Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Creation Myth: Where do Hipsters Come From?

As I mentioned yesterday, I have officially shifted my consciousness to Portland, Oregon, and I couldn't be happier. Not only am I no longer forced to discuss any subject more profound than coffee, but I also garnered some attention in my now-local media. For example, something called "The Oregonian" (I think it's some kind of newsletter for oregano enthusiasts) asks:

Yes. Yes, I have.

BikePortland also reported on my move, presumably because there was a rare two-hour window yesterday in which nobody had organized any sort of naked theme ride, thus resulting in something of a slow news day:


I'm also pleased to report that BikePortland's commenters were almost universally nonplussed:

Mike March 29, 2011 at 6:21 am

I use to pay attention to this guy's blog....not anymore. Seems to me he is more negative than anything, for Christ sake it's just an F'ing bike lighten up. Myself, I don't care what kind of bike it is, how lame-o it is if it's being rode then I'm happy.


Sure, I realize my blog is deadly serious, though his comment still stung me somewhat. After all, like Mike, I also love all bikes--except for his, which is hopelessly lame.

Anyway, after reading about myself I browsed on over to Craigslist to see if I'd scored any "missed connections." I hadn't, but I did find this:

You: Pleather. Me: Lace. - w4w - 27 (The Blow of the Pony)
Date: 2011-03-28, 12:02AM PDT

My first time at "the BlowPony". You in white pleather (hopefully? I'm vegan) chaps drinking an MGD on the first level... Is strutted past you in my neon-teal snap-crotch lace onesie, hoping you'd pick up on the contextual irony. Alas, you turned towards a friend and squawked incoherently about (the music? the D.J.? the color of the walls?)

In spite of your obtusiveness, I'd really like to take you out in my Mustang (c'est la vie chalet? ring a bell?) and show you a good time... I'll buy the MGD this round.

Peace, love, and downward dog....


I totally thought it was for me at first though, since I just happened to be wearing white pleather chaps yesterday too. However, I wasn't drinking MGD and was actually quaffing a fermented beverage my organic farming roommates and I "curate" from fluid expressed from the anal glands of our chickens. (Fortunately the bar had a liberal BYOFEFTAGOC policy.) Nevertheless, I've extended an invitation to the poster to come join us at the homestead for a little soirée in which we can exchange observations of contextual irony over glasses of fermented chicken ass juice, and I'm hoping she'll accept.

I'd be lying though if I said I didn't occassionally miss my old life in New York City. The truth is that no other city boasts New York's diversity, or its rich pastiche of interesting characters. Each one of my neighbors alone could have been the starring character in a movie. For example, one of my next-door neighbors was an irascible actor living hand-to-mouth until he--get this--dressed up in drag and landed himself a starring role on a soap opera:

While my other next-door neighbor was an irascible huckster with severe respiratory problems who always hung around with a guy dressed as a cowboy:

Really, by far my most normal neighbor was the young guy who lived across the hall. He was a graduate student at Columbia who was also a pretty serious runner:

Oddly though I haven't seen him since his last dental appointment. ("Is it safe?," asked the dentist menacingly as he rolled up on his Serotta.)

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Only in New York, and so forth.

Of course, the most important part of living in New York is constantly lamenting about how much better it was "back in the day"--you know, before Times Square was Disney-ified and you could still go see the Talking Heads play CBGB without listening to David Byrne read from his stupid book about bikes, after which you could go to an after-hours club where you'd contract hepatitis from ingesting hard drugs off a toilet seat, and then finally enjoy a nightcap of being beaten and robbed.

I also fondly remember the days when New York's streets were teeming with erudite pedestrians who alternately cracked wise and held forth on philosophy, literature, and cinema:

At least until they almost got run over by cars.

So why do the young and hopeful continue to move to New York City? Is it because they're in search of that romantic, pedantic, hepatitis-infected past? Or, to put it another way, who are hipsters, where do they come from, and how are they made? Well, the following short film about bicycle messengers (forwarded to me by the filmmaker) may at least partially answer these questions:

Zebra 022 from T. Leonardo on Vimeo.


