We’re All Hipsters

For many years the mainstream media has verbally eviscerated hipsters as if they’re some kind of Ebola virus. Hipsters are vilified, accused of destroying the social and moral fabric of America with their off-the-grid lifestyle and perceived sloth, to being the Fifth Column in the gentrification and displacement of working class folk through collaboration with Gordon Gekko inspired real-estate developers. Unless you’re a wealthy, celeb hipster, you’re a target.

Many of America’s movie stars portray hipsters, including Dustin Hoffman as the 21 year old, silver-spooned Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967) and Sam Elliot as the 32-year-old bohemian lifeguard Rick Carlson in Lifeguard (1976). Both characters rejected corporate offers; one in plastics, the other as a Porsche salesman.

The irony of the anti-hipster campaign is that the movie audience loved and rooted for post WW II “rebels”, beginning in the 1950s with James Dean who eschewed societal expectations. But even in the so-called more liberal 21st century, if Bob or Joe pursue the same lifestyle as our bygone celebs he’s considered a bum, or worse.

Hipsters never impose their lifestyle or values on anyone and welcome anyone to join but they won’t be put out if they don’t. They are bold urban pioneers occupying nabes that were lost, forgotten, abandoned, left to rot and fester. The same media who crowned the hipsters as saviors by resurrecting down-and-out neighborhoods of yesterday, blame them as the cause of these same neighborhoods becoming Millionaire Row today.

The two-faced media demonizes hipsters, yet lauds those middle-aged corporate executives who parachuted (or were thrown under the bus) who now pursue a simpler lifestyle to run a non-profit creative firm, become teachers, run an organic farm or help inner-city kids read. Ironically hipsters are doing the same thing and are doing what most people always wanted to do from the get-go.

Youth is not a prerequisite for being a hipster, rather, it’s a mindset. Those so-called older folks trapped in the corporate Twilight Zone pine for the chance to lead such a lifestyle, although no one wants to call it that. Financial firms tout investment products to their clients so these clients can pursue the very same activities in retirement as hipsters are engaged in today.

The prolonged economic depression has reduced or eliminated hipsters’ employment choices. Even if hipsters found a corporate job, there are only short-term prospects with killer work hours, zero security, no pension, and worthless stock options.

It’s almost as if today’s college-educated youth can’t do anything right. If they pursue an MBA or JD they’re accused of becoming greedy materialists. If they pursue work in a community arts center they are labeled unambitious and a drain on society.

Hipsters represent the genuine bulwark against repressive corporate conformity and governmental mandates, and are the vanguard of creative growth and an eternal youthful spirit. So don your bohemian fashion and change the world.

—Albert Goldson is an Architectural & Engineering Contract Manager specializing in transportation megaprojects, energy, and urban planning. He is a long-term Williamsburg resident, an internationalist, and avid jazz aficionado.


  1. says

    Thanks for the article Dennis! It appears that the Goldman Sachs is trying to give the hipster mindset some bad P.r. Many firms are now trying to link hipster lifestyle with material wealth to convince their already wealthy clients that they can own a yacht and be a hipster too. This is quite ironic because it goes to prove that now the wealthy are FOLLOWING and yearn to be like genuine hipsters thus firms are cleverly “packaging” their services and products accordingly. For example I never saw a Corcoran rep in the Burg until the mid 00s when the towers were constructed.

  2. Dennis sinneD says

    Mr. Goldson, this isn’t some “bad pr by Goldman-Sachs against the hipster brand.” Read the article. Not many but ALL of the partners with Goldman-Sachs in these ventures/initiatives are those selfsame parties you misleadingly valorize in your article. Emphasis on the word ‘PARTNER.” This is a reciprocal relationship between equivalents. The “hipsters” here are willing, not exploited. The bad pr is self-inflicted, and no one, including the reciprocating partners, is being helped by your willful mischaracterization of “what it means to be a hipster” or how that factors in North Brooklyn.

  3. Dennis sinneD says

    And just to be clear, and to further emphasize your lack of veracity and history in argumentation, because you didn’t find a Corcoran Rep in North Brooklyn “until the mid-00s” does not mean “hipsters” were not colluding with significant real estate parties, or that those parties “followed” hipsters. Three words for you: KENN FIRPO REALTY. The current media zeitgeist has attempted to trace exponential rent increases in North Brooklyn to the 2005-rezoning [where you can trace, albeit misleadingly, easy-to-impugn parties like Corcoran Real Estate], but a previous instance of exponential rental increase occurred in the late 1980s early 1990s as “hipsters” willingly and willfully colluded with parties like Kenn Firpo in myriad [and often illegal] lease and sub-lease agreements. Whatever Kenn Firpo and Kenn Firpo Realty was, they certainly did not “follow” “hipsters.” Indeed, “hipsters” followed Kenn Firpo Realty, as so many were originally drawn into North Brooklyn by his and similar parties’ machinations.

