Friday, November 09, 2007

More Nerd News in Brief

A lot of people who happen upon this blog or the podcast or the HP MySpace tend to assume that I refer to myself as “Hipster,” and they generally address me as such. Let me clear that one up right now; honestly, folks, I’m just Z. Hipster, please! is the name of the site.

I’m actually not a hipster. I’m not cool in the slightest. I’m pretty much a huge dork.

The name originally came about as an inside joke, and then became relevant when hipsters began adopting elements of nerd culture into their uber-ironic styles of dress. Like so many things I do, it was supposed to be funny… but no one really gets it.

For more information on hipsters, check your local library. Or just cut through the bullshit and peep Hipster Hunter. It’s funny because it’s true.
  • Where my chemists at?: The big talk between Church, Matt, and me over the last couple of days has centered on a number of narcotics related stories, but none so bizarre as this one. Apparently a popular Australian toy turns into GHB when ingested. The fuck?! My prediction for next week: Ketamine found in glow-in-the-dark Play-Doh. You heard it here first.
  • More than condoms, gun control, and Bill O'Reilly: Boston’s Weekly Dig has an… oddly aggressive piece up about our beloved MC Frontalot. Schaffer the Darklord and mc chris are both mentioned in passing, and designations like “backpack battlecats” and “roughneck gat-clappers” are bandied about like so much hateful confetti. Plus, it includes the phrase “socially retarded,” just in case you’d finally started to feel good about yourself.
  • Ego trippin’: While looking for totally unrelated information, I stumbled across a blurb about nerdcore at hip-hop marketing blog ProHipHop from earlier this year. Writer Clyde Smith took some time to relate his thoughts on the relative importance of The White Rapper Show versus both nerdcore hip-hop documentaries. Smith even makes the astute observation that “nerdcore appears to be an authentic representation of a subculture that's going to do its thing regardless of what the so-called hip hop community thinks.” How the fuck did I miss this until now?
  • You awaken in a large complex: Have you ever thought that Pac-Man would be way better as a text adventure game? Of course not. No one has. And yet, it exists. Thank Church when you’ve wasted your lunch hour on this farcical venture.
  • Wrock around the clock: Wizard Rock also got some love this week, in the form of Wrock-themed edition of Webzine Brown Paper Bag. Personal favorites The Remus Lupins, The Whomping Willows, and The Moaning Myrtles are all represented, as well as at least one Wrock outfit who doesn’t begin with a definite article. Thanks Professor Trelawney and Her Crystal Balls!
  • Kill him first!: Nerdcore MC and fervent Radio Free Hipster supporter Captain Spalding has a new song about Team Fortress II available on his MySpace. Strap on your healing gun and enjoy.
  • The artist formally known as friendly: Prince hates you. He honestly hates you. How dare you display his likeness on your meager fansite! How dare you post the lyrics to “Erotic City.” How dare you, y’know, talk about how you dig his music and shit. For shame! Glenn, I’m afraid he’ll be coming for you soon enough.
  • Can you feel the love tonight?: Dan recently posted a link to a Grand Buffet interview from The San Francisco Station in which member Lord Grunge claims the group “invented [the nerdcore] genre 10 years ago with [their] first record.” Of course, he’s thrilled about this, going on to say: “I know for a fact that we influenced some of the people that went on to make some of the worst music in the fucking world. I’m not proud of it, but fuck it, there are way worse things out there than shitty nerd rap. I’m not psyched about it. Call us the biggest poser, limp-dick half-assed rappers, but don’t call us nerdcore.” How lovely.
  • The nerd herd: YTCracker, MC Frontalot, MC Router, mc chris, and an ass-load of other artists got namedropped in XLR8R magazine last month. The piece touches on the ever-sticky topic of what is nerdcore, and goes on to interview Nerdcore Rising director Negin Farsad.
  • Pancake makeup and meditation: I know this one’s a month too late, but Church hipped me to a new self-help book for the living impaired and those who’d like to emulate them. Watch the zombie yoga bit and try not to feel inflexible and downright un-centered. I dare you.
  • DMC got straight A’s too: Matt presented this one to me as the world first nerdcore hip-hop track. I’m not sure if I wholly agree with that summation, but it is truly a thing of beauty. Here’s hoping Mos Def will pop up on The Wiggles to teach my kids how to conjugate verbs.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

I received a copy of Guitar Hero III for my beloved Nintendo Wii just a couple of days after launch. (I, like all the other good CAGs, pre-ordered directly from Red Octane.) I’ve played previous titles, but this is the first time I’ve actually purchased the game myself. There really is something to be said for being able to get your GH on at the drop of a hat; it’s simply liberating!

