A voice crying in the wilderness

Posts tagged ‘Hipster’

Treasures in Heaven

The only person harder to buy than the one who has everything is the person who wants nothing.

In many ways, one of my goals in life is not to have the best of everything, but to be satisfied with what I have. Whilst the pursuit of material wealth is endless and full of disappointments, what do you do when you have all that you need?

Having just replaced my washing machine – not because the old one was faulty but because we wanted a larger, gentler and more economical model – I experienced a bout of empty joy. Yes, the new machine can wash larger loads, will use less energy and water, but I feel that I have spent unnecessary money on a product that otherwise did not need replacing.

Conversely, when we replaced Nekohime-sama’s car, that was necessary as the old unit was becoming unsafe to drive. I don’t take joy in the new vehicle, but rather there is a sense of relief that there is one less thing to be concerned about.

My day job is working in retail, supplying goods and services to customers. The store carries both good and not so good products. I endeavour to direct people to the products that I believe are better but there is also pressure to promote more premium brands whether they are worth their money or not – I acknowledge that get more satisfaction from selling a mid-range product that I trust than a big name that I don’t, regardless of how much margin it provides.

These days I find that I view the world with a sense of detachment – if a product works, I like to leave it alone and only replace it when it breaks – I don’t like to pursue the latest and greatest. I don’t mind spending a little extra if I think the quality justifies it whereas cheap products often don’t last and need to be replaced sooner – there is a cost to the cheapness.

If only we could have more people look beyond the dollar value.

Defining the authentic hipster

How does one separate the genuine from the counterfeit? The wheat from the chaff?

When the first real hipsters appeared – not the shopping centre cardboard cut-out wannabes – what was it that they were searching for?

There is always a trend in youth to reject the habits and values of the previous generation but that is typically an inevitable stage of growth – a point where all teenagers rebel without a clue.

But what of those who rebel with reason? Those who seek justification for using or possessing something beyond it being a cool or fashionable thing to have. People who have turned out the popular fashion of their wardrobe in favour of comfortable clothing made from natural fibres not made in a sweatshop. People who seek out obscure bands who want to make a statement or unusual sound, as opposed to major record labels churning out soulless, disposable pop fodder. Music that will last through the ages instead of a week. There is real justification for organically grown vegetables – its not productive on a large scale but still manageable for the market gardener.

I had to look up “artisanal” to confirm its meaning – something handmade in a traditional manner, taking the long way around instead of lazy shortcuts.

But there are aspects of hipsterdom that don’t make any sense – eschewing computers for typewriters, digital cameras for film, CDs and digital media for records, geared bikes for fixed gear. Such ideas tend to be the province of the try-too-hards. The argument that records have a greater dynamic range than CD is fair but countered by records wearing out enough after a few plays that, with rare exceptions, the range shrank dramatically. In my own experience, the record aficionados and audiophiles always tended to be half deaf – they had the money to afford the best equipment but were no longer in a position to appreciate it.

Melbourne is considered the hipster capital of Australia – the suburb of Fitzroy particularly so, Smith Street being hipster central. I’ve been harbouring an urge to visit Melbourne again after a brief visit on my honeymoon. It seems stupid that its cheaper to fly to Bali and stay in a luxury hotel for a week than it is to fly to Melbourne and stay in a mid-range hotel even for a few nights. I find myself wondering if I can create my own Poor Man’s Melbourne in Perth, the same as I want to Balify a section of my garden.

So as I write this, I’m sitting in a hipster coffee shop in King Street, Perth, drinking a short black single origin coffee in a vintage, underground café with rustic, recycled décor – a shame about the background music, which sounds like Fatboy Slim being thrown down a flight of stairs.

Maybe I can find some Bali hipsters…

The hipster label suits me even if I don’t fit the hipster label. But it is the nature of hipsters to reject labels. I am defining myself by being indefinable.

Status symbols – you’re doing it wrong

They are the signs that we perceive as markers of success – the big house in the expensive suburbs, the expensive car, the latest and greatest accessories.

I consider status symbols belittle a person – that you having to advertise your success is an indication that you aren’t. All you are advertising is your insecurity – you need to impress and have peer approval. If you are really successful, people already know who you are.

So how do we identify when enough of something is truly enough? Possessing a dishwasher when you have a large family makes sense – but do you require a unit that merely washes, or do you really need one that pretends that it isn’t there, that opens and closes the door itself and can dispense its own detergent?

Should a car need be anything more than four wheels and an engine? If it gets you from A to B reliably, doesn’t cost a fortune to maintain and has a reasonable safety rating, do you need anything more? When I was doing the delivery run for a computer shop I was working for years ago, I would often park the company van next to a BMW or Mercedes of a consultant. Such a vehicle is intended to impress and advertise success but all it said to me was that this person charges far too much and isn’t competent enough to get a vehicle suitable to the job. Let’s see you fit an A3 colour laser printer in your convertible Audi, mister.

The most expensive oven and cooktop on the market can’t save you if you are the kind of of cook who burns water, no matter how many episodes of Masterchef you watch.

Content, not the container

I’ve decided to do away with my collection of records and cassettes. Truth be told, I haven’t listened to them in years or I’ve obtained CD or MP3 versions that I play through computer, media centre or mobile phones.

I used to be fascinated by all the old formats but reached a point where I started running out of space for them. Sorting through my cassettes last night I realised that have digital versions of three quarters of them and most of the rest I likely never will listen to again.

