Friday, October 7, 2011

Brita Water Filter Juice

New York, New York

I ride through Newark and understand a little better people's opinions of Jersey.  My own doesn't change. I take the train into New York.  It's a short ride past huge swaths of graffiti and exposed stone from where they blasted away the hillside.  It looks like a geology presentation held together with mesh wire and then vandalized.

I'm not able to find a subway station with an elevator before rush hour.  I ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn completely geared up.  I'm staying with Olivia, my roommate from last year.  I meet her other friends who are all coincidentally staying with her at the same time.  They're neat and mature and I dig that.  We go to a bar where I realize I haven't eaten much that day and am starting to get sick from a contaminated joint in Philly.  The next day I feel worse and am glad for the reprieve from riding as I accompany Olivia and her friends around the normal city sights.

I visit Occupy Wall Street.  It's crowded with shirtless hippies, idealistic students, and teenagers trying to get laid.  There are piles of clothes and cots set up as makeshift homes for the protesters.  Scattered imagery of peace symbols and Che Guevara abound as an off beat drum circle lets out periodic yelps from its performers.  I run into an acquaintance I knew from Orlando who came just to be part of the protest.  There are a few people who seem knowledgeable about the issues with informed opinions, but most look oblivious and are just groovin' off the positive vibes and chakras, man.  It feels like Burning Man but with T.V. cameras.  Police surround the barricade of protesters, each carrying a dozen plastic restraints, while annoyed businessmen glare at the crowd from the boundary.  I've already expressed my thoughts on protest, but the whole event seems ineffective.

In the subway station a man kicks over a panhandling drummer's collection tub and the money lands on the track.  The panhandler follows the man who ignores him.  The drummer is funny and talks shit well.  New Yorkers aren't mean, they're just forward.  I'm staying in Williamsburg which has a drastically different population from Manhattan.  I've seen more trendy people here than anywhere else, many of them fashionable in ways I can't even comprehend.  I saw a guy with a curly quiff and unkempt beard wearing a punk shirt and dirty work overalls; I couldn't tell if it was ironic or what he genuinely liked.  I'm not sure what to make of these people.  Either the hipsters here are on some next level shit or will inevitably be embarrassing tarnishes to family photo albums.


I'm writing this from bar in Williamsburg.  It's exploiting my basic desires: every beer I buy gets me a free pizza while a show about bikers plays.  A lot of the people here seem genuine about what they like, but every now and again someone passes in front of the bar in an outfit I can't imagine as being worn with genuine intent.

One of the pervasive characteristics of my generation - or more specifically hipsters - is their reliance or propensity toward irony.  Rather than become apathetic and morose about the perceived futility of modern life, this group embraces things not valued by the majority of society.  Dorky glasses and NASCAR shirts are hiptacular.  Obviously untrendy by definition, the ironic designs taken by hipsters tend to be tacky in such a way to make a statement about the person for whom the design was originally made.

Life is futile and sincerity shows you aren't aware of that fact.  Instead of the angsty, emotional, reactionary rebellion of grunge, indie culture uses irony as its crux.  I'm not sure what started this initially, but as is the case with myself, it makes complete sense if irony is a defense mechanism of nerdy kids.  You can make fun of someone for being sincere, but if they do it first it takes the sport out of it.  Saying you already know your outfit is stupid makes it more difficult to criticize.  But from this comes weird confusions of what is sincere from meta-ironic.  Is this art legitimately good or good by pain of it being legitimately bad?  It's hard to keep up with what to like for itself or for the sake of irony.

Maybe it's a response to modern culture.  Like some stupid Warholian reasoning of common society constituting what is cool, but not for the reason they think.  The welder in Minnesota thinks that wolf shirt is appealing and says something about him while the hipster feels the same because of the welder.  It's an expression of intellectual superiority as the welder won't understand what the hipster wears, but the hipster thinks he does.  Vintage shops are popular spots because of the old, lame shit they have, so hipsters can buy it and compliment each other about finding such a boss Sweet Tarts belt buckle.  It's tacky and garish but shows your devotion to finding cooky and obscure shit.  I want to say it's banal and bullshit in a contradiction that would highlight exactly what I'm talking about, just toward hipsters rather than the majority.  It's mostly bullshit, but what else do you do?  Wear sports jerseys or utilitarian beige?  It's not opposed to society, but based off it in a different way than normal.  Society then bases itself off of alternative fashions which leads to the indie alteration of those, potentially spiraling into a circle of bastardization that hopefully won't lead to something as grotesque as the 80s.

Yeah you, twat.
I hate having to figure out what the basis of my motivations are, so I generally assume they're sincere.  But even in my writing I second guess my thoughts, or something.  I think it's easier to confuse people about your reasoning when you don't understand it yourself.  My sincerity might only be to the irony that identifies me as a hipster.   It could just be tribal mechanics funneling people to stick with their cultural clade.  I wonder what clade the guy with the poofy, curled mohawk and capris fits into other than "unemployed shithead."

I talk to a twenty year native of Williamsburg.  We walk around and he tells me about the development of the neighborhood.  He points at an expensive coffee joint that used to be a metal foundry.  He deems its patrons twats.  I run into similar twats later, walking near the abandoned sugar factory discussing urban planning and how the land is best divided.

The gentrification here is shameless with million dollar lofts feet away from rusted junk yards.  I don't know how I feel about it all.  Obviously it's an awesome place with lots of cool places and people, but the migration here was caused by a desire for culture.  Once the neighborhood is gentrified and reassigned as a hip place, it loses that initial culture in exchange for that of the migrant horde's.  That's all good, but the original culture upon which the migration was based withers and disappears.  It's some sense of living in a place that's "real" or just not suburban.  Nirvana, or Rage Against The Machine, or whatever bullshit counterculture bands became just as commercial as any of the shit they rallied against.  So why fight it?  Embrace the mundane consumerist culture but do so with a sense of understanding and pretentious superiority.

It took me coming to New York to buy a shirt from Orlando.  It's a tank top from Universal Studios with a design they haven't used since the early 90s.  I would never think about wearing a Universal shirt now with a  current design, but this appeals to me with it's outdated neon colors and the way it shows off my farmer's tan.  There's something about it being old and not currently worn by the people who would've originally bought it that makes it attractive to me.  Or it's the fact that I wouldn't have worn it in its own time.  I guess it's ironic.  It's cool because it's lame.  I'm never sure, though.  I envy those deities who are able to operate on four meta-levels of irony, while I can barely maintain the one.

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