on being, or not, a hater

In which I argue both sides.

I use this handy little phrase a lot to preface various hatery statements: “I’m not hatin’, just statin’!” I usually deliver it in a cheerful tone, because I know that my seemingly relentless negativity freaks weak people out. The other day I was having dinner with two girlfriends, and made a public vow not to hate on anything for the remainder of the conversation. The very next sentence out of my mouth was “My god, I fuckin’ hate that dude in that band.” They both burst out laughing (not being weak, they weren’t freaked) and my pal Jessica jokingly fished a rubber band out of her pocket I could snap on my wrist, smoker-style, whenever I felt the need to hate. It got me thinking, so here’s my attempt to work through, for the millionth time, my awesome negativity.


It’s so easy to be a hater. It’s so easy to talk shit with your friends, or to sit at your computer and ruthlessly tear down this and that cultural artifact. I am, well, brilliant at it.

But in the spirit of springtime and new growth (and Jesus dying or not dying or however the fairytale goes today) maybe it’s time to share with the internet something I’ve been quietly working on in the back of my head: letting stupid shit go.



For example: I’m pretty much over Miranda July (this was the last straw).

But who cares? She will, and should, go on being her bizarrely not-avant-garde, surprisingly milquetoast Miranda July self, with or without my approval. My overness of MJ not only hurts myself, as we sort of have a pal in common, and after all, I do so like her hairstyle, it also contributes nothing to the world. No one particularly knows or cares if I am over her or not, and by spending time hating on her I am taking that exact amount of time from my ability to contribute valuable cultural flotsam to the general jetsam in which we all swim.

There is a lot to be done in this world, and do I really want to spend my time chattering on about idiocy?

My personal Achilles’ heel is, very surprisingly, vegan cooking. Vegan recipes, vegan cookbooks, vegan restaurants—my god, there is some horrrrrribleness out there, and it’s so fun to make fun of it. For every great Isa or Bryant-style recipe, there are oceans of cheesecake recipes that are nothing but agave-sweetened tofu in a cracker crust made with margarine. It’s getting better, but soooo sloooowly, and in the meantime all of us thinking vegans with halfway decent palates are throwing our backs out trying to move American-style vegan cuisine away from its 1970s second-wavey roots.* And as a small vegan company, I can’t deny that it irks me when I see products I know to be tasteless crap selling like crazy.

But shouldn’t I just be happy people are eating vegan food? I always say that my cooking is my activism, so shouldn’t I gratefully recognize all those dusty dry cookies and weird raw energy bars as comrades in the war against corporate food made with liquid suffering? Why must I be meanest to my own family? Best to just let it go, especially since I have a perfectly lovely vegan business that requires pretty much every second of the day. I should put my head down and concentrate on perfecting myself, not the world. Lead by example, or something.

Plus, all the irritating hippies in my life would say that putting negative energy into the world kills dolphins or something.


There is something—a lot, in fact—to be said for standing up and calling bullshit on this or that cultural artifact. Cultural critiques are valuable, because they help to change the zeitgeist. And if there was ever anything that needed changing, it’s the zeitgeist. Always.

And being a hater, at its highest level, isn’t “chattering on about idiocy”—in its finest form, it’s speaking truth to power. And though we all know that power doesn’t ever listen, sometimes others do, and sometimes those others are even more interesting and important than those in power.

Plus, it’s mad fun. However: the trick, which I have not mastered, is to point the hater-laser at exactly the problem and not let oneself get bogged down in personal politics, hairstyles, general douchiness, etc. The phrase “above the fray” comes in handy.

And vegan cooking? Fuck those shitty recipes, shitty restaurants, shitty companies. Quality is all, passion is everything, vegan or not. No exceptions. My cooking is my activism, which is exactly why it can’t afford to let itself become associated with bullshit.

And also: fuck those fucking hippies and their stupid fucking negative energy bullshit. I’ve seen that attitude sink ships time and time again. If no one ever speaks up about the icebergs ahead because they don’t want to disrupt the flow or whatever, we’re all doomed. Flow disruption is what it’s all about.

(As I said, I need to work on the “above the fray” part.)

Thoughts, you smarties, you?

PS: Floor is done! Beautiful cork to replace cracked and broken linoleum! I’ll toss a photo up soon.

*Vegans have been around forever, whether Buddhists in Japan or Pythagoreans in Greece, but I do think that in the West, what mainstreamy people think of as “vegan food” is this horrible rubbery lump of awfulness that was sort of codified in the 1960s and 70s by hippies and back-to-the-landers (and my parents, who didn’t raise me vegan exactly but had a vague feeling meat was contrary to their hippie/druggie style) re-discovering granola and millet cakes.

11 Responses to “on being, or not, a hater”

  1. Jordan

    All of these vegan junk foods are shit, SHIT! And the vegan pre packaged faux cheese is beyond Gross. Although home made vegan faux cheese is wonderful and better then anything.

    If you can provide an Amazing product (and you do) And its just you and your kitchen and your sleeves that are rolled up and your heart that is in it. Then these companys should be able to, with their hearts and the employees and equipment. But they don’t, so their products shouldnt sale. And yet they do.

  2. Randal Putnam

    I vote for one and two. I also vote for dolphins, beets, cork flooring and introspection. Good luck with it all! Happy Spring!

  3. Dustin

    Where did the 2nd hand leather shoes entry go? It shows up when I look at your blog on my iPhone, but not here. Am I just stupid? ‘Cause I’m dying to ask you questions about that entry.

