Daily Rumination No. 5: Hipster Bulbs

Hipster style continues to spread throughout Australian cafés and eateries, homogenising menus, decor and more. Where the egg was once king, avocado now rules supreme. Never has non-conformity been so mainstream.

In recent times, I’ve noticed the increasing installation of hipster ‘subway tiles’ as backdrops for café counters. Undoubtedly you’ve seen them before; they’re generally white with black grout, reminiscent of New York subway stations. Click here to view an example. In Australia, David Jones has even started using them in their in-store cafés and restaurants, elevating the horizontal tile to full-blown capitalist status.

Well, now there’s another new thing and I have decided to call it the ‘hipster bulb’. See the example in an image below, which my wife pointed out today.

This photo was taken in daytime and you can see quite clearly that the hanging light is surrounded by many more downlights above it, which whilst not as fashionable, offer vastly superior illumination.

So, in a room that has numerous windows (out of the frame) to allow natural light and also downlights for consistent indoor lighting, what is the purpose of this hipster bulb, with its space-encroaching shade and dangling cord? The only answer is wanky decoration.

You may ask why this is even worth consideration, let alone discussion on a blog. Whilst housed in attractive fixture and with a kind of industrial Edison chic, I argue that this hipster bulb contradicts the very values of pure ‘hipsterdom’. It’s there because it’s orange and interesting. To be a genuine hipster, one should shun that which is material and aim for only the bare essentials (which also often means being barefooted, unfortunately).

This hipster bulb is a useless extravagance to communicate the commercial brand of hipsterdom and is also, perhaps most importantly, a waste of energy. How can organic, gluten-free, vegan, renewable hipsters deal with this?

If you’re a hipster and you’re reading this now, I strongly encourage you to inspect the decor of your favourite coffee shop. If you see something that flies in the face of your all-natural, minimalist ideology, vote with your bare feet and have your single-origin latte with almond milk somewhere else.

Daily Rumination No. 4: Compound Modifiers

The hyphen is a punctuation mark that I think about fairly regularly and today was no exception. Many grammatical freaks fret about the misuse of semicolons and apostrophes—nearly all hope is lost for this mark for both possession and contraction—but the failure to use hyphens properly is perhaps even more worrisome.

Hyphens have a number of uses (including the connection of split words over lines in texts with full justification) and are not to be confused with em and en dashes. The particular usage that I wish to discuss now is for compound modifiers. Such modifiers consist of more than one word, which when combined by a hyphen, act as a joint adjective for a noun that follows. You can read a number of examples in my little picture at the top but here’s another one: ‘hairy-nosed wombat’. Which kind of wombat is it? It’s a hairy-nosed one.

The topic of the hyphen popped into my head whilst I was shopping at Aldi this morning with my wife, Natasha. As I looked around, I noticed multiple examples of missing hyphens, where they should been included to form compound modifiers. I decided to photograph and include some of them in today’s Daily Rumination.

Whilst all the signs that I shot are comprehensible without hyphens, they take on a different literal meaning. The strength of the hyphen is its ability to clarify what is being presented. Check out the examples.

Without hyphens to make ‘free-range’ and ‘cage-free’, this sign is ordering us to free the ‘range eggs’ and cage the ‘free eggs’. I’m not sure what the different is between a ‘range egg’ and a ‘free egg’, although I’m disturbed that we’re liberating one and imprisoning the other. This is pure, meaningless discrimination.

This should say ‘long-life milk’, however we’re either being asked to long for ‘life milk’, which must be the opposite of ‘death milk’, or the milk on display is somehow formulated to help us to live longer lives.

In this case, without writing ‘Award-winning’, someone or something called ‘Award’ has been winning all the frozen goods and Aussie classics at Aldi.

Here, we see books that should be labelled as ‘Learn-to-Play-Music Books’. Why? It’s because that is the type of book. Instead, we are instructed that we should be learning how to play a ‘music book’. I assume that it’s a type of instrument but rustling pages is hardly going to fill a concert venue and reach the nosebleed section.

Last but not least, this should say ‘Light-up’ but it doesn’t. It’s either telling us to set fire to the keyboard or the keyboard is encouraged to smoke a cigarette.

I think that it’s time for me to drop this topic; you get the point. The next time that you go shopping or out for a walk, rather than just looking for misplaced apostrophes, think about the poor hyphen too. It needs our help.