I’m A Lumber Jack And I’m Ok.

Posted on the October 28th, 2013 under Friends by Jamie Grant

old-lumberjackThe term lumberjack conjures up images of heavily hirsute men wearing checked shirts and wielding overly large axes. These hard drinking, hard swearing, hard living men would ply their trade in the wilds of the world far from home and all the comforts of family and the feminine.

Whilst the time of the Lumber Jack may have passed us by with the advent of modern logging machinery such as the chainsaw, the stump grinder and the feller buncher, there are still vestiges of this logging culture that remain present in our modern world. Perhaps the most obvious would be the large number of Hipster boys wearing plaid shirts and sporting bristling beards. I am personally puzzled by the amount of pampered college graduates who have never suffered the harsh conditions of the turn-of-the-century logging industry, choose to emulate this look. Is it an exercise in Irony? I’m not truly sure why Brisbane hipsters will wear heavy plaid shirts and jackets in sub-tropical heat. Perhaps they are trying to emulate the hazards of tree lopping in an Avant guard way?

On Skid Row?

Another vestige of the world of tree removal around the turn of the century is the term Skid Row. Today we associate the term with places where the poor and homeless gather (possibly also hipsters trying to increase their social capitol or to find a discarded plaid shirt). Yet the term was originally associated with the logging industry and described the dedicated path or corduroy road that logs were skidded down. In Seattle one such street was named Skid Row. After many years the street became populated with homeless folk (and possibly hipsters seeking an authentic homeless experience). And so the term Skid Row became associated with poverty and homelessness. Not to be confused with the ‘80’s rock band of the same name.

Another term popularised by the early logging industry was the term Punk. More specifically Whistle Punk. This was a job usually filled by the oldest or youngest member of the logging crew and was responsible for communicating to the teams of lumberjacks deep in the forest. The etymology of the term does not stretch back further than the turn of the 20th century and will generally mean the lowest, most menial or least valuable person or thing.

Lumber Jack Hipster!

Lumber Jack Hipster!

The overwhelmingly manly image of the lumberjack has been parodied in various forms, not the least by effeminate hipsters, but certainly most popularly by the Monty Python crew in their song and dance number – “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m ok.” In which the outwardly manly Lumberjack confesses to wearing suspenders and a bra. Perhaps not the most masculine of attire, hence the delightful irony.

Yet modern day Hipsters have taken this irony a step further and are taking these traditional images of masculinity and disassociating them from violence, raping and making a living from killing other things and making them synonymous with intelligence, creativity and peace.

Changing Industry.

Tree lopping, tree removal and all the associated industries have changed radically since the time of cross saws and hand cutting. Vast swathes of trees are felled with a minimum of manpower, and what was once one of the most dangerous professions on earth has been tamed and sanitized.

Thankyou for reading this article on tree removal, no hipsters were harmed in the writing of this article!

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Historical Footage of Early Modern Tree Removal



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