Category Archives: daily life

Pay me now or pay me later

One Saturday morning, that Saturday being today, my associate Brimbie and I made our way down Seattle’s garbage-strewn University Avenue. ‘Ah, feel that sun!’ Brimbie cried, but there was not really any sun visible. ‘You’re gonna tell me you can’t feel it?’ Brimbie asked.

No, Brimbie, I couldn’t.

Along the way to our destination, which was Café Allegro, I came across a cell phone that was broken in pieces on the ground. Using my razor-sharp wits to reassemble the phone, I began answering the text messages that had piled up on it as it lay in pieces overnight on the ground. In the meantime, Brimbie and I arrived at Café Allegro, where Brimbie lay his hands on a day-old doughnut and a bagel.

‘Would you like a bagel?’ he asked me.

‘No, I would not,’ I told him.

‘Would you like a doughnut?’ he asked me.

‘No, I would not,’ I replied.

‘Why not?’ Brimbie asked.

‘I’m not hungry,’ I explained.

‘Well why,’ Brimbie asked me, refusing the let the topic drop, ‘When I buy a doughnut and offer you a bite, you often take the bite?’

‘Because then perhaps I am hungry,’ I explained.

‘But if I buy a doughnut now and offer you a bite, you’ll eat that bite,’ he reasoned. ‘So I’ll just buy you a whole one.’

‘No, Brimbie.’ I told him.

‘But I owe you $6,’ Brimbie explained, ‘And I want to make it even with you. So eat the doughnut I buy you.’

‘No Brimbie,’ I told him solemnly. ‘I prefer to wait and collect the six dollars in a form that is better than a doughnut.’

And Brimbie gnashed his teeth, angry that he could not even up his bill with me via fried junk food. You see, Brimbie owed something, and he immediately wanted to pay up; I wanted to let the debt float about a bit until I could cash in the favour in some more useful or tastier form. He wanted me to pay now; I wanted him to pay later.

On the way back to Brimbie’s, after Brimbie’s hearty breakfast (of which no bites were taken by myself or anyone else apart from Brimbie), a call was received from the owner of the cell phone, and we set up a place to meet. On meeting up and handing over the phone, the fellow ‘gave me five’ twice, for a total of ten, telling me “You’re the man!”. He then said:

“If I ever see you around again, I owe you something.”

Now why couldn’t he owe me something right then and there? How do I know if I’ll see him again? He wanted to pay later; I wanted him to pay now.

It is just these types of philosophical and psychological dilemmas that we deal with every day in life, even on a Saturday morning in Seattle.

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the rhododendron

Can there be a more pitiful and tiresome plant than the rhododendron?  Its leaves are discoloured, blotchy, and have some sort of funny powder on them. Its flowers are not very interesting and wilt after a day or two. Its leaves seem never to disintegrate, but instead collect all over the place and make a mess. And on top of that, some people have had the nerve to make this tedious plant the ‘state flower’ of Washington!

The rhododendron, or Rhododendron macrophyllum, is native to this area of the world– that is, the Pacific coast of North America from about central California up to British Columbia. It grows all over the place and never ceases to be unsightly. Local people refer to it with the irritating nickname “rhodie”. In the 1890s, Washington women, lacking the vote and itching to cast a ballot about something or other, got up a list of candidates for ‘state flower’. The Bellinghamites wanted the clover, which I am assured grows around there. The Spokanites wanted some other flower- a lilac, perhaps. But a Mrs. Fry of Seattle put forward the rhododendron due to its “wild profusion, great beauty and its evergreen leaf, which goes with the Evergreen State” (source).

Wild profusion: Check. Like beer cans, frat boys, yuppies, dog-walkers, young urban professionals, etc.

Great beauty: Check out the photos and decide for yourself.

Evergreen leaf: Yes, it does stay green year round, if that’s a deal-maker.

Great Beauty.

Anyways,

[v]oters flocked to post offices, drugstores, hotels, and other public business places to cast their ballots… There were no landslide victories in this contest. In the end, the coast rhododendron was favored by capturing 53 percent of the 15,000 ballots cast. (source)

Now I suppose we are stuck with it, this terrible eyesore of a plant. I might note that in the suburb of Federal Way there is an outfit calling itself the “Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden” where they charge you eight dollars to look at some rhododendrons. What sort of madness is this– these humdrum and wearisome plants are visible all throughout Seattle for no change at all! As an even better deal, you can come look at the rhododendrons all over my garden for only six dollars (two dollars less than my competitor in the suburbs) and I’ll throw in a running commentary of obnoxious patter for free.

