Bogus Trend Stories, Summer Edition
Chubby is hip; laptoppers evicted from coffee shops; DIY burial.
Guy Trebay—who is a good enough journalist to know better—proclaims in the Aug. 13 New York Times Thursday Styles section that a potbelly is the summer of 2009's hip signifier—the new "trucker cap and wallet chain" for New York hipsters ("It's Hip To Be Round").
The "Ralph Kramden" look "is everywhere to be seen lately, or at least it is in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, the McCarren Park Greenmarket and pretty much any place one is apt to encounter fans of Grizzly Bear," Trebay writes.
Trebay gets Details Editor Dan Peres to second his opinion. The streets of Williamsburg are filled with men "proudly rocking a gut," Peres says. Aaron Hicklin, editor of Out, explains that the six-pack abs obsession has become "so prissy it stopped being masculine." Even Trebay's personal trainer calls the He-Man look outdated.
Although Trebay avoids the word trend as well as its many synonyms, his piece reeks of bogusity. He never explains what makes something hip. Is it pure numbers? If so, the iPhone is hip. But by definition, something celebrated by everybody and found almost everywhere is conformity, and conformity ain't hip.
Usually when something is called hip, a top hipster can be found embracing it. But Trebay names no leader of potbelly hipness and uncovers no evidence of hip potbellies in the cinema, the stage, the concert hall, the night club, or elsewhere. It's just these random guts strolling around New York. You might as well say argyle socks are hip.
Maybe Trebay just saw Pulp Fiction(1994) and mistook it for a new release. In it, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) shares this memorable dialogue with Butch (Bruce Willis) about the coolness of potbellies on women.
Fabienne: I was looking at myself in the mirror.
Fabienne: I wish I had a pot.
Butch: You were lookin' in the mirror and you wish you had some pot?
Fabienne: A pot. A potbelly. Pot bellies are sexy.
Butch: Well you should be happy, 'cause you do.
Fabienne: Shut up, Fatso! I don't have a pot! I have a bit of a tummy, like Madonna when she did "Lucky Star," it's not the same thing.
Butch: I didn't realize there was a difference between a tummy and a pot belly.
Fabienne: The difference is huge.
Butch: You want me to have a pot?
Fabienne: No. Potbellies make a man look either oafish, or like a gorilla. But on a woman, a pot belly is very sexy. The rest of you is normal. Normal face, normal legs, normal hips, normal ass, but with a big, perfectly round pot belly. If I had one, I'd wear a tee-shirt two sizes too small to accentuate it.
Butch: You think guys would find that attractive?
Fabienne: I don't give a damn what men find attractive. It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.
The Wall Street Journal rankled more than one bogus trend-spotter last week with its Aug. 6 piece "No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users; They Sit for Hours and Don't Spend Much; Getting the Bum's Rush in the Big Apple."
Yes, it appears as though a handful of independent coffee shops in New York City have limited the use of laptops in their establishments recently, but does that really constitute a trend? The piece notes that the largest coffee chain in the world, Starbucks, doesn't evict loitering laptoppers, nor does Borders, nor does Barnes & Noble. Seeing as a Starbucks or other chain coffee shop can be found near most independent cafes, and these chains accommodate laptop users, the trend is weaker than the coffee my mom used to perk.