It seems like whenever I pick up that controller I learn something about myself. The first day I realized that I never feel more at peace than when I’m rocking out to Social Distortion’s “Story of My Life” in my underwear. True story. And last weekend I suddenly became aware that I remember “Welcome to the Jungle” almost note for note after not hearing in its entirety for well over a decade.


I’m not what you might call a “serious” Guitar Hero player, but they’re out there. Hell, Church even found this blog that an ethnomusicologist named Kiri Miller uses to research the title’s place within the echelons of videogame music. It’s a damn fine read, so check it out.
  • Rock out with your Hawk out: MC Hawking got some well deserved love in a recent Boston Globe article about nerdcore hip-hop. MC Frontalot, YTCracker, and Monzy also got the nod, and the piece ends with an odd juxtaposition of mc chris’s fear of being lumped into the group and MC Lars’s fervent defense of the intrinsic importance of just “picking up a mike and rhyming over a break beat.” Personally, I was always under the impression that the shortened form of the word microphone was mic. Thanks for setting me straight, Boston Globe!
  • So it’s that kinda thing: According to, well, damn-near everybody, Ron Paul is down for the nerd vote. I came upon this Time magazine piece last week, and when I mentioned it to Church and Matt, they pointed me toward this vid posted over at Nerd Arts. And then there was this post from YTCracker about the Paulnomenon. So apparently Ron is one of us. And all this time I just thought he was some old guy with two first names!
  • Probably a much better idea: We talk a lot around Hipster, please! about nerd ink, so imagine my surprise when Church found these fake geek tattoos. If your nerd pride has a definite shelf-life, these are much simpler to remove than the real thing.
  • Arkansas Traveler: Last month, southern gamer rockers The One-Ups got some sizable press from MSNBC. The piece doesn’t touch so much on VGM as a movement as the band themselves, but The One-Ups definitely deserve the pop. Unfortunately, it seems they don’t do bat mitzvahs. :(
  • Peeing in the sink: MC Lars has recently graced the world with a poetry book. Bukowski in Love and Other Poems is available through Lars’s own merch store, and he even provides a few excerpts for the discriminating buyer.
  • Westway to the world: While MC Lars in embarking on a tour of the UK this month, mc chris is spending his November in the southeastern and Great Lakes regions of these United States. Info for both should be available at your one-stop shop for nerdy gigs Stop Standing Still.
  • His name is Mark, so it’s actually quite clever: Also on the gig front, there are still a few dates left in the MC Frontalot/Schaffer the Darklord tour. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to pick up a copy of STD’s newest disk Mark of the Beast. Once again, let me refer you to SSS for more details on venues and times.
  • To the Top: ZeaLouS1’s newest release The Living Epitaph has finally arrived! Peep Z1’s site for further info and previews of this album’s offerings. Or just wait for tracks to start popping up on Radio Free Hipster, which you can be damn sure will happen soon.
  • Dissecting the geek: Jason over at Geek Studies really gets around. Last weekend he went to an open casting call for Beauty and the Geek and the (somewhat regular event) Nerd Nite at Boston’s Midway CafĂ©. What nuggets of nerdy ephemera did he glean from these disparate journeys? Read for yourself.
  • Are you man enough?: I have heard hushed whispers and received furtively encoded messages that lead me to believe that Doctor Popular is planning something big. As near as I can figure it’s what they call a “12 Hour Music Project,” a musical ironman competition that challenges Djs and producers to create a set number of tracks within a very stringent set of mechanical and thematic constraints. I’ll be sure to pass on more info as it becomes available.
  • Steampunk laptop: Sometimes my ramshackle wit just fails to create a headline as interesting or ridiculous as the actual item to which I am referring. This is such an occasion.
  • I iz dead AND dreaming: A clockwork laptop is a tough act to follow, so let me close this long overdue edition of NNIB with my favorite new literary-centered Internet meme the lolthulhu. Cultists: he haz em.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Dance, dork, dance!

