MIAMI --- Julie (not her real name) swore she wasn't being the least bit ironic:
"I'm actually going to vote this year, and I'm going to vote for The Big O!"
But were you even old enough to vote in the last election?
"No, but still."
It had to happen. After co-opting and cannibalizing every subculture history ever offered up to sacrifice, the hipster is now doing likewise with politics. The irony here is that there seems to be no irony at all, for when it comes to supporting Obama these hipsters actually mean it!
And if the above-mentioned exchange hints at a little misplaced indignation, hey, at least she's indignant! A year ago you'd be lucky to find a hipster even thinking earnestly about campaign politics, let alone participating in the process.
Take last Saturday night's DJ-soaked Spin the Vote, for instance. Hosted by a consortium that included a band of presenters called Poplife (Miami's pied-pipers of hipsterism), the noted DJ/Producer Arthur Baker (who's responsible for many of the songs hipsters shrug to), and field reps from the campaigns of Democratic congressional challengers Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez and Annette Taddeo, as well as a small swarm from Obama's Florida for Change office (disclosure: I helped too), the rally was a perfect example of hipsters shedding their apathy and actually getting involved in something other than books, film, art and music.
Okay, so the throng at downtown Miami's White Room did seem inordinately interested in the mix of the music (hey, it was Arthur Baker spinning!), and a couple paperbacks could be seen peaking out of a few vintage pockets (thankfully, none of them were titled Che), but, to quote the newly galvanized Julie, still. For once in their lives this cooler than thou crowd actually cared.
In fact, a pork-pie sporting man named Travis (another pseudonym) couldn't have cared more.
"I've been phone-banking for weeks," said Travis, as he placed an Obama button over a burn hole in a pair of impossibly skinny jeans. "And when I wasn't on the phone, I was on the street, knocking on doors --- in Hialeah!"
Hialeah? You mean the Republican-leaning city that's 98% Cuban? How did that go?
"At first they looked at us a little strange, but once we started talking to them things got friendlier, especially with the old folks. I think we reminded them of their grandkids!"
Did you talk about former Mayor Martinez?
"We did! We did!" continued Travis. "Do you know him? I heard he might be here tonight and I really wanna meet him!"
You want to meet the mayor?
"Yeah! He's cool!"
And if the earth still turned after that revelation, I didn't notice. Supporting Obama is one thing. But to have an old school Hialeah politico cause some artsy scenester to look up from his Chuck Taylors with a sense of awe and wonder, well, that's another thing altogether.
But the White Room rally was not the first time Miami hipsters have congregated on behalf of Obama and his ilk. Gemma, a semi-secluded hotspot on South Beach's Lincoln Road, has played host to no less than four campaign events over the past few months, including one where Howard Dean flew in to re-unite the party after those contentious primaries. A couple weeks ago Lolo and Jsin of the Little Haiti-based Sweat Records threw a Barack N' Roll Bake Sale + Voter Registration drive. And just last night the uber-hip Raleigh Hotel, also on South Beach, was the site of a campaign-affiliated party called Dance for Change.
Still, it was Saturday's inner-city mingle of Miami's most adamantly aloof which really seemed to indicate that more than a little change is a coming to the country. I mean, if Obama can get a gaggle of hipsters to drop the irony and the apathy, even for a night, there's no telling what other great things he'll be able to accomplish.
Now about that keffiyeh...
Top and bottom images by jipsy.