4.17.2009

Hipster

Thing I miss about Portland #240,000 would be The Mercury, the best local rag on the planet. It's funny, it's acerbic, it's nasty, and it's usually really well written. It has good music reviews, lots of hilarious critique of local and national events, and plenty of 'news you can use' on stuff like thrift stores, sex shops, and sushi joints. I distinctly remember Thursday afternoons, getting the new issue and reading it on the bus on the way home from work, a fun alternative to looking at the stinky hobo three seats away.

Anyway, Portland has always been plagued by hipsters, and this is the best article I've yet seen about the whole phenomenon.

The short version: per the author, 'hipster' is not actually as meaningless and vague as it may seem. It refers to someone who sets up alternative hierarchies of values to mainstream ones based on money and careerism. The hipsters who give the term a bad name are the 10-something percent who are just garden-variety assholes, a statistic that's applicable to pretty much every other social category (much higher for republicans, obviously.)

My unsolicited two cents: the part the author leaves out is that, sure, it's well and good to set up a different value system (knowledge of obscure music, semi-ironic faux-nerd clothes, artsy friends.) If, however, that value system isn't more accountable to higher ethical standards than the mainstream, it isn't really any "better." I'm thinking of all the hipsters who may or may not be generic assholes, but whose standards are at least as exclusive and whose attitudes are at least as discriminating and arrogant as those of the mainstream. This would be the notorious record-store clerk who thinks you suck because you're buying, say, a used Sublime CD (I mean, he's right, but there's no reason to be mean about it.)

What I miss about my homies in Portland is that, for the most part, we were all variations on hipster, but we were really nice about it. Our alternate hierarchy of value was, I think, highly inclusive, so long as you weren't a dick.

Except that we were pretty hard on the Dave Matthews Band and people who like them.

3 comments:

ransom said...

Reading your blog frequently reminds me that I am out of practice at "thinkin' 'bout stuff." Which sounds absolutely terrible, and kinda is.

Hopefully my brain won't have atrophied beyond any semblance of conversation before you guys get back to P-town...

noncoupable said...

DMB *groan*

Moving out here I have almost (thankfully) been able to forget they exist(ed).

kungfuramone said...

Good call. Actually, until I wrote that sentence, I'm pretty sure I had forgotten about them for at least a year.

Hmm. Now I regret bringing that memory back to the surface...