Hipsters are dead. RIP.

Put away your Pabst Blue Ribbon, the hipster movement is dead.  That’s right, you heard it here first.  That über cool slightly retro, slightly grunge style of those trendsetting 20 somethings is over.

What exactly is a hipster?  The HipsterHandbook tells us a Hipster is:  “One who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool. (Note: it is no longer recommended that one use the term “cool”; a Hipster would instead say “deck.”) The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream.”

For the past decade the hipster movement has been gaining momentum.  From canned beer wielding bike messengers in Portland to Williamsburg, Brooklyn they have been multiplying like wanna-be bunnies.  And that, like all trends, is their downfall.  What was once a counterculture movement of individual style and flair has become mainstream.  Where you used to have to go into a grungy old thrift store to find your epilated short sleeve plaid button downs now there are stores dedicated to bringing  us brand new newsboy caps.  Even those beloved thrift stores are moving from the back ally to main street.

Now this doesn’t mean you are going to stop seeing hipsters walk among us. In fact you are going to see more of them as the masses embrace and assimilate their culture and that is their downfall.  For to be a hipster screams of wanting to belong to a group by not belonging to the mainstream group.  Remember those Ed Hardy and Affliction shirts that were so omnipresent two years ago.  What was once cool and different found its way into the mall and onto John Gosselin’s bloated back and we all suddenly realized how uncool they had become (well everyone but the cast of The Jersey Shore and their brethren).

So sit back and enjoy watching little Billy down the street parade by in his rolled up pants legs showing off those ratty old socks and know that the hipster movement, by their own rules, is dead.


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Good Nut of the Day: Target Protesters

Todays Good Nut of the Day award goes to the group of protestors in Minnesota who are holding Target accountable for its donations to a political group backing candidate Tom Emmer (R).  The $150,000 donation was made to MN Forward which has been supporting Emmer.  Emmer has publicly come out as a strong opponent of gay marriage as well as taking a tough stance on immigration issues.

A Facebook page supporting a boycott of Target has already gathered 54,000 fans.  Target’s donation comes on the heals of a recent Supreme Court decision that allows  companies to make political donations.  Target has apologized and said they will re-examine their donation policies. 

What is the lesson here, perhaps companies should keep business and politics separate if they do not want to alienate large segments of their customer base.  With all of the campaign finance issues that arise when business interests appear to try to curry favor through donations maybe the smartest companies will decide to focus on their customers instead of politics.

So to those concerned citizens who organized, spoke up and held one of our large corporations accountable for their actions, a good nut to you.

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The worst show on TV

What is the worst show on TV?  Without question, Nancy Grace.  Even with hundreds of channels to choose from and endless hours to fill, no show stands up to Nancy.  This awful, awful excuse for a human being should be banned from television.  Anything that would shut her up would be welcome.  Not only does Nancy berate her guests, she attacks and dresses down her own correspondents.  She behaves like a petulant child, cutting off the mic of anyone who strongly disagrees with her. 

Nancy’s track record is questionable as well.  She has been repeatedly accused of prosecutorial misconduct and was even cited by the Georgia Supreme Court for “inappropriate and illegal conduct in the course of a trial”.  She has been implicated in the suicide of Melinda Duckett.  She tried and convicted the Duke lacrosse players of gang rape on national TV only to have them found innocent and the prosecutor in the case disbarred.  She plagiarized in her book.  The list vile half-truths and mistakes that have flowed from her lips is far to long to list.

Nancy Grace represents all that is wrong with our country.  It doesn’t matter if you are conservative or liberal, republican or democrat, christian, jewish or muslim.  Every person should detest her excuse for journalism.  It’s not journalism.  It’s not even entertainment.  Even calling it trash is to good of  a term for what Nancy puts this country through. 

Just do the right thing, turn off the channel.  Refuse to watch her.  If you feel the need to do more, write the companies that advertise on her show and tell them you will no longer use their products and services so long as they advertise with Nancy.  Lets do all of us a favor and refuse to wallow in muck with Nancy. 

And to Nancy Grace herself, we give the bad nut of the day.

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Cancell the 14th amendment?

The latest and greatest idea coming out of Washington, do away with article one of the 14th amendment.  That would be the part that says if you are born in the USA you are a citizen.  Everyone on both sides of the aisle agrees that there are problems with our borders and immigration.  But in usual hyperbole, some of our esteemed Senators and Representatives are now blaming the desire to have an “anchor baby” as the newest cause of our economic downfall and calling for a Constitutional change.

