From that point on, I obsessed over the radio, rolling the dial up and down slowly and listening to every station. My likes and dislikes formed naturally, uninfluenced by anyone else. Then in 5th grade I discovered a couple kids that were just as bananas over Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands" and AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" as I was. How exciting to actually talk to my peers about something I liked and have them "get it!" That's when I started to receive confirmation and validation that I had damn good taste and a natural recognition for things that were "cool." I began to read music publications like Hit Parader, Circus & Creem magazines and confidently presented myself as a rock music know it all.
By middle school, I was so hungry for new music and had met a group of friends of the same mindset. One friend in particular, Mike, can be credited for turning me on to both Motley Crue and Metallica long before anyone in northern Indiana knew who they were. I eagerly lapped up anything he wanted to share with me. Guns N Roses, on the other hand was my own personal discovery during the summer of '87 and I spent the next 6 months or so telling everyone I knew that they had to check out this band because they were going to be the next big thing!! I was not only 2 steps ahead of my peers musically (thanks in part to Mike) but also fashion-wise as well. As a matter of fact, it drove me absolutely insane whenever I would come to school with some cool new accessory or fashion statement that I had visualized mentally and agonizingly sought out for weeks or months (in the days before you could find something instantly via the internet) and a week later, several others were copying my style. I realize now that's a huge compliment but it pissed me off to no end. Be authentic! Be original! At least be creative enough to conceal your fucking sources!
I've been wearing either vibrant colors or feathers in my hair since pretty much forever. I have Bohemian and rebellious hippie blood, an endless inner battle going on inside me between being "natural" and trying to make myself look on the outside like I feel on the inside no matter what the cost. A few years back, both unnatural vibrant hair colors and hair feathers became all the rage. The world had caught up to me. I was thrilled at first. Then I looked around and noticed that everyone including their 9 year old daughter and 80 year old grandmother either had pink/blue/purple hair or feathers clipped in. Of course, I immediately went back to natural hair and wore my feathers only on special occasions. Here's a tip: if it's cool with kids 12 and under, just stop because it's not cool anymore.
Flash back to the year 2000. I met these guys from a band called The Szuters. They were outstanding songwriters and dynamic performers and I was a massive supporter of their band. They eventually got a record deal, changed their name to Magna-Fi and toured with Ozzfest. At their CD release party, I had them sign a photograph for me. One of them wrote, "To Cari, always there before anyone else!" And that sums it up!!! It took me a while to understand what he meant, but once I did, it felt great to have this acknowledgment.
Being "cool" or being a "hipster" or whatever they decide to call it in the next decade, is about attitude, not fashion. That's right, attitude. When I was a teenager, people who dressed the part just to fit in were called "posers." (That's how we mis-spelled it.) They had no authenticity and didn't really "get it." Every generation will have them.
So, why do I even care? What good does it do me or anyone?
I wanted to be a leader but instead I got competitors. Now, I just want to be an example of a life lived with passionate integrity.
And yet, I remain a paradox.
I've spent my entire life searching for a place where I could fit in, be accepted and belong while at the same time fighting fiercely be different and set apart from average Joes.
I am...the original hipster.
And I was "Here Before You." *wink*