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Monday, February 18, 2013

There Is No Such Thing as Hipsturbia

Posted by on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

The amount of nonsense contained in NYT's article about Williamsburg hipsters moving to the suburbs to raise kids is astonishing. To begin with (and we might as well end with), it's impossible for a community of hipsters to form in the suburbs. It's like imagining dandies living on a farm. You can't be a dandy for chickens and pigs. The whole idea of the dandy is social and urban. A dandy, like the hipster, is for the crowd on the streets, the crowd passing the cafe, the crowd pouring out of a club. You are not a dandy for yourself but always for others, lots and lots of others.
As formerly boho environs of Brooklyn become unattainable due to creeping Manhattanization and seven-figure real estate prices, creative professionals of child-rearing age — the type of alt-culture-allegiant urbanites who once considered themselves too cool to ever leave the city — are starting to ponder the unthinkable: a move to the suburbs.

Yes, Williamsburg has become expensive; yes, it's being gentrified; yes, it's time to move. But not to the fucking suburbs. What a lot of nonsense. Please just read Jonathan Raban's Soft City. It will tell you where to go when your city has become hard: You go to a city that's soft. What's a soft city? It's a cheap city, a city that capital has more or less deserted. Where is there such a city today? Detroit is as soft as you can get.


Comments (29) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
Economics trumps philosophy every time. Sorry Charlie.
Posted by Matt from Denver on February 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Obviously, Green Acres was not on TV in Zimbabwe.
Posted by CATSPAW666 on February 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM · Report this
softy city is when you take your vst's and soft synths and shit like that and run them through analog filters for color. i use moogerfoogers and some electro harmonix stuff, but there is a bunch of weird shit out there that can be used. if you get ubuntu studio linux you can use stringed instruments as a midi trigger without needing any special pickups too and its free. i was using that for a while.
Posted by tim koch on February 18, 2013 at 1:19 PM · Report this
eclexia 4
Berkeley, CA.
Evanston, IL.
Silverlake, Los Angeles (technically not a suburb).
Posted by eclexia on February 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 5
No one will buy a (smaller, cheaper, more efficent better quality more reliable) car from Japan.

Scene at auto lot, circa 1973.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 18, 2013 at 1:33 PM · Report this
ryanayr 6
the article is bullshit. It's just about white 30- to 40-year-olds with kids moving to the suburbs. But oh no! they have tattoos and like yoga so it's some sort of cultural trend. Fuck that. It's the same shit that's been happening since 1946. But instead of a 'kiss the cook' apron and a bowling league it's a band t-shirt and Bikram yoga. yawn.
Posted by ryanayr on February 18, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Report this
The idea that you can't be a hipster in the suburb strikes me as complete nonsense. Just because there aren't that many people to strut your hipster shit in front of doesn't mean you can't do it anyway. I've seen hipsters in goddamn Leavenworth. They're lonely, but they're still hipsters. I think they learn it from watching TV now or something.

Posted by beef rallard on February 18, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Report this
schmacky 8
I don't know, Charles...I think I'd rather live a 45-minute train ride away from Manhattan than right in the middle of downtown Detroit.

45 minutes away from something amazing is much better than 0 minutes from something awful, even it if is more "urban." Call me a bridge-and-tunnel a-hole, but I bet more people agree with me than not.
Posted by schmacky on February 18, 2013 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Sweeney Agonistes 9
"It's like imagining dandies living on a farm. You can't be a dandy for chickens and pigs. The whole idea of the dandy is social and urban."

Charles, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you've never read Garden and Gun.
Posted by Sweeney Agonistes on February 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
eclexia 10
@9, or Radical Faerie Digest.
Posted by eclexia on February 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 11
Charles is right. You might arrive in the suburbs hip, but you won't stay in style. You'll be wearing what you see on web sites and TV, not what's on the street in New York. Or you'll keep wearing the same thing for a decade then slide into generic Gap and Eddie Bauer comfort clothes, and nobody you know will notice either way.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on February 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
the only relevant hipsters are artists; and at least half of the artists over 30 [around here] have something going on in the sticks or suburbs. I think your talking about posers.
Posted by ry coolage on February 18, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
raku 13
"Hipster" now means anyone under 50 who doesn't shop at Old Navy.
Posted by raku on February 18, 2013 at 2:42 PM · Report this
I think in a sense they are moving to soft cities: "culturally attuned, sprawl-free New York river towns like Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown." On the East Coast, "suburbs" are often small, self-contained towns that are walkable and connected to the urban areas with public transportation ("it is no longer unusual to (...) hear 30-somethings in statement sneakers discuss their latest film project as they wait for the 9:06 to Grand Central."). East Coast suburbs aren't necessarily the sprawling, car-demanding suburbs those in the West are familiar with. I think, given those conditions, it isn't such a betrayal to move out of the city and try to form a community not unlike the one you're leaving. You might just open some bumpkin minds in the process.
Posted by fuckbucket on February 18, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
"the only relevant hipsters are artists"

Thanks for the laugh. Self-referential, pompous and full of shit: Hipster 101.
Posted by Sugartit on February 18, 2013 at 2:59 PM · Report this
So can we expect hipsters in Concrete soon?
Posted by Tobias W. on February 18, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this
Charles, you obviously haven't been to Evanston or Oak Park, two Chicago suburbs favored by hippies, liberals, hipsters, and others.

