Daily Archives: February 21, 2013

Breaking Hip: Cool’s Little Brother Has Grown Up, Part 1

Tommy’s been getting on me about my sluggish writing routine lately. Truth is, I’ve been working on longer projects, and I’ve been a crappy blogger. So I’m going to start posting some longer stuff in 500 word chunks. This is one of those chunks.

We’re all in uniform

I don’t know the etymology of the word “hip,” and I don’t know how it has come en vogue over the last few years. Both those drops of knowledge seem like something an actual hip person would know, and if there’s one thing I am not, it’s hip. Trust me. I stayed out of the bottom bracket of Tommy’s “how hip are you” quiz only because the only pair of sunglasses I own happened to be wayfarers that I found on the side of the road while I was on a walk. Had they been any kind of indistinguishable style, they’d still be the only sunglasses I owned, but I’d officially be unrecognized by all the modern metrics of “what it is.”

Don’t get me wrong, I know what it is to be cool. Because I Googled it and read about it on Wikipedia. And as far as I can tell, the coolest thing you can do is not give a shit about what’s cool. You know, just be yourself. That’s probably the truest advice for being cool if, you know, you ignore everything that being cool has become.  Cool is an aesthetic. You can build cool. What do you think Nike’s been doing all these years? “Just do it,” right? Don’t over think it like a nerd, just do it. I miss that marketing campaign because I miss when it was cool to be cool. Now it’s cool to be hip, and the more that happens, the less cool will exist at all.

I’d like to believe that all the uncool kids got together on Facebook or Twitter—hell, it was probably Path or some medium you have to bench press under 185 lbs to join—and realized that Huey Lewis was right, and it is hip to be square. Then as a united front they bought the spandex jeans, psychedelic socks, ironic t-shirts, 38 scarves and tweed jackets on their way to listen to a Huey Lewis cover band at a beer-stained dive in Nashville that still allows them to smoke their American Spirits indoors. They probably Instagrammed the band with their iPhone 5, which you know they have because it’s, “The biggest thing to happen to the iPhone since the iPhone,” right? Don’t over think it like a nerd, because you’re not a nerd. You’re hip.

Turns out it didn’t happen that way. Turns out this subculture of cool has always existed, and hip is just our contemporary lot. In fact, my coblogger Tommy tells me there’s a pretty established timeline that runs from hippie to grunge to ghetto to preppy to hipster. Hipsters would have you believe that they’re different from hippies, but they’re only as different as three decades and a digital revolution can make you. And, in my opinion, it’s mostly just a noise difference. Kerouac would probably have just been a blogger today. Nirvana would be a non-selling band on iTunes (which probably means Kurt Cobain is still alive, however that makes you feel). And Eminem would still be Eminem, but he’d be dressed like Dwyane Wade instead of Allen Iverson.

The clothes kind of say everything. We’re all in uniform, after all.

….part 2 coming soon.