The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Trashy Vermin of the Apocalypse

The  fifth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.

We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose.  I like to refer to these as  The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity.  Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin,  here the Pierced Vermin , here the F-Bomb Vermin and here the Texting Vermin.  The fifth of the Hamsters is the Trashy Vermin.

I grew up in a blue collar family in which money was never plentiful.  ( I loved the old Jackie Gleason show The Honeymooners.  It was a howlingly funny show and they were more broke than we were.)   However, my parents always found money in our budget to make sure that all of us had good clothes to wear for Church and special occasions.  “Good clothes” meant a suit and tie for Dad, a nice dress for Mom, and sports jackets and ties for myself and my brother.  Now I know those of you born after 1980 will find this hard to credit, but we were not uncommon in that regard.  At Mass virtually every one was dressed that way.  (I still dress that way, and it is uncommon enough today that a visiting priest brought how I was dressed to my attention as I entered Church with my family a few weeks ago.)  Evidence of this is clear in the movies from the period.  For example, we have the film Blackboard Jungle (1955), which at the time was thought to be a shocking look at juvenile delinquency.

Today, the only thing shocking, and humorous, about the film is how clean cut the “juvenile delinquents” look.  I have seen more threatening looking individuals in groups of eagle scouts today.  The teachers of course are all arrayed in suits or dresses.

Like most really annoying things in our country, dressing as if your fashion designer scrounges from dumpsters, is a legacy of the Sixties.  Leftist students during the Sixties decided to gain proletarian street creds by dressing much worse than most poor people did.  The Leftists of that day are beginning to plot  how they are going to organize nursing home communes, but the sloppiness of that time which they initiated has become a regular feature of American life.

In regard to the slobbification of America we have several categories to examine:

1.  Wrong clothes for the situation:   Most men traditionally have the fashion sense of a pig in a mud wallow, but in the past they had the female of the species to make certain that they really didn’t go to work wearing a plaid suit or the same t-shirt for two weeks in a row.  Unfortunately too many women these days also have no fashion sense as demonstrated by the number of women going to work looking either as if they had been dressed by a blind maid or garbed like hookers really affectionate dates:

My profession, Heaven help us, is one of the few institutions attempting to remind people that their ongoing license to dress like slobs terminates when they enter the courtroom.

Here are some handy tips for proper dress in court.  A true sign of the times is the last tip:

“Leave pocketknives, guns and any other weapons at home. They are not permitted in the courthouse.”

 Men especially seem to have difficulty understanding that the ball caps they appear to have perpetually glued to their scalps must be removed from their heads when they go into a courtroom.

Schools also tend to have dress codes, but they also have a few other problems to deal with:

2.  Offenses against aesthetics:  Baggy pants on men:  Gentlemen, and I say this from the heart, people on the street do not wish to see either your underwear or your backsides:

I was going to say something in this category about the distaff offenses against aesthetics, but my survival instinct has just kicked in, (if any of our female contributors or commenters wish to pick up the slack please feel free) so we will move on to:

3.  Torn clothes:  My daughter brought this video to my attention.  I was aware that people had been wearing torn and faded clothes as some misbegotten fashion choice since the Sixties, but seeing this video on the subject caused me to regret the number of times when I was growing up that my mother chastised me for accidentally ripping new clothes.  I was merely making an avant garde fashion statement, and she was attempting to smother my creativity!

4.  Deliberately Offensive Clothes:  It is impossible to go out in public in America, and not find people with deliberately offensive slogans and images printed across their chests.  Do a google search for offensive t-shirts and you will find companies that cater to this market.  A prime example is a t-shirt that can be found on any college campus, and sometimes even worn by students rather than aging faculty from the Sixties:

We live in a time when even the simplest portions of life have become twisted.  Throughout history people have understood that special occasions required special dress, and, to the best of their ability, they have attempted to dress accordingly.  Now, through laziness, indifference, ignorance or defiance, many people in our society treat the entire world as their living room, and they dress in a slovenly manner which helps cheapen and coarsen daily life.  We are doomed to live in a shabby age, and our dress, oddly enough, is perhaps appropriate for the times.

