Saturday, October 29, 2011

What is Hip?

Hipsters (also scenesters) are a subculture of young, recently settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers with musical interests that appeared in the 1990s.  Hipster culture has been described as a "mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behaviors."

The term itself was coined during the jazz age, when "hip" emerged as an adjective to describe aficionados of the growing scene.   Although the adjective's exact origins are disputed, some say it was a derivative of "hop," a slang term for opium, while others believe it comes from the West African word "hipi," meaning "to open one's eyes."  Nevertheless, "hip" eventually acquired the common English suffix -ster (as in spinster and gangster), and "hipster" entered the language.

I have opened my eyes.  If hipster means that I embrace long-ago lifestyles, then no, I am not a hipster.  If it means, as I think it does, that I have "opened one's eyes," then I proclaim myself a hipster.  Case in point:  Music.  I was one of those kids who stood in line for concert tickets and records.  Huge portions of my free time were spent preparing to queue-up at the local record store for a ticket to the latest high-end rock show at The Spectrum.  Now, I can sit on my computer and, in a fraction of the time, get the same ticket to the same show.

We bought records that we would take home and place on turntables, hoping that they would "play." If they skipped, we had a myriad of solutions to make it work.  It was stressful.  Now, I can order an mp3 from several different web sites and know that when I "open file" it will indeed open, without any scratches or surface noise that I experienced (and expected) as a teenager.

If being a "hipster" means that I have embraced my new lifestyle, then I welcome the change.  I like being able to sit at home and order a ticket to a show, or download a noiseless file of new music.  I am an aficionado of the growing scene.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

An odd thing that happened while I was watching TV.

When I come to someone with an announcement of a new technology or practice that I have adopted, I often get the "You'd be better off ..." response.  You know the type.  "I just got a new Droid phone," you announce. To which they reply, "Oh ... you should have gotten an iPhone." As if that was an option or something you would have considered.
The proper response would have been, "Oh, that's nice. Great!" Or something in that vein.  We do not announce our life's decisions with the idea that they will be greeted with anything but approval.  We want our decisions to be confirmed by our peers. It's one of the things that separates us from the spiders and lizards.  We have politics.

Which brings me to my television viewing habits and the reasons I turn the television off sometimes. I was aimlessly tuning around the thing after Wednesday's usual awesome episode of "Modern Family," which included the line "This whole thing is a colossal fog cue," which, if you didn't see the episode, is lost on you.  Nevertheless...

As I turned the stations, I came across an Ani DiFranco concert on my local PBS station.  It was a few years old, but I like Ani, so I figured it would make nice background music while I stalked Facebook pages,  Twitter accounts and such.

Ani came out on stage - in her hometown of Buffalo - to tumultuous applause, as one would expect.  The camera did one of those crowd pans, which gave me an idea of what would follow.  There seemed to be a dearth of men in the audience, and a lot of wide-eyed women with hero worship glowing on their faces.  At  the very least, there was a dearth of men in the front of the auditorium where the camera was focused.  I have been to Indigo Girls and Holly Near shows, so the thought occurred ... let's check the Wikipedia listing to see what is going on here.

What was going on was that Ani has admitted (an odd word) to being bisexual.  So now, the show took on an entirely different meaning.  As the crowd swelled and cheered with each of her proclamations, I started to get annoyed that the music did not seem to be the priority.  The priority was that Ani was standing up for like-minded women regardless of her music or whatever the show was supposed to be about.  Every syllable was greeted with a "whoop" or round of applause that became annoying to those of us who were tuning in to hear the  ... um ... music.

Then, it dawned on me.  Several of them weren't there to hear the music as much as they were there to have their beliefs and lifestyle vindicated by a celebrity - such that Ani is a celebrity.  The between-songs chanting and cheering affected me to the point that, after a half hour of it I decided that I didn't need their lifestyle approved of on my television.  Sadly, I couldn't concentrate on her music as much as I fixated on the pending approval of her viewpoint by the audience of sycophants.

I didn't think that's what music or entertainment was supposed to be.  Perhaps there are thousands of people who need their lifestyle vindicated by a celebrity in public, but for me, that isn't the case.  If the chanting approval of like-minded people is going to get in the way of art, then perhaps the art isn't the priority?

I'm just saying.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The reason I don't gamble.

I don't understand the slot machines.  They are all different, take different amounts of money and use different symbols on the wheels.  Instead of cherries, sevens and cigars they should just say "win" or "lose."  I think that would make it easier for us to understand.

I went to the Golden Nugget  in Atlantic City tonight to see Kathleen Madigan.  She's very funny, even though she is very tiny and from St. Louis and a Cardinals fan.

I'm not a gambler and I only go to Atlantic City when I'm going to a show. Otherwise, the whole thing could slip into the ocean and I'd hardly notice.  Because I was going, I stopped at the ATM and pulled out $120, thinking that I couldn't possibly drink and gamble that much money.  Well, at least I couldn't gamble that much.

I sat at the bar and had a few beers before the show.  I waddled into the casino and threw $40 into a slot machine.  I'm not sure what it was all about, other than at times some cigars showed up and some noise was made.  In the end, I cashed-out ten dollars because I didn't want to sit there and miss the show.

After the show, I went back with my ten dollars and threw it into a different machine.  This one had sevens and cherries in it.  I pushed the "Max Bet" button a few times, and one of the times it made a lot of noise for a long time and I saw numbers going up on the machine.  I wasn't sure how much actual money it was because it was all about "credits" and I didn't have the inclination or skill to divide it by the fifty cents that each bet was worth.  Rather than do high-powered math, I pushed the "Cash Out" button (the smallest button - the "Max Bet" is the largest) and out came a voucher for $106.25.

Since I'm not a gambler and realize the value of $106.25, I made a bee line for the "Redemption" window (also very small), took my $106.25 and went home.  Some people would have continued to gamble, thinking they were on a roll or something.  I didn't expect to see anything close to the three symbols that gave me the $106.25 again, and figured I should get out while I could still rationalize the event.  When I got home, I pulled $125 out of my pocket and left it on my dresser.

I win.