Monday, June 11, 2012

Fixies On A Fence

Minga, look at all the booze!
One would think that a beer run should be a quick and painless experience. In most places in the US it is; a short walk to a convenience store or a drive to the local Chevron. One enters the cool embrace of the walk-in refrigerators and chooses one of the plentiful and cheap brands available at arm's reach. Check out this picture of a supermarket in Italy posted by one of my readers ( Marco) and take a closer look at what is on the shelves. Now that is what I called civilized.

Not so in Canada, particularly in Vancouver BC where having too much fun is frowned upon by the powers that be. Oh no, us filthy boozers must go through agonizing ordeals to obtain the evil libations. One is forced to navigate a quagmire of Kafkaesque rules just to get a miserable six pack, which, just to add insult to injury, is warm. The other alternative is to go to a private beer store and pay exorbitant prices for even the crappiest ghetto beer.

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I rolled up to my buddy's metal shop to mess around with some bikes and metal. There was a bit of engineering that was best done without the mathematics-impeding effects of a couple of beers. Once that was done, it was indeed time for a beer run. Seeing as all the government stores are closed on Sunday, I was left with little choice and headed to the local cold beer and wine store. The shop is located in a semi-industrial area and, as luck would have it, there is a beer store close by. It is attached to an old hotel called the Waldorf which has a storied past.

In its heyday the Waldorf, even though it is located in an industrial area, was quite a swank place. Over the years it and the surrounded neighborhood fell into a state of decay. The hotel bar became a sort of quasi-skid bar. In recent years, it had become a hangout for longshoremen due to the proximity of their union hall. I had the misfortune of going there a few times and the combination of bad draft beer, crappy classic rock and big, mean drunken longshoremen made for a fairly depressing ( and at times frightening) experience.

The one saving grace of the Waldorf was an immaculately preserved, but rarely used Tiki room. I was lucky enough to have been a few times and it was damned cool.

As gentrification and its slow, but inevitable , eastward crawl arrived in this part of town, the hotel went through a transformation. The designers at least had of the foresight to preserve this historical gem and have given it a new life. It remains of the very last original Tiki rooms in Canada. Under glass are kept the original Edgar Leeteg paintings purported to be worth thousands of dollars.

Now you all might ask what the hell am I rambling about and why should you give a rat's ass. Let me be succinct. Hipsters. Tons of Hipsters. Hipsters everywhere like a vast infestation of cockroaches with skinny jeans and mustaches.

Historically gentrification resulted in waves of yuppies. The pretentious restaurants and ersatz arty concepts proved to be irresistible and once working-class neighborhoods were filled with BMW's and Mercedes and vapid conversations about wine filled the air. Not so anymore, the hipsters have taken over in droves and they show no sign of going away.

I walked right into the middle of it as I made my way to the beer store. Needless to say that after a several hours in the shop, I was pretty filthy and was still sporting a welding beanie. As I neared the beer store, I heard the strains of depressing ( and crappy) music fill the air. As I arrived at the intersection I spotted dozens of fixie bikes and thought that this could not be a good sign. I walked smack dab in the middle of dyed-in-the wool hipster party. I use the term party loosely, because it would be considered uncool in hipster circles to admit having fun. They surrounded the hotel and the adjacent parking lot where the band was playing. It was like medieval siege manned by skinny outcasts tossing flaming cans of PBR's over the wall.

The hipsters seem to have adopted the Waldorf as their own. Judging by the obscure concept of the hotel and the disjointed establishments found in it, it is not surprising. There is a Lebanese restaurant in the lobby that shares its space with a hipster hair salon (food and hair are always a good combination) . There is a boutique selling hipster doo-dads that seem to have no known function. There are a pair on vintage JBL speakers that were dug up out the storage room that are on display because they are ironic. In the old skid bar part of it now sits a somewhat pretentious restaurant with a weird menu. The Tiki room is now open every night and hipsters gladly wait behind a velvet rope to get in there. I once attended a good friend's stag party in that restaurant, we thought it might have been a cool place for a bunch of greasers to hang out, but as the evening progressed we thought differently. As all the hipsters began streaming in, the 8 greasers knocking back drinks at a large table began to stick out like sore thumb. The hipsters kept their looks of contempt to a bare minimum, probably due to all the greasy hair, tattoos, wallet chains and the sheer size of some of my buddies. Smart move on their part, because the desire to pimp-slap some of the gangly hispters sporting ridiculous hats came up more than once in the conversation.

