04 September 2007


In relation to my promised building of a fixed gear bike.

God. What is it about hipsters that we dislike? That makes us sneer? Where is the line drawn between us and them? And who is paying for all those bikes?

In a glorious and exciting trade Peter is helping me to build a fixed-gear, and I am teaching him to cook. We will trade cookbooks for bikebooks, and kitchen intuition for dérailleur adjustment technique. I rode Peter's bike for 24 hours from Sunday to Monday (while he trekked out of the state on mine). I have never been so exhilarated on a bicycle before. I felt like hot lightning. I was up near Pembroke campus and wanted to go to Prospect Park, which would have been about 20 seconds away, but I was thirsty, so I shot home for a glass of water, and then back to the park. Monday morning I was sore. The first time I'd been sore from biking that I can remember.

Having my own monster bike back is lugubrious. I can hardly move the pedals. I wallow in gears, brakes, and a seat the size of a couch. The result of all this is that I want a fixed-gear bike, and I want to ride it, and I want to be hot lightning again.

The problem, and the reason I'd like to write about all this, is that I want other people to see it. Eyes will move over my single gear, and take in my constant pedaling. Somehow it will be different. It will be cool. But where does this 'cool' feeling come from? Cursed while blessed I am. An inability to shake this awareness haunts me, blows past me as I ride.

Cool and hip are two distinct things. I am defining them now=> Cool is the feeling you get when you wear your favorite shirt, rock new kicks, bust moves, answer questions, say hi to a lot of people, sing, and even vote (I voted!). It is a totally imagined awareness of people noticing your cool item/talent/attribute/sticker. I repeat: all imagined. I feel cool when I wear my green jean cut-offs because I think they look good, for example. I feel gazes slide smoothly over my thighs, even though they do no such thing.

Hip is what everyone thinks can't be cool because it is too cool. Bikes, being in bands, 'finding' bands, big basketball shoes and tight pants, screenprinted shirts, etc. I see the hipsters on their painted fixtys and I feel certain that they are too hip. But, and I think this is the key, who is this everyone? It certainly doesn't actually refer to everyone. Hip hop culture does not celebrate or reject or even recognize this kind of hipness. In the words of a former resident at the Training School, "Man, why you dress all weird an' shit? I seen y'all, wearing tight pants and all." Its not good, bad, or ugly. Just weird.

I propose that the 'everyone' that we are dealing with here are the hipsters. The visible hipsters, the hated ones, are the ones most likely filled with the most insecurity. But we only hate them because of our own insecurities. Who would actually snicker over a bike if it didn't affect them on some insecure emotional level, whether they are snickering over a lack of gears or a surplus? "Fixed gear, that's so hip"/"Mountain bike, ohmigod. Hideous." Anyone culturally informed such that they can mock someone for being a hipster, is a hipster. Anyone who wants to play the game. To stick the nose in the air. To jump when cool kids don't jump. To not jump when cool kids do. We are all hipsters. Anyone who knows what I'm talking about, who is affected, who jokes, 'that's so hip'.

And its fine. That is the great thing. Who cares? The necessary part is that we recognize it, own up to it, and then release our little dislikes and insecurities. We are all here in relation, and we all jump sometimes, and the better we feel about the whole deal, the higher and further we go, right? If I am perfectly honest with my self, as cheesy as this gets, I find that almost every judgment I make on others reflects on something in myself, some doubt or criticism. Through our complex network of hate and insecurity we are all creating the hipster snob, for good or for bad, s/he is the product of everybody's insecurities, slammed into a single human, wearing tight pants and placed for some reason onto a bicycle with a single, fixed gear.


Coogan said...

kiss those knees goodbye, jc.

post again. post again.

Anonymous said...

hah the fixed gear = bad knee myth..