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Sharks vs. Jets

Street GangsEverything You Need to Know About Street Gangs

Submitter: The first portion of the book introduces kids to the concept of gangs by telling the story of Johnny Boston, a boy who moved to a new city and fell in with a bad crowd. Then it switches to a question and answer format, with questions like “once I’m in a gang, can’t I just quit,” “If  I join a gang, will I have to carry a gun” and “if I join a gang, will I get rich?” One of my favorite picture captions says “motorcycle gangs often look scary, but many of them are relatively harmless.” And the photos of typical gang members are great — very, very dated!

Holly: Here’s a picture of one of those “typical gang members”:

Gang member

29 Responses to Sharks vs. Jets

  • With a name like Johnny Boston I think this kid is just asking for a gang! btw, I think I waited on the guy in the picture the other day at the library….


  • “If I’m in a gang, can I still use my library card?”

  • Hee hee! That guy looks like an extra from the Warriors, not a real gang member. “Warriors….come out to play-ee-ay….”

  • Does anyone else think that guy looks like James Franco from Freaks and Geeks?

  • He is an undercover cop from 21 Jumpstreet 🙂

  • I think the caption says, “Many gangs break the law. This gang member is about to be arrested by the fashion police.”

  • Carlos Santana in a rare acting role!

    (BTW, that picture looks ancient even for 1992.)

  • If whoever has this in their library is going to weed it, is it possible to donate it to a student of U.S. social and cultural history such as myself? I would love to have this in my collection!!

    • I have already weeded it, but for me, it’s a keeper – just too amusing to toss! It’s got a place of honor on the shelf in my office.

    • I am weeding this book, with my head hung in shame. I’ll happily send it on. Just give me your contact info.

  • I work in NYC, every third person looks like that. Are they all in a gang?

  • Is the pattern for his hat in the book?

  • Those pants are off the chain! He looks more like a unfortunate back up dancer than a gang member. Maybe an extra from “Beat It?”

  • @ Dangermom:
    I live in NYC, and “Warriors” was my first thought when I saw that picture, too!
    Things have changed a little …

    My first thought when I saw the cover, however, was that my father, who is in his mid-60s, owns all of those items: leather jacket, random length of chain, pocket knife, and bullets. Do you think I should tell my mom I think he’s in a gang, or is he just a guy who likes to be warm, do home DIY and some whittling, and has inherited some firearms? Will the book tell me the answer to that?

  • I have like five really cool high school students who look just like that.

  • You can’t quit! Once you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way!

  • I think this guy was in Breakin 2 Electric Bugaloo

  • I think you’re all missing the Spiderman pant leg – could it be Peter Parker in a VERY convincing

  • I’d never pick him out of the crowd.Thanks for the photo,now I know what they look like.

  • Hill Street Blues comes to mind when looking at this 70s getup.

  • Allison – Spiderman is exactly what I was thinking. I don’t read a lot of Spiderman, but it doesn’t seem implausible that he would try to infiltrate a street gang.

  • Oh my god. He’s a hipster. He’s got this great song on his iPod that you wouldn’t appreciate because ‘it’s a little different’ but if you want later you can drop by his poetry slam. He’s got this new piece he’s working on. Not to spoil it but it involves a VHS of Cool Runnings and six packs of Bubble Yum. He doesn’t really expect you to ‘get’ it but he’s curious to know what the inartistic people think. But only for the irony. There might bring you up to the mic. Don’t change your clothes, what you got on is perfect. He can work with that.

  • Lauren, he looks like some of my daughter’s friends.

    And I swear to God, you described them perfectly.

    I hate hipsters. They think they’re awesome, I think they’ve been done before.

  • I think I saw Johnny Boston open for Sinatra once at the Sands.