First the Beats, then the Hippies, now the Hipsters?
For many years now, parts of Brooklyn seemed to have become a beacon for people involved in a restless search for culture and authenticity, group-membership and belonging, identity and some sense of purpose. This seems to be in addition to all the other job/career/immigration/mating reasons people have typically moved there.
It used to be a place where working-class people could afford a house.
Mind you, no one ever put-up a neon-sign over Brooklyn, flashing away into the night and visible from the suburbs (unless it was probably done ironically, mocking the ‘crass commercialism’ of a ‘bygone’ and fetishized era), but there have been some interesting demographic shifts going on. The words ‘community’ and ‘craft,’ ‘artisanal’ and ‘fair trade’ get thrown around a lot.
Have hipsters become part of the fabric of the city?
Here’s an interesting piece from Christy Wampole At The Ny Times ‘How To Live Without Irony:’
‘The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny. The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool.’
Christian Lorenzten has a less flattering take, in order to get at a more pure definition of ‘cool’:
Under the guise of “irony,” hipsterism fetishizes the authentic and regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity. Those 18-to-34-year-olds called hipsters have defanged, skinned and consumed the fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge. Hungry for more, and sick with the anxiety of influence, they feed as well from the trough of the uncool, turning white trash chic, and gouging the husks of long-expired subcultures—vaudeville, burlesque, cowboys and pirates.
Of course, hipsterism being originally, and still mostly, the province of whites (the pastiest of whites), its acolytes raid the cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity in the pot.
(Addition: Of course his version of ‘authentic’ seems to be that hipsters haven’t thankfully gone full Lefty).
Below are the Mast brothers, taking that hipster ethos into the business and branding of themselves as chocolate-makers, along with an entirely ‘old-timey’ aesthetic. Few chocolate-makers take pains to mention Mark Twain & Ralph Waldo Emerson:
It seems the tide may already have receded a bit.
From the Observer:
‘Economic bifurcation has increasingly divided a borough known for its vibrant blend of cultures, classes and races into two different worlds, each with its own set of schools, stores restaurants and bars, with those at the bottom receding from the larger consciousness of Brooklyn identity to the degree that The Wall Street Journal recently labeled Bed-Stuy’s “underserved” those who could not, until now, find a craft beer for under $7. ‘
Has the hipster been good for Brooklyn?
That’s debatable, and it depends on just who we’re talking about. I’m guessing the local anti-hipster perspective found at DieHipster.com represents genuine sentiment and grievance: Their Brooklyn has become a playground for extended childhood. Rents get raised. Locals are pushed-out and overrun. The area gentrifies and can actually become more divided. For all the talk of ‘community’ and ‘authenticity,’ there’s a surprising (or unsurprising, really) naive idealism and post-Boomer narcissism, self-regard, and self-interest amongst the hipster crowd.
All politics is local, and it’s playing out in Brooklyn.
Is the hipster good for free markets?
Theses are some pretty vague terms I’m throwing around. Obviously, some folks are, and Whole Foods is a good example, but I wonder about the creep of collectivism and communalism into the culture more generally.
Here’s a quote I put up before.
The late Jacques Barzun at The American Scholar-’The Cradle Of Modernism‘:
‘For yet another cause of unhappiness was the encroachment of machine industry and its attendant uglification of town and country. The Romanticists had sung in an agrarian civilization; towns were for handiwork and commerce. Industry brought in not factories only, and railroads, but also the city — slums, crowds, a new type of filth, and shoddy goods, commonly known as “cheap and nasty.” And when free public schools were forced on the nation by the needs of industry, a further curse was added: the daily paper, also cheap.’
*I’m aware that this type of cultural criticism and/or ‘sociological analysis’ is often done by those typically invested in abstract categories of ‘culture’ about which I remain skeptical.
**No, I’m not from Brooklyn, and can make no particularly persuasive claims upon it.
Related On This Site: Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-Law
Well, art doesn’t need to be in service of a socialist vision, but it can: Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’
Hipster Romanticism?-From The Atlantic Photo: ‘Adventures Of A Serial Trespasser’
Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar Man…From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’
Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either: A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’