The Last Crack Hipster

Crack Hipsters were a reaction to their parents’ nudge-nudge, upper-income-bracket embrace of cocaine. The Last Crack Hipster likes to point to the 1990s. The year that Nevermind dropped, in September 1991. A week or two later, the world went gaga for Michael Jackson’s album Dangerous, with the hit single, “Black or White.” But by January, Nirvana was ruling the charts. David Geffen had signed Sonic Youth. They didn’t have to release anything on any schedule. But Geffen knew if Sonic Youth signed, the best new grunge bands would follow.

Geffen bet right. Kurt Cobain didn’t want to go on Geffen’s label; Sonic Youth leader’s, Thurston Moore, talked him into it, so they could go on tour together. The kids ate it up. Everything had been getting too phony and theatrical. They wanted something real. The grunge scene was real. Heroin somehow went along for the ride, as a “real drug.”  But how did crack snake its way into pop culture?

In 1994 Kurt Cobain blew his brains out; meanwhile, a couple of fellows in Quebec start Vice magazine, a significant force in the mash-up of graffiti artists, skaters, DJs, male models, slam poets, drug dealers, party promoters, T-shirt designers. Maybe you just worked the cash register at Supreme, but you could be a “lifestyle artist.” You could be an accountant by trade so long as you wore it right. You want to do the ’80s rocker thing with the long hair and the tats, or how about go the exquisitely sloppy route, all Middle America with the wifebeater and the potbelly? Do it.

There were also the hard-core pioneers: graffiti writers from Sherman Oaks who would slice your face open, or guys who declared, I’ll fuckin’ smooch a dude, whatever, yo. Whatever the pose, do it right and you can collect your prize: You’re an artist now, the superstar of your own show. If you’re lucky, your picture might wind up in the Do’s and Don’ts of Vice, alongside the skinny Puerto Rican kid with no teeth, neon full-shutter sunglasses, an oversize pristine baseball cap with the bill flipped up, taking a leak on a street corner in broad daylight. 

But by the early 2000s, the cycle of cynicism that began in the ’90s caught up to the Vice generation. Heiress Paris Hilton got fucked from behind on camera, the ultimate star of her own show. But the purists still had a card to play: crack. A new lease on coolness, bohemian transgression, mystery.

The Summer of 2004, the cover of Vice magazine showed Pete Doherty hitting a crack pipe. A few months later he’s dating Ms. Moss, a cracked romance.

Oh dear God no. No, no—no way. Check this … It’s so … ha!

A powerful thought was rattling around the Last Crack Hipster’s brain. So check it out, the downtown hipsters were doing their thing, crack jumped the pond and burned up London; meanwhile, the hip-hoppers were gassing. In 2005, the rapper Juelz Santana came with the hit single “I Am Crack”:

 

Touch the coke, touch the pot, add the soda what you got ME!

I am what I am I be what I be and that you will see I AM CRACK

 

Santana was saying, “You think crack’s cool, here’s the recipe, tough guy, you will see.”

 

THE LAST CRACK Hipster had finished the Hard and was settling into Mad Scientist mode with the Soft and the spoon and the baking soda. Something about patience being the key, don’t rush it. Things were getting weird.