Hipster Bashing Is Getting Old

I write this fully aware of the flak I’m going to get. But here it goes.

I read an article in Brooklyn Magazine the other day discussing whether hipsters and gentrification are ruining Brooklyn. I stand on both sides of the argument here. I’m not labeling myself a hipster. There’s more than enough evidence in my life to suggest that I certainly am not, but I do nevertheless fall under that umbrella of intellectual and creatively minded young people who enjoy a good artisinal roast every once in a while. And I’m definitely one of those more liberal arts types saddled with an enormous student debt sticker on my forehead.

Thus I moved to Brooklyn to cut my losses the best I could. But I moved to North Williamsburg, so I’m not exactly sure what good that did in the end. And having recently been the unsuspecting target of a hatefully anti-hipster website (over some pictures I took of a glow-in-the-dark kickball game…like really? Get over it.), I naturally began feeling pretty guilty whenever I walked down my street or whenever I worked my beat because of course I look nothing like the original culture of the neighborhood.

But now I wonder: Why am I guilty? I pay my rent. I take out my trash. I’m respectful to my neighbors and to members of my community. I have a great relationship with my landlords, who are among the first generations of Italian immigrants in Williamsburg. Why should I feel poorly for how I dress and for the things I like? Why is that at all marginalizing?

But I digress. As a reporter, I cover Greenpoint on a daily basis. For the most part, I’ve grown to understand gentrification and how it looms over this old Polish neighborhood like a toxic plume. I see everyday what the potential and foreseeable future of waterfront condos, grass-fed beef and DIY spaces will do to destroy the integrity of it ever being deemed “Little Poland.” I’ve talked to residents, both old and new, about skyrocketing property prices and how the growing presence of startups and trendy haunts beckon a different subcultural and (in some cases) socioeconomic demographic and thus threaten to thrust the original bunch out.

It’s a sad truth. Gentrification moves rapidly, with the charging momentum of a freight train and with little regard for anything or anybody caught on the tracks. When we first met, Jen Galatioto told me in reply to my many reportorial questions about the future of Greenpoint “that’s progress. Deal with it.” She doesn’t mean to be unforgiving. I know this because she doesn’t exactly support the sort of macro-corporatized luxury developments either. But she certainly doesn’t take it lightly when pockets of Brooklyn want to blame “her kind” for it.

Who’s really to blame? Who is “her kind?” I challenge any one of you to sum it up in 10 words or less. There is no one-size-fits-all descriptor for the recent migrants to North Brooklyn. Sure you’ve got the Caucasian bearded, dark-rimmed spectacled types with their bikes and moleskins, but then you’ve got young, aspiring Asian writers from the South like me who caught wind of the creative energy in this neck of the woods and felt compelled to share in it. Then you’ve got some of my friends who live in Greenpoint, who come from all walks of life, and who hold very steady jobs, for which they work incredibly hard. Is it fair to slap an all-encompassing and derogatory label on a new generation that’s simply wanting to settle new roots in a new place?

On that note, is it really such a bad thing? Is it not a compliment at all? That a small and unassuming nabe of previous decades could become a blossoming hub for later ones? After all, what is a city without progress? And I’m not discounting the value of heritage. I’ve fought relentlessly in the past to stall the types of advancement that would do more harm than good. Maybe for some, the hip eateries and bookshops and the influx of (gasp) foreigners will do more harm than good. But I’ve spoken to many Greenpoint veterans who grew up on the same street and even on the same stoop who will tell you that the neighborhood has changed, but they welcome it.

Ideally, New York is the type of city that’s accommodating to all cultures and all subcultures, right? It’s the diversity that makes it as vibrant as it is. Jen also told me that she loved Greenpoint and she moved here precisely because she thought it was the type of place where the old and the new could cohabit and live peacefully and build and learn off of one another. It was the medley of different faces that made the neighborhood even richer than it was before. And as a message to those who carry with them such insufferable anti-hipster sentiments: who made you king of the castle? This isn’t a turf war, so stop making it one. These so-called “hipsters” you campaign so adamantly against are just looking for a place to start a life, and yes, they have inevitably brought with them their lifestyles and their idiosyncrasies. But at one point in the history of New York, didn’t all immigrants do the same?

About Stephanie K

Having just recently moved to Williamsburg from Austin, Texas, I've been doing everything humanly possible to get better acquainted with North Brooklyn. I'm currently working on a masters degree in magazine journalism, and in the past three months, I've had the great privilege of working with the residents, business owners, elected officials and activists who make Greenpoint such an amazing nabe and a compelling news beat.

64 Comments

  1. Tony L says:

    Well-written Stephanie K. Good job. Couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
  2. AnnMarie G says:

    I think that was a wonderful article. As one who was born and raised in this neighborhood, the people who complain and ridicule seem to forget this area was not the greatest before the changes started. People were afraid to walk outside at night, and it from experience I could tell you I had to fight cab drivers to take me home from other burroughs. The only problem I have is like with all groups of people no matter what they’re called there are those who are rude and unfriendly. Other than that keep the changes coming.

    Reply
  3. jim says:

    maybe you guys should just stop talking about hipsters so much?

    Reply
    • Jen G says:

      Hi Jim- We don’t bring hipsters up. We cover events going on in the neighborhood – then get attacked by Hipster Hating websites that threaten our writers and speak violently about people who live here. It is definitely becoming a sore subject, but after the recent backlash, it was important for Stephanie to be able to respond. Thanks for your patience. We are tired of it, too.

      Reply
  4. John B says:

    I appreciate everything about Greenpoint. I’m friends with the Polish woman who runs the laundromat, and I’m friends with the big firm lawyer down the street. I enjoy my $4 macchiato, and I enjoy the $4 bacon and eggs breakfast at the Italian diner on the corner. Greenpoint is fantastic because, like Stephanie said, “It’s the diversity that makes it as vibrant as it is.” If we really believe, as I do, in everyone getting along, stop talking about it and just do it. In the end, I don’t believe pointing out the rifts is productive.

