Week 5: Delayed Gentrification and Earning Panhandler Money

I forgot to post for Week 4 literally because I drank too much. On the day I usually tinker with the blog, I got drunk instead. By the time I recovered, I thought I had actually written a post, not realizing my mistake until days later.

I can no longer sink deep into my cups for a prolonged period of time. I just can’t hang.

I’m only thirty-two but it’s an old thirty-two. Don’t judge. Have YOU ever strung together an iron man streak of fifty consecutive Sundays at Dollar-Pint-Night? No? Then shut up.

Moving on to my…MONTHLY WRITING INCOME.

I EARNED PANHANDLER MONEY.

I made zero dollars. I’d be better off selling newspapers on a street corner, charging an extra quarter for stolen pencils so my customers could complete their crossword puzzles.

Who am I kidding? I’m not man enough to steal pencils. I’d never make it in that business.

However, I did sell a copy of the Wigwam and another copy of “Space Potatoes.” Since I didn’t get a royalty statement yet, I’m not counting either sale. It might only have brought in enough money for me to purchase a crappy candy bar — perhaps a melting Peanut Chew that slid between the racks at Family Dollar — but it’s still something.

I’m just not counting it yet, that’s all, not until I can actually buy that grime-covered, moldy bar of chocolate.

Yet during my no-money-from-writing month I came to a stunning realization. I’m pretty sure I’ve become a hipster. Greg Donchatz was right about me, that quarrelsome prick.*

I’m from a formerly blue collar neighborhood in Philadelphia. Over the years, I watched closely as the hipster cancer metastasized, with scraggily, scooter-riding art history majors popping up between crack houses to build gastropubs, show off their twirly mustaches, and huddle outside craft beer bars chainsmoking American Spirits.

These underemployed twerps annoyed me for years. That is, until I realized I’m just like that wheezy 30-something bartender slinging beers at that craft bar, dying a little bit inside every time a patron doesn’t buy his twenty-five dollar painting that his boss agreed to put on the wall in exchange for not paying him for a month.

Where I’m from, or at least where I used to be from, thirty-two-year-old men were either 1.) Already grumpy old fucks with ten years seniority in the union, or 2.) Standing on the corner with a premature beer belly, downing tallboys, and trying to sell you blow.

If I had a choice, I’d pick number 2, but I’ve somehow slid through the cracks. I’m like that fucking Peanut Chew I can’t afford to buy.

I’m a borderline itinerant worker with a scrap of talent (even that is arguable, fucking DONCHATZ, YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD). I barely have an education, unless you count two years of vaguely working toward a creative writing major at a community college which, from what I gather, is worth about as much in the free market as your average art history degree.

Since I decided that writing horror stories (or possibly poop jokes) is what I want to do for a living, I’ve had enough jobs to rival Homer Simpson: kitchen bitch, UPS slave, loading trucks, kitchen bitch again, bouncer at a ghetto public high school, telemarketer, writing for small newspapers for gas money, stacking broken beer boxes, EMT, a bunch of other shit I forgot, and now, temporarily anyway, an indentured servant to the Post Office.

I am an underemployed 30-something desperately trying to earn an income in the arts — if ‘drunks-versus-tree demons‘ even counts as art — while living in a trendy neighborhood.

Holy motherfuckin’ mother of God. I’m a hipster. And I’ve likely been one all along.

All those years standing on the corner wearing oversized T-shirts and skull caps, hanging with petty criminals with shamrock tattoos, pretending that I enjoyed gangster rap music…it was all a lie.

I was a hipster all along. I was the proto-gentrifier and I didn’t even know it, planting the seeds for the rest of the mustached arts bums, and paving the way for the economic juggernaut that comes to any working-class hood once their hipster foot soldiers have invaded: YUPPIES.

And whenever I question my hipster genes, I need only to peer into the refrigerator to quell any doubts.

I have humus. Lots of it.

*Regarding author Greg Donchatz: This gentleman took issue with my review of his novel in, to me, very entertaining fashion. I’m a glutton for insults, what can I say? I urge anyone charitable enough to read my blog to follow him on Twitter because he seems like a genuinely nice person, dedicated father, and hopefully in the future, a very successful author.

Song of the Week: Big City Philadelphia, “How to Rob an Industry Hipster”