Not too many years ago, I was what you might call a pretentious music snob. I bought imported vinyl from new bands, and out-of-print pressings from those long disbanded (Modern Lovers b-sides, anyone?) Not only did I DJ at my college radio, I had the top listenership. And I was on the board of directors.
I took great pride in knowing more about music than any of my friends. I became an obsessive consumer and curator of taste. I could instantly pick out new bands worth listening to from the ones that were mediocre or just weren’t going to be around in a year. But one day, I realized something: I wasn’t having fun. Everything I knew told me I shouldn’t enjoy the music that made me feel the best, and I didn’t want to relate to the people who knew the random obscure crap that I couldn’t believe I was saying.
A couple weeks ago, news stories started to come out around a report that announced that San Francisco, the fair city where I’ve live for the past four years, has the highest rent in the country. No one I know was shocked or even surprised. First of all, San Francisco is (arguably) one of the most livable cities in North America. Our fair burg boasts beautiful architecture/streets/landscapes, dense neighborhoods with great restaurants/bars/things to do, public transport good enough that you don’t need a car and weather that, while it isn’t as great as LA, is never oppressively bad. Secondly, while the rest of the country has been trying to get out from under the not-so-Great-Recession, San Francisco’s economy has been booming. Seriously. Every tech company here has been hiring constantly since ’09, often offering people who do tech things HUGE salaries (not to mention other perks, like free shuttles to work and free lunches). This means there’s a ton of people in the city will to pay exorbitant rent to live in the city.
All in all, this means, I’m terrified to ever give up my (relatively) decently priced apartment in an awesome part of town, because I’m scared I’ll never get anything like it again.
That’s right, Californians. I’m calling all of us out for getting excited about the $640 million MegaMillions jackpot, myself included, (because, as soon as I finish this post, I will be going down to the corner store to waste 10 bucks on some tickets). According to the LA Times, the chances of winning are 1 in 176 million, meaning you’re definitely not going to win. There, I said it.
One of the things that personally interests me about the concept of new adulthood in North America, is how it corresponds with new adulthood in other countries. Without diving too far into cliché about how the world is flat and it’s all connected, it’s fair to say that there is more of shared culture, brought about by new media, than ever before. So I wanted to start having discussions with people living in other countries, who are perceptive about new adult culture here AND there. First up is my old chum, Will Payne, a writer and new media marketing bro living the dream out in Spain.
Henry: First off, we should find out who you are and what you’re doing in Spain? Sum it up, buddy.
Will: My wife and I got married last year, and decided it was time to get out of our job ruts in the Bay Area and try something completely different. She got a job teaching English in a public high school 10 hours a week that pays our basic bills, and we both do private English lessons and other projects to be able to afford to explore. Despite a few rollercoaster moments dealing with Spanish bureaucracy and cultural clashes, it’s been a lot of fun, we aren’t broke yet, so that’s good.
I turn 30 this year, and rather then live in denial, or act like I’m depressed about it, I’m choosing to get excited about it. Here’s a few things I’m genuinely excited about.
Friends getting divorced. To all my married friends who see this, I want you to know that I am sincerely happy about your marriages. I thoroughly enjoyed your wedding, think your wife/husband is terrific and am overjoyed you’ve committed to your life partner. However, let’s be real. Statistics show that half of you aren’t gonna make it, and if that’s the case for you, let me just say I hope it happens this decade, while we’re all still young enough to revel in it. I’m envisioning we’ll help you get over your failed marriage with last minute trips to Vegas or Montreal or Madrid. I’m gonna help my newly divorced friends open a new life chapter with drinks, food, music and reveling in the good life. It’s gonna be great.
I don’t remember when I started reading recaps of TV shows on blogs, probably within the last couple of years, as they started blowing up. It probably started innocently enough, maybe the day after watching an episode ofThe WireI was particularly excited about, when I saw in my Google Reader feed a write-up about said episode. It was probably pretty similar to most “good” TV recaps, 1000 well-written words that quickly let readers recall (or skip over) the experience of the episode’s narrative, brief thoughts about the show’s themes and then a rehash of the best moments.
In the time since, they’ve become a regular part of my online reading habits, to the point where after watching the latest episode ofMad MenorParks and Recor whatever show I’m wound up over, I’ll hit the AV Club’s TV section on my phone to see what (their very capable) cultural writers had to say about it. And it’s got to stop.
I got a job within the first week of moving to New Orleans, and although I only work three days a week, I’m making more money than I’ve ever made. So, I don’t want to complain about my job. It’s on Frenchman Street, we serve some good fare and my co-workers and managers are all nice people. But the hours are insane. I work from 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., three days in a row. Often I can’t get the time to eat anything aside from the occasional tater tot, and I certainly never sit down. Each morning, I wake up and I can almost hear the pulse in my feet.
