Monday, May 31, 2010

Daily Update #9: "Dedicated Follower[s] Of Fashion"

I can't stand hipsters. Most of them, anyway. If they're nice, unpretentious people who have a flair for dressing/drinking/living kitschy, okay, fine. But the worst of the worst, the ones who swear by vinyl, the ones who will preach to you about why you need to ride a bicycle (even though they had to take a plane for their inevitable semester abroad - usually Paris), the ones who will try to guilt you for eating meat, the ones whose knowledge of a band is verbatim from the Pitchfork website...and they exist, I met quite a few of them as an undergrad...those are the ones I can't stand.

One time at a Halloween party, I went as Zappa. Some hipster chick cornered me and tried to outshine me with her knowledge. I won the first round when I asked her if she'd heard Thing-Fish. She had not. Things escalated when Captain Beefheart was brought up...yeah, yeah, she'd heard Trout Mask Replica, and that's great. More people should. She told me how much she loved Beefheart and his whole aesthetic...then I asked if she'd heard Safe As Milk, his first album.

Her response? "No, are they new?"

I won.

Look, I'm not a music snob. At all. I will admit that, when challenged, I might grow fangs, but I don't like when people are "ashamed" to tell me what sort of stuff they're into, as if my taste is superior or something. It isn't. I've tried to make this my manifesto over at my review blog. You like what you like, and sometimes you can explain it - "I think Zappa is funny and he writes good melodies" - and sometimes you can't - "Captain Beefheart...just needs to be heard to be believed."

I'm especially not going to let someone whose knowledge of music is spoon-fed to them by various media outlets get away with such pretentious posturing.

What I find most maddening, and I'm paraphrasing what I thought was a poignant, if a bit acrid, statement from the show Community, is how many of them have been able to see the world but still don't get it. I'm not an incredibly serious man, although my friend Luke pointed out that when I start talking history I go into "serious Alex" mode, and I'm sure as Hell not about to tell people how to live their lives.

But I'm certainly allowed to see how much it clashes with my own value system and subsequently bitch about it. And they're entitled to the same.

Having spent more time than normal this past weekend on the subway - specifically the L train - I got to see plenty of hipsters. And since I was out quite late, most of them were calling it a night.

It wouldn't be entirely honest to say I didn't have some sense of schadenfreude, knowing that some of the people I saw stumbling around the subway stations would go home and feel like shit in the morning. But there was a tugging sense of pathos. I wondered if they were so deluded that they would wake up, reflect on what they can remember from the previous night, and say that they had a great time.

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,

Dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
Who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
Cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities, contemplating jazz..."
--- Allen Ginsberg, "Howl" (1956)

He said it better than I ever could.

Anyway, I took a quiz. I'm not a hipster.


You're not trying to be hip and you don't give a shit what hipsters think about you.

Personality Quiz: Are you a hipster?

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I was afraid that I was in danger of being a hipster due to my interest in Indie music, plaid-centric fashion sense and my black frame glasses. Luckily that's not the case it seems.