Showing posts with label Looking good. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Looking good. Show all posts

Monday, December 9, 2013

Further Thoughts On Hipster Atheism

Hipster culture to me is kind of like the fetishization of fashion itself. Fashion and beauty have been around for centuries, but what hipster culture does is it takes image and style and fetishizes it to the point where it becomes the only thing that matters. And living in New York, I can't help but pay attention to this subculture because hipsters are everywhere. They're unavoidable. If you're a relatively young person like myself in New York, you're going to feel a lot of pressure to be stylish and you will indeed be judged by how you dress, not only by hipsters, but by New Yorkers in general.

Hipsterism I suppose is the primary cultural phenomenon of our day, as was the hippy subculture of the sixties, and the beatnik subculture of the fifties. I guess you can say that I too am a hipster, but I don't fit all the stereotypes. Yes, I do care about how I dress. I do wear skinny jeans. I do have a beard. I do wear a lot of plaid. I do listen to a lot of indie rock and a lot of classic rock. I do like many things that are somewhat obscure. I do like art and film. And, I am an atheist. But - I'm not a trust fund baby pretending to be poor. I care more about science and philosophy than I do about style and looks. I sometimes wear things that aren't cool. I don't keep up with all the trends. I like many things that are mainstream and commercial. I don't wear thick rimmed glasses. And I fucking hate PBRs!

I do however, have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with hipster culture. Once you get into it, you start looking down at people who have no style. This is why hipster culture has so many haters. I've noticed myself numerous times insulting people behind their back who I thought had no fashion sense. But then I also despise people who take that attitude to the extreme and judge people only by what they wear. I don't go that far. I judge people by their personality. If you're interested in the same things I am, like science and philosophy and can carry your own in an intellectual conversation, then I don't necessarily care about how you dress. And conversely, you can be the most stylish mother fucker in the world, but if you're a purely superficial, lame ass douche bag who only cares about fashion and pop culture, then I will have little to no interest in hanging out with you.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hipster Atheism

When I'm out drinking around town and strike up conversations with strangers, I often want to talk about beliefs. I'm fascinated about exploring other people's worldviews. Lately, most of the young people that I've talked to have all been atheists. This may not come as a surprise given that I live in New York - a very liberal city and a third of all Americans under 30 have no religion, but here in New York the number of atheists/non-theists seems to be much higher than a third. It seems to be a majority.

New York has one of the largest hipster communities in the world, and Williamsburg (which is only a few miles from where I live) is considered the official hipster capital of the world. I don't have official statistics, but in my experiences with the hipster community, atheism or agnosticism seems to be rampant. Atheism seems to be "cool" with the fashionably conscious. It's very rare - almost never, that I run into a young person who actually believes in a theistic god within the context of a particular religion. While I think it's fucking awesome that so many young people are catching onto atheism in numbers that have never been seen before in the US, I certainly want to keep atheism a plausible intellectual position and not just some trend that will be jettisoned once it gets too popular. That's because once something goes "mainstream," hipsters are required to hate it by law, and the growing popularity of atheism might backfire if "uncool" people in backwards parts of the country start embracing it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Morning Hangover Post

Last night a friend of mine convinced me to go partying in the Meat Packing district in Manhattan. I was originally in the city just enjoying a sunny, relatively mild Saturday afternoon absorbing the sights and sounds. I hadn't been out leisurely in quite a while since I'm not really a friend of the bitter cold, but the weather seemed like a prelude to Spring and I didn't want to waste it.

I had on a vintage jean jacket and my black Levis skinny jeans, advertising the rediscovery of my rock and roll roots. While chilling in Union Square park soaking up the Winter sun, a few people approached me due to my style. It's always complimentary to the ego when your looks alone get others interested in you. This one group of people wanted my picture because I looked similar to one of the men in the group. Then later a woman who was researching information on fashion came up to me and wanted to interview me about my style, on camera. Since I had nothing to do I decided to give it a shot. So she asked me about how I describe my style - which was a topic already on my mind. I told her my style is kinda vintage rocker with a little modern hipster thrown in, and that I've gone through many phases in fashion over the years, some of them very embarrassing. Then she asked me what I'd change about my body - a slight curve ball of a question that I didn't quite expect, and so I told her that if I could change anything I'd probably want to be more muscular. It's hard to admit one's bodily shortcomings, especially for a man, but for me I've always wanted more muscle definition, without actually having to work out of course.

