Caught for the weekend in the bemused city of Washington DC, I found myself lamenting the real lack of hipsters in this over the top, 9-5, working ethic community. This lack occasioned me to question the long standing lament among Columbia University types and other yuppie inhabitants or rather hipster loathing hipsters against this edgy population and may have inspired me to become an ethnographer, chasing down this rare population on the outskirts of civilization, those brave pioneers of gentrification.

Why would DC benefit from a formidable hipster population? The answers are obvious. Firstly, there is a dramatic ebb and flow in the street traffic that parallels those who have jobs. For example, at 1:00 on a Friday I was the only one out jogging (Although we know hipsters do not jog, it is often the case that hipster associates, or more correctly, prey, tend to jog, see theburg.com). Were it the case that hipsters inhabited this city, I would doubtless not be alone. Washington DC also has a formidable racial barrier, as neighborhoods swing quickly from one extreme to another. Hipsters in their search for authenticity would serve to bridge the gap between particular communities and would doubtless spur local business in areas that are not dominated by the neo-fascist array of Starbucks-Caribou Coffee-Starbucks. Finally, there is an implicit lack of bars in DC, and those that there are tend to be occupied by unironic consumers of sports culture or Goths or suits. While bars tailored to specific communities are an essential function of city life, condescension and secret authentic cool places that no one else really knows anything about are prerequisites for urban life as it was meant to be led (see Cicero Ad Fam 82.5 where he talks about a new Cretan cookshop that he discovered before Crassus). Our nation must have a capital which can meet this need.

Useful travel tips!!!

November 2, 2007

Hello, before I start this, my second post, I would like to introduce myself.  I write about travel here at Yesterday’s salad, so feel free to contact me with any and all travel questions such as, “what is the hip gay area in Sydney?”  But also, “is it rude to blow my nose in Mongolia?” (you’ll be shot!).

Before talking too much about my own travel experiences though, I want to give some tips to the solo traveller. 

There is never any reason to be rude, even to this man.  Miss Manners says, and I agree, that rudeness in  is not an opportunity to “tell someone how it is”, but to exhibit self respect and dignity.  That means you can only laugh once you are out of ear shot.

And though this man displays little concern for societal rules or cleanliness, he is right in that it is important never to be cross anyone off your conversation list. By talking to as many people as possible when travelling you can learn all sorts of interesting things.  For example, naif that I was and didn’t know, cab drivers hang those dangly things from their mirrors in order to take the passenger’s eye off the road.

By being friendly and leaving your attitude at passport control you are also likely to find good insider tips on where to go, like “all the prostitutes on the street go to this salon.”  However!  Safety is most important so don’t put good manners above your sense of security.  Who are you travelling with?  Your older brother, who has lived in the area for years and is a security guard and/or professional athlete.  Where did you grow up?  All over, but most of your childhood was spent in Rio/Bogota/Detroit.  What is your last name? Montoya/West/Penn.

 Lastly, don’t hug too many strangers, you’ll get your watch stolen.  Enjoy and happy travels!

Pro Transico

October 22, 2007

With a new rhetorician on board, one would expect that Dash’s-nay, all of our argumentive (obs. argumentative) abilities would increase, that all the saladeers would embrace the new order of panegyrics and symbolic language, that all saladeers would rise to the level of our classically trained brother and enter into a new bond with the readers, self-adjuring (to bind under the penalty of a curse. Obs.) to a higher level of discourse. Sadly, this will not be the case. Dash will continue to hoot ( intr. To behave in a loutish or irresponsible way; spec. to drive fast or recklessly–specifically irresponsible for Dash as he has no Driver’s License) and wade into the waters of discourse beyond his depth and breadth.

But even in subjects where Dash has a passing familiarity (c’est a dire, decolonialization, scholarly editing, post-colonial feminist thought, and basket weaving) the limits of knowledge are sometimes strained. For example, Dash cannot account for the continued intellectual cock-blocking of Communist regimes (lehavdil). Everyone knows about Pyongyang’s secret metro system, but pictures and videos are hard to come by. And while it was announced that Beijing will concurrently build 6 new metro lines for completion by 2012, no other information is really known about the expansion. Will the lines continue to be the cheapest in the world, for example? Or, much more importantly, where will they run? Will the right of way be exclusive, or will it be shared?

With space at a premium the world around, perhaps China should consider placing their new railways in the middle of a market, like the good folks in Bangkok.

