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My New Year's Wish

Sunday, 29 December 2013

All of these young men were in the same Chattanooga bar
the week after Christmas 2014. And so were dozens of
others dressed exactly like them, with the same facial hair
and glasses.
My first wish for the new year is the death of hipsterdom.

On January 1, once their hipster hangovers have waned, once their hipster minds have cleared, once their hipster eyes have seen the 2014 sun for the first time, my wish for them is that they awaken to the fact that no amount of ironical knowingness can excuse their stoogery any longer.

(All due respect to women, but this is a male problem. Female hiptserism isn’t really a virus in my part of the South at present. Young women are too busy mixing and matching their Infinity Scarves.)

I wasn’t always this down on hipsters. In fact, for the past few years hipsters have seemed like Wilson on Home Improvement. Sure, they’re around, but they’re mostly obscured by the fence of their cigarette smoke and manufactured ability to create distance between themselves and the rest of humanity. Whatever they did in the confines of their own universe, it never breached my own person space too badly. Last week, however, things exploded.

Chattanooga gets massively younger during the holidays as a massive influx of undergrads and graduate students return home, and thousands of twentysomethings return from their places of cooler residence to visit family.

I met a college classmate at a local bar the day after Christmas, and I felt like I’d walked into a sitcom sketch.

With just the eyeglasses on display in this one bar, you could have equipped the entire Mission Control room cast from Apollo 13. There was so much plaid in the room that Lamar Alexander would have been able to walk around completely invisible. If you close your eyes and imagine what four random male hipsters look like, they were all in this bar. In triplicate.

Chattanooga is always several years behind the curve on fashion and pop. We found out about Public Enemy only after Kim Basinger protested Spike Lee getting dissed at the Oscars. We found out about Bjork only when she wore that dead swan as a dress. We discovered Little Miss Sunshine after it showed up in the Blockbuster bargain bin months after everyone else realized it wasn’t as transcendently awesome as the hype proclaimed. Napoleon Dynamite is just now hitting the Chattanooga theaters as a double-feature with Juno.

I kid, but not really. Because the hipster scene that was taking over bigger and cooler towns half a decade ago has now fully invaded Chattanooga (See: Hipster Olympics from 2007). I’d like to believe hipsters have long been on the Endangered Species list in larger urban areas like Portland and NYC, that places like Chattanooga are ironic final destinations before the end of a particularly ugly version of slackerdom dies.

The most shameful part about what I witnessed was that an entire collective of twentysomething Southern males had bought completely into something so outdated it could be in reruns on Nick at Night.

I'll go to my grave being a nerd and a bit of a socially-awkward goof, but I won't be easily labeled based on my fashion sense (or lack thereof) or my pop-culture preferences. It's a small goal to have for one's gravestone, but I sure do admire the others I meet who strive not to fad themselves to death.

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