There seems to be a premium these days on a certain avenue and chic-ness of cool, for those young city folk who may very well be the leaders of art and culture. And then of course there are the outwardly visible hipsters, who like to think they are really the driving force in art and culture.
Duff McKagan is the leader of Seattle's Loaded, and the former bassist of Guns N' Roses. His column runs every Thursday on seattleweekly.com/reverb.
Historically speaking, most of those musicians and visual artists who inspired the rest of us with their original ideas lived the large part of their careers in dark obscurity. The legion of Velvet Underground fans didn't come into form, for example, until David Bowie and his ilk pimped them out. And while Jackson Pollock did enjoy some commercial success while he was still an active artist, it wasn't until the New York art-scene explosion of the 1970s that he became somewhat of a household name. Van Gogh too. Hell, Joy Division weren't widely known until much after even OMD.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest the possibility that your garden-variety hipster could, in the hopes of keeping the cool shtick up, be a little closed-minded to what is actually happening beyond the local record and thrift-clothing store.
OK, but right now, all of you reading this think that when I say "hipster," I must talking about someone else. Not so fast . . .
You may not like it, but you are, in fact, dangerously close to hipster territory if any of the following apply to you:
1. You say things like "I'm a geek."
2. Your band has more than six members and none of you play a horn.
3. There is an animal in your band name.
4. You follow @JohnRoderick on Twitter.
5. You hang out at Big Mario's five nights a week while loudly proclaiming "I hate this place."
6. You wear leg warmers in the summer.
Look, I get it. At one point in my youth, I too shunned TV and commercialism, drank tea at coffeehouses, and wore a French beret (the predecessor of the long black beanie worn today). I was so damn cool and left-wing. To be fair, the right wing back then was Reaganism. Not my type of "ism."
In Seattle, obviously, Capitol Hill is central to the area's hipster culture. Down in L.A., the equivalent is an area called Silver Lake. I remember in the mid-'90s that living in Hollywood was seen as passé and uncool. Silver Lake and Hollywood butt up against each other, and I would overhear back then people claiming they lived in "east" Hollywood (the eastern edge of Hollywood is nearest to Silver Lake). There is a West Hollywood, but not until the mid-'90s was there ever an "east."
It has been a long, long time since I have been considered a hipster, and with the success of my "rock" band, Guns N' Roses, those days would never return in the eyes of those who hold the keys to "Club Hip," but that was and is OK. I had kind of outgrown that need to be outwardly "anti." Besides, I had started to like going to movies, as well as going to the "cinema" to see a "film." I also started to outwardly cheer for my sports teams, as opposed to being anti-jock, wearing black socks with my low-top Converses while wearing shorts, and pretending that I couldn't jump. I'm a sellout.
Anyway, about a year ago I went to see a band at the ultra-hipster Silverlake Lounge. I like seeing good music and I also like talking to people. (Those of you who may have encountered me anywhere probably already know that particular fact about me. I'm not afraid to ask people questions about themselves.) But at the SLL this night, I was kind of left alone. No one wanted to be seen, perhaps, talking to some "rock guy," particularly one not wearing the standard-issue hipster uniform (I should've changed before I went, damn it!). No, I would be alone on this night—left to watch the music without conversation between bands. Oh, well.
But a funny thing happened as I went outside to go to my fancy and non-hipster car: A few of the people who were inside came outside to stop me. They asked if they could take a picture with me . . . but they wanted to do it quick, before any of their other hipster friends could come out and very likely shun them from the aforementioned "Club Hip."
The good news is that there is a surefire way to be broken of the hipster yoke: procreation. Yeah, even most of you who think having kids is never going to happen for you, your time is coming, and your days of being anti-commercialism and not owning a TV may very well be numbered. There is just nothing better than going to Gap Kids, you may find. Also, Dora the Explorer is pretty damn necessary, as well as all those kids' DVDs (if you want to do anything like go to the bathroom or talk on the phone to a friend, you will find the TV of paramount importance). Gnomeo and Juliet is guaranteed to get you teary-eyed. Face it: Baby Björns will get in the way of your further development into hipsterism.
There is the issue of the aging hipster, of course, but that's a completely different story.