First, the film establishes the typical hipster's mental state as the main character browses an art gallery a metaphor for creativity:

"Sometimes I think New York is a cage and I'm trapped in it. My head becomes swollen with ideas and I can't think anymore. Sometimes I wonder how free I really am."

I totally "feel you" on that one. That's why I left and moved to Portland. My head was also swollen with ideas when I lived in New York. Just a few ideas I might have at any given moment included:

--Wrap the cat in cellophane;
--Take up beekeeping;
--See if Skittles would be good on a BLT;
--Turn my coat closet into a sauna;
--Change the color scheme on my "fixie."

In retrospect though there might have been other factors contributing to these ideas as well, and I'd advise the young lady in the glasses to lay off the "Wednesday weed" and see if the mental swelling persists.

Next, we see a messenger metaphor for freedom weaving through traffic:

Unlike the young lady with the glasses, his head is completely devoid of ideas. This is because, apparently, nothing matters on a bike:

"I always wanted to move fast. I wanted to get away, but I didn't know where I was going. But it doesn't matter on a bike. Nothing matters on a bike but speed and freedom."

I think the victim memorialized by that ghost bike might have a different opinion. Nothing matters when you're sitting on the couch smoking "Wednesday weed" and eating a BLT with Skittles. Everything matters when you're on a bike in the city and you're eternally one wrong move away from getting flattened by a bus.

In any case, by now we understand that hipsters are essentially people who are overwhelmed by simply being alive and are constantly looking to escape the unpleasant business of thinking for themselves that the rest of us generally refer to as "adulthood." But where do they come from? Well, Iowa apparently:

"Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to go fast, you know? I just like, I love the action and I love the adrenaline and I just--I just needed to get out of Iowa."

Wait, she loves action and adrenaline and she left Iowa? Has she never heard of RAGBRAI?!?

RAGBRAI is action and adrenaline--I think that's actually what the two "A"s stand for:

I may have to ditch Portland for Iowa.

Nevertheless, every person undergoes his or her own journey to self-discovery, which is what these train tracks mean:


"Portaging" her bike along railroad tracks means the bike is an integral part of her personal journey, and when she shifts the bicycle onto the rail it means things are going more smoothly. Or something:

And obviously, the rain symbolizes Portland.

Incidentally, railroads are a popular device in cinema, though they usually symbolize "doing it," as in the old "train entering the tunnel" metaphor:



Which is generally followed by some variation on the orgasmic "erupting geyser:"



Next, nine months later, the avian symbol arrives:


Finally, after 22 years, $150,000 in tuition, and a Bard diploma, your child moves to New York City to deliver paperwork on a color-coordinated bicycle with no brakes and you wonder where you went wrong:


Up until now, most of the film has consisted of riding footage and voice-overs, but at 5:09 the acting kicks in with a single line delivered with all the passion and enthusiasm of a surly teenager making an obligatory phone call to a grandparent:

"Picking up at 150 Varick?"

She deserves an Acada-meh Award.

Having thoroughly exhausted all the acting reserves, the film then goes back to riding footage and voice-overs, though now it's a male voice speaking in an almost indecipherable disinterested hipster patois:

"I dunno, I was just cruisin' to the city the other day, I saw some dude layin' down on the road. Like, everyone was surrounding him, definitely got hit. [mumblemumblemumble] by riding harder, by being more aggressive. You know, keep on the streets in a safe manner. I think it's definitely [mumblemumblemumble] cars come out of nowhere. You know, be a close call...car overtakes you... You know, you just gotta keep moving forward on that path [mumblemumblemumble]...."

I don't know how people make it through four years of Bard without having to completely form their mouths around words, but then again I suppose when you pay all that tuition you shouldn't be expected to have to go through the trouble of actually speaking.

Then we see breakdancers metaphors for urban creativity:

"I don't know when I'll leave New York. I kinda wanna get something done here which is obtain this dream I've had of being an artist."

