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Jan 10 2012

One more thing

Also, am I the only one who compulsively watched that “Portlandia” marathon on IFC the other day even though the unrelenting, precious self-consciousness of it made me want to rip my own ex-hipster face off?

Hey, I finally wrote a sentence concise enough for Facebook! I’m gonna post it right away!

69 comments

  1. The Nerd

    No, in fact, you are not. I watched it compulsively on Hulu this weekend and found myself addicted to it like a horror movie.

  2. buttercup

    It looks like a funny show. I’ve been wanting to check it out, as another old ex-hipster.

  3. yttik

    Portlandia really nails some of the characters and culture of the PNW.

    I am of course, a bitter humorless feminist and a cynic too, so I think Portlandia could have taken it a step farther and really exposed some uncomfortable truths. As usual, they just needed more strong feminist voices to guide them. What you often find around here is the same old crap, racism, classism, patriarchy, just wrapped up in new and hip packaging. We really do have organic, free range chicken farms everybody worships and just kind of overlooks the fact that they’re run by a male cult leader who has 7 “wives” doing all the work.

  4. josquin

    I watched Portlandia for the first time the other day and was positively squirming with discomfort, but absolutely could not stop watching. And I confess that yes, I WILL go back for more when the next season is available. That riff about “did you read the article-yeah did you read that article-yeah I did, did you read the other article -yeah I read it did you read that other piece -yeah I read it did you read-” was enough to keep me coming back for more.

  5. Vesna

    Delurking to confess to also watching the whole season in one sitting. It is pretty blindingly white, I though series captured hipster vibe to perfection, so it is annoying and interesting at the same time.

  6. Carpenter

    Portlandia reminds me of Christopher Guest movies, the characters are spot on but the ribbing of said characters is very gentle. That said, I loved the bit about cool stuff being over, and I swear to God I know the Put-a-Bird-On-It guy personally.

  7. Jezebella

    I watched all of the episodes in a row when they were on On Demand. I had to quit reading Apartment Therapy because I kept seeing things with birds on them and thinking “PUT A BIRD ON IT.” I also immediately texted my acupuncturist friend in Portland to ask her whether she’d hired a house band yet. It does make me squirm because really, I do dream of the 90s and miss Riot Grrrls and grunge and wish I could wear Doc Martens and skater shorts and flannel shirts and not look like a relic.

  8. Carpenter

    Also don’t forget to put an owl or an octopus on it.

  9. Ugsome

    One of the benefits of living in France is no Portlandia. We do have a surfeit of Eurodouchebags in pointy shoes though.

  10. speedbudget

    What is this Portlandia of which you speak? I thought I was hip.

    Sigh.

  11. Pinko Punko

    Pointy shoes are the irrational induction of pointy shoe hatred to me- like a spider to someone that wants to smash spiders. 1) They are ugly 2) I think they want to kick me.

  12. tinfoil hattie

    Holy cow, I don’t get any of these jokes! The whole series would probably be wasted on me. I am only 51, so how did I miss hipster culture? I think I was steeped in breastfeeding and Wheels on the Bus.

    That is what I will tell myself, anyway!

  13. Keri

    I was sold after this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBt4HlcDUDw

    “I quit clowning a long time ago.” In Portland, you don’t have to.

  14. Hattie

    Is this some trust fund thang? All the people I know who act like that are getting money from their parents.
    I lived in Portland for ten years, and that was long enough.

  15. speedbudget

    Thanks for the link, Keri. Now I’m going to have to find out if I can watch episodes on Hulu or Netflix.

  16. Sarah

    The Portlandia horrorshow is absolutely a trust fund thing. (@Hattie)

    The syrupy phrase, “Portland is where young people go to retire!” is only possibly with regular cash infusions from parents/trust funds/wherever. You cannot reasonably support living in the Pearl or any other remotely hip location portrayed in that show by rolling out of bed at 11 a.m. to go to your part-time barista or glass-blowing job. Sorry. Just not possible. I was a part-time barista in college, and you know where I got all my money? My mom and the government. If I hadn’t have had that I would have had to drop out and get a real job.

