The Life Ironic

(Editor’s Note: This article has been more or less in the works for months. Not because it’s that good, but because I’ve been procrastinating. Looking back on it now, I can’t help but smile at my “kids these days” attitude, but I do sincerely believe that (American) youth is in trouble. Also, I want to point out that I use the terms “Hipster” and “Millennial” interchangeably, although I do draw a few distinctions. Lastly, I realize that I didn’t really address Gen X – to which I belong – that falls in the middle of the baby boomers and the Millennials. Truth is we straddle both lines, and are therefore just as bad.)

Young punks. The “Kids.” Slack-jawed youth roaming around doing nothing productive. The same criticism every older generation levels at the one beneath it.  A subject that had been addressed myriad times, but regardless I deem it necessary to express my hypothesis if for nothing else, peace of mind.  In this piece I’m broadly addressing most Americans currently between the ages of 14 and 30. To differentiate, Hipsters are a culture, whereas Millennials are a generation, but in our rapidly homogenizing society, they are in effect one and the same. Not – as you’ll soon see – that it really matters.

The Hipster. Ah, the designation everyone uses for someone else, no one admits to being a part of, and is absolutely everywhere. In case there was any doubt or confusion, Hipsters encompass 90% of everyone in the United States approximately 30 and down. Of course this is generally speaking, but it is safe to say you know at least ten. It would be impossible not to. The culture is everywhere, but what is it all about and what does it mean for the future?

Do you wear Waldo glasses, sport a handlebar moustache, and enjoy sassy/ironic tee shirts? Have a penchant for girl pants, gauged ears, random tattoos and you like sports? Is your favorite music “everything?” Can you spout clever one-liners with Daniel Tosh-like precision? Are you “madly” in love with your significant other? Married before 25? Divorced? Done enough opiates to land you in sanitarium if this were 1900-1960? Bored by everything? Chances are you’re a Hipster. Don’t feel you fall into that category? Chances are you’re still a Hipster.

I’ve been mulling over the Hipster issue since it truly became a presence in American society, that is to say circa 2005. That’s the year when the first wave of Millennials reached adulthood, and devoid of any defining accomplishments of their own, they decided to pirate bits and pieces of every other generation. Retro everything, Family Guy-esque obscure quips, and a manic attention span became the cornerstones of the American Zeitgeist.  With all this rehashed culture to showcase, and all this irony to express, what more efficient way to exploit their cleverness than with the aid of available technology? Or more specifically, technology as it’s used for self promoting over-exposure.

I would trace Hipster beginnings back to the first wave of Social Media programs, notably MySpace. What started off (and remains, to some extent) a good idea, quickly morphed into an anonymous platform on which – ironically – one could promote the hell out of oneself. Collecting friends, customizing your page with videos etc, and the perpetual popularity contest that was the “top eight” list, were the way of the future. This became in a very real sense the only form of validation for many. The problem, of course was (and still is) information overload.

Hours and hours spent on quizzes, writing clever blurbs, uploading pictures and videos. All this geared at 100+ friends that were impossible to have an actual relationship with. I should know. I had several hundred friends on MySpace at one point, and when I cancelled my account in 2006, my social life didn’t change one bit, except perhaps that it became a little less complicated. Fewer people could trace my activities. I didn’t have to be as clever anymore. Soon, MySpace was replaced by Facebook (which I’ve never used, so I can’t really describe) and the circle of life continues.

The rapid fire pace of a life lived inundated in hi-tech everything has led to everything being “played out” within minutes (hence no attention span) and human interaction has been reduced to a detached self-centered quest to advance oneself. Collecting friends, advancing status, dating up, “friending” up, “liking” things for no reason. There’s no time to waste when everything is flying by in fractions of a second. But to not be involved was unthinkable, because that’s how people lived now. This is life, right?

