9/28/2014
Two elitist assholes in a coffee shop

Rainy and I were seated, comfortably, on the same couches where, over a year ago, we attempted to do Whipple. That time, though, it was nighttime. We had hospital food for dinner somewhere - this is not an exaggeration, and no, it's not as serious as it sounds - and then we found ourselves at a coffee shop for dessert. In my case, it's turtle pie, a good old reliable. In her case, some cheesecake, which she found too oily.

We were talking about blogs, specifically a concept she had years ago, one that didn't happen because other things got in the way. It's been at the back of our heads for the past few months, with sporadic conversations about what it would contain and who would write for it. Yes, I apparently do have the ability to dream further than my bounds. She will be a guest blogger. She will be a guest blogger. Mostly fantasy fulfillment, borne of my inability to work for a magazine that most of everybody reads. (Disclaimer: I do handle a magazine now. A trade publication. On a pro bono basis. That makes this off-tangent a hypocrite. It drives me crazy, but it is sort of attached to the day job.) The conversations got serious enough, at least to me, to the point that I told Rainy that if the project does happen, I'm pulling the plug on earthings!

And there's the rub. The whole fantasy fulfillment aspect meant the project was being filled with my ideas, and at one point I snapped and realized that, hey, this is Rainy's blog project, and I am just helping out! I mean, yes, I'm the guy who thinks like a magazine, but she's the one with the seed, and I'm just, to continue with the farming metaphor, fertilizer. Compost. Shit. Essentially.

"So what's your original idea again?" I asked her.

"It's a blog where I get to feature creative youth locally," she answered.

This idea, by the way, is years old. Since then, the whole idea of "creative youth" was tarnished, at least to me. "Hipster" lost its meaning, becoming just like any other half-effective slur, and "creative youth" took over. Everybody began to consciously move towards being different than everybody else, until everybody was "different" and that meant nothing anymore. ("Everyone's special, Dash." "Which is another way of saying no one is.") Now, you have to be doing something vaguely artsy - to be creative - to be considered different, and the mere fact that you're doing something vaguely artsy, regardless of whether it's inspired or just trash, is being bandied about. This is what makes me different from everybody else. Never mind that everybody creates something. It's all just an elitist construct, you know, because, think of it, isn't it convenient that our youthful more-or-less idols are rich people who are capable of absorbing inspiration through trips abroad?

And now there's an industry around it. No, I'm not referring to Thought Catalog and its ilk - it is, arguably, in the circle, but that's merely an entry-level job. You have this online magazine called Stache (this "bimonthly online magazine for the creative youth" has since, apparently, died) and this offline magazine called Scout (run by the Inquirer, but not by the same people as Stache, I think thankfully). I haven't seen the latter, since they're a free magazine that you only find in certain places, but I have read the former, and while flicking through their thought pieces teeming in irony and contempt, I went, "so what makes this so special?"

Nothing, the voice in my head answered.

So what makes this so special? I asked again.

Packaging?

Packaging. Alluring packaging. Stencil typography, handwritten typography, quirky illustrations, deep-ish headlines that hint at impeccable preferences and intellectual superiority. In marketing-speak, it's "aspirational". To someone jaded like me, it's utter bullshit. Yeah, indeed, what makes you so special? Oh, you know, we have money to buy a domain name and a web host, and we don't use it to write your usual travelogues or food blogs. This is aspirational enough, and people still making their way through who they want to be in life see it as an appealing thing to be. And there they go, wanting to listen to the same records as their idols, the same physical records as their idols, only they're not widely available here in Manila; the only way is vinyl, which means P2,000 records, not to mention kit that's both expensive and, to me at least, impractical. But, you know, exclusivity. Never mind that the records you're buying, taken from an assumed list of acts the folks at Karpos badly want to bring here, are arguably mainstream elsewhere. Allow me an elitist statement: Bastille is just the Britain circa 2014 version of Hale.

All I was telling Rainy was that, at this point, a blog solely focused on profiles of creative youth (I'm not putting that extra S, Anna) is not sustainable, considering we have our own lives to deal with. Sure, my ideas are also arguably elitist, arguably "we're different than everybody else" in feel, but at least you have the flexibility to swerve away from the quietly sneering attitude that permeate these representatives. (I try to do that on earthings! but, then again, I often doubt myself.) But at that moment, all that is irrelevant. I was, to quote Nia, "fired up," speaking loudly, relatively for a coffee shop, and there is no stopping me. Well, except for Rainy.

"'Yung babae sa tabi mo," she told me.

"What?" I answered.

"I-text kita."

There was this Caucasian woman, middle-aged, hair in between brown and blonde, waiting for her order. Unusually for a CBTL branch, the only drinks they had are variations of white chocolate and mocha - I don't know if it's port congestion or terrible supply chain management. She didn't have to wait so long, because she left after ten minutes or so, but she had to sit through my whole diatribe about the creative youth (still no S, Anna) and their "we're better than you" attitude.

"She's eavesdropping and rolling her eyes," the text message said.

I realized I couldn't make that whole diatribe in Filipino, a so-called jeje language that those kids wouldn't use because, you know, eww, so jeje.

I also realized I pretty much shot Rainy's idea down. I didn't mean to, but I did.

"Did I just act like a douchebag?" I asked her.

"No," she said, but I felt she was thinking otherwise.

Half an hour later, we decided to walk back to the car, but not before attempting to pass by the newly opened Pottery Barn branch - even if furniture is not in our future plans - only to be distracted by the sight of the Baskin Robbins booth. Oh, right, I told myself, they just opened here. So we went up, to a place the so-called cool people go to, and fell in line, and bought more dessert. The waffle cone is worth the upgrade.

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