Monday, November 28, 2005

All The Alt Boys Have Whiskers, Now.

The bartender set the glasses down, a pint of Yards ESA, and a pint of club soda with three lime wedges straddling the rim. An aging hipster like me needs the water to dilute and soften my drinking now, permitting the drive home. The limes clean the thickness of hops from the tongue, between pints, and also help prevent scurvey. I survey the room while my food is prepared on the other side of the back bar. It's full as usual on a Monday. At the far end of the bar two DJ boys spin vinyl pressed decades before their births; garage-y Nuggets type obscura, Brian Eno and Can. Like many in the room, they are wearing plaid flanel and work boots.

Twelve months ago, they all were mopey and moppy, sloughing through last winter and spring clean shaven in striped polos, baggy corduroy, low slung Sevens or Diesel Jeans and lost, slightly wounded expressions. Their perpetually tousled hair was artfully sculpted into shaggy slept in rats nests buttressed by skilled application of costly pommades, purchased in enameled tins from salons with names like "Liquid" or "Entropy". Now they stand around me transformed, illuminated in the neon and thick cigarette haze which typifies Philadelphia dive bars (both the actual and those merely styled as such). The parkas, "Members Only" jackets, and skinny 80's leathers of last winter have been supplanted by pile lined wide lapeled corduroy and real or simulated shearling, cut as worn by The Marlboro Man, or Dennis Weaver as Mc Cloud on "The NBC Mystery Movie" circa 1975. Well represented in the ruby glow are blanket lined Carhart chore coats and quilted Dickies gas station attendants zip fronts. Their locks are less studied disarrays now, too. The hair is worn close cropped, not buzzed in military fashion, but a consistent #3 or #4 setting. Or alternately, grown long to chin or shoulders, Like Charles Manson or the bloated, shaggy, soon to O.D. Jim Morrison. All versions are met at the temples with beards. Those who missed the shift anxiously cultivate stubble in pursuit of the cognoscenti. The early adopters more ambitious efforts, most reaching a half or three quarter inch length are often sparse at the cheeks, like young Hassidim. The proud fortunates sport thick dense pile, fueled by a surfeit of testosterone which may ultimately accelerate balding six or eight years from now.

The hipsterss look for all the world like The Future Bears of America, part of an aestetically pleasing (to me) but also
confounding trend; the latest example of straight culture co-opting homo style. I have a hard enough time telling the gay from not the gay. Its a moot point here, I come for the beer and the music. But it is fun to while the time speculating on how these boys will fill out and ripen in a few years. The bartender set my platter down before me, and the guy on the next stool observed "Wow, that looks tasty!" Looking past him at the young men posed around the pool table, pint glasses in hand, I heartily agreed.
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