city of irony

I’ve been back in San Francisco for more than a week now. I’ve mainly been reconnecting with friends, eating a lot of Mexican food and trying to catch up on my sleep. And neglecting my blog.

The other day, I stepped into Urban Outfitters to browse t-shirts and jackets, and after six months in Singapore, I was completely unable to wrap my mind around the irony oozing from every shelf in the store. Between Jesus action figures, Everyone Poops and white-trash retro, everything was just a little too cool for itself.

Last night, I saw Maroon 5 at the HP Pavilion, along with throngs of teenage girls and their parents. There were a few small groups of people my own age. We were the people holding cups of beer.

Maroon 5 has one hit song, and I heard it every night I was in any club in Singapore. I mention the show because the music snobs amongst my friends will make fun of me, but I am immune to this now.

Singapore is a city without irony. It has other kinds of class systems, but you can’t be a cultural snob in Singapore.

After I’d been there a few months, I listened to one person after another, recently arrived from San Francisco (or New York, London, etc.) moan about fashion or architecture or music. I watched them roll their eyes as a cover band launched into the latest hit, and the joyful throng exploded onto the dance floor.

Before I went to Singapore, I’d been struggling to divest of my inner snob. I was hating the haters, if you will. I walk in several circles of friends, and I’d become so tired of hearing one circle judge the other because of its taste in music, television, clothes, cars…

For me, it was actually beautiful and sort of liberating to be in a place where a cultural snob can’t survive. He’d go blind from eye-rolling.

…before the last chord of Purple Rain fades, the band begins to play Hotel California, and the western mind implodes from the effort it takes to comprehend.