I reviewed a show last night from the basement of a record store. The record store in question is located inside of a 100-something year old building on an historic block, so of course it’s independent and of course it has entire rows devoted to a genre called “Kraut/Drone.” Whatever that is. I don’t go to this record store very often. This is not to say it’s a bad store. It’s very bright inside, the staff is helpful and nice, and there’s a store cat (I ❤ store cats). It’s just that quite a lot of their merchandise is far more expensive than it should be (I think) and while there’s an okay used book selection, there’s also a sizeable shelf up front that stocks newly-printed “alternative” books. Bukowski, HST, Crowley, Ginsberg, etc. Some very good, but overall? Yeah, independent record store, we get it. Counterculture. Good for you.
Because Graham and I got there a little early (actually a lot early, considering the show started more than an hour late), we sat in the air-conditioned car and watched people filter in the front door. Now, obviously if you’re going to see a show get performed in a basement, you’re probably not seeing a mainstream band, and if you’re not seeing a mainstream band, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be among mainstream fans. Which is fine. I’d rather be crammed onto a floor with a bunch of weirdos than lost in a sea of Dave Matthews fans. In the past ten years that South City has become somewhat less deplorable to young people from parts suburban, I’ve also become accustomed to hipsters. I might not understand their affinity for ironic eyewear or appreciate Kraut/Drone music, but this is what’s called urbanity and we all have to share the space.
While hipsters – any subculture, really – do look pretty ridiculous most of the time, I can at least tell that most of them are adults who have the ability to dress themselves like human persons. By that, I mean that they are usually able to select clothing that is intact and was manufactured for grownups as opposed to children, medium-sized dogs, etc. There is the occasional hipster who defies this convention, though, one who has said fuck these pants that fit and has prepared themselves to go out into the world with the hopes of being perceived as a total fucking lunatic.
This one guy. Seriously, this one fucking guy. He went into the store before the show but wasn’t down in the basement once it started, so I think he just showed up to browse. And I should probably note that this record store is not in a very good neighborhood. I know it’s supposedly being revitalized, but as a South City native, I can attest that the revitalization effort is about twenty years along now and I still wouldn’t go window shopping around there at night. This isn’t due to my lackness of coolness, it’s because I’m fucking smart. This is a quality that I’ve noticed is lacking in many hipsters. Yes, the architecture is cool and there are a few decent stores, but you motherfuckers need to learn about unsafe neighborhoods, and quit bitching so much when someone steals your bike in one of them.
Mr. Hipster strolled along with his friends, completely oblivious to the Beirut situation extending north and south from either side of the principal street, and he paused before going into the store. It was during this pause that I turned to Graham and said, “You know, some hipsters look like actual crazy people.”
I’m usually in pretty rough shape so I’m clearly not in any position to tell anyone how to live their life or cut their hair or anything, but if you go out in public with cutoff pants that look like they belong on a circus bear, a t-shirt so stained with sweat that it’s a dingy yellow, repurposed bedroom slippers, and some kind of burred-up mess on your head that even the wildest Jewfro would tranquilize and drown in a mercy killing, then you look like a fucking crazy person. Trust me, I know. I worked next door to a mental hospital for two years, and some of the patients who came in on day trips had the same disheveled, ill-fitting, weather-inappropriate sense of “style” that today’s hipsters do. And I’m not talking about patients who were only in for 6 months and then released. I’m talking about the hardcore schizophrenics who had been committed for 15 years. People who had been retreating into deep, mostly unmedicated madness for more than a decade. These people wore mismatched clothes that didn’t fit and smelled terrible because they had other things to worry about, namely the government’s mind control experiments and where the doctors had hidden their penises (oh, Patient Ron, I hope you got better and found your penis eventually).
Which means that hipsters have either also lost their minds or they’re trying to look like it, which is fucking stupid because you can’t wear size 8 pants when you’re clearly a 12. Believe me. I’ve tried. I’m not saying that you need to shop at the mall and adhere to a dress code (god knows I don’t do either) or that you shouldn’t “be yourself,” but at least make an effort to show the world you give a shit and weren’t dressed by sociopathic howler monkeys. Maybe do some laundry for a change, or buy something in an appropriate size. It’s not that hard. Refusing this doesn’t make you cool, it makes you an idiot who uses bad judgement to get attention.
At lunch today, I was telling my friend Steve about the show and Mr. Hipster. After I shared my observation about hipsters and crazy people, Steve said, “Sometimes I look at hipsters like that and can sort of understand how Charles Manson was able to attract a group of impressionable students and convince them to commit mass murder.”
“Huh,” I said, slowly realizing the potential of this theory.
“You have this one person who’s so anti-establishment, and who drives others to commit the most anti-establishment acts they can,” he explained.
“That actually makes sense. Charles Manson was an artist who hung out with the Beach Boys but got rejected when he was too crazy, so he rebelled against not only the pop culture he’d once wanted to be a part of, but he rebelled against politics and society to the point where he created his own.”
“And he convinced other, weaker-minded people to be as different as possible, and it got to the point where they lived out in the desert and went around killing people.”
“You know,” I said, “Hitler was also a failed artist.”
“And he rebelled against the socio-economic situation of his country.”
“Oh my god.”
“Hipsters are like the Manson Family and Nazis,” I said.
“Feel free to write about this.”
“Oh, I will. Hipsters, equal sign, Nazi Mansons, question mark?”
“Ha! Be sure to use the question mark so you don’t get sued.”