    I love this blog, but I admit I cringed when I read the headline. I’m not sure if you’re baiting the internet trolls or not, but if you’re genuine about what’s written, you might want to change the headline to something less contentious.

    Reply
    • Jen G says:

      Thanks John. Greenpointers has recently been the target by Hipster Bashing websites, specifically about an article about Kickball in McCarren Park. We get threatening comments, especially from a specific blog whose headline is Hipster Beatings… and yes this article is sincerely written. Thanks for your comments. We totally want to get along but we also don’t want to constantly be attacked. After a while “ignoring” abusive and violent comments isn’t an option.

      Reply
      • juju says:

        Jen-
        Not for nothing but – when i was growing up in Brooklyn you didn’t see 20 something dilitantes playing childish games at night in Carroll Gardens. In fact – I am astonished by the number of adults packing sidewalk cafes, coffee shops and the PARK during daylight hours. As a child (and I just turned 50)
        the only people you saw touside during the day were mothers with small children, old people and delivery guys.

        All of this gentrification is a house of cards. Every one runs a gallery. There are no real businesses – cupcake shops, vintage clothing stores and 16 dollar pizza joints. It cannot for the most part, sustain itself because a large portion of the money used to fund these ventures and the rents of hipsters is paid for by parents. Once the parents are tapped out, Josua and marni have to make move back or finally think seriously about finding a job. Then what happens to real estate prices and that nice polish lady who runs the laundromat? What about all those empty storefronts that used to house scores of vegan cupcake joints and Brooklyn-based, artisanal mayonnaise shops?

        Old Brooklyn had it’s real estate prices based on the jobs available locally. My parents moved sold their brownstone in 1980 for 128,000 (they bought in ’66 for 31,000) a few years later it was worth close to a million dollars. The difference is – you had doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, engineers and enterprising blue collar types who could sustain the increase in rents. THEY KNEW what they could afford. The latest group doesn’t care unless mommy and daddy cut them off.

        This is not good for the nieghborhood. Brooklyn is now nothing more than adult summer camp for hipsters.

        Reply
        • Jo says:

          Juju, when you were growing up the internet didn’t exist. Like it or not, the internet has revolutionized a lot of the way in which the world functions—and so many a freelancer work from home or from coffee shops on their laptops.

          Also, just because someone opens an artisanal bakery also doesn’t mean that their business is funded by their parents, and if they weren’t turning a profit, they would shutter. Plenty of people in Greenpoint and beyond work in the fields you mention (law, medicine, etc…) and many more work in the creative field. Are you saying that we should have no art, no movies, no music? Your argument doesn’t really make sense to me. There are plenty of people in the neighborhood who hold these traditional jobs and choose to frequent the businesses of those who choose to own bakeries, coffee shops, and venues. No one is stupid enough to run a business long term without profit, and just because someone is a lawyer, doesn’t mean that s/he doesn’t enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

          I, for one, am glad that daylight hours in the park can be enjoyed by all, not just children, mothers, and the elderly.

          Reply
          • juju says:

            This may come as a shock to you but I love art. I’ve been taking my son regularly to museums since he was able to walk.

            But we live a pampered existence. We no longer have to hunt for our food or work 18 hour days at in factory under oppresive conditions (well yes you do if you work the i-phone assembly line in China).

            The short of it is – when people have time to have cardboard tube fights and play kickball in a ‘hood where rents are approaching Wheel of Fortune levels they have WAYYY to much time on their hands. Because art is something that most hardworking people cannot afford because they’re supporting families or don’t have the time to fully appreciate. Therefore – people like art…BUT – people don’t NEED art.

            And when you have entire high rent communities where its denizens are running around like beta male rejects from Cirque De Soleil. You have to wonder where the money’s coming from.

            Finally. You’re right. Artisanal bakeries may not be parentally funded, but given the fact that most of them tout themselves as “Artisanal” and Brooklyn-Based (you’re located on a street…in Brooklyn..its pretty much a given that you’re Brooklyn based) pretty much hints at the fact that if the money didn’t come from mommy and daddy they used their own. BUT – the difference is they have a place to go to and a support system if they fail. Most entrepeneurs risk a lot.

            Finally – Why does everything have to zany and quirky? Your people complain about how cookie cutter the ‘burbs are and make fun of us, yet we’re not the ones with 12 BBQ joints, 32 artisanal cupcake shops and 150 coffe houses in a six block radius. If I wanted a successful business in your area I’d open a laundromat, hardware store or plumbing supply store. Why does everything these fauxhemians pursue have to be a “dream”? Joshua pursues his dream of getting his MFA in Puppetry..then he pursues his dream of being a puppeteer. mommy and daddy pay his rent and then ALL OF A SUDDEN!!!!- his dream is to open a taco truck?

            Gimme a effin break.

          • Jo says:

            No, I suppose we don’t “need” art, but again, that’s why people live in cities, for the atmosphere and the culture. There’s nothing shameful about being in the art industry or appreciating the art industry. You don’t need to work in an assembly line to prove your personhood. Moreover, many New Yorkers (Brooklynites) are struggling, we are in a recession after all. I don’t know where you get the idea that everyone is just coasting. As far as not needing everything to be quirky—no one is forcing you to frequent these establishments.

            I’m also really confused by who you think “my people” are. I have many family friends in the neighborhood from childhood, and I have a positive association with many (not all) new changes in the neighborhood as well as new neighbors. I consider “my” people to be, New Yorkers, Greenpointers, Polish people, younger people, older people. I grew up here and so yes, I think the suburbs are boring—you don’t need to come from one to know that. Whatever caricature you’ve created for me is pretty inaccurate.

