Sunday, November 18, 2012

Steal This Blog

You tell me you are going to Fez
Now, if you say you are going to Fez,
That means you are not going.
But I happen to know you are going to Fez.
Why have you lied to me, you who are my friend? - Moroccan Saying

Don't trust anyone over 30." - Jack Weinberg 1964
Cafe Wha? MacDougal Street, Manhattan
I have to admit that I only, just today, discovered the true meaning of the word "hipster".

I like to think this is because, true to my generation  that ever since I heard the phrase in the late sixties, I "don't trust anyone over thirty".

Then today I read an excellent piece by thirty five year old Christy Wampole who is is an assistant professor of French at Princeton University.

Ms Wampole's How to Live Without Irony explains that hipsters are people, mostly young, who hide their true beliefs and tastes behind "a mantle of irony".

"The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness .... The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool. He studies relentlessly, foraging for what has yet to be found by the mainstream. He is a walking citation; his clothes refer to much more than themselves."

Of course, as Ms Walpole points out,  things to be nostalgic about eventually run out - at least in our modern western throw-away culture, and one can only go far in scavenging  "vintage stores" to find clothes to mock at. Next in line are the clothes of  "ordinary people". Like those of pre-pubescent girls who like Justin Bieber, or of long haul truck drivers. And thus the cartoons accompanying Ms Walpole's article showing side-by-side the uncool and the hip - Justine Bieber tshirts or "Long Haul" inscribed baseball caps can be cool or uncool depending upon who is wearing them.

To put it bluntly, if you can't make it, make fun of it. And if you want to be REALLY cool, make fun of making fun of it. As in "The Life Organic" by Dom and Adrian.

Very funny actually. I like the bit where Adrian orders an egg and bacon roll, with no aole and instead of aole some oregano, and instead of bacon a field mushroom, and instead of egg, avocado. Ending with, "And can I get no roll?"

Although I didn't really know what a hipster was until today, I  realize now that I HAVE met some, mostly in foodie restaurants in Melbourne.

I like the way they take things literally. I suppose this is because they spend so much time on concepts and memes being one-removed from being one-removed. It can be very confusing. Like the old Moroccan saying from circa 1500 quoted  at the beginning of this blog. The existence of which goes to show that  hipsters have been around for a very long time!

Taking things literally  An example. I was in the weirdly named restaurant "Denches" in North Fitzroy with my daughter last September and we were amused to find "Deconstructed Eggs Benedict" on the menu. "Can you tell me what that is?" my daughter asked the waitress with a laugh. The waitress took the question literally and went on to explain the meaning of 'deconstruct' and that the eggs were not on the muffins and the hollandaise sauce was in a cup on the side.

A DYI eggs benedict....

Then last week when I was on the phone to my health insurer I spent several minutes getting the customer service man to understand the spelling of my name. He was obviously a hipster. My last name is Juliff and even though I was spelling out, ending with  "f as in Fred" he kept thinking I was saying 's' and asking me what "Fred" had to do with it. At last I explained the NATO phonetic alphabet and why we have it ... "You know," I said, "B as in bravo, C as in Charlie ..."

I thought he'd seen the light, "I know," he almost shouted in awe of his own enlightenment. "X as in Xray."

"Right," I sighed.

"So it is "Juliff" with an 'X' as in Xray," he answered.

I give up! It is just too hard being a baby boomer. Maybe I don't understand hipsters at all.


Ian said...

Gee the 'old' hipsters were just jazz fanatics or a else a pair of jeans that rode on the hips. Times change. I like the de-constructed eggs benedict though. It can be so hard using a phone to explain an email address or how to spell your name. My work email address has a hyphen in it and that causes all sort of problem when I try to explain it to Chinese. I now just say 'use a minus sign'!

Anonymous said...

Try watching the "Five Easy Pieces" segment about ordering toast.
Jack Nicholson orders toast and when the waitress tells him they have no toast,he switches to a toasted egg salad sandwich and has the her "hold the egg salad, hold the lettuce and just bring me the toast"
He ends up telling her to hold it between her knees and with a sweep of his arm, clears the table.
Very funny piece. Yes, Jack a hipster of the n th. degree.

Anonymous said...

I rarely use the phonetic alphabet for overseas tech support. Have never used the word hyphen, always 'dash'

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