    The portrayal of hipster culture as a bunch of young idealists rejecting capitalism and corporate control is complete and utter bullshit. “Rejecting capitalism” is a “lifestyle choice” reserved for those who can afford it – just like bicycling to work (only if you’re rich enough to live in a well-served/expensive neighborhood with bike paths) or “eating locally” (only if you’ve got enough time and money to shop at farmer’s markets instead of the corner store or the MegaMart) or all those other sustainable choices we’re all supposed to be making – they require investments of time and money that the working class often don’t have.

    The people defining hipster culture are, as usual, young, white, upper-middle males. Like most “alternative” or “sub”cultures, they just co-opt some stuff from the working classes or other underrepresented groups, and then wear that costume until they finally get booted off their parents’ bankrolls, at which point they put on the dominant culture’s costume and go about their business.

    All that being said, I watched all the shows in marathon version on Netflix, because 1) I was stuck inside sick that day and 2) I live in Portland and everyone is always asking me if I watch that damn show, and if it really is like that here.

  17. squiggy

    If anybody has HBO you can watch Portlandia on HBO On Demand.

  18. nails

    Meh, I like portlandia. Mostly because I like portland. I have worked since I was 17 and have no trust fund. The food and nature crap there is awesome, so is the lack of snow every damn year.

  19. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Every couple weeks, I trundle my little-old-lady shopping cart to our local market on public transportation. My city isn’t very hip, and nothing could be further from hipster than my grocery-shopping ritual. Why? Because they have better food (produce and a lot of boffo ethnic stuff like homemade pasta) way cheaper than the supermarket.

  20. squiggy

    Oh hell, I mean IFC On Demand.

  21. josquin

    I believe “Portlandia” is a spoof, not a “how to” manual.
    Also, I’m not sure that all “hipster” youth are trust-fund recipients. Some just find ways to get by.

  22. buttercup

    My elder daughter is a hipster and has a lot of hipster friends. Their economic status is quite varied. In her circles, there is a lot of sharing, thrift shopping, and dumpster diving going on. They scoff at the headdress wearing trust fund hipsters.

  23. speedbudget

    Remember, Kramer was the original hipster, and he had no visible means of support either.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNeYbuBUP48

  24. xtinA

    I live in the midst of the 503 hipsterville although am an old working-class person meself and I find Portlandia to be like fingernails on the blackboard most times. As someone else said upthread the mocking is far too gentle and I feel it comes off as more the sort of ironic in-joke hipsters are so fond of.
    Portland hipsters are just the latest incarnation of snobs who periodically infest this town. Times have historically been so hard here that they seldom get much attention or for long before being swamped by debt, illness, addiction or some other sort of reality check.

  25. Twisty

    Austin is better than Portland. Nyah.

  26. quixote

    Not a chance. Austin is in Texas.

  27. LS

    But is Austin Stories better than Portlandia?

  28. Sylvie

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/peteboyd/2201551442/

  29. Twisty

    Well, I just googled “cacao” and two of the top results were a Portland “pret a porter” chocolate shop and an Austin dessert trailer selling “the best little cake balls in Texas.” You decide.

  30. Amrit

    Just tried to watch ‘Portlandia’ and made it through the first two episodes on Netflix. Loved Aliki and the chicken-cult, but don’t feel compelled to sit through the whole season. I guess it reminds me of Northampton, Massachusetts in it’s salad days. Really liked ‘Put a Bird on It.’ There is a whole shop here in Tucson that is devoted solely to putting a bird/scary face/octopus/ on a seemingly endless list of upcycled items. I think I have a keychain with a squid somewhere.

    Best to you all out there. And happy new year, Jill.

  31. tinfoil hattie

    Also on Netflix insta-watch. Maybe I will watch some episodes so I can be hip to the jive.

  32. Lovepug

    I’m sorry but I have to thrown down here and declare that the true temple of Hipsterdom lies at the end of Shoreline Drive in Mountain View CA which is the home of Google headquarters. At around 9:00 am on a weekday, you can’t swing a cat without hitting at least 5 to 6 hipsters riding their bikes on their way to their overprivileged Google existence.

    26th and Valencia in San Francisco runs a close second. If I have to listen to one more person wax poetic on the awesomeness of a “Mission Burrito” I’m going to light my hair on fire.

