Am I a Hipster?: (half-assedly) considering the paramaters of the word.
May 20, 2014, 10:23 am
Filed under: Essay, Music

I really thought I’d be sitting down to write something intelligent today. I’ve been driving all over Pittsburgh the past few days– sun shining, city bustling, women walking their kids in strollers, kids skating, birds chirping, traffic churning– and you’d figure I’d garner some sort of inspiration from it.

I’ve been in such a great mood the past few days, taking big breaths of city air, olfactory choirs of dogwood flowers, car exhaust, chlorine, and for some reason, ramen noodles. I really expected to sit down and write something about old brick buildings and painted dublinesque doors and little german town and pierogie pizzas, but instead I’m thinking about something a little shallower.

Yesterday I went and popped in on my ex-girlfriend at work, where she was finishing up a tattoo on a lanky, pretty girl. We sat on an a tacky green lounging couch — I’m sure there’s a french word for it, ya know, the ¬†ones with the tall arm rests but no backs– and caught up a little.

She’s doing fine. I’m doing fine. I’m taking vitamins and minerals to stave off my panic attacks and mood swings. Her daughter got a pink barbie jeep for her brithday and drives around chewing bubble gum, she’s sure i’ve seen it on facebook. I haven’t. I promised myself I wouldn’t tell her about the near panic attack I had walking down the street to see her. I told her anyway. She told me that was stupid. She was right.

She said she didn’t like my beard. Said it was too “hipster”.

At first I took a little offense to the accusation. I’m not a hipster, right? I work in Natural Gas, not Mixology. I ride a Harley, not a 1988 Honda cafe racer in mint condition. I have an Alkaline Trio logo on my arm, not Cursive’s “Ugly Organ”. I watch Baseball for gods sake. And hockey! I fist fight people! I wear a wallet chain! It’s not 1998, what the hell?!?!

I began to pull the obligatory, “well I had a massive beard before it was ‘trendy'”, but I realised that wouldn’t help my case in the slightest.

Today, as I walked around the southside, with the sun beaming down and the city coming to life, I relaised it didn’t really matter.


We’ve always been hipsters haven’t we? Whether you were a little indie kid with a pair of brown Rebok Classics and a messenger bag, or a punk with a foot tall mohawk and a pair of doc’s, or a sceenie-weenie with cooneye makeup (boys and girls) and coontail extensioins (hopefully just girls), or a pop-punker with levi’s and a LIFETIME tee, or a thrift-store shopping art kid or whatever the hell you were, you’re still that person.

We’ve all, over the past few years, dropped through the homogenizing funnel that is the aughts (do people still call this time period the aughts? they ought to, See what I did there?) Sure the fashion has changed a little, and maybe some of us went through a screamo girl pants phase that had an expiration date of 2005 (for the most part. I’ve been to Dirt Bar recently), but I don’t think it is so much that we’ve changed, but the wider perception of us that has.

Forgive me for being too inclusive. By “us/we” I simply mean the young and fashion conscious who are interested in art. Do you think that’s an adequate description? It’s what I’m going with, anyhow.

It may come off a little “get off my lawn”, but I blame the internet. As microcosms of little music and art scenes were exposed to the greater public via social networking, youtube, blogs, etc, they sort of ceased to be so independent of one another. There was a lot of cross-breeding and, while it was probably a good thing, not to be so exclusive and incestuous, it sort of watered down certain subgenres and subsects until they were all sort of lumped into the same, lazy, unimaginative label: Hipster. It is an homogenizing catch all of sorts.

And sometime around 2008, we all just sorta accepted it. And kids that came up around that time didn’t really know the difference.

I’m still on the fence on whether or not it is a bad thing. I think that at the point where one is striving to accommodate the stereotype of “Hipster”, it has reached a meta-status. The term is too broad, so it doesn’t really mean anything. But maybe that’s easier than saying, “Well I’m a punk rock kid who plays in a folk/country band and dances to shitty EDM on the weekends, oh also I’m 30 for some reason.”. Maybe it was genre exhaustion that we were suffering from in the mid 2000’s that necessitated the term.

Either way, I’ve been to parties at House of Creeps that were attended by aging punks, prissy hip kids in wingtip shoes, genderbender queers, indie goddesses, bros, craft brewers, grafitti artists, ska kids, rockabilly motorcycle dudes, hippie teenagers in grateful dead shirts, crustpunk street kids, and oblivious hipster high schoolers.

And guess what? Everyone got along just fine. Everyone drank together, nodded their heads together, danced together, and smoked cigarettes out in the street together.

In my experience, things haven’t always been this way.

If you’re out of college and still give a shit about music, fashion, art, etc, people are going to call you a hipster. Even if you are pogo-ing in the crowd at a New Found Glory show. I guess its nothing to be pissed about. This is me trying to convince myself more than anything, if it isn’t painfully obvious.


Bus Trip Oh’ Ten: Episode 19-Chili Dogs and Dumpster Beer

July 8th

The next day, Stephanie and I woke up early and got ready for a bike ride to downtown SLC. AS we were getting ready, a Native American looking guy named Joe walked right up to the bus and started asking our entire life stories. Stephanie was sitting in the driver’s seat putting on her makeup in the mirror that is positioned above the windshield and only offers a view of the other passengers, who at this time, were all asleep.

I entertained Joe for a bit while I put my shoes on and brushed my teeth. The bus is a real creep magnet. Anybody walking down the street just feels like they can just saunter up and say hi. Sure, it’s often hilarious and beneficial, but what exactly makes people think they can just walk up to our front door and start talking to us? Why must we endure the Joes of the world that have nothing better to do on a thursday morning but hear the entire life story of a dirty mohawked man living in a school bus?

If I paint my house lots of bright colors and spray paint “HORSE SHIT” on the side, will people just show up at my door at 9 am, looking for a good anecdote, possibly weed? No, of course not because people don’t do that. It’s absurd. This is, for the time being, our house, however ridiculous it may seem. Continue reading

Bus Trip ‘Oh Ten: Episode 18-It makes things…buoyant!

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that this is my 100th post on this blog.

Please hold your applause until after the post. Thank you. And now…

July 6th

We spent our first night in Utah thirty five miles north of SLC on an island in the Great Salt Lake called Antelope Island. We took a bridge out to the island, and waited at a toll booth to pay to get onto the island. I huddled up next to Pual, who was driving, and looked out the driver’s window at a sign, lazily made in Microsoft word, that read, “Warning: The Biting Gnats are bad”. When the toll-booth worker, an aging woman with a bun in her hair, returned with our receipt, Pual asked her “So, is there like…any place to swim in the camp grounds?”

A chorus of groans erupted from the bus and Pual turns around in his seat to receive them. “WE’RE ON AN ISLAND PAUL”, Tyler says in almost agony.

So we parked the bus on the eastern side of the Island, where the best beaches were, and got out immediately to cook. Stephanie and I made a stew that would last us our next two meals out of Spaghettios, baked beans, hot dog weenies, and canned peas and carrots. It wasn’t as delicious as when we devoured a similar concoction last winter on our Guadalupe Mountains trip, but it filled us up anyway.

As we gathered around our site’s picnic table, the sun set behind us over the great Salt Lake, filling the sky with Lisa Frank purples and pinks, shadowing the distant mountains in a dull blue gray, as we swatted biting gnats from our legs.

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Kerrville Folk Festival: Everything You Love Will be Taken Away

June 13th

Last night, during the show, Tyler and I mustered up enough courage, after coaching ourselves with a little help from Stephanie and Michelle, to go talk to Slaid Cleaves. We talked for a good while, told him how much his music meant to us, and probably looked like swooning school girls. We managed to regain our composure long enough to take a picture, and then somehow we got on the subject of the bus trip. He said when he first got into Austin, the first thing he did was load up in a van with his friends and head out to West Texas. He said he was happy we had the opportunity to do something like this, and that he wanted to hear the whole story some day. At the very end of the conversation I meekly asked if he would sign my journal, this one, that I’m writing in now. He wrote “Roll on!”in an informal, yearbook script, and then signed his autograph in loopy cursive and beneath it printed “2010”.

(beard bros)

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Kerrville Folk Festival: Expecting the Universe to Align

June 11th

Last night was Jason’s last night on the ranch. I promised I would party with him since I didn’t know when I’d see him again, but Stephanie was working a ten to two shift at Mix-Masters and wanted me to hang out with her, so it would be a night of running back and forth.

We all hung out outside the bus for a while. Parin showed up, and brought nothing to the conversation but a smile. Tyler always tells her that she just takes and takes and takes and doesn’t add anything, I prefer just to write down the same observation in my Journal. Will stopped by for a while with a flower-eyed eighteen year old girl, wearing an Indian headband, but Tyler was so rude to her about her age (And her not knowing about The Fresh Prince…which is fair) that she and Will left.

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Kerrville Folk Festival: Best Summer EVER

June 9th

Yesterday was another river day; they all are, it seems. We packed into Parin’s car like clowns, except not funny, with Pual, Michelle, and Parin’s questionably gay boyfriend. Parin drives like a drunk middle-schooler. Apparently a deer ran out in front of the car (I say apparently because I couldn’t see anything past Stephanie’s head) and all I heard was Michelle screaming “OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT” and felt the Parin slam on the brakes. So I closed my eyes and braced for the worst, fully expecting to get to know everyone in the car, the leather seats, and probably the windshield, very well.

Well we didn’t crash into anything, like I said, it was just a deer crossing the road, but when I got out of the car at the river, un-crushed and intact, my stomach was so sick from the close-call that I threw up the pink snack cake I’d had with my breakfast that morning. Yum.

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Kerrville Folk Festival: Welcome Home

June 7th

I went to sleep before midnight on Friday, earplugs in, of course. Stephanie was supposed to arrive at nine the next morning, so like a kid excited for Christmas, I figured the earlier I went to sleep, the sooner I’d see her. When she finally got to the ranch, at 12, I ran down to meet her at the gate, where a hand-painted sign says “Welcome Home”, greeting every car that drives up. She was wearing ruby red lipstick and was the most beautiful thing this unshowered, unshaven, disheveled, shirtless, sweaty boy had ever seen.

I helped unpack all of her things from her Mom’s car, including her bike, and my own, a used Raleigh she had bought from Craig’s List. It was hot, and as Steph brought her bags onto the steamy bus, I think I caught a look of doubt on her already sweaty face. Her mom, and her Mom’s boyfriend, Kevin, wanted to see the inside of the bus. Her mother was a little worried at the sight of the statement, “No Time To Think of Consequences” written in glowpaint, but aside from usual parental trepidation, they both seemed to approve.

After hugs and handshakes and promises to be careful, we bid them farewell. I told Steph this was her last chance to change her mind, and as the car drove away, I imagine she had a sense of finality in her stomach. She was stuck with me. What a horrible person to be stuck with.

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