Frank Sinatra famously sang of New York, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." Decades later, I guess it's now a place you come to from Iowa if you "kinda wanna get something done." In terms of ambition, hipsters clearly skew towards the "If it rains takes the bus" end of the spectrum.

Fortunately though the acting in the film suddenly gets a second wind, for at 8:19 the young lady has a total "bike-gasm," complete with contended sigh:

I suppose this means she has finally attained complete communion with the rhythms of New York City traffic, and by extension the universe, and it's a testament to the director's restraint that he doesn't follow it with an obvious symbol:



So there you have it. Hipsters come from Iowa, they don't like to think, they do like to ride bikes, and they ultimately want to be artists or something. Really, though, I can't think of many places less conducive to artistic endeavors than New York City, which essentially consists of wealthy financiers and the people who serve them. And speaking of financiers, a reader informs me that the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork is now in the business of market forecasting:

Given his ability to time travel, this may qualify as insider trading.

103 comments:

samh said...

ALL YOU HUTTERITES SHOULD MAKE BISCUITS.

LK said...

2

mikeweb said...

Ratso podium

Anonymous said...

unread, but epic.

balls.

Anonymous said...

blamalamadingdong

g said...

dammit!

ringcycles said...

damn breakaway makes it to the line.

agent detroit said...

top ten, bitches!

Anonymous said...

somethingth

Astroluc said...

10th?

me said...

Peloton. Great post today!

Astroluc said...

all you Hittites suck my Ziggurat.

mikeweb said...

"I'm wawkin' heah!!"

Anonymous said...

FEFT AGOC

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Glen Campbell said...

Everybody's talkin at me..

le Correcteur said...

Top twenty! Barely!

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

No comment.

unicycle revolt said...

I moved to NYC to become a bike messenger. All of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world so there was only one thing that I could do was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long.

Fuck yeah!

Dan O said...

Top 20 !!

OBA said...

I'm moving to Montana and gonna grow me some dental floss.

Kenny Banya said...

I got nothin'

Anonymous said...

snob's been on a tear as of late, must be all that chicken ass juice. i wonder if vito made the trip to portland too...

Chazu said...

I think at least one of your neighbors is related to a guy in the DC area who donned a special suit to deal with monkeys that bowl. They called it "Ebola" or something like that.

itchyass said...

has snob ever had to express vito's anal glands? methinks so. sometimes nothing else does the trick...

Towny said...

Oh, God, I loathe life, I loathe it!

Joe, please put down that Chris King espresso tamper ...

Indy Falconheads said...

You had me crying with the "Avian" post card.

Thanks.

Chazu said...

Want to be original in NYC?

Execute a sexual position that's never been attempted in the history of the city.

Not easy, right?

But if you move to Branson, MO, you'll be a creative genius.

Alicia said...

I moved to NYC from Iowa... long ago. Most of the people I considered hipsters were from New Jersey or Connecticut. :P

Anonymous said...

A female reader!

The sausage-fest hath ended.

Tuffy Mamer said...

I married someone once from Iowa. I agree, not hip at all.

Darius said...

All you Hittites, suck my Babylon.

Mike Ock said...

CAREFUL, Anonymous @ 2:06PM, I have know a few ladies to "rock the sausage"...

Twistyface said...

I guess the move is so you have time and 'artistic space' to curate volume 2 of your sticker book?

hillbilly said...

all you harlots suck mike bloomberg

Anonymous said...

that bike messenger video is too awful for words. just what NYC needs one more pretentious, airheaded ne'er do well hipster. Luckily she won't darken our doorstep for too long, the first close call on her bike and she will be hanging up her messenger bag and hightailing it back to Iowa. adieu moron, adieu

Anonymous said...

If there is a volume 2 coming, can you include crayons this time?

Matt said...

not sure where they come from but everyone agrees they are annoying: http://juliasegal.tumblr.com/post/4177327804

Bleevo said...