If the concept of nerd culture seems downright oxymoronical to you, chances are you’re not alone. To say that a nebulous classification of individuals renowned for their social ineptitude somehow has a shared set of customs or norms is a bit of a stretch to the outsider, but anyone familiar with the myriad of “styles” of nerdiness can attest to the fact that each possesses its own delicate community flavor, its own subtle social slant. It’s the overall framework of the greater “nerd tradition” that proves a bit more difficult to quantify.

If Hipster, please! has any underlying concept at all, it’s the idea that what it means to be a nerd is both wholly subjective and ever-evolving. Thankfully, I am not alone in the proposition of this fairly radical concept.

Jason of Geek Studies, for example, spends his time exploring not merely how nerds interact en masse, but also how modern geeks have come to proudly identify with a term that was once a badge of shame. Lev Grossman brings nerd issues from the BBS to the media forefront through his work with Time magazine, though that is often a thankless task indeed. Artists like YTCracker, Jesse Dangerously, and ZeaLouS1 even go so far as to force us to reconsider both how we view the nerd and how those who we once may've thought of as social outcasts have become such dynamic public personalities.

In short: I’m not alone in my quest. Hell, I’m not alone in this meager endeavor!

Though their names appear far less likely than they rightly should, Church and Matt have their fingerprints on practically everything that I do here at Hipster, please! From feeding me links for my regular Nerd News in Brief segments, to suggesting potential feature artists, to sharing with me geeky tracks from their personal collections for the podcast, Matt and Church – referred to collectively as The Lads – help to motivate me with content and with immeasurable moral support.

Matt has taken his love of geeky music and the people who make it a step further with his most recent venture. Motivated by a love of live music cultivated during his years in the jamband scene and the inspiring work of folks like Becky (from Becky’s Cool Music Stuff), Matt has recently launched a site simply dubbed Stop Standing Still. SSS is, by his own admission, “a listing of geek music concerts from all over the world,” but it’s actually much more. It’s a blank canvas on which memories are painted: recollections of road trips and new friends, spilt beer and haughty sound guys. More than anything, Stop Standing Still is about opportunities.

I’ve always been of the opinion that music was meant to be experienced rather than simply listened to, and the easiest way to experience your music is, as all of us crusty old ex-punkers like to say, to go to the show. Unfortunately, the musical element of nerd culture is also multifaceted and each individual component miniscule, particularly when compared to the extravagant buzz of more conventional events.

Matt’s remedied this by taking information on Wizard Rock, nerdcore, geek rock, chiptune, and game rock shows and compiling it into a single event calendar. When you have to check a dozen sites about info on two dozen bands (like a certain diminutive nerdy music blogger who shall remain nameless) it’s easy for a gig to slip your attention, but when you can see an entire month’s worth of shows from a multitude of acts and genres on a single screen things get significantly simpler.

The events are color-coded by musical theme – nerdcore, game-related music, Wrock, and other – but I urge you not to cherry-pick. This is your chance to experience both artists you know and to explore those you don’t with minimal effort, and I encourage you to do so. Matt’s doing the legwork in the name of the greater good for musical dorks everywhere, and your job is fairly simple.

But heading out to the shows is only part of your role in this brave new world of musical nerditude. If you’re a nerdy artist, keep the SSS crew abreast of you gig plans (be they local shows or a bona fide tour) by hitting ‘em up at matt AT stopstandingstill DOT net, and encourage other acts to do the same. If you’re a regular nerdy concert goer who’d like to share show impressions of help out around the farm, give Matty a holler at the same. But most importantly, when you do make it out to your gig of choice, don’t just fuckin’ stand there. Dance. Yes, you’re gonna look like a total geek. That’s sort of the point.