Was Captain Beefheart a hipster?

He could probably cozy up to the bar at BLAH, order an IPA, and not seem at all out of place.

Captain Beefheart
  • Captain Beefheart

Dear Ask a Hipster:

I have a nominee for the Hipster Hall of Fame, Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. For starters, he has “the look.” There’s a famous press photo of him with a top hat, a fur draped over his shoulders, and a furious goatee that could’ve been taken in North Park last week. Of course today the fur would be cultivated from sustainably grown grass-fed varmints. He was inspired, difficult, a painter, a taskmaster with his band, very creative, and definitely marched to the beat of his own drummer. All qualities expected in any self-respecting hipster, not to mention his avant garde style of dress, a staple of said culture. Having grown up and performed with Frank Zappa should also further his induction to the Hall. So there it is! Keep up the good work on informing us plebeians of the inner workings of the hipster culture and mind.

— Thomas Coyne, North Park

This is almost too close to call. Bonus points to you for describing a goatee as “furious,” though you lose points for implying that his goatee, rather than the photo, could have been taken in North Park.


Anyways, on the one hand, Beefheart achieved just enough commercial success to rate just barely mainstream in his day.

On the second hand, he had “the look” 100% locked in. Van Vliet could probably cozy up to the bar at BLAH tomorrow afternoon, order an IPA, and not seem at all out of place.

Then again, on the minute hand, who didn’t have that look on lock in the ’60s an ’70s?

But, on the hour hand, he didn’t like the Beatles. One thing’s for certain, uttering the phrases, “You know, I’m not that into the Beatles. I think they’re kind of overrated,” or any variant thereof, is one of the single most hipster things you can do. Not being into the Beatles is such a hipster stereotype that I always tell people, “I’m more into their old stuff, like when they were still the Quarrymen” so I can differentiate myself from the hipster masses. Hipsterin’ ain’t easy.

How about this: Hipster Congressional Fact Finding Committee! All you hipsters and hipsteresses email [email protected] with your reasons why (or why not) to induct Beefheart into the hall. Email.

Dear Hipster:

I know in your latest article you ruled out potential Historical Hipster Hall of Fame candidates because they are “known.” I have another “known” suggestion that might sway you. The guy on the side of the Pringles can. Look at that mustache AND bow-tie. He is not riding a fixie while drinking a PBR, but that is pretty darn hipster right there. If you could zoom out, he is probably wearing tight pants with his smart phone barely fitting in his pocket. Also, nobody eats Pringles. If you had a chance between Cool Ranch Doritos and Pringles, which one would you choose? Pringles, of course, because you are a hipster.

— Former Hipster who Wouldn’t Admit He Was a Hipster

Damn. You make a compelling argument. Who hasn’t spotted a Pringles Can Guy doppelgänger frothing milk at a third-wave coffee bar? But, if we’re going to start letting fictional characters into the hall, surely we can do better than a brand logo. I think you’re on the right track, but I need more concrete qualifications.

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