            FYI, there are 4 hardware shops within two blocks of my apartment. I suppose you could open one, but it wouldn’t really be any more useful or unique than another cupcake shop.

  5. Elina says:

    This is progress, people. Lifting a city, neighborhood, and community up to be better than when you first found it. No matter what. It’s that simple.

    Reply
    • juju says:

      Wrong. In order to lift up a neighborhood you need jobs – real jobs..in manufacturing, technology, engineering – not quirky chotchka shops, artisanal tacquerias and 5 dollar a cup coffee shops that play host to a collection of yabbering spider monkeys tapping away on macs and attention seeking artists types who publicly play with legos and vintage typewriters.

      Speak all you want about diversity (AKA your Asian girlfriend and your ONE black friend. Actually all hipsters have one black friend. it’s the same guy. His name is Clarence and he lives in Yonkers) and PC nonsense about cultural diversity. Cultural diversity should be left to fate. You can’t force it. But like a well managed portfolio you need real diversity in your tax base and job market.

      Catering to Joshies and Marnis is a coward’s way out. it’s what politicians do to escape the hard work of trying to lure real companies not just social media con artists, gallery ownersm graphic designers and 8 dollar a bar chocolate makers – all of which thrive thanks to 30 something unpaid interns/ATM Mannequins.
      to Brooklyn

      Reply
      • juju says:

        Further to:

        Our dear mayor seems to lick the boots of these trustafarians because they’re vital to maintaining high real estate prices. Much is made on how they’re sophisticated, and highly educated.
        What good is an education if it won’t get you a job? Journalism? Whata wasted degree. If you want to be a journalist, just write, write, write. it doesn’t cost anything and you can hold down a job while doing it.

        Finally let’s compare and contrast. I have a friend who has 2 cousins and three kids living in Brooklyn. All of them save for one son – against his advice went to college for art.

        Now all in their late twenties they’re still unemployed and funded by mommy and daddy.

        One son went to a trade school. He’s a machinist. he makes 150K per year plus he has a rpeair/remodeling business on the side. He’s a landord who owns 6 apartments.

        Reply
    • jar says:

      There’s the hubris of the hipster for you. How presumptuous to claim that the gentrification of a stable working class neighborhood like Greenpoint is “lifting” anything up to be better. This is why your lot are despised by others. Go back to the suburbs that spawned you- because that is the quality that most of you have in common. You grew up in comfortable, homogenous suburbs and feel lesser because the urban experience is more enrichening (which it is). so you move in to try to consume urbanity while imposing your solopsistic suburban (lifting up, making better) values on a community that thrived without your presence. Go back to the suburbs with haste, please, and leave us urban citizens in peace.

      Reply
      • Ben Y. says:

        “You grew up in comfortable, homogenous suburbs and feel lesser because the urban experience is more enrichening (which it is).”

        Hey as a fellow polish guy out on the East End of Long Island I can safely say be glad Little Poland has yet to end up with a same fate to Little Italy of Manhattan.

        Generalizations hurt. D:

        With love from the technically suburban east end of L.I.

        Reply
        • Jen G says:

          Thanks for your comments, Ben! I think that is the main problem with hipster bashing and why we are so sensitive to it here on Greenpointers – the generalizations. I myself grew up in the city – in Queens – and moved to Greenpoint a few years ago. I don’t have a trust fund nor do I live in a hi-rise, but I love my bicycle, art and great food, which is why I moved here. I have every right to love Greenpoint and write on this website, just as someone who grew up here does and someone else who moved here a week ago. I get criticized for being the pro-gentrification and that I write for only a hipster audience. Our other contributors also come from a variety of backgrounds – and we are all different people who are very enthusiastic about Greenpoint but all have differing points of view. I would love for this website to have a writer who is of Polish decent and others who grew up here (which slowly they are trickling in) because that is what is rich about this urban experience – different people from different backgrounds living together and if not getting along – tolerating each other and appreciating one another and not building walls and hatred against one another. That being said – light hearted humor is fun. But to nastily generalize is a slippery slope which often leads to discrimination and prejudice. People are individuals and should be treated as such. If anyone out there hates me – fine – hate me. To just slap a label on an entire age group of people who in my experience are all very different – and to hate them and despise them and blame them for problems they didn’t directly cause is anti-New York and anti-Brooklyn. Get to know individuals. There are so many amazing people in NY and in Greenpoint.

          Reply
          • Ben Y. says:

            I will say this though if Long Island ever becomes the 51st state Brooklyn and Queens will assimilate. >:D

      • juju says:

        You nailed it. Like the flyover tryhard who opened the egg cream shop on the corner of Sackett and Henry sts. He touted, “no one in Brooklyn new a good egg cream before I came along”.

        Then there are those who moved into Little Italy and immediately wanted to put an end to the feat of San gennaro because it offended them. Then there was the woman who wanted the local church to stop ringin it’s bells at noon because her little snowflake was taking a nap.

        Reply
        • Jen G says:

          I just want to understand why everyone is so angry? Why so threatened? Instead of moving forward with your own way of life, why spend so much time feeling angry and negative toward a group of people that generally want the same things as you do? Most people want to enjoy life and feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. And everyone has recreational time. Recreation doesn’t mean you are wealthy or don’t work. And these so called silver spoon hipsters are in a public park – which is free. Why does it make you so angry that they play kickball? Or any other sport? It’s not liked they are smoking crack in a school yard. Maybe if you were happier in your personal life the lives of other people and their harmless enjoyment wouldn’t make you so infuriated. I don’t know you – so pardon my assumptions. Fine if you think it’s silly or childish – but the rage it clearly insights seems like an overreaction.

          Reply
          • Pat I says:

            Oh for….

            If you’re playing, you’re not working…

            If you’re not working, you’re not earning a living..

            If you’re not earning a living, then someon eis supporting you…..

