Feb 1, 2013

What's a "hipster"?

     I always like to reply to innocuous Facebook posts with long-winded, smart-alec replies, so when a friend asked "What's a "hipster"? I felt it necessary to give a response. What I ended up thinking about, however, is how pointless the word "hipster" really is these days. The label we know is far removed from Ginsberg's idea of "angelheaded hipsters*". Instead, we're left with a tepid insult for kids who listen to unsigned music and wear hats. 

     The word first came into use in the 40s and was used to describe white people who listened to "black" jazz, or anyone who was part of jazz culture. The term was also self-applied to the devotees of the Beat Generation authors. It's the ancestor of the word "hippie". In modern times the word overtook the term"indie kid" to refer to the fans of independent, later "indie" art culture. The word was usually not a self-applied label, and soon came to be derogatory.

     I disagree with people who try to use the label, because, to me, it doesn't seem to apply to any particular group. It's instead used to describe youth who dress in a retro-modern fashion style, listen to little known music, misunderstand the concept of irony (I blame Alanis for that.) or who belong to the predominant college culture of the 2010s. In it's modern derogatory usage, the word isn't used to describe a certain group, but to anyone exhibiting any perceived characteristic of the "hipster" archetype, rendering it nearly useless in any real sociological or demographic sense. 

     I've been called a hipster myself, or been told that I "look like a hipster". I wear hats, like documentaries, and am enthusiastic about music and art. The only thing separating me from the pure hipster archetype is the fact that can define the word "ironic". Am I a hipster, though? I don't think so, because I don't think anyone is. As far as I can see, the word is useless. It can be used to describe a vast variety of people from all walks of life. 

     My grandpa wears hats, listens to jazz, and talks a bit of jive. My dad incorporates outdated slang into his vocabulary. My brother knows about artists before they hit the radio. My mom doesn't quite grasp the concept of irony. Are they hipsters? For a word to be of any use, it needs to have some clarifying meaning. If a word can mean anything, it is useless. If anyone can be a hipster, then really no one is.

     "Fuck it, let's all stand up." 
          -Eminem, The Real Slim Shady

     *"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
     dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
     angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of
          -Allen Ginsberg, from Howl, for Carl Solomon

Feb 29, 2012

I'm offended! By a teacher!

[Anything in quotes below is from memory] 

A few weeks ago in the cafeteria, I overheard a teacher talking with some girls at the next table, 

     "Atheists really do believe, they just say they don't for the attention." 

Now, as a Catholic school student, I'm exposed to more religion than the average person, but I couldn't believe what I'd heard. I asked the teacher what he just had said. 
     "I don't think people are really atheists, they just say they are for the attention."
     "That's not true," I replied. I was getting offended by now, and I think he could tell.
     "I think it is," he said, as if his opinion were law. In four words he moved me from irked to pissed.
     "But it's not." Then came my witty argument, "If that were true, why are there secret atheists? I know people who I'm one of the only people who knows they're atheists. If they just wanted attention, why don't they tell people." Not my best argument, but it was a quick reply, and i think it got the point across. Then, he walked away without saying anything else. In his defense, I am a known troublemaker and atheist loudmouth.
     A few weeks later, I've written an email to him:

[Name Withheld]
     I don't know if you remember, but a few weeks ago I overheard you talking at lunch to the table next to mine. You'd said that atheists really do believe, but say they don't for attention. At first I was a bit  angry to hear that, but now I'm just curious: Why do you think that?  I am genuinely interested in your thoughts, and I'd really appreciate a reply. 

It's within his job description to answer questions like that, so I expect a reply. I'll be sure to post with any developments.

Jan 31, 2012

Well, crap, It's been a while.

Blogger tells me that it's been a year since my last post. I'm thinking of this as a re-launch, a new start, a new blog even. My past year, I have done barely anything toward the goals I laid out in this blog. I'll admit it, my grades are still crap, and I haven't accomplished much. I've failed so far. That's gonna change now.

