I’m not sure if this was just a NYC phenomenon, but if you were a teenager or in your early twenties in NYC in the early 1990s you probably knew a few Lo-Lifes or Lo-Heads. ‘Lo, for the uninitiated, is short for Polo and was what we called Ralph Lauren’s very ostentatious clothing in the early 1990s. Ralph Lauren’s clothing between 1989 and 1993 was what many (or at least Lo-Heads) consider the golden era of Polo clothing. All of the pieces, whether hats, button-ups, sweaters, jackets, or coats had their own names. (Snow Beach, Eagle Knit, Cashmere Teddy Bear, the Outdoorsman, Indian Head, Racing Jacket, and P-Tennis, to name a few.) You still might catch people rocking Polo gear from 1992 walking around the gritty city. For more info on the NYC crew from Brooklyn called the Lo-Lifes and this very unique subculture, click here.
There were one or two degrees of separation between me and the actual crew Lo-Lifes. I considered myself a Lo-Head and started dressing in ‘Lo from head to toe in high school. Finding the exclusive and rare Polo “pieces” became quite an obsession. I would often beg my mother to take a day trip to the Ralph Lauren outlet in Reading, Pennsylvania to find some pretty amazing deals and sometimes find highly coveted pieces to wear to school the following day. My friends and I soon got hip to the game and realized we could trade our Polo gear with other ‘Lo youth throughout the city. Another Lo-Head was, of course, easy to spot. If you were wise, you would have your ‘Lo photo album on you at all times. The photo album served two purposes: to document what ‘Lo pieces you had at one time and to show others what was currently available for trade. Sometimes a trade left you with a sweater that didn’t actually fit too well. (There were no full length mirrors on NYC subway platforms or in front of Mickey D’s on Broadway in the Village.) I’ve heard of trades that resulted in guns being pulled out and hundreds or thousands of dollars in clothing being snatched from your hands. This was serious business, indeed!
Fast forward to 2013… I was very late to this party, but I finally made my first craft beer trade. Google+ has a terrific Craft Beer community and this trade was the result of online craft beer networking. I posted a photo of Sixpoint Resin in the “What I’m Drinking” section and a fellow craft beer sipper from Minnesota made a comment about wishing Sixpoint was distributed to his neck of the woods. That’s how the deal was struck. I looked up some beers from Minnesota that aren’t distributed to New York and the rest is history. I will not be making this a new habit because shipping beer across the country is pricey. I’ll throw up a review of Fulton Beer’s Worthy Adversary once I crack it open.
When your passion for something borders on the extreme, you’ll figure out ways to get more of it. Whether it’s amassing an obscene number of P-wing hats, shirts, and jackets or stacking crates of vinyl to the ceiling, you might hear a voice in back of your head telling you that there’s still more out there to discover and acquire. Now in my 30s, I’m hoping to have a healthier relationship with my passion for craft beer. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife that keeps this obsessed collector and connoisseur in check.