Friday, 19 September 2014

How The Hipster Killed Us All

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| friday nineteenth september |

For the sake of clarity, I will be using the term hipster in two ways. When you see it written like (hipster), I'm referring to the actual term. When you see it written like ("hipster"), I'm referring to the term that modern society has coined, redefined and abused.

This is an opinion piece. It is, therefore, opinion

what the fuck is going on...

When did "cool" die? Was it when Johnny Rotten stripped his bright orange hair & laid down the Sex Pistols microphone for the final time? When Jack Kerouac's way of living finally kicked him to the dust? When Kurt Cobain took his own life on a rainy, spring afternoon? When high street chains released "band tees" depicting rock and roll icons, even though the majority of Generation Z couldn't summon the name of a Rolling Stones single if they tried? When fourteen-year-old-private school girls started selling cocaine to their Bieber-squealing peers? Or was it when the masses started cottoning on to the "cultural phenomenon" that is the "hipster". 

After punk was watered-down beyond all recognition & rap lost its incentive for powerful social commentary, subculture slowly bled away in the background. Today seems to have lost all recollection of what it means to be "counter", even going as far as to mesh these fringe groups into one, horrific, unspeakable hybrid - the "hipster". 

While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their rule-makers, today we have this "hipster" - a self-labelled monster that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society. 

Here are the three, main problems:

1. People using the term hipster incorrectly.
2. People throwing around the term "hipster" at every Joe in a pair of combat boots.
3. People thinking that they're a hipster. when they're actually a "hipster" i.e. an "every Joe" in a pair of combat boots.

I say, if humanity is to salvage itself, then the "hipster" must die. That is, before the "hipster" kills us all first. 

using hipster...

The original hipster belonged to an amorphous movement without ideology; it was an attitude, a way of "being" without attempting to explain why. We're talking Charlie Parker, Harry Gibson, Jack Kerouac & Allen Ginsberg. They didn't want to tell you why they were doing what they were doing because you weren't part of their reality, and they didn't give a fuck; their vernacular was limited, as it was obscure. There is no translation in contemporary language for what they stood for. There was neither a future nor a past, only a present that existed in some existential, harmonic illusion. A jazz aria or bebop solo - that was the only truth.

The hipster's outlook transcended socio-political boundaries and instead favoured levels of consciousness. The only division that mattered were between "hip" and "square". Squares sought security and an easy road. Hipsters sought the meaning of life and could never be afraid of death. Hipsters were the real deal and signified the coming together of the bohemian, the delinquent, and the outcast.

But now, in our fearful contemporary society, the "hipster" has emerged, blocking out every syllable those mad beatniks uttered. 

Long before this  happened, we were warned about "authentic inauthenticity"; cautioned by Socrates and Plato and Aristotle about following the crowd and losing ourselves in titles coined by the mundane. About being sheep. It's just a shame that we weren't warned by Kanye West or Kim K, otherwise we probably would've listened... 

And now they're selling "punk" & "hipster" starter-kits on Etsy. I'm telling you, it's the end of the world. 

thinking "hipster"...

What sets apart the "hipsters" of the now from the hepsters Ginsberg & Carr described in the Beat era, is an astounding lack of menace. Kids today aren't angry at anybody. They don't want anything enough. James Dean and Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs were philosophical, musical psychopaths, who were hankering to jack your car and take it for a sexually ambiguous 100mph ride through the deserts of South America. Young people today are set with an angsty Tumblr and a loose-knit sweater from Urban Outfitters. 

Disguised behind the semblance of "irony", contemporary "hipsters" glorify authenticity and in the process, chunder it back up with catastrophic inauthenticity. As Christopher Lorentzen seethed in his '07 Time Out article, they are consumed with anxiety over having an image, so have brutally decimated, defanged & redefined movements that were never meant to be touched again - the fringe movements of the postwar era, like Beats, hippies, punks, and even grunge.

I'm betting half the people identifying as "hipsters" in your local farmer's market, record store, and independent coffee house, have no idea where the idea came from. I'm sure they don't know anything about 40s & 50s hepsters, the liftestyle of the jazz musician, the Beats subculture, the actual meaning of subculture. And that's sad. Harry Gibson, Charlie Parker & Kerouac must be turning in their graves. 

