No hippychick

17 02 2013

I have never been hip.

There have been times in which I might have approached cool, but, really, I doubt I’ve ever been cool, either.

No, I run too hot: I was too eager, too earnest, too political, too angry, too depressed, too neurotic, too in-my-head, too awkward, too dismissive, too dug-in, too restless, too. . . yeah, I dunno what exactly hip is, but I was too-much (and not-enough) ever to be it.

I’m not bashing the hip, however—at least, not in the this post. Yes, when I lived in the un-hip far-out-on-the-L section of Bushwick and had to deal with the polyester-bowling-shirt-surfer-shoe-straw-hat-wearing skinny folk of the near-L-stop Williamsburg and hip-Bushwick, I met my weekly quota of sneering-at-hipsters with ease. But now, away from the L train and a bit more ensconced in my life in New York, I shrug my shoulders and think, Eh, it’s a thing.

And, honestly, while I never could have been hip or cool (or punk or goth), there was always a part of me that was/is fascinated by the performers of hip. I was waaaaay too self-conscious to have treated my life as a kind of performance, to have shown myself off with such elaborate disdain for anyone who wasn’t me and mine.

Oh, I disdained, believe me, but I could never achieve that combination of commitment and detachment necessary to the extended pose of the hip. I didn’t have the knack.

All of which is a long way toward considering yet another NYTimes Style section piece on Brooklyn hipsterdom—only this time, the hipsters have moved upstate, to what author Alex Williams calls “hipsturbia”.

There’s much to criticize about the piece, as there always is with Style section essays—the exclusive focus on above-median-income white people, the writing off of large sections of Brooklyn, the constant need to say Brooklyn is over, etc.—but I don’t know how critical I can be of those profiled in the piece.

They want their comforts at an affordable price; who doesn’t?

Sure, it sounds obnoxious to decide to live in a place because when you did a Google Map street search you found more Subarus than SUVs, but who doesn’t look for signals that a particular neighborhood might work for someone?

I don’t have much money, but even with my limited funds I had (and have) my preferences. I like my general neighborhood and am glad for my train options, but would like to be closer to Prospect Park, and a few more coffee shops/bistros/pubs would be nice. I like trees.  I’d rather live with more apartment space in Brooklyn than less in Manhattan. And since I’ve never been hip, I don’t have to worry that as Brooklyn is, pace the Times, fading in hipness, it’s no longer the place for me.

Anyway, it seems as if the problem is less with the former Brooklynites than with the Times trying to stamp its own narrative on their exits. It’s not that hard: these folks are trying to find a way to live their lives in ways that make sense to them, and are trying to figure out how to blend what they like best about Brooklyn (or, really, any place they lived and loved before) with what they can find where they are now.

Trying to figure out how to make sense ain’t a trend; that’s life.