After the interview we talked a little about the reasons behind fashion - like what motivates us to dress how we want to. For me, fashion and style are a way to express to the world visually how I want to be thought of. I've always wanted to be in a band, but was never able to commit myself to the amount of practice it takes to actually be in one, so with fashion I can at least look like I'm in one.

Anyway, after the interview I called my friend who wanted to meet for drinks at a bar in the West Village. He knows the owner of the bar and so it was free beer all night - no complaints from me. Since I hadn't seen him in a while, we had to catch up on things. He told me he's actually giving up Facebook for lent. I didn't even know he was a practicing Christian, and so it got me asking him about religion. It turns out he doesn't actually believe that the Old Testament is the true word of god, which explains why he supports gay rights. The variety of Christian belief is astounding. But since my friend isn't exactly the deep thinking intellectual type when it comes to his beliefs, my probing didn't evolve into a lengthy discussion. And so after his girlfriend showed up and another friend of mine came through, we all decided to go to the Meat Packing district.

Now I'm not a huge fan of the Meat Packing district to be honest with you. Sure it's trendy and full of really hot women, but at my age, I'm just not into that scene anymore. Most of the clubs and bars play that kind of in-your-face techno that I lost interest in before I ever even had it. When it comes to electronic music I generally prefer chilled out house or electro. The crowds in the MPD draw the usual assortment of Jersey Shore guidos and Latino thugs that I'd prefer not to acknowledge the existence of. My entire time there I was really just observing the Saturday night rituals of a crowd and a culture that I've left behind years ago. I used to be a club promoter, and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, I was surrounded by the Manhattan club scene in the MPD and Chelsea. Now there's no amount of alcohol that could make this scene tolerable and it's too bad I didn't drink enough to black out and forget it all.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Ego Driven Life

I feel the tremendous urge to show off on occasion. It's something that I don't acknowledge easily, but I cannot deny its existence. But why do I feel the need to show off and what do I think I am getting accomplished by doing so? By showing off you make others jealous of you, and you make them envy you, and this feeds the ego. And through this a great sense of satisfaction is obtained. Who hasn't had the desire to be envied or imitated by other people? It's one of the most basic aspects of selfishness probably that exists. But how does one reconcile the natural selfishness in human nature with the conscious understanding of its destructive capabilities?

According to Freud, sex was the primary motivation driving humans. It seems that in the modern capitalist world, sex has been equaled by money, along with power. So money, power and sex drive the ego, and generally, the more we have of them, the happier we are. But is this an illusion of happiness? The rich aren't really any happier than the average American is and according to numerous studies having more money can only buy temporary happiness, like the way a drug can. Happiness comes from a multitude of conditions. In the documentary Happy by director Roko Belic, it analyzes several metrics to gauge the happiness of people. First there are extrinsic goals. These would include things like, money, image and social status. These are contrasted with intrinsic goals. These would include things like personal growth, relationships, and the desire to help. Intrinsic goals are said to be in and of themselves rewarding because they relate to intrinsic psychological needs we all have and can thus more easily produce a state of happiness.

With these two types of goals pursued by many people, it's not hard to see how putting too much emphasis on extrinsic goals toward happiness can lead to problems because extrinsic goals are ego driven. For me it hasn't really been money so much, but I've spent quite a lot time obsessing over my image and social status. Getting just the right look, with just the right clothes, and making sure that my social status is high enough up in the hierarchy have all been very important concerns I've had, and I have had many periods of depression when it just doesn't seem to be working out. My last job for example drove me crazy because, I couldn't fit in with the people I worked with and sort of became the social outcast. I hated this social status and it resulted in massive depression, for which massive amounts of alcohol was prescribed.

The kind of happiness that derives from intrinsic goals, is clearly where the emphasis should be put. They can not only produce happiness, they have positive gains for society when put to practice. The pleasure obtained from helping others and bettering one's life and relationships is incredibly rewarding for good reason.

