Friday, June 19, 2009

On Hipsters

I've finally started singing karaoke. It's addictive. My favorite venue is a bar down the street from my house, not because they have the best selection (how many songs could Shania Twain possibly have?) or the best atmosphere (smoke, watered down beer, Nascar on the telly). I like the crowd. They tend to be the most regular, poor singing people you'll ever meet. But I admire the bad karaoke singers along with the greats, because anyone who has the balls to belt out their secret, favorite jam before an audience must be fueled by intense passion. The energy is riveting.

But when I went to the pub on Wednesday, I didn't sing because alas! the hipsters ruined it for me. I'm talking about Ypsi hipsters, who wouldn't be accepted by Ann Arbor or Detroit hipsters because they don't have enough money and at some point were probably avid Trekkies or role-playing fanatics. Now that would make them seem cooler in my book, but in the end, they are as exclusive and socially retarded as all hipsters. This particular crew is lead by a dude and a chick that stand stiff as statues, delivering studied, flawless and dull renditions of technically difficult pop hits. When they take the stage, I feel held hostage. And when they aren't singing, they hold court in the corner of the bar and regulate the applause level. It's a pretty cold environment for those who aren't worthy of their accolades. The not-so-good singers are discouraged from pursuing their rock star dreams, and I just feel like going home.

I think I've finally figured out the defining hipster quality, the one that makes them such terrible people. Hipsters value taste above passion and kindness. They won't like you if you don't have good taste.

What does this "good" taste amount to anyway? Well, I'll be honest and admit that I have an indie hipster's aesthetic. I like the "right" movies and television shows, music and books. I guess I'm a maven, and I can talk a lot of entertaining nonsense about pop culture. This is how I am able to be accepted by hipsters if I try hard enough and endure a lot of alienation.

Years ago, I dated a very nice man who happened to be a successful rock photographer. When we were together, I got into a lot of the coolest parties and shows, but I never could enjoy myself because I got tired of people being friendly to me only when I was with him. If he walked away, it was as if I disappeared. I was always feeling hurt and offended, but then I realized that the hipsters were as scared of me as I was of them. The thing with hipsters is that most of them were outcasts, at some point, because of the music they liked or the clothes they wore, and the way that clashed with the shitty suburbs from whence they came. So they're insecure and maybe all they know is the style that defined them at that time. I guess that's how taste becomes all-important.

After the photographer and I broke up, we stayed on friendly terms, but I was relieved to be free of the cool parties and concerts. When I would encounter a hipster, I would play a funny game in which I would drop his name and see how quickly that person would warm up to me. Knowing him put me in a higher echelon, made me more attractive. It's awful, isn't it?

On a very different note, the first night that I worked up the nerve to sing at the bar down the road, I was inspired by a young man in a leather vest (no shirt), who approached me while Dan was singing "Another One Bites the Dust". He asked, "Are you with anyone?" and I said, "Yeah, I'm with him" and pointed to Dan. He got really embarrassed 'cause I guess he was trying to hit on me. He kept saying, "I'm a humble man... I'll buy you and him a drink". And he did, right after he got up and screamed his way through a rollicking, off key version of Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry". I hate that song, but it was one of my favorite performances. Those are the guys who will save this culture from the hipsters.

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