As I tried to ignore the tuneless songs emanating from the P.A., and all the effeminate hipsters milling about, I suddenly became aware of one strange phenomenon ; There was a chain link fence surrounding a large parking lot adjacent to the beer store and the hipsters were hanging their fixie bikes on it. I don't mean just loosely locking them up to the fence. I mean they jacked them up as high as could reach, almost to the top of the 8 foot fence and locked them up in that position. Even though they won't admit it, it is a well known fact that every facet of hipster culture is intentionally designed to annoy. This qualified. What kind of fucking retard would string up his bike like dead fish drying in the sun? The question is rhetorical.

If someone wants to ride a bike with no brakes, no freewheel and one gear that is there business. I can't think of a better way of maiming yourself badly or dying in a spectacular crash, so if you wanna ride a fixie, ride on. Recently, however, hipsters have taken these bikes to a new level of ridiculous with enormous pink wheel inserts and handlebars that are 3 inches across. It's a bizarre type of reverse engineering where they seem to endeavor to make a bike as inefficient and un-rideable as possible.

As I ran the gauntlet mustachioed and sock-less hipsters I realized that I was being looked upon with no small amount of disdain. I must admit that I did look like a bum with my dirty jeans, welding beanie a streaks of grease on my face, but it was ironic that it was coming from hipsters. Which makes it doubly ironic, because hipsters are all about irony, but the irony was lost on them.......babble babble.... I was almost losing my mind like those cheesy robots on Star Trek who spontaneously blow up when Spock outsmarts them with circular logic.

I  tied to side-step this scenario I crossed the street and cut across an alley only to be confronted by a throng of hipsters squatting on the ground surrounded by empty 24 packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Will the cliches never cease?

I tried to purchase my beer as quickly as possible as the clerks didn't even bat an eye at my disheveled appearance. I had to navigate around  another gaggle of hipsters that were blocking the sidewalk. Their whiny conversations and complete lack of awareness of their surroundings was making me angry. The pretentious hipster band was going full tilt and and it was hurting my brain. I was awash in a sea of deep cut v-neck shirts, ratty chest tattoos, Skinny jeans with no socks and dress shoes and all those ubiquitous ironic mustaches.

I picked up the pace as my pulse quickened and tried to put some distance between me and the hipster horde. As I approached the shop and the band was out of earshot, I began to feel better. I cracked an ice cold beer and felt a whole lot better. I straightened out a couple of tubes and banged on a bunch of shit with a large hammer. I  put on some Rockabilly on the shop stereo ( which is pretty damned loud) and as the slight alcoholic haze of the beer and rockin' rhytms of the tunes washed  over me I began to feel a whole lot better and my traumatic hipster encounter began to fade. As I cracked another beer I was thankful that my jeans weren't cutting off my circulation and that there were socks on the inside my Converse.


  1. Dude, Hipsters plague us out here in So. Cal., especially in the coastal cities like Venice. I think you'd love Venice beach, Hipsters & Hippies every goddamned where with drum circles aplenty! Better to stay home, crank up some Rockabilly, drink ice cold beer and wrench on shit in peace.

    Just like you have Hippies infesting Canada, the annoying Hipster is our bane down in Cali. All their whining about stupid shit is what gets on my nerves.

    Again so sorry for your booze conundrums in Canada.

  2. I have been reading some of your recent posts about Vancouver and i have been laughing my ass off. I live here too and I hear clown music everywhere i go.

    keep it up you make me laugh out loud.