I've traveled throughout this great land of ours, and the truly "alternative" people I have met are very few and far between.
Of those that I would consider "alternative", they all had one thing in common, and that one thing is that they were all loners. Every, single, solitary one of them. They had few friends, did almost everything by themselves, and had absolutely no discernible social group. Because of this, they were obscure. Nobody knew that they were "alternative", and that is exactly why they were.
The friendless guy that stays home on Saturday night, writing a GPS app for Android and then giving it away under a pseudonym before returning to his day job on Monday selling corn dogs at Walmart ... THAT guy is alternative. That's the guy who really doesn't care what other people think.
The people with pierced tongues and purposefully messed-up hair standing outside of a music club at 2am are anything but alternative. That scene has played itself out for decades. I've been through the whole thing myself, and believe me when I tell you ... punk/alternative rock is the largest conformist clusterfuck I have ever experienced. Listen to the right music, hold the right ideals, worship the right people, have the correct political views ... or else. Being a punk rocker is not all that different from being a Baptist. Same pressures, different gods.
The fact of the matter is that you cannot be alternative in a group. It's simply not possible. You cannot be alternative and social, you have to pick one or the other. All groups demand conformity, and once you identify with ANY of them, you have ceded your individuality and have simply become a member of a different mainstream.
Sure, you hipsters like to roll your eyes and consider yourselves somehow more out-of-the-mainstream than the obese family eating fried chicken on the couch while watching American Idol, but the fact is that you are far more of a conformist than they are. They are not trying to impress anyone. They are not going out of their way to be different or ironic. They are simply doing their own thing without regard for the perceptions of others. They are being exactly who they are.
In the USA, that, my friend, is alternative.
Everywhere I look lately, all I see is posers. I see honkies sipping Pabst Blue Ribbon beer while sporting keffiyehs around their necks. Keffiyehs are what the Palestinian people wear over their faces while they are flinging rocks at Israeli soldiers to avoid being singled out for retribution later. Apparently, hipsters wear keffiyehs to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. They think they are being revolutionary, but they are anything but.
My friend lives next to a hipster house in Seattle's U District, and one of his neighbors who I call "I'm so apathetic I don't even comb my hair and I want the world to see that I am so apathetic that I don't comb my hair guy" drives this:
This guy is about 25 years old; lives in a house; in a great neighborhood; attends a great school; owns a decent automobile; is clearly well-fed ... yet he is angry, young, and poor.
What, what, what, what is he so fucking "angry" about?
When I was young and poor, I would have killed to have a Subaru Outback. I would have loved to have lived in the U District, drinking Pabst with all of my buddies between classes. Not only that, but on some days the guy has a kayak strapped to his car. A KAYAK!
Do you know how many young, poor folks from the ghetto drive Subaru Outbacks and go kayaking on the weekend?
Come on guys, what in the fuck are you so angry about? Was daddy late with the rent check again? Did he get you the 2.4Ghz MacBook Pro when you clearly asked for the 2.66Ghz? What is it with you guys and your Apple computers anyway? Do you have any idea how many young, poor, and angry people own 2010 model MacBook Pros?
Apple computers are made in Chinese sweatshops. Sweatshops which have seen repeated suicides over the years due to deplorable working conditions. Steve Jobs is an evil motherfucker who happens to be far less philanthropic than Bill Gates. You're not fighting the power by using MacBooks, you are the goddamn power.
Now that I am in slightly whiter environs for the first time in ... ever ... hipsters are my new arch-nemesis and I hate them with a passion formally reserved for Steve Wynn and Spermin' Sherman Frederick.
"Hey Rex, don't hate hipsters ... they may be dingleberries on the asscrack of life, but there's no harm in what they do."
This used to be my position, but over time I have grown to have a real, true hatred for this demographic. At least in its current incarnation.
You see, even though they seem like nothing more than benign, submoronic posebags, if you think a little more deeply about what these people are doing ... it's pretty messed up.
Hipsters drive up the cost of inner-city housing, drive up the cost of cheap, durable goods, and make a mockery of the true suffering of millions of people worldwide.
And for what?
To conform to some silly working-class fantasy. To escape from their unglamorous strip mall suburban upbringings.
What next -- privileged white kids from Evergreen University walking around in blackface, shackled like slaves, waiting in line to hear some guy play "Go Down Moses" on his acoustic guitar?
At what point does the irony just become offensive?
When is the point at which we say "Okay, this is getting ridiculous, we need to get the Las Vegas Police Department to go Costco on these motherfuckers and thin their ranks"?
In my opinion, that point is now, and it is exactly why I say ... Die Hipsters, Die.
I sincerely hope that you all get your wish and are forced to live lives of abject poverty and oppression. I hope that one day you are all forced to live on the street, unsure of where your next meal will come. I'm not talking the voluntary "I'm going to tough this out on my own and not call daddy for a plane ticket back to Reseda" homeless -- I'm talking "I have no money, no friends, no family, nobody to call, and I'm pretty sure the guy walking toward me is going to rape me" homeless.
Voluntary poverty is edgy ... involuntary poverty is terrifying. If you have an "out"; if you have a reset button; if you can drop the lifestyle like yesterday's fad, then you're just shitting in the face of all of those out there who are really, truly ... angry, young, and poor.
Barring that, for those of you out there who are so entrenched in your alt-life fantasy that you can't wake up, I hope that one day you really do find yourself on the receiving end of an M-16, and I hope the Israeli Army uses that piece of cloth around your neck as a bullseye.
I hope your only method of escape is a fixed-gear bicycle, and I hope the nearest friendly village is 80 miles distant, and uphill all the way.
Assuming you survived, I've no doubt that you would quickly come to realize that the suburbs weren't so bad after all. You would soon discover that gears on bikes are a good thing; that you are not, never were, and never will be oppressed; that living in the inner-city without access to money sucks; that irony is only ironic when it is unexpected; that you could never cut it as a real bicycle messenger; that sprockets on bikes are a sign of intellectual superiority; that Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is overrated; that even Soundgarden's worst songs are better than what is currently on your iPod, and that minivans are the most practical motor vehicles ever invented.
I should know about that last item. I have one myself, and it's the only thing I love more than my bicycle and the bus stop at my door.
You can fit a lot of used furniture and second-hand clothing inside of a minivan, and up to 7 unbathed humans can ride in blissful comfort as Top 40 radio wafts through the bass-less factory sound system.
For 90%+ of my life I lived a car-less existence. I paid my dues and did my part to save the planet. Now, with busted knees and an aging scrotum, I've decided to indulge in creature comforts such as driving. After all, I've earned it. Also, try as I might, I just can't fit my entire family on the handlebars of my mountain bike.
Once you cast off the shackles of faux-oppression and conformo-alternativism, a wonderful world of practical, modern, completely non-ironic tools will become available to truly improve the quality of your own life as you, and only you, see fit.
When you avail yourself of these tools despite their coolness; despite the sneers, snickers, and ridicule of your peers ... maybe, just maybe, you will have a shot at being what you have always dreamed of being: Alternative.
Take it from me, the original hipster.
Read: Die Hipsters, Die 1