When Hipsters Are Alone…

It’s a question that has haunted minds for a long time now; when hipsters are alone, far from the ears of commoners to belittle and impress, what do they really listen to? All my best efforts to find out have failed–America’s in a sad state when, “I’m doing research for a blog!” is no longer an excuse for breaking and entering. So, if I can’t give you what hipsters really listen to, you say, what the hell is this post about?

And I respond: Screw you! because I’m bad at taking criticism. But since I can’t give you something you want, I’ll give you something you can tolerate, which is what I listen to. Once a month (or whenever I feel like, honestly, but probably once a month), I’ll publish a list of all the songs I’ve punch-brothers-the-phosphorescent-blues-450x409recently bought or especially liked for you perusal–these songs won’t all be especially “hipster” (although some certainly are) but will instead be just the music I’ve been listening to. Each playlist will include a little summary or other notes, and link to a YouTube playlist.

To begin arbitrarily, the first edition will be for April, published in late March. (By the way, what’s with magazines doing that? Like, if it’s published before April even starts and it’s called the “April” Issue, how do you know what’s going to happen in April? Why not call it the March Issue?) Hopefully you enjoy sifting through hours of someone else’s music just to find the two songs you’ll kinda like.

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Hipster Record Clock

Do you need to tell time? Do you need to do it really inefficiently and without any precision whatsoever?

Then you need this:

All projects fueled by PBR and fair trade coffee.

All projects fueled by PBR and fair trade coffee.

The above is my own attempt. It’s surprisingly easy and, as I proved, extraordinarily difficult to mess up. You can learn how to make your own here. Never has it been easier to so perfectly display your craftsmanship, interest in vinyl, and apathy towards time in one object! There also hasn’t been exactly a need, but who cares? You can do it.

 

 

Bring Back the Chairs!

If I am the first person to write of  following issue, then there is no hope for the future of humanity. The issue, of course, is the phasing out of the comfy chairs (or “soft chairs,” as I’m told they are termed by the industry) in Barnes & Nobles nationwide. I have kept my silence for too long now; it is time for action. Now unless you’ve lost a firstborn there is surely no way you could understand my despair when one Saturday afternoon I casually ascended the escalator with the chairs’ promise of comfort, warmth, and the chance to read a good book happily on my mind, only to have that naive longing met by a tragic expanse of empty floorspace. Mournful violins played in the background as I sank to my knees in horror. “What happened to the chairs?” I distraughtly asked a nearby customer. He didn’t know, nor did the staff. Were they stolen? Unlikely, but considering the supreme comfort they provided I wouldn’t blame the thief. Were they being cleaned? I couldn’t answer myself, couldn’t think.

In a haze of disbelief I staggered home, dumbfounded, desperate to confirm my hopes that the chairs were only being cleaned, or new ones being ordered, or–well anything, really. A search of the internet revealed this catastrophe was not a particularly satanic freak incident, but a nationwide cataclysm. With building consternation I read miserable account after miserable account of people–good people–deal with the shock of Barnes & Noble’s removal of the beloved chairs. This shared misfortune was dubbed “disturbing,” multiple times, and one fortunate person whose bookstore’s chairs were not removed proclaimed their  gratitude and jubilation with the intensity of an Israelite on the other side of the Red Sea, or like when a restaurant is all out of medium cups so you get a large for the medium price!

Yet even before the ink Sophocles used to write this tragic episode of my life had dried, in the memorial to the chairs that was the empty area where they once stood were put hard wooden replacements coupled with equally cold and forbidding tables. It was as if my father had married a twenty-year old girl, as if a step brother was brought into my family, as if someone gave me light mayonnaise instead of regular and called it just as good.

My research also revealed more logical reasons for the chairs’ disappearance than my speculation of a sadistic Barnes & Noble corporation or lifetimes of bad karma. The tendency of careless people to spill coffees on them and overt “friendliness” on the part of excessively libido-ed teenagers were among the more convincing.

Oh and lice. But comfort!

Oh and lice. But comfort!

