Merriam-Webster’s 2004 word of the year was “blog”; the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2005 word of the year was “podcast”; and in October the L.A. Times featured a front-page story about our own Mark “the Cobrasnake” Hunter. Yup, for some reason a weird subspecies of hipster has lately become the subject of ubiquitous media fascination. We call them “indie yuppies” — Yindies for short. They are well employed, or endowed with trust funds. They think chic gizmos (like digital cameras and iPods) go best with indie rock. And while their tastes are a little more stylish than the mainstream, they’re also sort of bland, boring and interchangeable. (Think: Urban Outfitters, Death Cab for Cutie, KCRW.)
Yindies are the bread and butter of publications like this one, of course, but I’m hoping 2006’s word of the year will be “backlash” — if only to make room for some edgier, less twee and affected forms of expression. Unlike the hippies and Yippies, who spawned Charles Manson and the Weather Underground, Yindies will never do any real harm. But, armed with influence that far outweighs their actual numbers, they do occupy a precarious and troubling spot in our culture. Here’s a hypothetical picture of what might happen if the Yindie backlash doesn’t come. It’s not pretty.
1.Following in the footsteps of Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond, Billy Joel announces he will collaborate with Rick Rubin for a return to his roots as “a simple piano man.” In the autumn of ’06, Joel releases Moods Vol. I, the first album in a planned trilogy, featuring stripped-down covers by Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg, Ben Folds and Huey Lewis & the News — with Lewis and Joel duetting on “I Want a New Drug,” an allusion to Joel’s struggles with alcoholism. (This leads, in turn, to a surge in Lewis’ hipster cred; he tours the U.K. and major U.S. markets in the spring of ’07 with the Strokes as his backing band.)
2.Marking a radical turn in direction, Gucci deposes creative director Alexander McQueen and names American Apparel founder and CEO Dov Charney as his successor. Charney’s first couture line prominently features soft, brightly colored cotton, white piping and zippers.
3. In an effort to stanch mounting declines in readership, The New York Times adapts a blog-friendly format for its daily edition. A staffwide memo dictates that all weekday articles be reported in the form of top-10 lists following the inverted triangle format — wacky bits at the top, mundane shit at the end. (Stories about George Bush inevitably begin by quoting a funny malapropism, and conclude with the daily body count in Iraq.)
4. In a related effort, hundreds of newspapers switch Sunday supplements from the famously laughable Parade to a new general-interest edition of Vice magazine. The debut issue features a Terry Richardson portrait of Vice President Dick Cheney wearing only a camouflage Speedo and a “Victory is Ours” sun visor — a bold effort by the White House to connect with Generation Z.
6. It’s announced that the performers for 2007’s Super Bowl Halftime Show in Miami will be a new supergroup called The Clap Your Go Team Fire! The show will be sponsored by the newest addition to the MTV Networks family, Pitchfork Television.
7.On Wednesday, November 8, 2006, the morning after the California general election, it’s announced that a surprise write-in candidate has triumphed over Arnold Schwarzenegger. Our new governor is to be Steve Aoki, a.k.a. DJ Kid Millionaire — heir to the Benihana restaurant fortune and owner of the indie rock label Dim Mak (Bloc Party, The Kills, Das Oath). Aoki makes the following public statement: “I’m so inspired by the people of Los Angeles, the way they go to work every day. They’re fucking awesome.” His first official move is to make Silver Lake the new state capital, with plans to annex Brooklyn.
8.USA Today launches Pop Candy, a blog featuring trifles like a Q&A with American Idol also-ran Bo Bice and rumors of Gwen Stefani’s pregnancy. It’s written by a sexually ambiguous moppet named Whitney Matheson, who is pictured on the site sporting garage-rock bangs, Converse one-stars and high-water jeans.
9.Author Dave Eggers and director Spike Jonze begin work on a Tom Hanks–produced, live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, combining an indie-flick sensibility with blockbuster production values. Sendak is quoted in The New York Times as saying, “They call, they write, they send post cards, they show me script changes, they send me pornographic pictures and models of the monsters. They’re very attentive.”
10.Actually, those last two items aren’t predictions. They’re true. Maybe it’s too late!