So there was this really confusing time when I was about 25, 26 when all the cool boys, (or the boys I thought were cool, the kind that lived in lofts with a few cats, dog eared copies of Lawrence Durrell paperbacks and their record collections, boys who played in bands or made fussily esoteric electronic “music” by themselves in their rooms) started growing beards and growing their hair into shaggy, dirty, cigarette-smelling mops. Which was cool, but combined with the ancient flannel button down shirts over dirty long underwear and ooooolllld Levi’s and military surplus-by-way-of-Goodwill jackets these guys favored, made them kind of hard to tell apart from, well, the indigent. It happened more than once that I’d be walking down 36th St. and there’d be a fella walking in front of me and I’d start to call out, “Ja-!” or “Hey, Wa-!” or “Co-!” and then the guy in front of me would turn just enough so I could see a glimpse of face tattoo and red drug-eyes, or else he’d bend down, pick a half smoked cigarette off the ground and put it in his pocket and I’d realize it wasn’t who I thought it was at all.
So the game, “Homeless, or Hipster?” was born.
(For the record I find the above picture absolutely heartbreaking. But also representative.)
I have kind of a similar problem here in Istanbul. Where I’m from, a luxuriant moustache with turned up ends is the marker of a guy who favors vinyl, rolls his own cigarettes, and works in a cool bar. Such a moustache was walking towards me while I was loitering on the steps of work today, enjoying the sunshine. It was attached to a completely nondescript, sensible outfit of shirt, pants, brown shoes. The face didn’t tell me anything and neither did the haircut which was just a boy’s haircut, the kind my friend Marc’s mom still gives him in her kitchen. And so I was lost, completely lost as to whether he was a hipster or a dude from the deep east come from a village to try to find work as a taxi driver.