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Has it ever occurred to you that indie music aficionados and craft-beer hobbyists are after the same thing? That despite their radically different demographic makeup* they’re using some of the same criteria to decide worth, namely: rarity, exclusivity of experience, uniqueness? That “I have an original first-release Captain Beefheart record” and “I’ve had a glass of ________, of which there existed only ten kegs nationwide” are logically equivalent as attributive value statements? That even the labels “craft-beer” and “indie music” are defined by the fact that they’re not widely available?
Of course, this isn’t much different from any sort of collecting hobby—the most valuable stamp or coin or baseball card or painting or bottle of scotch is the one that is the hardest to get—but in Portland the craft-brew and indie-music scenes are more readily adjacent. What’s curious about this, at least to me, is that these sort of collecting hobbies self-regulate the pleasure dispersion; it’s as if they’ve come to an agreement on what the “best” is and they’ve decided that the “best” is what the majority of them cannot have; the most prized experiences are ipso facto the ones most difficult to experience…it’s almost masochistic.
None of this is really necessarily a bad thing—these are just observations—and determining quality is sticky stuff in any field, but the danger that both the beer and music cognoscenti face is that the desire for rarity (or for the superiority derived from exclusivity) will overtake the attention to actual quality. And if that happens—if we ever firmly equate rarity and quality—then we’re just setting it up so that the majority of us snobs are forever disappointed.
*(I’m using generalities here, but from my experience most craft-brew enthusiasts are almost painfully middle-aged—the trip to the beer store a self-given reward for surviving IKEA—while the typically atypical hipster is…not)