From Our Readers: One True Statement About Hippies And Hipsters
One true statement about hippies and hipsters is that no one is really a hippie or a hipster. Of course theyre just roles to play or membership cards to stick in your pocketbook of identity. Anyway, the closest thing to a true hippie or hipster is someone who would refuse to accept the label; he who was at Big Cypress but also proudly displays his Clash records today; he just likes to rock. He who is most unwilling to accept the clichs actually the embodiment of it, because the turning away is based in fear. Categorizations only become real when you refuse to accept themBe not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimesDont eat yellow snow.
No, thats not right. The truth about hippies and hipsters can be found by analyzing the basic components of each category; deconstructing the terms into their atomic, irreducible essence. Chuck Klosterman, the most fervent anti-hipster hipster, makes a good point in Killing Yourself To Live. He basically says that his perfect musical moment is characterized by a solitary and beautiful feeling of pure melancholic absorption akin to the emotional climax of a movie, specifically, a good indie movie thats also democratic enough to star someone like Jim Carey, like, say, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He says that hed rather have this feeling than to just feel good and dance. So maybe we can say that the hipster likes to revel in his (or her, of course) emotional fog of beauty while the hippie likes to get down; the hipster dances with his ego while the hippie dances because his ego just left the building. I guess you could say that, but then why does my neighbor who wears those funky-rimmed glasses with degraded Bowie t-shirts love dancing like an idiot to the Honky Tonk Heroes. And what was that dude with dreadlocks doing at the Aimee Mann show last month?
Maybe the one true thing I can say about hippies and hipsters is that, according to the hip music press, it isnt cool to be a hippie, or more generally, to join up with jamband culture. I recently read an article in which a critic argued that Bob Marleys legacy has been mortally damaged by hippies (specifically, stoned teenagers) because hipsters and the music cognoscenti wont go within whiffing distance of Marleys lame fans patchouli stank. This article really bugged me, and not just due to the visceral absurdity of coming off as pretentious and joyless when talking about Bob Marley (Ive been trying to come up with an analogy for this (for a long time), that would encapsulate how paradoxical it is to be pompous about Bob Marley (writing a limerick about Hitler?) but I cant find a truly just synonym).
No, my real problem with the article was its assumption that anyone who owns a bong, isnt completely embarrassed by the sight of a hackysack, and has gyrated to Phish, is automatically excised from the world of musical taste. It seems that there is nothing more disparaging to say to someone who claims to really appreciate music than to call him a hippie. Its like being called a liberal on Fox News. When Ryan Adams recently admitted to liking the Grateful Dead, it was spoken of as if he was coming out of the closet in rural Nebraska; something that only a crazy fucker would ever contemplate. This argument has become so ubiquitous (see every recent article on Matisyahu) that it has even been co-opted within the jamband scene. A recent article on this site (Jambands Anonymous) alludes to this form of jamband self-hate, correctly noting that a lot people who write in jambandy arenas make similarly dismissive statements, probably because its cool to do so. So maybe the truth about hipsters and hippies lies in their relative class positions, their place within the pop culture caste system. Didnt some German dude once say that class struggle is what defines and directs history?
But that doesnt seem to be true either, and even it is true, it makes me feel like Im a Republican with parted hair whining about the liberal media, which doesnt feel good. It might feel true, but it doesnt feel good. And the one true statement about hippies and hipsters has to make me feel good because, I guess Ill admit it, Im a hippie, and secretly believe that truth arrives when youre feeling good. With this in mind, I started thinking about truth and goodness, and, wouldnt-cha-know-it, came up with a thought.
What could be truer and gooder than that one musical moment that seemed to tell you what music should be? The one moment in your past (which is now a memory or maybe just a nostalgic image of something that never really happened (it doesnt matter) that felt so good or real or better than most of the other moments, memories, and nostalgic constructions in your head, that it formed your musical identify (that is, until another powerful moment came along to displace it when the original moment had atrophied). So it must be the context of that primordial moment that defines your musical world; the decorations that surrounded your most powerful epiphany that dictate your future preferences, which masquerade as preferences, but are really psycho-spiritual strands of musical DNA that you simply dont have the power to alter. So hippies and hipsters arent really that different, except that they were born into different musical places. Theres no more difference between them than between someone born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn and someone born to Baptists in Alabama one likes tsimus and the other likes collards, but what they both really like is what tastes like home. So what Im saying, I guess, is that were all basically the same and should come to love and appreciate each other.
So I suppose I didnt have to admit it; its painfully clear that Im a big fat hippie.
But I also love Pavement, really.