[Hipster scouting: Card game chic]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

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Photo of striped hipsteress by Lola Wakefield for Stuff Hipsters Don’t Like ©2008.

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Click here for the link to download the audio track!

 

I am live-blogging on-stage at this pageant where the hipsters are in full-force!! They are intently watching me as I type into my blogging machine, though they appear to be baffled by its high-tech interface. I think, looking at this crowd… this is what Union Pool must be like. I have never been there before but if it’s anything like this I will have unlimited blog fodder for life! In fact, there are so many of them here that it reminds me of my first time at McCarren Park.

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PANDAMONIUM – Bedford Avenue

Sunday, August 17, 2008

As I was closing up shop after a long day’s work sitting around on Bedford Ave at 10pm tonight, I was shocked to see something that I never thought I would ever see: Hipsters assembling! On their own accord – they weren’t even tricked by advertising gimmicks or indie bands!

At first I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. There were hundreds of hipsters in the street walking alongside cop cars with flashing lights. My initial thought was that it was a parade, and the helicopter flying overhead was lighting the way as a good Samaritan effort. Like the fun parades where the cop cars and firetrucks sound their sirens real loud right before the old men in Kiwanis come out driving little cars and beauty pageant queens and the Mayor ride by in convertibles.

Well, if it was one of those parades I would have peaced out. But naturally, because I saw an abundance of hipsters, I followed the commotion right to the center.

After traveling all the way from Union Square, the hipsters had come to a halt at Bedford Avenue. Led by “Panda-monium,” the group who -get this- routinely assembles at “The Change You Want to See” building on Havemeyer, protestors (and hipsters who like costumes, woo!) attempted to relcaim the streets for the purposes of the people who live and play there as opposed to profit-seeking companies encouraging consumption. Dozens of Williamsburgers decked out in Panda masks (one even had a fluffy white belly) were leading protest chants about Pandas and, later on, police brutality.

Aside from the pandas though, there were at least 200 other people assembled around Bedford and N. 6th. I’m not really sure what made them stop there: Was that their destination or did they just get distracted by all the bars and hipster activities? I’ve heard some rumors of a police blockade, but I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure the panda-hipster group decided that if there was going to be a showdown, the Bedford stretch, AKA the Hipster Embassy, was where it must be.

At first there were only a few cops actually standing in the street. They were telling people to get out of the street with the ol’ “we really want to stop you from assembling but can’t legitimately make you until back-up arrives, so for now just stop blocking traffic – also, I’m really a nice guy!” trick. One hipster was really fucking with him, to my amusement, first standing in front of cars trying to pass and then standing directly next to the officer pretending to join in chastising the other hipsters for dancing in the streets. He was pretty tolerant though… or outnumbered and waiting. Either/or.

Then back up arrived and they were really trying to make people get out of the street. Apparently, they didn’t get the Pandamonium flier! Otherwise they would have known that that was the whole point…

Surprisingly, people did get out of the street for the most part. I would have thought the hipsters would have been lunging at the cops in herds trying to get arrested to boost their street cred. But except for a few people trying to cross the street for various reasons (one of those reasons may be just ‘because,’ but whatever), the streets became relatively clear and everyone pooled on the sidewalks. But I guess the cops felt like it would be really lame or something to just stand around in the street and not make a show of anything when they were all dressed up and ready to go. (Note: Cops value street cred wayyy more than hipsters.) Clearly, the youth of Williamsburg was a dangerous force with their panda costumes, excessive standing on the sidewalk and chants that couldn’t even last for more than 5 rounds.

The last straw for the police was when a really good song came on a boom box that this guy was holding on his shoulder a few feet away from me. The cops must have known that something sinister was taking place because there were at least 10 people dancing to the music. Given that hipsters shun all forms of dancing in public, this must have signified that they were about to form some kind of revolt.

Then a cop grabbed the guy with the boom box by the back of his arm and yanked him into the street, pushing him to the ground and making him loose grip of the stereo. Now, I know that dancing is illegal and also a sin, but I think there was excessive force used in this situation. The stereo fell, batteries flying everywhere, and when a few of his friends picked it up, a woman cop angrily lunged for the boom box and tried to further dismantle it!

