Settler & pioneer “heritage hipster” styles in the age of Idle No More, Chinatown gentrification, &c.
Men in British Columbia, 1859, one in a newly discovered collection of early photographs of white settlers and First Nations in B.C. Via Vancouver Sun © Royal British Columbia Museum, reprinted with permission
An abridged version of this essay has been published in the May/June 2015 issue of Briarpatch Magazine
I am probably as bored of casual hipster-slagging as you are. In fact I may be as fed up with hipster-bashing as I am with the hipster phenomenon itself—in all its varieties. I think what is most tiresome about critiques of hipsters, though, is not that they predictably fixate on the easy target of a repetitive fashion, but that most analyses are disappointingly superficial and ahistorical. Annoyance at the tribal codes of hipsters is too often itself just tribal. Either that or it never surpasses “if you’re going to look like a logger, best learn how to use a chainsaw,” not that I don’t have a lot of sympathy with that sentiment. But virtually no one seems to be talking about the fact that certain hipster aesthetics have some pretty troubling historical antecedents which, when juxtaposed with current realities, seem more disturbing with every passing day. In particular, I’m bothered by the fact that here in my own place and time, haunted as it is by its colonial past, I’m seeing men adopt a late 19thC white male, pioneer aesthetic. In short: WTF.
Why are political-historical critiques of this ubiquitous style so absent? Maybe it stems from the fact that if you even tentatively point out problems with hipster codes in a casual conversation, people get really exercised about it. Even some of those engaged full-time in cultural studies or related fields will disavow that retro aesthetic references actually mean anything, pop up for any real reason, or have any significant connection to any particular history. Try it. You will likely face defensive, condescending, eye-rolling reactions like “that was then, this is now,” or “anything goes these days,” or “but you don’t realize meaning is fluid!” or just because I’m wearing a haircut widely called the Nazi Youth doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Hitler; Hitler is dead and so on. If you propose that aesthetics aren’t purely random—if you suggest that aesthetics are in fact the thin end of the wedge of politics—you quickly find yourself in an unpopular minority in the room. I’m serious; try it.
Road to unpopularity or not, I want to talk about how jarring the “heritage hipster” phenomenon feels now that it has become the face of such things as the wave of gentrification hitting Chinatown and neighbouring areas of old Vancouver.
As anyone who has watched the satirical TV sketch show Portlandia knows, the “heritage hipster” style harks back to late 19th C white male North America. Portlandia has it as “the Dream of the 1890s” (see video above). The style’s historical referents are actually a little all over the place, being an amalgam of merchant or pioneer styles from 1850 to 1910, perhaps with some Depression-era 1930s and a little 1940s-50s overlaid on top. However the 1890s (that lesser known decade of catastrophic economic depression) seem to be its magnetic centre.
It’s interesting to note that the era 1850-1930 coincides with one of the largest waves of white European immigration to North America, largely facilitated by the advent of the steamship and availability of more affordable fares while also driven by increasing agricultural unemployment in Europe due to mechanization. In Canada this period was known as the second wave. It was also marked by increasing agitation in Canada against immigration from non-European parts of the world.
I have wanted to make an observation about the heritage hipster style for at least seven or eight years, but I kept thinking it had to be on its way out—why not just let it quietly fade away along with its folksy homemade pickles, pies, striped canvas aprons, taxidermy and saloon decor involving rusty antique handsaws. Even two years ago I thought I’d missed the boat and that it was too late for even a post-mortem. Now however I see that news of the heritage hipster’s death was premature.
What I think about when I see you wear this stuff in my neighbourhood
I live in a diverse and historically conflicted part of Vancouver, right at the confluence of Chinatown and an area known as the Downtown Eastside (DTES). It is the oldest part of Vancouver and one of the poorest postal codes in the country. Because it is close to downtown, condo tower developers have recently set their sights on it in what can only be called a land rush, one that our developer-captured City Hall has done nothing to decelerate. In Vancouver’s infamous climate of rampant real estate speculation, this neighbourhood is now experiencing skyrocketing rents, renoviction and demolition which are quickly driving out the neighbourhood’s traditional inhabitants: Chinese and other elders, the urban poor, many First Nations people, low-income workers and the homeless.
