Tag Archives: Hipsters

The Slack is Back: Why Hipsters Are the New Slackers

It’s said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and this is true not only in our culture, but in our countercultures and subcultures as well. Your Chop is 31 this year, which makes us just barely old enough to remember the best of the early Nineties. It also means we’re young enough to still be going out pretty often, and the more time we spend in bars and DIY spaces, the more we notice how much today’s Hipsters have in common with the Slackers of yore.

Today’s bright young things of 21-25 are definitely too young to remember most of the 90’s, especially the early part. Sure, they’re happy to ‘curate’ some of the indie touchstones of that period into their own lives; Nirvana bootlegs, Trainspotting, cassettes, eclectic fashion, The Basketball Diaries and organic coffee, but most fail to realize exactly how much they’ve got in common with the grunge rockers who were living in those same shitty apartments and loft spaces 20 years ago.

One of these photos is from a story on Lollapalooza 1991. The other is from a 2010 story on a Brooklyn loft space. You are free to guess which is which.

The ties that bind today’s Hipsters to their Slacker brethren run deeper than their pasty, tattooed skin. Beyond the PBR and the Chuck Taylors- and of course the blatant denials- it’s the things you can’t see with the eye that mark the Hipster as the new Slacker.

>>> An inflated sense of self-worth. Lots of people create art. A ton of people have read Chomsky and Nietzche the poems of Pablo Neruda. Building a bicycle or growing a vegetable garden or knitting a scarf are skills that many people have. They don’t make you special, Hipster. They put you on the level of basic human competence.

>>> A giant sense of entitlement. A job that you love and enjoy is not your due, Hipster. A job in your chosen field is not your due. A job is not your due. Doing something rewarding about which you’re passionate is what you get after you pay your dues. How do you pay your dues? You grind on in an ordinary job until you’ve learned all the things they didn’t teach you in college. If you’re lucky, it’ll take 20 years. Until that happens get off the fucking dole and go to work.

>>> A refusal of sacrifice. Is that iPhone’s unlimited data plan a want or a need? Is that out-of-town reunion show really a one-off must-see event? Is it actually so imperative that you treat Record Store Day as a national holiday? It seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve heard anyone say “I can’t. I don’t have the money.” but we’re still often hearing stories of bar tabs and boasts of new purchases, along with complaints about credit card debt.

>>> Political martyrdom. The rise of grunge and Slacker culture in the early 1990’s had a lot to do with the first President Bush and his recession. The prominence of Hipster culture was directly proportional to the G. W. Bush economy of the late 2000’s, the effects of which we’re still feeling today. Combining your part-time service gig with an Etsy shop might seem like an ideal solution, but it fits a sixty-something better than a twentysomething. Believe it or not, cheap rent doesn’t last forever.

>>> Send in the Salvation Army. We will give some credit where it’s due. Slack-sters have always been masters of thrift. An underemployed twentysomething can cut expenses just about anywhere. We’re a great admirer of thrift, but there’s more to it than scoring an advantageous rental agreement, cutting out transport costs with a bicycle and using sales and coupons for groceries. The idea is to do something more productive with the money you’re saving than buying a nice bag of weed. Making ends meet is important, but until you’ve figured out how to make cash flow positive at the end of every month, there will always be a question of whether you own a lifestyle, or a lifestyle owns you.


Filed under Chop Rants!

Chop Style: Put Your Goddamn Keys Away

This has gone on far too long, Baltimore.

We see a lot of people on a day to day basis. We notice things. Once we notice them enough, we start to form an opinion, and then we run and tell that to the internet. That’s how blogging works.

Of course, we’re not just now noticing that people wear keys on their belts. We did notice though, that of all the people we encounter in our travels around Baltimore, none of them happen to be motorcycle riders, jailers, janitors, building superintendents, boaters, or have any other practical reason to wear keys on their belts. We’ve also noticed that it’s 2011 for fuck’s sake!

How outdated is this keywear trend, really? Not only are belt clips actually marketed as “Hipster Key Rings”, but you know a trend should be well over when the designer version hits Urban Outfitters and sells for $18.00. Of course, the one in that link is on clearance, which indicates that even UO thinks this look is like… soooo 1999.

You might think this is handy, but as an adult it’s the functional equivalent to your mom pinning your mittens to your jacket. It makes you look like sort of a retard. If you carry a bag put your keys in there. If you don’t, put them in the pocket of your jeans. If your jeans are too tight to get them into the pocket comfortably, then for Christ’s sake get some jeans that fit.

We’re embarrassed for our fair city to see so many people still trying to rock this look. We’re putting you on notice Baltimore. It’s a rule now: no more keys on belts. We’re giving you until April to re-blog this on your tumblrs and get the word out on the street. After that we might have to start indiscriminately cutting belt loops. They don’t call us Chop for nothing.


Filed under Chop Style

Grant Hart @ Black Cat Tonight

When we went to the Obits show the other day, we mentioned that sometimes we’re too cool for things, and sometimes we’re too old for things. Seldom is it both, but if you thought there was any chance at all we were going to go back there tonight and see Das Racist, well then you don’t know us too well, do you?