Seriously, when she did that, all I could think about was that scene in Disturbing Behavior when the creepy yet heroic janitor turns on the stereos and all the robot people freak out and attack them. I guess if music-playing devices to cops are pretty much the equivalent of WMDs, I can see why she tried to attack the boom box. She was unsuccessful though, as the dancing criminal’s friends battled it out of her grip.

I was also standing next to a girl who got tackled and possibly tased for sprinkling water on her friends. She didn’t get it on the cops at all, so I don’t understand what about this behavior provoked them to the point that one of them literally ran from the street to where she was standing up against a storefront, grabbed her by the collar and threw her into the street and pounced on her along with several other burly police officers. I mean, you could tell the people around her on the sidewalk were kind of like “Spraying water is more of a hot concert thing than a riot thing but whatever?” The only thing that cop might be able to plausibly say to justify arresting that girl is that he thought the water was actually lighter fluid and she was attempting to burn down the Pizza Place behind her Do the Right Thing-style. “It’s your turn now, mothafucka!”

One potentially good thing about the people getting arrested and brutalized for absurdity though is that approximately 45 people captured everything on video. The currently sad thing about that is that there is only one YouTube video posted of it as of now.

So what have the hipsters learned tonight?

A) Hipsters will assemble if a raucous street costume party is involved, regardless of if they understand that the motivation behind the assemblage is attacking their habits of consumption.

B) Police officers have ocular implants that compel them to crush musical machines.

and C) Hipsters will (probably) use their tendencies to excessively capture life in digital form instead of experiencing it directly to contribute to the public sphere of information… in a few days, or weeks. Maybe… if they feel like it.

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Video by Frooze.

PS: Girl who got arrested, I have your Yankees hat if you want it! A police officer found it on the ground and threw it towards me after they dragged you away. I picked it up, put it on backwards, and gave him the finger.

#8) Corporate attire

Thursday, August 14, 2008

***RECENTLY UPDATED***

The other day, I did something awful for which I will surely be shunned throughout Williamsburg:

I got hired.

Oh, it gets worse. I didn’t just get hired at any old dive bar or bodega – I was hired by a corporation in the financial district where I would work 9-5 shifts. At such an institution, the term “disposable income” might cease to be an intangible concept like “the real world” and “success.” (Note: especially for hipsters, these things are eternally intangible.)

I don’t know what made me apply with that temp agency in the first place. Hipsters characteristically abhor employment and having self-generated income, preferring instead to spend their days complaining about their lack of adhesion to the larger world outside their college bubbles. To be a genuine hipster, I should have embraced my inner insecurity and continued spending business hours searching craigslist job postings at the local internet cafe and sleeping in my windowless room. By joining Corporate America, my hipster dilemma would cease to be a dilemma.

But as I would learn going to my job interview, the worst part about being employed by a corporation is that you automatically become excommunicated from hipster social circles. This happens for many reasons, the most prominent of which is that you are forced to do something that is intolerable in a hipster’s mind: You must wear “corporate attire.”

It was on this day I realized that while hipsters will enthusiastically faux-grudgingly wear any combination of seemingly ridiculous or unfunctional clothing and walk down Bedford Avenue with pride (or at least with a “I know I’m hot but if you look at me again I will fucking kill you” ambiance), the one thing a hipster will not wear is a suit. They are also hesitant about anything that falls under the “corporate attire” category.

For example, here is a website that attempts to market corporate attire to hipster females:
working and new trends. Perhaps they thought they would be fooled into buying because of their irony?

This website attempt to lure its target audience by advertising with two things hipsters dislike: working and participating in "new trends." Perhaps they thought the irony would fool them into buying their merch?

As you can see, this company is trying to market it’s clothing to both the hipster and the corporate whore, but I anticipate their plan will fail due to the prominance of the “how to” section on their site. Hipsters would never buy anything from someone who is telling them how to do something, especially if that something is dressing like a yupster.

Walking down Havemeyer at 8:00 am (AM!!! Note: This is a hipster’s deepest REM sleep time), the streets were empty save a few hipsters in suits. If you think that the disposition of a hipster is generally distraught, seeing the agony on the faces of the few hipsters whoring themselves out to Corporate America, onlookers would surely assume they were on their way to a concentration camp.