Nevertheless, I feel us non-clumsy, more-privately-inclined-with-our-lovemaking bookstore goers have been unjustly punished. Due to potentially preventable actions by the less responsible, a significant part of our appreciation of Barnes & Noble for what it is and what it represents was diminished. In an age where television, the internet and smartphones are rocketing us down a slope towards short attention spans and virtual illiteracy (except for Ironic Poncho of course. We’re redeeming the internet), Barnes & Noble stood as a lone beacon, a refuge for the otherwise inclined amidst an increasingly anti-literary culture. Those chairs were a testament to that ideal, providing a place to sit and relax while that Steinbeck-spurning world rushed by outside. Now what are we left with? Barnes & Noble has replaced her symbol of oasis with inhospitable wooden chairs. They send the message that the reader is no longer welcome within formerly accommodating walls, that the last great bookstore is turning its back on its most ardent of supporters.

So bring back the chairs! Let that be the rallying call of all those who believe in literature, who believe in the crisp turns of the page as you read, who believe in not having a screw digging into your back while you sit. Liberté! Égalité! Fraternité! Bring back the chairs!

5 Lessons Learned From Mad Men

With hipster culture’s fascination with vintage, and of course its deep roots in the 1960s’ hippie movement, it seems only inappropriate that Ironic Poncho discusses AMC’s popular television show Mad Men. Please note this is entirely a interesting quasi-analytically extrapolative piece, and not at all an attempted justification of my watching all six and a half seasons over the course of a weekend. So while I’ve spent the week fielding questions like, “Do you have a life?” and “Did you, like, go to the bathroom at all?” you can reap the benefits of my sacrifice by reading the post to learn all the priceless items of life advice I gained from my Mad Men filled weekend. (There might be spoilers, and while I’ve been advised that a “Find the Spoilers” scavenger hunt is not the best way to find them or endear myself to you, too bad, because I ain’t gunna be part of your system!)

Disclaimer: I understand the creators of this show did not intend to present these messages, and if anything intended to promote the opposite of what I say. This is honestly more of a humorous critique of all the 1960s, with Mad Men stuck in the title to shamelessly capitalize on the show’s popularity.

1. I can’t believe I used to think women were equal, intelligent and indistinguishable from men except for certain psychologically unrelated physical characteristics! Thanks Mad Men, for reminding me that women are just like any other object–except you can have sex with them!

2. If you’re not drinking right now, you have one X chromosome too many. Cocktails, bourbon, whiskey, it doesn’t matter if you can’t taste that scotch anymore and’ve thrown up six times. You drink because that’s what men do. 

3. Why work when you have a couch in your office?

4. Taking a long draw on a cigarette before and after anything you say instantly makes what you said 100 times cooler and more intelligent. (Taking a draw on a joint before speaking makes you doubly enlightened, that is until you actually start talking.)

5. Wow, how could I forget our media’s over-dramatization of everything? I knew cigarettes weren’t dangerous. Would tobacco companies lie to me to sell cigarettes? I don’t think so! Keep on smoking kids, that lung cancer is caused by the harmful neurotoxins released by Communists or listening to the Rolling Stones.

In all honesty it’s a fantastic show you should watch, if only so you and that other person who watches it can obnoxiously summarize your favorite episodes at parties.

Why Get Into Vinyl?

Well, why the hell not?

As the aspiring hipster, the iPod or other radio is not sufficient to play your unique music tastes (or obnoxiously present them to your mainstream friends). How do you cover the gaping hole of inadequacy offered by modern music players? Obviously by going back to 1957. That is, vinyl records, LPs and turntables.

Vinyl is making a comeback. If you were born well after the CD, or can’t remember when songs weren’t available instantly on your JavaGoogles for immediate download or whatever you kids do with computers these days, “record players” (the term is turntable) are as current as flint spearheads. But trust me–just like you may see flip phones or hunting wooly mammoths in a nostalgic light (demographics research is all over the place–we’re trying to cover all our bases), many see the turntable in the same way. The sound provides a warmth removed by the sci-fi-esque dominant digital music, possesses a sound quality audiophiles will rant to you about until you question what else you were expecting when you decided to attend an audiophile convention.

Seriously, it’s a better sound. And you don’t have to go to antique stores either — Amazon has a terrific selection of affordably priced turntables and LPs (but for records I prefer Insound as it has a great selection of modern groups cheap.). And with record of the month clubs like Vinyl Me, Please, you can grow your music collection without leaving the house.

The pretentious connotations are so well entrenched that I don’t even need to go there. Although with the rising popularity of turntables, you may want to get really alternative, and get into cassettes.

You mean you still text?

