Hipster Hatin’

Why does everybody seem to hate hipsters?

Who exactly are these hipsters and what defines them?

I’m not really sure I can answer either of these questions, but I will make an attempt.

First of all, what is a hipster?

Back in the jazz era of the early 20th century, “hip” became a part of the lingo surrounding jazz music and its scene. There was lots of jive talk and cool lingo to show you were with it. “It” being the cutting edge of fashion, music, and pop culture.

Styles have changed, but the need to stand out as different from the mainstream has remained. In fact maybe it became mainstream. Now a Hipster might wear skinny jeans, thrift store shirts, and have odd facial hair like a handle bar mustache or big bushy beard.

Brooklyn is widely regarded as a Hipster destination. Or is it the origin of Hipsters? Once again, the chicken or the egg conundrum.

Portland has always seemed to have a large population of Hipsters.

When I lived in Eugene two hours to the South, there was a bar my friends and I liked to hang out at called Doc’s Pad. It was one half sports bar with peanut shells on the floor and a dart board connected to a Chinese restaurant, with the classic red booths and gold decor. When the restaurant stopped serving food around 10, it became an extension of the bar and everyone would hang out in the booths drinking. Anyway, lots of Hipsters hung out there. I can’t remember what we actually called them, but the big defining thing about them was that they all wore the thick black framed Buddy Holly glasses, were mostly art students, and acted like they were super cool.

So I was reading the Rants and Raves section of Craigslist because I was looking for a new place to rent and I got bored of combing through overpriced rentals and was messing around and I came across this little piece I would like to share titled:

Thank You Hipsters!!!
Thank You, you up and coming “artists” from all over! You come to Brooklyn, and the landlords see part of or all of the rent checks come in from Mommy and Daddy and they raise the rent. A person like me born and bred in New York is rent-hiked out of my own stomping grounds. You all either make amazingly dull indie films about relationships (“OH, Living and Loving In New York…”) or post Kickstarter campaigns for your cliched hipster bands (For $500 I will send you a picture of me and my band in wool caps standing around a tombstone!, for $1000 we will fly our band to anywhere in America to perform for you and your friends- never mind airfare, equipment shipping rental cars and hotel rooms run this $1000 venture to at least $2000) Trying to find a Brooklyn apartment but you amish-bearded clowns dressed like Nosferatu with sneakers turned $900 apartments to $2000 can’t-touch-’ems.

Classic. And that is why everybody hates Hipsters.


Tattoo You

I just realized it. Everybody has tattoos.

Okay, I’m kinda exaggerating.

Everybody but me.

I’m not really sure when it happened, but tattoos became mainstream.

When I was a kid I remember my dad saying stuff like “Only sailors, bikers, and longshoremen have tattoos, don’t get a tattoo, you’ll regret it.”

Since he grew up in L.A., I’m guessing he was referring to San Pedro and Long Beach from his era. Definitely a lot of sailors, bikers, and longshoremen there.

During the ’90s heyday of Grungeapaloozas it seemed like every dude had a tribal arm band tattoo on his bicep and every chick got a tramp stamp of some really meaningful artwork perched above her ass. Piercing through lips and noses became more common and ordinary earrings gave way to African tribe style megadiscs to stretch out the earlobes.

I had some friends who were really into the Grateful Dead and got some different Dead iconography tattooed one day. Today tattoo shops are rivaling Starbucks, but back then there were less quality artists around. When the three of them returned, they instantly regretted the shoddy work that now adorned their skin. I laughed and was glad I missed out on that one.

Today’s 20 somethings who grew up after us have found an even more accepting attitude towards body art. Even the most tame looking, skinny nerdy guys seem to be covered in full arm sleeves like they front hardcore punk rock bands. White boys with Japanese Yakuza gangster art, girls next door with knuckle tatts and 666’s and daggers, I’m not even sure who to believe anymore. I mean, to a degree you must be pretty hardcore to spend the time and money getting pricked with a needle, but it’s all just an image. A hard image to change.

Maybe I’m just jealous. I never came up with anything that creative and original that I wanted to show the world. Maybe I feel that’s just tipping them off too much. Not my favorite band. Not my favorite football team. Not my favorite brand of beer. I once saw a guy in Portland with a PBR elbow tattoo. That was on the East side of course.

Out here I recently saw a kid with a canoe on his forearm when I was riding the subway. Certainly unique. And I really appreciate the work some people do. Really that’s why I’m staring. I’m trying to figure out if that pattern on your cleavage is a rose or a heart.