However, perhaps I am being too harsh.  There are worse things than dressing like a mobile rag pile, complete indifference for example, and that brings us to the Whatever Vermin.  However, it is time for me to dress for dinner.  What is the appropriate garb for salisbury steak, stewed prunes, boiled turnips and grape juice?  Oh well, I will figure it out.  Until next time.



Hattip to my daughter, or, as we refer to her,  our Fashion Diva, for trapping and shooting the elusive Trashy Vermin, coming and going.

19 Responses to The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Trashy Vermin of the Apocalypse

  1. Elaine Krewer says:

    “I was going to say something in this category about the distaff offenses against aesthetics, but my survival instinct has just kicked in”

    As regards offenses against modesty, I touched on that in a previous post on “The Third Rail of the Catholic Blogosphere”. With regard to simple sloppiness, however, the most annoying and baffling trend I have seen is women wearing what appear to be pajama bottoms and plastic clog shoes in public. I would hesistate to go to my mailbox dressed like that, but some women go shopping, pick up their kids from school, etc. so attired.

  2. Mack Hall says:

    Just so. In my little mission (happily full every Sunday) only two men wear coats and ties. In a too-informal age I suppose slacks and a nice shirt would be acceptable, but not shorts and tees and rotting tattoos.

  3. T. Shaw says:

    O tempora o mores! – Cicero

  4. Nicholas Jagneaux says:

    The public high school where I teach has a dress code, so the students look nice (however, no ties or jackets).

    But, I do occassionally – two or three times per year – bring up how students dress outside of school. I bring them from the “Blackboard Jungle” days to the present, showing them the trend.

    Then, I ask what – if the seemingly unstoppable trend continues – will their children wear.

    There is always a pause for reflection, and the students understand the point that I’m making. Many of them even agree. However, few (none?) want to make personal changes to try to reverse the trend.

  5. Ike says:

    I am going to make an unconscionable statement: For the life of me, I can’t understand why people are facsinated with how others dress. No, I don’t mean that modesty in dress is no concern, nor that those Communist propagandist Che and Mao depictions don’t make me want to spank the punks that wear them; It’s just, what is the moral implication of wearing sweats in public? Granted, a church requires attention to appearance, so that we may show God our reverence, but what’s the problem if I go to the market ill-shaven and with unkempt hair? I cannot beleive that God really cares if I wear plaid and stripes, or if my socks match.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “I cannot beleive that God really cares if I wear plaid and stripes, or if my socks match.”

    Considering that He marks the sparrow’s fall Ike, I have never been comfortable predicting what God cares about or does not care about. Reasonable concern for one’s personal appearance is a sign often as to whether a person is just as neat or slovenly in other areas of life. It doesn’t always work that way, but I’d say it is usally a fair assumption. Neurotic concern about one’s appearance is taking things too far in the other direction.

  7. RL says:

    I cannot beleive that God really cares if I wear plaid and stripes, or if my socks match.

    “Thou shalt not wear white after Labor Day, nor stripes with plaid, nor mismatched socks with our without sandals; for to do these things would bring shame upon yourself and your family.”

    Leviticus, page 129.


  8. Elaine Krewer says:

    “I used to care about what I wore to church or wherever. That was before I had a completely incontinent unable-to-walk messy-eater father with dementia to care for alone.”

    Your dilemma, plus that of the family with young children still in diapers, are one of the reasons why I personally do not believe the “dress for church as you would if you were going to meet the pope/queen/president/etc.” standard should be strictly enforced on everyone. Modest and non-distracting dress, yes; but not 100 percent insistence on Sunday best.

    While the sentiment behind it is laudable and I admire anyone who chooses to and can adhere to it, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect it of everyone for two reasons:

    1. For most people other than celebrities and heads of state, meeting a pope, queen, president, etc. would be a once-in-a-lifetime event, while Sunday Mass is not.

    2. One does not normally have to bring infants, screaming hyperactive toddlers, sullen teenagers, or (in EMS’ case) elderly parents with dementia to an audience with a head of state AND keep them clean, changed, supervised and under control for 45-60 minutes at a stretch.

  9. Matt says:

    The rant is still good! Thanks.