Texting is good. Before its onset I often complained about having solitude. I mean, who’s ever wanted privacy? Unpopular opinion: I have. Now, of course, with everyone having phones and widespread delusions of grandeur, I can be completely alone in the woods and be included in some group message wishing Dave a happy birthday. I don’t like Dave. I came out into the woods to get away from Dave. But now I have to listen to seventeen hundred people wish him a happy birthday. Who wants that?

The other day it struck me that the plots of so many old movies wouldn’t work if set today. The characters could just call each other, whenever, wherever. They would be forced to mention things like, “oh no! I don’t have reception!” just to sustain the plot, to which the audience would groan “how convenient.” Besides from obviating the modernizing of classic movies, with cell phones I also have to hear about Dave a lot more than I would have otherwise. And while hatred of Dave is no doubt already a convincing argument to hate cell phones, I will admit I might still be stranded at Chicago’s Union Station if it weren’t for them.

Nice try, Birth of a Nation, but not only would you not work with phones, racism is also completely gone!

Nice try, Birth of a Nation, but not only would you not work with phones, racism is also completely gone!

So cell phones have their pros and cons; but you know what only has pros? Letter writing. In conjunction with email for the everyday business communications, and texting for asking Dave questions about uranium to get him flagged by the NSA, the Letter has almost no modern drawbacks. The former drawbacks of letters were mostly because it was the only option–if I need to let you know about something quickly, I would desperately wish for a technology faster than the letter. If I had to send a letter to corporate headquarters each time I needed to get authorization, that would be annoying. But if I want to have a meaningful exchange that reinforces friendship and authenticity–am I really going to send a text? or an email? Who even checks their emails anymore? No, when there is something serious to discuss, or someone serious (wink wink) to discuss even the mundane with, I will use a letter.

Thankfully the letter has not lost all its public approval. From what I’ve learned by stealing people’s mail, love letters are still a thing. So are bills. Getting a love letter, or even just seeing a handwritten address amidst those rectangles of debt, has not yet lost its appeal. People love getting letters, but they never send them.

Pictured: Me.

Pictured: Me.

Think of all those great writers whose collected letters you can buy. In an age where we no longer send letters, the famous authors of the next half century will have none of this. Will we buy compilations of their tweets?

Call me a reactionary, but I think in the letter there is something desperately needed. There is the patience lost bemoaned by every older generation, yes, but there is also a sense of the physical and the deliberate in the letter. What’s more romantic: if we’re on different coasts and a) I spend three seconds typing and send you a text that says “I love you,” or b) I spend a half hour writing out my sentiments, seal the letter, drive to a post office, mail it, and have my declaration of love travel across the entire continent and end up in your hands for you to open? Sorry, ladies, if that was too romantic. Hopefully my earlier confession of stealing mail calms your fluttering hearts. Even without love, though, a letter says that not only did I think about you, I thought enough about you to go significantly out of my way to tell you. And in your hands you can hold proof of my intention! A letter is real. A letter demands respect.

There are many who agree with me. A while back I saw this blog post which makes excellent points. Then there is also The Postal Society, whose crusade to revive the letter is truly admirable. And so I call to you, as aspiring hipsters, or even as hipster haters–write letters. If you are from the hipster camp say you’re doing it because texting is too mainstream. If you’re from the hipster-hater camp say you’re doing it to send hate mail about hipsters. But there’s one reason we can all rally behind to write letters: to spite Dave.

Freakin' Dave.

Freakin’ Dave.

Ironic Poncho Renaissance

At long last I have returned from my unannounced approximately two month long pilgrimage to India, meaning so too have Ironic Poncho posts returned. If you’re wondering if I found enlightenment amidst the slums and smog-choked cities or by bathing in the Ganges (sacred river and garbage dump? Those Indians sure are thrifty), the answer is no, so in the future interpret any other extended periods without posts as my continued search for spiritual progress elsewhere and definitely not as my ability to now watch seven seasons of a TV show over a weekend. God bless the internet.

Well I hope this was satisfying enough for you after your months of Ironic Poncho withdrawal, because I’ve conveyed everything I needed too. Although now that I consider it, “Yeah I’ll be posting again,” would have saved all of us quite a bit of time.

 

Do you even…

It’s that time of year again. Millions of obnoxious American children find themselves with Christmas money still leftover, even after buying that Lamborghini in the right shade of Pacific Atoll Blue. What to do with the surplus? Invest it? Charity? Give remarkably generous tips? Of course not. That money would be better spent on Che Guevara t-shirts.

