Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Books · A Trek Across the Map of Cool
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A Trek Across the Map of Cool

Nancy Sundstrom - February 27th, 2003
hip••ster - hip-stur (s) n. One who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool. (Note: it is no longer recommended that one use the term “cool“; a Hipster would instead say “deck.“) The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream. A Hipster ideally possesses no more than 2% body fat.

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 Lanham’s “The Hipster Handbook“ as “the Official Preppy Handbook for people who wear Atari T-shirts.“ In fact, it doesn’t 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 book’s 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 society’s 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.“

It’s 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 you’re truly hipster material or not. I won’t reveal what my results showed, because that would fly in the face of even pretending to be somewhat hip, but I’m glad Lanham’s 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, wouldn’t hesitate to settle in with that book, either.

 
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