Does “Hipster” automatically equal Brooklyn?


turtle95 writes on the Park Slope Message Boards: “In two articles in the NY Times recently (one about Fair Trade Coffee and the other about fixed wheel bicycles), the New York Times has equated “hipsters” with Brooklyn.”

“Is this a default now? Are there any hipsters left in Manhattan, or if they live in Manhattan, would they not be considered hipsters? What about Queens? Do they have any?”

“… If this was word association and someone said hipster, how many words it takes until you get to Brooklyn (or a subset thereof, e.g. Williamsburg)? … this isn’t an indictment of hipsters, just an exploration of what the term is coming to signify geographically.”

EXTRA!! Fun fact: the word “hipster” is used in 4 different articles in yesterday’s Sunday edition of the NYT.

Pontificate on hipsterism on the Park Slope Message Board

30 thoughts on “Does “Hipster” automatically equal Brooklyn?

  1. Jason Cree

    Hipsters are the lowest quality of interesting people out there. They are mindless, follow-the-herd, wannbies, similar to the trailer-trash of the intellectual world. And they’re an infection spreading throughout Brooklyn. Not just Williamsburg, but everywhere. They’re lower than lipstick lesbians, UES-via-CT blonds slumming it in the Village, and Al Sharpton-esque hypocrites. Brooklyn should be ashamed for letting these suburbanites come in and ruining that Bklyn has been for generations…

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  2. jh-r.

    The hipster is a different social type. You would be hard pressed to find someone who would self-identify as a hipster, though many it seems yearn for the objects to make one able to be classified as one.
    Perhaps rather than asking if brooklyn is the new stomping ground, or if brooklyn=hipster the question should be to asked for someone to self proclaim themselves. Why? This might help to clarify the new suburban hipsters that are transforming the urban environment or perhaps, post-urban environment of brooklyn.
    Hipsters claim everything material from every marginalized group out there, from property for their housing to androgynous clothing from queers.

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  3. prudence

    Would someone please attempt to define “hipster”? Why does everyone hate them? Jason Cree’s comment doesn’t tell me anything. Why are they “low quality?” Enlightenment is welcomed!

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  4. alex b

    hipsters are reviled because they are seen as being willfully transient and fleeting in a city that places the most value on authenticity and consistency. they are the symbol of how new york city culture is undermining itself and losing real value and meaningful content. they are generally from outside nyc and they try to appropriate everything they’re not. they want to live in condos in old churches but they aren’t religious. they want to live in gritty neighborhoods, but they came from the suburbs. they drink pabst and wear trucker hats but their parents have white collar jobs. they appropriate the culture of the city and then they grow up and leave, leaving behind a thoroughly yuppified neighborhood devoid of its original inhabitants and culture.

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  5. mike

    you make good points alex b. but isn’t that what a city is defined by? I mean, New York was a very different place before the Irish came here and then they moved into neighborhoods and completely changed them, then by the 50’s moved out to the ‘burbs and left the neighborhood entirely different from when they came.

    not to equate the hardship of irish (or insert any other immigrant community) with hipsters but the dynamic of a city is an ever-changing thing, and whether it is changed by poor famished Irish people or suburban kids who want to live the city life, it is a change nonetheless.

    and for jason, isn’t the hegemonic american culture of mtv, SUV’s, american idol, and blind consumerism also wanna-be’s, follow the herd, and mindless? who cares what other people like. just because I don’t like american idol, it doesn’t mean I feel inclined to be a complete asshole to them because they do like it. what you’re saying is just like the bigots in the past who said the irish, italian, whatever, will ruin the city. they didn’t ruin it, they changed it, and they made new york what it is now. you obviously have no clue to the fact that this is a society, and whether you like it or not, it changes. brooklyn is not going to stay the same as it was “for generations” because of economic growth and so many other factors, so embrace the change or get out of the way. yes, it sucks the new york is turning into a suburban culture city, but the whole world is cyclical; new york will someday be dangerous and scary and shitty, just like the “good ole days”

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  6. jared

    hipster don’t gentrify, a booming real estate market does. don’t blame kids who like to dance and dress silly for raising rents, blame free market speculation. the punks/hipsters of the mid 70s didn’t turn the east village/les into a frat boy heaven, frat boys, landlords, and investors did. its also important to look at why these areas were depressed in the first place – robert moses and slum clearance, white flight, abortion being illegal, the cia and the crack industry, banks that refused to lend to certain areas, etc

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  7. John

    Wow Alex, I do believe that’s the most cogent and well reasoned response as to why I loathe hipsters I’ve ever read. Get out of my head!!

