VICE Staffers Reveal the Most Hipster Stuff They've Ever Done
There's really no way to get around the fact that VICE is, or at least was and probably still is depending on who's asking, definitely, probably, at least a little bit totally hipster.
Enough time has passed since the world was at Peak Hipster for us to look back at it as a movement, or a craze, or a meme, or whatever the fuck it was and try to take stock of what it all meant, if anything. So this week we're doing exactly that in a short collection of stories.
There's really no way to get around the fact that VICE is, or at least was and probably still is depending on who's asking, definitely, probably, at least a little bit totally hipster. For that we will offer no apologies, yield not a single inch of ground, other than to say fuck it, somebody else was probably going to go to that dog show on acid.
Still, much like being too drunk or being too into Marxism, there's such a thing as being too hipster. What that means, however, is totally open to interpretation. Is being too hipster having a vlog about Phil Collins, or is it going to a garage sale at the CobraSnake's house? In the spirit of journalistic inquiry and in a misguided attempt to figure out what the term "hipster" means to the humans of VICE, I decided to ask a few of my fellow VICE staffers to tell me the most hipster thing they've ever done. The first answer from a lot of these people was something along the lines of, "Took a job at VICE lol," but after I berated them for not taking my dumb article idea seriously, they actually ended up telling me some poignant, personal stories, and in the process revealed what hipsterdom means to them.
Shanon Kelley (Publisher, Broadly): Maintained a Phil Collins Vlog for a Short Period of Time
I went to college with Grizzly Bear and Aziz Ansari. I've worked at the FADER, Paper Magazine, and now VICE. The first time I went to Coachella in 2007 I stayed with CSS and sang "Age of Aquarius" in a pool with Of Montreal. My first serious boyfriend worked for Dim Mak back in 2004. I had a bowl cut for two years (see above). I watched David Wain and Paul Rudd (again, see above) sing karaoke at the now defunct Studio B. I saw the Unicorns' first NYC show. I remember complaining one time about how many times I'd seen the Kills in one week. I wrote an article back in 2005(?) about the genius of Oneida. I have taken my shirt off at a Spits show on more than one occasion. I lost a tooth from getting too drunk at a Lost Season 4 premiere party. I wrote a fan letter once to Wes Anderson and never heard back.
I wouldn't consider any of these hip. I am merely painting a picture of what an asshole I am.
The hippest thing I've ever done was have a very short-lived blog that included a video series called "Little Known Phil Facts." Each episode was 15 seconds and was just me drinking red wine and stating a little known fact about Phil Collins.
Slava Pastuk (Editor, Noisey Canada): Bought Five Red Plaid Shirts
When I got the call that I'd be working for VICE I was immediately met with a surge of emotions. Most of them were of joy and excitement, but one of the feels was trepidation. Would I fit into the culture of the company? My previous jobs had all required me to wear dress shirts that had to be tucked in, and this would be the first job where there was absolutely no dress code. I decided to buy a shit-ton of red plaid shirts, which would make me feel connected to my old life while still providing the accreditation I would need to work somewhere as cool as VICE. Since I don't believe in taking half-steps, I went ahead and bought five of these shirts, all of which varied in shades of red and in the sizes of the plaid squared. "Ooh yeah," I whispered to myself as I did up the top button and slid into my chair, ready to create content. "This feels right."
Zach Sokol (Weekend Editor, VICE): Partied at a Spa, Woke Up in the FADER
When I was maybe 20 years old, I went to a party in Bushwick on a Monday called Night Spa. It was at a literal spa, and you'd get cocktails and chill in a hot tub or sauna with other 20-somethings as somewhat-popular DJs did ambient-ish sets nearby. You could get that spa therapy treatment where they whipped you with plants, too.
It was a school night and I felt a bit ridiculous going out with an ex-girlfriend of mine to chase some event that was supposed to be secretive and possibly a bust, especially since it was cold and rainy. But when we got there, it was pretty lit. Mostly babes; lots of art school vibes. We got piña coladas and chilled in the big hot tubs and saunas. I think they served THC-infused liquor there.
There was a photographer, and she asked to take photos of me and my ex-girlfriend. My ex was getting whipped by some plants, so the photog only took pictures of me. It ended up being published in a print edition of FADER with Juicy J on the cover. The photo of me isn't on the online post, but my nips are prominent and large in this feature in the mag, which they titled "New York's Hottest Party." I felt pretty cool. It almost made my hangover in class the next day feel justified, though I can't say the sinus infection I got from the possibly-unclean spa was worth it.
Mitchell Sunderland (Managing Editor, Broadly): Had a "Patti Smith" Phase
After my freshmen year at Sarah Lawrence College, which is regularly included on listicles of hipster universities, I lived in a $350-a-month room in Harlem. I bought a bunch of Mary Kar and Joan Didion books, downloaded a few Of Montreal and Beach House albums, and vowed this was going to be my "Patti Smith" summer to a Sarah Lawrence girl who was wearing a bowler hat. I mostly spent the summer working as a pool boy at condos and Trump Tower though, just to even things out.
