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'The Hipster Handbook'

<I>The Hipster Handbook</I>
The Hipster Handbook

Deck: To be up on the latest trends, cutting edge, and/or hip.

If you're a hipster, you already knew that. But if you need help understanding the latest lingo for the hip urbanite, The Hipster Handbook may be just the guide for you. NPR's Madeleine Brand stops by the book party at a downtown New York club to find out just what it means to be a hipster.

"Every culture has its rules," Brand reports. "For hipsters there is one cardinal rule: never admit that you are a hipster."

One of those attending the party at the Knitting Factory is Shelly Jackson. She's wearing a pink, white and blue crocheted miniskirt, a ripped T-shirt with a monkey on it, a child's pink cardigan, and knee-high black motorcycle boots. Jackson says she would never identify herself as a hipster. "That's so annoying," she says. Jackson prefers to think of her style as "original." But she laments that her style is now easily found at Urban Outfitters.

"Therein lies the eternal hipster frustration: eventually, the masses will copy you," Brand says.

Robert Lanham, who wrote The Hipster Handbook, modeled it on The Preppy Handbook of a generation ago -- a sort of anthropological journey into clothes, hair cuts and slang. Lanham researched the guide at what he considers the epicenter of hipsterdom: Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He eavesdropped on conversations at bars and coffee shops to pick up words such as "deck" (previously known as "cool" in older generations) and its opposite, "fin," which means lame.

"These terms are definitely on the periphery," Lanham says. "They're underground terms. They're emerging. They're for real."

Below is an excerpt from The Hipster Handbook (Anchor Books), by Robert Lanham.

Clues You Are a Hipster

» You graduated from a liberal arts school whose football team hasn't won a game since the Reagan administration.

» You frequently use the term "post-modern" (or its commonly used variation "PoMo") as an adjective, noun, and verb.

» You carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag and have at one time or another worn a pair of horn-rimmed or Elvis Costello-style glasses.

» You have one Republican friend who you always describe as being your "one Republican friend."

» Your hair looks best unwashed and you position your head on your pillow at night in a way that will really maximize your cowlicks.

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Madeleine Brand
Madeleine Brand is the host of NPR’s newest and fastest-growing daily show, Day to Day. She conducts interviews with newsmakers (Iraqi politicians, US senators), entertainment figures (Bernardo Bertolluci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Gervais), and the everyday people affected by the news (an autoworker laid off at GM, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq).