There's so much to hate about that most loathsome subspecies of Philadelphian. You're not one of them, are you?
"Hipster: twenty-something stroketard whose style of clothing conflicts with their demeanor, thus resulting in a spicy pseudointellectual with more flavor-of-the-month conversations than a Long Island prostitute."
God bless the crazy, malnourished, bespectacled, follically challenged, hipper-than-thou little fucks.
Seriously. All the Pitchfork-addicted, soy-latte-drinking, Vice-reading, "Oh my God, my haircut's so intense and I wish I were in Williamsburg instead of NoLibs ... shit! The New York Times thinks we're the sixth borough-ew! That's, like, so mainstream, I'm outta here"-thinking, Converse-wearing, Silk City-loving, kitsch-obsessed, anally retentive muppets.
If it weren't for these rodent-faced, asexual, John Deere-cap-sporting fashion victims, I wouldn't have a life. Really. In the two long years I've been living in this gorgeous city (and yes, I mean that-you'll find nary a hint of irony in this rant ... or will you?), I've come to realize the hipster kids are my collective nemesis (along with jam-band fans, folky singer/songwriters, Young Republicans and public transport employees). They're the multitudinous Moriarty to my Sherlock Holmes.
It's getting so I can't kick back with a nice warm PBR and a shot at Bob and Barbara's or rifle through the used vinyl section at AKA Music (damn that elusive white-label Liquid Liquid 12-inch-will it ever be mine?) without some weasely wank whining that, like, Franz Ferdinand are so last year, and sneering at my choice of footwear. (For your information, Mr. Fashion Nazi-Dr. Martens are a timeless British fashion classic.)
The withering condescension is bad enough, and God knows I'm guilty of it myself, but what really gets on my tits is the overriding musical and cultural fascism, and the belief that populism is somehow inherently evil.
Don't get me wrong-99.9 percent of mainstream music is vapid, unlistenable dross, but duh! Tell me something I don't know. And yes, the general public are, by and large, subhuman pond scum with no taste, and populism for populism's sake is obviously not a good thing.
But please. Just because a band is on an ultra-obscure indie label doesn't give it instant credibility and/or superior talent. There's a simple reason why a huge number of supposed indie acts (most of whom would secretly suck Satan's festering cock for a major-label deal) remain obscure: because they're mind-numbingly tedious and deadly, deadly dull.
And besides, you're Americans. It doesn't suit you.
Personally, I love all of ABBA's greatest hits (including "Voulez Vouz"), but it's a genuine love, born of an affection for huge, irrepressible, shiny, life-affirming pop, with the kind of hooks that dullards such as Deerhoof/Black Dice/Kimya Dawson (tick as applicable) can only dream of.
Personally, I blame it all on the likes of Kerouac, Ginsberg and bad old Bill Burroughs, an unholy cabal who back in the '50s not only wrote some of the most overrated, indulgent crap ever laid down on a page, but worse, as self-appointed avatars of cool, helped spoiled white middle-class brats discover the dubious joys (albeit in an incredibly patronizing, borderline racist way) of bebop and, God forbid, free jazz.
Granted, Miles Davis knocked out a few good riffs in his time, and John Coltrane was pretty handy with a sax, but free jazz? Christ on a bike, what were they thinking? The more I think about this, the more I start to realize that, historically, hipsters have been responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against music known to man, including, in no particular order or chronological timeline, the following:
>> No wave.
>> New romanticism.
>> The entire "twee" movement.
>> Riot grrl.
>> Sarah Records.
>> The Pastels.
>> "Intelligent" drum 'n' bass.
>> Acid jazz.
>> The entire post-punk-funk revival (Franz Ferdinand excepted, of course).
>> The Rapture.
>> The Strokes.
>> The Bravery.
You see? You see? And what's more, absolutely none of the above has an ounce of what the great Mojo Nixon once referred to as "the Elvis factor"-that combination of sex, swagger and style that only true rock 'n' roll titans can possess. For example, Iggy Pop has an Elvis factor around 96 percent, whereas Moby has about, hmm ... zero. Primal Scream have a rating around 75 percent, while fellow Scots Belle and Sebastian actually score negative figures.
So you can keep your limited-edition lime-green late-'80s Sub Pop 7-inches, your mashup comps and your random dilettantism. Me? I'll be listening to Kylie, obsessing over my vintage vinyl collection (all originals, sweetie), knocking back a case of Schaefer (PBR is so two years ago) and sneering at you from the shadows. Because you know what? In a rare moment of blinding clarity, I've realized that I too am like you-but worse, much worse. I'm a self-loathing hipster.
Oh, the horror, the horror.
Track-Cycle of Life
|Illustrations by Alex Fine|
Hipsters are dust, and to dust they shall return.
1980-Hipster Johnny is born to middle-class parents in Bridesburg.
1982-First word spoken. (The word is "sellout.")
1984-Johnny's older brother David dresses him up for Halloween as Metallica lead singer James Hetfield.
1988-Quits his T-ball team to form a Gang of Four-influenced band. The band breaks up during an argument over whose turn it is to play Nintendo next.
1991-Grunge hits. Johnny's first in line for Nirvana tickets. He owns the Japanese import of Ten. He listens to Mudhoney.
1993-Rejects the commercialism of the grunge arena rock scene and decides he's never going to buy a CD from a major label again.
1994-Makes a month-long foray into the world of straight edge. Number of Xs drawn on hands in this month: 67. Number of times Minor Threat is brought up with reverence: approximately 340,000. What ends this: a wine cooler.
1995-A two-month obsession with Warren G and Nate Dogg's "Regulate."
