“This might sound like kind of an asshole thing to say, but do you guys know you’re Hipsters, or is it an accident?”
I have some confidence that I could do my entire senior thesis on the above sentence, except I’m not a senior. But the instant I hit 65. Hah.
So okay, let’s pick it apart. The aggressor’s remark was divided largely into two key components:
1) a declarative preamble or disclaimer of sorts: ““This might sound like kind of an asshole thing to say, but”
2) an accusation in the form of a rhetorical question: “do you guys know you’re Hipsters, or is it an accident?”
Stop me here if you disagree. Or, since that’s impossible, just leave a comment below.
Both of these components represent specific bad habits exhibited by human beings far and wide, but let’s look at the first component first.
Sometimes you watch a movie or something, and before the movie comes on, you get a disclaimer: “Warning: The following movie contains graphic images of folks bein’ butchered ‘n shit. Oh yeah and profanity. Lots o’ that!”
It was well past noon by the time I got myself out the front door of my place, and the previous night was to blame. Remember Japan? My memory fades in and out, but over my hauntingly-close-to-three years back in the States, I’ve connected with a few good men and women who may be called upon to come together and serve up a reminder that everything used to be totally different. Among those every things, I used to stay out until 3 a.m. a lot more. I used to also have nightmares a lot more. A healthy first-time-in-awhile reunion reawoke both old habits.
So I was getting a late start. Destined for a train to the city and late as I was, I nevertheless plotted to first stop at a café for drugs and things. I mean basically.
I suppose that the net sum of all of Currie’s lyrical admonishments was an impression that the pursuit of love would yield prolonged misery, and yet would somehow still seem worth the trouble. To be sure, he never actually said it was worth it. But when you follow a guy’s lyrical career and fifteen years later he’s still talking about the same stuff, you make the logical leap.
When you go in with that tempered expectation, though, it becomes a very different kind of game. I may be admitting too much to say that before long, the breakups felt more romantic than the relationships, in the same way that scars become symbols of glory even when you lost the fight.
Maybe I was just bored. Maybe mid-’80s Glasgow and early-whatever-we’re-agreeing-that-decade-was-called suburban America weren’t all that different. Not that I went out looking for new scars artificially like some dudes do with tattoos. But again I cite the kid with the severed arm.
There were two things that annoyed me as a teenager: disaffected, cynical teenagers; and just about everything else. The irony of this may have been lost on me at the time, but without emotional contradiction, adolescence is just one long series of trips to the shoe store. Other annoyed teens in my midst drowned out their own screaming brains and gasping hearts with slacked expressions and screamo punk that to them was the only real music, or else radio rap so over-produced, under-thought, and distant from anything that could be defined in good conscience as music that it would form a glaze of apathy over them, hardening with time.
I couldn’t stand a cliché. At least, not once I’d noticed it. The frustration for me came from lack of recourse. Every type of emotional reaction felt cliché to me. I couldn’t stand the scripted timbre of a person’s voice when they’d say things like, “Apparent-LY!” Or worse, the lines peers would lift verbatim from TV and movies and apply to their own banal lives. “You don’t understand me!” or “You’ve ruined my life!” Fuck off, your life is fast food and field hockey. Some little kid somewhere just lost his arm and now he’s got to find a way to work the fields without it.
The summer of 2000 was pivotal. Having survived the Y2K scare unscathed, I found myself free to explore the spoils of adolescence, which lay buried thinly beneath the more oft-publicized layer of adolescent frustration–I couldn’t yet grow a decently Hasidic beard; I couldn’t yet adequately express myself to a girl despite wanting to to any girl; I couldn’t yet act upon my ambitions solely by my own means. But I had another kind of freedom that only young people have. Adolescence is, to be sure, a magical and privileged time.
Over the two years of high school that had preceded, the Scottish band Del Amitri had wormed its way into my heart as the Official Band of Greg’s Adolescence. I listened to them the way a born-again Christian listens to Christian things. I quoted them in day-to-day life the way a collegiate quotes things by mandate in term papers even where no quote belongs. I did sit-ups to their CDs at night, and greeted the day to them, albeit begrudgingly, in the harsh high school mornings. Forced cups of orange juice burned like upset bile, I tell you, but the Dels’ sweet, maudlin melodies rang true and filled me with emotion beyond my own means as a middle-class American teenager.
The past bubbled up for a few brief moments last night as I joined my Japanese and Japanese well-wishing colleagues for a “Deisui no Kai” at the best local izakaya (note: izakaya is fast becoming a legitimate loanword, and will soon be assimilated to the point that it will no longer call for italics. But until that day–italics), which is of course Ginji, regardless of your system of beliefs. While there are many ways to translate “Deisui no Kai,” I believe I will venture “a Getting Housed Assembly.”
Twenty of us assembled to get housed and eat small dishes of food, cleverly dubbed “Japanese tapas” here in the Americas. Fried mochi, meat sticks, octo-balls; when all was said and done, it had added up to more than $1200-worth of finger foods. Whatever. If you consider the fact that these occasions rarely come around anymore and factor in all the money I’ve been saving on drugs by not buying any, it’s really not that bad.
What was that bad, if you’ll bear with me, was the hauntingly feeble act put on by Flirtygirls 1, 2, and 2.5 at the second housed-getting venue, aptly named “Attic” because it’s above a thing. For reference, Attic is a place from whose spinning walls I once emerged so staggeringly deisui‘d that I managed a forty-to-fifty-second conversation with police officers before noticing they were police officers, only to then notice that I recognized one of the police officers as a country-singing acquaintance. Want to get a police officer to blanch a little bit? First you gotta get him to show you his studio demo. Then you gotta refer back to it while he’s on duty.
The to-go cup. The inner wall is round so that to anyone inside the cup, it would appear to never end. Sealed in by infinity. Black industrial lid with no fewer than two logos on a single surface lets the consumer know we’re talking business. This is business, guys.
When it comes to coffee, I’m not a big fan of the to-go cup. Even if in this case it is made entirely out of recyclable or compostable elements, the fact remains, like a mastodon in the corner of a roomful of elephants, that this manner of cup will in all cases destroy the soul of the drink.
The more I think about it, the more I feel that I am, on an abstract, figurative level, kind of an animist, per that one other post I did on the matter.
I’ve got a weekend coffee routine, see, wherein I order a big ol’ mug of cappuccino, and, when the timing is right, drink it. I don’t suppose it’s the most remarkable routine, but it’s one of the few routines in my life about which I get excited rather than fetal and quivering.
One essential element of this cappuccino is of course the glazed ceramic mug in which it comes. The mug, like the routine, is not remarkable, save for the fact that it is a mug. Solid, weighted, glazed. It makes a “clunk” with each return to the table. The color compliments that of the coffee. It tells the drinker, “Stay awhile. You won’t be going anywhere with that thing.” That’s what I want. By contrast, the to-go cup with its “recyclable” symbol and “CAUTION HOT!” admonishment says to the drinker, “I literally can’t wait until I am trash again” and “You don’t even know what coffee is.” Neither of these messages should be revered as mottos for aspiring receptacles.