Coincidentally—or not—much of this neighbourhood dates precisely from the 1890s. Chinatown was founded in the mid 1880s but only really grew to a noticeable size and population in the following decade. The same is more or less true for the whole Downtown Eastside, since Vancouver was officially founded there in 1886. The Uchida/Ming Sun building on Powell Street, one of Vancouver’s 18 oldest buildings and one we’ve been trying to save for housing, dates from 1889. It was a crucially important building in Nihonmachi (or Japantown) until it was confiscated by the government during the WWII internment of Japanese-Canadians. What I’m getting at is that workers of many different origins lived around these parts, all working in the colonial resource sector including at the Hastings Mill or in the service sector that grew up around it. In short, this neighbourhood was not solely populated by white guys with waxed moustachios who looked as if they’d just exited a barbershop quartet.
For Chinatown, the 1890s and early 1900s were marked by constant conflict with a city government that habitually imposed on it repressive and racist laws: curfews, bans of traditional BBQ (a restaurant and social mainstay), and other regulations that were clearly targeted at a specific cultural group. (And I’m not even getting into the issue of the oppressive federal Head Tax here.) Tensions ran high and anti-Chinese racism, only legitimated by all the racialized regulations, carried with it the threat of intimidation and violence. Finally on September 7, 1907, “members of the white Asiatic Exclusion League marched to Chinatown where they beat up dozens of Chinese, wrecked stores and smashed windows. Order was not restored for several days.” (Read more at Simon Fraser University’s “Vancouver Chinatown 1886-2011.”) That’s what it was like in Chinatown around the turn of the last century.
And the history of Chinatown is only one element here. Vancouver was in the 1890s a new colonial city only several decades old. It was built on land taken not long before from the Coast Salish people—Musqueam, Tseil-Waututh and Squamish—without even so much as a treaty. Today Vancouver still sits on this unceded indigenous territory. More broadly speaking, Vancouver’s settlement in the late 19th C was part of a systematic Canadian process of clearing the West for the railway and settlement, driving First Nations from their land and way of life using forced removals, deliberate starvation, residential schools and other tactics that are relatively well-known. The photo at the top of this post, the one showing bearded white men in BC in 1859, was taken smack in the middle of this era, as was the photo below (both courtesy Royal BC Museum with permission, first seen in the Vancouver Sun).
White settler, indigenous man, B.C. circa 1859. Via Vancouver Sun © Royal British Columbia Museum, reprinted with permission
Many shots of settlers in Canada in the late 1800s in The Ballad of Crowfoot by Willie Dunn, National Film Board of Canada
To be fair, while some of this racist local history is known, many of its most glaring elements are not. When writers Ali Kazimi and Henry Yu gave some historical background at the launch of Kazimi’s book Undesirables (about Vancouver’s Komagata Maru incident of 1914), even an informed local audience was visibly surprised. I question why it is not fully understood that this was an era of overt, almost casual white supremacism appearing in all levels of government, from local Vancouver city politics to the provincial capital to Prime Ministers John A. Macdonald and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Still, enough is known about Vancouver’s racist history that anyone who lives and works in this neighbourhood, and who doesn’t at least vaguely sense these histories, would seem to be indulging in some degree of studied oblivion.
What fantasy 1890s are you in, exactly?
Now that this heritage hipster aesthetic has clearly entered the mainstream, I think it is fair to start asking a few questions. Even if you could, for yourself, surgically remove your settler aesthetics from their origins, how can you guarantee that others will understand the distinction? What fantasy 1890s are you in, exactly? More importantly, what identity are you asserting? Do you care that your getup might have odd associations for local descendants of our colonial history, who probably have a totally different view of it? Do you care that they might correctly identify your aesthetic as a mainly white male phenomenon? And do you care that you and your antique lumberjack getup might (inadvertently or not) be helping to whitewash, mythologize and perpetuate consent for the profoundly colonial, resource extraction-based economic structure we still live under in Canada in general, and BC in particular? Has it not occurred to you we need to get past this colonial national identity as “hewers of wood and drawers of water”? Does your colonial fantasy, married to gentrification, bear some relationship to the drift of youth to the political right as documented in recent studies? [See the UK study which found that although people born between 1980 and 2000 are more progressive around issues like gay marriage and euthanasia, they vote markedly further to the right than either their parents or grandparents did at their age. Also see 7 things people who say they’re ‘fiscally ‘conservative but socially liberal’ don’t understand.]
