Tom Wolfe, Your Services Are No Longer Required

In a series of essays on what American life would have been had 9/11 not happened, Tom Wolfe writes, “A local music genre called hip-hop, created by black homeboys in the South Bronx, would have swept the country, topping the charts and creating a hip-hop look featuring baggy jeans with the crotch hanging down to the knees that would have spread far and wide among white teenagers—awed, stunned, as they were, by the hip-hop musicians’ new form of competition: assassinating each other periodically. How cool would that have been?”

Mr. Wolfe seems to be under the impression that this didn’t happen before 2001. Baggy jeans hanging down to the knees have been part and parcel of American culture since the mid-1990s among all manner of teenagers. (In fact, I remember my old roommate and me sitting on the N Judah one drunken evening in 1997. We asked one young man why his trousers went down to his knees and he responded simply, “O.G., man.”)

I hereby ask Tom Wolfe to recuse himself from any further cultural commentary in any and all publications found on the newsstand. He is worn out, spent, and about as perspicacious as a pigeon sputtering about Central Park for scraps of bread. If I Am Charlotte Simmons didn’t establish how embarassingly out-of-touch he was with current culture, his offering in New York magazine is the smoking gun.


  1. Oh you saw it was a joke — I see. I just read it.

    It is pretty dumb, everyone knows hip-hop started in Queens. New York is a sloppy phony mess though (like a Wolfe novel) so it does makes some sense.

    But the rest of the non-Wolfe, Tom stuff about 9/11 not happening, is much, much worse.

  2. I for one enjoyed his comment on the stupidity of the baggy jeans with the crotch hanging down to the knees. Not even Steven Spielberg could think of that one when he directed the Back to the Future movies (instead he went for the pockets turned inside-out-thing, an alleged oddity of the future that would turn out to be nothing compared to the actual style of the new millenium).

  3. Steven Speilberg didn’t direct the Back to the Future films, only produced them. Robert Zemeckis wrote and directed.

    And yeah, Tom Wolfe is tired, but not on account of this. You just didn’t get the joke.

  4. I’m probably not the right person to answer that delicate, rhetorical question, Zach. But I’ll tell you this: I honestly don’t give a shit about your view on Tom Wolfe.

    Now do you see the fruitlessness of your comment?

  5. Zach, you would think that the numbers would be relatively small but you should have seen the line of people waiting to see him at the North Carolina Festival of the Book when he was there to ramble about something or other. I chose Will Blythe, who was without line but pretty damn funny.

  6. VK, I guess it’s not rhetorical if you care about him. The appropriate answer to the question, Who gives a shit about Tom Wolfe besides Tom Wolfe, would be:
    1) you
    2) people that have uninformed and out-of-touch senses of humor
    3) some North Carolinians
    4) titans of the effete-white-three-piece-suit industry

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