New York City, baby.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The rickety sidewalk tree structure supported our asses, which were probably a few years too old to be outside this show. The headliner? A quirky acoustic singer known as The Mountain Goats.

Nonetheless, we waited outside the entrance of the Knitting Factory, trying to spot someone along the brick-faced street with a ticket to sell us.

My friend noted that the girls were young, but were put together in a way that would make you think they were older. He had read somewhere that the name for this emerging species of Manhattan female was a kitten. "Young is the new old," my friend concluded.

We were fascinated by this new incarnation of youth displayed around us on the sidewalk.

This was as close to “counter-culture” as you could get and still there was a sense that the clothes, the style, the love for The Mountain Goats – it was simply a way for insecure misfits to get laid, have friends through supposed-indifference; a cool-looking, but rather culture-supporting social class, nothing more than a mirror to the far more popular scenes at their high school, colleges, first New York jobs.

The look: it wasn't quite hipster or mod or bohemian, and banished were the eighties touches, the scruffy dirtbag quality, the electroclash strokesyness.

The style was clean, quiet, sharp, innocent. Nostalgic but not vintage. Faded but not worn. It had the feel of life before LSD; this was a world of amphetamines and tailored skirts and Port Huron Statement slacks. This wasn't 1976, it was 1963.

Holy shit! Three hours standing around like idiots -- for what? effing Mountain Goat tickets? -- it suddenly made sense. This is why we came.

We figured out what this was -- the girl eating her dinner from a Tupperware container ("babaganoush is the new cocaine," pronounced my friend); the guy bringin' it back home in the sheep-skin collared jacket as he talked on his T-Mobile; the girl in the cute psychedelic, but conservative white and green-turquoise school outfit; the shoe-gazing kitten in the rainbow sweater shall and form-fitting jeans; the dude who was part John Kerry student protest look, part Wilco, part Mid-West basketball player.

This, people, was Wonder Years Chic. Yes, now you can rest easy, as shall we.

All we needed to do was realize we were surrounded by a hundred Winnie Coopers, all too fine too last, and the universe was happy to reward us with tickets to the show.

We scored them not from the shoe-gazing kitten, but a dull-looking guy who, with his mid-thirties 9-to-5 stench, looked even more out of place than us.


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