Leisurely reads. Quirky tips. Meet your weekend BFF with the lowdown on the coolest art, culture, food, travel, TV shows, music and more.
Aug 28, 2021
A “hipster” was probably a pretty rad thing to be before the idea was co-opted by corporations selling counterculture coolness. Coined in the 1940s to describe dandily dressed youth, the vaguely defined term evolved to encompass various types of nonconformists, often spilling over into literature, music and film. Today, it can simply mean indulging your alternative side — watching, eating or wearing things that may not be trendy but intrigue you nonetheless. Challenge yourself to sample some funky-smelling dishes, mull over odd-but-cool movies, and wear your art on your sleeve with our reccos and an intriguing celebrity tip, all of which are meant to serve as an inspirationfor your hipster weekend. Tips for being a hipster? There aren’t any.
There’s no doubt about it.Iru, also known as dawadawa, can stink up your entire kitchen. But the traditional Nigerian seasoning made from fermented locust beans is also a flavor bomb, uplifting stews and soups with complex notes of umami. Imagine a concerto of chocolate, cheese and miso on your tongue. This funky yield from an African deciduous perennial tree is also said to be beneficial for the immune system, hypertension, cholesterol and even diabetes. Having almost lost its throne to processed bouillon cube alternatives, the aromatic is all set to make a splash on the world stage with the help of Nigerian chefs who’ve put their faith in its smelly goodness.
2 - Globe-trotting Cabbage
You’ve probably wolfed it down with hot dogs and Reuben sandwiches, but do you know how to make your own sauerkraut? Raw cabbage, plenty of time and a tolerance for pungent smells will help. Despite its German name and proliferation in American delis, the fermented food was conceived over 2,000 years ago in China as a means of preserving cabbage out of season. The Asian origin isn’t surprising when you remember sauerkraut’s spicy Korean cousin: kimchi. The “sour cabbage” then traveled to Europe, where it acquired its modern name and, along with pork, became a New Year’s Day staple. European settlers brought it to America where, during World War II, it was briefly renamed “liberty cabbage,” due to its German name. Salt is used to ferment the cabbage in its own juices, with a little help from the good guys of the bacteria world, and the pickle can be surprisingly versatile. Plus, what’s cooler than anutrient-packed (Mason) jar that also offers your gut some TLC?
3 - Of Fish and Fruit
“Remember not to carry adurian on public transport,” my Singaporean friend warned me before I had even made acquaintance with the polarizing tropical fruit. Both loved and loathed across Southeast Asia, the “king of fruits” has a confusing odor, intense enough to send some running, unique enough to seduce the rest. With a spiky outer shell, its fleshy, custardy yellow insides can be eaten raw or cooked. I kept it away from public transport as advised and instead picked up a packet of durian chips, which left me hankering for all durian-relateddelicacies— pizza, pies, donuts, rice rolls, crème brûlée, cheesecake, hot pot and even curries. Now I know my camp: firmly pro-durian. One stinky treat I don’t see myself lobbying for is Sweden’s belovedsurströmming, a lightly salted, heavily fermented Baltic herring dish. So explosive is its smell, several airlines have even banned passengers from carrying tins of it back from Stockholm.
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Word on the street is you can’t be a hipster and like things that other people do, unless it’s done ironically, which is itself ironic given that from Brooklyn to Berlin, there seems to be a hipster uniform: beard, tats and skinny jeans. Still, drawing from the subculture’s original philosophy, we say break the rules! I like movies with quirky, offbeat characters, and if you relate, giveGarden State a second chance. Well-received on its release, it’s since come to be dismissed for its “whiney hipster” and “manic pixie dream girl” tropes, but I still think there's a place for it. That could have to do with the fact that when I first saw the Natalie Portman film, I was the same age as the characters navigating their troublesome 20s. Without a critical lens, it wasn’t hard to be sucked into the youthful anxieties of Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), an emotionally withdrawn prodigal son who returns to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral and flounders through relationships, both familial and romantic. The shamelessly sentimental soundtrack featuring Iron and Wine, The ShinsandSimon & Garfunkel is a great addition.