            If someone is supporting you, have zero skills (because if you HAD skills you’d be using them to earn a living) and cannot bear the thought of having to get up before the sun’s warm and actually do what it takes to make ends meet. These people for the most part DO NOT do that.

            So when the parental teet runs dry, they abandon their artisanal, roof top gardening, brooklyn-based community which really didn’t exist until THEY arrived to go somewhere else.

            Hispters lack character and a WORK ETHIC. I’ve been working in engineering for many years. When I finished school we were in the middle of a horrible recession. So I moved back to brooklyn. I slept on a broken down couch in my aunt’s basement and started unloading tractor trailers at 5AM for Key Food until 1PM – at which point I’d shower, run to NYC and start knocking on doors.

            On the weekends, I would hook up with a contractor and do demolition work. My aunt did not want rent but I insisted on paying

            That’s what you do. The only thing my parents gave me was 100 bucks for my birthday.

        • Ben Y. says:

          Yeah I’m not sure if your confusing the term hipster with douche in regards to the egg cream shop guy.

          No business that recently opened has any right to proclaim they are the best until they build a reputation.

          Reply
  6. Diamond Joe says:

    Don’t worry – every immigrant group to New York has been rejected, at times violently, by the people in the neighborhoods they moved into. Historically those immigrants were traditionally poor overseas immigrants that would take labor jobs for lower pay and crowd more people into smaller apartments forcing out existing families, whereas in North Brooklyn today the immigrants are seen chiefly as being from mainland America (or at least English-speaking), coming from middle and upper class families, seeking skilled labor and creative/executive jobs, and driving up prices simply by being willing/able to pay more. So the demographics of today’s shift may be a little unprecedented, but the process plays out pretty much the same. Ultimately you need to stake your own claim to your legitimacy for being here and not apologize for immigrating, for seeking a life here that you define. The shifting process has been going on since the dawn of the city centuries ago and that process itself has a stronger claim to the identity of the city than any single group does to its neighborhood. Nobody owns the neighborhood they live in here, and if they want things to stay the same then they are in the wrong place. Just look at Little Italy – basically evaporated by Chinatown and yuppies in a single generation. As went the Jews of the Lower East Side and the Irish of Hell’s Kitchen. This town has been about real estate and commerce since its inception and that ambitious energy and relentless opportunism is what makes it so great and so unforgiving at the same time. The only constant in New York is change and IMO real New Yorkers know that and can handle it. So yeah – deal with it.

    Reply
    • Jo says:

      A someone who was raised in Manhattan by Polish parents and is now living in Greenpoint, this is a particularly difficult issue to wrap my brain around. I agree with you that NYC is constantly changing, I grew up with liberal-minded Polish parents and visited the home country (and Greenpoint) often enough. I have a love-hate relationship with my heritage as well because as much as I love Polish traditions, and my family, there are a lot of things ingrained in the culture that I am not fond of (these include nationalism, racism, and sexism).

      Now I find myself somewhere in between on the issue. I love that there are many businesses in Greenpoint that have been there in my childhood, and I love that the Polish community is still very present. I also love that there are coffee shops, bars and creative types around, too. The examples you gave (at least the little Italy, Hell’s kitchen ones, if not all of the examples) exemplify neighborhoods that have become pretty monotonous and somewhat interchangeable. I feel like with a lot of the gentrification articles we read, that is often the concern—the eventual monotony of it all. We blame gentrification and “gentrifiers” because they are a catalyst. I know that there will never be true agreement on which decade was a neighborhood’s “peak,” but I’d imagine Greenpoint is somewhere in the midst of it right now. Naturally, the growth of small businesses in the neighborhood leads to larger developments wanting in, but we know that once the high-rise condo’s start coming in, we’ll see more of what we appreciate about the neighborhood getting pushed out (families that have been here for decades and small businesses, alike).

      Can’t we just have our cake and eat it too?

      Reply
      • Jen G says:

        i do think that as a resident of the neighborhood – no matter how long you have lived here – you are entitled to having a vision of what you want your community to look or not look like and can work towards realizing that vision. thanks for your comment.

        Reply
  7. I saw that you published someone’s IP and email address on the hipster hater site. Not. Even. Cool. What were you thinking?

    You are going to escalate this thing to a whole new level when you do stuff like that. But seriously, their stated purpose is to hate on hipsters. What did you think you were going to accomplish by weighing in over there.

    There’s an old saying that I just made up: if you’re going to stick your junk in a hornets nest, don’t complain about painful swelling and irritation afterwards

    Reply
  8. Sherry says:

    I always thought hipsters were like pornography: you know one when you see one.

    Reply
  9. Kevin says:

    I think it’s important to look at where the modern use of hipster came from and has evolved into. Sites that bash ‘hipsters’ are essentially making fun of a completely different set of people every couple of years. BK may have been the birthplace of the modern hipster, and the idea went international. There was a lot of backlash from Manhattan creative types about 10/15 years ago that cool, young creative types started moving across the river and were less and less relying on Manhattan for their artistic sustenance. Articles in The Voice, etc., describing Williamsburg as a flash in the pan are hilarious to read now. A lot of people at that time still considered themselves ‘punk.’ I suppose the term was a little dated. The distinction was that punk was a self anointed term, while hipster came from the media. It was early 2000′s garage rock revival, cheap beer, and longer hair. Over the years hipster come to mean anything from 90′s style black-rimmed indie rocker to Park Slope parent. One consistent there for a while was that it usually meant left-leaning artist, which have been in NYC for about 10 000 years, just maybe not summed up by the term until the last 10. Today, however, it basically just means asshole. When people use the term in pop culture now, or a random guy I work with, I genuinely have no idea who he’s referring to. At diehipster it seems to be a term for ‘person we don’t like, with no consistent traits from years of pathetic posts.’ It’s hard to say with frustrated virgins, but if it’s a place they can all vent and chat, I suppose it’s ok.

