Kevin Buckle: If New York kids aren't cool then who is?

A while ago I told a story on my blog about a father and son from New York buying T-shirts. It was prompted by the imminent closure of Other Music in NYC possibly the best and coolest record shop in the world. I was then reminded of it again very recently when The Cake Shop in the Lower East Side closed on New Year's Eve. The Cake Shop was a cafe, bar and venue run by the Bodor brothers and had always been very supportive of Scottish bands, helped no doubt by the fact Nick Bodor's wife is from Inverness. There was no cooler venue for small bands to play in NYC.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th January 2017, 11:24 am
Updated Thursday, 12th January 2017, 11:27 am
Browsers in Other Music, which was possibly the best record shop in the world. Picture: Getty
Browsers in Other Music, which was possibly the best record shop in the world. Picture: Getty

My concern at the time of the father and son visit was that if New York kids weren’t cool then youth culture was doomed. The father had come in with his son and spent a while browsing and buying a good mix of “cool” indie stuff. When he had finished he 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.

First 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 mainstream shirt. After some discussion they settled on a local band Penguins Kill Polar Bears shirt imaginatively featuring a cartoon of a penguin stabbing a polar bear ! “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.

The worry was that when the dads of New York are begging their kids to be cool then you know 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 parents tried to interest their children in things a little different.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Cake Shop closed it's doors on New Year's Eve

Don’t get me wrong – being lazily cool has always been a thing. That was what coffee table books were for and later on why people had so many DVDs that were never opened.

However, we have now reached a point where the kids who can be bothered to worry about being cool – and they themselves are a dying breed – simply do so without ever leaving home.

Why go to a gig when you can simply mark you are going on Facebook? Why buy cool stuff when you can just retweet and like it instead ? I do wonder as us 50-somethings regularly wallow in the nostalgia of the good old days on social media if youngsters today when they reach that age will long for the days they liked a gig on their iPhone and then binge watched Game of Thrones instead.

The repercussions are of course many but in particular as Edinburgh struggles to keep its venues open, and as I’ve said before “the kids” don’t want to go to “cool” gigs in the back of pubs, do we just give up on them or do we try to come up with something that will get them away from their screens?

The Cake Shop closed it's doors on New Year's Eve

If I’m sent off-KILTR it won’t be for the want of trying

After the announced closure of Bella Caledonia and the comments from KILTR I really thought I ought to give it a try. I’m a Twitter guy who dabbles in Facebook so I’m not really sure if I have the time.

For those who don’t know KILTR “is a media platform focused on culturally relevant and original content from our community”. It has also been described as a “professional social network for everyone with an interest in Scotland”.

I was concerned there might be too many hipsters, tech folk and entrepreneurs and it didn’t bode well when the first user I saw with a big following was a pub in Finnieston, Glasgow’s newest home for hipsters.

However there are some old friends from other social media platforms like Scottish Post-Punk and Big Gold Dream and I’m easing myself in slowly so I’ll give it time to see if it is worth my time.Certainly, as with all things, the more people engage the better these things are and though KILTR has been established since 2009 I’m sure they’d be more than happy to see more folk get involved. I will let you know how I get on.

We could have our Cake and eat it if we tried

I WAS sad to see The Cake Shop close its doors and sent them a message of support on their last day looking forward to their next venture.

As I mentioned, Nick’s wife is from Inverness and we’d met when they were over in Scotland for a family wedding. We’d spoken about possibly doing something in Edinburgh together but the NYC Cake Shop had always kept him too busy.

There was a fantastic synergy in having such a well known and respected New York bar and venue in Edinburgh and I did enquire whether there was any chance of them being lured to the Grassmarket but Edinburgh doesn’t really seem to have incentives in place like other cities to encourage this sort of opportunity.

Nick replied the next day “Thanks @avalanche_edin would do @CakeshopEdinburgh in a heartbeat if an investor wanted to back us”.

I’m just throwing it out there. At a time Edinburgh is in desperate need of venues an incredibly well connected NYC institution would open “in a heartbeat” with the right support. I’ll leave that with you!

Kevin Buckle is the owner of Avalanche Records and can be contacted at [email protected]