By taking over these once-cool fringe cultures, the "hipster" mutes the edge these movements may have had in their day, thereby making them a safe beverage for the everyday man, woman, child & cocker-spaniel to consume. Despite what they insist, like an Avon saleswoman at your door on a Saturday morning, they're cons. They're frauds. They're the middle man, working in the vast plain between underground, and mainstream. Indeed, the paradox of these doe-eyed beardsmen is that despite claiming to be deathly allergic to all things conventional, they do more to shape & define the mainstream than any other group today.They're both overly self-aware and hilariously unaware while they're at it.

This is where the "hipster" goes wrong - it's completely and absurdly oxymoronic. Hipster, in its essence, is doing whatever you want and not giving a shit. "Hipster" is telling people what to do, how to dress, which drugs are cool, and where you should be hanging out. Menace is completely lost on those posers between the ages of 18-30, but still, the myth of menace survives in the pages of publications like Vice and Nylon. Why? Because they offer a safe path to transgression, one with little effort, and an even smaller amount of spunk. 

Now, the "hipster" doesn't even have to be an artist or a musician. Now, he has an office job, a trust fund, an Ivy League education, and wears a porkpie hat after work as if none of this matters in the slightest. 

What's even funnier, is that the reputation of the "hipster" as a rich, middle-class, self-important, unoriginal snob in uniform, instead of a social rebel, means that in this day and age, pretty much the most insulting thing you can moniker a hipster is, well, a "hipster". If there are any real deals left, that is. 

Indeed, what we have got left are those that were "like, completely inspired" by Leonard Cohen when they were zygotes. The awful clich├ęs that insist on taking a picture in a fake, semi-racist Native American headdress, in their best bra, toting a joint, truly believing that shell is what makes them the rebellious, acid-trip nightmare Hunter S. Thompson wrote about. They croon the uplifting ballads of hip poseurs who refuse to get their hands dirty, unless, of course, that filth is quaint and photogenic through the lens of their girlfriend's Nikon.

These people aren't hipsters. They're wannabes; kids who want to be cool and different, but are too afraid to pave the way on their own terms. More than that, you shouldn't want to be anything in the first place. You are who you are, no matter how much that sounds like something your neurotic career counsellor told you in those high school meetings.

However, if you want to buy pre-ripped skinny jeans from Urban Outfitters and listen to live recordings of Mumford & Sons through your brand new, oversized headphones because Vice told you that was "in" - fine. Go ahead. I'm happy that's what makes you happy. But don't go around with a haughty look on your face, calling what you're doing something that it's not. To me, that's an offence to those individuals that had the courage to step outside the box in the first place; to go against societal norms and make a stand for what they thought needed to change. To them it wasn't a fashion accessory. It wasn't an image alone. It wasn't something to brag about. Often, it wasn't something they were even aware of. And it certainly wasn't a label crafted by sociology academics galore.  

throwing "hipster" around...

This is what happened when society big-wigs got a hold of the "hipster"; the capitalists and the advertisers and the money grubbers. They turned it into something so completely opposite to what it once was, the outcome has become almost comical.What do I mean by this? Well, if you're floating around town in a pair of non-prescription glasses and a Nirvana tee from H&M, you're not being "edgy", but buying into what ten men in suits, chuckling in an advertising high-rise boardroom, told you to be; you're merely a player in some high street mogul's sick wet dream. No originality here, people, and certainly no trailblazing.  

The "hipster" of today is nebulous - anyone who is creative, social & young - and so lacking in meaning,that you might as well just say "young person" or "youth that enjoys a nice flannel shirt".Why, dear reader, that probably makes you a "hipster", too. Haw haw.

But at the end of the day, after all is said and done, what do these labels actually mean? Because I don the occasional fedora or flower crown or knitted headgear in high summer, that makes me a "hippie"? Because my clothing colour of choice has and will always be black, that makes me a "goth"? Because I enjoy a pumpkin-spiced latte every now and again, that makes me "basic"? Because I resent being called any of these things, that makes me a "hipster"? 

Why can't I just be Betsy? Why do I have to choose? Can I not like the BJM and the Sex Pistols and Bruce Springsteen and the Spice Girls? Am I not allowed to wear thrifted combat boots and a a dress from Forever 21 at the same time? Should I admit that my most-loved poets are Poe and Ginsberg, even though I like to pin inspirational quotes on Pinterest? Do I have to make a decision between "camp Starbucks" and "camp independent coffee house that also sells delicious kale chips"? 

Who made these rules and why are we all still playing their fucked-up game? 