    If someone says hipster to me now I assume they are referring to guys that wear fedoras and hang out at hotel bars, but really I have no idea. It could be anybody.

    Reply
    • Jen G says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Reply
    • Ethan V says:

      I agree it’s not about the glasses and the fedoras, or whatever is the ever changing accessory of the day.

      For me, a hipster is a person with an attitude of cultural superiority, a disdain for the so-called mainstream, and a preoccupation with being perceived as such by others. (That’s 23 words. That “10 words or less” thing is a bit of a bogus challenge. Most concepts can’t be described well in under 10 words. The best dictionary definition I found for “shirt” is 23 words. “Table” is 20.)

      For me the common denominator of what we think of as “hipster” is all in the attitude, and ensuring that the attitude is perceived by others.

      For example, I may prefer fine coffee brewed a certain way, but if I don’t care whether or not my peers and others perceive that I prefer fine coffee, or how I prefer it prepared, then I am probably not a hipster.

      I may think a particular indie rock artist is cool, and a particular mainstream pop star is dreck, but if I don’t care whether or not you know I’m into them (or not into them) then I am probably not a hipster.

      Declaring yourself to be “young, cool and creative” does not make it so. But if you THINK it does, then you might be a hipster. And declaring that anyone who doesn’t think the way you do is a frustrated virgin doesn’t mean you are cool, or getting more sex. But if you’re a hipster, then you probably think it does. And the people you surround yourself with probably think it does, too.

      Reply
      • Kevin says:

        Ha, you’re right Ethan, good point. The cheap dig was really meant for the diehipster site but I get what you mean. I was pointing out that hipster has evolved to basically mean asshole, so better to avoid possibly coming off like one.

        Reply
  10. Todd F says:

    “I’m respectful to my neighbors and to members of my community.”

    2 points:

    #1 Maybe you think you are but you really aren’t.

    #2 Maybe you really are but many others aren’t.

    Reply
  11. Bill says:

    Jen, I’m curious. Where is Stephanie K and why is she not replying to comments about her work?

    Reply
    • Jen G says:

      I think her commentary is her post.

      Reply
    • Stephanie K says:

      I’m not commenting further because I feel as though I’ve said my peace. But for the sake of my own presence on my own post, I will say this: regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with gentrification or with the so-called hipster takeover of Brooklyn, it’s happening. And unfortunately for some, nothing can be done to stop it. The purpose of this post isn’t to advocate for one side or the other. I sympathize with the arguments on either. What I’m trying to do is get people to understand that throwing around labels and pointing fingers isn’t the best way to sustain any kind of future in Greenpoint or in any other neighborhood that faces similar problems. Some people in Greenpoint will tell you that the influx of this new generation is doing wonderful things for the neighborhood. Other will disagree. So clearly, there’s no point in arguing about it anymore. And there’s certainly no point in trying to threaten them or push them out. We all have equal rights to live wherever we choose. What we can do is try to create an environment that’s accommodating to all sorts of cultural and subcultural populations. I can’t speak for everyone who moves to Greenpoint, but I would hope, at the very least, that there’s a mutual respect.

      On another note, the whole trust-fund baby generalization is really ludicrous. I don’t have a trust fund. No one I know who lives here or anywhere else in this country has a trust fund. And I promise you, most people don’t.

      Reply
      • jar says:

        You state that “throwing around labels” is unhelpful, but you label yourself positively as intellectual and creative minded. Surely, you are differentiating yourself from those who do not, in your perception, have those valued qualities. I point this out merely to expose the vapidity of the “labels are bad” meme. Hipsterism is predicated upon labeling- everything is a symbolic commodity (the indie music, PBR, thrift shop clothes passed off as vintage, the list goes on ad nauseum). You seem to only disapprove of labels that affix to hipsters in a negative light.

        As a graduate student in journalism, I am sad to see that you will continue the fallacious, yet popular, false equivalency tendency of so-called journalists and pundits. Because two groups of people align on an issue does not mean their arguments are equally valid. You do understand this, right? As an intellectual, it is an illogical trap into which you should not fall. Perhaps an example will help. People praised Hitler and people condemned Hitler. Well, I guess that means Hitler must have been doing something right! That’s the level of argumentation you present.

        Finally, I find your plea for accommodation very interesting. As has been pointed out in the comments, in prior generations, new inhabitants adapted to the community in which they joined. The hipsters want the community to accommodate them. Therein lies the core of the reason why hipsters elicit such hostility from other citizens. It’s the my needs come first attitude. And let’s not kid ourselves, all of the I’m friendly with the Polish woman here, or the old Puerto Rican man there, is really about the bourgeois consumption of experience. An illustrative experience may help explain the hipster (aka bourgeois) commoodification. Last summer, I drive up Bedford avenue at midnight. The fireplug was on, with a horde of hipsters taking photos and videos, trying to consume the experience. I could just see the entries: Dear Diary, I had the coolest experience today. These Puerto Rican guys turned on a fire hydrant and were spraying water around. It was just like you see on TV. It was so exciting to experience this. I took the coolest photos. Yeck.

        Reply
  12. Rob says:

    I am a 50 year old, native born Brooklynite, and all I can say is that I know a hipster when I see one. That’s all.

    Reply
  13. jar says:

    The key indicator of the hipster is solopsism. Frankly, dear author, you invoke this tendency with your innocent declaration of self as “intellectual and creatively minded.” Who describes herself that way? What is says is I think I am smarter and more creative than most people- and said without a hint of irony (which the hipster killed because they do not have an active sense of humor). There’s the hallmark of hipsterism.