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  8. Suze

    Alex is dead on there. Also, hipsters are the people who mocked the B&Ts until they took over part of Bklyn and became B&Ts. They love the gritty look of the city, but not actual grit.

    It’s funny – the city always had kids from the suburbs moving in, but they adapted to the city and added to it (Lou Reed, Cindy Sherman, Walt Whitman etc…all from the burbs) This batch is like locusts, leaving expensive condos in their wake.

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  9. unhip native

    Alex B and Mike present perhaps the most lucid commentary on a blog in recent memory. Hipsters are not loathesome for their tastes, origin, background or counter-culture bent. As Mike points out, this city and its character (as well as its distinctive Neuw Yawk accent that is fading but otherwise traceable to mixing of languages and accents of years’ past) is a product of its variety and shifting composition. Some blame that for what is wrong with the city (ruined at one time or another by influx of poor Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, hispanics, etc.); others recognize it for the diversity that defines us.

    Hipsters are loathesome because they try too hard to be something they are not. By and large, they are pocket-protector laden children of suburban accountants and librarians that seek refuge in some false cover of cool. It is like joining a gang. They wear the same colors, talk the same talk, and promote themselves as know-it-alls about a city they just found last year and will flee in favor of some subdivision in the suburbs next year. We all love to call them hipsters because they are anything but hip. I call them underemployed spoiled brats that are spending mommy’s money, all the while complaining about how expensive the city is made by those cursed yuppies (i.e., their parents). If you ask a hipster, change (i.e., them) and white collar workers (i.e., those of us that have lived here for 40 years) have ruined the city.

    All that said, I agree with Mike. So what if I hate the hipsters. They are just the latest passing fad that perceive themselves to be uber cool. They will go they way of the Stork Club or Studio 54 like all other group you could call “hipsters” over the past 100 years. Yet, we welcome them all to the city. That is what makes this place so great.

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  10. pete

    I think all the hipster haters are trying too hard to make their own clique of uber-coolness by trashing hipsters.
    (and I’m over 50 and not quite sure when how I know a hipster when I see one).
    I’m just happy, whoever these people are , that they are moving to NYC.
    City was depopulating for decades unlike the revisionist history of mr Cree’s “Brooklyn should be ashamed for letting these suburbanites come in and ruining that Bklyn has been for generations”. Truth is more like Brooklyn has been moving to suburbs for generations.

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  11. Blurhn?

    People who hate hipsters for “being from the ‘burbs’ are the most likely people who are nowhere near here.

    Most of the people I grew up with in the “burbs” were born in Brooklyn (Greenpoint, WBURG, Sheepshead Bay, Bensonhurst). Did people bitch about the Brooklynites moving to the suburbs becuase NYC was dangerous? No. Who gives a rats ass.

    So why bitch that people from the burbs are moving to Brooklyn now that it’s safe? If you’re not from around here, you won’t understand this dynamic. I guarentee 90% of the people who moan about HIPSTERS are from the very places they complain about the hipsters being from in the first place.

    Also note: 1) Brooklyn has always been majority white. Don’t complain that the “white people are overtaking Brooklyn!” If anything, Brooklyn’s becoming less white. Who cares.

    2) Hipsters do not raise rents or real estate prices. ever. If that were the case, like someone mentioned above, Williamsburg would’ve been gentrified in the early 90s when all the artists started moving there. No, it took a hot economic period and weak dollar (i.e., positive investment climate) to push prices up.

    People use hipsters as a scapegoat, seeing “creative” people as the enemy (who really do nothing) and the men wearing suits and ties as the hardworking heroes (even though those are the real people who are pushing prices into oblivion).

    The end.

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  12. santa

    im sure all of the old people were bitching when all the hipsters (punks) invaded the LES in the 70’s.

    most people on this board sound like abunch of old farts sitting on their front porch yelling at “those youngins”

    also there are quite a few cliques inside the realm of “hipster” so many of these arguments are pretty damn silly.

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  13. Talya O.

    I am a working professional in the heart of Williamsburgh. I ride the L train to Bedford, which is where they all seem to get off in herds. Here are my questions rather than assuming criticisms?

    Why do the majority of hipsters emit a low energy? Why do they not simply smile and carry on their individualness with a little zest and culture?

    On that note, any “group” that associates being or atleast looking like they are simply carrying on the lull of life, why promote that kind of mundaneness?

    Hipster ladies, MEN LIKE CURVES. I am not talking about J-Lo booty and Pam Anderson racks, but what about the hip-to-waist ratio that promotes healthy levels or hormone releases in the opposite sex. Pull up your pants, do some squats and be the ladies that you are.