  33. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    There’s a rumor circulating that Google will not hire fat folks, which I’m unable to confirm or deny, but the whole Bay Area is pretty high up on the Too Too Precious scale. After a while, it’s exhausting.

    This cacao of which you speak – is it anything to do with caca? Ew.

  34. Twisty

    “If I have to listen to one more person wax poetic on the awesomeness of a “Mission Burrito” I’m going to light my hair on fire.”

    Ha!

  35. quixote

    “Well, I just googled “cacao” and two of the top results were a Portland “pret a porter” chocolate shop and an Austin dessert trailer selling “the best little cake balls in Texas.” You decide.”

    I sit corrected, Twisty. You win hands down. (“Pret a porter chocolate shop”? Pret a porter chocolate shop? Brain bleach! Stat!)

    And Lovepug? Light somebody else’s hair on fire, preferably the most insufferable hipster dude’s. Then they’ll know you’re blaming the P.

  36. Wandering Uterus

    I never really had a clear idea of what a hipster is. Are they pretty much “yuppies: the sequel”? My current idea of them is as a younger generation that never did the hippie thing but pays lip service to world peace, small business, and environmentalism while buying those Starbucks drinks in disposable cups. Perhaps those are just the moneyed hipsters. Are the funky hair and clothes optional, or essential to hipster chic?

  37. Carpenter

    The hipster term encompasses a wide variety of people. Some are what you’d call bohemians- who really are countercultural semi-utopians like hippies. You can pretty much draw a historical straight line from Byron to them. Then others are more your dandies and fops, where they are mostly consumed with aethetics and wit the modern Beau Brummels. Only some of them are yuppies lots come from the middle class, some are indeed trustafarians but there is a huge spread in backgrounds.

  38. Anne

    I’ve developed an addiction to Downton Abbey, this British hybrid of Masterpiece Theater and Falcon’s Crest. It’s stately and trashy at the same time. I just start getting pulled in by some quality British writing and character development when somebody says something really schlocky like, “I know it’s a cliche, but I believe she died of a broken heart.” *puke* I love it and I love to hate it. I can’t look away.

    Just had to get that off my chest thanks.

    There’s also this new sitcom called Work It about two dudes who dress up as women in order to get jobs in the “mancession.” The show’s so egregiously sexist even the mainstream press is criticizing it. I predict it will be on the air for at least ten years.

  39. Jezebella

    Downton Abbey is The Shit. I can’t get enough of it.

  40. Moonlight

    As an alumna of Reed College (more than a few years back), I have been afraid to watch “Portlandia.” (I stayed one year after graduation and then moved on). Should I?

  41. IBlameRonPaul

    I’m from a family of Oberlin alums (who were among the poorest in attendance), so I was raised from a young age to be aware of the insufferably hip. Now, as one of the few people in my current city wishing to rent well into my 30s, I’m surrounded by Portlandians in my neighborhood. The catch here, though, is that many of them are actually working-class. Of course, others are the spawn of rich folk, like in any hipster community. The stereotypes – like chunky black-framed glasses, bird tattoos (and other ironic tattoos, like the Wendy’s logo), indescribably hideous outfits, and greasy, fringed hair – are out in full force. The hallmark behavior is awkward quasi-offensiveness punctuated occasionally by anger, fake cheer, or stoned indifference.

    Sometimes, I give the hipsters career advice. They are extremely educated, but lack common sense and street smarts. Many are mannerless – from some, I don’t even get a “thanks” in return. I wrote one girl a letter of recommendation, and as thanks for all her hard work, she hid from me when she saw me coming down the street. They all want to do something creative for a living, but can’t even manage being polite to the people who can make that happen. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    In case I didn’t make it clear enough: I REALLY don’t like these people. And yes, I had my grunge phase, as well as a phase where I dressed like some 70s punk rocker in Britain, but I don’t remember my youth culture ever being this awkward, mannerless, or utterly bereft of groundbreaking art and music.

  42. IBlameRonPaul

    “For all MY hard work,” not hers. Tiny box and bad Internet screw me up once again!

