Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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The New Yorker: The Hipster's Choice...Or Is It?

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Oh, irony, you scamp. In a recent post we identified “irony” as being, by some measures, a New Yorker kind of word, but today brings evidence that Time Out New York is the really ironic one. In this week’s cover story, “The Hipster Must Die!”, the weekly guide performs a “hipster detox” on a misguided (their assumption, not mine) hipster on staff named Drew Toal.


The feature puts The New Yorker in an, ahem, interesting light. First, here The New Yorker is defined as a hipster journal. I beg to differ, but I can’t deny that its reach encompasses George Saunders as well as Seymour Hersh. So in the makeover, Toal (or should I say “Toal”? He may be a real person, but the makeover is clearly facetious) discards The New Yorker in favor of “a Star Wars novel and a copy of Maxim.” Ah, good to know what “regular” people read! So what does Toal think?
Truth be told, I found myself enjoying tales from a galaxy far, far away. Despite the fact that they were written on a third-grade level, the lack of existential conflict and postmodern window dressing was refreshing. And the lightsabers were cool too. Maxim, it should be noted, was less revelatory, although I did learn six important tips on how to make a successful sex tape. I will be going back to The New Yorker and Harper’s, but I’m also going to make time for nerding out in sci-fi land.
Is “hipster” so strongly coupled with “intelligent” that its opposite automatically denotes a “third-grade level”? I don’t think so, but let’s move on.

Clearly, this is a backhanded compliment to The New Yorker—it’s the opposite of third-grade fare. But wait! Doesn’t that make it also a backhanded compliment to hipsters, too? In a feature about the necessity to de-hipsterize Williamsburg? Color me confused.

And the confusion doesn’t end there. If we showed ten random local culture vultures a Star Wars novel and The New Yorker and asked them to pick the purer hipster artifact, how many of them would reflexively single out the one that frequently dedicates considerable space to poverty and genocide? Surely it’s the Star Wars novel that reeks of hipster slumming, no? Even Maxim can be read ironically, you know.

At this rate we’ll need Jesse Thorn, mastermind of the new sincerity, to sort it all out.

Note to TONY: Did you mean McSweeney’s? Or was that too obvious?

—Martin Schneider


The Believer rather than McSweeny’s, I imagine. But surely more Vice (or Filter) than any of the above.

A fair point. Where does Tokion fit into all this?

Oh, maybe we’re wrong:

“Tokion has a new neighbor: 55DSL, Diesel’s younger brother line. This is its first boutique in New York, and it just so happens to be on Lafayette Street, a couple blocks down from us. Being polite, I decided to stroll down there and say hello. Specifically, I met up with Andrea Rosso, the Creative Director of 55DSL, who is not really the brother of Diesel founder Renzo Rosso, but his son. Like me, Andrea was a bit spent from the previous night’s store opening and Klaxons performance that followed. He nonetheless clued me in about his teenage years in the States, going to jail, working in the Diesel factory as a kid, and how 55 (for short) came under his wing. If he wasn’t so nice, we’d steal the New Yorker out of his mailbox.”

Oooh. That does give me pause.

But on reflection, a single Italian ex-con cannot a Williamsburg subculture represent. I’ll stick to my guns, pending further evidence.

Plus, I never denied those Saunders stories. (22 through early 2006. Would anyone out there have guessed that many? I sure wouldn’t have.)

Oddly, I’ve noticed that middle-eastern or asian taxi drivers use the word “hipster” as, apparently, a synonym for “filthy degenerate.” I don’t know if they’re confusing the word with the old “hippy,” or if they find hipsters to be somehow morally offensive. But I think it’s pretty funny to hear them say the word with such disgust!

Hey, are you discussing Arcade Fire with taxi drivers again? I’m wondering why that word keeps coming up.

I daresay that vitriol is scarcely different from the implied POV lurking behind TONY’s take. But you’re probably right, there may well be a misunderstanding there, and your hypothesis re “hippie” seems sound. Or perhaps “heepsta” is Urdu for “terrorist”….

My favorite term (one I get to hear a lot, living as I do at the center of the bull’s eye in dreaded Williamsburg—albeit South Williamsburg, which I unsuccessfully tried to re-brand as “the Swill”) is “aging hipster.” Thank god those Misshapes will stay young forever, while the rest of us experience cellular damage and stagger to the grave!

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