Palate Pleasures – Blink and you’ll miss it

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It’s hard to be hip. Well, I suppose it has always taken some sort of effort to be fashionable and current. Knowing which bands to listen to, books to read, haircut to get, clothes to buy (before anyone else has them) and places to be seen.

For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally, and for more than a few it doesn’t come at all! But, there’s a definite pressure to attempt to be ‘with it’, whichever age you are, from tween through to OAP.

You need to be quite dedicated to make the grade. Trends and fads move ever faster across the spectrum in this world of information OTT. You need to practically be psychic to pre-empt the latest and greatest before anyone else gets there. And how much time (or money!) does anyone have to devote to this pastime?

It’s hard work, that’s for sure, and frustrating to boot. It can almost seem that once you’ve got the object of your heart’s desire, that it becomes yesterday’s news and the next big thing emerges on the horizon. And of course, human nature being what it is, we’re never satisfied and once we acquire one thing, we naturally move on to the next pièce de résistance.

Such emerging ‘must haves’ are do-able to an extent when we’re talking about fashion, music and the arts. Relatively minor financial investments are incurred. With fashion, there are always cheap copies of designer labels, books can be borrowed etc. There are shortcuts to staying current in some ways.

That’s all very well, but what about when it comes to the places that we frequent when trying to being quintessentially hip?

There’s a certain scene built to house the up-to-the-minute folks. Bars, restaurants and cafés crop up as frequently in trendy urban areas as they disappear.

Recently on a trip to Sydney, I attended such an establishment (which will remain nameless). Location – inner city gentrified back street. Clientele – well put it this way, it was possible to count the patrons aged over 22 on one hand. Interior design – retro/kitch/distressed (or something like that). Service – sullen, bordering on rude, delivered by grungy yet highly attractive 18 year olds. Food – basically fast food. Drink – a couple of very strong frozen cocktails.
Conclusion – McDonald’s with Margaritas.

Some might say I’m past it and unappreciative of such a playground for the youth of today. But essentially to me, that is all that it was. All style, zero substance and certainly no soul.

Lots of perfectly coiffed and shod under 22s at a McDonald’s built just for them – careful ironic retro, top shelf spirits and lots of posing to boot.

It may be hip, it may be trendy, it may be so cutting edge it hurts but at the end of the day, it leaves me cold.

There is no magic, no warmth, and nothing genuine about such a place. The impermanence of it gives it a film set feel; the posiness of its patrons makes it seem like a crowd scene.

Will it still exist in 2 years’ time? Maybe, but the hip up to the minute crowd will have moved on and the place will have acquired a tired and jaded appearance.

Is it worth creating these fly-by-night meccas for fashion’s disciples? In a word: yes. Having the vision to tap into the next big thing means big bucks. The hungry hordes will gather and beat down the doors to get in, such is the need to secure a table at the place to be seen. The momentum may even last for a couple of years, but it will eventually dwindle and fade, and the trendy so-and-sos will have moved on.

Hipness indeed does have its place, but when it comes down to it, true longevity has nothing to do with fashion. It’s more about character and soul, humanity and love … and a smile never hurt anyone, that is for sure!

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