Monday, October 31, 2005

The Loft Boys 

Ah, I skip a week of reading New York and they print a piece outlining the sociological significance of my neighborhood (btwn the Montrose and Morgan stops on the L), from a Williamsburger seething with righteous hipster hate (natch). The, uh, focus of the story wanders a bit once Mr. Graeber and the L-linked neighborhoods run out of bourgeois signifiers, but he gets in some good digs at me and my kind on the way:

Where on Bushwick I had seen a 99-cent store advertising new clothes for low prices, on McKibbin I find a vintage shop selling used T-shirts for twenty times that [The shop in question is actually also on Bushwick, just off McKibbin. -Alex]. There’s graffiti on the buildings here, but the tags and gang marks are now mixed in with what the gallerists call street art: words and cartoons recognizable from Soho and Williamsburg and coffee-table books in the St. Marks Bookshop. What looks like graffiti is actually guerrilla marketing.
A black skater cruises by in a tight Izod, jeans, and one of those now-ubiquitous Fidel Castro caps. Then a white couple emerges from a car-service Buick with tinted windows. They are dressed as Gregg Allman and Cher circa 1975. And maybe that’s who they are. It certainly seems possible. This hipster island has a Land of the Lost feeling, as if some piece of 1995 Williamsburg had drifted like Madagascar off the main continent.

Hipster island is a fairly common name for my area, which the Times already attempted to define in June. It is (so far, anyway) a narrative of failed gentrification -- the number of business catering to this new crowd hovers around three or four, no new lofts are being converted and the existing ones are filled to capacity, petty street crime has, instead of declining, taken off over the last year, and the neighborhood has no anchor beyond one crummy bar. Everyone's in a band, of course, but there's nowhere to play. And the MTA, for once taking a very positive, principled stand, has cut off the interlopers at the source, by making sure that no L trains ever run this far Friday and Saturday nights. Case in point -- a friend's Halloween party last night featured no Manhattanites, who couldn't be bothered to transfer to a bus halfway thru the journey. The walking-distance turnout topped off at around 13 people.

But to get back to the piece at hand, we note only that every feature writer in New York must have the number of a loquacious and insightful homeless man saved in their phones for when they need a quick, poignant wrap-up to an aimless story.

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