    As Roger Scruton would put it:

    “Much that is said about beauty and its importance in our lives ignores the minimal beauty of an unpretentious street, a nice pair of shoes or a tasteful piece of wrapping paper, as though those things belonged to a different order of value from a church by Bramante or a Shakespeare sonnet. Yet these minimal beauties are far more important to our daily lives, and far more intricately involved in our own rational decisions, than the great works of art which (if we are lucky) occupy our leisure hours. They are part of the context in which we live our lives, and our desire for harmony, fittingness and civility is both expressed and confirmed in them. Moreover, the great works of architecture often depend for their beauty on the humble context that these lesser beauties provide.”

  10. Suz says:

    A secondary puzzlement: how do you go about dressing yourself, in general, as a Christian, this day and age? I mean, you have to dress decently, but not too nice, because that’s vain, and not too fashionably, because that means you’re paying too much attention like the gentiles do, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, because that’s stealing from the needy, but in order not to spend too much money and still look reasonably sharp, you have to pay enough attention to catch the good sales, and not just buy what you need when you need it, because spending more on clothes than necessary is stealing from the needy, unless your time really is so valuable that paying any attention to sales is a criminal waste of it, and then there’s the trial-and-error of dressing yourself, which means mistakes will be made, but is that wasting money, or is it okay to experiment because mistakes are given away in charity, and speaking of giving away clothes, is it more charitable to give away clothes while they are still in good shape and passably fashionable, or is it better to hang on to your closet like a terrier with a dead rat, which saves money which then can be diverted to other charitable causes, but also reduces the reusable aspects of a wardrobe down the road.

    But, on topic, my dad’s jeans look just like those $400 paint-spattered, grease-marked, dirty-rinsed, torn, patched, and re-torn jeans marketed to college kids, and he seems to feel no more compunction about wearing them out and and about than the youngsterlings do. How can you win this battle when you’re bookended by custom-destroyed jeans on the (hapless quasi-rebel) kiddies and honestly-destroyed jeans on the (upright conservative) septuagenarians? Sheesh.

  11. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “How can you win this battle when you’re bookended by custom-destroyed jeans on the (hapless quasi-rebel) kiddies and honestly-destroyed jeans on the (upright conservative) septuagenarians? Sheesh.”

    My Mom, God rest her soul, used to stop my brother and I from appearing in public in hideous garb with the command, “You are not going out in public like that!” As for my Dad, she would throw out his clothes when she determined they had reached the rag stage, and were no longer fit to be seen around the house. My Dad knew better than to dispute my Mom in this area, where she was the benevolent dictatrix of our household.

  12. Pinky says:

    Offensive slogans on shirts? I remember a time when any slogans, corporate logos, et cetera on shirts would be looked down upon. The old line was “You paid for those clothes? Nike should be paying you to walk around like a billboard.”

    To EMS, I understand. I often attend 5pm Mass, where the average outfit is far more casual than I’d wear, but I wouldn’t judge the people so attired. Many people are there because the day didn’t go as planned. Moms with newborns, teenagers on their way home from a shift at McDonald’s, and people in your situation can all be reasonably exempt from the rules of fashion.

  13. Pinky says:

    As for immodest clothing, well, I think that’s just fantastic. I shouldn’t, and in a work or worship setting I recognize that it’s inappropriate, but I’m just not inclined to get upset over it.

  14. Linus says:

    I wish somebody would start talking about “tattooed vermin” in my immediate physical presence, or that of many men I served with in the military. That would be funny.

  15. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Not half as funny as the Marine I know who has “ghost” tattooes of the names of five former girlfriends visible on his chest. As he explained to me, “Don, it is curious what can seem like a good idea at the time when you are drunk.”

  16. Linus says:

    No, I actually I think it would be at least as funny as that.

    But I find perverse humor in smug, judgmental jackasses being physically assaulted, so maybe it’s just me.

  17. Donald R. McClarey says:

    It’s just you Linus. What I really find hilarious is banning jackasses who threaten me with physical assault. Have fun making jokes at other websites Linus since you are now banned at this one.

  18. Suz says:

    “My Dad knew better than to dispute my Mom in this area, where she was the benevolent dictatrix of our household.”

    Thank God for Moms! (She gets the jeans, and I grab the matches…)

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