I’m not sure about the rest of the country, or the world, but Portland and New York definitely have lots of tattooed people. My roommate who just left was working as a tattoo artist in New York for the summer. He’s from Spain and was covered head to toe with tattoos. Okay, neck to shin.

Like I said everybody has tattoos, ‘cept me.

Random Thoughts About Post #50

Cinquenta! Wuh Shzz! Oh Ship! Funf Sein! Fitty! That’s 50 spelled poorly in five languages. It doesn’t seem like that much until looking back and realizing I’ve been doing this since February. If you think about it, I couldn’t have just come up with fifty posts overnight and made them this awesome.

It reminds me of a sociology class I had to take in college where we had to find a newspaper article each week and write a page summarizing how it related to the class. I neglected to do this until the night before the final and then realized I had absolutely no desire to go back through ten weeks of newspapers, find articles, and write about them. After consulting the course guide, I figured with the “A” I received on the midterm, if I got another “A” on the final, I would make up for the “0” on the project side and still be able to pass the class. When I received my grades, I was disappointed to find that I instead received a “D”, despite getting an “A” of a high enough percentage to work with my calculations. I only miscalculated the professor’s disgust in my slacker underachieverness that swung me from C- to D+. Is there really any such thing as a D+? It’s all D for dumbass.

Do I regret being a bad student? No, I was just purposeless. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Not all my classes turned out that poorly, but that’s a good example of my feelings of busywork. I understand practice and preparation. And I have extreme confidence in my ability to perform. Game time. On stage. In case of Emergency. I feel the rush of a pressure situation and can keep a level head when everything around me is falling apart. It’s the slow times I apparently don’t deal with so well. But I’m dealing with the persistence of blogging and I’m proud that I made it this far.

Back in 2007 I made a three week trip to China on my own, able to speak maybe 50 words of Chinese. I intended to try and import products to start a business. Eventually I settled on buying about 100 guitars that I sold individually though ebay and other channels. The most fun part of the trip was chronicling my experiences in China as I sent group emails back to friends and family. Apparently, people were entertained by my misadventures and enjoyed the updates. One friend even told me I should be blogging. I had heard of blogging, but I didn’t really understand it. Actually, I’m not sure if I do now. But I got home and thought, yeah I’ll start blogging. And then I sat there with nothing to write about. Honestly, life in Portland was, well, boring. I had nothing to differentiate the days that I spent there. Nothing of significance. No crazy encounters with massive burn victim beggars, or Philipino tranny hookers like I had seen in China. Life was safe, vanilla, and rainy and I had nothing to write about. I would put myself more fully into the whirlwind of the past five years by heading off to Alaska, but that is a tale for another time.

My point is I have had the persistence to put up 50 posts. Definitely being in New York City has been much of the inspiration for what I have put down here. The good, the bad, the decadent, even if you only know a fraction. If anything, this blog has been a way for me to celebrate three great loves of my life. Travel, writing, and music. They have all been vehicles for inspiring and reinvigorating me. As I said earlier, I was slightly purposeless when I was younger, but it has slowly begun to come together. To steal a line from Tolkien or the back of some hippie’s VW bus, Not All Who Wander Are Lost. Not forever at least. I’ve been feeling a change in the air. Or maybe I was just listening to David Bowie.




Renegade Craft Fair

Last Sunday I made my way down to the waterfront in Brooklyn and checked out the Renegade Craft Fair. I was directed there by the friend of a friend. It’s a collection of many vendors selling lots of hand crafted items, clothing, t-shirts, photography, posters. There was cool stuff, and I couldn’t help but think of the Portlandia episode Put a Bird On It.

