Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ja, I'm a hipster

The stereotype of the LBS is that it's owned by an ex-pro and staffed by a bunch of up-and-coming guys in their late teens who are more interested in pro-dealing their shot at the big time than customer service. Cyclesmith is not like this. The average age on the sales-floor in the low 40s and most of the guys are on career 2.0.  One of the advantages of this is a wealth of disparate experiences and a fairly thick skin to boot. I like to feel we're also pretty small-l liberal; black, white, pink, rainbow. It doesn't matter.

There is one caveat. They used to say that anti-catholicism was the last remaining acceptable -ism in North America. At Cyclesmith creed or colour doesn't matter but i think there is one, last acceptable -ism.


Well, certainly against each other.

Hipster, like art, is notoriously hard to define.  There seem to be some commonly agreed-upon biomarkers; fixed-gear bikes, tattoos, facial hair, art-house coffee shops, music from the eighties and beer.

Here, many of us accuse each other (jocularly, mind you.  At least I hope it is) of being hipsters, we'll great each other with "I'm sorry sir, we don't serve your type in here", and deny any such accusation against ourselves.  As the definition if hipster is so vague, it's easy to pigeon-hole so-and-so as a hipster based on meeting only a small set of criteria e.g. bike and beer, whilst willfully ignoring facial hair and "career" in social media.  The "no I'm not a hipster" defense doesn't do anything as, as we we all know, there's nothing a hipster likes less than being pigeon-holed. It's a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose situation.

I'm going to take a stand. I'm not going to deny my hipsteristic tendencies any more. Just like suppressing your sexuality can lead you on your knees getting arrested for indecent acts public washrooms, I'm afraid that if I continue to deny my hipsterism, I'm going to end up simultaneously wearing fake tortoiseshell glasses and contacts or start drinking PBR.  So, whilst I may not have a bike-polo mallet (Tony Lacopia, I am talking to you), my name is Andrew and I am a hipster.

Lets look at the evidence.

1) I live in a condo in the North End of Halifax. When you read the "Gentrifying Scum Out Of Our Neighborhood" graffiti, they're talking about me or to me.

2) Not only do I drive a Smart car (four seats are too mainstream), so does my wife. In fact, we park two Smart cars in a single parking spot in that gentrified North End condo. Because one spot per car is, well, just too mainstream.

3) We were early adopters of Two If By Sea cafe in Dartmouth. We don't go any more because it's way too crowded nowadays and the nature of the crowd has changed since their halcyon opening days. In short, we don't go to TIBS, a watch-word for hipsters in this town, any more because it's too mainstream!

4) Instead we go to Java Blend. Does it matter we can see it from our balcony? No. Does it matter if Jim is a friend? No. Does it matter that Jim supports the events we put on including our wedding? Hell no. What matters is we get our coffee from the same place as this guy.

5) Fixies. I have two. One is a straight-up fixie, one is a road-bike conversion. I'm the original owner of both. They have brakes, fenders, a GPS speedo. In short they're proper bikes and I do proper rides on them. Have you done Peggys Cove on 68" fixed? Does any of this matter compared to the fact I bought one of the frames because the chromed lugs made it look retro? Retro? Authentic? Hello? Hipster.

5.5) There's a Brooks saddle on one of those fixies. Sigh.

6) I'll freely acknowledge my shoe problem (Filipino!) but really, I have a bike jersey problem. Hell, I could have a chapter of the Bike Jersey Project book all to myself. I'd like to draw the jury's attention to two jerseys. The Crest jersey was my club jersey in the late eighties. It still fits me. But it's like from the eighties. Pretty hipster. The retro-look Adidas wool jersey? I bought it on sale at the La Cordee in St Bruno because it looked retro and would look great when I was on those fixies. Hipster? Duh!

7) Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, ABC, Culture Club? I like music from the eighties. Of course I like music from the eighties. I came of age in the eighties. Mind you, I like The Smiths nowadays, but I didn't care for them in the actual eighties because everyone else was listening to them; in short they were too mainstream. Evidence perhaps of latent hipster tendencies even back in the eighties. I had a crush on Molly Ringwald when I was, like, you know, in high school and she was playing kids who were, like, you know, in high school. Does any of this stand in mitigation against the fact I have hours of eighties music on my iPod and copies of The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink on the shelf? Hell no. Hipster.

8) I can, in fact, wear my wife's jeans. The legs are a touch tight and a short on me, but that's OK because then they don't get caught in the chain. The only thing that's worse than this would be having those Rapha jeans with the Rapha logo on the inside, so it can be read when the pants-cuff is rolled up to mid-shin. Furthermore, I do, in fact, have actual Rapha cycling clothing and yes, I have worn the cycling cap as a stand-alone fashion accessory.

9) I used drink imported Belgian beer; Hoegaarden, Duvel and the like. Pretentious? Moi? I used to think it was about getting in touch with my inner Flandrian (cyclocross is the next big thing you know), but really it was more about Molson being too mainstream. Who cares if Olands is brewed down the street and fits in with the 100 mile diet ethos (hipster), but hipster beer credentials trump buying beer with a low carbon footprint. Nowadays, I get my beer in a growler, because bottles are, like, too mainstream.

10) I don't have tattoos. But I get enough cat-5 tattoos at work portaging the bikes around. I don't so much have a chain-ring tattoo on my leg as having a succession of them. Similarly, I don't have a NOBR AKES knuckle tattoo as I skin my knuckles on other peoples bikes. Seriously man, permanent tattoos are just too mainstream.

I'm trying to get help, but it may be too late. It may have run it's course. In short, my name is Andrew and I'm a hipster.

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