    This solopsism unfortunately taints the hipster’s worldview. With himself firmly ensconced at the center of the universe, all knowledge and truth flows from them. I cannot count how many of these creative minded hipsters I have met in Gpoint over the years who know nothing about the art in which they claim to participate. Photographers who have no knowledge of the greats; writers who read only the latest pop crap published- and have never produced a full work themselves, the list goes on. Yes, everyone’s an artist because mommy told them they were so special and talented. It’s tiresome.

    The other major problem with the hipster is that s/he is usually a creature of the suburbs. And this is what makes them insufferable in the urban environment. When I moved to NY as a young adult, I was absorbed into the city. I learned how it moves and breathes and adapted. The suburban hipster has no understanding of urban living (sorry, kids, college doesn’t count). They want to live in their fantasy of what “the city” means instead of adapting. This is why they applaud the proliferation of artisan shops (ooh, just like the town center in our suburb of Kansas City) and faux bistros. These places comfort them, make them feel at home. They want more and more of this. This tendency is anti-urban, IMO. Basically, the hipster wants to turn NY into a college town- a place where the student body ultimately determines how the community functions. This is completely wrongheaded.

    Finally, the whininess and defensiveness of the author is another tip-off of hipsterism. They cannot tolerate that not everyone will embrace them, not everyone things they’re as intellectual or creative minded as they would like to believe. They cannot tolerate that there are others with different views who find the hipster’s choices annoying at best and offensive at worst. Here’s hoping hipsterism is something one can overcome- because I dread living in this city as the numbers continue to grow. Just as Greenpoint will lose its character and native citizens, so will the city in general. It will become one big, tired, tedious Sex In the City sketch.

    Reply
    • Ethan V says:

      “I was absorbed into the city. I learned how it moves and breathes and adapted. ”

      As did the immigrants that came before. The brave pioneers that the so-called hipsters love to compare themselves to.

      Reply
    • Stephanie K says:

      I just find it incredibly disheartening that your entire argument is contingent upon assumptions about a certain type of people…which you’ve either gathered from popular media or from your limited run-ins with those who confirm your schema. I have nothing negative to say about those who first moved to Greenpoint or Williamsburg or any other neighborhood. I also have nothing negative to say about those who have recently migrated. You are the one calling people names, you are the one injecting more resentment into this situation. I don’t give myself a positive description of being well-educated or creative to suggest that people who aren’t me don’t possess either of those characteristics. You’re jumping to that false conclusion all on your own.

      Reply
      • jar says:

        My argument is not contingent upon assumptions. It was an attempt to define hipsterism, which would necessarily require identifying the characteristics that define the hipster. The apparent implication of your view that we should not label people is that there can be no categories. That’s a tired post-modern notion and one that requires much more thought to even make the claim. Categories exist. Assumptions are made on the basis of behavior and appearance (I try to avoid the latter). That’s life. You and your colleague keep saying that hipsters aren’t going anywhere, so we should get used to it. Well, right back at ya. You should simply get used to the hostility the hipster culture engenders.

        As for “injecting resentment into the situation,” I have no idea what you mean. The behaviors and attitudes I identified create resentment, not my act of identifying them. Your entire argument seems to be, don’t be mean. Let’s all be nice to one another. I agree with that sentiment. However, I also believe that when you move into an established community, you should not have the hubris to expect to be accommodated and change the landscape of the community to suit your personal needs. If hipsters simply respected the communities that they have flooded, there wouldn’t be any resentment. (Personally, I don’t bear any resentment. I simply find hipsters to be tedious, generally vapid, not terribly well educated (perhaps that’s a generational problem) and self-absorbed. It is the last quality that causes me to lose any respect I might have for them.)

        As I asked initially, who refers to him/herself as intellectual and creative minded? And what does creative minded even mean? It is the mere act of self-labeling that is self-aggrandizing. Should I be surprised that you do not see this? To apply basic logic, why would you need to identify yourself in this manner if there is no intent to differentiate yourself from others? It’s basis structuralism (you should look into it). You also misread my initial comment, I did not state or imply that you think people who are not you are not creative minded or intellectual. (Funny that you should revert to a solopsistic reading of my statement.) That is your false logical leap. As another poster more eloquently explained, there is a sense of superiority that comes with identifying oneself in that manner.

        Reply
  14. redQueen says:

    I’m afraid to comment because if a poster doesn’t agree they might publish my IP! LOL

    Sure, “progess” blah blah – you might as well cling to the days of stevedores and buggy rides, right? The hipster onslaught (and they exist, otherwise advertisers wouldn’t bother throwing the bux at reaching them, let’s get real) is part of a larger phenomenon of gentrification throughout the city. It’s the driving out of any sort of working people, who by the way are still the backbone of the city, and, like a backbone, not noticed until it doesn’t work. What makes hipsters different is their utter cluelessness about the people around them and condescension, the assumption that $ makes MORE VALUABLE AS HUMAN BEINGS.
    Christopher Lasch was right, we truly have become a culture of narcisism.

    Reply
  15. sideswipe says:

    As a former Brooklyn resident who lived there when the current influx of types discussed as hipsters wouldn’t be caught dead with a 718 area code I don’t know if I could say what a hipster is in less than 10 words, or care to. I can say what gentrification is though in one word. Colonization. What functional difference is there between the two? None that I can think of. Gentrification is just the polite word for it. That may be where the animosity comes from. Brooklyn and many other parts of the city have always had the aspirational escapees from everywhere USA move here for their own New York story. As I remember it from my own snapshot in time most that settled in the outer boroughs would take note of the local community and do their best to fit in. That was the diversity of the situation that is so hallowed and precious of the PC brigade. Diversity wasn’t cultivated, it just was. No one moved here to make it “theirs”. They brought their own senses and sensibilities for but generally moved here to be part of what was already here because otherwise, what’s the point?
    Now? Now the “new” Brooklyn is pretty much a carbon copy of similar “hip” enclaves from Seattle to San Diego, to Atlanta, to Austin. Imported bubbles of cultural colonialism. So what. It’s just the latest zeitgeist (hipsters love that word) and not the last word on Brooklyn or New York. No need for the new colonizers to feel guilty but it would be nice they weren’t getting high on their own farts. Don’t confuse change with progress.