Surely these terms have been thrown around so often and with so little thought, that they've started to lose any meaning that they originally maintained. That three-year-old in the flannel shirt: hipster. The grandmother shopping for a parka in the charity store: hipster. The guy drinking a PBR at your cousin's birthday: hipster. Right.

My point, at the end of it all, is that the "hipster" stereotype is too broad. It applies to everybody; whether you want to express your joy at finding a new musical act that no one's heard of yet, who all happen to be polyamorous and play disjointed beats on empty kimchee jars; or if you enjoy creating art from old cigarette ash; or even if you just want to listen to a record on an actual record player, whether it's Madonna or Beirut or Death Cab - "hipster" could apply to anyone who doesn't adhere completely to society's ideals of personhood. The biggest problem of all, therefore, is that the "hipster" is stifling creativity because everyone is afraid of seeming pretentious, or living up to a term that, at the end of the day, is completely vacuous and void of real meaning anyway. 

That's not okay. The very nature of creativity is a catalyst for change, for the evolving and betterment of humanity; to do that, we have to break out of established patterns. Without it, we are cardboard. For me, being different shouldn't have to fall under a label. It shouldn't be laughed at and it certainly shouldn't be made into something that it isn't. 

Indeed, they say that the "hipster" killed us all. But really, the "hipster" killed the hipster.

in conclusion...

You want to call me a hipster? That's fine. I greatly admire the Beats and what they stood for, so I guess you're paying me a compliment. 

You want to call me a "hipster"? Well, maybe that's fine, too. If pompous, pseudo-intellectuals want to throw around that term every which way, branding individuals who stepped out of line, or did things a little differently, or don't want to spend their lives doing what someone else already did, then they might as well say that Leonardo da Vinci was a "hipster". Or Mozart. Or Socrates. Or Jesus Christ. And if that's the case, society, then maybe I want to be a "hipster" after all. 

But honestly? I'd rather you just called me Bets.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Wear + Tear: Check It

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| thursday eighteenth september |





Top: Handmade | Trousers: Zara | Gilet: eBay | Hat: Thrifted | Shoes: eBay | Ring: Emgems

My first "Outfit of the Day" post, or Wear + Tear as I've decided to moniker it, in a very trailblazing, avant-garde sort of way.

Today was one of my favourite, slash, least favourite days of the year - the day when I switch my closet interior from summer, to winter wear. To celebrate, slash, mourn, I took an introspective wander to my favourite autumn spot, which, let me tell you, was a feat in itself donning four-inch biker "shoots" (an amalgamation of shoes & boots, see what I did there?) I was both pleasantly surprised and 'well-of-course' nonchalant about this year's A/W trends - the tartan, punk vibe is the sort of thing I adore & can very often be found wearing. So it was checks galore this morning - inspired by the grungy layering at Givenchy & Versace - in my tightest pair of checked Zara trousers, accompanied by a jet faux fur gilet - doing it for the veggies. Accessories included a golden tiger eye ring from a small shop in St Ives, Cornwall, an antique gold cross pendant from my grandmother, and the only hat in the history of the world that has actually fit my skull, from a Chinese boutique on eBay. 

What trend will you be representing this winter?

I'll Wait

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| thursday eighteenth september |

I used to spend much of my time at university surfing the internet, looking for beautiful inspiration, and for artwork, photography, and images that moved me. I know I probably should have been reading some Nietzsche, or something, but at the time, this seemed vastly superior in both fun and importance.

Here are some of my favourites. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Little Old Me, A To Z

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|wednesday seventeenth september |

I apologise for the short post today! I decided to do an A to Z of myself, which I found on a fellow blogger's profile. It's a very "un-me" thing to do & sort of reminds me of the incomparably lame lists people used to upload on Myspace, back when I was pre-pubescent & didn't know any better. If you've ever had the burning desire to ask me a probing question, here are some of the answers. 