Jamie Lee Curtis Taete (West Coast Editor, VICE): Everything He Did, 2005-2015
The most hipster thing I ever did was my entire 20s: My boyfriend got arrested for stealing from American Apparel; I became a vegan; I nearly moved into a squat, but then chickened out because I was afraid my laptop (which I bought with inheritance from my Grandma) would get stolen; I was an extra in a Florence and the Machine video; I lived in Hackney; I lived in Silver Lake; I spent a few months in Williamsburg; I spent a few months in Wicker Park; I briefly worked as an assistant to the CobraSnake; I worked in a vintage clothing shop; I legally changed my first name to Jamie Lee Curtis; I lived with a girl who legally changed her name to Mable Cable; I appeared on the cover of VICE Magazine; my VICE cover was featured in a Honda commercial making fun of hipsters; I shaved someone's head at a house party; I gentrified neighborhoods while complaining about gentrification; I boycotted McDonald's; I got Amy Winehouse thrown out of a nightclub; I had a blog; I was published in at least five magazines that no longer exist; I shoplifted, but convinced myself it was cool and subversive because I only did it from corporate chains; I had a conversation on a bus that was so obnoxious, a stranger interrupted to tell me that he thought I was awful; I took photos of people setting off fireworks in the desert; I met people "before they were famous,"; I made branded content; I pulled over at the side of the highway to dance with my friend because "Wuthering Heights" came on the radio; I was an extra in a TV commercial while visibly high on drugs; I regularly wore a pair of jeans I found in an alley; through it all, I denied being a hipster.
Brian McManus (Staff Writer, VICE): Toured with Black Lips, Got in Onstage Fist Fight with Them
From the mid-90s until '07 I was in a band called Fatal Flying Guilloteens, which was named after a Wu-Tang song. We were hip as hell. We lived in Houston, Texas, and owned that town for a spell. We got lots of really cool gigs there and in Austin, and we toured the country a few times. We shared bills with Sonic Youth, Les Savy Fav, Big Business, Mr. Quintron, and Fucked Up. We also played a bunch of shows with cool comedians for some reason: David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, Eugene Mirman, Patton Oswalt, and Aziz Ansari. We had albums out on Estrus Records, GSL, and Frenchkiss. Those are three labels most hipsters would recognize. Pitchfork wrote some favorable things about our final album, Quantum Fucking, calling us "The last of the post-millennial pigfuckers" in a review, a huge compliment, obvs. (Score: 7.6, which was down .2 points from the review of our first album which has since been deleted off the site.) VICE gave our '04 masterpiece Get Knifed a 9 out of 10. Pretty fuckin' hip. I played guitar in the band, which is a very hip instrument. I also "sang" some of our most forgettable songs.
Maybe the most hipster thing we ever did, though, was tour through the south with the Black Lips. We didn't get along so well with them, for reasons I won't get into here. On the last night of that tour—at Athens, Georgia's famed venue 40 Watt—our singer tried to patch things up by pouring a beer into the mouth of their drummer while he was playing, because in addition to being hip we were also very dumb. Black Lips Drummer didn't like that too much (most of it wound up in his eyes), and he and our singer started to fistfight onstage. The other Black Lips jumped in, which meant we had to run from the side of the stage and fight too. It was damn-near a riot.
Alex Rose (Channel Manager, Live Nation TV): Rode Her Fixed Gear Bike to Her Internship at Sub Pop Records
One vivid moment occurred when I was living in Seattle, I went to college there... I remember having this realization, "Oh god I just rode my fixed gear bike to my internship at Sub Pop Records."
At the time I was probably wearing these tattered teal colored tights I'd let my friend tag with a sharpie at a party under a dress with some crummy flats that I only wore because they fit in my clips. Would have been around the time that first Fleet Foxes record came out. Smh.
Michelle Lhooq (Features Editor, THUMP): Threw a Party with Drugs
I threw my 23rd birthday party in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Chinatown. We called it the Noodle Rave. It wasn't New York's hottest club, but it had everything that I guess people would associate with hipster bullshit: a bunch of kids on drugs, DJs, dresses with "@" signs, idolized Asian street food... oh, and awkward cultural appropriation disguised as ironic references. It was lit thooo.
Drew Millard (Associate Editor, VICE): Threw an Ironic Hipster Party
I apologize for having participated in professional air guitar tournaments. I apologize for being the lead singer of a locally-tolerated hardcore band whose most-loved song was called "Sports!" I apologize for naming my dog after an author whose books I have not read. I apologize for getting fired from my internship at Merge Records for going to Ultra. I apologize for quitting drinking, only to become a sanctimonious shitsack about everyone else's partying, half out of a misguided sense of superiority but half because I was jealous. I most severely apologize, though, for throwing an "Ironic Hipster Party," in which me and my hipster friends told the hipsters in our town to dress how a non-hip person would assume hipsters dressed and then made them buy Four Loko from us (this was after the great Four Loko Ban of 2010 and we were the only people in town with Four Loko).
