anybody who gets irradiated with the bile and emotional garbage that flows so freely from this large, comely mouth knows that i have a big shitty ax that needs lots of grinding wrt the teleo-orthography of hipsteriana, the genre boundaries, demographics, etc. i think it’s a pocket obsession of quite a few people, particularly in their chosen subfield of interest. i find mapping whatever it is that we mean when say “gentrification” vis a vis rental real estate to be a particular nugget among dudes and ladies that i know, be it in brooklyn or the west side of chicago.
part of the reason it’s hard to grapple with the phenomenon is that it’s disparate, misshapen, unshapen, etc. at some points of comparison it’s hard to tell the difference between lifestyle contrarianism, nerd culture, garden-variety liberalism. i have a hard time grappling anyway; i think some people might not really worry about this– it’s certainly only a question for the very self-conscious, or for sociologists (same thing?), to marinate on. anyway, this blog entry (which i think is written by moderately well-known belletrist dude Luc Sante) has some true knowledge jubies in it, and i recommend for everybody to read that ish.
It took me until today to understand what the word “hipster” has come to mean. When I heard people complaining about neighborhoods infested with hipsters, bars ruined by hipsters, I didn’t really give it much thought beyond remembering Yogi Berra’s lament: “The place is too crowded–nobody goes there anymore.” The red herring was the word “hipster,” which to my mind couldn’t possibly be synonymous with “yuppie” or any of the other terms for people who have more money than you do but no souls, and who spend their free time subjecting all you hold dear to unfriendly takeover.
So it’s especially disheartening that their name has been reassigned, and not to any foolish but vigorous crop of tyros, but to parasites. Eric Fredericksen defines the hipster as “a consumer of (sub)culture, a person who substitutes taste for creative drive.” That sort has probably been around forever, but didn’t really become an identifiable genus until maybe the 1980s, when the vastly increased size of the market made it possible to pursue consumerism as a full-time activity. Hunting esoteric cultural kicks turned into connoisseurship; possession of items distinguished chiefly by their obscurity at once inflated the desirability of those items to others and became tantamount to having produced those items oneself. Now hipsters have gone way beyond Scandinavian psychedelia and Japanese bondage photography. They collect neighborhoods. Soon those will run out, too. You are advised to protect your neck.
so yeah, now i have a starting point for one of the purge initiatives after i (ok, we) successfully start kulturkampf in the US/Canada trade zone. it’s worth ruminating, in a loose and sloppy, first-draft way (is there another way i do things) about why it is that contrarian-connisseurship is something that i want to worry about? obviously there have been and always will be dudes with insane/ironic/highly speciated and specialized taste, now that like, the enlightenment happen and the leisured classes have infected the middle class with the disease of culture. the internet, which is basically still-photography television with 1 billion million channels, including the option to make your own channel, has let people who previously might not have been able to access microculture in on it.
some of this shit is fueled by some kind of interpersonal psychic lust, when you see someone, befriend someone, notice someone cooler than you in the specific way you want to be. this happens to everyone, at some point in my life: circa the mid 90s a good friend’s older brother was the guy I adored. he spoke in cipher, smoked weed, listened to faith no more, idolized eric turner of the cleveland browns, practiced a specific kind of messthetics that i could emulate. this all makes sense to me. one thing i don’t understand right now is the widespread emulation of a weird hybrid of grunge culture, mod-ish hipster style (more in the vein of the late 70s/early 80s mod revival than true mod-dom), urban african-american street culture among the 20-30 yr old demographic, but that’s a tongue for me to crank back into my mouth and worry about later.
there’s no way for me to continue on this tangent at the moment without pointlessly blathering about how i don’t like living in the future or whatever. what do you call a death wish when it’s other people you want to die? evil? i have to power down for a while or i might overheat. anyway, the news value of all this is, i fell in love with a brief blog discursive commentary about identifying and fearing hipsters.