But this leads us back to square one, which is the problem of the ego driven life. How do I reconcile my unhealthy extrinsic goals towards happiness with the more beneficial intrinsic goals when the extrinsic goals are so powerful in their lure? Well for one thing I could squash my ego and pretend it doesn't exist. In Zen the ego is an illusion, it doesn't properly exist. But Zen also teaches of the "middle path". And since there is no dogmatic approach to Buddhism, I am free to interpret Buddhism how I please and where ever I see fit.

So using the middle path analogy that the Buddha is said to have made, whereby he described to some of his early followers who were adapt at extreme austerity measures of self mortification, of how when the string of a guitar is too loose, it becomes flaccid and cannot produce music, and when it is too tight, it snaps. But when it is just right, it makes beautiful music, pleasant to the ear. This middle path, avoiding the extremes at both ends is what we call moderation.

Using the middle way, perhaps a careful check of my ego driven pursuits with in the extrinsic goals is preferred rather than taking such extreme measures as abolishing it altogether. I know that keeping one's ego in check is not an easy task. It requires a constant reminder, and humility. I'm not the kind of person who worships money and materialism so I might have a head start over others wishing a more moderate path towards happiness and fulfillment. I'm not about to give away all my possessions and go meditate in a cave for the rest of my life. I want to live in the modern world, with its amenities and conveniences, and yes I want to look good and have a decent social status. But what I cannot do, is let myself obsess over these things to such a degree that they drive my life. And I must balance them out equally, if not more, with healthy pursuits of trying to be who I really am, building closer relationships with my friends and loved ones, and wanting and committing myself towards the help of others.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Different Kind of Cool

I remember being a teenager and spending hours looking at myself in the mirror, obsessing over how I looked, obsessing over my hair and skin and nose and how I looked from the side and behind, constantly comparing myself to others. It's all part of being a self-conscious adolescent in a culture obsessed with image. As I've grown older, my interest in how I look has waned a bit, but recently, there has seen a slight resurgence, I think, primarily due to the fact that I am getting older and I fear that I will lose touch with what is cool and trendy.

When I say "cool and trendy" I don't mean the stupid shit that teenagers care about today - I couldn't care less about most of that shit. I mean having a sense of coolness in the aesthetic and intellectual sense. I mean "cool" like my literary hero Christopher Hitchens, who'd sip a cocktail at all hours of the day with a cigarette in the other hand, quoting writers and philosophers from memory and telling anecdotes about humorous encounters with various public figures. The "trendy" aspect means taking care of my appearance in the sense that it will be apparent from someone looking at me that I've taken some consideration into how I look. It's not that I have to be the most stylish trend-setter in the room, but I don't want to be seen as some loser douche-bag who looks like he stepped right out of the 90s.

There's a different kind of cool that I like. It's the kind of cool that requires intellectual discourse with like minded people, over drinks at a dinner party or lounge. It's the kind of cool Sinatra had. What I want to help grow is a public understanding of the important issues in politics, and to let people know that it is cool to be well informed and have an opinion about things. There aren't enough "cool" youngish people in the media deeply concerned with politics, although it seems to be increasing. Since Barack Obama, there has been an uptick in interest in politics, but the American people are largely ignorant of the issues at stake today and are even more ignorant of the history behind them.

As I get older I care less and less about the pop culture world and what goes on in it and I care more and more about the realm of politics and science. These two areas have long been associated by those in the pop culture world as being lame, boring or generally uncool. And sure you have popular comedians like Bill Maher, John Stewart, and Steven Colbert making politics and the issues fun, but their fans fill a small niche that is not exactly by mainstream standards, "cool". There are high profile scientists that have become in a way, niche celebrities in a sense, but their message rarely penetrates the bubble they live in.

Maybe I'm getting in over my head here. Perhaps the number of people into politics and science will always be limited, just like the number of people into Death Metal or Swing Dancing will be. Perhaps that's just the way it is, or perhaps it should be that way. Because if stupid, ill-informed, pop culture drones start "engaging" in civil debate about politics, we might be awash with Sarah Palins and Herman Cain types.

..And that wouldn't be too good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Short Days, Long Nights

It's that time of the year, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. I can see the sun setting lower in the sky. This is the time of the year where one has to take full advantage of every pleasant day if you live in northern latitudes. In my beloved New York that is especially true. For a long cold winter is almost certainly ahead. Maybe this winter won't be so bad. I hope not. It was a decent summer. I'm not sure what my best summer was. Maybe the summer of '99. I partied a lot that summer and had my first sexual experience. It was a hot one. I always want to show off my body that I've sculpted all winter long in the summer, but this past winter I did no such thing. Consequently, my summer body this year was just as scrawny as it was for many past summers.

