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The Evolution From Hep Cats to the Modern Hipsters

The term Hipster or Hep Cat referred to aficionados of Jazz like Bebop, which became popular in the 1930s. Those who lived the lifestyle of jazz musicians were considered to be a part of a contemporary subculture in their day. Musicians had used the word hep, or variations of it, to describe somebody “in the know” about the emerging culture which revolved around jazz. Fans were usually considered hepcats. Moving ahead along the timeline, the Hipster subculture had turned into a hippy counterculture. The next generation of outcasts were living in a period of tension and turbulence and sought after a live of peace and rejected American standards. Both hipsters and hippies had a distinct appearance, slang, relaxed attitudes and sexual codes as well as the use of cannabis and psychedelics. The Hippies had branched off from an underground movement denouncing the social norms ignited by the Beats society; whereas, the hipsters were just people who enjoyed life in a way which at that time was deemed unacceptable. The modern hipster is a combination of both and so much more. Today, we hear people commenting mostly on the clothing, hairstyles and behavior of the new hipster. The main influential difference from the hipsters and hippies of yesterdays to today is the advancement of technology. With knowledge at our finger tips, it’s hard not to find information on anything in the world. The young people of today are much like Johnny 5 from the 1980’s movie Short Circuit because they’re always looking for data and eager to learn. There are so many similarities and differences between the most notable cultures in society for over 80 years.

History of the Hep Cats and Hipsters

When we think of the hipster era, we imagine a dimly lit underground bar hazy from cigars and marijuana. The attire of men and women of jazz had a lasting effect on fashion. Men still wore suits; however, they were less formal and more slack. Bright colors became increasingly popular and the most well known outfit was the zoot suit. A high-waisted men’s suit, wide-legged pants with tight-cuffed, pegged trousers. A long coat with padded shoulders and lapels had usually been worn with the baggy dress pants. This style had been more predominant in the African American communities but eventually the Latino, Italian and Filipino American communities before being adopted by the jazz musicians and Hep Cats. Women of jazz were called “flappers” and were known for their flamboyant style of attire, modernized morals and progressive attitudes. More opportunities were becoming available to women in the 1920s. Several women became famous jazz musicians themselves. A personal favorite of these women is Billie Holiday. She was not only a talented singer but a controversial one. Her song “Strange Fruit” had been banned and even a crime to possess a copy. She and many other musicians sang about truths and the struggles in life as well as the joys. The persistence of women in jazz such as Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith, paved the way for many more other female artists in the future. The hot jazz loving people young and old alike, enjoyed the the live music and dancing.

In summary , the Jazz Age was a post-World War 1 movement in the 1920’s where jazz lived and dancing emerged. Jazz brought people of many social backgrounds and ethnicity together in harmony with music, fun and excitement. Did you know that jazz coincided with the advancement of technology? As the radio broadcasting and recording technology became more abundant, so did jazz. It was now easier than ever to share and record music. Technology would advance more-so in the future where we now incorporate melodies from the hot Jazz Age in modern compositions. Despite the end of the Great Depression, jazz lives on.
Love, Peace and Flower Power

The 1960’s was a period of tension and turbulence in North America. The War on Poverty and the Vietnam War were way above budget, but the president chose to take all “necessary measures” to protect American soldiers and their allies from the communists. When drafting began, some of the young people began protesting and others fled to Canada. Black power became the new focus of the civil rights movement, and a police raid at a gay bar in New York City sparked a five day riot in 1969. Historians believe the “Stonewall Rebellion”, named after the Inn where the gay bar was located, marked the beginning of gay rights movements. This was a time when people started to rise above and fight for justice. In 1957, Harvard professor Timothy Leary began advocating therapeutic use of psychedelics like mushrooms, LSD and marijuana. Psychiatrists like Dr. Lester Grinspoon spoke out against the standard anti-cannabis propaganda and also advocated therapeutic use of cannabis as well. High Times magazine came out in 1974, biggest event of the decade was the infamous Woodstock music festival, which had 400,000 attendees. The harmonious three days have been considered the best representation of the peace-and-love generation. The fashion and values of the hippie generation have had a huge effect on culture, music, and art. Popular music, television shows and literature have also been heavily influenced by the cultural and religious diversity. This era is one which will live forever.

