Adventures in
Hipster Profiling

Gordon Trubey songs

photos by Charles Silver (from Razor Hand video session)

by David Malitz
The Washington Post  •  July 9, 2008

I have a very special relationship with my Starbucks baristas. I go to the same store at the same time and order the same thing every day. They see me walk in the door and my drink is ready before I even get to the register. See, the "evil corporations" have a human side, too. Yesterday the customer / barista relationship took a new turn.

As I was paying, the barista said: "So, I have to ask, what are you listening to? You have those headphones on every day."

It's true, I have headphones on every day. And not lame ear buds, some seriously big Sennheisers that block out all other sound. My death will surely come by getting struck by an ambulance that I don't hear because I was listening to Mclusky way, way too loud.

Anyway, at that moment I was listening to an especially obscure band, even by my standards, called the Dancing Cigarettes. So I just said something like, "Oh, lots of different stuff, it changes every day."

"Can I take a guess?" she said.



My heart sank. Is that really the vibe I'm giving off? That I'm listening to Radiohead? Just because I'm skinny and have disheveled hair and kind of ridiculous, oversized sunglasses, that means I'm listening to Radiohead? I was devastated and I stumbled a bit.

"Uh, no. I have some... issues with Radiohead."

"You do? Like what?"

I was doing my best to be polite here. Making enemies with the baristas at the Starbucks steps away from my apartment would be like that episode of "Seinfeld" when Elaine got her communist boyfriend blacklisted at Hop Sing's.

"Well, everyone thinks they're the second coming and really they're just another pretty good band." (That's me being extremely tactful.)

"But they're so brilliant!"

"Well, I guess they have some brilliant moments." (See above.)

"So who are some of your favorites?" she asked.

This is always a tough question for me to answer. If I say Half Japanese and the Silver Jews people think I'm some weirdo who listens to bizarre, offensive, ethnic music. (Only two-thirds true.) So I went with my old reliable response.

"Uh, Pavement?"

Actually, I said something stupidly condescending like, "this '90s band, Pavement" which was rightfully met with a slightly ticked off response of, "I know who Pavement is." Then I promised to bring in a playlist and scurried out before things got any more uncomfortable.

Selected Comments

You could have just said: "Dancing Cigarettes" after the preface of different stuff.
— Posted by: sock puppet / July 9, 2008 10:27 AM

Every time I see Dancing Cigarettes, they always play the new stuff and never play the hits.
— Posted by: Gary / July 9, 2008 1:41 PM

sounds to me like you worry too much about how hip you look to be hip. and if you can see "the human side" of starbucks then surely you can see the human side of radiohead. sock puppet is right, the correct answer was "dancing cigarettes".
— Posted by: stavros / July 14, 2008 1:38 PM

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