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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Gang Hand Signs (in Spy)

Hello John,

I'm enjoying your guest spot on Spy, but I have a question about your accompanying photo. You see, I have an interest in the various hand signs "thrown" by today's urban street gangs in the US. (Yes, I do have a girlfriend, as a matter of fact.)

You can read about some of them online eg. http://members.aol.com/Spy219/ or the recent Williams sisters controversy at

Fascinating stuff for the student of popular culture.

Anyway, what exactly are you "flashing" in this photo? It looks like it might be a variation on the famous "east side" left-handed three-finger sign thrown widely by the Bloods in East LA. But the use of the "monkey grip" (wrist-lock) is suggestive of a deeper bonding.

Or is it a local sign, particular to the wide boys of Elsternwick (or wherever you grew up) to insult, say, the Malvern crew? I'm sure that there are hand signs used by our own suburban gangsta-wannabes - is this your way of reaching out to them? Letting them know that you're keeping it real?

It's important that we're clear on these sorts of issues. Remember when Perth Glory's Despotovski inadvertently flashed the three-fingered Serbian salute to Melbourne Knight's Croatian fans? That was a very ugly incident, and could have been avoided if the Croatians realised it was simply an unfortunate arrangement of digits.

Please come clean. It would be a shame if your mis-interpreted sign was inflaming suburban tensions in this city.


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