Failure is inevitable. The trick, one I've never gotten the hang of, is to never let failure stop you. I've failed, I admit it, but now I must get up, brush myself off, and keep going. (That sounded trite. Maybe my writing is out of practice)

In addition to a renewed commitment to posting here, my writing will take a thematic turn. I have said that I'll write whatever I feel like, but I may try a new way of doing it. First, I'll start writing more short posts. I've been afraid of turning into a tumblr before, but I read a few blogs that mix short and long posts, and think I could do that, too. Second, as I become more open about my atheism, more posts on that topic will pop up (Though that means I won't be able to tell certain family members about my blog. Oh well.).

I want this blog to be a forum for it's readers, so please comment as much as you like. I'd love to hear from you. Keep an eye on my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr for updates. (Anyone know how to automate that? I'll poke around.)

Thanks for reading!

Feb 2, 2011

Resolutions: Check Up

We're about a month into the new year. This is the point in time where our resolutions begin to fade from memory, as we fail to keep them up. This is true for me as well. My three specific resolutions have been broken. The first was to exercise on a regular basis, by which I meant daily. I'm pretty sure I haven't exercised at all. The second was to read the Bible, following along with The King and I Bible Project. I was doing pretty well for the first few weeks, until Genesis got boring. Finally I wanted to write on my new blog, which I haven't so much. So, I have failed.

Or have I? There's 2 options at this point: I can simply give up, and try again next year, or I can get up, brush myself off, and try again. I'll snag a Bible to read in classes (after all of my work is done, of course) and catch up with that.  I can talk to my dad about setting up a new exercise routine for me, and get back to some system of tracking it.  I can write a blog post, right now. I can choose to move past this temporary failure and succeed.

In the past, this sort of stumbling would have had me beat. I have historically been a defeatist, assuming failure before I began anything. This losing attitude still figures strongly in my life. Now, though, is the perfect time to overcome it. I have been presented with the perfect opportunity to exercise a new, positive attitude, and to actually challenge myself.

Now, I'll pour some tea, and brainstorm some more post ideas, or read a few Bible chapters.


Jan 1, 2011

A Few Cliche Thoughts on Christmas Eve

 Originally posted on Facebook 24 Dec 2010

The little kids are now in bed, after a very excited afternoon. It took two or three tries to get them to stay there, too. As I sit here, a Christmas movie is on TV, a fire crackles next to me, and across the room a decorated tree casts its light across the floor and ceiling. Yet, I feel as if something is missing.

I really do enjoy being a "grown-up" this year, don't get me wrong, but watching the kids excitement reminds me that they have something I don't. They still feel the magic, I suppose. That's not to say that I'm not feeling it, but...I'm not. Well, I wasn't. Then I saw the kids. I saw them rushing to get ready for bed, getting their jammies on faster than ever, rushing to their beds and demanding to be tucked in. It's a fantastic thing to watch, but it's not the same.

A few short years ago, that was me. Making sure, and checking again and again that we left cookies and apples for Santa and the reindeer. Even after Santa, that magic was there. As time passed, however, I grew up. I stopped playing with toys so much, stopped wanting so many things for Christmas, stopped being surprised by what I found under the tree. The magic faded.

Now, though, I can feel a different sort of magic, by watching the joy on the faces of my cousins, Xander and Kennedy, and my sister, Lillie. As they sleep, I don't feel that old ignorant bliss anymore. The holidays are still the same, but I am different.

I don't believe in Santa anymore. I've gotten to the point where seeing my mom and aunt tell the kids about Santa bothers me. It feels like lying. Presents under the tree seem thin and superficial, and as I get older, I want to give something more.

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, along with Thanksgiving. Not because of presents, but because of the immaterial things. Family is the most important part of the season, to me. This is the one part of the year we all get together and get along. Even my brother and I get along this time of year (kinda). This idea then extends to everyone, to the universal human family. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men take over, and the spirit of giving inspires the "real meaning of Christmas"

The idea of the holidays that I held as I child has vanished, along with the silly toys under the tree. A new idea eclipses it, though: a more mature and fuller understanding of the reason for the season.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas this year, and all of the other holidays too. And try to remember amidst all of this gift giving and silliness that there is good intention underneath it all. Let the children open their gifts and love their presents, and let us who know the greater goodness be merry.

Merry Christmas, to all of my sisters and bothers out there :)