  4. B Donald says

    We’re envious of the hipster lifestyle? Are you serious? Do you even know what it is people are complaining about when we scream against hipsters? You think it’s because we’re jealous? Wow. Just. Wow.

  5. Patrick Coker says

    So… let me get this right Inner city Blacks and Latinos who were living in Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Bushwick,Bed-stuy,etc, you know the “…nabes that were lost, forgotten, abandoned, left to rot and fester.”, should be thankful that the Hipsters came and saved them and brought them into the light of civilization? This could have been written about the Native Americans and the White settlers…

  6. George Barba Yiorgi says

    Wow, what a weird explanation of the reason “hipsters” are despised, This article completely misses the point – modern (i.e. 21st Century) “bohemians” are a cruel and degenerate parody of the anti-materialistic, anti-middle-class, anti-established-order Beats, hippies and punks of earlier generations; the modern “hipster” displays the trappings of outsider culture while pursuing a lifestyle based on consumption and trendiness. Most modern “hipsters” live comfortably, compared to the hipsters of the past, who were willing to dwell in relative poverty. Nowadays, if you don’t spend money- you don’t exist. Thus a major component of the logic of “hip’ – that part that says you can be poor, or look poor, or act poor, and be cooler than your rich neighbors – has been turned on its head.

  7. says

    George, your argument is unfounded. The “anti-materialistic” beatnicks and bohemians of yore whom you romanticize, never did anything to buck corporate-driven consumerism. Hipsters actually do this. In Williamsburg they have brought in healthy, locally sourced food. They grow vegetables on rooftops. They have beehives on rooftops. They have introduced a variety of goods and services that Brooklyn has not seen in a hundred years. The White Castle on Metropolitan Avenue is gone. Artisanal restaurants are everywhere. This is a more sustainable trend than what we had before.

  8. Dennis sinneD says

    Here is Ethan Pettit:
    “Albert Goldson is absolutely right in that piece in WG.” [comment made on Brooklyn Paper thread, June 20, 5:09pm; http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/36/25/dtg_whitecastlemain_2013_06_14_bk.html?comm=1#feedback

    Here, also is Ethan Pettit, responding to George Barba Yiorgi:
    "The “anti-materialistic” beatnicks and bohemians of yore whom you romanticize, never did anything to buck corporate-driven consumerism."

    However, Ethan Pettit, here is Albert Goldson, who Ethan just said is "absolutely correct":
    "Hipsters represent the genuine bulwark against repressive corporate conformity and governmental mandates..."

    Which one is It? None. Because of two conditions:
    1) The overall analysis of the facts behind what constitutes "hipster" is fallacious. Pettit does not actually read the article or seeks to misrepresent it, and the article itself is not a legitimate analysis, but favors positive appraisal in the face of facts or discrepant information.
    2) Pettit himself is neither credible nor veracious. His positions are never consistent as has been repeatedly recorded elsewhere and here. For example, here is Pettit commenting on luxury condominium development for L Magazine ["When We Were Ancient: Williamsburg Hipsters of Yore"; Oct. 17, 2012]:
    “The worst of the new Williamsburg are those condos on Kent Avenue that look like they were air-lifted in from Boca Raton.”
    And on Brooklyn Paper he wrote that he hopes their will be as much of a concentration in condominium development as possible in the near future, and when it was observed that this new position contradicted his earlier position, the comment was mysteriously deleted. Furthermore, the observation of his contradiction by other persons was also mysteriously deleted [which is a practice in censorship he has sharpened over the years, beginning with his tenure for the Waterfront Week, by which he shares a deep relationship with this paper's founder right here, WG News. Later, he elaborated in a surviving comment that wasn't as embarrassing ["Animal Farm"; June 15, 2013"]:
    “I support condominium development. I support any development that will concentrate as many people as possible in the inner cities.”

    My advice to you, Mr. Goldson: know who you jump into bed with.

  9. Dennis sinneD says

    And Mr. Yiorgi, may I highly recommend Suleiman Osman’s The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn for corroboration of your point and rejection of Ethan Pettit’s mischaracterization here about “previous hipster/s”. Here is a telling passage:

    “No figure fascinated Brooklyn Heights hipsters more than the juvenile delinquent. While city educators and parents fretted about teenage delinquency and the heroin epidemic, Brooklyn’s teenage gang members–”rebels without a cause”–personified alienation and provided a countercultural street language that Beats and hipsters relished. White middle-class hipsters were engrossed by ‘cool’ slang: ‘zip guns,’ ‘bopping,’ ‘rumbling,’ ‘diddley bop,’ and ‘fish’ dancing.”
    Sulemain Osman, The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, p.107