I didn't go shopping this summer to show off any new looks. I had the same old same old wardrobe. There have been clothes that I've fantasized about having, and that having it will make me happier. I too am not immune to materialistic pleasure. I usually never get that item of clothing, but in fantasy I wear it and rock that look I so desperately want. I constantly evolve and so does my look. Now that I'm getting older I've changed and matured my look a bit. I no longer dress like some 20 year old pot head. I want to fashion myself as an intellectual. It doesn't always go with my company or environment. I don't want to dress too square. I want to be stylish yet sophisticated. To do this I need to be creative since buying a new wardrobe is a little out of the question.

No summer love this year. I think I already mentioned that in a previous post. My friend keeps convincing me to go to this local bar that I can't stand. I hate the girls that go there and the general atmosphere. I only ever go there because it's closest to me. I barely went out "bitch hunting" as we used to say, this summer. I went to the South Street Sea Port several times where I did meet one pretty young European girl that I briefly dated that quickly went nowhere. I didn't really hit my usual stomping grounds or the bars most favorable for meeting single ladies. Come to think of it I barely went bar hopping this summer. I guess on the account of how expensive it is.

I'm noticing that I'm writing too much about my personal life here. This blog is not suppose to be a personal blog. I guess the fact that I'm writing period is a good sign of productivity, since I can on occasion, go long periods without writing.

I'm reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity now. He is a writer most know probably for writing The Chronicles of Narnia. He is a Christian often cited in religious debates and he is credited with bringing a slightly more modern interpretation of his faith to the masses with his book. Even though I see through his arguments in favor of his faith and god like a fishnet bra on a hooker. I guess that if I wasn't educated in the new atheist's philosophies that have made my atheism stronger and unbreakable, I might possibly fall for some of Lewis' arguments. Perhaps if I was younger.

Friday, April 30, 2010

To blog or not to blog...?

Up with insomnia and having my head full of thoughts is making it hard to sleep. On top of that I took a nap today in the afternoon which threw off my sleep schedule even more. Plus now that Spring is here the days are getting longer and the Sun is rising earlier and I hate to see the rays of the Sun as I embark on my journey of rest. It's always a difficult journey.

So what's on my mind? I want a girlfriend. But then, I don't want a girlfriend. I want to be single, but then I don't want to be single. Damn. I want to meet the right girl, that's for sure, but then I don't want to settle down now. I don't know. Maybe a temporary relationship is fine. 1 yearish kind of thing.

Of course that would be the longest relationship I ever had if it were so. When I tell people that I haven't had a relationship longer than 6 months they are very surprised. I often don't provide that information unprovoked. I've never even had 1 single long term relationship. Not one. How long is an LTR? Let's say 5 years. That's an LTR at least to me. I can't even imagine what that's like. I really can't. I hope I do one day.

I've been working out to try to pump up for the Summer. I have 2 months before it's t-shirt weather everyday, actually less. But anyway, I want to get a nice cut first. I'm already thin. I lost 15 pounds during the Winter and I want to gain it back with a lot of muscle. So I don't have to loose weight I have to gain it. My BowFlex can get me looking cut very fast. I gotta look good this Summer. Last Summer was fun. I went out a lot and did some cool things. This Summer I hope will be even better. I will need a job because money is tight. I will be done with school completely. There will be no class. I'll miss school a little bit. Over the past year I made many friends. The first year of school I didn't make much friends. My hectic schedule didn't allow for much social time anyway.

I reinvented myself several times during the past few years at school. I went from a four-eyed total geek look to a slick-haired dude, to a goateed i-don't-know-what. Each look was carefully calculated. There are times when I don't care about my "look." I just do whatever. Then I get back into being superficial and start caring about my clothes and hair and shit like that. I'm not sure if I am happy with the "image" I've left on people. It's not how I want to be portrayed. In truth, we are all different images to different people. Seeing myself on camera which I rarely do, allowed me to see how I really look, from an other persons' perspective. It's the only way to see how you'd look from someone else's point of view. It's always a shocker when I see myself on camera because I notice a bunch of things that I don't notice otherwise. Like my voice sounds different from how I hear it in my head and my mannerisms make me look weird or different. When I see myself on camera I see a whole different person that I didn't know existed. It's me. It's not who I think I am. I think we all have that reaction when we see ourselves on camera. I look so geeky on camera. I never realized how much of a geek I was. I thought I was much cooler than that. Maybe I am a geek. Maybe I tricked myself into thinking or convincing myself that I'm much cooler than I actually am. But the camera showed me from an unbiased point of view where my desire to think I'm cool couldn't distort reality. So what to I have to do? Change reality.

