The common mosquito, in its current form, is over 95 million years old. Despite its many eons of bothering the hell out of others and the sad truth that it probably isn’t going to go away any time soon, we still feel the need to complain about it, them. This is not hard to believe of course; they are annoying as hell and generally don’t provide a whole lot in return. Some would argue the same could be said of hipsters. I’m deciding. Granted they haven’t been around for 95 million years. Contemporary hipsters can be traced back a decade or so. But, as I will explain, there have always been hipsters, the parasitic culture gentrifier.
A Time article, written almost a year ago to the day, outlines the modern hipster. Dan Fletcher describes them as “smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization.” This may be a bit harsh, but it’s not the first time it has been said.
Herb Caen, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, coined the term “beatnik” in 1958. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were not amused. If you read the Beat writers’ work, you’d know they almost always had jobs and worked very hard to play very hard. Kerouac was admitted to Columbia on a football scholarship, a strange crossover for the King of the Beats. They did not create a scene, but drew attention to it. This is the invitation, the opening of the door that beckons to all the hipsters. In a letter to the New York Times Ginsberg wrote, “if the beatniks and not the illuminated Beat poets overrun this country, they will have been created not by Kerouac but by industries of mass communication which continue to brainwash men.” When Ginsberg wrote of “Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,” I suspect he was referring to those who came before, those who were the scene, not the ones who made it. Even the French Revolution was going along swimmingly until Maximillien Robespierre hijacked the Committee for Public Safety and kind of ruined it for everyone. Hipsters have existed everywhere.
The term “hip” is from the jazz clubs of the 30s and 40s. Before that, the etymology becomes a little hazy. Suffice it to say, to be “hip” meant that you were in the know. To be “in the know” now is not very difficult, especially in the digital age, when music and image are swapped like so many hockey cards. I think what angers a lot of people is that the hipster culture isn’t a culture; it’s a flea market where culture is bought and sold. Fletcher writes, “…instead of creating a culture of their own, hipsters proved content to borrow from trends long past.” Indeed. I once had a 15 year old kid tell me that I was responsible for Kurt Cobain’s death because I “didn’t appreciate him.” I didn’t have a calendar on hand, but simple math revealed that he would have been two years old when we killed Cobain and not even an egg-seeking sperm when “Bleach” was released. That’s probably why I don’t remember seeing him at a show.
You would never go to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. dressed as a veteran if you were born in 1987. The Black Label Society had to cancel a show in Manchester because of threats of violence from a local motorcycle club. The club argued that BLS’s use of “rockers” on their jackets was an insult to any 1%er who’d actually earned them.
So is there anything actually wrong with a parasitic subculture intent on the lifelong search for cool? If there is, I blame Henry V. His Saint Crispin’s day speech called out all the “gentlemen in England now abed” and called their “manhoods cheap.” Essentially, if you’re not at the party, if you’re not hip, you suck and should think yourself “accursed.” Maybe that’s a bit of stretch. We are a society of consumers, of course, but cultures are supposed to produce as well. The true danger of a parasitic culture is not what it feeds on but how it feeds.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a sentiment first expressed in the 3rd century BC by some Greek guy, then it doesn’t actually exist except in the abstract. We must see it for it to exist. This would also imply we should look for it. But if our search only extends as far as what someone else has told us is beautiful, the buck stops at the “industries of mass communication” Ginsberg railed against.
Candace Pert was responsible for discovering the opiate receptor in the human brain. In a 1981 interview with OMNI she stated, “Heroin bludgeons the opiate receptors into submission, functionally shrinking them.” In other words, if we keep outsourcing our opiates (she also stated that most drugs have less potent, natural analogs within the human body) our bodies can lose the ability to use our own; if we never leave the house, we become dependent on the deliveryman. This is the danger of the cool-seeker who doesn’t actually look. Hunter S. Thompson takes a similar stab at Leary’s Acid Culture in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, calling them “a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture.”
I too am a cool seeker. I too am a hipster in some aspects. But I want to believe that I replace that which I mine from the depths of culture in equal measures. I write about culture and society not to hand down truth from on high but to inspire you to take up the search as well. As Shakespeare wrote in Love’s Labour’s Lost, “Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye, / Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues.”
So we continue to swat at the hipsters buzzing around us. They’re not going anywhere though so get used to them. As for yourself, art can be art for art’s sake but cool shouldn’t be cool for its own sake. Cool is the blind faith of the unoriginal. At least that’s what I heard.
