Saturday, March 24, 2012

In Defense of Hipsters?




     Last night, I was dragged by my far thinner, more stylish, more trend-conscious sister into Urban Outfitters. These Outfitters, cleverly named as a depot at which you'd gear yourself up for an expedition through uncharted territory (except it's a city), comprise a habitat for the much maligned Hipster: a young person for whom anachronistic bad taste is akin to those two stone tablets we've all heard so much about.


     As we entered, with two kids in tow, we were hailed briefly, dutifully, by a vision of Today's Nonconformist Youth: of medium height, relatively slouchy as he carefully folded some t-shirts at a table, cropped hair encircling his head except for a wildly curly blond crown, round glasses reminicent of Rick Moranis, or maybe even Mary Gross, gray v-neck t-shirt dipping low over his sternum, exposing his somewhat abundant chest hair, turquoise cardigan hugging him from behind, loosely flapping at both sides like deboned wings, skinny denim of cornflower blue smothering both legs, as he ambled on slightly scuffed white Kaepas, attending to the myriad, eternal loose ends of retail.

     Meanwhile, perusing the proffered material delicacies, my ever-burgeoning middle-aged cynicism, the dim view of anything done by younger folk that is de rigeur among my peers, reared up again and again, spewing its sarcasm and disgust at the USB turntable, the rack of unorganized LPs, with Miles Davis mixed in with The National mingling with Florence and the Machine touching the Grateful Dead next to Bon Iver, the mannequin bedecked with an angora vest in camel with a fluorescent orange skinny belt, the sunglasses seemingly framed by white plastic truck tires, the overuse of seed beads, the t-shirts flaunting terrible beer.

     Incomprehensible at first, I thought on it later: what are these weird bird kids getting at, really? They're pushing away the past's definition of what looks good, while simultaneously embracing the most gauche parts of it. If we find it proper or decent, they spurn it, trying to carve their own niche, trying to do something different, goddamnit, despite our scorn. And that is the province and right of the young, and will remain so. This now-maturing crop of humans, having accepted that there is nothing new under the sun, painstakingly curates tiny, horrible remembrances of our past failures to produce the sublime. 

So just because these "hipsters" are better at it, more pretentious, more repugnant in their style, doesn't mean we should despise them. They attempt, as we all do, to retread the same old shit, and they're not afraid to be boldly tacky. That, I believe, is worth respect.   

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"People try to put us down." - Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle, Moon    



Sunday, January 08, 2012

Unvarnish It

Can we all make a pact to stop telling little white lies that everyone can see through as well as a freshly Windexed pane of newly minted window glass, and on the flip side of that, to stop getting angry when people tell the unvarnished truth?

Don't say, "I can't do that because I emailed my boss (on a Sunday) and I heard back (within moments) and they won't let me miss that day OR have someone else take over for me OR ask someone else to do my work temporarily, AND I may get fired if I miss even five minutes of work (not true because I know the company you work for and its policies)."

Do say, "When I realized that the thing I volunteered to help with would require greater than zero effort on my part, I felt oppressed by an ever-increasing sense of the mandatory. Therefore, I'd like to not do it, please."

Don't say, "I don't care. Where do you want to eat?"

Do say, "While I realize that my saying so may not create infinite harmony, I, for my part, would like Chinese. Make of that what you will, but please, consider that I am, and have been for three weeks, rather eggroll deficient."

Don't say, "I'm sorry, I'm ill."

Do say, "I regret that my personal tolerance for a family gathering has reached its monthly limit. I'll see you at some future time, but don't expect me in the next 30 days, at least."

Don't say, "Oh, I forgot my wallet."

Do say, well in advance, "Regrettably, I need to borrow $20 to make this happen. Your donation, should you choose to make it, would be much appreciated, and I will neither rest peacefully nor sleep dreamlessly until it is repaid."

Don't say, "There's loads of traffic. I shall be late."

Do say, "Hormonal and/or digestive human bodily functions and/or their cleanup have delayed me. If you haven't met with troublesome versions of these, you one day will. Cut me some slack, my good woman/man."

Don't say, "                                                "

Do say, "Even though you are the only you in the universe, and clearly quite acceptable and even wondrous, something about the bubbling of the evolutionarily and/or deitically ordered cocktail in my brainpan doesn't quite heat to my liking when you and I interact in specific gobs of spacetime. Let's seek others."

We don't have to be cruel, or overly blunt. We just have to be honest, and realize that we all want out of things or have unpleasant needs from time to time.  Though we may, for a time, feel a bit dizzy from the fumes of truthfulness, what will ultimately result is cleaner, more aesthetically, morally, and emotionally pleasing future, free of the underlying stink of bullshit. Let's open the windows and get to scrubbing.

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"You ask 'em, 'Where's my motor?' 
'Well, it was eaten by snakes.' "

-- Frank Zappa




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