    Reply
    • Old Guy says:

      ^^This. When I was in college, many decades ago, I moved to the city to be a part of what was in the city, not to turn it into the suburbs that I grew up in. I went there to live and enjoy it for what it was. And I kind of hoped that not too many people would follow me.

      Reply
      • Jen G says:

        I really don’t see how the city vs. suburbs is coming into play here. Stepahnie is from Austin. And the hipster kingdom everyone describes aside from in many instances being a huge exaggeration is nothing like suburbia.

        Reply
        • jar says:

          I would heartily disagree with your contention that hipsterism is nothing like suburbia. The only real difference is the setting. Hipsterism is a product of the suburbs. Being hip comes naturally to the urban youth. It comes from the experience of encountering a diverse group of people on a regular basis. Hipsterism is all about homogeneity, just like the suburbs that spawned it. I would bet you that at least 65% of the hipsters in Williamsburg/Gpoint come from suburbs or wealthy enclaves in small towns and cities. They bring their suburban values with them- the love of labels and pseudo-quality (all of the artisanal stuff), self-absorption, and most importantly, the belief that they have the right to do as they please without any regard for others. Being from the suburbs, one doesn’t understand the rules of urban life. The hipsters’ forebears left the city to escape having to deal with neighbors, having to compromise with others. They don’t understand that there are rules in the city as well. They have turned the neighborhood into Bleecker Street on weekend nights. They have no regard for people in their homes, as they yell on the streets, talk at the top of their voices, as if it’s mid-afternoon, make a racket with skateboards, etc.

          Is Stephanie from Austin proper? A working class part of the city? Or is she from the suburbs of Austin? There’s a big difference between the two.

          Reply
  16. BP says:

    This is an interesting post, I’ve always been skeptical of the hipster-bashing (though I confess it can sometimes be entertaining). The way “hipster” seems most often defined is: anyone who moved in your neighborhood after you did. Even if it was 15 minutes after.

    I’ve been living in Greenpoint for the past 10 years.
    My family’s been in Greenpoint for over a hundred years, I didn’t grow up here, but I spent a lot of time here since I was a little kid; my dad was born here, as was my grandfather, grandmother, great-grandmother, and tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

    The “little Poland” thing is kind nonsense, really, if you’re using it as a reason to oppose the influx of young non-polish people. Greenpoint used to be Irish and Italian before it was Polish; do you think the Polish immigrants were wringing their hands about destroying the old character of the neighborhood? Probably the Irish were, but who cares? During the cold war, a lot of the older generation of Polish, Russian and Ukranian immigrants left, and Puerto Ricans moved in (still a presence in the north end of GP) . . . it was only as it became easier for Polish people to leave Poland that the Polish population bounced back with a new wave of immigration.

    Not that long ago, most apartments in the neighborhood were only advertised in Polish. This is because many of the landlords didn’t want to rent to black people. Just a charming bit of old-world character, right?
    There are positive and negative aspects of most cultures (I’m not saying that all, or even most, Polish people are racist–just pointing out that this rosy picture of “charming Polish Greenpoint” requires some whitewashing).

    The world is complicated and things change, and that goes double for New York. Most of the old-time Greenpointers I’ve talked to think that the revitalization of the area is great. This place was seriously a dump in the 70s and 80s. It’s not like the taquerias and espresso bars are replacing Polish bakeries and butchers, they’re replacing crappy dollar stores (run by Asians, mostly, so no worries about the “Polish Character” of the neighborhood) and other marginal businesses that have nothing to do with any fantasy about the “ethnic” character of the neighborhood. Plenty of Polish people are happy to have places to get decent coffee. The “White People Mexican Food” place that the hipsters love replaced a terrible Chinese restaurant that no one liked. Starbucks replaced Burger King–not sure if that’s an upgrade or not, but it isn’t exactly pushing out mom & pop’s 5 and dime.

    Gentrification is not an appropriate concept here: gentrification occurs when poor renters who make up a neighborhood’s character are driven out of their neighborhoods because speculators buy up properties and drive up rents. For the most part, the higher rents here are being paid to Polish landlords who have lived here for decades and bought property when it was cheap. The pre-existing population here is largely benefiting from the rising rents, not being victimized by them. Gentrification may be a long-term trend, maybe not, but it seems more like it’s the hipsters who can’t afford the rents and are moving to Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.

    Of course there are problems and downsides to everything, but this is part of the unavoidable cycles of NY neighborhoods. The flux of old and new populations is what helps maintain the vitality of the city. If anything, there is a general problem of the city becoming unaffordable to the working class, but this can’t be blamed on new arrivals just trying to find a place to live and make a living. The “trust fund” kids mostly still want to live in Manhattan, and in any case there aren’t nearly enough of them to be the source of all of this.

    Rant over.

    Reply
  17. Jo says:

    This article from brooklyn mag http://www.bkmag.com/BrooklynAbridged/archives/2012/09/27/have-hipsters-and-gentrification-ruined-brooklyn?page=1 does a pretty good job pointing out the flaws in the current gentrification/hipster arguments.

    Reply
  18. BostonBloke says:

    In life the one constant is change! Look at the history of any neighborhood, a different group was living there a generation ago. The worst thing for a neighborhood is to be stagnant. Gentrification means a homeowner can sell at a profit. It means local teens entering the workforce have retail locations looking for entry level help.

    With all that said, I can see why some resentment is brewing. My first encounter with Greenpoint was with a very “hipper than thou” individual (who was originally from Long Island I might add) who snubbed his nose at me for living in the burbs. I have noticed many transplant (from the burbs and the Midwest) in Williamsburg and much of Brooklyn who seem to have that attitude.

