New York New York – When parents are cooler than their kids

As I’ve said before my entire knowledge of New York comes from all the customers Avalanche has had over the years. Other Music’s imminent closure reminded me of two stories I would tell on the basis that if New York kids weren’t cool then youth culture was doomed. Several years ago when we in the Grassmarket a father came in with his son and spent a while browsing buying a good mix of “cool” indie stuff. The father said to his son that he would buy him a few t-shirts and what did he want. At the time we had a good selection all hanging up along the back wall. Lots of local and Scottish band shirts and unusually some metal and punk shirts I’d bought as a job lot.

PKPB t-shirtFirst pick was a Green Day shirt and immediately his dad winced. “Son” he said. “We are in Scotland. There are lots of cool shirts here you won’t find anywhere in New York why not buy them.” It was the turn of his son who must have been 14 or 15 to wince. An awkward silence ensued so his dad tried to compromise. He said his son should pick an Avalanche t-shirt, a local Scottish band shirt and another more mainsteam shirt. After some discussion they settled on a Penguins Kill Polar Bears shirt. “No other kid in New York will have this ” he told his son. His son then decided to stay with the Scottish theme and picked a Biffy Clyro shirt to add to a classic black Avalanche shirt.

I’d finish the story saying that when the dads of New York are begging their kids to be cool then you now that we have started to reach the beginning of the end times for cool youth culture. It was a scenario I would see repeated many times as cool parents tried to interest their children in things less mainstream.

Another slightly more hopeful story was just a little later. Three couples all from New York came in with half a dozen children. The kids all moped around while the parents all bought stuff but towards the end the kids spotted the posters and started looking through them. Come time to leave and the kids asked if they could stay. The parents slightly surprised immediately agreed and said they would go for a quick coffee. They returned 30 minutes later and again the kids now engrossed looking through all the different piles of posters wanted to stay. The parents agreed and said they would go and do a bit of shopping. Returning 40 minutes later the children had finally been through every poster pile in the shop.

Without hesitation the parents bought their children everything they had chosen. As they handed over the cash one of the mothers remarked ” You should hire this place out as a teenage creche. We’ve had a wonderful time while leaving them here.” Then one of the dads added “You should open in New York, it’s great just to see the kids looking through posters like this rather than browsing the internet”. So now it seems we live in a world where parents are cooler than their kids and the the kids are happy with it that way. 

And my own daughters ? Well at nursery they were the coolest kids there with their Nick Cave, Hefner and Bright Eyes t-shirts. Now they just wear branded clothing but my eldest does wear a Withered Hand t-shirt I gave her quite a lot and through choice owns that PKPB shirt so I count that as a minor victory ! 

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