Not that long ago, I received an email from an Austin-based musician very eloquently sharing with me the day he realized he was a hipster. His words were poignant, describing his realization as though he was suddenly inflicted with an incurable disease- Hipstermystalacosis.
I related to his story and I think you will too.
When I was thirteen and running around in suspenders and non-prescription eyeglasses, I knew there was a name for me. For years I fought the label, but gave up my denial of being a hipster when I christened the name of my blog Hipstercrite.
Now when someone calls me a hipster, I shake my head in agreement. I am a hipster and probably always will be.
Hipsters, stand up tall! Unite!
I’ve been an admirer of your page for a few months. I was linked through “TapeBombs,” a music blog run by an acquaintance of mine.
Like you, I am dangerously preoccupied with hipsterism and spend a good deal of my day confronting the issue. The reason I am mailing is because I think I represent an interesting case study: a person caught in the paralyzing fear of his latent hipsterism and shocked into his true identity by a harrowing event.
Here is my account:
I was riding my bike down Duval and the sun was out. At this point I believed firmly in my individuality. Of course, my handlebar wrap matched my brake housing, and the same with the metal cages that held my water bottles; all were red. I wore purple shoes and no helmet. The memory of a triumphant sexual encounter arose quickly, then left.
I was pleased with my performance and didn’t dwell on the details, didn’t analyze a thing. I only recalled the sensations and sounds that make good sex memorable. The day was warm. Readjusting my fingers on bar, I found them to be quite cool; I hadn’t begun to sweat. The best part of the ride.
In the first few seconds of what would be the minute and a half that changed my life, I didn’t recognize the origin of the rumble, growing closer, rapidly becoming a roar, like the slow onset of a far off thunderclap. The sound came from the twin tail pipes of a Chevy Diesel truck. Suddenly, they were upon me. As I turned down a steep hill near 51st and Lamar, I was forced against the curb. The huge wheels of the truck kicked up dust and rocks and I was struck by a few of them. A large white male leaned out of the passenger window, ejecting a thimble-full of spit across the front of my shirt. A beer bottle whizzed over my head. I felt like a frightened Russian Hussar riding against Napoleon, holding out my hand as if to protect myself from the zip of bullets and the whistle of passing artillery.
At this point, about a foot separated my handle-bars and the side of the truck. After a few more terrifying seconds, the truck sped up quickly, finishing the descent and pulling into a parking lot at the bottom of the hill.
I knew what they had in mind. But remember, I was not some pussy hipster. I was not androgynous. I was a man. That archaic sense of honor strengthened me. Four men stepped out (the type of men who buy their groceries at the county feed store). They came at me from thirty yards away, not running, but at a kind of a trot, like this was a leisure activity.
I lept off of my bike and approached them in the middle of the lot. I put my dukes up, lithely shifting from side to side with the assured stance of an experienced boxer.
I think they sensed my confidence, baseless as it was. They stopped about ten feet away. I held my ground. Each wore what looked to be an Ed Hardy tee. Only I didn’t sense the danger then. I was like a cornered puma, fiercer because death clears away the vale of fear. Underneath the decorated tees, the four mens limbs were taut and ready. One word, one altered expression would have uncapped that explosive energy. But there was silence.
The crack of bat, followed by childrens laughter, echoed from the top of the hill. We measured one another. It was the leader who broke the silence. His followers relaxed.
The engagement was apparently broken off, or at least postponed for a moment.
He said, ” Fuck you, limp dicked hipster.”
His friends didn’t laugh, but chimed in. “Pussy! Hipster! Faggot!”
I didn’t reply. I had relaxed my stance. The passenger side agitator spat at me again, but missed. Twenty seconds later the truck was gone and I was left alone in the bright sun.
My world view was completely fucking shattered. What passed through my mind as I gingerly pedaled home was not so much the glorious afterglow of a manly confrontation, but the providential nature of my lot in life. I knew that, so far as the outside world was concerned, I was a hipster. Whatever innate qualities I possessed were in dichotomous opposition to a certain portion of society, whose hatred of my “type” acted as a form of self-actualization. This tension was absolutely necessary, and in a larger sense, determined my ultimate role in history.
I still have not recovered, not fully. Now, when I listen to my own music, songs like “Don’t Try and Take My Guns,” “Burning Panties,” and “You Should Start A Band,” I do not hear the voice of myself, but someone who struggles to hide the mark of an old wound. And while I am ashamed and at times it all seems clownish and sad, I remember that this is what makes good art – that is, fear and its poignant beauty, like a shivering mouse you’ve caught in a beam of light.
My story is that of the reluctant hipster. In your word, “pretending we’re not hipsters is what we do best.” In this way, I am surely the most resourceful of hipsters. But, unlike so many others,
it has enriched my art and given me a new purpose; or more nearly, an enhanced clarity of vision.
of The Frontier Brothers
You can catch them during SXSW at these shows:
Mar 16 2010 8:00P
Chupacabra Cantina – From the Mind of Adi Showcase w/Peter and the Wolf
Mar 18 2010 1:00P
21st St Co-op Dayparty w/Motel Aviv, Black Taxi, and Federal! State! Local!
Mar 18 2010 5:00P
Good Danny’s Dayparty @ Mi Casa Cantina w/Low Line Caller, Brass Bed
Mar 19 2010 9:00P
Hyde Park Grill South – CitizenMusic Presents: A NYC Mixer w/Outernational, The Bloodsugars
Mar 21 2010 2:00P
Domy Books – What by Whatever Party w/Eastern Sea, Black Taxi, and BLSH