A. Age: 22
B. Bed Size: Single - my feet dangle over the end, partly because I'm a tall mutant & partly because I collect cushions, so there are approximately seven hundred thousand taking up the room on my mattress.
C. Chore That You Despise: I'm not one for chores in general, if I'm honest. Anything to do with cleaning, especially hoovering. Or loading the dishwasher.
D. Dogs: Love. Especially my three-year-old cocker-spaniel, Ronald Eddie Dexter Chadbourn, whose favourite things include pappadums, croissants, open fireplaces & long walks - pretentious, huh. 
E. Essential Start To Your Day: Music. I have to set the perfect song for my alarm, otherwise I tend to wake up in a mood. It changes from time to time, but currently, it's Wouldn't It Be Nice by the Beach Boys. 
F. Favourite Colour: Forest Green.
G. Gold Or Silver: Silver.
H. Height: 5 foot 9 and a 1/2 inches - that half inch is extremely important. The thing about my height is, I was rather short for most of my childhood, right up until I was about seventeen, when I had this magical growth spurt & suddenly became one of the tallest people I knew. Weird.
I. Instruments You Play: Violin, Guitar, Ukulele & I sing - my voice is my instrument of choice.
J. Job Title: Freelance Journalist, Creative Curator, Aspiring Novelist & Free-loading Graduate.
K. Kids: One day. I love children of all kinds, shapes & sizes. When I'm married to Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen or Johnny Depp, I hope to have three or four. 
L. Live: Mercia, England.
M: Mother's Name: Elizabeth Marie Theresa.
N. Nicknames: There are so many. Bets, mainly. Chadbourn, Chadders, Betsy-Boo, B, B-Shawaddy, B-Chad, Betty. My brother calls me Bet. My father calls me Simba - because of my mad, mane-like hair - and Boogle, because, well, dads are odd. And there are a few unsuitable to print, of course, thanks to my dear friends.
O. Overnight Hospital Stays: After I was born, a very incompetent doctor managed to crack open my skull and spill spinal fluid everywhere, which partly explains why I'm insane but also seems to be a record for fastest injury post-birth. When I was six I had terribly serious Meningitis, which meant that I was in the hospital for a long while. A couple of years ago I was rushed to Edinburgh Infirmary with what I thought was appendicitis, but was actually food poisoning from my darling best friend's glorious cooking. Apart from that, I've been to hospital a number of times, including: two car crashes, that time my brother threw a rock at my head & that time I fell over and almost ripped my legs clean off. I enjoy beating out death, as you can see.
P. Pet Peeves: When people are late, mostly. Slow walking when I'm in a hurry. And for some reason, vibrato whistling really bugs me. 
Q. Quote From A Book & A Movie: My literature quote is from my most-loved & treasured book of all time, On The Road by Jack Kerouac - "The only people for me are the mad ones". I couldn't decide on just one cinema quote, because I have so many favourite movies. So I picked two, one from It's A Wonderful Life, because, despite being relatively unemotional as a human, this line comes right at the end of the film and gets me every time - "To my big brother George, the richest man in town". And the other from Almost Famous, because Penny Lane is my idol & I semi live my life by this quote - "I always tell girls, don't take it seriously. If you don't take it seriously, you never get hurt. If you never get hurt, you always have fun. And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends ".
R: Right Or Left Handed: Right.
S. Siblings: One younger brother, Joseph Nathaniel, who is twenty. One younger sister, Eve Christiane, who is fourteen. 
T. Travelling: I am unashamed to say that I have extreme wanderlust syndrome. If I had the pennies, I would be on the road every day of my life, from now until forever. My favourite place in the world is America, especially the east coast, from New Hampshire to Virginia. Although, I still have to visit the rest of it. I'm especially keen to see Washington, Tennessee, Wyoming & California. Otherwise, I'm planning a European locomotive adventure, from Italy to Iceland. I've had a Scandinavian obsession for a long while now & will not stop until I've seen every inch of it. 
U. Underwear: I'm not too sure what this is asking, but yes, I do wear it.. most of the time. I'm one for matching sets, because I think it looks neat. I'm not one for incredibly skimpy underwear, because I don't really see the point. I like boy shorts and hipsters and black lace.
V. Vegetable You Hate: I love nearly all vegetables - one of the joys of being a vegetarian, I suppose. Not too fond of butternut squash, but that's about it. 
W. What Makes You Run Late: Nothing. I despise being late & make a point of arriving at least a quarter of an hour early to every thing. 
X. X-Rays You've Had: I'm not too sure how many.. I've been to hospital enough times (see above) so I'm positive I've had a few. But I've never broken a bone - touch wood - despite my innate and unwavering clumsiness. 
Y. Yummy Things You Make: I cook & bake an awful lot, so it would take forever to write everything down. Also, do you not think this question is rather leading towards a place of arrogance? How bold. The most recent thing I concocted were some gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free muffins with yoghurt frosting AND I picked the damsons, apples & plums that went inside. Domestic Goddess right here, folks. 
Z. Zoo Animal: This is genuinely the most difficult question. I love animals & have a long list of personal favourites. My top five are, owls, wolves, bats, foxes & ducks, although I adore otters, deer and elephants, too. My favourite zoo animal would probably be penguins - I have an adopted one at Edinburgh Zoo, called Pingin. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Fall Vibes