Let me preface this post by saying on the scale between coffee slobs and coffee snobs, I probably land closer on the snob side of the spectrum. I live in San Francisco, home to, like, half a dozen different obnoxiously hip, artisan coffee roasters, and so I’ve been conditioned to enjoy a machiatto with a neat little design in it and to prefer an individually prepared cup of coffee over a large breaw. Even the pretentiousness of baristas, who refuse to, say, use skim milk in a cappuccino I find amusing. And when I leave the city, and am iphone-searching to find a coffee house where I can get a nice coffee drink, I know to look for someplace that brews Stumptown (Portland) or Intelligentsia (LA) or Blue Bottle (SF), because I know the coffee will be delicious and the atmosphere will (probably) be appealing.
I remember when I was in my early 20s, drinking with friends in their late 20s would tell me that about how when they turned 28 or so, hangovers got substantially worse. And me, being the typical cocky 25 year old, I would always think to myself, “Yeah, maybe for you. I actually drink, so hangovers aren’t really a thing.” And then, the next morning, when I had a slightly upset stomach or just the faintest of headaches, I’d be like, “I’ll be able to handle this forever. I mean, what people are complaining about? It’s like a mild cold. I’m fine.” And for whatever reason, I thought it was going to stay that way.
There’s no shame in drinking by your self at the bar. I’ve done it often, when traveling or killing time before meeting someone or, I dunno, wallowing in personal despair. However, I admit I used to be self-conscious about what I looked like, goofy Jewish guy nursing a high-life by himself, while people on dates or hanging out with coworkers surrounded me. Maybe everyone sizes each other up at the bar like I do, or maybe everyone just goes about their business. Either way, I’ve spent an hour or two at the bar enough times to know how to do it with something approaching class. So with that, I humbly submit my rules, which if you follow, you won’t look like a complete asshole. Unless, you already do, in which case, I can’t help you.
1. Don’t play with your phone.
This is a big one. It’s cool to occasionally check your phone for a new message or quickly respond to one, but sitting at the bar, by yourself, scrolling through your Facebook feed or playing Draw Something is a bad look. Next time you’re at the bar, look around at the solo flyers. The glare of the iPhone reflects their sadness, does it not?
That’s right. Going to the Creators Project wasn’t my only cultural experience this weekend. I also went with a couple friends to go see Jonah Hill and Chan-Tate tear it up in the #1 MOVIE IN THE COUNTRY. I’m not going to review the film for you, because if you were interested, you’ve probably already checked in with your favorite aggregation site to find out if it’s got a good average qualitative score (for the record, I put it in the 76th percentile of all movies I’ve ever seen, and probably in the high 80s for formulaic-high-concept-action-comedy-hybrid-reboots-of-old-cop-slash-high-school-tv-shows). But the movie DID make me think, so I thought I’d share a few of my in-theater thoughts.
In this week’s Sunday Review, a couple academics wrote a damning criticism of young(ish) Americans lack of mobility, momentum, and drive, called “The Go Nowhere Generation”. In making a case that our generation has been sissy-fied by a persistently weak economy, the authors cited a handful of statistics about how twentysomethings are 40% less likely to move to another state than they were 30 years ago and how teenagers who spend more time on Facebook are more likely to delay applying for a drivers license. In other words, the internet and the shitty economy have turned us all into lazy pussies who are afraid of life.
Last weekend, a group of friends and I were encouraged to check out a craft cocktail spot in Lower Manhattan (that will remain unnamed) by a friend who is into mixology and had read that the spot had good cocktails. There were a couple warning signs that this maybe wasn’t the place to bring 7 people who were already drunk, hungry and ready for Brooklyn – the bouncer who asked if we had a reservation, the white table cloths, the model hot waitresses. However, I remained optimistic, right up until the point when the spot in question turned me into a perfect asshole, and not in the way it’s supposed to.
I was drinking at a friends house last weekend, and, being millenials, instead of just putting on an album, someone pulled out the laptop-projector combo and we played my very well curated vhx.tv rap video playlist. We stood around drinking, sometimes paying attention to the screen and enjoying the antics of Azealia Banks and Odd Future and Fat Joe, et al. Then, Yasiin Bey’s (née Mos Def) remake of “N**gas in Paris”, “N**gas in Poorest” came on and everyone stopped in their tracks to watch it.
The video, embedded above, sent a message to us that, Oh yeah. All the songs we like now are about how great it would to be rich, and none of them are about how fucked up we are for thinking that. Once the next Rick Ross video came on, we went back to our prior positions, but the situation got me thinking that, even though I like fun, dumb music, I (and I think many of the people I know) wold also appreciate some music that reflects and affects reality.
A few months after I moved into my latest apartment, I decided to succumb to the pressures of San Francisco’s department of emergency management and set aside a little space in the house for an earthquake kit. Well, the other night, after being awakened by a 4.0 on the Hayward fault line (it felt a little bit like a car had crashed into the floor below my bedroom), I decided it was time to re-assess what kinds of emergency provisions I had at my disposal, should I be in the apartment when the Big One (predicted to happen before 2030) hits. I opened up the cabinet where my girlfriend brews kombucha to see what we have in stock.