The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 29, 2012

Robin. L. Quillon | Scoop on the droop

Robin L. Quillon

— As I sat at a stoplight on my way home the other day, I noticed off to my left a young man walking down the sidewalk. He was struggling mightily to walk and talk on his cellphone at the same time. You might ask: How could a seemingly perfectly healthy young man struggle with such a simple task?

Maybe the sidewalk was snow covered?

Nope, all clear.

Perhaps it was raining and there was water in his eyes?

Negative, overcast but dry as a bone.

Is it possible his progress was impeded because he was so excited about New England going to the Super Bowl?

Not around here.

Was he handicapped in some way?


Maybe he was distracted by a beautiful girl walking in front of him?


How about he was carrying something awkward and heavy in both hands?

That would also be a no.

Perhaps the lyrics of the late “American Idol” contestant Larry Platt can shed some light on why this young man was struggling to walk and talk on a cellphone at the same time.

Hit it, Larry!

“Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, looking like a fool with your pants on the ground, with gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground, call yourself a cool cat with your pants on the ground, walking downtown with your pants on the ground, hey get your pants off the ground!”

So how did this urban thug fad start anyway?

I realize teenagers need to express themselves, and that is fine.

And I agree with whoever said, “The clothes don’t make the man, the man makes the clothes.”

Hey, I wore my hair so long as a teenager my dad would state, “It’s either a haircut or dog tags, Son!”

And my blue jeans were so full of holes, you could not tell if I was in trying to get out, or out trying to get in.

Nonetheless, I’ve seen 20-plus-year-olds hobbling around town and at the mall wearing their pants so low they showed more crack than a downtown sidewalk.

One theory of the pants-on-the-ground-urban-thug fad is that it started in the prison system. Prisoners’ belts were taken so they could not harm themselves or others, and therefore their pants sagged.

Another theory is it is a gang symbol originating in California.

Still another theory goes back to the early days of skateboarding. If you pull your jeans and belt down below your butt, it’s much easier to bend down if you are going to Ollie or do some other trick requiring you to grab the board.

All of these theories are way off the mark in solving this mystery.

I have finally uncovered the truth to the fad. And it has nothing at all to do with prisons, gangs, race, economic issues, country origin or skateboarding.

The “top secret” drawing at right was found, hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar, on the Internet. The artist/archaeologist is unknown at this time. 

There you have it folks – mystery solved!

Robin L. Quillon is the publisher of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at

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