PORTLAND, OR—Brian Conlee prides himself on staying ahead of the curve. He was going to Starbucks, he likes to boast, back when it was called Queequeg’s Coffee and operated out of a single dilapidated shack on Puget Sound. He read Pitchfork “before the internet even existed. The magazine was run out of an ex-Amish guy’s barn. That’s where the name comes from.”
Part of staying ahead, Conlee says, is making sure you never get behind. “The minute people from the Midwest say they like something, I know it’s totally over. Coldplay, Jamba Juice, Whole Foods, I even stopped listening to NPR once I found out Garrison Keillor was from Minnesota. I thought he was Canadian.”
Conlee believes he discovered the next big thing while at the Edgefield Amphitheater for a recent Bon Iver concert. “Bon Iver’s starting to get big—he’s been on Colbert—but I know people would be all kinds of pissed if stole a Grammy from Justin Bieber, so he’s still legit,” Conlee said.
At the concert, Conlee heard someone complain she could not understand that Justin Vernor, Bon Iver’s lead singer, was saying. A few minutes later, someone else made the same observation. “But he added a twist,” Conlee said. “Here’s the guy’s exact words. I’ll never forget them. He said, ‘I don’t know what he’s saying. For all I know, he’s up there worshiping Satan.’”
At that instant, Conlee knew what he had to do. He pulled out his Droid—“iPhones are so done,” he said—and found out how to pledge his undying allegiance to the Prince of Darkness. “I even visited a Satanist church first thing the next day,” Conlee said. “You know, right after lunch.”
Conlee made sure his part-time barista job will not interfere with his newfound religion. “We close at ten, and the good goat sacrifices don’t get going until after midnight, so it’ll be fine,” he said.
When his parents came downstairs to confront him about his decision, Conlee decided he had to make a stand. “They threatened to make me move out, but I don’t care. I’ll do it.. For as long as I think this is cool, I’m totally committed. Being homeless is way badass, too, so I’m a winner no matter what.”