    I am getting off topic, but where is the CULTURE in all of this, rather than a “look” that feeds into a typified personality – skinny jeans, scarf, tight hoodie, dishevelled yet styled hair = def not the most conversational interesting person I will meet today.

    Why be that?

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  14. jlg

    There’s some misinformation here. For the people who think Brooklyn is majority-white, it’s not. I’ve been doing demographic research on a lot of Brooklyn neighborhoods in recent months. According to the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy’s report published in just last month, Brooklyn is actually only 42% white.

    Now, if you walk down Bedford Ave it may feel like everyone there looks the same. That’s the heart of hipsterdom though. Everyone’s rocking their dirty white converse or vans and wearing ridiculous low-hanging tapered jeans that went out of style in the 80s. Hipsters may not self-identify as such, but they’re as homogenous a crowd as any in this city. On the other hand, I really don’t know of any so-called hipsters who are forking down hundreds of thousands of dollars for condos in the Burg. And if you’ve seen any of the real estate marketing, it’s not for this crowd. It’s for affluent professionals. I hate to be too judgmental or classist, but I don’t thing that hipsters (or their parents) really have that much earning power. So all the people who equate the condo buyers with hipsters are kind of off-base! It may be that parents are helping kids buy into the neighborhood, but from what I’ve seen the buyers aren’t hipsters.

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  15. Lee

    I don’t get why there’s always ruckus surrounding the word hipster. It’s just a convenient way to describe a certain group of like-minded individuals. Everyone is part of some group whether they want to be or not, because everyone has preferences and people will naturally gravitate towards their own preferences.

    I also don’t get why someone has to have been born in Brooklyn in order to be considered “authentic.” For one thing, it would be pretty hard to match it since the last census reported that at least 36% of the population in New York City is foreign born, and in some Brooklyn neighborhoods, it’s an even greater percentage.

    I was born & raised in a suburb in the Midwest. Does that mean I have to stay there? I never liked it and I felt alienated. When I moved to NYC, and to Williamsburg Brooklyn almost 20 years ago, I finally felt HOME. When I moved here, I was a minority group but it was easy for me to find my social group because of things like similar ways of dressing, etc. But you know what? Everyone does this. Not just hipsters. That’s why I think some of this conversation is so simplistic.

    PLUS, part of what makes NYC great is the joining together of all these people. And one of the biggest reasons I left my home state was that there wasn’t a climate to allow or support differences outside of (what I saw, anyway) a narrow band of acceptibility.

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  16. jj

    In Carroll Gardens it is the “yuppies” that are pissing off the old timers and destroying the neighborhood (see the comments on the Brooklyn Record piece on the Smith St bar Quench) . . .In Williamsburg, Bushwick and Clinton Hill it is the “hipsters” laying waste to all that is dear. . . Brooklyn must have been great when it was just full of violent greaseballs and guys like Sonny Carson. But I kinda like it now. But I am from Ohio via San Francisco so I must be some kind of infidel worthy of villification

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  17. Talya O.

    Did someone actually write the statistics that Brooklyn is not all white?

    We knew that for a while buddy.

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  18. keith

    Are you park-slope-living, blog-comment-posting people SERIOUSLY complaining about NYC gentrification right now? How ironic! (Did you know that irony is a staple of hipster fashion? Uh-oh!)

    “Hipster” is a great scapegoat term, and in the eyes of whoever lived on your block before you did, you are a hipster.

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  19. Fidel Gastro

    What’s orange and looks good on hipsters?

    Fire

    (for those of you who said American Apparel V-Necks, go sit in a corner)

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  20. BWoods

    Why is it that because my father is a business executive I can’t live in the so-called “ghetto” or wear a trucker hat? The fact of the matter is that these “hipsters” aren’t members of any one exclusive social class. Brooklyn isn’t India so stop pushing for the caste system you creeps. I can’t wait to move into Brooklyn from the ‘burbs, put on my $250 Nike Dunk Lows, wear my ridiculously over-priced limited run hoodie and build my contemporary loft (paid in full by daddy) in some decrepit old church. God forbid artists and other young-spirited individuals come into a neighborhood and revitalize it!

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  21. Pingback: Hatta, Shemagh, Kuffiyah, Keffiyeh, uh . . . Hipsters are Dead! « Mikey Wally

  22. nathan

    It is true that hipsters and artists moving into slummy neighborhoods has always marked the beginning of the gentrification of a neighborhood. But that doesn’t mean you can blame people for moving into fun and interesting neighborhoods, we just have to value the people and culture that were there before us and preserve it. But yes its true, you can look at any city, town or neighborhood that has been gentrified and right before that happens you will see artists moving in, setting studios, shops, cafes and then of course it becomes a magnet for development and gentrification, everybody wants to move there and they have deeper pocketbooks than the locals. You can see this happening in the mission of sf, brooklyn, it happened in taos,nm and santa fe new mexico as well. We definitely need some sort of regulation. good conversation.

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  23. helene

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    “HARD HEARTS”
    opening reception July 17th, 2009 7-10pm @ The Williamsburg Music Center 367 Bedford Ave Brooklyn Ny 11211 718-384-1654 (see attachment)
    Live MUSIC BY BOOKER T WILLIAMS, TARA THIERRY, SILVANO FERRIN AND THE GERRY EASTMAN HOUSEBAND
    POETRY/SPOKEN WORD BY, TARA THEIRRY, GLORIA, MIA HERNANDEZ, VALERIE KIRK
    VISUAL ART BY: HELENE RUIZ, HELEN BASCOM, GLORIA HOLWERDA-WILLIAMS, VALERIE KIRK, MARIAM MURADIAN, MIA HERNANDEZ,WAHALA TEMI
    cash bar, wine, refreshments
    free and open to public

    Reply
  24. hipster.moi?

    Come on.
    “Hipster” is just a stereotype.
    A word.
    Stereotpes are labels people use on someone because they don’t want to find out what truths lies underneath all those layers. Yes, I poke fun at hipsters but other might catergorize me as having hipster tendancies too. I don’t mind it. I’m not a bad person. I smile, socialize with people and are a pretty genuine human being.
    Who really cares? Hipsters aren’t raping our children, making the streets dangerous, or directly affecting our economy. People use to feel the same way about hippies in the 70’s and also blacks during the civil rights movement. There are good people and there are bad people of all sorts of backgrounds, social classes regardless of where there come from, how they dress, where they live, how educated or what music they listen too. Let people do what they want, say what they want-hipster or not. Why are you letting one group of people affect you so much? There are better things to focus on in this world…Serious issues going on guys. So stop pointing fingers because bitching about it isn’t gonna change anything. Ha! Its just going to bring people who feel the same about it together. Kind of like hipsters. Whoa-are you turning into a hipster? Ha ha! 🙂

    This is a city. There is a reason why we live here. If we wanted to be in the country or suburbs-we’d move there. But we’re here because we all share some sort of common values, ideas, sense of security (or whatever fucked up thing it may be), that brings us together in an enviroment that we see fit to support our mental and physical interests as well as a podium to express ourselves; somewhere, where being different, not being different or just being you isn’t going to have the whole village nocking on your door with pitchforks trying to burn you at the steak. Even when we bitch about it; traffic, crime, money, people, hipsters-we all secretly love it. That’s why we’re here. So I guess, bitching is fine. A sort of stress releaser, comic relief I guess. But unless you feel you would contact your local state representative or start a petition on passing some sort of law legislating against hipsters, I hope you’re not taking yourselves seriously. 🙂

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  25. Coughe

    Some would say I dress or look like a hipster and I live in bushwick Brooklyn as well. Though, I can promise that you’re not 100% correct when you say our parent pay for everything we have.

    I moved here from Florida, my parents still live there, in a “ghetto” area if that’s what you’d call it.
    I moved here on my own money, crashed with friends, found a job and now work my ass off to pay my “expensive” rent. I work pay check to pay check, rarely have the extra cash to spend on something I just want instead of something I need.

    Do a little more research and get your stories straight before you start assuming and pointing fingers.

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  26. Stephanie

    SERIOUSLY? All I hear is complains against the hipsters. Do you even know what a hipster is? Have you ever paused to think what hipster meant during the 1960s?

    I am surprised that people constantly associate hipsters with kids 20 years of age and dependent on their parents for their $3,000 rent money. In reality, the term hipsters during the 1960s were people who abandoned their jobs, were liberal all the way, smoke pot (stereotype of the 60s, apparently indicates this), lived on the streets, were on cults, were basically poor, sometimes lived in wild abandonment (and that means letting themselves get dirty and not showering), and many other things.

    No one should be pointing fingers on people, obviously the government needs to create more affordable housing units. All I’m seeing is condos, and I am like what the crab are people with low incomes and can’t afford expensive rent going to buy condos for?

    Place yourself in today’s “hipster” term, if you could no longer afford rent and was forced to move to a neighborhood where rent was much more cheaper, would you like someone blaming you for ruining their neighborhood? No, right? Of course. You basically had a need to move out and be able to afford a housing living. This is the way things are, why do you think people are converting factories to housing units? In their desperation to afford a place to live in. So before you all jump into blaming “hipsters” or jumping into conclusions, please pause to think WHY many people are moving to other neighborhoods. (Ex: No affordable housing available).

    Reply

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