I’ve been living outside of the US for awhile now. It’s been almost five years.
While I once considered myself cool and “in the know,” when it comes to my own culture I’m as clueless as those embarrassing parents who still say “groovy”.
I’ve been hearing this word “hipster” floating around. It’s been causing me great anxiety for months. Why?
I didn’t know what the hell a hipster was.
Last time I was in the US, I stayed with my sister for a weekend in Orlando. I begged her to point out a member of this most curious species. After my many failed attempts of identification…
“Hey look, that guy has on tight jeans and glasses. Is that a hipster?”
“Hey, check out that one with the plaid shirt. Is that a hipster?”
… she assured me that those were just regular people. I left feeling confused and even more anxious than before.
What the hell is a hipster?
When most people go to New York, they want to see the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park.
Me? I needed to get some answers.
I hop onto the L-train and get off at the Bedford Avenue stop. I immediately get flashbacks of wandering down Brunswick Street in Melbourne’s Fitzroy neighborhood. The streets are lined with random indy shops, food trucks, rows of bikes, and used books for sale.
We go for brunch in a restaurant outfitted with antlers. Phil tells me that a sure way to tell you’ve wandered into hipster territory is by looking for antler decoration.
I survey the restaurant’s customers while we chat about ways to identify the target of my investigation. I’m told to look out for signs of irony, especially tattoos. If it makes you ask yourself, “Huh?” or “WTF?” you are hot on their trail.
Armed with some hipster spotting guidelines and tofu scrambles sitting happily in my belly, our next destination is the Crest Hardware Art Show.
A live band called Aabaraki (try saying that three times fast) is playing some chill R&B tunes (the words of which no one in the crowd knows).
Further in, we pass through a densely packed tent that reeks of beer and sounds of bad rock music. I manage to get a couple of paparazzi shots of my fellow festival attendees (see above).
Through a small herb garden and past the most frightening scarecrow I’ve ever seen, a hardware store awaits. The idea here is to walk through aisles of shovels and nails and hammers and spot the artwork stuck between it all.
And hot. The aisles are jam packed with art enthusiasts (?), there is no A/C and no ventilation, and it’s 105 degrees inside.
It’s time for our final destination, a huge cluster of food tents in an empty parking lot along the river. We pass a Colombian food stand. I resist the urge to buy an arepa.
We opt for overpriced popsicles instead. I catch my first glimpse of an iconic New York sight – the skyline.
Though I am exhausted after a long day of safariing, I have finally learned how to identify a hipster.
Maybe I’ll go to the Statue of Liberty next time.