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|monday fifteenth september |

Today was one of those days I kind of had mixed emotions about. I woke up too late, in this awful mood, because I hadn't slept until six am, and I still had yesterday's makeup caked to my skin and as soon as I opened my eyes I had an overwhelming urge to leave and get away as quickly as I could because being alone seemed both the best and worst option, and then I wanted to bury my whole self in my duvet at the same time. I think, in part, it was because I hadn't been able to sleep, for one reason or another, as I said. But also because today, the fifteenth, is the day I was supposed to be starting classes at Dartmouth under the creative writing graduate programme. I won't bore you with the details about why I couldn't go, but know, I guess, it was somewhat to do with finances.The "mixed emotions" part comes in because, as soon as I stepped into the chilly sunshine, I felt like fate was just waiting to reveal something wonderful - you know?

But, to get to the point of this post, I love the autumn. It's my favourite time of year; the smell of old leaves and chimney smoke biting the air, the crisp feeling underfoot, the frostiness of the sun, the hues of the world, life coming full circle in death and renewal. I was inspired to create a post using all the things that I've found, and that remind me, of the fall. Expect many more with autumn, witchy vibes to come!

These rings used to be my very favourite things until they started to turn my fingers coppery and blue and smudged, like the dusk just before a storm over the mountains. The one on the far left is a "kissing" crescent moon & star toe ring from ASOS, that my toes were too fat for. Then comes the homemade wire ring I made last winter when I was bored on the train to Edinburgh one weekday. And finally, the faux milky opal in tibet etched silver, is a gem (see what I did there?) I found on an insomniac's trawl of eBay in the spring. I've always been both in love with, and a little self-conscious of, my hands - they're wrinkled like an old woman's, but small and slender like some kind of elf child. I quite enjoy that combination. 

The two photos above it I took at the Miner's Welfare grounds, a place that I frequent when I want to smoke without my parents knowing. I should really quit soon, but what can I say, it's a stress response. I have this strange ritual with that "away" sign - I got into the habit of tapping it every time I walked by, imagining in my head that it would have some strange effect on the universe and, you know, actually whisk me away to some far-away land through means unknown to myself. It sounds kind of silly, but if we can't have fairytales as grown-ups, all seems very bleak, don't you think?

Being an obsessive vinyl collector & music maverick - in my own, odd way - one of the things that calms me beyond all measure is organising my vast collection. As I trawl through my iTunes library, I'm often inspired to make a playlist, an art I am determined to perfect. So here is one that combines bands that I love, with songs that give me Fall vibes.

 That bench stands in the middle of the National Forest, which happens to be in my backyard. It is without a doubt, my favourite spot to go and be angsty and pensive and contemplate whatever existential crisis I'm having that day.

Me being exceptionally lame and pouty. Sometimes the situation calls for a completely posed selfie, though. Like, I want to capture this moment where I feel great about the sunshine and the autumn, but I don't want to take a picture of the dying grass. Very Enid from Ghost World, no? Plus, I was desperate to include that brown, suede jacket, which is too big for me but perfect for the frosty mornings to come. It's my favourite item of clothing at the moment and was gifted to me by my wonderfully Irish grandmother, plucked from the depths of her closet. My custom jet & white Nike's are from eBay again, and took some haggling. 

I had to capture the shot of those pigeon feathers, because they seemed so beautifully arranged, like an old Pagan woman had gathered them for a Samhain ritual, or something. The cigarette butts stuffed between the bench slats are sort of poetic, in the sense that each an every one was smoked during some kind of existential crisis - I like to hide them in the same spot and see how many are left after a rain storm. 

These pictures remind me so wholly of the fall. The colours and the clothes - especially Margot Tenenbaum's fur, which I've desperately wanted ever since I decided, at the age of thirteen, that she was my idol. 

1. Johnny Depp in Cry Baby 2. Milla Jovovich in Dazed & Confused 3. Ellen Page as Juno 4. Gwyneth Paltrow as the incomparable Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums 5. Gwyneth and Luke Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums 6. Twin Peaks