Washington Post's Ned Martel wears the hipster glasses he mocks

Is this Ned Martel or Rachel Maddow? Same glasses, that's for sure. (Flickr/Paul Schultz)

Today the Washington Post published a long column titled, "Are hipster glasses over? How they went from geek to chic to weak," in which writer Ned Martel, employing nearly 2,000 words, announces that "big, chunky" glasses are out. His evidence: After being ribbed by reporters, White House press secretary Jay Carney "lost" his new pair of "square-rimmed, big-lensed, chunky-framed glasses," as Martel describes them. Want to guess what type of glasses Martel wears?

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The bio at the end of the column says he "wears dead-stock Bausch & Lombs." That his glasses aren't made anymore — and that he points this fact out — is hipster in itself, but check out what they look like. Now compare them with Carney's glasses, which Martel derided. They're strikingly similar, unless you happen to be some sort of eyewear aesthete — but that would make you a hipster, and Martel is no hipster. Only hipsters, after all, wear aviators for sunglasses. Oops!

There are other infuriating moments, like when he writes,

Decades ago, everyone who got glasses got the same pair. Glasses were just glasses — a tool, not a statement. Think of NASA Mission Control, with its many bespectacled rocket scientists in Houston evaluating The Problem. Today’s problem is not what we’re seeing with glasses, but what we’re saying with them. Eyewear has become me-wear.

This cannot possibly be true.

The article's midsection is mostly unobjectionable, with Martel making some interesting observations on the rise of glasses among TV's talking heads. But his conclusion contradicts the entire column's tone — that of dripping disgust for hipster glasses.

The question for our bleary-eyed era: Can glasses still achieve any kind of optical pop if everyone has them? And conversely, if the glasses pop too much, are the wearers just making a spectacle of themselves? Carney didn’t do that, but his glasses do offer an object lesson for nerds and cool kids alike: If you wear big frames, don’t let anybody knock them off your face.

Wait, so a piece that began by saying hipster glasses are "weak" because everyone wears them, has now become a call to arms? Is this Martel's backhanded admission that he, too, wears hipster glasses? That must be it. Otherwise, the dissonance is too great: In a "Celebrity Hipster Glasses Quiz" tied to Martel's column are a pair worn by Rachel Maddow. They're almost identical to Martel's, right down to the twin screws at each joint. I cannot say with certainty, of course, whether Maddow's are "dead-stock Bausch & Lombs" or modern replicas. But I get the feeling that Martel would know better than anyone.

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