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seattle parks, pt. 1: danny woo garden & kobe terrace

Here in Seattle there are many parks, but since this is not exactly a walkable city, I can’t say I’ve visited them all. Contrast that with somewhere like Paris, which has maybe four times the population of Seattle, but in an area 1/4th the size. In Paris, I’ve probably visited all the parks, gardens, squares, and every other type of green area, but in Seattle, I’ve not visited many, for they are too spread out and the city too sprawling. Paris also has a sort of set-up whereby events are held in the city parks– events that people might actually want to go to: musical groups from Palestine or Mexico or Bordeaux, for example. In Seattle, the events in the parks tend to be Easter egg hunts for babies or trash clean-up days, neither of which interest me all that much. The City of Paris also has the common sense to stagger (or rotate) events around to all the different parks, so that out-of-the-way parks see some action and get discovered: in this way I’ve visited any number of parks in out-of-the-way arrondissments that I wouldn’t otherwise maybe see. Seattle, by contrast, hosts events in Volunteer Park and one or two others, if that, and uses the other parks as pot-smoking refuges for underage hippies, dog-walking areas for pit bull fanciers, and frisbee-throwing areas for brawny frat boys. As these three activities don’t interest me in the slightest, and Palestinian musical groups do, I find Seattle’s parks to be lacking in excitement compared to those of Paris. That said, Seattle’s parks are certainly larger, and possibly greener, and contain some points of interest.

The Danny Woo Garden and Kobe Terrace are to be found in the Japanese area of the International District in Seattle. I was taken there by my associate and band-mate Bon-Bon, who, living in close proximity to said gardens, visits them often and was quite familiar with the whole to-do. It was my first time there.

You can get to these gardens quite easily by bus or tramway; they are about three blocks from the International District stop. That is what me and Bon-Bon did, arriving via tramway, and we wended our way up the streets to the gardens, which are across the street from Ichiban Japanese Restaurant and the Panama Hotel café (about which I’ll post something another time; it’s an interesting place and I used to deliver things there about ten years ago).

Danny Woo was a Chinese-American capitalist who, in a moment of social enlightenment, leased out this land at some point in the 1970s for the pithy sum of a $1 per year; it became a community garden for use by old folks and residents of low net financial worth, which is how people are judged these days. There are said to be about 100 plots there, and there is also a large chicken coop full of clucking birds with fanciful names. Bon-Bon said she’d never seen the chicken coop before, and surmised it must be a recent addition, as Seattle is suffering from an urban chicken craze of late as local residents become keen on caging up poor creatures in hastily-constructed backyard chicken coops. I believe the most popular local chicken name is “Henrietta”, based on anecdotal evidence.

We also spotted kale, carrots, some squash perhaps, and some various other vegetables. Actually Bon-Bon spotted these items; I being a city chap was most unfamiliar with the various stalks and above-ground parts of common vegetables. In one area there were some terraces on which were written things in some various Asian languages: I spotted Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, and some others.

At the top of the vegetable-growing area, the garden gives way to Kobe Terrace, which butts up against the freeway and features a 200-year-old 4-ton stone lantern, which was a gift to Seattle from the people of Kobe, Japan (our sister city on the other side of the Pacific). According to the badly-copyedited City of Seattle website, the area is “adorned with Mt. Fuji cherry trees and laced with ground vines and pathways winding alongside the freeway”. We didn’t see any cherry trees at all, but a man with two pugs walked by playing what sounded like Frank Sinatra out of a transistor radio in his pocket. I asked the fellow about the music. “Big Band sound!” he told me proudly, asserting that the two pugs liked it immensely, and that said dogs were “famous in San Francisco”.

