Response to the cover story of this week’s IN Utah

If you haven’t read it, here you go.

The well-written article juxtaposes Jack Kerouac’s notion that hipsters are evolving along a spiritual plane guided by authentic, fearless experience with suggestions on how you, too, can “hipster” yourself from head to toe. We’re presented with options: ironically styled or quaffed hair, PBR or the culturally-aware Tecate move, and indie thrift stores or chain stores.

To me, the real hipsterism, in the Kerouac sense, lies in discovery outside of parameters, those set by both predominant and sub-dominant cultures. Remember that Jack Kerouac died a death at 47 years old and how. Remember that Jim Morrison died. Beluschi, Colbain. The “scene” is split into at least two fragments. One scene can appear on paper — it can appear published as profiles as those fitting the description — and it can appear as those whose descriptions have really yet to have been captured, who have no home in pop culture, who have wore out the exploratory vices, and who are left staring a posters of Jack Keruoac with his fearless quotes saying “God, guide me.” There are so many great ideas being explored in our generation, and not all of them, it seems to me, are topped with a handlebar mustache, or some kind of super-self-aware irony. Alternative living. Truly conscious-expanding ideas and experiences. Life is uncomfortable. It is for me at least. I’ve never been able to do this, that, or fit in. But for me, and the hipsters, life is a discovery. And while I used to have Jack Kerouac’s portrait on my wall with his “the only people for me are the mad ones, who burn like roman candles exploding into the night and leaving trails of spider legs running down the city’s starlight…” (paraphrased)… I now feel closer to Jack Kerouac in a way that I didn’t before. I tried doing what he did, as specifically as possible. I tried making lifestyle decisions through high school, college and after college, that I thought would bring me what Jack Kerouac was talking about, that amped on life, plugged in to the universe of infinity-type feeling, with jazz, rhythm and ceaseless exploration. It didn’t bring me this. Only working through my tireless efforts to be or become something I wasn’t was I able to be comfortable not being any of that.

Leonard Cohan has a good line…. again paraphrasing…. “when I forgot about my own masterpiece and surrendered to the real masterpiece”…. yes. That is it for me. Surrendering to the real masterpiece. Not ever day is perfect for me, and I often spend time contemplating the lives of hipsters as I see them biking down the roads in groups. Often with great envy and longing. It looks idyllic. But for me, I’ve found, I cannot chase appearances. I cannnot chase the “it,” that amazing exploratory feeling. Because when I’m trying to do that I miss, as I believe Leonard Cohen is saying, the real masterpiece that I ultimately anyway. And I’m grateful I get to remember my experiences these days. Ha. For me and maybe for Jack Keruoac in the end, burning like a roman candle meant that literally. The incendiary long ago stopped burning, turned into a sort of prison, and started a free fall down to the earth again. Only from a surrendered place on the ground could I truly wonder about what is up, and only from this place can I begin to embrace what I truly am — hockey player, musician, ad man, web geek, and thoroughly human. That’s just how it worked out for me. To the hipsters, I tip my hat to you. My ears are open to hear your stories and for your victories I applaud you.

Thanks to IN Utah for making my trip to Charlie Chows this evening for carryout a thought-provoking one.


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