Top, B.C. MP R.G. MacPherson’s remarks about Punjabi immigrants to the province. 1906. Above, future Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s dream of a white Canada, from a 1908 report.
Before the recent wave of gentrification in Chinatown, the few non-Chinese shopowners in Chinatown made at least some attempt to fit in and honour local history and aesthetics. There weren’t that many of them and they did a good job of bringing some activity to the area in a way that seemed creatively sensitive to context.
But a couple of years ago as buildings in Chinatown and the DTES emptied out in advance of condo developments, and as shopfronts become available either as placeholders or as deliberate window-dressing for future condo locations, hipster joints full of antlers and beards began to appear overnight. There was zero visible attempt to work with the local historic context. Shops with ampersanded anglo names (Jones & Smith? Smith & Wesson? Bear & Buck? I can’t remember) arrived and so did restaurants with turn of the last century butcher shop aesthetics and lots of generic settler/pioneer decor that looked more like the eastern woods, or Brooklyn for that matter, than Vancouver. Meanwhile, at the very same time, resistance to the social and architectural destruction of Chinatown was growing. (See David Wong on loss of Chinatown culture in La Source.)* I am not suggesting that incoming merchants should have adopted a twee Chinois appropriation aesthetic and everything would have been fine. I am just pointing out that to many of us local residents, all this dressing and decorating like a white 1890s settler in Chinatown, while also giving convenient cover to the incoming condo developers, looked pretty effing audacious.
The awareness that we still live under a colonial structure in Canada and across the continent is not new. If you’d like an example, here’s one from my own book research. Native Council president Gloria George at UN Habitat’s founding conference in Vancouver back in 1976: “The native people of Canada are being subjected to the aftereffects of a colonial government which the present and past Canadian governments are evading and have effectively kept hidden from the international political arena.” This complaint just isn’t going away, and for good reason.
Issues of historical settlement, land title and racial politics in this region have increasingly been in the news in recent years, so even for those who lacked an education in our local or national history, it would be difficult to remain in total ignorance. Regarding the unceded aboriginal territory issue, during the past few years we have seen in BC and across the country a marked resurgence of actions by First Nations, notably against resource development on traditional lands. Idle No More, a high-profile movement initiated by First Nations activist women in December 2012, was a clear sign of a FN population increasingly organized against a colonial system which, like the Indian Act of 1876, clearly still persists. In addition to Idle No More we have seen the First Nations Truth and Reconciliation Commission dealing with issues including residential schools, as well as a key Supreme Court win for BC First Nations with the Tsilhqot’in victory.
In fact 2014 was a year of reckoning and “reconciliation” not just for First Nations but also in three key non-white communities in Vancouver and B.C. While there has been discussion within all these communities of the problems with ideas of “recognition” and “reconciliation” because those concepts remain embedded in a colonial discourse, the point is that we are currently seeing a racist and colonial history (past as well as recent) brought to the fore. This year saw the 100th year anniversary of Vancouver’s Komagata Maru episode, which included a federal apology; there was a City of Vancouver apology for the WWII internment of Japanese Canadians; and a BC apology to Chinese Canadians for the 1885 Head Tax. All these well-publicized processes—you’d have to be living under a rock to have missed all of them—are concurrent with the accelerated luxury condo development in neighbourhoods associated with these communities.
And now into that complicated matrix blithely walks a carefully coiffed Paul Bunyan.
2015 condo ad for “The Wohlsein,” a development half a mile from Chinatown. “Here’s to the start of something new.” (!) The text at bottom of the red panel reads “Snappy Dressers, then as now. Reassuringly old. Refreshingly new.”