More importantly, where does someone on the left coast get off on making any pronouncement about what is and isn't sufficiently "urban."
Posted by Bucktowner on February 18, 2013 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Nelson Bradley 18
I lived in Williamsburg/Greenpoint and I found the scene fascinating and ripe for parody.…
Posted by Nelson Bradley on February 18, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Mike Force 19
Charles is absolutely correct. And so is #13
I can't believe I just typed that.
Posted by Mike Force on February 18, 2013 at 4:17 PM · Report this
i'm pro-science and i vote 20
I was reading the NYT article but didn't really feel like finishing it. I'm pretty tired of people equating veganism, environmentalism, burning man culture and basically anything counter-cultural with hipsterdom. Hipster culture doesn't give a shit about any of these things and is not a counter-culture. Instead, well I've thought of it as (ok the definition is foggy, but here's mine) a pointless shallow dead end aimless narcissistic popularity-contest of a subculture that's appropriated little pieces of every rebellious culture I can think of in order to seem rebellious, mixed with the ironic nonsense and some stupid, newer trends. There's a difference between trying to be hip and making an effort to, say, shrink your ecological footprint.

Also, I don't think there's anything new about an up-and-coming generation embracing new values and moving into family homes, etc. Oh hell, I can only say so much because I can't say I'm so familiar with NY. Mainly Seattle, Portland, Olympia and the countercultures/subcultures that've been evolving and devolving for the last couple decades
Posted by i'm pro-science and i vote on February 18, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 21
"It's like imagining dandies living on a farm."

That's a gem, Charles - not only apt, but the mental image it evokes is hilarious. Best laugh I had all day.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 18, 2013 at 8:03 PM · Report this
Pure, utter, complete nonsense. The NYC suburbs are full of TGI Fridays, Red Lobsters, Olive Gardens, Outbacks, Applebees, and IHoPs. In other words, not a panini, pad Thai or pierogi anywhere in sight. And, while one or another of those chain horror-stories might be amusing if one were sufficiently zonked, you can't stay that way all the time, and the local carabinieri are particularly unforgiving of alt.intoxication.

I grew up in New York's suburbia, in the vacant cultural and aesthetic wastelands of central Long Island, with exorbitant property taxes, idiotic land use, horrible City-hating suburban redneck-equivalents and no mass transit worth speaking of. I'm no hipster, but I can't imagine ever going back there.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 18, 2013 at 8:41 PM · Report this
@22: Long Island is a shithole and is not the northern towns referred to in the story. You know nothing of what you speak.
Posted by bigyaz on February 18, 2013 at 10:32 PM · Report this
Clara T 24
You've assumed there's something more substantive about most hipsters than a six gun tattoo on the forearm and ironic glasses. Aren't they the majority now in some urban demographics? No surprise then that they'll do what most ordinary city people do, turn forty and put a KEXP sticker on a Prius in Shoreline.
Posted by Clara T on February 19, 2013 at 7:33 AM · Report this
All those DayGlo Freaks who used to paint their face,
They've joined the Human Race.
Some things never change.

that song was a big hit in 1976, but the idea was very old even then.
Posted by CATSPAW666 on February 19, 2013 at 9:21 AM · Report this
Yeah, what a shock. The people called "hipsters" are just a privileged class, the aughts' yuppies. It's funny that you actually think these "hipsters" constituted a counterculture simple because they're into live shows and have tats/fixies. Ninety percent of them were always up-and-coming professionals. And now they're doing what professionals always do: abandoning their urbane pretensions and insulating themselves in relative safety and comfort. I honestly don't get what you think "hipsters" are. Just because the fashions are different doesn't mean they're a counterculture resisting middle America.
Posted by Jizzlobber on February 19, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
These people aren't moving to fucking Detroit because they can't find fucking jobs there.

The ones that do generally don't end up staying. Man, Charles, you need to do a stint in the rust belt.
Posted by Soldier of Misfortune on February 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
I second #14. The flaw in this article is that it refers to these places as "suburbs" when they're actually self-contained cities on train lines that connect to NYC. And yes, some people do commute grok there. But what's been happening for the last few years is you're seeing young people who 20 years ago might have moved to Manhattan or to Brooklyn 10 years ago skipping the city in favor of these smaller cheaper and more supportive towns that now have thriving art and music scenes. I suppose you could call them soft if you want to. It's quite a real thing and I'm actually surprised its taken people so long to notice.
Charles - you of anybody must be familiar with the donut effect of city development. Outside the city is the next logical place to go.
Posted by Throwbot on February 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Dougsf 29
What @6 said. There's nothing new about this. Jesus, even Seinfeld said recently, "how can they be hipsters if there's so many of them?"

Also, Simpsons did it.
Posted by Dougsf on February 19, 2013 at 12:42 PM · Report this

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