But what exactly makes something “cool?” Like anything else in our rapidly fracturing world, opinions and standards of “cool” vary greatly depending on whom you ask. Sure, some things are undeniably (or should be) cool no matter the criteria — James Dean, the color black, Jim Jarmusch, sushi and Kim Gordon immediately spring to mind — but more often than not notions of cool depend on a variety of evolving factors.
For instance, as a kid I thought The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” was the coolest song ever.
But my admiration for the English Pop group waned rapidly as I moved from MTV to SST, from Super Nintendo to my first car (a well-worn 1979 Ford Mustang that remains an enduring landmark in my mind’s eye no matter that its passenger door would fall to the ground when opened).
CityBeat possesses no secret scientific formula when it comes to determining cool; like Supreme Court justices' ability to recognize pornography, we know it when we see it. Further, as an “alternative weekly” we look at things from a slightly different angle, shining light on people, places and events that make our little corner of the world a better, more interesting place to live.
All of which leads us to the theme of this year’s Cool Issue, “enduring cool,” things that have remained unique and vital for a least decade or more — everything from the Southgate House and Myra’s Dionysus to The Wolverton Brothers and Chris Welsh. They're icons that fly in the face of what typically shows up on trend-infested cool lists, many of which look stupid a few years down the line.
Speaking of endurance, January will mark my 10-year anniversary at CityBeat, the coolest job I’ve ever had.