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9/6/05 @ 02:58 am   
San Francisco lexicon
Current mood: embarrassed
Music: Robyn Hitchock, "Element Of Light"
ere's some words I've either coined or found useful to make sense out of what I've found in the Bay Area.

Counterconformist: someone who convinces themselves (and other counterconformists) that they are nonconformist by conforming to a set of fashions and sensibilities that run counter to those of the greater mainstream society. (cf. "Camp".) Counterconformists can be identified by their tendency to form countercultures, usually around real nonconformists, like snowflakes form around airborne dust particles.

Look for the genuine iconoclasts in your neighborhood. The counterconformists are the people clustered around them, who think that slavishly following a unique person's lead makes them unique too.

Punk: a particular counterconformist sensibility that originated with a handful of Sex Pistols fans who wore handkerchiefs on their heads at the very next show after guitarist Steve Jones wore a handkerchief on his head as a joke.

Tattoo: a permanent mark or image, similar to a cattle brand, that many counterconformists put on their skin so everyone can see what herd they're part of.

Parrot people: the counterconformists who are impossible to miss, with unnaturally bright multicolored hair, prominent tattoos, and shiny piercings (either visible, or hidden but loudly and often mentioned.) Parrot people believe that adhering to this uniform set of fashion conventions makes them more unique and individualist. Parrot people can typically be spotted by watching out for their garish thrift-store plumage.

Trivial Arts: the branch of the performing and visual arts that involves spending a fortune in time, effort, talent, and actual dollars to create something that doesn't matter. San Francisco has a thriving Trivial Art scene.

Margarine: my friend Zigmo, the funniest man alive, coined this one in high school to describe a certain sort of people we had in our class. I can't top his explanation of it: "The Margarine are... well... picture someone who stands out in a crowd. Now, just picture the crowd."

Blogorrhea: do I really need to explain this one? I'm sure I can't be the only person who's come up with this. The behavior it describes dates back centuries, to the earliest roots of the Information Revolution - I'm sure that back in the 1700's, when the ease and availability of the printing press made printing flyers a huge fad, and everybody had a leaflet to distribute expounding their views, somebody must have coined the term "flyerrhea".

Heteroflexible: I didn't coin this one, but boy has it come in handy since I hit the west coast. Heteroflexible behavior is characterized by someone's highly vocal, vehement insistence that they are homosexual, and by how totally not surprised you are when they then settle down into a long-term relationship with someone of the opposite sex. (Sometimes they practice for this beforehand by screwing members of the opposite sex all throughout their claimed 'homosexuality'.) This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the coin you're on: I've been both the frustrated pre-switcheroo rejectee and the delighted beneficiary of the heteroflexible "Yes I'm gay, oops! now I'm not" about-face. As one formerly heteroflexible friend explained to me, after we finally succumbed to the silent battle of hormones that had raged any time we were in a room together throughout her years of loudly-proclaimed lesbianism: "Oh, I grew out of that." Sweet.

Bonus points if you're on the losing end of the coin toss, but you find out that while they weren't into you because they were 'gay', they were heterosexual enough to fuck your friend. And your boss. And your other friend.

OK, that was a low blow. Sorry.

Camp: word used to describe the creative output of people who know they don't have the talent to create good art, so they create bad art on purpose instead. I guess elevating lack of talent to an aesthetic does real well for some people's self-image. Camp is a big favorite among certain counterconformist types.

Camp has a second, related, meaning: Take something that is total crap, and add 20 years to give the people who were children when it came out time to develop a disposable income, and it's camp. You may not have any problem with this, but wait until it's 2015 and and all the hipsters are into the Billy Bass and "Achy Breaky Heart". Then tell me what you think.

GOAT: Girlfriend Onceupon A Time. For when calling them an "ex" just doesn't cover it. (Hey - I don't mind if they call me a BOAT.)

The "consolation prize": When someone beautiful tells you they "like you too much to sleep with you." Great.

