Thursday, July 28th, 2005

The Heaven and Hell Cotillion

Well shit, you guys went to town in the comments section yesterday, didn’t you?

I was playing some blog-a-link follow-the-leader yesterday and it yielded some interesting reading. Starting from Brookylnvegan’s post about hipsterdom triggered by the Wikipedia entry for said term. From there, there was quick visit to Catbirdseat’s clasic Hipster Bingo (and it’s companion piece The Guide To Indie Hair) as well as pit stops at The Hipster Handbook and The Morning News’ Non-Expert: Hipster. Also fun were links in BV’s comments to Austinist’s His & Hers guides to bagging yourself some hipster action in Tejas’ capital.

But the most interesting link was the one to Pandas That Won’t Screw To Save Their Species, which expands the discussion on the hipster phenomenon to include auteur-of-his-generation Wes Anderson and irony in general. The Slate article that inspired the post is a particularly good read, and helps articulate some of the disappointment I felt with The Life Aquatic (though I think I was considerably more generous to the film than most). N+1 looks at the arrested development that links Anderson and the Hipster generation. CityPages also riffs a bit on the art and culture of what it terms the “LittleBlue SmurfBoy” generation. And, on the flipside of it all, The Orlando Sentinel has a piece on hipsterism burnout (I found this one myself!). And tangentially-related: Stylus continues to analyze what they call “the problem with indie”.

I found all of this reading quite fascinating – I think I’m just old enough to have escaped ground zero of the Hipster phenomenon (I like how one of the pieces, I forget which, calls the Hipster the younger sibling of the Slacker), instead lingering at the periphery of the blast radius and playing observer, watching with frequent confusion, occasional disgust but always complete fascination. I think one of the fundamental differences is that I’m not big on irony. I love it in my comedy, but not in my lifestyle. It’s too much goddamn work, life’s too short to waste on things you don’t genuinely enjoy and really, I’m too self-conscious to not realize that, ironically or not, I’d still look pretty stupid in most of those clothes. And I can’t grow a moustache, ironic or otherwise.

Everyone who missed out on The Go! Team at Lee’s Palace last week will get another shot to see the UK outfit October 30 when they play the Phoenix. Speaking of hipsters… I kid. Everyone I know who went to their last show said it was fantastic, unabashedly and unironically. Expect this one to sell out just as fast.

The week in shows at Torontoist, via me.

The Guardian talks to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists in hopes of determining what it is about them that inspires such fierce loyalty amongst their fanbase. Via Largehearted Boy.

The Toronto Star previews Aimee Mann’s show at the Phoenix tomorrow night.

Torr has the new Cardigans single, “I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer”, available to download. It’s surprisingly rocking and upbeat, considering how melancholy Long Gone Before Daylight was. The new album, Super Extra Gravity, is out October 17.

Producer Rob Thomas spills the beans on what he’s got in store for season two of Veronica Mars, premiering on September 21. The season one DVD isn’t due out till mid-October. Thanks to Zoilus for the link.

np – British Sea Power / The Decline Of British Sea Power

By : Frank Yang at 8:24 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Yan says:

    From one of the linked articles: "this generation uses irony like Alanis Morrisette. Sure, you’re wearing a body-builder’s t-shirt and you’re a scrawny kid, but that’s not ironic, it’s just something you’re wearing."

    So where does this hipsters are ironic thing come from? Do they think they’re ironic, or this just what people who criticize them say? Does nobody notice how freaking 1991 that is? Remember back when George Bush was president and we went to war with Iraq and all the cool kids were all "we’re so ironic" and all the skeptics were all "Grow up! Stop bein’ so ironic! You’re not a lumberjack! Take off that plaid shirt!"

    Wow, it’s just amazin’ how the recent crop of kids invented wearin’ wacky clothes from previous generations and actin’ like they don’t care and trying to be cooler than everybody else. What a "phenomenon." We must solve the mystery of this crazy new invention. Really. That’s just amazin’.

    What’s that? Iraq what? No, we were always at war with Iran. Always.

  2. graig says:

    I think even worse than the hipster irony is the hipster cynicism (the sequence from obscurity to acceptance to backlash) and the hipster sarcasm (troll any message board… maybe that’s just geek sarcasm?).

    Thanks for constantly pimping Veronica Mars to me. The TiVo is getting me caught up and the woman and I are liking it a lot.

    And I understand why people don’t like or get Life Aquatic, but the film just keeps getting better for me each time I watch it. I think I like it more than Tenenbaums at this point. I’m doing a Team Zissou thing for Halloween this year. (And I liken the film as a sort of live-action cinematic brother to Sealab 2021)

  3. Frank says:

    ditto on the cynicism thing. Folks seem more interested in the life cycle of trends than in any inherent quality. I guess if it’s fun to trailblaze something and fun to tear it down, it doesn’t really matter if the "thing" in question is actually any fun.

    Ah, I don’t know. Damn kids and their music.

  4. Neil says:

    Frank, have you ever thought about creating a Chromewaves <a href="http://…/ calendar of, well, upcoming shows? I’d subscribe to that in a New York minute.

    The #1 hipster thing that flies right over my head these days is the increasing prevalence of the Indie Beard. I went to see Sam Prekop in Montreal a month ago and every single guy there was between 23 and 33, and they all had the indie beard.

    Or maybe it’s just my Asian "only capable of growing David Suzuki Beard" jealousy. Sigh.

  5. Neil says:

    Sorry, I buggered that URL – it should have been http://…/

  6. Frank says:

    Neil – as soon as someone pays me to do so or maybe adds a couple days to the week(end) so I’d have the time, it shall remain a pipe dream.

    Yan – you’re correct. It’s really just about fashion, and it’s not new at all. My point was just about how it relates to my world, at this moment. The only distinction I would draw is that Hipsters seem to be more self-aware than maybe the Grunge fashionistas were a decade ago. They know that something is inherently kitschy or ironic, and that just makes it more dishonest somehow than someone who’s just emulating their musical heroes.

  7. bill p says:

    Owen Wilson was the heart in those first two films (I’m told he wrote very littl of Royal Tennenbaums). I fear Anderson has painted himself into a perfect little corner. I thought both RT and Life Aquatic were cold,

    distant and way too obsessed with the little background details (like what books are on the shelves that we

    can’t even read or the texture of the wallpaper, etc.) and not enough heart. It’s like those old Starkist comercials. We don’t want a Tuna with good taste; we want tuna that tastes good.

  8. whb says:

    Yan, I was the guy who wrote the irony line that you quoted. I can’t speak much for the grunge years being ironic, because I didn’t get Nirvana until a long time later. But I think that is the general criticism of hipsters as opposed to slackers. The irony is much more obnoxious than the slacker nonchalance, because it pretends not to care by showing how much it doesn’t care. (Did that make sense?) But you’re also right. It’s nothing new. It’s just louder now with websites and blogs.

  9. Jordan says:

    Someone explain to me why wearing (seemingly) thrift shop shop shirts or shirts with some random stupid slogan from 10 years ago is ironic?

  10. Airk says:

    It bugs me that that n+1 article is still making the rounds several months since first published. The writer severely undermines his interesting early points by introducing a bizarre and factually inaccurate Wes Anderson As Racist argument.