Streets behind

Nowadays, it's not about whether you can write well, but whether you're street enough.

Dee introduced me to that term a few months back. Street enough. She never really needed to explain it to me; I just got what she meant. And since then, I've been using that term whenever applicable, thus that tweet I wrote last night.

It is true, after all. Nowadays it's not whether I can make sense of what I see, what I know and what I perceived, but whether if I'm savvy enough to actually be in a position to perceive these things. Nobody wants to understand anymore. Everybody just wants new things, new experiences - and the fact that it's novel and out there is enough to make it worth a check.

I'd usually dismiss it as shallow. Everybody wants to be on the cutting-edge, after all - joining a bandwagon is shunned, deeply shunned - and now, you can't exactly move forward if you're not cutting-edge. No look-in for those deeply stuck in the past, nor for those who aren't exactly comfortable with trying new things for the sake of trying new things. (I'm also counting those who are so cutting-edge they yearn for the old school.) Being up to date, being flashy, that's what matters now.

Sometimes, maybe often, I feel it sucks to be me. Here I am, a guy who knows what I'm good at - I'm probably overselling myself, but let's stick to the argument - and more often than not I'm overlooked for someone else who's, I don't know, a suave talker who's been out and about for two-thirds of his life. He's gone vacationing in Timbuktu and sampling exotic delicacies in Samoa (I don't know if that makes any sense) and maybe he's shagged a couple of teeners when he was new in high school, so yes, he's perfect. He may be stupid and shallow, but he has experience.

Or maybe I'm the shallow one? I write well. I won't humble myself this time. I write well. People say I write well. But this isn't enough, apparently. My knowledge of pop culture - one I only stumbled upon out of necessity - isn't enough, apparently. My ability to make sentences that put old tropes in a new light? Where's the substance in that? No, apparently I should have done weird things, classy things, cool things, perhaps at the expense of my education, or my principles, or my sanity. Only then can I get a look-in. Only then can I really be part of that select few who dictates what's on the zeitgeist.

I don't often talk about the people I look up to, but there are some. I'm not particularly sure who they are, but nonetheless I aspire to be like them. And then you learn that they studied in France, or wrote stories from war zones when they were 13, or learned the bass guitar at seven and was in a rock supergroup at 16. Okay, I'm exaggerating. They lived in the United States. They've gone to London on their own. They've watched revolutions of whatever sort unfold before them - in person, not on screen - and perhaps were involved in those.

Well, that doesn't happen to everyone. It's the sort of thing that just falls on your lap - and then they run away with it. Part of me thinks it's all down to my aversion to change, my insistence on staying in my comfort zone, but how would I know if nothing's ever dropped in my lap? No golden opportunities. Same goes with most of us, us who aspire to be up there, but don't get a chance, precisely because these chances only come to those who are already up there in the first place. Their status, apparently, makes them fresh and new and in, no matter what they do.

I'm complaining about these things again. Again, again, again. Nothing new, you'd say. I know. I've done this for ages, and it looks fine, but it gets tiring after a while.

And your responses...

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