Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Appalachian Punk Rock Hobo Hipster

I saw another one today.  The Punk Rock Appalachian Hobo look has migrated to NE Ohio is all of its glory.  I saw the guy when I worked out today.  Allow me to say that it is tough to look 1934 when you are in mesh shorts, Nikes, and a Cleveland State t-shirt.  The good news was his haircut and mustache still looked resplendent.  He was a real Dapper Dan man, his mustache carefully coiffed.  I’m confident his Model T was parked outside.  After his run, he may have gone home and listened to some Reverend F.W. McGee 78s.  That “Fifty Miles of Elbow Room” really cooks! 

I don’t understand where this Depression Era look is coming from.  I have a theory though.  I think we can all agree that “the ironic mustache” has been on the scene much longer than any of us anticipated.  I saw an entire army of Ironic Mustaches in Austin at SXSW.  It’s got to be a drag to be The Cool Guy in your local scene with your ironic mustache and white sunglasses, hop in the van to go to SXSW where you anticipate being The Cool Guy there, and discover that everyone there looks exactly like you do.  My guess is that a lot of guys asked each other how long they had been in possession of their ironic mustache, and then argued about who the first one was “on the scene” with this special facial hair.  A lot of fellas would have realized they were late to the party, and the party was much bigger than any of them had anticipated.  That would have been a moment of real soul searching for many hipster dudes. 

I believe that many of these same men went back to their respective homes and plotted on their next fashion turn.  Obviously much effort had been placed into looking like no effort had been placed into their existing mustaches.  The only way to go would be to boomerang in the opposite direction, and take great obvious care and pride in the mustache.  Next thing you know you’re watching an episode of “Boardwalk Empire” or maybe checking out a Mumford and Sons photo in Rolling Stone.  Bingo.  You are back in business. 

Roots and retro music guys have always loved to be exclusionary.  Rockabilly guys get pissed if you don’t have a pomp, upright bass, and a flaming eight ball tattoo.  Americana guys like John Deere hats and beards.  Garage rock gets angry if your gear isn’t retro and you are in the wrong jacket.  Bluegrass has so many rules you need to read a book just to understand why the band you like that appeared to be playing bluegrass in fact “isn’t really playing bluegrass”.  To create a hard to pinpoint subgenre where you have to be heavily tattooed, play acoustic instruments and look vaguely like Les Claypool in 1928 is about as exclusionary as you can get.  Get five of you together to start busking in tourist areas, and you are totally in business.  Gentlemen, I salute you. 

The problem with this subgenre will obviously be the graceful exit from the scene.  Let’s be honest.  At some point you are going to get sick of living in a one room apartment with four other dudes, their thrift store wardrobes, the two communal dogs, and the three crab ridden girls that smell like mold and patchouli.  There you are with banjo skills, a Sailor Jerry looking pinup tattoo on your neck, and maybe an antique pickup truck.  There’s plenty of rebuilding to be done from that point, and none of that rebuilding will include the phrase “high paying job”.  It may include “working for my Dad” or “bartending school” though. 

It’s very confusing how this will all play out.  Most people under the age of 30 have no interest our band, and we are a pretty easy entry into American roots.  I have a hard time believing that Carter Family records are going to shoot up the charts.  Is that kid I see at the intersection wearing the dungarees perched impossibly below his ass going to reject the musical catalogue of Pitbull and embrace the Monroe Brothers?  I don’t think so, but then again I have been wrong many times in the past.  Just to be safe, anyone have a mandolin for sale?  And mustache wax?


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