Wednesday, June 18, 2008
some bull about bohemia
Get this: Philebrity is channeling Christopher Hitchens -- a life of kings favorite whose Slate columns we've linked to since Day One -- by wondering where the real Philly Bohemia is. Anyone else sense a whiff of hypocrisy in this? Anyone? Anyone? Philebrity -- in case the name didn't give it away -- is a blog site dedicated to listing "cool parties" and "shows" at which everyone flaunts how different they are by looking remarkably similar to everyone else, that makes fun of tourists in "Mom Jeans," that sneers at any kind of music you might have heard of, and that (occasionally) passes off pedestrian, knee-jerk political insight as "progressive." [Interesting that Philebrity describes it has a "man-crush" on Hitchens, considering he's arguably the most vocal supporter of the invasion of Iraq and its subsequent occupation out there. But whatever.] Yes, I know what you're thinking: Why do you read that site, then? Curiosity, for one, gentle reader: It's informative about certain items of interest, and it's written in a snarky, smart-ass sort of way I often find appealing. Besides -- and let's face it -- hipster girls are hot. But to think Joey Sweeney and his Band of Badasses even thought to invoke Jack Kerouac in this little dispatch, complete with a famous photo of Jack from a Beat poetry reading in the 1950s? I mean, come on. Look, I'm second to no one in my admiration for Kerouac, but there's no doubting the so-called Beat Mystique has taken on a life of its own in the last 50 years, to the extent that its cool-outsider aura has been transformed into just another clique of misguided slackers living off the bounty provided by the great material wealth of this country, if not also their parents, many of whom were more likely to have worked for (gasp!) a multinational corporation than some co-op that recycles its receipts for the good of Gaia. I mean, without Daddy's trust fund allowance, how else can Joe and Jane Cool afford that phat loft in NoLibs while spending days that end in "y" thinkingthinkingthinking about the next turgid short story they're going to write while shopping at H&M and running up a ginormous credit-card tab at Standard Tap? The funniest part is, many of them know nothing of Jack Kerouac other than that he wrote On the Road or Dharma Bums, which, you know, many of them never quite got around to finishing, either, and how's that for stereotyping, anyway? Heck, no less than The Village Voice has weighed in on what has become Kerouac, Inc., based on the sorry way some have actually attempted to cash in on his legacy. But so what? If I'm following the logic here, we want to gentrify bad neighborhoods until somebody else does, too, at which point it's just not Bohemian enough anymore. Bottom line: Capitalism isn't perfect, but it is a good thing. To paraphrase what Winston Churchill had to say about democracy, it's the worst economic system there is, except for all the others. Are there excesses? Sure. Is there crassness, consumerism and lots of crap being bought and sold out there? Yup. But it's also the reason Web sites like Philebrity can thrive and exist, and that kids with otherwise nothing better to do can debate where they can confine themselves to talk about continuing to do nothing. That's not to say there's no place for art, or for places where good art can be created and cultivated by good artists. Just that those doing the creating should shut up, do it and please spare us their holier-than-thou pontificating about everyone else who doesn't quite measure up to such rigid standards of non-conformist conformity. We don't much like you, either.