Living outside of London is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that one can’t succumb to a hipster overdose, and a curse because, at time-of-writing, the PALACE Lucien party is shaping up to be a classic. Twin distance living with an impending site relaunch, and you know tonight’s partying is a no-go. Oddly, the last relaunch of said site coincided with some buzzworthy DC event in 2006. Where did the last 4 years actually go? Seriously, what happened?
It would be east to become another of the low-work ethic, sniffing hordes mumbling broken promises of freelance work. Fuuuuuuck that. Chill doesn’t pay the bills. Everyone knows that London is the UK’s cultural epicentre, and when events go on beyond this miserable capital, it feels more like a sympathy shiner than a true celebration. But industry events are riddled with dead-eyed PRs (“That…is…so funny!”) and the same folks day after day after day -the same characters who’d hang about to attend the opening of a Red Bull can if they could. Break out the checklist – hapless communications type making “powermoves” by staring over someone’s shoulder during inane conversation? Men dressed like shit Serpicos? Self important folk with, like, blogs and stuff? Tilted New Era guys looking paradoxically solemn yet colourful? Attractive girlfriends bored and blankly thumbing an iPhone? Lots and lots of folk with Canon 550Ds round their necks? Boring. My Grandpa once berated me for claiming I was bored with the stock, “Bored people get bored” reply. 10 minutes at some inane shoe customisation non-happening and he would have hastily retracted that statement.
If you want to maintain the sheen, don’t get too involved. Seriously. Working in a comic shop as a kid, giddy excitement gave way to apathy at the stacks of Image/Valiant crossovers and Cerebus back issues strewn in the stockroom – that was the end of comic hoarding. An overdose of trade priced reality nipped that habit in the bud. The same grotty realism and hordes of jaded folk can kill other obsessions too. It’s best to dip in but keep your distance for the most part.
Talk to any hip-hop fanatic from beyond the states, and witness their devotion to rap rareness that those from rap saturated NYC took for granted and ignored. That’s distance learning at work. If you grew up poring through Face magazines, sending stamp addressed envelopes for sticker packs, saving booklets from sport stores and gazing at those shout out names in fold out cassette sleeves, you probably got as much enjoyment through wistful “what if” dreaming as those who were in the mix, participating. Curiously, the provincial oddballs who lived their lives vicariously through record, skate and WH Smiths shelves make for the most interesting conversations just because they have a tendency to be truly psychotic about their pick of subject matters.
My small town existence deliberately keeps me out the mix. Despite constant commutes, London still maintains a certain mystique, and I can concentrate and get shit done. After all, what else is there to do in boogie down Bedford? Sometimes you need a normal human being who isn’t dazzled by repro stitch detailing and limited numbers to tell you when you look a prick – that’s another hometown benefit. Travelling greater distance can be preventative when it comes to making the shorter trip up your own arse, providing you don’t regale all around you with tales of a phony big shot existence in the big city.
In the socially networked blog realm where it’s a race to attain “first” status, and you don’t even have to leave the bedroom to stay in the loop (though the loop is itself, overrated), let alone pick up a print magazine or hop aboard a train. Beyond mere apps, you can live your aspirational lifestyle through the internet – a cloud existence, and drop it whenever you want to. People are overrated. The e-persona usually beats the cold ‘The Wizard of Oz’ style reality. If you want to maintain that enthusiasm, rather than going through the motions and becoming a stinkeye administering “over it” shit talker, enjoy it through a monitor. I prefer to dip in and out at will – my bipolar moodswings and sudden character changes are a testament to this – London made a monster. Robert Frost summed up the taint from a purer worldview with “So dawn goes down to day, Nothing gold can stay” – as Johnny Cade from ‘The Outsiders’ implored in a neater summary, “Stay gold” – stay away, stay enthusiastic and stay gold.