  43. Carpenter

    I am being reminded of the Hark a Vagrant Series, ‘Hipsters Ruin Everything!’
    http://beatonna.livejournal.com/124284.html

    http://beatonna.livejournal.com/124636.html?page=2

  44. josquin

    Awww. Poor hipsters. Getting all slammed by everybody because they are impolite, not poor enough, falsely cheerful, strangely attired, have the audacity to work at Google –
    Seems a bit harsh. I can think of so many far worthier targets. We all belong to one group or another, and trying to establish the superiority or “authenticity” of our group by bashing a group different than ours seems so — Patriarchal.
    Let the hipsters be!

  45. Twisty

    When I was a hipster, back in the olden days, nobody had any money. If they had trust funds, they were exceedingly adept at hiding it. The women all had Bettie Page haircuts and waited tables, and the men were all pale musicians who mooched off the women. 80% of them, male and female, were alcoholics. Everyone was desperate for something, but nobody was getting whatever that was. Roughly half of my acquaintance committed suicide within a 10 year span. My hipsters were keepin it real, yo.

    Of course, this wasn’t Portland.

  46. Jezebella

    Amen, Josquin. I mean, the hipster kids look a bit silly from the lofty reaches of middle-age-hood, but they’re harmless. Or, well, no more harmful than any other subculture. What’s youth for if not to have silly haircuts and wear clothes that make middle-aged ladies laugh at you? The current batch of kids, I’m snickering because they’re wearing things I wore in junior high in the late 1970s, but I certainly don’t feel hostile towards them. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  47. Hattie

    I’m sure Austin is better than Portland. Must get there some day.

  48. yttik

    The hipsters in portlandia are not really youth. They’re more like 40 yr olds who took all the “glamour” from the 60′s but missed the point entirely. Seriously, I saw one guy on the corner with baggy pants, eating a six dollar organic free range candy bar, and holding a sign that said, “peace, bitchez.” Two women were standing next to him freezing their asses off in scantily clad BD/grunge wear. I’m not sure if he was pimping them out or protesting the war. Probably both.

    Portland is bookstores and academia and music, but it’s also got strip bars on every corner and kids with no future overdosing on meth in the parks. It’s a study of contradictions. Some of the anger towards portlandia hipsters has to do with their priorities. They think it’s really far out and cool that somebody “gets” to be homeless and play guitar all day in the park. They want their chicken hand massaged everyday before they eat it, but care nothing about all the women forced into prostitution. It’s an incredibly idealistic, self centered attitude, that rather then creating something new has simply taken the old and made it cool and edgy.

  49. IBlameRonPaul

    When I was a hipster, back in the olden days, nobody had any money. If they had trust funds, they were exceedingly adept at hiding it. The women all had Bettie Page haircuts and waited tables, and the men were all pale musicians who mooched off the women. 80% of them, male and female, were alcoholics. Everyone was desperate for something, but nobody was getting whatever that was. Roughly half of my acquaintance committed suicide within a 10 year span. My hipsters were keepin it real, yo.

    Of course, this wasn’t Portland.

    This is sort of what we have right now, but with more money, and the new drugs of choice are coke and benzos. I never understood the allure of snorting Klonopin, but I guess everyone has a vice.

    The marginally employed men mooching off slightly more marginally employed women still occurs, though – and interestingly enough, has been documented in every counter-culture scene in recent history, from the punk explosion of 70s NYC to the “grunge” years of late 80s/early 90s Seattle. Nirvana got a lot of acclaim, but without their girlfriends’ jobs at the Boeing cafeteria, those guys wouldn’t have even eaten meals. (Side note: I do like the music from both of those time periods.) Good call, Twisty.

    These kids don’t work at Google. You usually can’t get a job there without a degree or training in something related to software or CS, and they look down their nose at that kind of work anyway. I’m not middle-aged yet, either, but by my mid-late 20s, I got tired of the “holier than thou” ‘tude. The ones I have hired and managed have cost me a lot of time and money, not to mention turnover – and worse, they give the rest of their peers, many of whom are quite bright and willing to work hard, a bad name. Before the ‘tude came to my profession, I didn’t care about them one way or the other. BUT, it’s not like they’re doing anything new – the Baby Boomers had, and HAVE, plenty of their own brats, and then some, and these kids are just copying what they see around them. They’re also graduating into the worst economy in history, so it’s likely that being cynical and rude is just the name of the shit shell game that is American crony capitalism.

