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Full contract bridge

Parental advisory: weekly bridge parties with lots of adult beverages and cigarette smoking

Mad Men managed to make sexism sexy again.
Mad Men managed to make sexism sexy again.

Dear Hipster:

I always wondered what happened to contract bridge, and it always surprises me that I haven’t heard about a resurgence of bridge with hipsters. When I was growing up, it was almost a lifestyle for my parents: weekly bridge parties with lots of adult beverages and cigarette smoking. A game this arcane, complex, and decidedly social seems made for hipsters; but is there something about bridge that has made hipsters avoid it?

— Heather

I almost made a joke about how it’s too bad we don’t have an “Ask a Little Old Lady” column for this one, but then I realized that’s the answer. Bridge has an image problem, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved by the right high-profile exposure event. All it takes is one TV show set during “peak bridge,” and you’ll have hipsters lining up to learn the game according to Hoyle. If Mad Men managed to make sexism sexy again, getting cool kids to play bridge should be a cakewalk (but let’s not make cakewalks cool again, thanks). Maybe somebody needs to shoot a bingeable documentary about the astonishing amount of high-level cheating that goes on in tournament-level contract bridge. That ought to inspire hipsters.

If any of our local hipsters feel the urge, I believe the San Diego Bridge Club will start having regular meetings on Adams Avenue whenever the coronavirus stops trying to kill us all. The club’s usual meetup time of 10:30 am on weekdays may seem at first blush designed to target retirees; but hipsters working unconventional careers that come with odd hours might find the same schedule most accommodating.

Dear Hipster:

So, the jury’s out on whether or not ear gauges worn by Americans consists of cultural appropriation, right? If it were cultural appropriation, which culture would it be appropriating? Also, have gauges become so mainstream that it is no longer hip to sport them? If so, then hipsters would remove them to remain hipper than others, right?

— Progressive Guru

The gauged ear has a strong connection with hipster appearances, but you correctly note it has fallen out of fashion in recent years. Although I’m no academic expert, I suspect cultural appropriation requires at least some knowledge of the appropriated culture, and a willingness to disregard the importance of whatever has been appropriated. Getting a tattoo is not per se cultural appropriation, because cultures worldwide have developed tattoo as a form of embellishing the human body for various reasons. But some random bro from Iowa getting Samoan pe’a-inspired imagery because he thinks its cool and “tribal” is definitely crossing a line. Stick with the naked ladies and the classic “mom heart,” bro.

I haven’t heard much about ear stretching as a form of cultural appropriation, but if it’s true that numerous groups of people over the past 5000+ years have independently decided to stretch their ears without being exposed to each other, then it sure seems like no one culture can really claim ownership of stretched ear lobes. The decline in popularity of ear gauging is probably not caused by a rise in general wokeness about appropriation. It’s more likely a result of hipster fashion sensibilities changing over time, a gradual rejection of the hardcore punk-influenced look of the late 2000s hipsters in favor of the nerdy/normcore look that gradually evolved over the 2010s.

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Mad Men managed to make sexism sexy again.
Mad Men managed to make sexism sexy again.

Dear Hipster:

I always wondered what happened to contract bridge, and it always surprises me that I haven’t heard about a resurgence of bridge with hipsters. When I was growing up, it was almost a lifestyle for my parents: weekly bridge parties with lots of adult beverages and cigarette smoking. A game this arcane, complex, and decidedly social seems made for hipsters; but is there something about bridge that has made hipsters avoid it?

— Heather

I almost made a joke about how it’s too bad we don’t have an “Ask a Little Old Lady” column for this one, but then I realized that’s the answer. Bridge has an image problem, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved by the right high-profile exposure event. All it takes is one TV show set during “peak bridge,” and you’ll have hipsters lining up to learn the game according to Hoyle. If Mad Men managed to make sexism sexy again, getting cool kids to play bridge should be a cakewalk (but let’s not make cakewalks cool again, thanks). Maybe somebody needs to shoot a bingeable documentary about the astonishing amount of high-level cheating that goes on in tournament-level contract bridge. That ought to inspire hipsters.

If any of our local hipsters feel the urge, I believe the San Diego Bridge Club will start having regular meetings on Adams Avenue whenever the coronavirus stops trying to kill us all. The club’s usual meetup time of 10:30 am on weekdays may seem at first blush designed to target retirees; but hipsters working unconventional careers that come with odd hours might find the same schedule most accommodating.

Dear Hipster:

So, the jury’s out on whether or not ear gauges worn by Americans consists of cultural appropriation, right? If it were cultural appropriation, which culture would it be appropriating? Also, have gauges become so mainstream that it is no longer hip to sport them? If so, then hipsters would remove them to remain hipper than others, right?

— Progressive Guru

The gauged ear has a strong connection with hipster appearances, but you correctly note it has fallen out of fashion in recent years. Although I’m no academic expert, I suspect cultural appropriation requires at least some knowledge of the appropriated culture, and a willingness to disregard the importance of whatever has been appropriated. Getting a tattoo is not per se cultural appropriation, because cultures worldwide have developed tattoo as a form of embellishing the human body for various reasons. But some random bro from Iowa getting Samoan pe’a-inspired imagery because he thinks its cool and “tribal” is definitely crossing a line. Stick with the naked ladies and the classic “mom heart,” bro.

I haven’t heard much about ear stretching as a form of cultural appropriation, but if it’s true that numerous groups of people over the past 5000+ years have independently decided to stretch their ears without being exposed to each other, then it sure seems like no one culture can really claim ownership of stretched ear lobes. The decline in popularity of ear gauging is probably not caused by a rise in general wokeness about appropriation. It’s more likely a result of hipster fashion sensibilities changing over time, a gradual rejection of the hardcore punk-influenced look of the late 2000s hipsters in favor of the nerdy/normcore look that gradually evolved over the 2010s.

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