After reading that definition, are you still mulling over whether or not you might be a hipster? If so, then reflect on the following:
Do you hold a degree from a liberal arts school whose football team hasn‘t won a game since the Reagan administration?
Do you frequently use the term “postmodern“ (or its commonly used variation“PoMo“) as an adjective, noun, and verb?
Do you now or have you ever been known to carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag or wear a pair of horn-rimmed or Elvis Costello-style glasses?
Do you have refined taste and consider yourself exceptionally cultured, but have one pop vice (ElimiDATE, Quiet Riot, and Entertainment Weekly are popular ones) that helps to define you as well-rounded?
Do you buy dinnerware at thrift shops to be kitschy, and often throw vegetarian dinner parties?
Do you have one Republican friend you describe as being your “one Republican friend?“
You get the point, which is why Esquire magazine is calling Robert Lanhams “The Hipster Handbook“ as “the Official Preppy Handbook for people who wear Atari T-shirts.“ In fact, it doesnt seem all that long ago that the Preppy Handbook took aim at Izod-wearing, Bloody Mary-sipping elitists, but just in time for the new millennium (which means a bit fashionably late so as to not look over-eager) comes this indispensable “official“ guide to all things hipster, from language and culture to style and etiquette. And what a hoot it is.
More than a bit tongue-in-cheek and with insider knowledge to burn, this book has a decided mission, and Lanham, the author of the romantic series known as “The Emerald Beach Trilogy“ (a collection of novels recently called “a beach towel classic“ by Redbook), was clearly the man for the job, along with his partners-in-crime, Art Director Bret Nicely and “Drawer“ Jeff “J-dawg“ Bechtel.
At the books onset, in “Everything That Once Was Cool Is Now Deck,“ Lanham opines on the target audience for his tome, and why hipsters are an essential weave in our societys fabric:
“You‘ve seen them all over town with their mop-top haircuts, swinging retro pocketbooks, talking on cell phones, smoking European cigarettes, shading their eyes behind bug-eyed lenses, and strutting in platform shoes with a biography of Che sticking out of their bags. They come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and nationalities. Beck is one. Jack Kerouac was one. Meg from the White Stripes is one. And the girl at work in the Jackie-O dress is one too. You may even be one yourself. From New York to New Zealand, Hipsters are everywhere. Welcome to The Hipster Handbook, the first guide to what it means to be a Hipster.
Since Hipsters are a vital part of the international social fabric, this book is for everyone. If you are a Hipster yourself, carry it in your back pocket or in your purse. Excuse yourself to the bathroom during that important party and brush up on the correct lingo by consulting our glossary. Even Hipsters need a refresher course from time to time, and you wouldn‘t want to be throwing out dated slang like “grody“ or “wicked“ when mixing with other Hipsters in the know.
If you are not a Hipster, but want to learn more about this ubiquitous genus, this book is for you too. We will teach you how to spot Hipsters, how to interact with them, and how to better understand their unique culture. If you are a parent with Hipster children, this book will help you understand and maybe even talk to your children. You‘ll also become just a little more deck in the process. If you are a scientist, we hope you‘ll use our anthropological studies as a starting point to document the phenomenon of this emerging human archetype. Our research garnered us a nomination for the Margaret Mead Award in 2001.
And finally, this book is for those among you who want to become Hipsters yourselves. Anyone can become one with the proper education. Study this book and complete the questionnaire at the end and you will be on your way.
But perhaps we are being too kind in saying this book is for everyone. Some people are clearly hopeless. If you are a neo-Nazi and accessorize with an automatic weapon, this book is not for you. If you have appeared in the “Girls Gone Wild“ video series, this book is not for you. If you go to tanning salons, this book is not for you. If you listen to Slipknot and have ever been to the Warped Tour, this book is not for you. And perhaps most important, if you are wearing a sweatshirt that has a Disney character on it, this book is not for you.“
Its hard not to laugh at most of this, especially the more serious it gets. Just how hip is hip and to what degree does it take to move cool into removed? At what point does it cross over into being a parody of itself? How much can one copy and ingratiate into their own life without completely betraying the essence of the hipster mentality and lifestyle? If you have to work at being a hipster, does the end result even count?
These are just a few of the probing questions Lanham puts under the microscope, and to assist in uncovering the answers, he helpfully provides items like lists of indispensable hipster music and literature, and a questionnaire that susses out whether youre truly hipster material or not. I wont reveal what my results showed, because that would fly in the face of even pretending to be somewhat hip, but Im glad Lanhams done the heavy lifting for the vast world of hipster wannabees out there. Perhaps that category will be next up on his hit list, and I, for one, wouldnt hesitate to settle in with that book, either.