    I just went vegan about 10 years ago, and I, only a month or two beforehand, went on a trip to NYC and bought a $400 pair of gorgeous leather boots that I thought would last me the rest of my life (I know I shouldn’t admit that, but the price is plays a role in this story). When I went vegan, I got rid of everything leather except a belt, those boots and pair of leather sneakers that I really really loved (I actually STILL have the sneakers). I’d wear those boots every now and then, and I’d always feel guilty; like I was betraying the cause; I felt like I was still sending this message that animals are commodities. And no matter how much I tried to convince myself that it was the most environmental, least wasteful thing to do, I just felt guilty. Finally, about 3 years ago, I gave them away. I didn’t even know I still had the sneakers until I found them in a box when I moved to DC; they’re sitting under my bed. Every now and then, I put them on at night to walk the dogs–so no one will see me. They’re so old, broken in, comfortable: I admit that I own nothing vegan that’s like them. But I resist, resist, resist–most of the time.

    I’m wondering if you’re racked with these same feelings of guilt? I totally get the argument, and I don’t think it’s complete bullshit, either; and I certainly agree with everything you say about Vegetarian Shoes (I own 2, very hard, uncomfortable pair), etc., but even still, it makes me feel guilty. Like you, I have no problem with Salvation Armani shoes or shopping. But I struggle with the symbolism of leather footwear, of animal product anything.


    • Christy H

      gosh. i think i am widely known as a hater so it’s hard to share a different perspective. i’ll try though.
      are you familiar with rudolf steiner? (my path towards homeschooling/unschooling has forced me into some strange new corners, uncovering LOTS to love AND hate. he’s a nut, but a very interesting nut.) I found this quote on a waldorf homeschool blog and i have been using it to regulate and sometimes, justify my thoughts and actions.
      “[A person] must strive to give true expression to what he desires to communicate to the world, having first acquired the right view and right judgment of it; not only his words but every manifestation of his being must express his own right view — that and that alone. This is right speech.”
      In my head, this translates to mean that if you feel you are right, you have an obligation to communicate your perspective. I just try not to say too much that i would be ashamed to hear repeated back to me. Rather than, “that guy is a douche,” I might say “I think it’s really important that men are involved in creating safety for women, and i have repeatedly seen him blow off opportunities to do the right thing. So, i don’t trust him.” if you have style and tact, you can engage in right speech and put your valuable perspective into the world. People might still think you are a dick, but if you said something because you believe that saying it added value to the conversation- great. Just don’t talk shit to prop yourself up. Prop your AWESOME ideas up, and it’s not a flaw at all.

    • lagusta

      I am wearing (comfortable! breathable! old old old old) leather shoes as we speak. The shame!

      Here’s the post: https://lagusta.wordpress.com/2007/08/29/useless-endless-rambling-about-shoes-including-but-not-limited-to-various-opinions-on-leather-crocs-and-thrift-store-footwear/

      I wish you still had the boots–it seems like they gave you so much joy! But boots are, well, a LOT of dead cow. I can see how that’s weird. Especially if you work in the a/r world, yo! That’s a tough position.

      I understand about the “sending a message thing.” I freely admit that leather shoes send the wrong message. But…mine are so old. I sort of….um…don’t care.

      There, I said it. I can’t fight the fight on my feet every second. I’d never have a leather bag, but my 3 or so pairs of leather shoes are my friends by now, so old, I just can’t feel too bad. I don’t feel guilty!

      Not feeling guilty does make me feel sort of guilty though.

      I’ve missed you around the parts, D!


  4. lagusta

    “‘if you feel you are right, you have an obligation to communicate your perspective.’ I just try not to say too much that i would be ashamed to hear repeated back to me.”

    Nice. I’m going to tack those lines up to my bulletin board.

  5. Dan

    In the spirit of Christy’s spot-on post, I want to offer a sweet and tactful comment prompted by the weekly discursive collage our charming town rag calls Feedback. While I’m all for being inclusive, there are clearly some lines simply not worth crossing, some people whose support, based on prior behavior, simply should not be pursued (as all of Obama’s fruitful efforts at bipartisanship have so pathetically established). Quaint little neighbor-loving hamlet aside, there are yet some around who merit suspicion and venom, not open arms or conciliation.
    It is with this opinion in mind that I would like to call out the Greens, one-time Greens and assorted other progressive-types (some of whom I have much respected at one point or another) who co-signed that questionable pro-“development” letter with that highly objectionable arch-reactionary. One who, in his personal polemic below, essentially threatened another local loose canon with death by suffocation. Now, while many among us may have made equally jestful threats against said loose canon in the past, I don’t recall any which simultaneously embodied an unconscionably insensitive and arrogant endorsement of not only the cold-blooded murder of political “nemeses” by globe-hopping hit squads but, more generally, the terroristic policies of the country which authorized it, to say nothing of its ongoing colonial project which has brought death and immiseration to millions. And this guy, more than anyone, worked to bring Wal-Mart back in the dark old days when people like him ran the town.
    Why J Dub? Why all you others? Is that opportunistic schmuck really your ally? Accord with his platform is a terribly shameful and disappointing indictment.

    (Lagusta-Many apologies for posting this here. Apparently NPGF has a new policy preventing relatively anonymous commentators like myself from posting grumpy responses. Feel free to take it down if you think it’s out of line)

    • lagusta

      Not out of line. Just 100% AWESOME. I gotta get back into the NP viper pit, looks like fun stuff is going down!!


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