The Modern Hipster

The days of fear, hate and war have subsided over the years. After generations of underground societies and  protests for peace, we have a new Hipster 2.0 on the rise. In the 1990s to the late 2010s, the new and improved term for hipster become popular. The Urban Dictionary defines hipster as a subculture that values independent thinking, progressive politics and an appreciation of the arts, creativity, intelligence and witty banter. Wikipedia suggests that the new hipster are a mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior. There has been a lot of focus on the varied non-mainstream fashion, “man buns”, and other unique appearances and behaviors of the hipsters today. It is suggested that this “contemporary subculture” primarily consists of young adults who are broadly associated with indie and alternative music. Although they will not self-identify as a hipster because it has been used pejorative to describe someone who is pretentious or overly trendy. Truth is , these are  motivated knowledge seekers who are eager to learn, see and do. Instead of picket signs or protests, this generation hits social media to demand change. Posts, petitions, and direct communications and collaborations with company owners and CEO’s have become more frequent. A thorough understanding of our rights and freedoms and vast accessibility to learn and share information has led to a chance for consumer driven products, services and changes to the way big and small companies run their business. This understanding of rights has also been helpful in deterring discrimination, harassment and abuse.

If a person is a victim of crime, it is not hard to find surveillance footage or videos on lookers may have recorded. One night while leaving an exciting evening event, an argument broke out. Two men exchanged some unkind words which led to a heated argument. When push came to shove, one of the men was injured. Whether accidental or purposely, one of these men was seriously injured when he fell into traffic. Needless to say, the other man fled the scene before authorities or help could arrive. Months later, the radio reported that dash cam footage had been submitted by a driver who had been near the scene at the time of the altercation. This dash cam video was most likely used in court to help understand what was really going on. If you’re ever bored, check out the YouTube dash cam videos. No matter what is going on, somebody somewhere could be filming it on their phone, tablet or camera.
Cannabis Use Among Peacemakers

Marijuana seems to be the common factor from the hep cat to the modern day hipster. In Jamaica, the Rastafarian’s use marijuana to reason instead of arguing their point. The same goes for those who went underground to find peace and prosperity. The hep cats smoked to enjoy themselves and the hot jazz that got them dancing. The hep cats helped people loosen up a little, or a lot. There was more tolerance to the letting loose and getting wild. Maybe not in society itself, but within the underground community. Hippies shared the sacred herb in a way of showing peace, love and equality. Cannabis was a staple much like lettuce, cabbage or any other herb or vegetation. The modern hipster now has so much information about the benefits and risks of using cannabis. We now have a variety of strains, concentrates and methods of using and cultivating marijuana which would benefit our personal needs. The labels change for each generation but the hope for peace and happiness fights on. Not everyone falls under the label or cause; however, everyone is seeking some kind of relief and enlightenment.

In the last decade, groups of people trying to make a difference in their country and the world one joint at a time.Since the legalization of marijuana, more people have been able to enjoy the benefits of cannabis use. For some, it will always be an enemy or a maddening drug used by the obscure. Although cannabis has had a history of  wars waged on it and generations of users locked up and abused, we can know that it has fueled the courageous changes made since the 1920’s. It has been used by many nations for longer than we can record, since even religious scriptscontain verses which speak of its use in ceremonies, anointing and healing. I’ve yet to meet an angry stoner. I’ve met people who were under the influence of multiple intoxicants which became volatile, but for the most part anyone who occasional or habitual uses cannabis in a respectful manner are known as peacemakers. Greed has been the only negative influence on the marijuana industry and use. The government and criminals alike have beaten and detained growers, trimmers and smoker. With the peacemaking pot puffers, the only thing taking a beating is the fridge.

At the end of the day, all you need to know is that a bunch of chill hep cats decided to form an underground movement which turned into a secret society. This society became a counterculture and led the way for equality among races and a little slack for the young people of their day. After the success of the OG hipster paved the way for the hippies. The free spirited youth of America, Canada and the United Kingdom had been shaken with the fear of yet another war. Vietnam. The ones who wanted peace escaped to their own paradise away from the war driven society. Many in hopes of going back to the ways of Adam and Eve. The beginning of “green” thinking and consideration of the environment around us became a focus. For the first time, people were united for a just cause for the betterment of all people. Some were more vocal and political than others;

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The Evolution From Hep Cats to the Modern Hipsters


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