Wouldn’t I be so totally groovy (or whatever the kids are saying these days) in that shirt? No. No you would not be so totally groovy. I’m willing to bet more than half of those who wear the shirt even know his name, even less know when he lived, and close to no one knows his beliefs, and if they did, certainly wouldn’t wear the shirt. Wearing that Che shirt, then, is like imitating a cough of someone else’s cold with the belief that that will make you sick. The high blood pressure I get every time someone attempts to be “counterculture,” is a genuine medical health risk. Therefore, in order to spare the sanity of thousands, and possibly my life, I’ve composed a guide on when it’s acceptable (but mostly when it’s not) to wear a Che t-shirt.

Are you a Communist-sympathiser, or at the very least believe in certain socialist principles, and admire the pragmatic methods Che took to implement them?

You should be embarrassed at thinking of supporting that mainstream capitalist oppression with your consumerist buying of mass-produced t-shirts. 

Do you think Che is his first name?

Might I suggest a plain gray t-shirt instead?

Are you a middle-class American? Do you like to think of yourself as “counter-culture?” Do you pride yourself on a standardized rejection of your parent’s socio-economic mores, without regard to these mores placement or compatibility within  your, “ideology?”

You’re what’s wrong with America.

Do you like his face?

It’s probably okay for you to buy it. 

He does have nice eyebrows...

He does have nice eyebrows…

There–the first comprehensive guide to when wearing an Ernesto Che Guevara t-shirt (note: your learning of his first name in no way qualifies you to wear the t-shirt). Please, the internet’s access to endless world markets, and consequent availability of Che t-shirts, should not be used to endorse quasi-Marxist revolutionaries you know nothing about.

Your Life is a Lie (well, some of it.)

You’ve cemented yourself as a hipster within your community of friends and coworkers, and are contentedly lapping up their mixture of scorn, admiration and envy. But contentedness is mainstream. You don’t plateau — you always keep going up and up until your run out of sky and end up in space, and then you can’t stop even if you wanted to, doomed to spend the rest of your days floating in black void praying some passing meteor will hit you and put you out of your tortured existence. And they say I’m not good with analogies.

But anyway, you may feel like you’ve exhausted all potential areas in which to be hipster. Whether this makes you elated as being some kind of king hipster, or depressed that you can’t find new areas in which to pretentiously judge others, you’re wrong either way. There is one area, one sacred alcove to which no one but the most dedicated go. One place that lurks in the beautiful mysteries of the mind, an alternative sanctuary that can only be whispered lest its hidden wonders should vanish. A place of intense psychological revelation so severe many question its reality. It is an arena in which no one would play, an end to complacency and an end to plateaus. It is…pencils, of course.

We are taught that pencils pale in comparison to the might of the modern pen. We are taught the pain and labor of sharpening a pencil is all for only to have the pencil scratch across the page before breaking. In an age when mass produced ball point pens are preferred over pencils, when, on the rare occasion, pencils are used, Ticonderoga is considered “luxury,” and–screw the rest of these cinematic-trailer builds. Let’s face it: you use pens in your life. Most likely those cheap black pens that are already half chewed and you’re only using out of desperation. Even with the wretchedness of such a writing utensil, you still feel guilty about brutally using it and then routinely discarding it in the trash, like a one-night stand (which is a companionable atmosphere, kids, in which two people enjoy good conversation and then say goodnight with a hearty handshake) that leaves the pen emotionally torn-up and scarred. You don’t want to live like that.

Buy Blackwing. Save a pen's life.

Buy Blackwing. Save a pen from psychiatric care.

Thank God, there’s a solution: Palomino Blackwing pencils. Did you know pencils could be as, “smooth and sinuous as a saxophone solo?” These can. As any Amazon reviewer will tell you, these are not just your ordinary Ticonderoga Number 2 pencils (they’d probably add a derisive snort and a pretentious flip of the scarf). Seriously, reading the Amazon reviews, you’d never think they’d be talking about something as ordinary as pencils. Indeed, one reviewer suggests this pencil is not palpable for the masses, but is instead for those who are:

brave enough to think outside the box of all the zombies of the world, that is, all the followers who never think for themselves and simply believe what they were told and never question their cherished and most likely outdated beliefs.

Pictured: Ticonderoga pencil user.