    I have great respect for the ones who are Occupying Wall Street, though (even if my neighborhood’s organizer is an absolute ass to anyone who wants to get involved but doesn’t share his political views bullet point for bullet point). Better they fight the good fight than I do. I applaud it.

  50. IBlameRonPaul

    You know what? I just realized why that particular sub-set of 20somethings rubs me the wrong way. A commenter upthread mentioned that the tone and culture are set by privileged white men, and that’s exactly what it is. They preach equality and tolerance, but by word and deed, they’re just as misogynistic and subtly racist as their Gen X and Boomer predecessors. The women in the scene are also really shitty to each other, and do the whole, “Oh, I don’t get along with other women – all my friends are men!” act.

    In the workplace, this kind of behavior really, really sucks. These folks think they’re revolutionizing society, and they’re post-racial and post-gender. They’re not. They’re the same old patriarchy in a checkered Kangol hat and a keffiyeh. It’s disappointing to say the least.

  51. Hattie

    Fascinating discussion. I could go on and on. When I came to Portland in the 8o’s the scene was all damaged Veetnam vets and Ray Carver alcoholics, being tolerated and sometimes supported by ex-hippie chicks.

  52. Katy

    Anne, “Work It”, sad to say, is not new but rather used to be called “Bosom Buddies”: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080202/

  53. pheeno

    Bosom Buddies, if I recall, was inspired by Some Like It Hot.

    So that one wasn’t even new.

  54. speedbudget

    From what I understand, though, the premise in “Bosom Buddies” was that the guys in question were looking for a place to live in NYC that they could afford, and the only place they found was this women’s boarding house, which really used to be a thing in the actual world. The premise of “Work It” is that the guys can’t get a job because only women are being hired during this “Mancession.”

    At least the premise of “Bosom Buddies” is somewhat realistic. I mean, can you imagine a world in which only women are being hired? Me either.

  55. ElizaN

    In the right hands, “Work It” could be a scathing expose on male privilege. Sadly, ‘the right hands’ and ‘television producers’ are pretty much antithetical.

    I went to a party last night and in the rounds of small talk, when I was asked yes-or-no questions, instead of talking around the no’s and trying to soften them (i.e. “Do you like IPA’s?” “Well, some of them are ok, but they tend to be too bitter for me so I usually have something else”) I just said “No.” It was amazing how uncomfortable it made people. Before this thread, I’d never thought much about how indoctrinated we are to avoid that word.

  56. Comrade PhysioProf

    The hallmark behavior is awkward quasi-offensiveness punctuated occasionally by anger, fake cheer, or stoned indifference.

    Sounds good to me!

  57. IBlameRonPaul

    Sounds good to me!

    You might want to meet our local 25-year-old manchildren, who’ve read some feminist literature in college, and thus feel empowerfulized and entitled to lecture you on how they believe you should behave, think, and feel sexually, while they rally around a football-player rapist (because – football!). Or, watch the “cool older dudes’” bands, comprised of kid-ults in their 30s who condone slut-shaming and sexual assault.

    While the rightwingers in neighboring communities might see dangerous “femnazi” pinko-radicals, I see a fraternity whose members shop at Urban Outfitters instead of Aeropostale. To be fair, there are many youngfolk (and even people my age) who, though they might be mistaken for the alterna-fratbros by sartorial choice, stand on the fringes of this group and call them out on their shit – and I applaud them. The women who do it get triple points from me, because they’re risking alienation and worse from the culture-at-large reminding them daily that they’re second-rate.

    I just said “No.” It was amazing how uncomfortable it made people. Before this thread, I’d never thought much about how indoctrinated we are to avoid that word.

    Exactly. If you want to be genuinely offensive, if not intolerably radical, say the word “no” – directly, with no apology or softening language – while being female. In many circles, the misogynist epithets will swiftly follow your scandalous declaration. Several times at a previous job, I made the grave mistake of being a female departmental manager while directly telling a male departmental manager “no.” The bullying got so bad after that, I finally hopped to another job.

