death to the hipster

If there is anything that has struck me the most about coming back to the Northeast after a decade of exile in Los Angeles, it is the nature of sociality here.

In what would no doubt come as a massive surprise to any Angeleno reading this post, New York and its environs are intensely social. Whether hyper-scheduled playdates for kids in suburban Montclair (or the city for that matter) or a relentless barrage of events in the city (I swear that you could go to one super-cool architecture event every night of the year), the area is relentlessly filled with a pursuit for activity. In contrast, L. A. is a city that exists virtually without any social interaction. This is a city which in the eve of the millennium could do little more than turn the Hollywood sign green, after all.

But let's not let the Northeast off so easy. What it has to offer instead is massive social division. If people see each other at orchestrated and semi-orchestrated social events, they see not so much individuals as representatives of micro-clusters. In L. A. whether you live in Paris-Hilton-infested Bel Air, polka-dot Silver Lake, or the pseudo-city of downtown is ultimately irrelevant, just a subtle inflection within a diffuse urban field. By contrast, New Yorkers take their lifestyles seriously…whether you live in Tribeca, Park Slope Montclair, or the Upper West Side is a decision of grave importance. Identity, it seems, is real. Or is it? in an amusing—but biting—special issue, Time Out NY addresses the "Hipster," a particular, highly contrived urban breed. A quote should entice you in...

The mouth of a real-estate agent is rarely the source of truth, but Mr. Desjadon knows his territory (and is no doubt cashing in on this knowledge). He has unwittingly explicated the transformation of the hipster into the “indie yuppie,” an avatar we might imagine as the fusion of Kurt Cobain and Adam Gopnik. The indie yuppie is (literally) the child of the bobo, and just as his father the baby boomer did, he has learned to simulate rebellion while procuring and furnishing a comfortable two-bedroom.

Read more at The Hipster Must Die.

So what interests me about this is the need of individuals to fit into certain molds and the question of whether the NY or LA model of socialization is more future-forward…



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