 90s and were a yeshiva rebel.