Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: or Things To Declare Your Independence From This 4th of July


Independence Day comes at more or less the halfway point of the year. It’s a nice time to take stock of the things that you hate, or are annoyed by in this great sprawling metropolis we share. Here are a few suggestions of things that you should declare yourself independent of on this glorious, patriotic long weekend.

In February, New York magazine publicized the term “normcore” to the world to describe a trend of aggressively hip people wearing aggressively un-hip clothing, or, as they put it “self-aware stylized blandness.”  You know how any time anyone did something vaguely weird a couple years ago the joke was that it’s “performance art?” Well now, anyone wearing Birkenstocks or a hoodie or sneakers or non-brand label jeans is “normcore.” It’s just not true. Embedded in it is a conceit that is half-fanciful optimism and half-unbelievable solipsism, that people are dressing the way they do as part of some elaborate Truman Show-like hoax to look deliberately un-fabulous, to hide their shining unique style as a statement. Perhaps it’s part of that New York mentality where everything has to be secretly something else–the phone booth is the entrance to the bar, the dumpster is now a swimming pool. So maybe you are wearing a sweatshirt as a conscious rejection of the excesses of the fashion industry. Or maybe it was just the thing draped across the couch on your way out of the door to walk the dog. Either way, let us break free of “normcore.” Things can just be “normal” again.

If you have to get somewhere this weekend that required you to use the subways or buses then we won’t begrudge you the use of public transportation. But if you can, why not use the weekend as an excuse to escape from the gradually mounting smell-o-sphere? Imagine how nice it’ll feel not to have to cram yourself into a metal tube full of strangers and amateur acrobats who request that you vacate your seat so they can better execute their ill-timed dance routine. You can bike, you can walk, you can take a ferry. You can take a day to let the concentrated toxins in the below-ground air leech from your bones.

This is not license to go into a bar and tell someone that you wish they would declare independence from their pants, baby. But it is July, the only time of year where you should shed your skinny jeans and let those pasty calves breathe. It’s hot. Air circulation is awesome. Shorts! Skirts! Rompers! Shorteralls! Whatever your poison is. Just for one weekend. Let freedom from pants ring.

Stories about how expensive everything is because, really, we know
If you live in New York City, there is just no way that it has escaped your attention that this is a place that is exorbitantly expensive to live in. It’s true. Sometimes it feels like it costs $50 whenever you walk outside. All the 5-for-$1 dumplings in the world can’t make up for the skyrocketing rents. But you know what doesn’t help? Trend pieces about how you could buy a castle in France or a town in South Dakota for some amount of money that seems ludicrously small to someone who just paid $8 for a box of cereal. Plus, the commute to midtown from South Dakota would be outrageous.

Instagram one-upmanship
There is only so much victory to be gained in hashtags. Your yoga pose may be better than your friends’, your sunsets may be filterless, you may have documented eating a cronut while posing in front of the new Jeff Koons statue. But what have you gained, really? The endless documenting, though we are as guilty of it as anyone, gets exhausting. Let us rebel by leaving selfies untaken and rooftop photos unposted. Let us ignore Hilaria Baldwin’s increasingly bizarre yoga-grams. Let us simply be, at least until Monday.

Umbrellas that no longer function
Your collection of broken-spined bodega umbrellas accumulating in the corner? Let them go. They’ll just blow inside out the next time you try to use them anyway.

Casual snakes
The summer months are when it begins: Suddenly, from the hidden depths of backpacks and pockets and purses appear reptiles, casually slung into carry-alls as if they were granola bars and not terrifying serpents. Last week, I witnessed a man taking one out on the conveyor belt of a grocery store while rummaging for his wallet: Keys, phone, tiny snake. On the beach at Coney Island, a teenager took one out of baseball cap and dropped it on his beach blanket. (Gothamist documented the uptick in casual snakes on the subway system, another horrible trend.) Scraggly-looking men walk around with lounging boas around their necks as curiosities. People, a little respect. This devil-may-care attitude towards a jungle beast will do us no good. It must end.

Excessive juicing
Some juice is fine. All juice is not fine. Eating solids is dope and you should try it.


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