Beyond being physically uncomfortable in the loose-fitting slacks, non-v-necked button-up shirts and other items of customary corporate garb, hipsters feel the utmost sense of embarassment while walking the streets of Williamsburg in such blasphemous clothing. As researchers have learned through in-depth interviews with corporate hipsters, this feeling can only be compared to what hipsters felt when were forced to walk the halls of their middle schools wearing parentally-purchased items that weren’t at all what the “cool” kids were wearing. As this crippling stage of development is known as the root of all the common hipster’s problems (and is therefore considered the inspiration for their pilgrimige to Williamsburg), the irony that these feelings should be rekindled in their place of solace is too much for the hipster to bear. To compensate, the corporate hipster then spends approximately 85% of his gross income on cocaine and Jack Daniels.

At my interview I was instantly hired and asked to come in for a background test the next morning. I left feeling desolate at the thought I would have to endure the hipster walk of shame every week day. I couldn’t even fathom what the walk home from the JMZ would be like, what with the hipsters awake and in full force. I resigned myself to taking comfort in that I would soon be home and could change into an empire-waisted plaid dress and flip flops.

****UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!****

Good news: By a stroke of luck I slept through my background check! I was deeply humbled by that extreme close call and have since vowed to never work anywhere where “corporate attire” is required. Or anywhere that I have to wake up at 7:30 am every day. Or anywhere with the word “Corporation” in its title.

That same day, I was hired on Bedford Avenue! When I walked in on my first day, my manager (who wears tight jeans and has hella tattoos) was smoking a cigarette outside while the front desk was unattended. Hence, my first official training exercise was “how to smoke cigarettes and stand around.” I go into work at 4pm and the only requirement is that I “try to be nice to people.” I’m making a full $10 and hour less than I would be at the corporation, but I can do whatever the fuck I want (which consists of blogging and drinking coffee)!

Expect great posts to come.

#5) Gentrification

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Over the past 10 years, the town of Williamsburg has become the latest magnet for high-income business people, driving property value and the cost of living way up for all, including local Puertorriqueño, black and hipster populations. As a result, crime is at an all-time high (note: I really can’t verify that statistically, but two people definitely got stabbed with machetes by a gang in the nabe recently.)

When asked if the victims were also gang members, a police officer stationed nearby the scene replied, “Nah, they were probably some kids from Oklahoma who started shit with the people who have lived here their whole lives.”

While hipsters have multiple tattoos and like to dress “hard,” they are not actually skilled with martial arts or weaponry. It is likely that in this case, and many other gentrification-driven acts of violence, hipsters have been wrongfully targeted and blamed by those in financial duress, who confused them with the corporate tools who work so much they don’t even have the opportunity to walk around the streets after 10 pm to get attacked.

If there is one thing hipsters hate more than being victims of violent crime, it is being confused with young professionals. I mean, they wear nothing but navy pantsuits and topsiders.

Thus, hipsters view gentrification as a serious issue.

Aside from being offended by mistaken associations, hipsters naturally clash with the corporate-attire wielding market researchers and investment bankers slowly filling the luxury condos and artist lofts. This is not necessarily because hipsters are morally opposed to the corrupt processes that these people willingly feed with their employment, but because their oblivion is soo ironic it hurts a hipster’s mind to think about. The whole point of living in an artsy slum is to be able to work 3 shifts a week at a shitty coffee shop and have money for rent, drugs and concert tickets. But the gentrifiers in Williamsburg work 40-hour weeks and listen to bands like Bon Jovi, missing out on the finer points of the location they are co-opting.

Kristen Reynolds, 24 who recently moved to Williamsburg from Portland and works at a local restaurant, put the situation nicely:

“I mean, why should I have to take out more money from my trust fund in order to be able to live near some professional stock loser? I would rather be mugged than hear Elton John through my wall.”

Torn between living in immediate danger and immediate wet-towelness, gentrification has forced the hipsters to retreat to the north, unofficially designating “red zones” where hipsters are ill-advised to live. These zones can be seen by this carefully rendered map:

As you can see, the only areas not vetoed by the hipster population are within a 3-block radius from the north side of Bedford Avenue, and maybe Soho.

As you can see, the only areas not vetoed by the hipster population are within a 3-block radius from the north side of Bedford Avenue, and maybe Soho.

Hipsters also do not like gentrification because some righteous hippies on city council are using it as an excuse to close McCarren Pool (and by close I mean spend millions of dollars to make it an actual pool again). See the third thing Hipsters Don’t Like for more on this.

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Map editing by Lola Wakefield for Stuff Hipsters Don’t Like ©2008