The definition of "try-hard," courtesy of Urban Dictionary:
A person who puts a large amount of effort into achieving a certain image, or counter-image, to the point where it is obviously contrived. Rather than achieving an image through genuine personality, the try-hard consciously attempts to fit a certain style through deliberate imitation, forced style, or scripted behavior. That is to say, he/she is trying hard to create an image.
This is what popped into my head immediately upon reading the following section of the resolution (PDF) passed by the Madison Common Council Tuesday night honoring the Chicago-based band Wilco with honorary citizenship:
Duluth, MN may be cool, but we would not want it said that either that fine city or its mayor are cooler than Madison and our mayor (even if Mayor Dave is not sure who Jeff Tweedy is).
If that's not try-hard, I don't know what is. Our city council, in speaking on our behalf, is apparently concerned that we might be slipping in some unofficial cool-off with Duluth, the Athens (Ohio) of northern Minnesota. If there's a checklist of what makes a city cool or not, parroting something Duluth -- or any other city -- does ain't on it.
I mean, if Duluth went and gave The Killers a key to the city, would we have to follow suit?
With this resolution, authored by Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway (who, it must be noted, represents the uber-hip north side), Madison's city council establishes itself firmly in the camp of the try-hard. And as someone who has both seen Wilco a dozen times and won arguments with residents of places like Boulder and Burlington over the superior lifestyle available in Madison, count me among the embarrassed.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, what makes Madison cool is that on the night Wilco performed at Overture, there were many other amazing, dare I say "cool" cultural events going on around town. Eyedea & Abilities were at the High Noon Saloon, where patrons are not required to sip their beers out of sippy cups. Sondre Lerche packed The Frequency. Duck Soup Cinema in the Overture's Capitol Theater provided quirky, Vaudeville-style entertainment along with a silent movie for families eschewing a night watching figure skating on the couch.
Truly original bands with musicians who actually live right here in Madison like Mad Trucker Gone Mad, calicoDrifters and the Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble were doing their thing that night, as was an odd amalgamation of Biff Blumfumgagnge, Andy Ewen, Bill Feeny and Brian Bentley at Mickey's.
What else was going on in Duluth the night Wilco hit town?
When was the last time this city did anything to honor a local musician who wasn't just about to break up or leave town, as it did for Joy Dragland right before she shipped out? Who is more deserving than Biff, whose bands The Gomers and Natty Nation have appeared at countless benefits and free city events?
I say, no city council resolution for any musician until Biff Blumfumgagnge gets his!
But more importantly, no more council resolutions claiming to determine what's cool or not. It's like your mom calling your shirt "really spiffy" in front of all your friends.
Plus, as much as I like Wilco and enjoyed the Overture concert, that place was packed with more poindexters (including yours truly) than a Linux users group meet-up.