    Reply
  19. Pingback: Rawpothecary: Hipster Juice or Hipster Cure? | Greenpointers

  20. Jay Bloomfield says:

    I was born in Brooklyn in 1963 and had enough in 1987 and moved to Denver. I think the newcomers to Brooklyn are saving it. These neighborhoods; Williamsburg, Bushwick, Bed-Stuy were terrible and not safe. I thank you young people for having the guts to move into these neighborhoods and help them improve. The only original people in these area were the Indians. Once again, thank you for saving my hometown!

    Reply
  21. Jen G says:

    the IP was a mistake and should have been moderated by DieHipster. The email was fake. Like all comments from cowards who can’t stand behind their own words and need to hide behind a false identity. Like DieHipster.

    Reply
  22. Steve D. (not from NY) says:

    Jen, my advice to you would be to ignore sites like DH. I frequent it and enjoy the outward anger and frustration displayed towards the “hipster” demeanor, but of course I don’t agree with everything that is said. The “hipster beatings” are ridiculous metaphors for uncontainable rage. I don’t think the author would ever harm someone in such a way, but you never know about the other people who comment there.
    Defining a “hipster” is at its worst simply judging someone by the way they look. I’m sure you can understand that unfair judgment, when you look at someone and catch yourself thinking “Jesus, what are they wearing? How important do they think they are?”, which I find myself doing a lot when I’m not thinking about it. It’s lamentable that initial judgments are skewed in such a way, and to even more extreme lengths as people leaving abusive comments aimed at you. That’s really inexcusable and a worthless endeavor. Those who do so are missing the point of a website like Diehipster: a place to bitch and moan, because that feels good when you’re frustrated. It doesn’t give them the right to threaten you, but of course not all of them do so.

    I’m 26 and look at many of the things I see on sites like yours and DH as things I would be instantly irritated by if I encountered it in public, but I think people should continue doing those things if they want to. It might be annoying as hell sometimes, but at least it’s a showing of free expression.

    I guess what I’m getting at is the people commenting on your site with verbal threats are simply full of shit. No matter how irritated they are by a perceived group of people or attitude, I can’t condone being a bully. You seem like a nice person, so it bothers me that people would target you and your peers for harassment. Likewise, I would urge you to listen to the level-headed NYers explain their point of view and ignore the shit comments. No matter how valid their opinion, it isn’t worth your time if it is conveyed maliciously.

    I’d also like to add I don’t believe the word “coward” correctly defines the author of DH. If I was posting all that stuff, I would prefer the safety of anonymity as well. As a writer yourself, you realize that having your name known and holding a certain set of journalistic integrity limits some of the personal thoughts you share. Being anonymous allows him to go nutso.

    Anyways….just wanted to give you my support because some of these DH readers are doing a poor job of getting their valid points across in a mannerly way. I do hate kickball, though. Brings back bad memories of being chosen last in grade school.

    Reply
  23. Jen G says:

    Thanks for your comment. I also think at times that Dihipster is funny and he’s said to me it’s for comical purposes but the filth that it allows to spew out of people makes me wonder if those readers would in fact harm other people. That being said I do need to ignore and laugh it away. In the end I think people could deal with their frustration in more constructive ways. That website is a testament for a worldview going backwards to shit. As far as anonymity – I don’t really believe in it. It just gives him and commenters to say shameful things they would otherwise never say.
    Using anonymity to protect privacy in certain circumstances is understandable. To use it to create a platform for hate and intolerance is cowardly.

    Reply
  24. Old Guy says:

    Die hipster is what it is. I find the hipster beatings funny, but nobody takes them seriously. If you go there and think your going to change somebody’s mind or sway them, you’re going to get a verbal hipster beating – that’s the way DH works. Maybe you should just stay in your own ‘hood, so to speak.

    Reply
  25. Shaggy says:

    “Steve” is it?

    I couldn’t be bothered to read through your lengthy post ‘Steve’, but curious how you jumped from the DH site owners posting of specific hipster beatings as being non-harmful as compared to the more generalized replies to these beatings by those who merely brose by and comment? That’s quite a leap of logic ‘Steve’. That it’s in favor of the *author and creator* of the site vs the people who post in response to him, is very interesting…

    Reply
  26. Jen G says:

    When DH verbatim take articles from greenpointers and rip them to shreds we have the right to answer back.

    Reply
  27. Taylor says:

    It is not up to YOU to determine how OTHER ADULTS deal with their FEELINGS or OPINIONS. These are NOT the same thing as ACTIONS. WTF do you make people feel like they need to quite literally spell stuff out to you? Because you respond with the mentality of a spoiled toddler, that’s why.

    So you didn’t get the red carpet reception at DH you are probably used to getting when you run around in your social circle telling people you blog on a hipster site like GP. Big deal. Get over yourself already little goldfish.

    People have a right not to like you. They have a right to say they think you and your snobby, elitist propaganda are as vacuous and without longterm merit as they actually are. They have a right, for that matter, to point at you and laugh. The problem with you is that deep down, you actually have an inferiority complex else you wouldn’t even BOTHER with this topic. Something they’re saying IS hitting a nerve and that means – ta da! – it’s true.

    But, bemoan the world around you little goldfish and complain about the size of your bowl, or brag about it. Whichever suits you. Just remember while you go about trying to force other people to feel exactly as you do, that you are going to be one miserable and lonely little fish.

    Reply
  28. Steve D. says:

    “Shaggy,”

    I don’t think attacking other people’s websites with garbage is okay in any sense, unless it’s not garbage and you actually have something thoughtful to say.
    I don’t care what anyone types up over on Diehipster, I just don’t think they should be spreading it to this site without invitation. The hipster beatings are harmless because they are obviously fantasy. Calling someone a “cunt” is not as harmless. What’s the confusion, “Shaggy”?

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *