As I was riding my roommate’s bike around Brooklyn one night (he lets me borrow it – promise), I had a harrowing realization. Namely that, as the title of this article suggests, I’d taken one more step towards being an all-out hipster. Now, this is not something to be taken lightly. Especially in New York, the label “hipster” carries with it loads of negative connotations (both warranted and not). Just broaching the subject is an often-touchy affair. It’s certainly not something to mention whilst traipsing through Brooklyn.
For the uninitiated, the official definition of “hipster” is “A person who follows the latest trends and fashions.” That’s an admittedly broad definition, so we pop on over to the all-knowing Wikipedia, which defines a person of this ilk thusly:
Hipster is a term popularly used to denote an international subculture primarily consisting of typically white millennials living in urban areas. The subculture has been described as a “mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behaviors” and is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store-bought clothes), generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles. Hipsters are typically described as affluent or middle class young Bohemians who reside in gentrifying neighborhoods.
I would add that this is a contemporary hipster. Hipsters have been around since the 40s, and while I certainly cannot comment on what was happening in the 40s, I’m decently sure most of the above definition does not apply.
So what’s so bad about that description? I mean I would say that a melting pot of styles, tastes, and behaviors equates into open-mindedness. Musical taste is what it is, same with fashion taste, and it turns out organic and artisanal food tastes good and is good for you. Really, the main negative in that description is that last sentence. But it’s that last sentence that makes all the difference.
I feel like one of the keys to being a “true” hipster (at least in the negative way that it’s regarded) is the “affluent or middle class” part. There are people who look like hipsters, but they’re really just poor people. But then there are the people who pay boatloads of money at boutique stores to look like those poor people.
The other key is an air of pretentiousness. There’s this notion among hipsters that whatever it is you’re doing is lame, and they’ve done it before. It’s the basis of the joke “Why did the hipster burn his tongue?” (He drank coffee before it was cool LOL). So when you take the notion of someone who’s got money AND acts like they’re better than everyone else, well, the negative stereotype pretty much writes itself.
Patrick, you’re telling me all this shit that I already know! Stop stalling and get to the part where I can laugh at you for being a dirty stinkin’ hipster. Apologies, angry person. I was just trying to throw some context on this jam. So yeah, what about me? How is it that I’m descending into hipsterdom?
Well for starters I do live in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood that is smack in the middle of massive gentrification (which I discussed here). I do enjoy my coffee (as well as my bourbon, though generally not together), and I definitely have a melting pot of styles, tastes, and behaviors. Hell, I literally have a melting pot (it’s a fondue pot and, yes, it’s crazy delicious). I’d say my musical tastes are more broad than indie and alternative, but I do like both genres. I mean, really I fulfill nearly every category, which is why finding myself riding a bike around Brooklyn made me worried that I had sealed the deal. Except that I’m missing some very important ones which, as I stated earlier, make all the difference.
I’m not even remotely fashionable, nor do I follow fashion trends. I don’t mean that in a pretentious way, I’m just fashion-challenged. I couldn’t be fashionable if I wanted to (and believe me, I want to). And speaking of pretentiousness I clearly don’t have that. I’m like, way too awesome to be pretentious (see what I did there?). Part of being hyper self-aware includes realizing that you’re a giant goober, and while you’re OK with that, it kinda washes away any ability to even remotely affect great importance (or even just average importance).
But the most important aspect of hipsterdom that I’m missing is any remote bit of affluence. While I love Brooklyn, I’ve lived here my entire NYC tenure because I just straight up can’t afford to live in Manhattan. I started riding my roommate’s bike not because I wanted to look cool (or even to get exercise), but because I wanted to save $5 for a roundtrip subway ride.
So if you want to help me in my quest to become a true hipster, feel free to send some money my way. I’ll be collecting donations at the local organic, fair-trade coffee shop. I’ll be the one standing next to his bike. With the beard. Wearing my uncle’s old military hat. Eating a banana-quinoa muffin. *Drops head in shame*