We examined the giant lantern, which sits in what appears to be a pool; Bon-bon told me she had never seen water in it, though, and there did not appear to be a mechanism by which water would be pumped into the area, so perhaps it’s meant to be a dry pool. At the same corner, next to the lantern, sits the Nippon Kan Theatre, which used to put on Japanese plays. It has since gone under, as the Japanese are no longer interested in emigrating to Seattle, leaving that to the Vietnamese. Furthermore, local Japanese-Americans have lost interest in such things, perhaps turning their attention to monster trucks or such other forms of Americana- a Seattle P-I newspaper article from 2005 (‘Seattle loses icon of Japanese heritage’) on the theatre attributes the fall of Seattle’s Japantown to lower Japanese emigrant numbers post-1965 and a general assimilation into mainstream American ‘culture’ by later generations of Japanese-Americans.

This little park is a nice place to sit around; Bon-bon also showed me an area of concrete bench-type creations which she asserted was a cool place to sit on scorching 62-degree Seattle summer days; I also found a stash in the bushes of a bunch of bags of chips, which Bon-bon believed must belong to a local transient. If I were you, I’d go have coffee at the Panama Hotel (or bring it over to the park even) and spend a nice little while there if you ever find yourself in this part of Seattle.

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Filed under daily life, french & the french, seattle

where have you bean?

It was back in 2007 when I last brought up this scintillating topic- how to pronounce ‘been’. I wrote back then:

I pronounce it /bin/. Absolutely the same as ‘bin’. Been/bin. How come no-one ever investigates this merger? I have heard British say the word the same as ‘bean’, as in baked beans. As in how have you bean. It sounds ridiculous to me, but I can’t offer an explanation as to why I pronounce it /bin/, except to say I’ve never said it any other way. (what is going on, 2007).

Well, today on a walk around Seattle, I saw a sign that takes it one step further:

Here we have the spelling ‘been’ to represent the word bin. It is surely true (at least in my ideolect, and I guess in this area of the U.S. as a whole) that been and bin are homophones. However, given their different orthographies, I would be surprised that anyone would mistake the two in their written forms– especially, someone, so attentive, to comma placement!

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French as she is spoken.

On some Monday nights when I am in Seattle, I go to a “pub quiz”, or perhaps “trivia night”, at a Capitol Hill vegan restaurant/bar called “the Highline”. (I’m not sure what the name refers to, but there seems to be some sort of freight train theme in the place, so perhaps it’s a tribute to Paragons of American Industry such as Burlington Northern – Santa Fe et al). The place is run by long-haired dreadlocked crusties, though the trivia night attracts primarily heavily-tattooed former straight-edgers and recently-turned-21 scenesters.

As I say, this is a vegan place, and the type of food served is chiefly sandwiches, along with things like potato salad and french fries. Normally the music is b-grade 80s regional hardcore, and sometimes early UK crust à la Rudimentary Peni. My associate Collin has told me that sometimes fistfights break out among the patrons in there. What do you think vegans brawl over? Who’s more compassionate?

The trivia night is already a little strange, as free pitchers of beer are awarded by the bartender to teams who have racist or sexist names. I’m not good at coming up with these, so I abstain and get berated by my team-mates, who cry “You’re costing us a pitcher!”. Secondly, there are usually a few teams full of tattooed 21-yr olds who look up all the answers on their cell phones and then shout them out. Finally, the quizmaster is fond of asking questions where the answer is based on something he saw on the internet, not on his personal knowledge or greater reality.

Take for example last night. One of the rounds was “French”: despite the host’s admitted inability to converse in said language, he gave us ten questions in which he would say a word or phrase and ask us to write the French translation. Being a French speaker, I naturally lept at the occasion to put my knowledge to use, and my team-mates grinned and rubbed their hands together fiendishly, knowing that we had the round ‘in the bag’.

Question one: the host, Dustin, let loose: “How do you say in fashion, stylish in French?”

Observe my response: à la mode.

Imagine my rage when I heard that answer was incorrect, and that the correct answer was chic. Friends, I do not dispute that chic means in fashion, stylish, but it is also undeniable that à la mode means in fashion, stylish. The quizmaster, who doesn’t speak a word of French, disqualified à la mode since it was not what the internet told him. The team next to us, which comprised a bunch of plus-sized teens with tattoos, alongside a fiftysomething Moroccan immigrant who claimed to be a French speaker, told us disdainfully: “A la mode means on the side.” Three of four of them jumped in, proclaiming “Yeah dude! It means on the side!”. We asked the Moroccan woman who claimed to speak French, and she told us “A la mode means on the side!”.

