SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 — If you’re still blaming the tumultuous cultural changes San Francisco has been undergoing on “hipsters,” you might need to stop and readjust your neon shutter shades. Like the marginalized communities it was blamed for displacing, the once-overwhelming hipster onslaught has now in turn been over-run by Ivy League business school marketing grads, violently jogging ex-cheerleaders from the Midwest, Bonobos-sporting former frat bros, and Baby Bjorned global arrivistes who have absolutely no idea who Allen Ginsberg or Ariel Pink is, let alone Keyboard Cat.
Goodbye hand-knit beer cozies, tacky Christmas sweaters worn in July, and Three Wolf Moon tees; hello Under Armour gym socks, nude hose, and Lululemon sports bras.
This weekend’s announced closing of Mission hipster landmark brunch spot Boogaloos, due to “whacked out” rent, may be the final (locally-smelted, hand-wrought) nail in the (reclaimed old-growth redwood with vintage silk lining) coffin of a hipster cultural stratum previously defined by indie irony, fitted flannels, large-print t-shirts, small-scale free-range production techniques, twirly mustaches, PBR ‘n burrito burps, Frankensteined fixes, post-punk hip-hop retro-disco garage rock blog house, Web 1.0 MS Paint design aesthetics, and Hipster Runoff.
Not even a robust gap-year trust fund can withstand the skyrocketing rents here. And who can afford anymore to launch a Malian-Icelandic fusion food truck, organic Ayahuasca pop-up, or hand-printed line of Zombie Hannah Montana jeggings? Only bored Google wives have resources for that now, and they’re too busy with toddler yoga. I seriously waited on Valencia Street for three hours last week before I spotted a single acid-wash romper. There were pleated chinos at Zeitgeist. Elbo Room is closing. Hipster’s dead, y’all.
Yes, defining what a “hipster” is in the first place is a slippery, well-documented hazard, but the particular collection of consumer tics and lifestyle branding that gelled around 2002 to define the San Francisco hipster, aka “Mission hipster,” has been disappearing off our streets for the past six years or so. You can practically date the “Have You Seen Me?” milk carton to the release of Animal Collective’s 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavillion (which weirdly crossed over from indie phenom to sorority singalong). The days of being able to be willfully obscure, outrageous, awkward, artistic, pretentious, and poor are long behind us. I never thought I’d miss greasy asymmetrical bowl-cuts and fake American Apparel oversized glasses as much as this, but I kind of do.
At least hipsters tried to be cool and attempted to care. There was a tenuous connection to the alternative, anti-corporate spirit of the ’90s, the angular styles of the ’80s, the free-spirited experimentalism of the ’60s (and drug overload of the ’70s), the fussy transcendence of the Beats. Now we’re simply succumbing to a blinding shade of bland, reflected in the latest trend of painting all our formerly calico Victorians dove grey and toxic taupe.
Sure, there are moments when it all comes flooding back — Outside Lands, say, when the streets run wild with mismatched patterns and festival-only hairdos. But if you spend 10 minutes talking on the street with some of the attendees, things start to get strange. They’re in sales, and want to turn you on to a new time-share app they’re prepping for second-round funding. They call you “bro” and talk about how hot all the chicks in matching floral crowns are this year. Or they pour out their heart to you about how lonely it is being the only female in their development pod, but they’re off to Mykonos next week for some fun on the beach, so things are good, and by the way, did you know a lot of gay guys go to Mykonos? IT’S SO FUN AND GAY THERE!
It is so weird.
The 2000s San Francisco hipster was born of the first Web bust, when everyone who got pink slips suddenly had a shitload of money to blow on conciliatory cocaine parties and then invest in outlandish artisanal Etsy dreams. For a moment, rent was low enough again to move here with no plan, if you didn’t mind three roommates plus multiple cats and a diet of Arinell’s. Now, after providing San Francisco with a big, fat target of derision for many years, actual hipsters are being forced out, too — or condemned to work double shifts at Four Barrel so they can afford to go see shows at the Chapel.
Look, obviously I’m exaggerating somewhat — not everyone’s dead or in Oakland. I meet kooky and kinky newcomers all the time with their heads in the clouds and their hearts on their sleeves, even if they did move here for a Facebook UX DevOps job rather than the desire to front an electro-bluegrass/Gregorian rap band. I still see dudes who look like Amish farmers sipping fair trade soy lattes and bottling their own bitters, and gals with sincere Urkel tattoos launching cancer-dog rescues on Kickstarter and selling home-pickled green tomatoes. There are crazy drag queens everywhere.
Let’s give them “two snaps up” and a celebratory shruggie emoticon for hanging in there and doing something colorful offline. But let’s not pretend there’s a free Fugazi concert in Dolores Park in their future, or even an Arcade Fire one.