The cool kids may eat it up with a spoon, but nope… tonight the Chop is both too old and too cool for school. We’re staying as far away from that as possible. So far, in fact, that we’re leaving Baltimore entirely. You mixtape and DJ set types can keep your Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bells. We’d rather listen to rock and roll.

Grant Hart plays the Black Cat tonight. 9 pm doors.

You don’t need us to tell you who Grant Hart is. Grant Hart is a fucking legend. Once or twice in a generation someone comes along and changes the game entirely… and those people are relatively unimportant. In our book, Grant Hart and Bob Mould invented the game. As far as we’re concerned, they’re right up there with Joe Strummer & Mick Jones, Keith Morris & Greg Ginn, Joey & Johnny Ramone, Brett Gurewitz & Greg Graffin, Ian MacKaye & Guy Picciotto, or Richard Hell & Tom Verlaine.

If any of those guys play within an hour of your house and you don’t go, well, you’re just not that cool. We’re saying that for the record.

Opening up tonight is Chapel Hill power-pop outfit The Venables. Just the fact that we describe them as “power pop” is a good indication that they learned everything they know from guess who… Grant Hart. Their most recent 7 song recording Grab Bag is also available as a free download on their bandcamp site. Two great acts for $12 on the back stage is as cool as it gets for grumpy old rockers on a weeknight.

Now get the hell off of our lawn!


Black Cat is located at 1811 14th Street NW in Washington DC. Metro accessible from green/ yellow lines to U St/ Cardozo Station. Grant Hart’s website is granthart.com

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Filed under Baltimore Events, DC Events, shows

Ann D. Schuler Retrospective @ Schuler School of Fine Arts Today

It’s easy to get a little cynical about Station North sometimes. Even with all of the success stories in that neighborhood in recent years, it can be tempting to look around at all the still-crummy warehouse lofts, the custom bike shops, fashion-obsessed co-eds and sometimes obscure and inaccessible music scene and think “Welp, the City built the hipsters a nice little playground here.”

Indeed, it’s not difficult to forget about the higher end of culture in the neighborhood. There’s The Charles Theater, of course, and the everyman, and even the Meyerhoff and the Lyric between Mount Royal and North Avenues. And then there’s Station North’s other art school.

The Schuler School of Fine Arts hosts a retrospective of its late founder's works today. 2-6 pm.

The Schuler School of Fine Arts has been a fixture in Station North since before there was a Station North. Well before. Just look at the building. You don’t grow that much ivy overnight, and for more than 50 years the school on Lafayette Avenue has been a cloister dedicated to the study, admiration and emulation of the styles and techniques of the old masters.

At today’s exhibit (which also ran yesterday) you won’t be seeing any paint splatters or lines and shapes. No half-cocked political statements. No absurdist riffs on absurdity for the sake of irony. No silent, endlessly looping video installations. Dan Deacon’s not hosting any dance parties at Schuler.

The Chop has walked past the Schuler School hundreds of times. Possibly into the thousands. We’ve always sort of thought of it as that closed up little building where a few people go to paint so many flowers and fruit bowls and reclining nudes, and sculpt busts of old guys with beards. For years, that’s been the extent of our knowledge of the place. To us, the place has taken on the sort of mystery that a Masonic lodge or an Orthodox church can carry with it, and if you’ve felt the same way, we’d encourage you not to miss your chance to take a peek inside.


The Schuler School is located at 9 E. Lafayette Ave. in Station North. (410) 685-3568. Open today from 2-6, and year round by appointment only.


Filed under Art Openings, Baltimore Events

Chop Style: Guide to Thrift Store Shopping

As you may have noticed Baltimore, Spring is here. Like for real. Like actually happening out the window right now! We know you’ve noticed, because we watched you walk around all weekend having weathergasms all over the place; cameraphones in hand, flip flops and the whole nine.

And as such it’s high time the Chop got our wardrobe together for the season. So today we’re making the big circuit, hitting up most of the area Goodwill stores, Salvation Army shops, and even Value Village. We may not be the best dressed man in Baltimore, but we’re always the best dressed in our price range.

We didn’t get there easily though. It takes a lot of work, patience and knowledge to wade through other people’s crap in search of something of quality. There’s also the risk of coming out of the store looking like you shop exclusively at a thrift store. Even if you do, you shouldn’t look the part. Save that for the Hampden Hipster Welfare Queens and MICA sophomores. No, you want to look good this spring, and the Chop is here to help with our two part guide to thrift store shopping.

Shopping at Goodwill doesn't mean you have to look like this. (Image courtesy LATFH)

Half the battle is waged before you even get into the store. If you just dive headfirst into a sea of textiles, you’re probably going to drown. finding quality vintage clothing isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack; its much harder than that. It’s like finding one particular needle in a stack of needles. People who run higher-priced vintage clothing boutiques know this, and they’re skilled at it, and it’s a dirty little open secret that many of them pull stock from the sales floors of the big three. So today we’re going to focus on what you need to know before you go:

>>> Know Your Sizes. This is the single biggest way to save yourself time and hassle when shopping anywhere. It will kill you to find the perfect jeans in your size only to find out that your size isn’t actually your size. It’s the size you were in high school, or the size you wish you were, or the size you guessed at. If you haven’t shopped for clothes in a while, you might not be the size you think you are. Before you bring those jeans to the fitting room, make sure there’s a decent chance that they will actually fit. If you really have no idea what your sizes are, have someone measure you. Failing that, go to Macy’s and have them measure you. Seriously, it’s that important.

