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The Hipster Commandments

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By Desiree Raucci

As South Philadelphia native, I am annoyed at how my neighbors have handled the influx of hipsters moving into our neighborhood. I wouldn't use the word "hate" or even "dislike." Overwhelmed is more accurate, so great has the influx been.

My neighborhood, which is just off East Passyunk Avenue, was once a place of close-knit relationships among neighbors, with families who have lived here for generations. Now, it feels like we have been invaded by aliens. Many of my neighborhood favorites - the thrift stores, bars, coffee shops and restaurants - have become a study in beards and plaid.

Jeez, I can't even go to my neighborhood Mexican restaurant without waiting in line while hipsters sit and discuss how they live in the ghetto and drink $5 "specials." If you can't beat them, you may want to join them, so I offer these rules for being a hipster in case you want to give it a try.

1. Make Pabst Blue Ribbon your only beer. Whether you're at a hip Center City club or the neighborhood bar. Pabst is the only way to go. When you are at the beer distributor keg shopping for your next big banger, Pabst is a money saver and a favorite amongst all your extremely cool friends. Thus, you are killing two birds with one stone. It is cheap and mediocre but it is the hipster brew.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hipster.jpg2. You must frequent bars with names like "The Dive" or "The Khyber". No Jersey types or Guidos allowed. These are the bars that offer an all-you-can-drink special for only $10 dollars on Sunday nights with actual cans of beer. The jukebox is playing Dr. Dog or The Smiths and the bartender is your "Un-bathed, Greasy Haired, Rock God Dreamboat." If you're a girl, it is the ideal hipster pick-up paradise, complete with V-necks, boat shoes, vintage threads and a sea of plaid.

3. You must buy your clothes at thrift stores (with the occasional American Apparel as the exception). Most hipsters want to emit the aura of "we don't care how we look" by always wearing the same pair of slim fit black jeans and a ratty pair of vans. Many live their lives by Andy Warhol's slogan, "Think rich, act poor." Retrospect is one of your favorite stores and the thrift stores are the only reason your frequent South Street -- besides stopping at the Bean or Java Company to read the "I love you, I hate you" section of the City Paper.

4. Your means of transportation is a fixed-gear bike. Your significant other or the lover of the moment may complain that you pay more attention to painting your bike neon colors and practically spit shining it every time you see it. Yet, it is a fast way to get around the crowded city you live in and it is great for pretzel runs. If you have never heard of a pretzel run you are definitely not a hipster.

5. Passyunk Avenue is your new South Street. Since the opening of the B2 Coffee shop and a few new vintage stores, you now stride down the avenue in daylight. It is the place to see and be seen. This is opposed to a few months ago when you only set foot down here at night for a Pabst at Pub On Passyunk East or a fish taco at The Cantina.

6. You must have a strange tattoo somewhere on your body. Maybe the face of your father is inked on your arm in gray wash or the outline from the state you were born in directly under your right knee. No matter where it is or what it is, the tattoo must be obscure or strange. Words in another language that, once translated are Morrissey lyrics, great! A portrait of a stick figure holding up a large piece of cheese? Oh, your boyfriend already has that on his calf!

7. Your teenage years were harder than anyone else's and whatever you are talking about is always better than another's point of view. I once met a man that loved to hear himself talk, he wore tight dark washed jeans and Italian leather boots and a ripped up t-shirt. Everything he said was gold, according to him. The way he played bass, no one played better. His high school, there was not another worse. Yes, he was a hipster.

8. You must have facial hair. For men, a beard or a mustache shows your experience in life. For hipsters, it shows your experience with being "in the know." The handle bar mustache, the grizzly beard, post five o'clock shadow scruff and the pedophile mustache make all the girls swoon.

9. Never admit you are a hipster. This is the cardinal rule. Never admit to your hip, cool lifestyle. If others learn of your great taste in music, film and culture, they will be plagued with insane jealousy. Therefore, when asked if you are or associate with so-called hipster during a heated political debate, brush it off as if you've never heard of anything to do with the word except for Gap jeans.

10. Finally, irony is one popular literary term among hipsters - ironic tee shirts, ironic tattoo's and ironic take on life and love. That means that those who hate hipsters are most definitely hipsters themselves, making this whole lifestyle - and my essay - a large circle of irony.

Desiree Raucci lives on Morris Street in the heart of hipster South Philly.
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