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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cup O’Joel: College freedom breeds new identities

August 11, 2007

Find Cup o' Joel online at <a href="http://blogs.lawrence.com/mathis">blogs.lawrence.com/mathis</a>.

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Welcome to Lawrence, Class of 2011!

Now that you're free of the stifling, repressive prisons you called "home" for the first 18 years of your life, you're naturally going to want to do some experimenting with that newfound freedom. Most of you will find the limits of that freedom at 2 a.m. on Massachusetts Street, screaming out phrases like "Wooo! WOOOOOOOO!" for no other discernible reason than that you're young and alive and surrounded by other young and beautiful people. Or that the Jayhawks have made it to the Final Four.

Some of you, though, will try on new identities - and in the course of adopting the clothes and lifestyles that go with those identities, will pose for many photos that will prove your utter coolness now, but will make you cringe ... oh, about the time your kids are old enough to get curious about your past.

It'll happen. Trust me.

But here's the thing: You can't think about that future embarrassment now. You've got to go ahead and embrace the new lifestyles and let old farts like me make fun of you for it. That way you can roll your eyes and mutter about how us older folks just don't get it.

Ready? OK. Since you're in Lawrence, you're going to have two major options: hipster or hippie.

Now to be honest, the hipsters are in ascendancy around Lawrence these days, having wrested the baton of cultural supremacy from the hippies sometime back in the 1990s. But the hippies, like patchouli-soaked cockroaches in the aftermath of a nuclear war, have survived to keep drum circles and jam band festivals alive and thriving around town.

The hipsters, meanwhile, have started a lot of great bands. Or have friends in lots of great bands.

Deciding which lifestyle to choose must be done with great care. It will affect the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, the friends you have and, in some extreme cases, your hygiene.

Do you like skinny jeans? Be a hipster.

Tempted to grow some dreadlocks? You're a hippie.

Like your cologne made by Calvin Klein? Hipster. Out of natural herbs and oils? Hippie.

Do you enjoy the taste of hummus? Actually, this one could go either way.

Do you like 17-minute-long songs featuring 20-minute-long guitar solos? While dancing in a noodley circle? Hippie.

Would you rather stand perfectly still at a concert, perhaps bobbing your head but otherwise refusing to betray any enthusiasm? Hipster.

Do you choose your beer based on the maximum combination of irony and cheapness? Hipster.

Do you have a deep suspicion of any music made after 1972? Hippie.

I could keep going, but you get the idea.

Truth is, this town is big enough for both hipsters and hippies - and, in a lot of cases, is a little more interesting because both groups are here.

What's more, once you've made a choice, there's no saying you can't change your mind. You're in college! Try on as many identities while you're here as you can, until you settle on the one that suits you. It'll be hard for you to find another time in your life when you can get away with it without being in the throes of a midlife crisis. So have fun.

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