1998-Out of high school, Johnny forms a band called Iron E. The band releases a four-track EP and briefly tours the East Coast, but breaks up within the year. Iron E also contributes two tracks to a Belle and Sebastian tribute disc.
1999-Begins contributing reviews to Pitchfork.
2000-An emo kid for two weeks. Still has a white belt.
2001-First legal Pabst Blue Ribbon!
2002-Receives personal rejection letter from Dave Eggers for his submission to the "Open Letters" category of McSweeney's Internet Tendency, "An Open Letter to Eli Cash, Owen Wilson's Character in Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." Frames it.
2003-Moves back home for a few months before donning his gentrification cap and moving to Port Richmond.
2004-Starts writing his blog Smeared Black Ink.
2005-Highlight of the year: quoted in The New York Times' piece on the sixth borough.
Are You a Hipster?
Take our quiz and find out just how weird your beard is.
What's the last magazine you bought?
e) Magazines are so gauche. I read only novellas.
Which of the following best describes your/your boyfriend's facial hair?
a) Clean shaven.
b) Peach fuzz.
c) Bearded and groomed.
d) Bearded and groomed, but with a dull butter knife.
e) I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay.
Look at your feet. What do you see?
a) Your feet.
b) 1990 Nikes you've had since 1990.
c) Anything pointy-toed.
d) Flapper boots.
e) 1990 Nikes you've had since 2004.
You're standing at 15th and South. Why?
a) You're about to head into FiSo.
b) You're about to head into Bob and Barbara's.
c) You're about to head into Tritone.
d) You just got kicked out of FiSo.
e) You got terribly, hopelessly lost on your way to the 700 Club.
The last book you read was:
a) The Poky Little Puppy.
b) The Eagles Encyclopedia.
c) The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature.
d) Infinite Jest.
e) Infinite Jest, for the third time.
You think Franz Ferdinand is:
a) Someone whose assassination triggered WWI.
b) The salvation of rock.
c) The salvation of rock, and well dressed.
d) So passe.
e) Who the hell is Franz Ferdinand?
You think Pitchfork is:
a) A handy farming implement.
b) Annoying, but better than mp3.com for free downloads.
c) An incisive, essential font of musical wisdom.
d) Your primary source of income.
e) Dead to me. Those whores have sold out.
Your Web browser homepage is:
b) Philadelphia Will Do.
c) Your blog.
It's 2 a.m. and you're hungry, so of course you're headed for:
a) Little Pete's.
b) Midtown II.
c) Silk City.
d) Midtown IV.
e) The P&P late-night.
You think knitting is:
a) Better left to the elderly.
b) A passing fad.
c) A worthwhile and fulfilling hobby.
d) Best done in groups.
e) Please. I'm not a knitter-I'm a fabric artist.
The Dismemberment Plan:
a) Is what we should put into action on Saddam Hussein.
b) Released the last great pop album of the '90s.
c) Unfortunately had their glowing Pitchfork review in 1999, before the magazine was popular enough to get them CYHSY-type attention.
d) Had "The City" totally ripped off by Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."
e) Aren't something I talk about ever since Travis released his train wreck of a solo album.
Your preferred mode of transportation is:
a) Your car.
b) The 43 bus to Fishtown.
c) Your piece-of-shit bicycle.
d) Your vintage piece-of-shit bicycle.
e) Your Converse All-Stars.
You're thirsty. You could sure go for a:
a) Vitamin Water.
c) PBR, Sparks chaser.
e) Iced tea-straight edge, man! Oh wait, what's that? You say it's not 1994 anymore? Damn. Okay, make it a Pabst.
CYHSY stands for:
a) Christian youths hate Satanist youths.
b) Central Yorktown High School Youngbloods (conference champs '98!).
c) Cookies you had sometime yesterday.
d) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
e) Nothing. CYHSY's recent benefit show at the TLA was a disgrace. They didn't know how to work a crowd at all. If I were a Katrina victim, I'd turn down the money they raised.
You get your haircut at:
a) The Hair Cuttery.
b) American Mortals.
c) I haven't gotten a haircut since late 2003.
d) Your boyfriend's loft.
e) The Hair Cuttery, but with irony.
For every a) zero points; b) one point; c) two points; d) three points; e) four points.
0-15: You're decidedly un-hipster. Your clothing is guaranteed not to be out-of-style for at least another 15 months, which is at least as long as you can count on not being unemployed. There's at least a 20 percent chance we wouldn't mind hanging out with you.
16-30: Not bad. You have a couple of hipster tendencies, but you can't really stomach most of the traditional hipster hangouts. You don't set foot in Fishtown more than once a month or so. Just lose the track bike and the leg warmers, and you should be good to go.
31-45: First: Have a shave. Second: We know your jacket's a little threadbare, but lose the pins. They're not helping. Third: You don't drive a truck, so drop the hat. Finally: Belts are for holding your pants up, not for drawing attention to your skinny-ass hips. Tighten and cinch.
46-60: C'mere, there's something really cool we wanna show you in the bathroom at Johnny Brenda's. There's a mountain of Sparks in there, and a shitload of earflap hats. No, these aren't brass knuckles we're wearing-honest. Just drop the messenger bag and follow us. We swear the Arcade Fire took a dump in there just last week. Let's go, pansy.
Crimes of Fashion
The bad, the ugly and the totally unforgivable.
Too bad hipster bible Vice magazine doesn't set its sights on Philly-"Dos and Don'ts" would have a field day. From belts to boots and jean skirts to jackets, jackasses across the city have their wardrobes packed with clothing guaranteed to be unwearable in a year or so. Lucky for you, PW is here to pick up the slack and showcase the most heinous hipster fashions we could find. Lucky for us, we didn't have to look hard.
The 50 greatest Philly pop songs