As you enter through the city of Chicago, you may very well become overwhelmed. The city buzzes with cars, honking and screeching, lights flashing, people yelling at you and every one who may cross their paths. This is a unique experience to someone like me, who thrives on chaos and all things busy. Although the pandemonium of the south loop can become quite exhausting, and your only wish may be to retreat somewhere quiet, where you can read and lounge, escaping reality for even just a few minutes.
Myopic Bookstore is a place where one can escape and still being completely immersed in the city happenings. It might be located in a hipster dense part of town, surrounded by bars and boutiques, but there is still such solace in the shop, and it can be embraced as long as you can find your way around.
As a native of Chicago, I am enthralled upon entering the city limits as the skyscraper’s stand to greet me, twinkling with luminous poise. My heart pitters and patters with warmth that fills my lungs. I want to sing to the glorious city hymns chiming melodies of gratitude and luster. Soon I am greeted with busy pedestrians who add to my hymn with shouts and mumbles. Indeed they may be irritated, but their mutterings add an infectious ambivalence to the scene. What would a big city be without the obnoxious majority of people that occupy it?
The train is a magnificent experience, whether you ride it to watch people or to read or listen to music, it can be a cathartic mode of transportation. During rush hour, we all gather in this tiny space, and try to be polite, try not to breathe, but we are all in this together. It brings us all a little closer and a little further away from phobia. Although there is always that large sigh of relief when you get off at your stop, making you cherish the frigid air of freedom. Personal space is an important privilege, and as the city struggles to maintain it’s own arms length it inevitably wraps its cohabitants up in a large, sometimes painful bear hug.
When entering into certain parts of the city, I find myself immersed in a swarm of the hipster elite, who buzz around like a colony of maniacal bee’s stinging strangers with stares of disapproval. Most hipsters derive from upper class families in certain cities or suburbs, for instance Wicker Park is notorious for having their fair share of what is considered deck, woven with Record stores, i.e. Reckless Records, vintage clothing boutiques, used bookstores, i.e. Myopic Books, dive bars, and various coffee shops and smoke shops. This is hipster paradise, to roam free in a land of moth odorous sweaters and rare vinyl.
A word on the subject if I may since it is a central theme in my experience. I feel it might be beneficial to shed some light on the hipster community that inhabit Wicker Park to illustrate the true average Joe customer one may encounter at Myopic Bookstores check out counter.
Many hipsters find themselves shunned by mainstream and so chooses, coincidentally, to label themselves under the following personality type cast categories:
1. The Polit: one who is always philosophizing and indulging in metaphysics, politics, and romanticism. They often are the ones you see alone in a café, reading Carl Marx and sipping espresso. They are the least sociable except when it comes to long diatribes on current events.
2. The Schmooze: Hipsters obsessed with their careers, and, therefore, preach from a very technical and diabolical soapbox.
3. The Neo-Cruncher: Post Garcia Hippies who don’t bathe regularly or at all, grow out their hair and listen to folk artists such as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Devendra Banhart, and even Wilco.
4. The Tweekers/clubbers: Similar in manner, young at heart 24 hour party people who do a little more than dabble in drugs
5. The WASH: (Wait-staff And Service Hipster); these are the hipsters who have jobs, and Surprisingly the most common type of hipster. You can always identify them if they have the following: piercing, brooding sarcasm, tattoos, apathetic disposition. They usually have an aversion to fluorescent lighting due to their omnipresent hangover.
6. The Loner: Introverted, anti-social, obsessed with work/hobbies. Identifiable by pale skin, bitten nails, Elvis Costello Glasses (with or without a prescription), flinching. Their aversion is scratched vinyl records (which they collect compulsively) and muscles. They prefer sickly skinny mates; mix tapes, and hypochondria if they ever summon the courage to be gregarious.
7. The UTF (Unemployed Trust Funder): These hipsters are sneaky and mysterious but obvious to those of their pedigree. They hail from an upper class family, don’t have jobs (unless weekly allowance up to the age of 30 counts as a career), and are art school students for several years, for a “philosophy PHD.” They try to hide their wealth by wearing second hand thrifty attire. They exude Bohemian-like, hobo chic fallaciousness. They love NPR and politics, yet rarely ever vote.
So, what will you see when you spot one- or, worse if you are one? Here are the most common characteristics:
1.You roll your own cigarettes or just smoke cigarettes in general.
2. You listen to bands, artists, labels that many non-hipsters haven’t heard of. Although, if you found that those “unknown” artists sold their soul to a major label or a car commercial, you tossed out any evidence, vinyl mainly, that indicated you ever supported such a terrible band.
3. You go to a liberal arts college; wearing the walk of shame messenger bag and a smug apathy on your strut to pottery class.
These personality types and assimilation guidelines are only the bare basics. But if this ring true to you, it is time to face any and all accusations, and deny, deny, deny. We don’t know why, how, or when it all began, but it has become a large trend turned into a way of life for many. Ironically every one wants to be different, yet they all look act, and embrace the stereotype, which in my opinion, is not deck, but pretty midtown.
So in this colony of deck misanthropes, I dive into Myopic entranced and mesmerized, as if this phenomenon has sedated me to a state of coolness disillusionment. Either way, I decide to travel up the winding stairwell to find a nook in a dimly lit corner where I can grab an anthology of poetry and sit huddled up and hidden behind the open book. Is there are more magnificent feeling than to get lost in a world of words and creatures lurking from the verses and lines? I certainly don’t want to contest its power.
One of Chicago’s oldest and largest used bookstores, Myopic Books has three floors full of books, an amount totaling over 80,000 editions it has everything, from the rare graphic novels to the abundant self-help books. Myopic really caters to every kind of reader; they do not discriminate in taste.
I would have to say one of the refreshing aspects of Myopic is the comfort you feel when entering, knowing that even if you request the most obscure book deemed fin by the majority, you won’t get a smug response or eye roll. The people are friendly, helpful and do not hold hierarchies in the walls.
Myopic stays up until 11 pm as well, hosting poetry readings and music performances inside of the store. So the patrons can participate in the community and get their fill of literature. And for a much needed escape from reality and cold weather, myopic is that cozy nook so many yearn for but few can find. Now that the secret is out, others may venture into it as well.
- The 35 Greatest Quotes About Hipsters (thoughtcatalog.com)
- The Irony of Hipster Media (thenarcissisticanthropologist.com)
- A hipster sunday! (hektorsinsight.wordpress.com)