This is going to be one of those ‘geez, my life is fascinating’ sort of posts. Brace yourself. I live in Edinburgh–a glorious city, beautiful, gothic, that drives me completely insane 9 days out of 10–and, this being Scotland, it was something of an event when the sun shone yesterday. Not only did the sun shine, but the wind had sunk to a light spring breeze, the sky was totally clear, there was no chance of getting all four seasons in one day, as there usually is in Edinburgh. So as I am on ‘vacation’ from grad school, so to speak, I betook myself to the Meadows, a public park in the middle of the Old Town. There I witnessed what happens on a sunny day in a place known for its continuous greyness.
It seemed that the entire city turned out to picnic in the park. There were people juggling, boys on unicycles, crowds of students with those little barbeques you can buy at Tescos, couples sleeping, children playing, bicycles inexplicably and dangerously traversing the crowd. I laid down on a nice sunny patch of grass, had my lunch, opened my book, turned on my music and settled myself in for a few hours of existential contemplation.
The problem with existential contemplation on a sunny day in Edinburgh is that you begin to consider, naturally enough, your existential self. Which I did. It happened when I sat up to remove my shoes. In a flash, I saw myself, sitting there on that green expanse. And I did not like what I saw. I saw a twenty-something girl in Levis, H&M tank top, wearing worn down red Converse with no socks, listening to folk music on her iPod, iPhone tucked into her back pocket. I saw a girl drinking an organic smoothie while reading ‘American Psycho’, eyes shaded against the sun by her horn-rimmed, retro sunglasses, head propped up on a messenger bag with pins that read ‘Peace: Back By Popular Demand’ and a picture of Che Guevera. I saw (and I tremble as I write this): a hipster. The only thing missing was a pashmina and skinny jeans.
Allow me to rephrase that: I saw a fucking hipster. Because I, like the rest of the civilized world, do not like hipsters. They are false creatures of darkness who use ‘ironic’ ironically. They move in packs, like werewolves, and listen to bands you’ve never heard of just because you’ve never heard of them. They ride unicycles…and there is nothing I irrationally despise more than the unicycle (it defies all laws of God and Man, but let’s not get into that). They are pop-culture leeches and they have usurped all the good things, like Godard and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and acoustic guitars.
And I am one. Joanna reassured me that I could not be a hipster if I wasn’t doing any of the things I was doing ironically. But of course, I am ironic by nature. I’m a sarcastic, snarky film snob. And isn’t not doing something ironically that you should be doing ironically by extension ironic? The irony of being un-ironic in an ironic setting? Dear. God.
Kerouac defined the hipster of the 1940s, but went on to say that there are a million and one false hipsters out there. There’s an excellent quote from ‘Desolation Angels’ about this, but I can’t find it. And now I’m referencing Kerouac and my cliched nature is complete. Fuck.
In my defense (from myself), I actually want to read American Psycho. I have a Che Guevera button because I respect him, and I have read some of his work. I love my Cons, and my iPod, and my iPhone Caligula. Levis fit me, and they are not artificially distressed. I was drinking a fruit smoothie in an attempt to get my 5 a day. If anything, I am a sincere hipster.
How very ironic.
One thought on “The Hipster Chronicles # 1: A Walking Cliche”
In August of last year I had a similar crisis (you know the whole aspiring screenwriter, working in a coffee shop, driving around in her subcompact car listening to Alt Rock, wearing converse sneakers), but since then I haven’t given it much thought… and I think that’s the difference. I get the feeling that true hipsters never stop thinking about it, while we just do these things because they’re convenient or we like them. The other option is that we are in fact hipsters in which case I guess we should rethink our stance on hipsters (and really many people I initially might have pegged as hipsters have in fact turned out to be pretty cool people, not hipsters at all). In the end who cares. I know you’re genuine in your love of out of the way books, cinema, folk music, and converse sneakers… if on the other hand you started wearing glasses frames without lenses I might have to stop being friends with you.