15 July 2010

All Pitchforked out, or I am not a hipster, but I play one on the Internet

I went to Pitchfork in 2006. It was murderously hot and kind of boring. I took the Green Line because I didn't want to navigate around the west side of Chicago in the dark while delirious with heat and dehydration, but I ended up leaving well before the headline act even took the stage. The only band I remember seeing is the Walkmen. I'd never heard of them before. I think I bought one or two of their CDs afterwards, because that's what we did back in those days. Actually it's not what we did back in those days, because by those days people were already downloading songs one at a time to fancy mobile phones and such, but it wasn't yet considered appallingly old-fashioned to still have a few compact discs lying around at home next to a large device that played nothing else.

Well, so I finally went to Pitchfork, and I didn't like it. It seemed odd to me that I felt like I stuck out so much in a huge crowd of weird nerds, but maybe that's because I'm actually a completely different kind of weird nerd. Or maybe I just don't like huge crowds very much. Or maybe it was simply too damn hot to be outside that day and the weather made me grouchy. In any case, I never since had any interest in going again.

Yet several times a day, I'm being told to ride my bike to Pitchfork by the moderators of the various bike-related email lists to which I subscribe. Why? Even if I were going to Pitchfork this weekend, I'm not sure you'd want me to ride my bike there. I'd show up with my helmet and my spandex shorts (I usually wear unpadded lycra workout shorts as a base layer even on short rides) and my special bike bag full of special bike gear and make the whole Bicycle Movement look bad and just embarrass the hell out of all the other alt-trans advocates.

But I digress. Why is it assumed that people on bike-related email lists are probably going to Pitchfork? Are we Pitchfork-going hipsters because we ride bikes, or do we ride bikes because we're Pitchfork going hipsters? And if riding a bike and being a hipster are as totally unrelated as some people seem to like to insist, then why is there a bicycle valet at Pitchfork but not at, say, Ozzfest? (And Ozzfest could really use a bicycle valet, I think. Driving to Alpine Valley or whatever the thing in Tinley Park is called lately is a pain in the ass. I'm sure the facility managers, law-enforcement officers, and local residents would be grateful for anything that could slightly alleviate the automobile traffic congestion associated with huge music festivals.)

I'm confused. One day bicycling is trumpeted as an integral part of a "green lifestyle," an "active lifestyle," an "urban lifestyle," or some other kind of special lifestyle, but the next day it will be adamantly insisted that bicycling is something that "normal people" can do as part of their "regular lifestyle." Well, which is it? If it's the latter, then why are we still mercilessly flogging these hipster-bike associations? Maybe we're not even aware that we're doing it, since we're all so used to hanging out with other weird nerds who ride bikes. We don't like so-called normal people. They're the ones yelling at us to get off the road.

Or maybe I'm completely off my rocker, and I'm only being told to ride my bike to Pitchfork because riding my bike to Walgreens is so mundane and tedious. It's 2010 now---lots of people regularly ride bikes to Walgreens. Time to ratchet up a little and persuade more people to ride bikes to a special event that occurs only once a year. In that case, I guess there's nothing wrong with a little excitement about it, but it still seems like so much foot-shooting to me.

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