Steam crunk: can fantasies stay cool forever?

So far in the blog I’ve talked about things that exist as they travel the very short path between Cool and Suck… but what about things or ideas that don’t exist?

It’s a question of real vs. imaginary; consider this:

|cool| = the value of 1 real (not imaginary) cool unit and

|i|cool| = the value of 1 imaginary cool unit

These values are expressed popularly using the International Cool Unit scale: Icu1, Icu2, Icu3… for a measure of real (not imaginary) cool and iIcu1, iIcu2, iIcu3 for a measure of imaginary cool.

This is what Gavin looks like, only mathier.

This is what Gavin looks like, only mathier.

Technically it’s impossible to use imaginary cool units in any sort of computations so it’s necessary to convert an expression of [iIcu*n (where n = any real integer)] into a more standard [Icu*n] expression. There is a relatively simple formula for doing this computation: {[iIcu*n] * [1ctB]} – [1ctB] = [X]. The [n*ctB] is a measure of suck and stands for “calling things ‘Boss’”.

We used to just drop the ‘i’ but then this guy we work with named Gavin got this new coat, it’s totally rad, (it’s velvet but it’s cut to look like rubber fetish gear, seriously it’s super cool. At least it sounds cool, nobody’s seen it, but Gavin told us all about it.) anyway Gavin suggested the new formula and it sounded really cool so that’s what we use.

Probably the best way to consider the coolness of something imaginary is to examine a real imaginary thing; I’m just reaching into my imaginary hat and pulling out an imaginary item at random… Steam Punk!

Lets compare it to a real thing, this one I’ll choose based on a very specific but undisclosed set of criteria… and it’s, crunk!

computationalengineSteampunk is basically a fantasy voyage into a parallel world where everything is driven by steam and gears… I think that also in place of the interweb we would literally have a complicated system of tubes, pneumatic tubes that is, but maybe not. Anywho… Steampunk is a real life subculture based on a set of fictional ideas (which I suppose would technically make it a counterculture). There are steampunk clothes, novels, movies, tv shows, and most importantly mods!

Steampunk mods are things that people rebuild or decorate so that they are or look like they are steam powered. People are crazy for steampunk and steampunk out everything from computers and motorcycles to insects and Abraham Lincoln.

Crunk on the other hand, though a bit silly at times, is a real thing, there’s no fantasy about it. Crunk is a mix of southern hip-hop and electronica, and word on the street that crunk stands for “crazy drunk” but could also be a reference to a plant called marijuana that is either used topically or smoked to get “high” (I do live in North Seattle though, so “word on the street” is probably the same as “the word on wikipedia” I’ve also heard that crunk might be a reference to drinking cough syrup with codeine, but that’s just sillyness. Ask Goatse.).lil-john-crunk

The history of crunk, as far as I can tell, was spun into motion by Outcast; they first used the term in 1994 on their track Hootie Hoo, on their album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”. By the time they released their next album, which was heavily peppered with the term, “ATLiens”; crunk was transforming from just a word into a real life Thing… you can guess where this is going. That’s right, Lil John, crunk juice, and crunk potato chips.

Crunk went from being essentially a nonsensical word; to defining a new genre of music, expressing the quality of weed, and inspiring movies; to entering the popular lexicon; now it’s loosing popular enthusiasm; and eventually it will either be forgotten or fade ambiguously into being a standard facet of culture like jeans or death metal.

gogglesBoth steam punk and crunk were created/imagined, then embraced by a few, and eventually celebrated by a larger but still elite group; this is where the two star-crossed lovers (or are they brothers? It’s hard to say… have you ever seen them kiss?) part company. Crunk has its own energy drink, pimp cups (a market previously dominated by Bike™), and chips.

Steam punk, even though I’m sure you can buy a leather corset or old-school flight goggles at some malls, is mostly DIY. Meaning that it’s cool and it’s either gaining or fading in popularity (the important thing is that it’s moving); all this means that eventually those people who first loved steam punk will eventually be bored by and reject it.

It’s not clear if steampunk has already crested, is about to crest, or is still growing is popularity.  Steampunk’s progression through the cool/suck spectrum has a different arc than crunk’s; steampunk is undeniably on  the same journey that tight pants, big hair, and tube tops have already completed (and begun again). Right now we’re so close to steampunk that it’s hard for us to view it objectively.

It may seem like steam punk is going so strong right now that it will never die (and if it does my

47 I'll be laughing... at you.

You laugh now, but at 1:47 I'll still be wearing this but I'll be the ONLY one laughing.

“steampunk 4eva” neck tattoo will be pretty embarrassing), but I’ll bet my facebeard that in 500 or 1000 earth years, when alien scientists visit our toxic husk of a planet, steampunk will be a blip on the cultural time right before Kevlar entered fashion.

It’ll be a while before the computer finishes processing but early indications seem to say that steam punk is somewhere between 4 and 5 on in the range of cool/suck. Meaning that steam punk clothes are likely going to become available at a wider range of or retail outlets and probably soon we’ll see computers, kitchen appliances, cars, and or furniture tricked out steampunk style. Of course after that it’s all down hill for steam punk.

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Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 8:45 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. is gavin his “real” name or his “magic” name? (it matters.)


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