Hipster Refugee


Live life, breathe air, I know somehow we’re gonna get there and feel so wonderful…so wake up, the members of my nation, it’s your time to be!” – Miranda Cosgrove

The grunge explosion of the early 90s redefined Seattle in the national consciousness as a flannel-wearing, microbrew sipping, slacker-hipster paradise.  Having grown up on obscure college radio music from the 80s, I was torn by this explosion of the punk-metal hybrid that was suddenly dominating the airwaves.  On the one hand, people like Kurt Cobain did their best to expose a new audience to the brilliance of hitherto unknown bands like the Meat Puppets and Killing Joke, and that made me feel like I had been part of an exclusive club in my teens.  On the other hand, the sudden popularity of poorly-produced, lo-fi aggression led to the inevitable watering down (and producing up) of the whole genre, leaving us with a plethora of yawn-inducing schlock from the likes of Pearl Jam and the Stone Temple Pilots.  The kiddos probably don’t even know that the one man phenomenon named Jimi Hendrix also hailed from that rainy northwestern enclave.

But despite the fact that I’m a middle-aged man, I am also someone who likes to keep his finger on the pulse of all things hip and trendy.  And that is why, despite the fact that I’m a middle-aged man, I prefer to associate Seattle with the Nickelodeon teen sitcom iCarly.  It’s a show that I utilize to waste away far too much of my time due to the fact that it takes no intellectual effort to follow the simple plotlines, but it’s also quite funny and well-acted.  So now my fantasy vision of Seattle, WA is dominated by a skyscraper of apartments called Bushwell Plaza inside of which a popular adolescent web show is being filmed.  (And lest you’re planning to mock my juvenile tastes in television in the comments section, I should point out that Michelle Obama was once an enthusiastic guest on iCarly.)

A few weeks ago, I saw an article about Syrian refugees who are voluntarily crossing the border into Canada from Washington, knowing full well that they will be apprehended but preferring that fate to sticking around in the U.S. to see how much worse things can get.  The national weathervane (no, there’s not really such a thing…at least I don’t think there is) is pointing firmly toward an approaching front of dystopian horror.  So while I’m not ready to jettison my citizenship just yet, I do have to make contingency plans.  Passport updated?  Check.  Close enough to the Great White North to make it there in a short day trip?  Nope.

So perhaps my next move will be a northwestern beeline to Emerald City.  This would strategically place me a mere 141 miles south of Vancouver, BC.  I’m not sure what I would think about the perpetually overcast skies and the leftover grunge anachronisms I imagine are walking the streets of the city like a horde of zombies lumbering towards Starbucks.  But maybe that’s the price one has to pay to live in a conveniently Canada-adjacent area where one can walk into a store, hand some cash to a clerk behind the counter and walk out with a bag of weed! 

For several reasons, I really hope that everything I wrote here will turn out to be completely unnecessary.  I love living in Albuquerque, NM and would like to remain here for quite a bit longer.  And of course, if I’m taking active steps to high-tail it out of the U.S., that means that the country in which I live has arrived at what I would consider a point of no return from institutional fascism.  Sure, I can and do indulge in an awful lot of schadenfreude towards people whose views are completely at odds with my own.  But that’s nothing to brag about.  It’s shameful (which is right in the definition of that German word translating to “shameful joy”) and it’s the antithesis of the compassionate outlook so necessary to our current shared struggle against hatred and injustice.  So pining for my own country’s demise is not the correct view to harbor.  Hell, Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard, motherfucker!) is even applying for U.S. citizenship so that he can help fight the Trump regime.  That rightfully shames me into realizing that my self-exile fantasies are utterly selfish.  America needs all of the progressive-minded people it can possibly accommodate right now and though my contributions to the cause are paltry, they are also the right thing to do for me and every other American citizen who is horrified by racism, nationalism and xenophobia.  I guess that settles the issue for now.  Sorry, Carly, Sam, Freddie, Gibby and Spencer – I’m afraid I won’t be moving in next door to you any time soon.  But I’d still love to come share a spaghetti taco with you, if you’re down for that.

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