Black Label rewelezz..

LK said...

When it comes to "Performance Art" I like the length of the train video.

streepo said...

Just for accuracy sake:
I'm moving to Montana soon,
gonna be a dental floss tycoon.

Anonymous said...

of course she's heard of RAGBRAI, did't you see the poster? (2:52)

I am ragbrai engine said...

If Portland doesn't want you, there is always Minneapolis or Chicago. I hear Austin is OK also for 6 weeks out of every year. All are drier, and a little more fun.

Stupid Name said...

Iowa is Meh, especially during Ragbrai. Nothing more fun than 5.00 bottled water and 9.00 pulled pork sandwiches.

The horror, the horror.

Quicksquirt McHurt said...

I'd hit it.

Marcel Da Chump said...

You're so on-point with your critique of that moronic "nothing matters on a bike" line.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the pygmy pony.

Miss Muff said...

Are you happy to see me or is that a long dong bong in your pocket?

Long Dong Bong said...

Go suck my paeanus.

Anonymous said...

DONG BONG

RAGG BRAA

crosspalms said...

I left Iowa a long time ago for NYC too, but I was only a couple of months old, so I became a beardless hipster in diapers. Then we left NYC and my hipster days ended before I even got my first bike (training wheels and all).

Marcel Da Chump said...

Another dumbass line from that bike mess of a girl about "feeling sorry" for the 9 to 5 workers: How naive!. If not for the 9 to 5 world, she wouldn't have a job!
I rode for close to seven great years and never loss sight of the fact that it was all busine$$.
I really wish these bike messenger filmmakers would cut out the existential angst and artistic pretension crap.

mikeweb said...

I too am of the mind that "nothing matters on a bike". But the reason for that is I'm too busy: not getting run over, avoiding 10" deep potholes, dodging electrically powered delivery bikes going the wrong way, looking out for sleep walking pedestrians, and unfortunately these days, keeping an eye out for Po-Po, etc, etc. So all of that doesn't really leave much 'processing power' left over for navel gazing. Or in her case, wondering why she got a Masters degree in Cryptozoology. I guess the definition of 'nothing' is open to interpretation. For some folks part of the 'nothing' that doesn't matter is stuff like not plowing through a crosswalk full of pedestrians who have the 'walk' sign (0:43).

mike said...

Did you start using a new font? Why?

Anonymous said...

ALL YOU HIPSTERS SUCK MY CLOACA.

RW said...

There is no way someone sent this video to you. I simply refuse to believe that even a hipster wannabe can be so clueless.

Friendo said...

BLOW PONY

PLEA THER

ASSJ UICE

BARD LOSR

BIKE GASM

samh said...

Zircon encrusted tweezers.

grog said...

Blogtastic Snobbers.
BLOG GASM

mikeweb said...

Has to be my favorite part of today's post:

Is (sic) strutted past you in my neon-teal snap-crotch lace onesie, hoping you'd pick up on the contextual irony.

Just wondering if the exact description of her attire was obvious to the casual observer...

Anonymous said...

Dear Snob,
You have inspired me to become an origami farmer. This happened when I misread the phrase "organic farm" on you post today. I plan to "grow" tiny paper bikes in various colorways, artisanal bamboo-paper frames around which miniature hipsters can "build" their fixies, and of course, tiny paper panties!

waxmouth said...

Iowa doesn't look half bad.

Nebraska bike commuter (non d.w.i. edition) ) said...

His name is Mighty Little.

Mr G.Yousuf said...

at 8:19 the young lady has a total "bike-gasm," complete with contended sigh.
"Contended"? As in "with the saddle"
Love it ;)

The King of Park Slope said...

"In any case, by now we understand that hipsters are essentially people who are overwhelmed by simply being alive ..."

You lifted that from the graphic tele-novella radio play 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being Ernest', dincha?

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Anonymous said...

loving the hipster girl's urban-sprawl mcmansion roots in iowa.

Marcel Da Chump said...

mikeweb,
yeah, that description took me from casual obsever to a very interested one: I could vividly see fleshy, dimpled butt cheeks.

Anonymous said...

Raisin' it up,
Waxin' it down,
In a little box that I can
Sell uptown.

Anonymous said...

Ass Venom
-angry dragon

Anonymous said...

I'm anon 5:11 and I'm mortified to see that I misquoted ... should be

"In a little WHITE box that I can "

Good thing it's not Zappadan, or Patrick O'Grady would have to take out a fatwa on me for blasphemy.

crosspalms said...

All You Hatters Savor My Borsalino

Quasimodo said...

all you hunchbacks swing my bells

mullin5136 said...

Golly, Increase, the Oreganonians were sure flummoxed about your moving to Portland...they even got your "real name" wrong!

PeterH said...

What about the dead cyclist at 96th and 2nd? Do you ever do any reporting?

JDH said...

@samh...may we Luddites also make biscuits?We meh-be better at it.

xyxax said...

Is it just me, or does her oh-so-gingerly trips from drops to tops seem to say "I fell over doing this once"?

Velo Shitstorm said...

The Travel Chanel's "Triple Rush" Is Lacking Something And They Know It.

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/bik/2294275716.html

leroy said...

Mikeweb at 3:25 nailed it.

It's not that nothing matters while on a bike. The joy is that when riding only one thing matters for the moment: riding.

How many times do you get the luxury of just doing one thing at one time?

Anonymous said...

Why is there a continued interest in making earnest romanticized NYC bike messenger and/or hipster videos? They make me want to take a cheese grater to my eyeballs. Scrub my crotch with a rusty steel bottle brush. Swallow razor blades followed by a shot of lemon juice.
Hipsters are the shittiest generation to have nothing to show but being bored, unoriginal and painfully apathetic.
At least in Portland the Hippies have asshat environmental/political endeavors. I'll take a dumbass naive idealistic hippie over a nyc self-righteous cultural douche any day.
Actually, maybe i'll just go with the rusty steel bottle brush instead.
And pass me the hot sauce while your at it.

g-roc said...

"Dear NYC" was trending on the twitters this morning. For every failed transplant there are a 100 more waiting to take your place.

Anonymous said...

I know that this is primarily a bike site, with the hilarious side trips with Fred and the Portlanders and the rest of the gang.

Thought you might like this story, whose author, obviously, shares your feelings about Portland.

If you haven't considered an urban farm yet, then you are not really a true Portlander, yet.

http://bit.ly/i9qZd1

Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if we could get someone with Tiger Blood to ride herd on the Park Lane the powers that be and their minions would pay more attention because they would never know whom they might see on the trail.

qifa said...

you're funny, snob

Anonymous said...

Iowa has sweet poon tang.
Mariannes's cream pie is out of this world.
-angry dragon

網站設計 said...

hooray, your writings on theater and writing much missed!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Iowa is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

those white bored middleclass can suck my ass...get a life!

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

waxin' it up, waxin' it down

well, if you keep getting in those old fashioned elevators, then, yeah, you're gonna feel like you're in a cage sometimes

KALAVANKA TRUMP said...

that movie was a time-burglar. she wears her bag too low and her brake cabling is uneven. I wish I had been raised by wolf-dogs to make me stop my crying.

Thomas D. Rutter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas D. Rutter said...

I could rent out my body to your conciousness because it's been trapped here in Portland Oregon now since 1978.

PhilboydStunge said...

"maybe ...(Snobby)...is trying to be funny" MAYBE? WTF Portland? He's being friggin hilarious and you're left wondering? Give it up.

Anonymous said...

what's an Iowa?

Mrs. G Yousuf said...

Mr. G Yousuf had a point.

You could have been a contender.
If that kinda makes you feel contented given your aspirations.

Spence said...

Bike lanes ain't nothin' but Lucifer!

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Anonymous said...

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Fixie Bikes said...

That's a lucky dude right there.

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