2 - Hometown Blues
Two things I learned fromBlue Jay: Heartbreak is exquisite in black and white, and so is Sarah Paulson. Filmed in monochrome, the 2016 indie film follows Amanda (Paulson) and Jim (Mark Duplass), high school sweethearts torn apart by circumstances, and thrown back into each other’s orbit many years later. Walking down literal memory lanes, the out-of-sync former lovers catch up over beer, old rap records and confessions that could hurt or heal. The chemistry between Paulson and Duplass crackles dangerously, threatening to spill out of the screen. Sequences where they fall back into the old, familiar rhythms of their youth will make even the most cynical viewer look wistfully at an age when anything seemed possible and the world was at your feet. Bonus tears for the dance scene to Annie Lennox’s track “No More ‘I Love You’s.’”
3 - Girl and the City
Another contemporary narrative shot in black and white, another gorgeous round of storytelling.Frances Ha, released in 2013, is about a girl and a city, and really, that is that. It may not be New York, but most of us have had our own torrid love affair with a city (looking at you, Mumbai); part romance, part rejection. Steered by Noah Baumbach, the director behind the 2005 celluloid hipster handbookThe Squid and the Whale, Greta Gerwig performs with abandon, bringing the titular character, who’s a 27-year-old dancer, to life. Frances Ha is for those who are cool enough for clichés. Psst: Another favorite hipster watch with terrific recall is Her, where the heroine, an augmented OS, is voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who was a recent guest on The Carlos Watson Show. Guess which director, dead or alive, the Black Widow star would love to entertain for dinner? Stanley Kubrik, one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century, and incidentally “a 40s-bred, 50s-minted, tough-minded, existential, highly evolved classic hipster,” according to his friend and biographer Michael Herr.
Art, fashion and counterculture share a storied history.Wearable art, a fashion philosophy that promotes unique, one-off pieces of handmade clothing, alsooften doubles as a protest against mass production. Clothing in this style isn’t bound by everyday functionality, but is instead opulent and over the top, meant to challenge a society that’s started to look far too homogenous. I’m not suggesting that your work-from-home outfit should include wires, feathers, lightbulbs or any of the craziness associated with wearable art, but you can show a bit of your personality through small customizations on pieces of clothing you already own. Love Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, for example? GoDIY and mimic the master’s strokes on a worn-out pair of Converse. Or paint, embroider and add beads to the pockets of your old jeans or a tote bag (thinkPhoebe Buffay’s patchwork ensembles). With some luck, the end result will be an unapologetic reflection of who you are, and just like that, you’ll have staged your own little fashion coup!
2 - Homegrown Love
At the peak of the pandemic, when everything was bleak and blurry, a bunch of young indie fashion entrepreneurs took to Instagram to launch their homegrown jewelry businesses. Macramé hair clips, beaded, clay or tassel earrings, and beautiful botanical pendants — there were creative interventions for every fashion scenario that brought a little joy to a world in flux. Resin earrings with a single pink petal of bougainvillea from #Instapreneur @craft_onmymind seemed like an appropriate gift for the friend who had been fostering my stranded houseplants while I was away. She was overjoyed. Also happy was the 23-year-old who’d made the pendant. “I added a little thank-you note,” she DMed me, sealing my love for homegrown businesses.
3 - Rent for Change
Any hipster worth his or her salt knows to follow their instincts, not trends. But one trend that might serve your climate anxiety well is to slash overconsumption and turn toapparel rental services. Reports suggest that Gen Z is leading the way in increasing the life span of clothing articles through sustainable and conscious consumerism. While renting formal wear has been common for decades, now the idea is to make daily wear rentals more acceptable. Another way to be environmentally friendly while still reviving your wardrobe with new outfits is to hold a clothing swap. Tell your friends to bring the wonderful items they once loved but don’t wear anymore as you help make the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” come true. Few things are as cool as saving the Earth. And this time, we’re counting on the hipsters.
Let the world scoff at latte-sipping liberals and hipster coffee connoisseurs; we all need a cup of joe in the morning, so you might as well make it a delicious one. Take your pick from these Brazilian, Colombian and Ethiopian roasts. Fancy a more instant kick to wake up? Get started with this sleek and sturdy titanium Nespresso machine that comes with a milk frother. It’s made from 54% recycled plastic, and if you want to feel even less guilty while relishing your barista-quality cuppa, you can also order pod recycling bags online.
2 - Turn Back Time
So you’ve made your playlist.Use it to time travel likeGil Pender on his Parisian jaunt with this era-defying 6-in-1 Bluetooth turntable. The new-age Victrola offers the option of yo-yoing between past and present with a vintage wooden exterior, retro-style controls, a mahogany finish and built-in Bluetooth stereo speakers.Pixies or Arlo Parks — what will it be?
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