I find the same with my collection of video games and books. There are a few books I will like to keep in a physical form but many I will only have as an ebook, particularly one I will only read now and again, or reference books.

As there are only handful of games on each platform that I enjoy, I don’t want to have consoles upon consoles around the house.

Emulation of these systems is an ideal solution – the original games can be played on one system pretending to be another. The controllers may not be “authentic” but the experience is largely the same.

I frequently play games from my childhood using Commodore 64 and Amiga emulators, sometimes arcade machine emulators as well. On occasion, I will acquire a remake for a more recent system (in the hope that the remake is faithful to the original and not a “reimagining”). The original is often crafted to create an atmosphere that makes the best use of the host system, remakes often are a mechanical imitation that copies the look without recapturing the feel.

There is further justification for emulation as well – as equipment gets older, it starts to fail. ROMs develop what is known as “bit rot”, the chips losing or corrupting the information stored on them.

With eBooks, it pays to shop around if you are using a tablet rather than a dedicated ebook reader – even then you may be able to access books from different purveyours. Try, if you can, to source your books in an unprotected epub format. With the apparent exception of the Kindle, all readers are able to read these, along with PDF. The concern with eBooks is that the publisher may remove books from your collection without warning, apology or compensation. Of if they cease trading, as has happened a lot in Japan recently, you may lose your books when your devices stop functioning.

There’s a hipster in my attic eating kale

“The thing about hipsters is that they don’t like to be called a hipster. By that logic, nobody is a hipster. But by that logic again, maybe everyone is a hipster.

“But what would I know, I’m not a hipster.”

– Levni Yilmaz

Therein lies an idea that if you think you are a hipster, you aren’t.

I often tell people that I was a hipster before they were cool.

In many respects, I could be a hipster. In many respects, I could be the thinking hipster’s hipster. I wear stylish glasses – but I’m actually short sighted. I reject popular fashion, but I have limited finances. I listen to a lot of obscure music, but I grew up in the Seventies.

I’ve written a song about it.

I’m a counter-cultural Christian Socialist thinking hipster’s thinking hipster.

But my pipe is broken and my wife doesn’t like it when I try to grow a beard.

A beard made of recycled, single origin, viably sourced, cold filtered vintage kale.

Hipster coffee sounds like too much hard work – I think I will stick to my plunger and FairTrade ground coffee. Usually I buy Oxfam coffee so I can donate a little more to charity but this week I’ve been on a tighter than normal budget so I brought a packet of Supermarket C brand FairTrade coffee instead since it is close to half price.

I had a little crisis on conscience afterwards though – would Oxfam suffer without my indirect donation? I resolved that the next time I passed an Oxfam shop, I would pay the difference to them. I get my FairTrade coffee, they get a bigger donation. If I get a receipt, I can claim it on tax. Everybody wins.

I’ve been thinking a lot about hipsters recently – psychoanalyzing perhaps – trying to understand them and get into their mindset. We have quite a lot in common.

We listen to obscure bands, though I’m not inclined towards the one-upmanship of “I know of more obscure bands than you”. If I find an obscure band I like, I want them to become better known.

But isn’t strange how your music tastes change as you get older? All the bands that I loved in my childhood and teenage years have lost their appeal. My collection of “chiptunes” (I do dislike that title) seem painful and annoying now yet 10 years ago they never left my CD player in the car.

Imagine my amusement when my parents rediscovered Queen? I recall them hammering on my bedroom walls demanding that we “turn that bloody poofter music down!” One day I walk into my parent’s house to find “A night at the opera” blasting out of the media centre.

We reject popular fashion – more because I dress for comfort and mobility and I don’t have a big wardrobe budget. I don’t mind looking in thrift stores but I also like to donate to them as well.

We appreciate retro – but not retro for the sake of retro. I play a lot of video games that I grew up with and find modern games too complicated and too demanding to be fun. I had speculated that hipsters would properly use an 8bit PC running CP/M and storing all their documents on 5.25 inch floppy disks but I’ve since learned that I was wrong – hipsters have discovered typewriters.

I’ve known people who have worked with film cameras – no, thank you. Once good quality digital cameras became affordable, I’ve not looked back. I do still have three film cameras here but they’ve not been taken out of storage for years – one still has a film in it from 25 years ago which I’ve been scared to get developed in case the processor loses one of the wooden rollers.

I like aviator-style sunglasses – part of my love of Electric Light Orchestra – but my prescription glasses have been dictated by what I can get that is covered by my health insurance. So instead I have Agent Smith sunglasses.

I buy all my music digitally for the most part – I’ll still buy a CD if its on special or I find it cheap enough second hand but most of my newly discovered bands publish online via iTunes or Google Play. I do have a large collection of records and tapes but nowhere to set up a turntable – indeed, I gave away my good turntable to my brother and even he isn’t very interested in vinyl anymore.

I’m not one for obscure beers as such – I’m quite happy to support microbreweries and I’ll drink whatever they have on tap but I’ll be just as happy if someone hands me an Emu Export.

And don’t get me started on tattoos – I still dislike them intensely. Besides, they’re soooo MAINSTREAM…these days you are a rebel for not getting one.

I view hipsters as a kind of “anti yuppie”, though a similar kind of snobbery and social hierarchy still exists. The mantra of “He who dies with the most toys wins” has been superseded by “He who dies with the most vintage and obscure collection wins”.
Whatever. You’re still dead and you can’t take it with you.

Unless your idea of heaven is the world’s largest vintage market…