The Indie Cred Test

(Chunklet Industries)

 

www.chunklet.com

 

BY MARY LEARY

 

Something laugh-out-loud
funny pops up nearly every four or five sentences… or nine, or ten. And one
hopes that 196 pages of socio-cultural opinions, jibes, and data will whet the
appetites of sociologists, culture mavens, and the book’s apparent target
audience: new crops of “hipsters” anxious to see where and if they fit into the
world of coolness (along with aging hipsters who still need assurance). Note
that I chose the words, “may be of
interest.” For, despite the paragraphs and paragraphs of labor and love that
were apparently devoted to this tome by the team at Chunklet, The Indie Cred Test is a bit of a
clusterfuck. It may not even be sure what it wants to be when it grows up.

 

The first problem: The Indie Cred Test is too in love with
itself. Does anyone really want to read seven pages that are thick with
“preliminary missive”? Sure, it’s a chance for Chunkleters like Chad Baker to
get off some good lines, as in: “The struggle for acceptance while conveying
the idea that you have no desire whatsoever to be accepted can be quite the
tricky venture.” But the project’s overblown aspects may be related to the next
problem: Too many cooks without a butt-kicking, executive chef. A “preliminary
missive” that had been pared into half its size/the real meat would make folks
more likely to stick around for (and perhaps even get stoked about) the “test” pages.
And, while I’m on that “editor” thing, typos are a problem. While squinting at
some of the tiniest type I’ve ever strained to see, in the midst of some really
dense paragraphs, the last thing I want is to read, re-read, then re-re-read a sentence.

 

How about the ideas around
which The Indie Cred Test was formed?
The news here isn’t that great, either. The dilemmas repeatedly advanced by the
editors – no “cool” left now that everything’s accessible via the Internet
(and, before that, MTV, VHI, and other outlets); no joy in Mudville now that
Converse sneakers are available in a rainbow of choices at Delias (and
“punk/heavy metal/rocker” clothes have been available even longer, at every
mall with a Hot Topic) – these are, at least in this corner, dead issues. Sure,
these shifts have wreaked some havoc, or at least confusion, on the self-images
of scores of hipsters.

 

The thing is, the more
mature, self-realized, or just plain real (something TICT rarely considers) of us have moved on. For it’s the essence of
a thing (the rhythms, inspirations, and sentiments driving sonic art from Delta
Blues through The Obits’ latest) that really matter, eh? And once you know who
you are, and that you love Delta Blues as much as, say, some dork-ass thing
like Doris Day singing “Que Sera, Sera” or Lesley Gore wailing “It’s My Party” (everyone
has a few guilty pleasures), it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks
about it. As far as I understand it, these are processes which have usually
resolved themselves by the time a “hipster” hits his or her mid-late thirties. They’ll
almost certainly have resolved themselves by the time a “hipster” reaches the
forties, when the realization that everyone dies – some sooner than later –
puts things in even clearer perspective, and it becomes apparent that what we do, along with the health of our hearts,
is essentially important – not that I’d
know anything about being over 40
.

 

Also, I get the sense that the
seeds of this project were germinated at some pretty good parties that probably
happened some time within the last 3-10 years, when the issues mentioned above
felt more fresh, bothersome, and in need of discussion.

 

But there really does need to
be some Indie-Cred advocating here. And that’s ‘cause, as with Mad Magazine and National Lampoon, I sometimes enjoy the sound of Chunklet Industry
writers’ voices as much as they do – the ratio’s not as high as with Mad or the Lampoon, but those were different, less insecure times –
ironically, this book’s point, or a major one. So while these writers are far
too often at pains to show it’s a joke, it’s not a joke, it’s sort of a joke,
it’s a laugh riot, it matters, and/or it doesn’t, they still seem to have gotten-and
generated-lots of jollies while coming up with endless possible answers to a
boatload of questions. In the “general profile” test section, for instance,
under the question, “How Many Pets Do You Have?” these are some of the choices:
“None (allergies),” “None (court order),” “1 to 3 (a few),” “3 to 5 (a
gaggle),” and “I have no human friends (a shitload).” Not only did those
choices feel pretty accurate, but I found one to be a major crack-up — okay,
it was “None (court order).”  Not funny
at all if that’s your next-door neighbor, or you, before you hit a Pet
Collectors’ Anonymous meeting. But funny as hell if you’re just sitting there
reading it.

 

While the book attempts to
include women, the choices (or guesses) about female hipsters are often so lame
that it’s pretty clear this book was mostly written for male hipsters, about
(and directed toward) male hipsters. Not
that there’s anything wrong with that.
I did mention Mad Magazine, and the Lampoon,
after all. No, there’s nothing to say this doesn’t belong at the top of the
heap of current bathroom reading material, not to mention a fabulous
conversation-starter for interminable subway and bus rides. Those are likely to
happen in the types of cities where people still argue about this sort of
thing… I guess. And you did know I was kidding when I mentioned Doris Day and
Lesley Gore, right? Of course you know those references were thrown out ironically… um, right?

 

 

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