"Hipster Dad" is a lazy term used to conjure images of leather-bound binkies and Baby's First Charcuterie Class. It mocks the preciousness of something that is wired into our animal brains to be intrinsically precious: raising children (Tiny fingered, smelly-trousered Immortality!) Yet what other term could be used to describe the demons rumbling below the white-knuckled restraint of this story in the Times about Kindling Quarterly, a $14 magazine about Modern Daddom for Dads created out of the "desire to explicate the creative project that is fatherhood."
32-year-old new fathers David Michael Perez and August Heffner co-founded Kindling Quarterly, and were asked point blank about the H-word.
“We actually said at our first meeting that if we make this pretty, somebody’s going to accuse us of being hipster dads,” said Mr. Heffner, 32, whose long beard and thick black glasses, and his borough [Brooklyn], might make the accusation seem accurate.
“This whole hipster thing seems like an empty demarcation,” said Mr. Perez, also 32…“We have this idea that parenting is all dirty diapers. But being with my son is amazing. It’s dealing with all my anxiety or weird issues that’s the real challenge of being a father.”
A magazine about Dads doesn't have to be a copy of Baby Geniuses duct-taped to a Clive Cussler novel, but does it really need to feature a spread of a father "wearing a Coos Curry cardigan (retail price: $420) and carrying a chocolate brown Lotuff leather tote ($750)"? The magazine's website cites old FSA photos of Dads and families as "visual research" for the magazine, including one of Homesteaders in New Mexico in 1940.
"Color photos from the 1940s really give the sense that things change very little in a half a century," the site reads. "We can only imagine these fathers faced challenges we might never see in our lifetime." The cost of that cardigan/tote combo in 1940, adjusted for inflation: $71. The average annual income at the time: $1,368.
Perez describes the purpose of Kindling Quarterly: “Each issue is about how men rebuild themselves around being with their kids." Would you rather read a parent expound about their Ray of Joy or about themselves coping with their Ray of Joy, with references to Michel Foucault? Both? Here, take our bespoke handkerchief, there's a lot of blood running out of your eye sockets.
At least the Dads seem self-aware. From Perez's opening essay of the first issue:
Like the act of parenting itself, Kindling Quarterly will be continually changing and the process will be far from perfect. Already in this first issue there is a troubling lack of racial, cultural, economic, and sexual diversity that we strive to correct in subsequent issues. Additionally, while we are committed to spotlighting some of the unique challenges of fatherhood, the last thing we want to do is present men or male parents as marginalized when they clearly are not.
Reached by Telex in his Blacksmithing Studio/Thinkatorium, Gothamist publisher and Brooklyn Dad twice-over Jake Dobkin said he was pleased with new magazine's goals. "Speaking for all young fathers in New York, I know when I've finished a long day of work and several arduous minutes of parenting, the first thing I want to do is grab a Mason jar of homebrewed ale, stroke my beard, and read a printed magazine about fatherhood. Because, like most Brooklyn dads, parenting is not something I want to escape from."
Dobkin then became excited: "I think I'll submit this thing I'm working on—it's a Marxist analysis of labor exploitation in Thomas the Tank Engine episodes. I just need to finish my monograph on How Reading Your iPhone in Front of Your Kid Teaches Important Lessons in Self-Reliance."