Monday, April 26, 2010


When I don't shower for a few days and my hair gets messy and my body starts to stink, and I sit home in my house clothes, I start to feel ugly. I start to get the urge to shower and get all styled up to feel attractive. As a man I am not immune to the need to feel exceptional from time to time as women have been for many years. I guess it's a product of the metrosexual culture we live in. Maybe it's just me. I know how good it feels to be all fixed up in a nice outfit, with hair done all styled up, and a hint of cologne maybe to top it off. It immediately gives us a little boost of confidence when we look our best. When there are days when I don't shower or maintain myself I look in the mirror and see my unkempt self and think, "damn, I look horrible."

I hate that, and we live in a culture consumed with looking good all the time. Even celebrities often look good, when they're suppose to be looking average. Maybe they spend a lot of time to look good when they are suppose to be pretending to not care about how they look. I am a high maintenance person by nature. I wish I was one of those type of people who naturally has great hair and skin and can just jump out of bed looking awesome with out having to do anything. On rare occasions I can do that but usually not due to my oily skin and hair. Instead I almost always have to shower or at least shampoo my hair and style it to look good. I hate it and I blame my bad genetics for it. But what can I say, that's how I am. I don't want to be high maintenance but I just am.

As I've gotten older I've slowly gotten turned off from the whole fashion thing, not completely, but it isn't as big a part of my life as it once was. I still have a sense of style but it doesn't rely on current trends as it once did. I am the type of person that constantly changes my style anyway. I am now styling myself more as an intellectual because that's how I've become. Pretty soon I'll be wearing dress shirts and blazers everywhere.

I haven't given up on style. I plan on being stylish throughout my 30s just like my 20s. However, I want to resist the temptation of the evils I see (corporations) that want to put pressure on all of us into thinking like teenagers until we're 45 (or later). That is a big scam I see that's very profitable: Trick everyone into thinking they can feel young and cool if they obsess over their looks and image way past high school.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Growing up in NYC

There is something about New Yorkers. Growing up in NYC, was great. I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else. in NY you have the world at your doorstep. I had friends from all over the world. NYers party hard. Growing up me and my friends we would get drunk all the time when I was in high school. Smoking weed was just about an everyday thing also. Most people who grow up in NY like to party and drink and do drugs. I don't think there was anything wrong with that. I have two cousins who grew up in Maryland and thay were raised so goody-to-shoes to the point where I think they really missed out on a lot of life's experiences. All parents want to keep there kids from the bad things in life, I guess, I'm lucky that my parents were a bit loose.

Listen to kids who grew up in NY. Listen to their accent. NYers have a great slang that we use. Kids who grew up in NY do tend to be a little ghetto. Almost every kid in NY says the word "nigga" as if it was dude or man. Nobody else does that outside on NY. White kids in California don't use the "N" word, unless they're being racist. I'm not saying it's right or wrong it's just something about NY culture. I guess its because the hip hop culture started here, and that's why aspects of black culture are so ingrained here in the NY culture. I'm not sure exactly.

NY is the drug capital of the world. Every other friend of mine sold drugs growing up. And just about everyone was using. All the rich yuppies on Wall Street do drugs, most likely coke. If you didn't do drugs to me it seemed you were in the minority. Or maybe, my perception is just skewed in favor of drugs because my friends did drugs growing up, I'm not sure.

You can party hard in NY too. There are 10,000 bars and clubs in NY. Before I started going out I'd party at my friends cribs. We'd listen to music or make music, since many of my friends were musicians, and we'd drink and smoke. It was fun back then and I'm glad I lived it. I just wished that I had kept a journal back then to have documented some of the experiences, and turn it into a book.

Like I said I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else.


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