Pictured: Ticonderoga pencil user.

Try replacing the word “pencil” in this one with Cuban cigars, whiskey, or absinth (if you’re into that):

This is my guilty pleasure. These pencils are beautiful, smooth and luxurious. If you want to spoil yourself, give these a try. Just don’t get addicted 😉

If random internet-goers aren’t enough to convince you, what about a man who invited strangers into his trailer to drink alcohol with him? I’m talking, of course, about John Steinbeck, known pencil aficionado. In writing East of Eden, he used over 3oo pencils. On Palomino Blackwings he had to say:

I have found a new kind of pencil—the best I have ever had. it is black and soft but doesn’t break off. I think I will always use these. They are called Blackwings and they really glide over the paper. And brother, they have some gliding to do before I am finished.

While that last line sounds somewhat like a bizarre sexual innuendo, it still seems ridiculous for anyone to have such strong opinions on pencils. But I’ve used them (at first just out of pure curiosity. Who the hell spends $4 per pencil?), and now I understand. I could tell you about how they enhanced everyday, made my life a little better, helped me create beautiful things, formed an earthly paradise, but that would be a lie–they caused me to transcend the physical world and enter Nirvana (spoiler alert: it doesn’t smell like teen spirit). From a position of experience, I can assure you that the expensiveness, the look, and the firm belief in superiority of these pencils is plenty to expand your hipster realm into the area of writing utensils, and put you ahead of those obnoxious, narcissistic Ticonderago users.

The days of your egotistical lies are over.

The days of your egotistical lies are over.

The Excuse for Everything

We’ve all been there (maybe we all haven’t. What’s important is that have) – standing in front of some item in a department store, an item somewhat controversial to the existing social order within your group of acquaintances or perhaps society in general. You worry not so much about the price or its practicality, but with how friends, strangers, and Jim the Walmart greeter will judge you if you suddenly showed up one day with such an item. Maybe you bought the item and were judged horribly, exiled from society, and  forced to move to Lhasa and become a Buddhist monk. Thankfully, in these advanced times, no one will ever have to endure a lifetime of chanting sutras and cold heads in the high Tibetan Plateaus because of a salesman assuring you that that plaid jacket and leather pants “just look terrific!” on you.

Are you kidding? Corsets are definitely in right now.

Are you kidding? Corsets are definitely in right now.

How can this be?! you ask, wiping a joyful tear from your eye. With irony. Now, whatever decision you make that would otherwise incur ridicule and shame upon you and possibly merit complete banishment from civilization can be handily explained by the sentence: “I’m doing it ironically.” Stripes and plaid? Irony. Cat with Buddy Holly glasses t-shirt? Irony. Mass human sacrifice? Irony.*

*Warning: “I was doing it ironically” is not a valid alibi in court for slaughtering thousands to make the sun rise.

Calm down haven't you ever seen irony before?

Calm down haven’t you ever seen irony before?

The convention of doing things “ironically,” is essentially a deliberate engaging in an either commonly scorned, overly popular, or ridiculously outdated custom, fully aware of the negative opinion associated with it, in an attempt to showcase one’s complex and vibrant personality, to let free the true individual struggling to escape the confines of their self-doubting soul, through….wearing leg-warmers, apparently. Anyway, regardless of its actual meaning, the socially awkward can capitalize on the phenomenon and free themselves from embarrassment with that magic excuse: “I’m doing it ironically.”

Examples of irony are abundant in modern culture. Take those Buddy Holly glasses I mentioned earlier (the uncultured fool would call them “nerd” glasses). Now these big-rimmed, thick glasses have, for decades, been

It's okay kids. There'll be other dreams.

It’s okay kids. There’ll be other dreams.

associated with nerds, so much so that even a polo-playing, billionaire with a British accent with such glasses could never get a date. But now modern culture has adopted these glasses into the mainstream, almost erasing their original, less-desireable associations along with the hopes and dreams of thousands of would-be Buddy Holly look-alikes. Will this new popularity, and consequent non-ironicy, force Buddy-Holly-glasses wearer into a more drastic representation of the nerd? Will people be encouraging acne, total knowledge of ever Lord of the Rings character, and lack of athletic ability? If so, I’ll be very popular in the next few years.

P.S. – There’s only one thing that cannot be excused with that wonderful irony: crocs. I don’t care if your great-grandfather on his deathbed gave them to you. Crocs are not okay.