    Offensiveness to me is defending patriarchal norms. Offensiveness to most everyone else is a woman with firm boundaries. IBTP.

  58. Comrade PhysioProf

    Offensiveness to me is defending patriarchal norms.

    Then it definitely doesn’t sound good to me. I was reading “offensiveness” differently than that.

  59. Anne

    @Katy – I remember Bosom Buddies and recently rewatched some episodes and it’s surprisingly not terrible. There’s even an episode where Henry, one of the two lead dudes, learns a thing or two when his drag alterego is subjected to slut-shaming. It also contains several female supporting characters who are arguably as goofy and human as the male leads. It’s far from perfect, but it’s better than most.

  60. Jezebella

    IBRPaul, thank you for that comment. I just had a lightbulb go off in my head because I recently changed career paths. Why? Because the chairman of my board of trustees (I worked for a small non-profit) conceived a mighty loathing for me and bullied me for a solid two years, every chance he got. He’s a bully to everybody, but I was the woman with opinions who said “no.” Even worse, I was the woman who said no to him because I was *following the policies set in place by the board.* He wanted to get his way regardless of policy, and I stupidly thought I could reason with him and the rest of the board by quoting their own policy at them. Silly me.

    Unfortunately he bullied some other people into treating me badly, because who wants to say no to the bully? Easier to bully the minion than say no to the Man Who Will Not Be Told No. I’ve spent some time thinking there must have been a better way to handle him, that I should’ve done this or that or the other, and taking it personally that he managed to turn several people against me who I had formerly gotten on with quite well, but now I realize it’s not about me: it’s about him. Because I said no to him. I’m kind of relieved even though I’m still angry enough that I’d like to hoof him in the junk.

  61. Ho Hum

    Austin the home of Spam, and Austin the home of cacao high search rankings.
    It seems to me that hipster equals alienation, so would not a hipster with real hurtable senses be more convincing if they lived in Austin MN?
    Not so; alienation from privileged, shibboleth-loaded surroundings appears to be the go for the hipster.
    http://unhappyhipsters.com/
    This bodes well for the patriarchy – providing a great culling mechanism for those who can’t hack having top status, even if it means they have to conceal income.

    All the above is about as tic as a non-hipster could manage.

  62. Katy

    Anne, Speedbudget, et al, thanks for the embiggenment of information y’all have provided. I may check out a few episodes of “BB”, but I refuse to spend precious, precious time on “Work It”. Thanks for taking the blows so I don’t have to.

  63. Jezebella

    Shit Austinites say:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sel1qIWg5w0&feature=share

    “It’s pronounced MAINer!”

  64. buttercupia

    Out of curiosity, I caught what I could of Portlandia on On Demand this weekend. Some of it was quite funny. So thanks for piquing my curiosity enough to go there.

  65. Twisty

    That’s so funny, because Manor is pronounced “mainer.” And Guadaloupe is “Gwada-loop.” And Manshaca is “Man-shack.” Also, although it is not in the vid, Cesar Chavez is “Seezer Shah-vis.” Also, Austinites really are worried about the aquifer, and no, it never rains here, really, ever. That vid is spot on! Those 20-somethings are telling the truth! Wow!

  66. Twisty

    Regarding Portlandia: when Carrie starts dating a dude with an Eddie Vedder tattoo, and then the tattoo, which initially icks her out because, eww, Pearl Jam, duh, but then the tattoo starts talking to her and is more interesting than the dude, and she ends up dating Eddie Vedder for real: I had to chuckle somewhat at that.

  67. Keri

    I thought the allergy parade was a riot.

    Speaking of hipsters, enjoy them competing in the Hipster Olympics:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAO4EVMlpwM

  68. buttercup

    Then Eddie Vedder had a tattoo of Ani DiFranco that started talking to her. Loved it.

  69. Jezebella

    Ah, Twisty, I too have been guilty of smug pronunciation corrections: “No, silly bean, it’s GWAD-a-loop, despite what you may have learnt in Spanish class.” I figured you’d appreciate that one. I haven’t lived in Austin in 20 years, but Austinites were saying all that shit back then, except they were Slackers instead of Hipsters back in the day.

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