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The Hipster Handbook
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2004
(Short answer: Ironically)
If you are reading this book in hopes of becoming a 'hipster', give up, for this book like 'hipster culture' oozes irony and laughs at those who take it at face value. Instead you would become what laymen may term a 'poseur', analogous to the 'fashion punks' who brought punk to the near mainstream in the 80s, and would quickly be revealed by such gaffes as the use of a term like 'deck' with any seriousness or lack of irony.
However, 'real' hipsters need not despair. This book can still be read by them without shame and be prominently displayed on their thrift store used coffee table in their small apartment as long as it is done with an excess of irony. Doing so is in fact essential in some ways to remaining a 'real hipster' in the face of the subculture's sudden commodification.
With the sudden entrance of this book into mainstream consciousness, as once once 'hip' statements of 'hipsterdom' such as the trucker hat and the messenger bag are paraded around on mass media (MTV and NBC respectively--although any self respecting 'hipster' would only ever be caught watching Queer Eye on Bravo), the essential exclusivity and irony of hipsterdom has come under attack.
'Hipsters' of course must defend themselves the only way they can, with further layers of irony. They must show that they get the joke, that they are not the sheeplike wannabe 'hipsters' trying to be like them by copying their fashions and terminologies a day too late, that they can still tell the 'real thing' and keep their 'club' exclusive in the face of scrutiny by the dumb masses. This book can become another obscure reference by those in the know, not to be talked about overtly, but to be subtly slipped into conversation.
And of course a true 'hipster' would never refer to his- or herself as a 'hipster' nor would one identify his- or herself as part of any movement. And of course if you took any of this at face value or learned anything you did not already know in this review, then neither are you a 'hipster' nor will you ever be.
With much 'irony',
'j'
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2003
A very funny book exposing the varieties of hipsters. A tongue in cheek guide which proves what existed all along: hipsters are merely sheep following others' trends, much like the mainstream schlubs the hipsters themselves loathe. Hillarious but also strangely informative.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Only recently, through a series of 'revealing' literary works, has the greater American public been made aware of the well-dressed, foppish, socially progressive, and supremely emasculated urban crowd known as metrosexuals. The existance of men who would rather spend a day at the beauty parlor than the ball field has come as a shock to every beer-guzzling frat boy who could not, for all the gold in fort knox, envision a world in which fashion savvy and unparalleled narcissism are more useful masculine traits than a strong physique and the ability to consume mass quantites of alcohol.
Treading similar ground, Robert Lanham's Hipster Handbook attempts to sate the masses by allowing a fleeting glimpse into an ever changing subculture indigenous to the metropolises of America. Lanham's opus manages to act simultaneously as both a (relatively) accurate satire of progressive urban life, as well as a guide by which one could, conceivably, become a hipster him(or her) self.
It is because of the janus-faced nature of the Handbook that nobody in America could actually take it seriously. On the one hand, Lanham would have us buy into his view that what he sees reflects the true nature of the hipster, while at the same time, he relentlessly parodies such a lifestyle, making it clear to the reader that very few Americans indeed could ever come close to living it. Proof: Lanham makes perfectly lucid the notion that, while a 9-5 job is considered utterly 'fin,' hipsters should possess the wealth necessary for the fast-paced, fashionable, trendy world of hipsterdom. The occasional waitressing shift at your local hipster bar will not pay for your Wicker Park loft, nor will it buy your Manhattan Portage messenger bag, your collection of Kraftwerks and Built To Spill CDs, or your Structure jeans.
This leads us to an important conclusion: Lanham did not write the Handbook for practical use. Although reading it cover to cover will reveal excellent music suggestions, a few fashion tips and some ridiculous hairstyles, deciding to enter the hipster scene by way of the Handbook would be a faux-pas of legendary proportions.
The previous paragraph should lead readers who chastised the book for its' 'how-to' quality to reconsider their scathing reviews; Lanham did not write the Handbook to teach SUV drivers and beer-bonging homophobes how to be socially conscious and modern. Rather, his amusing observations on this small corner of society are meant to reinforce the irony of such a lifestyle, but also to impress upon the rest of America that, contrary to traditional notions, and at a time where the word conservative is as pertinent as ever, it is quickly become ok- and perhaps even the norm in cities- to be distinctly progressive.
Which brings me back to the beginning; Hipsters and Metrosexuals are completely 21st century entities, both revered and ridiculed by the public at large. Lanham realized this, and so he wrote and marketed his book the only way he could: accessable and factual for the layman, but insightful and witty for the urban intellectual. Nobody truly comes out a winner, and no great insights are produced, but everybody feels like they understand a little better, and society as a whole is the wiser for it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2003
Lanham's tome of cool is more than a mere handbook.... it is the most well-written and hilarious bit of social commentary to be published in recent memory. He nails the paradoxes and nuances of today's trendsetters and allows their absurdity to speak for itself. This book is a real treat.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2003
Parties filled with youthful, slender, and carelessly tousled hipsters used to make me feel like a hairy, balding, four-corned frado that tracked dog-doo across their flocati rugs. Well, The HIPSTER HANDBOOK has changed all that! Now, friendly nods and phone numbers from lovely chippers flow my way. And the hipsters at the coffee bar put extra fudge in my mocha now that I'm part of the tribe.
Go from Huey Lewis to Julian Casablancas in 140-some pages, and if reading's not your bucket of chicken, there are over 100 fly illustrations that'll get you going down the road to carefree hipsterdom. If it worked for me, it can work for you. BUY THIS BOOK.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2003
So what if this doesn't appeal to everyone? Not everyone has the good taste and the inflated ego to be a hipster!
The best thing about this book and the reason it succeeds so well, I think, lies in the fact that Lanham understands how silly this project is, which makes it absolutely fun to read.
And if you are a hipster like me, you'll really appreciate the Hipster Hairdos for Men and Women, which include such common styles as the Emo Combover and the Wet Banana.
Also great are the lists that examine Hipster Music. There really is a logic to them: David Bowie's "Hunky Dory," for instance. Lanham wouldn't pick "Ziggy Stardust" for the simple fact that it's too well-known...Hipster's always seek the obscure stuff.
So if you enjoy poking fun at yourself and your lame friends, I recommend this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2003
Sarcastic and right on the nose. Those who are truly "too hip" probably will hate this 'cause they'll think they're being goofed on. And guess what? They are! Overtly mocks those who try so hard to be different, but in the process act like lemmings.
Two other funny, sarcastic books you may also enjoy: NO ONE'S EVEN BLEEDING and DELANO
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2004
I know this book is a joke, but it is filled with helpful info. Good record tips. Good film selections. It's a great culture guide. Oh yeah, it is funny as hell too. I heard the word "deck" on the Sopranos. Maybe the glossary started as a joke (though the author claims it is real) but words like "deck," "fin," and "frado" are entering the lexicon. Hipster Handbook is a good, fun read. Very funny
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2003
If you don't see the satire and humor in this book, then you are an idiot. If you don't understand that this book is making FUN of hipsters, then please just quit now, you have no hope, you are lost and always will be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2004
The funniest book I have read since, well, since I don't know when. It came out a year ago, but is still very relevent. I read an excerpt originally on freewilliamsburg.com and stumbled upon this book and was delighted to find how funny it is. Whether you are a hipster or hopelessly uncool (like me) this book is a great, fun, smart read.
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