Due to recent financial troubles, the New York Times has been forced to sell their building in Times Square and relocate news operations to an office park on the moon. But don’t worry—they’ll keep observing us earthlings through high powered telescopes, reporting on each trend that sweeps through our surprisingly complex society. “Secrete not mucus from your eyes and nose, indicating sadness or physical discomfort,” a Times spokesman said from his hydro-suit. “Each human statistical emergence will be chronicled with the depth and up-to-the-minute [whirring sound] you have come to expect from America’s most respected newspaper.”
Making good on that promise is this piece declaring that as of this summer, it’s “hip”—a term meaning “following the latest fashion, especially in music and clothes”—to have a pot belly. Guy Trebay, whom you should Google search now before the results are swamped with re-posts of his Pulitzer acceptance speech, calls it the Ralph Kramden. The Kramden is “too pronounced to be blamed on the slouchy cut of a T-shirt, too modest in size to be termed a proper beer gut, developed too young to come under the heading of a paunch.” Basically, he’s narrowed it down to this one guy he took home from Union Pool. He should have called it the Rod Masters (Which I Looked Him Up On Facebook and That’s Totally a Fake Name.)
“What the trucker cap and wallet chain were to hipsters of a moment ago,” Trebay writes, “the Kramden is to what my colleague Mike Albo refers to as the ‘coolios’ of now.”* So, the Ralph Kramden is a punchline used to indicate that someone is out of touch, Ashton Kutcher or a New York Times reporter? Cool! Io! Bro? Guy Trebay is a trained reporter. He knows it’s not enough just to point out that something possibly imaginary is maybe happening; you also have to come up with an explanation for it. That explanation can’t be a condition that has always existed throughout history, either, because then you don’t have a trend piece—you have a human condition piece. So the thing that caused the trend has to be recognizable and, if not au courant, at least currently happening. Hmmmm. It’s not the recession, so it must be:
Hipsters, by nature contrarian, according to Dan Peres, the editor of Details, may be reacting in opposition to a president who is not only, as the press relentlessly reminds us, So Darn Smart, but also hits the gym every morning, has a conspicuously flat belly and, when not rescuing the economy or sparring with Kim Jong-il, shoots hoops. “If we had a slob in the White House, all the hipsters would turn into some walking Chippendales calendar,” Mr. Peres said.
That’s probably true. Hipsters are getting mildly fat because they want to distinguish themselves from the President. It’s the same reason so many of them are white, and why they never sign bills into law. Do newspaper reporters and editors of men’s magazines really think this way? Does Trebay himself not have an editor, who would have been professionally obligated to slap him across the mouth, rinse the coke out of his nose and tell him to write a real story? Trebay’s oeuvre includes this article about how t-shirts in the Hamptons indicate where you are from, and this one about how Barack Obama wore a leather jacket sometimes in college. Have you noticed that you don’t see a lot of hipsters wearing leather jackets lately? Aha!
* Yes, that Mike Albo. I did the lights for one of his solo shows and he called me “Dave” the whole week.