This brings me to my next topic: relationships. Of course, hipsters can’t live 100% in anonymity. No, but things have changed quite a bit.  Interpersonal relationships have taken on the manic pace of their online personalities. Relationships blur by, and consequences are seldom considered. Case in point is the Gloucester High School “Pregnancy Pact” where several years ago it became cool to get pregnant sans job, high school education let alone husband. What would have been unthinkable 40 years ago and was still incredibly taboo during my adolescence in the 1990’s is now a badge of honor to some. Why? I would argue it’s the most extreme form of self expression for a teenage girl. After all, without identity or consequences, what’s the big deal?

To be fair, it’s not their fault. The Baby Boomer imposed “Self Esteem” movement that most of these people grew up with left them with little hope. There are no consequences. Someone else can always be blamed. Someone will take care of it. Here’s a medal for losing. This lack of personal responsibility manifests itself in adolescence/adulthood into a hopeless attitude of “who cares?” And truth be told, who does?  If something bad happens, it’s someone else’s fault. Parents who can’t cope with adolescent emotions immediately turn to drugging their children. Whatever it takes to keep the kiddies feelin’ good.

The problem of course is that behavior like this is just polishing the proverbial turd.  How can someone be expected to relish victory if they’ve never lost? Raw ugly emotions can just as easily be beautiful and fulfilling. But that rocks the boat, interferes with second and third marriages. Gets in the way of yoga class. This mass lobotomization of an entire generation has left the world with the bland mess we have before us. Cleverness will only get someone so far, and when it’s completely aimless, then what’s the point exactly? The point is that there is no point.

In fact, that there is no particular way to describe a Hipster fits perfectly with what the Hipster movement is all about: everything and nothing all at once. Which brings me to the “point” of my diatribe: what’s going to happen when the “someone” who takes care of everything is gone? What will happen when the pills wear off? What happens when rapid-fire living fails and irony just isn’t as clever as it used to be? In short, what happens when all of a sudden this generation becomes responsible for everything?

The wealthiest generation in American history – that is the Baby Boomers – is finally starting to retire/die and is leaving their money to the most hopeless and least educated generation in American history: the Millennials. What this means for the rest of the world, only time will tell. A pessimist by nature, I don’t expect anything good unless a mass change in social consciousness takes place. But what do I know?  If such a thing as the sociological equivalent of the efficient market hypothesis exists, then perhaps American society will simply right itself and all this was just the rambling of someone who’s having a hard time accepting that he’s getting old.

String on Finger

Once I heard the most beautiful

Music I ever had

It enchanted my ears

I never wanted to turn it off

It made me feel perfect

Not as intense as an orgasm

But a perfect high it created

It made my life feel right

I wore head phones and the music

Was always there

I didn’t even have them plugged in

But the music just played

On and on, I felt it

I didn’t ask where it came from

Or how it worked

It felt too good to question

It played while I slept

Like a big warm hug around me

It played as I worked

As I watched TV

It was always there

I was always beaming a smile

Then one day

Mid-stride it ceased

No record scratch exit

Nothing, no explanation

Now I feel like a junky

Clawing for junk

Where are you music

I needed you

But just as mysterious as it

Started playing through my headphones

It was gone

It has gotten easier with time

But I always ask myself where

That music went

 

Girlfriend

My first girlfriend

I was only 15, trying to be a

Skinhead, a rudeboy

Naive to it all

Found a perfect angel at a dance

Went through some hell to try and

Romance her

Looking back

We wrote letters back and forth

Had perfect days together

And as fast as it set in

I just up and left, for no reason

I can’t explain it to this day

Now she is happily married

With a kid or two probably

Family life

I wonder if she remembers

I often wish I could tell her

Explain to her everything

But I do that in my dreams now

And that’s where it will stay

OKC

My friend told me to go on OKCupid

I laughed

He told me, no seriously check it out

I asked about POF

He said, “no, trust me”