It is the confluence of all these things in 2014 that has suddenly made the 1890s white male colonial hipster aesthetic so flat-out intolerable. In light of both the history of Chinatown and the DTES and what’s happening here now, the sheer obliviousness of this mode of self expression and boutique chic is hard to ignore, disingenuous at best and aggressively colonial at worst. It seems to assert “I’m a brave white pioneer here,” and its whitewashing nostalgia serves to obscure a far from innocent past. I don’t need to point out what happens when we don’t have a sense of our own history here, but I will anyway: a repetition of the displacement of others. And the defense that the lumberjack/merchant of provisions thing is ironic doesn’t wash. I don’t detect any irony in it—it seems painfully earnest—but if irony is the intent, who are they performing that irony for, exactly?
McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971, Robert Altman. Shot in Vancouver in 1970, set in a Pacific Northwest mining town, 1899. The bartender’s obsession with his facial hair is a recurring comic motif.
It seems paradoxical that a lifestyle that purports to be outside our current cutthroat and wild west moment of capitalism would choose to emulate a not-so-distant echo of our present hyper-capitalist reality. For anyone tempted to idealize the 1890s in the Pacific Northwest, and its many crossovers with our current system, I strongly recommend Robert Altman’s brilliant anti-Western film McCabe & Mrs. Miller, shot in Vancouver in 1970 but set in Washington State in 1899. The ruthless, virtually unregulated corporate reality of that mining “frontier” bears a pretty strong relationship to the current deregulated hell in which we find ourselves. Again, is the heritage hipster a coincidence, or does it reveal our exact current coordinates? Is this a return of the repressed?
Somehow I don’t feel like wearing long dresses and not having the vote
As an aside, I would also add that even without the racial and colonial issues, I’d have a problem with this style for reasons involving its disingenuousness around gender and class. Why does no one talk about this style’s near–100% male adoption? I polled many friends on this topic and none of them could think of a true female equivalent–at least not one that’s worn in public. (Tellingly, burlesque and Victoria’s Secret were suggested as the probable match.) Indeed, how could women (white, let alone non-white) adopt an 1890’s style in the same casual way? Somehow I don’t feel like wearing long dresses and not having the vote. For that matter, the heritage hipster is only one of many traditionally masculine styles that are currently being dusted off with way too much enthusiasm and all of which seem nostalgic for some old school, white masculinity or other. Secondly I haven’t dealt with the fact that the heritage hipster is a largely working class style affected by white boys who grew up middle class. This spree of class tourism isn’t justified by the fact that even though their upbringings were middle class their futures may not be. Hiding present-day privilege in the workaday past fools no one. The “slumming” issue has its own complicated history, one I can’t deal with here but that has been well-covered elsewhere. I’ll just ask this: if you are a disenfranchised millennial or Gen Y man, is there no other means of signalling that you are DIY and libertarian than these retrogressive and worker-alibi trappings? But I digress.
There are always exceptions that prove the rule, so I should point out that not all critiques of hipsterism are depoliticized. See Bill Deresiewicz’s excellent Generation Sell, which identifies a conservative entrepreneurialism as the affect-free heart of the hipster ethic, and I also liked A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’ from Jezebel in 2012. Here’s an interesting observation from its comment stream:
“What no one seems to talk about are the racial politics of hipster culture, which is odd since the early hipsters were engaged in a dialogue with amongst other things BeBop and therefore black culture, just as the Skins in the 60’s were addressing ska and Blue Beat and the Punks in the 70’s were influenced by reggae. Hipsterdom today seems like an unapologetic return to unmediated, sartorial proletarian whiteness. Troubling.”
Are our historical aesthetic references innocent or not? It seems to me that fashion is a language or at the very least a mode of cultural expression, and that people make aesthetic choices because consciously or not they chime with their aspirations, fantasies and values. I just don’t see how it’s possible to avoid making the connection between a a faux-1890s style and the 1890s, considering that we still live with the legacy of that era. The implications just seem very, very stark. For the sake of argument, though, let’s entertain the idea that culture consists of items that spin meaninglessly in a blender and can be conveniently unmoored from history and used as tiles, say, in an abstract mosaic. In that case, how is one style chosen over any other? Are our choices purely random? Is is simply that we suddenly like shiny—or plaid—things? Were we randomly hit by a plaid asteroid? Is it merely an accident that people have retained this aesthetic for eight straight years (highly unusual in fashion), and in this place? I find it impossible to believe that this is not a deeply meaningful code, and a code designed to assert a particular type of entitlement—and I use that term in the general sense as well as pertaining to land use. If dressing in the style of a white pioneer from the late 19thC means nothing, why defend it so vigorously when challenged, year after year? That the men in suspenders doth protest so much suggests this particular identity has import far beyond the realm of fashion. In short, this is one of the few instances when I agree with the otherwise idiotic New Age maxim that “everything happens for a reason.”