Many items were created from recycled materials, like guitar straps and camera straps made from car seat belts. They even had a picture of their #1 endorser, Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag…and of Portlandia fame. So it wasn’t helping define the lines between art imitating life and comedy making fun of it all. I spent many years in Portland. I wasn’t born there but in many ways I consider it home. The Portland Saturday Market is a downtown weekend institution that has been around for years and years, I first went there when I was jr. high aged. Some of the vendors have probably been there that long. The Renegade Craft Fair is more of a new generation of artist/vendors and it comes to the cool cities of San Francisco, L.A., Chicago, Austin, Brooklyn, and London. What! No Portland? Of course many of the vendors were from Portland, including the friend of a friend, Misha Ashton, who does photography: http://www.mishaashton.com/ and had some great pictures of Portland and L.A. among her collection. This really made me miss the West Coast, L.A. being home to my families and many childhood and adult memories from throughout my life. I saw a book seller with journals made from recycled hardcover books. I picked up one book on Nepal and the first thing I saw, it was an old library book from Multnomah County Library system, which is Portland. Just doing a check, different books were from different libraries. These books sold for $13 which seemed like a great money maker for the vendor. Get books from libraries that are no longer being used, take out most of the pages, leave some pages with cool pictures, put blank paper in between and give it a new binding. They were cool journals and if I still wrote on paper, I would have considered a little more, but I didn’t buy anything. I was also on my way to work and didn’t have room to carry anything. If you have a chance and the Renegade Craft Fair comes to your city, check it out. And if you ever go to Portland, check out the Saturday Market.


Funny thing about dialogue and dialects is how it can vary regionally. When I first got here I was going to a coffee shop around the corner from where I was staying and there was an Asian girl who worked the counter that I would usually see. Turns out she is originally from Nepal. The first time I ordered some food she threw me off by asking, “To go or to stay?” I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant so I had her repeat the question. Once I understood, I just thought that was a funny way of saying “For here or to go?” I chalked it up to her native language not being English. The more I have been here, however; the more I have discovered it to be a New York thing, or possibly an East Coast thing. Everybody says it that way, and frankly I think it’s weird. When I say “for here” people don’t understand me. It seems like a trivial thing, but as an English major and former ESL teacher, I guess it’s fun to nitpick over and say its bad English. When I was in Korea, I would be out drinking with Canadian teachers and we would argue over stupid stuff such as, “I’m gonna get more BEER.” or “I’m gonna get more BEERS.” The first choice is clearly superior, even when you’re buying a round for the whole bar. “I’m gonna get everybody more beer.” Simple.

So I miss some of the things about where I come from, and I definitely miss seeing people, but I’m not homesick. I think of it as timesick. You can return to a place but you can’t return to a time. This graph has an X-axis and a Y-axis. If you go to the home you grew up in but someone else lives there now, guess what? Your life is different, things have changed. Change is inevitable and we all need to grow, learn, live in the moment, and move towards the future.

Sometimes however, it’s good to have our memories and a little nostalgia for the past. I’ve had a little nostalgia the past week with the passing of Dick Clark, Levon Helm of the Band, and Greg Ham of Men at Work. It’s interesting how we view celebrities. If you’ve never met them, why are you connected? I have found actors and actresses to be cool or beautiful, but nothing creates a void for me such as the loss of people who have blessed the world with music. Maybe Dick never made music himself, but I remember watching American Bandstand as a kid. We even lost his counterpart Don Cornelius the host of Soul Train only a few months back. And I watched it too.

Marcel Proust wrote of how a smell could evoke memory in Remembrance of Things Past, and I agree with this. I also find that music has this power, as I have heard songs for the first time in years and been transported to a moment in time and vividly remember so many details of who and where I was when I first heard it, or wore out my cassette tapes playing it over and over.

So of course I stumbled across Built to Spill’s first album sometime in the last few days to add to my nostalgia trip and it took me back to Eugene, Oregon 1992. That was twenty years ago! And the music is still great.

The latest news was Greg Ham, the horn player for Men at Work, found dead in his Melbourne home at 58. Even worse is that the police haven’t ruled out homicide. Greg had long ago fallen from the spotlight, had financial difficulties, and was working as a high school music teacher. At least he was still sharing the gift of music. Men at Work was actually the first concert I ever went to as a jr. high kid. It was at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum and the opener was the mostly unknown at the time Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was just starting to learn the guitar and rest his soul, Stevie Ray blew my mind! He was incredible.

Then Men at Work took the stage and Greg Ham was playing Saxophone, Flute, Synthesizer, and all kinds of other horns. The guy was probably the most impressive member of the band. Colin Hay has a signature voice, but Greg Ham provided the catchy openings to Who Can It Be Now? and Down Under. For that I give gratitude for his contributions to the world of music.

We are all on Earth for a limited time. Let’s enjoy our friends and families and share our experiences while we are here, whether we are near or far away.

Jimi once sang “If I don’t see you anymore in this world, I’ll meet you in the next one, don’t be late.”

I once sang, “Heaven and Hell, Great Gig in the Sky, I’m gonna Jam with Jimi when I die.”

Rest in Peace my musical Heroes.

-Stevie Tre