Exhibit A: Google translate. Not the most reliable of translations, in general, but read ’em and weep:

Exhibit B: à la mode loc adj [vêtement] fashionable, in fashion… (Larousse French-English Dictionary, 1993)

Exhibit C: online dictionary:

à la mode

  1. Fashionable; in the current style or fashion. (Wiktionary, 2011).

(They also note: (US) Served with ice cream-!)

Exhibit D: Press clippings.

– Les mots à la mode: webcam. J’sais pas si c’est vraiment à la mode, mais j’ai envie d’en causer. (Lacroute, Le Monde, 2011).

MEANS: Words in fashion, Cool words: I dunno  if it’s really in fashion, but I want to talk about it…

DOES NOT MEAN: Words on the side. I dunno if it’s really on the side… / Words served with ice cream.

– Héroïne, cocaïne : “Le snif est à la mode” (Le Monde, 2010)

MEANS: Heroin, cocaine: Snorting is cool/stylish/in fashion.

DOES NOT MEAN: Snorting is on the side. Snorting is served with ice cream.

– Vie de chiens à la mode. (Le Monde, 1997).

This is a sort of play on words, but we can say it means something like “Dog style”, not “Dogs on the side” or “(US) Dogs served with ice cream”.

– L’appareil photo Canon 5D, très à la mode en ce moment, existe depuis deux ans. (Libération, 2011).

MEANS: The Canon 5D camera, very fashionable/cool/stylish at the moment, has already been out for two years.

I could go on for a while, but you get the picture.

We won the game in any case, pauvres cons (that means ‘worthy opponents’ in French).

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seattle coffee culture

I spent many years in the coffee business. I have worked for a number of coffee roasters. I have dragged giant burlap sacks of coffee using metal hooks and I have thrown out my back doing so. I have poured green coffee beans down the hopper. I have roasted coffee beans in industrial roasters. I have dug foreign matter out of the coffee roaster. I have come home on many days with coffee-bean dust coating me head to toe. I have regularly found roasted and unroasted coffee beans in the cuffs of my pants and in my shoes. I have eaten coffee beans. I have slept on piled up burlap sacks full of unroasted beans in unheated, dark coffee warehouses. I have done the New York Times crossword puzzle while waiting for beans to roast. I have ground the roasted beans in shiny red grinders. I have accidentally lit a twenty-five-pound bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans on fire. I have worked for a number of coffee companies in different cities and I have roasted, ground, packed, and delivered coffee to dozens and dozens of cafés. I have worked at some cafés. I have made coffee. I have made espressos. I have made lattes. I have made bizarre concoctions using sugar-free Torani syrups. I have clipped a thermometer to the side of the pot while steaming milk. I have done “latte art”. I have thrown away a shot for people who wanted “a single”. I have emptied the coffee grounds every ten minutes into the compost dumpster. I can speak good Italian and can pronounce all your dumb versions of coffee better than you can. I have spent months collectively in French and Italian cafés, to say nothing of the Turkish places. I have drank coffee from a stall in Bosnia, a ‘hotel’ in Madras, a stand in Taiwan, a hut in Mexico, fancy cafés in Vienna, the side of the road in Slovakia: I have drank coffee many, many places. Friend, I am not here to brag, but simply to give my coffee expertise. In short, it is superior to those whose claim to knowing what they’re on about is limited to “drinking it”.

That out of the way, I have come upon a disturbing new trend here in Seattle Coffee Culture. Seattleites like to go about considering themselves to be expert appreciators of coffee, and are of the opinion that they have developed a ‘coffee culture’ here, the likes of which they consider rivals that of Austria or Italy or wherever-all-else coffee drinking is considered a grand art form. However, it is no art at all that I have discovered, but rather some alarming BS behaviour.