July 21, 2010 | Categories: Art, Fellatio, and Other Heady Subjects, Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary), The Loudmouth Bear Reviews (books, music, movies), [re]Discovering Vancouver | Tags: 15 minutes, 2010, art, Baron S. Cameron, beatniks, British Columbia, Canada, conspiracy, contrarian, evil, fame, fashion, Ginsberg, hipsters, humor, humour, kerouac, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, music, silly, sillyness, waste of resources, writing | Leave a comment
Someone once told me that the United States doesn’t recognize dual citizenship between the US and Canada. That didn’t sound right to me. Guess what… it wasn’t. The United States most certainly recognizes dual citizenship between our two countries. You only run into problems if, when you became a citizen of Canada, you meant to renounce your US citizenship. For myself, I didn’t. In fact, becoming a Canadian citizen was a passive act for me. While I sat (or stood) doing whatever it was I was doing on my 24th birthday, I became a Canadian citizen.
I was born in the US – Greenwich, CT to be exact. I have often joked that having been born in Greenwich and raised in West Vancouver, BC, my snob pedigree is perfect. Both my parents are Canadian (born and raised in the Kootenays) so I was considered a Canadian citizen born abroad. Because I lived in Canada when I reached the age of 24, I became a full Canadian citizen.
When I applied for my Canadian passport, I needed a guarantor’s signature, and those of two references. For my US passport, I just needed my birth certificate (stamped with the seal of the issuing State) and picture ID. I used my Canadian passport. Which leads me to myth number two: The US won’t allow you to carry two passports.
BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Thanks for playing.
The woman at the US Consulate in Vancouver told me that when arriving in the US, arrive as an American. When arriving in Canada, arrive as a Canadian. That’s two passports kiddies. Surprised me too.
Lastly, though it pains me to say it, these idiot Tea Partiers might actually have something with this smaller government thing. It took two and a half weeks for my Canadian passport to show up and about two hours to apply for it. My US passport took me less than 45 minutes to apply for and arrived a week and a day later. Of course, when it comes to government, if the US can figure out healthcare and education for its (our?) citizens I’d be willing to wait another ten days for my passport.
May 8, 2010 | Categories: Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary) | Tags: 2010, America, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, conspiracy, contrarian, dual citizenship, government, Greenwich, humor, humour, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, Obama, passports, sillyness, Tea Party, United States, vancouver, waste of resources, west vancouver, writing | Leave a comment
9+11 = 20. Fold a US $20 bill like a paper airplane and weird shit happens. It’s just a weird coincidence and, if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But this is still pretty messed up. On one side we see “United” and “America” (United 93 & 175 and American 11 & 77 were the hijacked flights) and what could be “interpreted” as the Twin Towers burning.
Flip it over and we see what could be, again, interpreted as the Pentagon burning.
Just thought that was neat and that I would pass it along.
February 7, 2010 | Categories: Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary) | Tags: 15 minutes, 2010, 9/11, Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, conspiracy, contrarian, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, vancouver, west vancouver | 1 Comment
According to B.C.’s Health Minister, the odds of dying from the swine flu are about equal to that of being hit by a car. Apparently we don’t have vaccinations for pedestrian vs automobile encounters. I’m not even sure how that would work. Perhaps they give you a shot of atomized chrome from a front bumper. Of course, if we did develop a way for kids to be vaccinated against car accidents, someone would make a YouTube video about how it was a secret government conspiracy, designed to steal our “essence” by contaminating our bodily fluids.
Why does a conspiracy like that always sound crazy when it is upheld by a US Air Force Brigadier General who just started armageddon but suddenly sound normal when a celebrity with a YouTube infatuation espouses the same thing?
The key question to ask of any conspiracy theorist is “cui bono?” Who benefits?
How do doctors benefit by giving all their patients poison? Well, they wouldn’t, so they wouldn’t.
How does a government benefit by having all of its citizens die from being mass-poisoned? Well, they don’t, so they wouldn’t.
You see, conspiracy theory is like religion.
The weak and unknown feel small and alone and need to find a sense of worth and belonging. For this, they seek religion. Others, feel that the only way to explain their lives not turning out exactly as they planned is to blame it on a vast conspiracy that seems committed to keeping them down.
Sometimes it’s the Jews. Sometimes it’s the rich. Sometimes it’s the intelligent. But, it is always a group that can be blamed for the misfortunes of others. There is never a solution given by a conspiracty theorist. It is always whose fault it is and how it affects you.
So when it comes to the immunity booster or “flu shot,” make sure your decision is based on solid medical fact (like you CAN’T get Swine Flu from the shot) not some angry mom who seems destined to bring back polio and smallpox because she thinks doctors are pompous and she knows better when it comes to her child because she saw a YouTube video while the doctor was studying microbiology at Johns Hopkins.
As for you conspiracy theorists out there, what do you say you all take a flying leap in front of a speeding car? Bet you wish you had the anti-automobile vaccination then.
October 28, 2009 | Categories: Straight from The Bear's loud mouth (insane ramblings disguised as social commentary) | Tags: Baron S. Cameron, British Columbia, Canada, conspiracy, contrarian, flu shot, H1N1, loud mouth, loudmouth bear, vancouver, waste of resources, writing, YouTube | Leave a comment