[Update on gender: Regarding the point made by friends that the only real female equivalent to this, fashion-wise, is the trope of pioneer/Klondike saloon prostitution: burlesque and Victoria’s Secret: Tellingly, these colonial-era styles are worn indoors in the private, nighttime sphere and for male pleasure, while the male styles happily occupy the public, daylight sphere. On TV, of course, there are more options for women than in real life: long-skirted schoolmarm, or Annie Oakley in leather pants. I don’t see any of these characters as the public face of Chinatown gentrification “hipness” of course, though they may well represent a more hidden part of that sector’s male fantasy life. As for”Strange Empirem” isn’t it a typical empire?] Again, to get a sense of what a resource settlement would feel like in this region in the 1890s, you need to watch Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller: the town of Presbyterian Church is populated only by male miners and businessmen, and the only females present are prostitutes, work in the brothel or are Chinese workers in Chinatown.]
[Update on the frontier brothel element: one of the new heritage hipster restaurants in Chinatown, Mamie Taylor’s (funny review here), models itself loosely on the brothel establishment of some sort of backwoods madam. On the Easter 2015 long weekend, it posted this “joke” message on its sandwich board: “You look like a whore.” For a host of reasons, not least the tragic and well-publicized murders and disappearances of sex workers in this area, this sign has inflamed the neighbourhood. But despite repeated requests from neighbours that the owner to take it down, he has steadfastly refused (Facebook link). So the relationship between the male heritage hipster style, taxidermy-festooned walls, some fantasy of old-school, resource rush-era prostitution, and gentrification seems more than just theoretical. Thanks for proving my point, bro.]
Mamie Taylors – taxidermy-filled restaurant in Chinatown. Above, sign that reveals how the plaid-clad proprietor of this joint thinks. For more see this Facebook note. Photo by a resident of the Lore Krill Housing Co-op. I took the shot below. Antlers and bears, oh my.
1. Tragedy and Farce
Sorry to over use this Marx quote but: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Farcical and innocuous as the pioneer costume design may seem, given the fact that we’re talking about gentrification and eviction and rapidly widening inequality, farce may just be cover for another tragic land grab.
2. This article isn’t just about hipsters, is it.
For those who ask “why so much hatred for hipsters who are, after all, just trying to do their thing?” I would say what many have already guessed: no, this essay isn’t really just about hipsters. They are a symptom. It’s about the larger sociocultural and economic relations we all find ourselves involved in now. Fashion, even when only subcultural, is interesting in terms of what it reveals about the dominant culture that it either reflects or rebels against (or, more typically, both). This particular hipster fashion is a window on our current conditions, at the same time as helping to perpetuate them (even if it thinks it’s doing the opposite). The hope was that in identifying a persistent colonial dream, we might open a doorway into understanding the real history of this country, so that when we creatively refer to the past — and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, there’s no point in throwing out the baby with the bathwater — we might use our nostalgia in a more constructive and inclusive way, perhaps with a little less whitewashing and a little more care and political awareness. And when I say “we” — well, I mean those of us who have had the luxury of remaining oblivious. You know, those who benefited from the colonialism that is still all too present.
