The ORIGINAL HIPSTER does not wear skinny jeans. I wear prescription glasses of a normal size. I don’t care if you knew about it first (but most likely you didn’t).
I think trucker caps are ugly and unkempt beards and hair are unsexy. American Apparel is overpriced. PBR tastes bad.
I’ve quit smoking cigarettes, and I never rolled my own.
If your band has an animal in its name, there is a 97% chance that I have no interest in listening to your music.
I moved from Manhattan to East Williamsburg to Bushwick, but I still don’t wear skinny jeans. And I’ll never date anyone who does.
HOW THIS BLOG CAME TO BE
In 2007, I started writing freelance music journalism articles. It was great. And I still love writing about music. However, after a couple years (and after moving to New York), I started noticing a trend. Often, I’d pitch an idea to an editor, and I’d get one of two responses: 1) “No thanks.” or 2) “Maybe. We’ll keep you in mind for this.” A day or so later, I’d go on that publication’s website, and there would be the idea that I’d pitched to them–written by someone else.
Now, it’s possible that someone else had had the same idea. Someone who was an established freelancer for the paper or someone who was a staff writer. Or maybe a musician’s publicist succeeded in getting their attention better than I did. I can’t say for certain. But the frustrating thing was knowing that I had strong story ideas that publications were clearly interested in running; they just weren’t interested in running the story if it was written by me.
Meanwhile, I observed another annoying recurrence. Once in a while, I’d pitch an article and get a green light. I’d work my ass off writing the piece, taking pictures, interviewing musicians, and I’d stay up all night just to turn it in on time. And then I’d wait. And wait. And send a gentle reminder email to the editor. And wait some more. Until I realized that I’d been screwed, and not only was the article not going to run, I looked like a fan posing as a reporter to the artists I’d interviewed, AND I’d spent hours working on something that I was now not going to get paid for. This sucked. Big time.
And so I created a little website for myself called The Kill Fee, after the fee you’re supposed to get paid by a paper if your story gets killed. I’ve gotten a kill fee a couple times, and I’ve gotten screwed over many more times than that. The purpose of my website was to provide a place for my killed stories. All the work I’d put into them could at least be rewarded by an afterlife in a tiny corner of cyberspace. I soon learned, though, that most people outside of journalism don’t know what a kill fee is, so I started to rethink the name. Plus, to those familiar with the industry, “The Kill Fee” might have sounded so blatantly like sour grapes that I figured it was probably time for an attitude adjustment.
So I changed the name to Original Hipster. Hopefully the irony is obvious.
“Music cred” is frequently about who knew what first. Frankly I don’t care, unless it involves my getting passed over by an editor for an idea that I came up with before anyone else. There have been times when, a FULL YEAR AFTER I had pitched a feature to an NYC magazine or alt-weekly and had gotten a “no” response, the very same idea appeared on the front cover–written by someone else, naturally. To date, this has happened to me twice. Are editors consciously stealing my ideas and giving them to regular contributors? I doubt it. But the fact remains that, not only have I pitched some great stories that got shot down, I pitched them before they’d become major news. If the idea of journalism is to get a scoop, why do papers wait so long to publish something that’s newsworthy? It’s like they’re playing it safe; they seem unwilling to run a story until it’s already made the rounds on the blogs and the less prominent publications. Only then does it become news for the voices of authority–the Village Voice, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, etc.
I think that this habit of Manhattan-based publications, this attitude of “it’s not news until it’s already news,” is an utter waste of time. Moreover, it’s especially a waste of my time to try to get editors’ attention as a freelancer when the odds of their commissioning my ideas are slim to none and when the odds of my getting paid are just as bad. (Don’t even get me started on what some publications expect from “interns,” i.e., free, well-educated labor, or on AOL’s attempt to milk the masses for cheap content that they subsequently decide not to pay for, i.e., Seed.com.)
If I’m going to write for free, I’m going to write whatever I want. I’m going to do it on my own time, of my own initiative, on my own blog.
I’m going to own my ideas.