“We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally, and you have a child, that child is automatically not a citizen.”  That gem comes from Sen Lindsey Grahm R-SC as does “We can’t just have people swimming across the river having children here”.  It seems that the rest of the Republican party is lining right up besides him calling for a Constitutional overhaul. 

So the new approach to solving problems in Washington is to remove any part of the constitution that supports an issue you disagree with.  Very nice.  Nothing to squirrelly about that.  By that reasoning if enough people want to do away with gun ownership we can just drop off the 2nd amendment.  Don’t like drinking, abstain from the 21st amendment.  Where do we draw the line?  Have we really resorted to becoming a society that instead of debating our problems and making tough compromises to improve situations, we jump to extremist solutions.  Aren’t we fighting a couple of wars against extremist ideals?  Then again if we don’t like that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces we can just remove that little detail from the Constitution as well.

To our duly elected officials who are wasting their and our time and resources on this ridiculous issue, you are our bad nut of the day.

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Shortees – episode 1

While The Squirrelologist covers many topics, one near and dear to my heart is my other company,  Shortees.  Over the next few months here at The Squirrelologist I am going to tell the long, often sad and frustrating tale of how Shortees developed.  I will also report on how things are currently going, what is working, what is going wrong and how much hair I have left.  So without further ado, I present the story of Shortees……

Episode 1:  The 90’s were coming to and end and as we moved into the early years of the noughts, men’s fashion was making a shift.  Shirt tails were coming out all over.  Dress shirts were hanging loose, casual shirts were going crazy with stripes and designed never to be tucked in and the ubiquitous t-shirt was free to flap in the wind.  It was  great time for all of those shirts that longed to live a untucked lifestyle.  All of those shirts except for those that belong to short men.  Those shirts, those poor shirts were doomed to a life of being neatly tucked in.  Never to flow casually and comfortably over the belt.  And why?  because of a conspiracy perpetrated by a secret society consisting of Levi Strauss, Armani and Lacoste?  No.  Simply because no manufacture thought it was necessary to make shirts designed for shorter men.  Their answer, buy a smaller size.  Well if you have ever seen a grown man with a physique larger than a prepubescent girl or god forbid, a beer belly, then you know how ridiculous that solution is for the majority of shorter men.  Yes some can comfortably fit into a small but that is still a tiny percentage of short men.  And even then, the length of those smaller sizes are far to long to be untucked.

Like many men in their late 20’s I had a stack of t-shirts in my closet almost as tall as I am.  They were the main item in my wardrobe.  Go to dinner, put on a nice t-shirt.  Go to lunch, put on a t-shirt.  Run errands, put on a t-shirt.  Have a hot date with the newest Victoria’s Secret lingerie model, put on a clean t-shirt.  That my work consisted of  running fitness departments in health clubs and personal training meant that dressing up for an important day required putting on a polo shirt instead of a t-shirt.  Like so many other men my height (a dynamic 5’51/2″, don’t forget that half-inch, it’s the last half-inch that counts) I longed to be able to wear my shirts untucked.  It was a constant point of frustration.  Shopping was something I avoided as much as possible not just because of a natural Y chromosome based dislike of shopping but because it was next to impossible to find anything that fit.  I was living a life of quiet fashion desperation. 

Flash forward to 2002, 2003 and 2004.  My evenings were filled with classes on accounting, marketing and finance. I was working towards an MBA while holding down my day job.  Every night I was either in class or sitting at my desk at home doing homework.  My friends had come to expect that I would be out of circulation for months at a time and when the semester ended I was ready for the beer to flow, at least until the next semester started.  While in school I sat through a number of courses on entrepreneurship and new venture formation.  As I was constantly inundated with ideas about how to go about creating the next great American company one idea stuck in the back of my head, pain.  Not physical pain but the pain of having a problem without a solution.  Find someone’s pain and figure out how to solve it and maybe, just maybe you may have the basis for a successful business.  Now at the time my thoughts were solely focused on the fitness industry.  I had spent my entire career in either sports medicine or fitness and didn’t see myself doing anything else.  The hours were flexible.  The atmosphere easy-going and pleasant and there was opportunity for the right person with the right idea.  Even the MBA program I choose was one that would allow me to continue to work throughout school without any concern for the reputation of the program and how it would impact my job recruitment chances.  I was sure that I was going to work for myself and I was in school to develop some new tools. Not to get a job. 