This behaviour is said to go down at Cowen Park Café. This is the café I normally go to, mostly because it is nearby. Those who are ardent followers of my whims, fancies, and caprices will know that when it comes to food and drink outside the home,

[m]y concerns number but three:

1.) vegetarian

2.) taste

3.) price

I don’t care if the help salaamed me when I came in, or if there was a hair on the dish. I’m not worried about a cockroach on the floor or if the clock on the wall keeps the right time. I repeat, my concerns number but three:

1.) vegetarian

2.) taste

3.) price

All else is mere detail. (source)

Well, when it comes to cafés, my concerns are a bit different. The reason for this is that I believe all coffee tastes pretty much the same. I know this is a great outrage. I know it’s blasphemy, even! I know a couple (we won’t reveal their names) who have coffee beans flown in from across the country, claiming these beans “taste better”. I know a fellow who brought packets of Starbucks coffee to Italy, since it “tasted better”. All I know is that for myself, once the beans are roasted, ground, stored, and percolated (or what-have-you), it’s all pretty much the same. You may get dishwater coffee at some church function or midwest diner, I grant you, but in the Greater Café Coffee World, they’re all pretty much the same to me. So, when it comes to cafés, my concerns number but three different threes:

1.) price

2.) location

3. ) ambience

Cowen Park Café, this morning

Let us examine, then, Cowen Park Café. Its name is properly Cowen Park Grocery; it lies in Seattle at the confluence of the University District, Ravenna, and Roosevelt neighbourhoods. It is across the street from Cowen Park, a tree-filled ravine that I commonly sit and read in (I can’t find much out about the park; the City of Seattle’s website gives a history of it, but unfortunately it starts and ends in the Ice Age! They do note that it is a “generally quiet enclave”). The place has been a grocery store for some time, but about five years ago, perhaps, it was bought by a family of Korean descent. They repainted it and turned one side of it into a café. They have periodically introduced other new attractions: fresh fruit and vegetables (pulled due to lack of sales), flowers and potting soil (still there), and “Korean tacos”: indeed, some days one of the owners is out there with a barbecue cooking up these “Korean tacos”, whatever they are. I have never seen such an item in Korea, nor have I seen any such thing in Mexico, so I imagine it to be some American junk food along the lines of sushi pasta or falafel pizza.

In any case, I always order the same thing: a small cup of coffee. Oh, sure, they have all sorts of things with exotic Italian names, and a pastry case full of pseudo-French pastries with the words spelled wrong.  Well, I’m not too worried about any of this. I just want my cup of coffee.

The ‘lattes’ at this place are said to be something special. The Seattle Weekly, a middle-class status-quo-style publication owned by an Arizona-based corporation, sent a staff member to Cowen Park Café. She wrote that she ranked said latte among the ‘Top Five Lattes in Seattle‘. The people at Cowen Park have taken this recommendation to heart, printing out copies of the article, highlighting the relevant bits, and posting them around the café. I think I may have had a latte there before. It tasted the same as a latte anywhere in the world. People (usually Americans) I meet in Italy spend their time raving over how the lattes in Italy are superior to those elsewhere. “What can it be?” they ask me. “The Brazilian beans, transported in filthy gunny sacks to the other side of the world in musty, worm-chewed ship holds? The sun-kissed, grease-secreting, gently rusting Italian espresso machines? The local water, gently infused with cocaine residue? The milk, from scandal-ridden Italian drinks giant Parmalat? Or is it something deeper, much deeper, something we can’t see, something unknown to science, something intangible, undefinable, something in the Italian soul?”

I don’t know, it all tastes the same to me. Some have suggested there must be “something wrong” with my tongue. That may or may not be, but a square is still a square.

The coffee at Cowen Park comes in white cups which are usually chipped. A small, which I get, is $1.67 (up from $1.34 in 2010). The location is good (near my house). The ambiance is OK (unobtrusive) to poor, due to the many dogs and children people bring in there. However, that’s a failure of all Seattle coffeehouses, to actively prohibit pets and children, so I can’t fault Cowen Park alone. The music they play is generally one of five things: NPR (they rarely play this nowadays; it was more prevalent years back), classical (baroque, medieval, opera), or what sounds like Portuguese fado when the owner is working. When employees are working, we hear something along the lines of The Rough Guide to Arabic Music and The Greatest Hits of French Yé-yé. None of them are too annoying, and Cowen Park’s competition, Herkeimer, down the street, assaults my ears with droning, tedious, rambling Radioheadesque  go-nowhere-rock. So Cowen Park wins there.