Eric Sundermann (Editor-In-Chief, Noisey): Denied Being a Hipster
Welp, I guess this is my day of reckoning. The most hipster thing I've ever done is always denying being a hipster. But now, because my friend Drew decided to ask me, an apparent hipster, what the most hipster thing I've ever done is, I'm having a bit of an identity crisis, because that means I am a hipster... right? I can't really deny it anymore. He wouldn't just ask any ol' fool with a keyboard to talk about being a hipster, unless that fool with a keyboard was actually a hipster. I guess I do live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is where people who are too cool for Williamsburg live. I also wear skinny jeans. And damn it, I write about music for a living. Shit, yeah, I'm a hipster, huh. Or am I just a 20-something? Fuck it, I'm above thinking about this shit. I've got blogging to do.
Michael Cuby (Intern, VICE): Translated Radiohead into Spanish for School
In spring 2012, during my last semester of high school, my Spanish teacher was on pregnancy leave for the second time in as many years. We had a permanent substitute—an alumnus of my high school and a recent graduate from Harvard—who I'm convinced had a personal vendetta against me. He had a habit of giving us assignments that nobody understood the purpose of—his first, an "in depth" translation of an English-language love song. While everyone else in the class opted for straightforward classics like "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston or "We Found Love" by Rihanna, I decided to tackle "All I Need" by Radiohead. He gave me a D on the assignment, explaining that the song's lyrics were "too abstract" to be correctly translated by someone still taking high school Spanish.
Mike Pearl (Staff Writer, VICE): Made the Sixth-Most-Popular Music Video of 2006
Just after I graduated from film school in 2006, my friend Nate got it into his head to make a stop motion music video for our friends in the band Local Natives. Get this though: it was before they were called Local Natives, and instead they were called Cavil at Rest, and they sounded less like Grizzly Bear, and more like Minus the Bear. I lived in a tiny spare room in Nate's house in Orange County, and we co-directed it. After we had some of it done, we showed it to the band, and that was how we asked permission to do a music video. They said yes, so we spent about five months putting together a twee little diorama, and made figures of the band who get their performance space invaded by nature, kinda Jumanji-style.
It came out great, and it got them airplay on music video channels on actual TV (remember, this was the mid-aughts), which was this big cathartic triumph for us. But then one day they started calling themselves Local Natives and became a way better, more bankable band. But unfortunately for us, they completely disowned that song our video was for, "Who's There." In fact, they'd probably hate to know I'm linking people to it in connection to them. But I can definitely say Nate and I helped get them airplay before they were popular.
Hanson O'Haver (Social Editor, VICE): Went to Cory Kennedy's Garage Sale
From the moment I turned hipster—let's date it to age 13, when I bought the Velvet Underground box set on recommendation of a girl whose mom was common-law married to a pro skater—I've been committed to slim jeans and indie rock. To be clear, I have a nuanced understanding of what makes a true hipster. It's not worth really getting into here (it basically involves pursuing the finer things when practical, or subconsciously weighing all decisions on a cost-benefit scale and knowing when slightly increasing the cost—e.g. a shirt that costs $20 more might make you look twice as nice; a record that takes a few listens to get into will give you a lifetime of pleasure—will dramatically increase the benefit) but if you want to meet up for a couple Sparks I'll put on a Bonnie Billy record and we can hash it out.
Which is just to say, I am a lifer. Trying to pick the most hipster thing I've ever done is like asking Stuart Murdoch from Belle & Sebastian about the night he felt most melancholy. Like, I went to NYU and minored in French. I once organized and hosted a CMJ panel called '2003: A Hipster Flashback' where I asked people who were there about what the MP3 blogs and cocaine era was really like. I mean, I've spent the last five years running VICE's twitter, which means I'm essentially a responder in the ecosystem of all things hip.
But I wasn't always so well-credentialed. A decade ago, I was just a suburban San Diego teen living vicariously through photoblogs and posting on indie rock fan forums. It was in one-such forum—a Yeah Yeah Yeahs Livejournal fan club, to be specific—that I met a pretty and cool girl who lived half an hour away. She spent a year convincing me to meet her in person and when I finally did, surprise, she was just actually a pretty and cool girl who lived half an hour away. I know this is probably awful advice but as a 16-year-old boy I met a stranger on the internet and it worked out great! But that's not the story here.
Summer of 2007 was a heavy time. I'd just graduated high school, bloghaus was threatening indie rock's hegemonic grip, streetwear was entering its neon all-over print phase, and every week pictures of the coolest underage drinkers in Southern California ended up on The CobraSnake. When Mark the Cobrasnake posted that the site's young starlet and scene "It Girl" Cory Kennedy was going to have a garage sale—featuring a special guest appearance from Uffie ("Pop the Glock" was big at the time)—my girlfriend and I knew we just had to go. So we made the three-hour drive to Santa Monica to see these minor celebrities in real life. The actual garage sale was radically uninteresting, and the people we'd seen on the internet were just standing around on the lawn, talking to their parents. We quickly learned the valuable lesson that people who look cool in pictures are often just good at looking cool in pictures and usually look like they're dressed aggressively weird in real life. We left, went to Supreme, and then drove home. Any disappointment we felt about the garage sale was totally outweighed when we ended up in the background of a picture on the Cobrasnake later that week, which I've saved for posterity. I've never told anyone about any of this.
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