California: the act of telling someone something false as if it's definite, without the least bit of regard for the truth, like it doesn't matter or something. "I knew we should have asked someone else how to get there, that guy totally california'd us on the directions." "We had plans for Saturday night, but she california'd me on them and I spent the whole night at home waxing my duck." The reason I live in San Francisco is to make sure I get my life quota of this.

Costume: a conjunction of the Early English words "conform" and "buffoon". I once saw a guy show up at an Edwin Gorey-themed costume party dressed as Tigger from Winnie The Pooh. (No joke, this really happened.) Behind his back, he was widely ridiculed by the other partygoers, because while he had excelled at the "buffoon" part of "costume", he had failed miserably at the "conform" part.

"Costumes" are often confused with "disguises", but the difference is that a good "disguise" fools people, thus risking the wearer not being recognized as conforming adequately, or as being a buffoon.

"Sweet Grapes": A phrase I use to describe the irrational, desperate desire to always believe that everything is just great. This term stems from an old fable about a fox who tried very hard to get some grapes that were hanging on a high branch above his head. The fox jumped and jumped and reached real hard, and just when he was ready to give up, he caught the branch and pulled the whole bunch of grapes down.

Feasting on the grapes, he said "Mmmmm! These grapes are absolutely delicious!"

A parrot flew down. "Try some of these grapes!" said the fox.

"Mmm-hmm! These grapes are great! I love them!" said the parrot.

Just then a skunk, who went to a lot of events with the fox and the parrot, walked over. "Hi," said the fox, "have some of the grapes I picked! They're amazing!"

"Thanks!" said the skunk. "What a good friend the fox is," he thought. His lips puckered slightly as he bit into a sour, too-hard grape.

"Wait a minute," said the skunk, "these grapes don't even taste that good."

"I think they're delicious!" said the parrot.

"I love them!" said the fox.

"Isn't it great to live in a city where we have such great grapes?" said the parrot.

"They're not even ripe yet. They're inedible." said the skunk.

The fox and parrot then said the skunk was too negative, and stopped calling him.

Futility circuit: a series of bars that you wander all night, by yourself, from one to the next, as if you expect to find something. Where the fuck is everybody?

Futility Fridays: a weekly ritual, back when I used to spent every Friday night on the Futility Circuit.

Defensive drinking: the drinking you do at a bar when you know your best friend might show up arm in arm with your "lesbian" heteroflexible GOAT later on. A quick duck out to do a short Futility Circuit can spare you the embarrassment of them showing up and seeing you before you're completely drunk.

Window shopping: Admiring women in a bar who you're too chickenshit to go up and talk to. No shame in that, as long as you're honest with yourself about it. This is California, after all - free to be you 'n' me. [NOTE: It's not 'window shopping' if you're just holding off on approaching until you have a few Manhattans in you. That's called 'stupidity'.]

The author wishes it to be known that any resemblances to persons living or dead are completely intentional, and if any of those people have a problem with it, I suggest they grow a sense of humor. It's satire, ok? If the shoes fits, baby... it doesn't mean that I don't love you.

You should have seen it before I edited the really nasty stuff out.

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Date:August 31st, 2005 03:54 am (UTC)


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Okay, I'm amused at the use of "California" as a verb.


P.S.: I want to meet the funniest man alive.

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Date:July 2nd, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
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I want the really nasty stuff!

p.s. The last time I was in the Bay Area (actually, Concord, but I won't name names), I watched a California'ing happen right before my eyes. Went to dinner with a friend & some folks he knew. They agreed to meet up after to watch TV at one of the friends' places. First, though we had to drop off my host's partner at home (he's not social). To my surprise everyone gets out of the car. Host gets on computer, picks up guitar, and ... *boink*! An hour and a half go by as I wait to see what happens. Hesitantly I ask whether we're still going over to the friend's place. "Oh, yeah, well, it's kind of late..."

California'd. Right before mine eyes.
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Date:August 21st, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
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Heh. Yep, it's an endemic problem.

By the way, Half, why don't you get an LJ account so you can at least leave comments without making us run a Whois to find out who it was?
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