However, pleased (or content) as I am with Cowen Park, they have their detractors. Sometimes they forget to give me my coffee: I’m not concerned as I have all the time in the world, but some of the go-getters in the world get upset at that. The service is pretty bad: people who’ve never even been there ask me “Aren’t they notorious for bad service?”. A common greeting (barista to customer) is “Do you want something?”. Some of this used to bother me at first, years ago. Now I don’t care. For other people, though, things are going downhill there.

I took coffee with young Brimbie last week, and not only was he given a coffee smaller than that he paid for, he was given a croissant so hard and stiff that upon thrusting a finger into the top of it, the golden, flaky pastry collapsed and his finger emerged cleanly from the other side. Brimbie chalked the event up to “a lack of respect” and vowed he wouldn’t go back there: a loyal customer for years, he decided he wanted to “explore other places” that would “show some respect”, i.e., give properly-sized coffees and freshly-baked croissants. However, the places he favours I disapproved of, since they were

1.) more expensive

2.) further away

3.) had TVs blasting in the café, only used paper cups, or other things I didn’t care for,

so I convinced the erstwhile young Brisbie to give another try to Cowen Park. He examined the contents of his pocket. Within he found some bits of lint, some vegetable matter, a crumpled dollar bill, and some coins. ‘I can’t go–‘ he told me. ‘I don’t have enough for a tip.’

‘So don’t tip,’ I told him.

‘If you tip,’ he told me, ‘they say your name’.

Hold on! If you tip, they say your name?! And people are excited by this? What is this, you tip and they say your name! ‘Oh yes,’ Brimbie told me. ‘They just say Hello and Thanks if you don’t tip, but if you do tip, they say your name at the end.’

What nonsense is this, Seattle Coffee Culture?! Do you know, in Italy and Austria, the reputed homes of coffee culture, they don’t even have tips! Do you know, I’ve carried and roasted and ground and delivered and made (and consumed?) thousands of pounds of coffee in my life time, and no-one’s given me a tip! This is a scary new development in Seattle Coffee Culture. Does it extend to other cafés? Who came up with it? Arrrrgh!

I don’t want you to say my name! I just want my cup of coffee!

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high school cliques revealed, pt. 1

I went to high school some time ago. Not eons ago, but long enough that the high school cliques of yesteryear are all but unrecognizable to the fresh, pimply-faced high-schoolers of today. I was asked by a young feller just the other day- ‘O Enlightened G, pray tell, what outrageous cliques did you have at your school way back when?’

‘Ho, ho, young buck,’ I cried, sitting back in my chair and tapping idly on my pipe. ‘Let me see now. Well, we had the usual sorts of cliques, I suppose,’ I told the young feller, Brisbie by name.

‘You mean Oogles, T.K.s, and Cob Nobblers?’ the sprightly young Brisbie asked in all innocence.

‘What ho, knave,’ I shouted. ‘I know nothing of these cliques you speak of- in my school, we had the normal sorts. We had– let me think now– we had jocks, preppies, and nerds. We had wavers– those included punks and gothics. We had stoners, which included hessians and hippies. That’s really about it,’ I told him.

‘What about gangbangers?’ asked little Brisbie.

‘No, we didn’t have those in my school,’ I told him. ‘Our was a peaceful society, free of gang violence and associated lunatics. Ah, to be a child again, a teenager in a world of nerds and gothics, stoners and preppies, eating in the hallways and skipping class to go to Donut Parade…’

I trailed off, but a nearby fourteen-year-old had been none-too-subtly eavesdropping on our conversation and approached us cautiously. The youngster in question, a high schooler herself, expressed wonderment at the sorts of cliques we had been discussing. ‘School today is nothing like it was for you oldsters,’ she vouchsafed, giving a wink and cocking a snook (whatever that means). ‘Your talk of gothics and hessians is as antiquated to 21st-century youth as talk of rotary phones, dial-up internet, and poodle skirts!’

‘Is it so, youngster?’ I asked, sitting up in my antique rocking chair and placing my ear trumpet closer to the Golden Voice of Youth. Brisbie was similarly eager to hear tell of the the cliques of today. ‘If there are no gothics and raver kids, what manner of youthful subcultures have they been replaced by in today’s bewildering high school environment?’