>>> Take Stock of Your Wardrobe. The general rule of thumb is that if you haven’t worn it in 12 months, you shouldn’t have it in your closet. There are plenty of articles online about how to clean out your closet. Once you’ve done that you should have a good idea of what you need the most, so that when you get into the store you already have priorities. You’ll also have a bag full of clothes to donate and a good deal of extra space in your closet.

>>> What to Wear on a Shopping Trip. A little thinking ahead about what you’re wearing to the store can save you significant time if you’re trying on more than one or two items. The Chop always makes a point to shop in a v-neck tee, our everyday jeans, and slip-on loafers. This way we can try on shirts right in the aisles, shoes come on and off easily when trying pants, and we know what does or doesn’t work with our favorite jeans.

>>> Watch the Sales. A little clicking around on the links above will tell you when the sales are going on, or you can be sure to ask a clerk when you get there. The last Saturday of every month is Goodwill’s Super Saturday, when everything is half price. the only thing better than a $4 shirt is two shirts for $4, but beware; little old ladies come out of the woodwork. Super Saturdays and midnight madness can spawn hour-long lines, trashed sales floors, and ugly fights over crappy garments. Our advice is to shop just before the sale starts, or right at the tail end of it. A YSL necktie isn’t worth civil unrest.

>>> Go back often. Thrift stores rotate stock much more quickly than department stores or even discount stores. It’s worth your while to ask the clerks when stocking days are, and to check the stores closest to you as often as once a week. If you follow the advice here it will only take a few moments to scan the entire store.

Tomorrow: How to tell trash from treasure. The Chop talks Labels, material, tailoring, accessories and more!



Filed under Chop Style

House Rules: Put Another Dime in the Jukebox, Baby.

Sigh, We see you there Baltimore… Standing there staring at the jukebox, playing with your hair while you sip your Jameson and coke, shifting your weight from hip to hip in a not-unsexy way. We noticed the way you matched your favorite Chucks to a Betsey Johnson bag and threw in a seasonal scarf just for good measure, and we like your style. So naturally we presume your taste in music is at least as good, and we’re watching to see which three songs you’ll get for your dollar.

You’re taking your time… perhaps looking for something in particular. Or maybe you’re one of those who needs to make a point by deliberately choosing the most obscure hipster record in the entire machine. That’s okay. Just as long as you don’t try to pull any *ironic* nonsense and select some crap like Motley Crue. Doctor Feelgood will not make me feel all right. And you’re probably not even gonna fuck the bartender for blow. (Probably…)

The Chop at the jukebox, circa 1951.

So we wait. And finally we see you punch the buttons. We perk up our ears and what do we hear? Wait… no. Is that Animal Collective? Fleet Foxes? Holy shit, I have to suffer through Vampire Weekend? Are you a freshman at MICA or something? Journey? Fucking Journey!? Again? Seriously? Are you not tired of this shit yet? Do you think the whole bar really sees you as the tragic heroine with the heart of gold because you played Journey? Or maybe you don’t actually realize that 3 other morons are going to punch A-13 before last call, because they didn’t stop believin’ either.

So come over here Baltimore. Sit down next to the Chop, and we’re going to buy you a drink and have a talk about your musical taste and the do’s and don’ts of the jukebox.

The Chop is no stranger to jukes of all types, and we’re not afraid to stick a twenty in there and punch buttons all night long. We’ve even, on occasion, cleared out an entire bar on purpose playing songs no one wanted to hear. But we use our powers for good as well. So heed this advice the next time you come to the bar straight from the laundromat with 20 quarters in your pocket: skip your date with the Megatouch and play a couple of Chop-approved tracks instead.

There are only three simple rules to remember when you step up to the juke. In the kind of places your dad hangs out, it can be hard to find songs that meet all three, but where we see you out Baltimore, at RTV and Club Chuck and the like, these rules aren’t that hard to follow.

Three steps to a great jukebox selection:

1/ Pick a song by a popular artist, which hasn’t been ruined by being played to the point of over-saturation and fatigue.

2/ Pick a song with a good backbeat and a catching rhythm. You should be tapping your fingers and nodding your head a few bars in. By the end you should break into a full-on strut.

3/ Everyone in the room should be able to hear the song, and instantly feel like they had picked it themselves. It should make everyone feel that much cooler just for having heard it, thereby making the whole bar that much cooler.

We were going to give you the Chop’s top ten jukebox picks here, but instead we’ve decided to go all 1980’s sitcom style and make this a two part post to be continued tomorrow. Tune in then: same Chop time, same Chop channel.



Filed under House Rules