Personally, I’d like to see such innovative right-of-way sharing practiced in the U.S. Maybe Houston, which just pulled the transit upset of the century and announced plans to build five new light rail lines by 2012 instead of unlikely-t0-be-efficient-BRT, could experiment with such a right-of-way arrangement. Or better yet, perhaps Mr. Drew Carey can convince his private enterprise friends to finance such a scheme, helping private enterprise get customers directly to the markets and the world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following text was sent to me by L.P. Mandrake. Although I will say a few words of my own, I have decided to give him credit for the entire post as he is a) one of the finest humourists of our time and I hope to carpetbag on his success; b) trapped in a pre-modern economy and well in need of the bushel of wheat that all YS contributers receive for their efforts; and c) I hope the outpouring of support this column no doubt engenders will convince Mr. Mandrake to return to the fold sooner (re:now) rather than later (upon the ascension of George P. Bush to the presidency).

With the first of these letters, Mandrake has shown himself to be a first class epistolarian (A letter-writer; although it is unclear whether or not the adjectival meaning “Addicted to or occupied in letter-writing” applies), or epistoler, or epsitler, or epistolist (rare); all are recognized forms. Actually, “epistle” is probably one of the more productive roots in the English language (surely a gross exaggeration), as almost everything has been added to it. One can epistolize, although one would hope that the subject of the letter would be epistolizable. But sadly, one can no longer “epistle-v” which, as expected, meanst “To write (something) in a letter.” It’s earliest meaning, however is “To write as a preface or introduction,” now obsolete. This is derived from the also obsolete noun sense of “A preface or letter of dedication addressed to a patron, or to the reader, at the beginning of a literary work.” So even though I have epistled, it is sadly no longer correct in saying so (though it surely sounds uncouth).

-DH

The Iowa sunrise spreads itself across the land; cornfields as far as the eye can see. I am driving along a vacant country highway when what should come on my stereo, but Reagan’s new patriotism anthem: Born in the USA. As the song hits its stride, I see across the road a pathetic figure. A man, his jeans and sweatshirt sun-bleached to the same color, sticks his thumb out. Is this man a veteran? Is he the out of place soldier that Springsteen sings of? I pass him by, as so many have before, but mostly because he was heading the opposite direction of me. A large truck zooms past, blocking the man from sight with it’s piles of corn husks, no doubt on their way to be processed into that colorless gold: ethanol. I turn my gaze back onto the open road and I notice a gigantic American flag proudly rippling in the middle of an empty cornfield. At the base of the pole is a crudely painted handmade sign. This one–shockingly–had everything spelled correctly, but still exuded the rage of the common man nonetheless. The words slathered on that sign? “There’s a special place in hell for DEADBEAT MOMS.”

And that’s when I know that I am in America after all.

As a bonus: http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/09/joe_bidens_iowa_strategy.php

How does it feel?

October 4, 2007

I confess: I ate that last kudos from your secret kudos stash back in 2001. But in the spirit of ridding myself of the ghosts of 2001, I must also say I went so often to the comedy cellar back in 2001/2002 that I could have recited the comedians´acts back to them. Still though, I am not sure if the comedic memory I have now is from those moments of live hilarity or from something I saw on comedy central ohsomany years ago. With all the grayness of hindsight, what sticks with me is a white male comedian talking about how when he was trying to break-up with the girlfriend he was living with what held him back was the brutal, heavy reality of moving furniture. The main gag was him deciding, “we can work it out,” once he tried to lug the couch. “Next time, all wicker furniture,” he vowed.

It`s like my Aussie friend who I met back in Japan used to say, “the things you own can end up owning you.” And today I met my owner; it was a maroon bag of dirty laundry. But it wasn`t just any bag. That bag was the dividing line between a civilized existence and insanity and I hovered on the border for quite some time. As I write, my laundry is actually in the hands of a beautiful, Eastern European blonde working at a different hostel than mine who told me to wait until 9. Lisbon, city of 7 hills, is not the city of laundromats.

If freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose than I am not free. I cannot lose my pants bought in Porto`s chinatown (please note that this chinatown is a discontinuous one, made up of various spread out stores selling clothes and nail polish remover and anything that can be made of pleather) with the sparkly butterfly on the rear. I am more than lost if I will never again see my pink cotton nightgown that reads, “have you stolen my heart”? Clearly I am a romantic at heart/drag princess at my core. My point is not that if you try to buy clothes cheaply in Europe you will end up with more than your fare share of glitter and English phrases that try to penetrate the core of what love is, but that when you escape from your past there is only so quickly you can go.

I don`t know if this is acceptable for a first post but it is ostensibly about moving and I must note that I am incapable of sarcasm. Irony there may be, but only the kind I am unaware of, and the rest is all sincere, sincere, sincere.