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Crispin Sands

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On Geek Chic
by Crispin Sands   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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The author reassesses his place in postmodern American society as a quintessential geek.

After countless years of torment, I’ve finally become comfortable with my geek status, embracing it like a cherished lover. This reassessment comes in the wake of a book I’ve recently perused, entitled Geek Chic. I ran across it at the Elliott Bay Bookstore—a wet dream of a book retailer if ever there was one—and picked it up in anticipation of laughing at the variegated manifestations of geekiness throughout American history. But, to my horror, I discovered that I’d actually liked and/or loved many of those hallmarks of geekhood without realizing that, indeed, I was (and am) a geek! Examples: 1) My first computer was a Mac II, followed by an Osborne and a Commodore Amiga—each the quintessential geek’s choice, 2) despite a predilection for punk rock, I was a huge fan of Depeche Mode, the Smiths, and the ever-angsty Cure—bands now universally recognized as gargantuan geeksters, 3) Blade Runner is the coolest movie ever made, Andy Kaufman was the world’s preeminent mind-fucker, and Neuromancer remains one of my most beloved novels—and if those choices don’t cry "Geekiness!", nothing does, 4) I’ve had a huge crush on Tina Fey for years, and an abiding passion for Vampire: The Masquerade, wherein I’m known as Vitaly della Malva, a cultured Ventrue originally turned by Grigory Raputin, the Mad Monk of Tsarist Russia, and 5) I wear glasses and boxer shorts, and I adore women who wear glasses and boxer shorts. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Back in the early Eighties, while Anastasia Solis and I were still married, we regarded ourselves the pinnacle of cool. After all, we’d rocked out to the Sex Pistols and Crass, spouted anarchist politics, and dressed like a pair of spree killers. But when we saw Gloria Mundi, Danse Macabre, and Bauhaus at London’s Batcave in 1981, we were suddenly confronted with something we’d never seen in America: Mohawks had given way to pale, high-contrast makeup, Doc Martens had faded to make room for black-and-purple Renaissance-era flourishes, and not a single kid was pogo-dancing—they were all "swirly-dancing," Ana observed, lyrically floating around with hands tracing patterns in the air. What the fuck? "Well," Ana said, "punk has been dead for over a year now, ever since Karl Lagerfeld produced a sack skirt with safety pins. Maybe this is the new thing. Anyway, the music is great, no?" So, in our continuing effort to reach new heights of hip, we bought a bunch of frilly blouses and Walter Raleigh thigh-boots in the King’s Road, took them back to Seattle, and proceeded to thoroughly scandalize the local rock scene. However, in time, other kids began to ape our style, and our beloved Vogue soon became indistinguishable from the Batcave. Naturally, we thought we were the last word in au courant—especially since my wife and I occupied seats at the apogee of our local scene—but we utterly failed to recognize that we’d simply crawled onto the biggest geek bandwagon in the history of western culture. Yes, goths are geeks, purely and simply, and there’s not a single observer who’d dispute the point.

Of course, the Illusion of Insouciance we’d cultivated was only reinforced by the advent of industrial, goth’s harder-edged cousin. The Princess Anastasia and I had always dug art-provocateurs Throbbing Gristle and Killing Joke, but became hopelessly enmeshed in industrial with SPK’s Leichenschrei and Cabaret Voltaire’s Dadaesque Dream Ticket. Like any self-respecting goth, rivetheads wore unrelieved black, though of a more futuristic bent and dripping with metal appointments. Merde à la puissance treize! we thought, never realizing that we’d uncritically fallen into a crater of geekiness more expansive than China. The New Romantic queens realized it; the hardcore German skater kids, listening to Die Ärzte and Blut + Eisen, took us for geeks; the Phil Collins and pastel-wielding Miami Vice crowd identified our geekiness with no trouble. But we just assumed ourselves the Epitome of Innovation, the last word in postmodern culture. We completely failed to realize that, from Boyd Rice to Maurizio Bianchi, from ambient to techno, we were the biggest goddamn bunch of geeks in human history. However, since we ran only with our own crowd, we were content with our self-aggrandizing mythology and never failed to compliment Gwen’s massive beehive, Stephanie’s leather trenchcoat, Guido’s piercings, and Erica’s newest tattoo. Damn it, we were fucking cool! Nobody looked as frightening as we did!     

Now, I’m forced to reevaluate that era through the lens of Geek Chic, and realize just how geeky we were. And today? Well, I’ve recently abandoned my education in Network Design and Administration (geek, anyone?) for a degree in Creative Writing (über-geek, anyone?) and can only resign myself to the fact that, not only am I a geek, but my geekocity increases with each passing moment. These days, I wear skinny glasses and smoke Canadian cigarettes. I’m still Steve Jobs’ best customer while holding down a complete collection of Farscape DVDs. And a shimmering admiration of Stephen Colbert and Sarah Vowell only underscores my resident, inescapable geekiness. Eh, bien. My daughter still loves me, Catherine still wants to rut like rabid weasels, and my cat still thinks I’m the greatest thing since Friskies Supreme Supper, so who am I to complain? Being a geek indirectly absolves me of onerous responsibility (onerous, incidentally, is a really geeky word); I don’t have to be competent at anything except writing, reading graphic novels, and watching The Cincinnati Kid online. My task, as I see it, is to run all these godforsaken Seattle hipsters out of the geek scene; they’re in it strictly for the chicks, and wouldn’t know a Kraftwerk tune if it came up and bit them on their butts. I’m just the man to do it: Crispin Sands, Über-Geek, Stalwart Four-Eyed Defender of Trash Culture and The King of Comedy. And let’s face it: If you’ve read this far, you’re a geek too. So walk with me, my friend, take my hand and let’s march proudly into the future with our PDAs and game consoles, ready to claim the happy mantle of GEEK! Weezer demands it! Beck insists upon it! And Winona Ryder will love us forever!


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