OKCupid, It’s not taboo anymore

So I did, and I woke up in the morning with messages

Although some were fat and some had kids

But I looked around a bit

Found a lady, looks exquisite

Now I have a date tomorrow

And I am nervous

How did this happen

Thanks Matt

 

Hipster Girl

Hipster girl

So cute, so young

So full of life

So full of spirit

Running around

Running around town every night

Whiskey flask in your purse

Coke in your shoe

Thrift stores in the day

Nothing to do

But just be there

Attention from all directions

The parties, music, shows

Looking back seems like magic

Now a few years later

A little thicker, not fat

Tattoos a little stretched out

Not as much attention

Not as much joy

Not as much spirit

Looking back you ask

Was it a waste of time?

What to do now?

Settle with a guy

Put ambition into education

Deal with your kid

Or try and keep the persona alive

Used up

 

Issues

Now I sit here, months removed again

Remembering our most hallowed hours

Forgetting our most wretched

I think of you as a lump builds in my throat

That was something I always had you didn’t

I wore my heart on my collar

You kept everything a cold mystery, afraid of

Exposure

I met a woman in a bar, just like you

She told me that the pain inside your type

The clawing from the inside, the scratching

Like a carnal mammal trying to get out

Of your belly, the pain

 

You say you quit talking to all

You know you were playing your going away game

Again

I hope you find bliss on your fake journey for it

I loved you, you used me

You use up everyone around you

You have issues

Pretty Birds

Nobody wants to listen to your everyday drivel

About how you walked to the store and saw a fire truck

It was oh so novel

Big fucking deal, it happens to all of us

People want to hear a fake fucking story

They want to hear about how you forgot to put on a condom

Or how you used an oil based lubricant and it broke

And you cummed up in her, deep in her guts

You got her prengant, and you begged her to abort it

They want to hear about how you strained yourself

To shit out the biggest shit of the year

And now your asshole is bleeding

They want to hear about how you were

So drunk you ripped a girls tampon out with your teeth

Flung it against the wall and fucked her hard

They want to hear about how you tittie fucked her

And made her eyes red with your semen

They want to hear about how your junk filled vein collaped so

You had to find a new one

And your doctor noticed and put you on a program

They want to hear that you have hep-c, AIDS, herpes

That’s what people want

Not the fact birds flew over head and they were

Pretty

The Horror

The other morning I went down to the garage to dump the trash

To my surprise, someone had tossed out several live plants

Discarded with all the coffee grinds, fruit rinds and tissues and shit

I brought the small ones inside

But couldn’t do much with the six foot palmetto

It was left to dry out alone in the dark next to a leased BMW

It bothered me for several days when I decided to take it outside

First on the retaining wall out front, then into the planter box outside my window

Where the sprinklers and sun would get to it

I watched it struggle back to life

Part of me felt I could have done better

But there was no more room inside so I just watched

Then one day I heard a rustle outside but dismissed it

Walking the dogs later I noticed the palmetto was gone

Perhaps broken by the gardeners who don’t bother with such trifles

Perhaps someone stole it

Either way it was out of sight and I could move on

Wasn’t long before I started wondering

And I peered down into the planter from my living room and saw the palmetto

Lying on its side, soil spilt out of its flimsy plastic pot

Leaves shriveled and yellow

I debated on picking it back up and giving it another shot

But someone really wanted it dead

And I couldn’t take up another fight

Au Naturel

Not content with finding someone

Suitable

Not content with them being just OK

Marginal

Everyone wants someone perfect

Or better yet unattainable

One notch above

Face, body, social status, job

These western ideals rule

Dictate relationships

Many of which are disasters

Bonds held together by money

Not love

Millions of households

I like to imagine and dream

If all those rich bitches

And poor boys, and poor girls

Hood kids

Elite bastards

Let all the social implications

Melt off their backs

Let the love flow and find its own way

He naked, she naked

He naked, he naked

She naked, she naked

Doing what they do best