circumspection

posted by tom / April 06, 2006 /

You know, reading this post of Matt's and reflecting some more about my own post (and what Heather said in comments), I've begun to think that this kind of talk is counterproductive. Sure, it's fun to belittle the Tom-Toms of the world, but it's really just egotism. And there's no point in getting into a hipster pissing contest: despite impressive recent gains in indie cred among the HTML-authoring set, our cause would still be hopeless. I've got a feeling the cool kids are already spending their evenings on H Street. It's no use trying to keep up with the Spike Jonzes.

But that's alright. All that you and I really want is a good pint at a good price with good friends — and not to have to take a cab to do so. That goal can be achieved without constantly reminding everyone how much Mr. Days sucks. Because here's the problem: nobody likes being told their preferred watering hole is lame. Push those people far enough and they'll start looking for cooler pastures.

Sure, it won't happen right away. And sure, it won't be all of them. It'll start with the borderline cases — the guys and girls who don't really like their jobs on the hill. The ones who kind of wish they'd double majored in English, too, instead of just Econ. The ones who in the deepest, most secret corners of their hearts feel that yes, there is a limit to the number of live versions of "Ants Marching" that a person ought to have on their iPod. The kids who keep meaning to put some time into updating their Late Night Shots profiles, but just never seem to get around to it. These are not bad people. They could be saved.

But that's a risk we can't afford. This is a sinking-sub type of situation: we have to close the airlock or we could lose the whole ship. I know there are a lot of good people on the other side of that door, but we can't take the chance. They'd show up; and stop wearing clothes prominently featuring the letters A and F on the outside; and fall into line, larding their mp3 players with the Pitchfork-approved pantheon, just like we all did. And for a while everything would be great.

But then kickball season would end, and their friends would start asking why they never see them anymore, dawg? They would say they should totally hang out sometime. They would say alright, why don't we come to your 'hood?

And then they would begin to arrive. The guys who gave up i-banking jobs to open mail for Frist because they wanted a chance to "make a difference" before business school. The girls who email old friends to ask "how they're all doing, especially the ones who are recently married". And then it's all over. Beer prices go up. Lines form outside. Dudes start getting into fights with other dudes. Finally, one dark, dark day, the guy at the door won't let you in because you're wearing sneakers.

I'm not trying to imply that the readership of this site, or even Matt's site, is large enough to cause a meaningful shift in the migratory habits of the urban collarpopper. But every little bit counts. So let's live and let live. Some people prefer cheap dive bars filled with t-shirts and PBR; others prefer clubs full of eighties cover bands and guys with names like "Chet" or "the third". This is America, and you're free to chose. There's no need to talk trash about other people's preferences — at least not with sufficient specificity to drive them away from those preferences and into ours.

And on that note, have you guys heard about this new place, Smith something or other? I think the second word starts with a P. Anyway, I hear it's, like, totally underground or something.

Comments

But, the thing is, for those folks it's a point of pride that they were at the Angry Inch. They want to distinguish themselves from us as much as we do from them. Many of us won't go anywhere on 18th except Pharmacy Bar, and the rest of us wouldn't go near Pharmacy Bar, because it's full of pretentious dirty, arty types who like Nation of Ulysses and wear black ripped sweaters. We're all self-segregating.

PS - Econ degree does not equal lame. Some of the coolest intellectuals of the last 200 years were economists.

Posted by: Ryan on April 7, 2006 09:58 AM

I am sorry but I have to respectfully disagree, an economics degree does equal lame. In this topsy turvey world, it is the one thing I can cling to as true.

Posted by: Charles on April 7, 2006 10:07 AM

Charles posted that as a self-deprecating econ major, but I disagree with him. Anyway, I didn't mean to imply anything about econ majors in general. I could've said the same thing about psych, for example, which is very close to my own major: I think it's a fascinating and worthwhile discipline, but there's no question that psych departments are full of unserious people who don't really know what they're interested in, and just want a degree that people perceive as more useful than English.

Same thing with econ -- there are the real students, and then there are the people who just want an appropriate prelude for law or business school or working for their dad the VP.

And of course, to be clear, I used many, many shorthand slurs to get cheap laughs in this post -- I know folks who I really like and respect that are applying to business school right now, for example (although the list of people I know with both completed MBAs and intact souls can be counted on the fingers of one hand. the thumb is not a finger.).

Now, back to the shorthand slurs...

Posted by: tom on April 7, 2006 10:19 AM

for the record, I should probably disclose that I'm pretty sure I have at least one live version of Ants Marching on my iPod.

Posted by: tom on April 7, 2006 10:26 AM

You went to UVA, I think it's a condition of your degree that you must have at least one live version.

I, however, have seven distinct versions. I am experiencing an odd mix of pride and shame right now.

Posted by: Matt F on April 7, 2006 10:39 AM

well, perhaps seven is the magic number. I didn't specify.

Ryan, on your self-segregation point: I'd like to believe it, but I think St. Ex is a pretty strong counterexample. Jenna fucking Bush, man.

Posted by: tom on April 7, 2006 10:44 AM

At least Pierce hasn't been there, yet, at least as far as I know.

I think St. Ex may have long ago forfeited its cred, though. It's like a purple bar, where the red and blue barhoppers mix. How this supports my point, I don't know. My iPod has a recording of ants marching. Actual ants, man.

Posted by: Ryan on April 7, 2006 12:00 PM

St. Ex isn't just a clash of the under 30 urban crowds (hipsters v. hillsters, green v. blue and orange, etc), it's actually a sneak peak of what the last, agonizing stages of gentrification are going to look like, before the area becomes full-on white suburbia. On a recent, miscalculated trip for brunch, there were babies - BABIES EVERYWHERE. Women cooing. Overweight dads holding saliva dripping plastic toys. Strollers blocking every pathway to the blessed exit. I spent two hours thanking the sweet Lord Jesus for birth control.

Posted by: heather on April 7, 2006 12:26 PM

To be honest, the babies don't bother me. not at brunch, anyway. It'll happen to us eventually too, right? Hard though it may be, I'd like to be age-agnostic. People should be judged by the colorfulness of their skeins, not the content of their carriages.

(sorry, that was a stretch)

Posted by: tom on April 8, 2006 02:02 AM

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