August of 2004 came and went and I completed the program and received my degree.  Finally, 9 years after I moved to California to pursue a different masters degree I could add those extra initials after my name (my parents were so happy).  In the fitness world everyone loves listing every degree and professional credential they have after their name.  It’s a non-stop contest over who can have the most initials on their business card.  At the time I was working for a friend of mine, acting as business manager for his physical therapy and fitness company.  We had opened a second clinic and a stand alone fitness center and I had joined the company to provide some structure to their business practices.  At the same time I continued to operate my own small personal training company, Sky Fitness, on the side.  While all was good, I knew that I wanted to earn more and needed to start my own company in some field that had high earning potential.  I had spent almost a decade living in Silicon Valley and watching the technology sector and the web grow into the behemoth it is today.  Every day there were stories in the newspaper about new companies or how someone had hit it rich with their great concept for a web-based business.  It was around this time that I started thinking about how I was going to finally get ahead in the world. 

I started developing a list of different business ideas.  Every crazy concept that I could come up with.  For almost two years I thought about different business.  Analyzing how successful the idea could be.  Could I afford to start it?  Could I run it?  Was it scalable?  Did it stand up to the analysis I head learned to put new venture ideas through?  On that list of ideas was one that was undecidedly low tech, t-shirts.  T-shirts for short guys.  I had thought about my pain.  The desire I had to wear a shirt untucked and the problems I had when shopping for anything other than underwear or socks.  As other ideas fell to the wayside one after another, there was this one idea that wouldn’t go away.  This one idea for a business that stood up to every criteria a successful venture needed to stand up to.  The idea for Shortees.

In January of 2006 I made the decision to try to start Shortees.  Would I just buy shirts from a distributor and hire a seamstress to cut and hem them?  It seemed like an easy and logical solution.  I started looking for help on Craigslist.  Replying to posts for seamstresses and getting prices.  It soon became clear that it would either be too expensive to do things this way or it would be logistically next to impossible to find the right people who could handle the necessary volumes.  The answer was going to be manufacturing my own shirts.  Not knowing anything about the apparel manufacturing industry I was a little lost.  Somewhere along the way I had learned about American Apparel.  A little basic research on their website showed that they could do custom manufacturing.  I quickly sent off an email asking about this service and a few days later I learned that they required a minimum of 5000 units to fulfill an order and the cost was far more than I could come up with at the time.  Before my idea even had a chance to get off the ground, we were dead in the water. 

Keep checking back for the next installment of the Shortees story.

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Even baby chipmunks love The Squirrelologist

Yes chipmuks are part of the squirrel family and they love The Squirrelologist

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Something is amiss at HP.

Jodie Fisher

By now you’ve probably heard the news.  Hewlett-Packard CEO, Mark Hurd has resigned over a sexual harassment scandal.  That sounds pretty cut and dry, and that is just the problem.  Something about this entire situation reeks of cover-up.

HP claims that Hurd’s departure is not because of an impropriety with his accuser, Jodie Fisher.  His departure is due to false expense reports and his failure to live up to HP’s ethical expectations.  Anyone buy that?  Fisher has retained the services of the always non-squirrelly Gloria Allred, has already accepted a private offer from Hurd and fervently denied any sexual relations took place.  Sounds like someone took a page from the Tiger Wood’s playbook of how not to deal with a sex scandal.  Pay big, pay fast and require total silence. 

When is the last time someone hired Gloria Allred and they weren’t looking for a payoff, book deal or movie of the week?  Have we forgotten that it was only in 2006 that the HP board was embroiled in a scandal involving spying on  reporters and directors phone records, forcing the resignation of then board chairwoman Patricia Dunn.  Does HP really have ethical standards that would force out a CEO who has overseen a $41 billion increase in the market value of the company.  A 38% increase in market value since Hurd took the reigns to $108 billion, making HP the worlds largest technology company.  In just the last day the value of HP has dropped 8%, almost $10 billion.  That makes the truth behind the Hurd/Fisher/HP scandal a  matter of public interest. 

Now don’t feel bad for Mark Hurd.  In addition to the tens of millions of dollars Hurd has already earned at HP, he is in line for $12.2 million cash in severance payments and another $25 million worth of stock, at today’s prices.  Maybe this was just an exit strategy for Hurd.  Maybe the truth about his actions was so damming that it was worth it to everyone to pay off Fisher and distance Hurd as fast and far as possible from HP?  Maybe we will never know but of this we can be sure, something is rotten at HP.

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