The high schooler smiled, and she whipped out some scraps of paper and a black marker. She wrote down in detail the cliques of a Seattle, Washington-area high school, explaining each of them in detail. I share them with you, as she wrote them (I take no responsibility for spelling!):

SCENE KIDS. The ones who always have the flippy hair (the hairline that doesnt exist). Big hair, big ego, corsets, declining population at [name of high school redacted]. Basically nihilists. Likes: emo-bands, Shane Dawson, bright colors, acid & ecstasy, carelessness. Dislikes: all other groups, emphasis on Sceniey Beanies

SCENIEY BEANIES. The sixth graders that copy scene kids. Usually around 8-13. Go to raves. Scene kids do not think highly of them. Likes: unknown, similar to scene kids. Dislikes: none.

PREP KIDS. Usually wear Uggs, yoga pants from lula lemons usually love mainstream stuff. Think there better than other groups. Exclusive. Have straight hair. Likes: yoga pants, going to mall, bubble tea, taking pics of themselves and posting on Facebook. Dislikes: hate all other groups, drugs (if do-do, then keep quite), paranoid about illegal things.

HIPSTERS. They wear skirts usually stuff from red light are those thrift stores on the ave or goodwill. Sweaters, cardigans. Lots of sweaters, grandma pink… Any hairstyle. Self centered, wear fur. Likes: Cardigans, Roller Derby, bra burning, feminists, thinking themselves intellectuals, Dostevsky, big ego’s, Chai, Value Village, Indie bands, Goodwill, Thrift, being cool in school. Dislikes: unknown.

URBAN OUTFITTERS HIPSTERS. Likes: Urban Outfitters, Anthropology (the clothing store), free people, shopping. Same as other hipsters, just Richer. The two Hipster classes hate each other.

GOTHS. A dying race.

JUGGALO’S. Likes: ICP, Hatchet Gear, Juggaletes, every drug, face paint, faygo (drink), Street Walkers. Dislikes: getting beat up. Hate those that say they are “down with the clown” but don’t know the cards. Mainstream.

ANIME GROUP. Dislikes: people who don’t know what there watching, teachers telling them to calm down when their character dies. Likes: comfy clothes, camputers, games, mindcraft, computers at school, empty halloways, getting pissed at shows, cutesy stuff, internet, basically goofying around on internet living your life on computers and internet.”

Thus spoke the fourteen-year old.

Brisbie nodded his head, lost in thought. Indeed, my own thoughts were all of a muddle, and I began to come a-cropper (whatever that means). ‘What do you make of these categories?’ Brisbie asked me, when he regained the power of speech. ‘What do you make of Beanie Sceneys, of Anime Group, of Hipster classes and dying races?’

‘It seems,’ quoth I, ‘that the American high school population grows ever more ridiculous and silly.’ I then grew solemn. ‘And let us spare a thought for the passing of that great race of high school cliquedom, the Goth,’ I intoned, following which we took a moment of silence and mourned the loss of some other great classes of cliquedom, no longer even mentioned in the current taxonomy: where were stoners? Where were grunge rockers? Where were ravers, where were cheerleaders, where were hessians and butt rockers? Do high schoolers today no longer have to deal with listening to AC-DC and the Steve Miller Band blasted at top volume at every pep rally while cheerleaders hop about, stoners sleep in the back row, grungers nod off with headphones on, gothics play hooky in the smoker’s lot, and so forth? It seems not!

‘Verily,’ I sighed, taking a sip of my tea, some concoction called ‘Bengal Spice’ which Brisbie had provided me- ‘To think I lived before in such ignorance!’

‘Ah, but that is not all, m’lord,’ young Brisbie said, stooping low to me and removing his feathered hat, placing it near his heart. ‘I feel the time has come to reveal my true name, for you see, ‘Brimbie’ is nothing more than an assumed name.’

‘Is this as it seems?’ I asked myself. ‘But why Brimbie?’ I asked aloud. ‘Why Brimbie, out of all the names you could pick from a goldfish bowl, why not Mikey, Hans-Peter, Chu Hsien?’

‘The answer is simple,’ Brisbie said, bowing low with a dramatic flourish at the end. ‘It is an acronym, created from my favourite foods. To wit:

Bananas

Rice

Ice cream

Mustard, and

Beans.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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