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Up With Grups*

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“One thing happened that I thought was funny,” says Rogan. “I made a run of a hundred jeans, and I made them as perfectly as I could. Which for me means essentially destroying the fabric, to the point where if you wear them for a month, they’ll disintegrate. And I literally sold them out in a week. And they’ll completely disintegrate. You wear them for a couple of weeks and go out one night and there’ll be a giant tear. I mean, it’s embarrassing. I was surprised that people would pay that amount of money for something that literally falls apart.”

At one point, I spoke to a 39-year-old musician who had lived briefly in Park Slope and then fled, largely because of the prevalence of exactly the kind of person who would buy jeans designed to fall apart in a month. This musician is old school in his fashion tastes—which is to say, one day he came to a point where he pulled that old concert T-shirt from his dresser and thought, Yeah, I just can’t pull this off anymore. (For me, this moment came with a thrift-store T-shirt with QUALITY PLASTIC SUPPLIES decaled across the chest.) These days, though, especially in New York, there just aren’t many people saying I just can’t pull this off anymore.

“If really hard-pressed, I would admit that I actually own a Clash T-shirt that I got from that last Clash tour,” the musician told me. “But I don’t wear it! And I’m certainly not going to wear it under an Armani black blazer. I even remember meeting this guy who was around my age, who was wearing an expensive blazer, and on the lapel was a London Calling button. Who the fuck wears that? That’s what I wore when I was 18 in art school! And you’re the same age as me? And you’re wearing it again?” He pauses, then adds, “And you know what? Giving your kid a mohawk is fucked up, too.”

The Grup Children, or Daddy, Please Turn That Music Down
Here’s the bad news about kids: They’re not cool. Especially little kids. Like, 2-year-olds? Forget it. Left to their own devices, they don’t dress well, they have no sense of style, and frankly, their musical taste sucks.

Here’s the good news about kids: They’re defenseless. So if you want to put a Ramones T-shirt on your 2-year-old, you don’t need his permission. All you need is for someone to have the great idea to make a 2-year-old-size Ramones T-shirt. (And trust me—someone’s had that idea.) And if you want to play the Strokes for your 4-year-old son, what’s he going to do? I’ll tell you what—he’s going to learn to love the Strokes.

“My son seems to like the Hives a lot,” says Neal Pollack, the author of the forthcoming memoir Alternadad: The True Story of One Family’s Struggle to Raise a Cool Kid in America, of his 3-year-old son, Elijah, and the raucous Swedish fivesome the Hives. “I mean, he doesn’t know who they are. He calls it ‘thunder music’ when I put it on. He gets very excited by that. That makes me sort of proud.”

For a Grup, professional success is measured not by how many employees you have but by how much freedom you have to walk, or boogie-board, away.

See, Grups aren’t afraid of parenting. Grups don’t avoid having kids. Grups love kids. In part, though, this is because Grups find kids to be perfect little Mr. Potato Head versions of themselves. Of course, there’s more to Grup parenting than simply molding your kid’s tastes. You must be vigilant that you don’t grow up and become uncool yourself. “I recognize that changes and sacrifices are necessary. I do occasionally wake up before nine these days,” says Pollack of parenthood. “But I didn’t want to lose touch with the world’s cultural progress. I didn’t want to freeze myself in time.” So instead of playdates, Pollack invites other cool dads and their kids over for playing (kids), beers (dads), and sampling new CDs (everyone). Or he packs up his toddler for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Though that plan didn’t work so well. “It was really hot and crowded,” he says. “And the music sucked.” His son apparently concurred.

Pollack’s philosophy, when you hear him talk about it, makes a lot of sense, at least at first. “Mainstream American adulthood is so narrowly defined, it’s only natural that people who have time and leisure to think about it are going to rebel against it.” Yes, of course, why not? “We want to be good parents. We want to love our kid and raise our kid up properly, with decent values.” Right on! “But we don’t want our lives to become nothing but Mommy & Me classes.” Who would? Fuck Mommy & Me!


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