3. *Re Gentrification and who’s really responsible
Before my discussion is derailed by the sidestep argument that it’s not the kids who are really responsible for gentrification, or it’s more the artists moving in than the hipster entrepreneurs, let me say this. First, obviously neither is the prime mover of gentrification here. The culprit would be the free unregulated land market and the collaboration of the BC government as well as Vision Vancouver (the current ruling civic party here) with its developer donors who now effectively own City Hall. That is, the driver of gentrification is unregulated land use and property speculation. This article is more about how culture reveals where we are, provides cover for big money, and excuses our collaboration with the property speculators. As for the hipsters and artists and the cover they provide for developers: while some art galleries have moved into the area, in my view it’s not so easy to say they’re agents of gentrification in the way the posh hipster restaurants are. Centre A and Gallery 221A are part of the Chinese community and have furthermore been highlighting and even opposing rampant luxury development in Chinatown. Last week I went to the best community meeting I’ve ever attended at Centre A, in which diverse members of the community were brought together to talk about how to stop a tower slated to tower over Sun Yat Sen Gardens. And that’s only a tiny part of the community building activities that these art centres have been involved in. While it’s always impossible to avoid artwashing entirely, I see the role of these centres as somewhat distinct from the new restaurant and real estate entrepreneurs. But really, the main point of this article is that we—all of us—still live inside a disastrously predatory and colonial economic structure and culture, and we might need to start looking at how many of us are complicit with it in a variety of interlocking ways.
What if it’s outside Vancouver?
While this phenomenon has a particular meaning in Vancouver, I would propose that whether seen in Berlin or Brooklyn or Sydney, the frontiersman look has the same echoes and meanings. The appeal of the colonial story of “discovery” and “taming a continent” seems universal among urban hipsters. But just remember; there is and was no terra nullius. Papal decrees aside, there never was empty land—or neighbourhoods to be “discovered first.” Does “I was here before it was cool” sound familiar? All of it belonged to someone, and the aggressive, gentrifying redevelopment of cities is just the newest form of aggressive settlement. Almost everywhere in the developed world that you find re-settlement through gentrification, you will see this costume. It serves to glamourize and masculinize gentrification and displacement in those places too. Why would North American tropes have currency worldwide? Because these colonies supported empire (British, American) and still have its caché. They represent “clean,” masculine discovery. For the American side, this essay appeared in The Atlantic a few months after my post came out. It’s useful in the way it fills in details of the American colonial past. It spends more time on the class issue, but the point is similar.
5. NOTE on “The Lumbersexual” and gay aesthetics
This Guardian article on the “Lumbersexual” theorizes that the lumberjack look is straight white guys borrowing a gay bear style. It also argues that the style is ironic. I think those are two separate issues. I don’t buy that this gear is truly ironic (except in an unintended sense), but I think she’s probably right about the influence of the gay bear look. But the thing is, this is still a form of hypermasculinity regardless of the sexual orientation of the wearer or how over-coiffed the rendition. And the gay bear reference just sits like an extra layer on top of the style’s whitewashing of the settler/colonial resource extraction era, rather than contradicting it. Sure, it’s a masculine working class look, but doing that in posh bars… Anyway, I think the article is somewhat guilty of the type of light, de-historicized analysis I reference in my essay. There’s also this similar piece in The Daily Beast
PS: Given the gay fashion connection, I’m quite amazed that the article’s English author would fail to mention the Monty Python lumberjack sketch, in which an Englishman is obsessed with a B.C. lumberjack getup (but turns out to be gay or transsexual or a cross-dresser, disappointing his fiancée).
“I never wanted to do this job in the first place!
I… I wanted to be…
Leaping from tree to tree!
As they float down the mighty rivers of
I cut down trees, I eat my lunch,
I go to the lava-try.
On Wednesdays I go shoppin’
And have buttered scones for tea.“
— The Lumberjack Song, by Monty Python
Acknowledgements: I chatted about this idea for many months with many friends, all of whom were fantastically helpful, but in particular thanks to Lisa Prentice, Elee Kraljii-Gardiner, and Riaz Behra.
For your reading pleasure—or not—here is a plethora of links on heritage hipsters and related topics (list will be periodically updated).
Also, I have written other posts that develop the same or a similar argument:
The Hitler Youth Haircut
Colonial Aesthetics and Ralph Lauren
DSquared’s Provocational “Dsquaw” Hashtag and American Indian Fashion
Mountain Don’t &
Condo as Colonialism Redux – again
HIPSTER ARTICLES &c.
The Great Heritage-Hipster Clusterfuck of 2009/10/11 (… it didn’t end in 2011 – Ed.)
The Rise of the Lumbersexual
How Straight World Stole ‘Gay’: The Last Gasp of the ‘Lumbersexual’
Out of the Woods, Here He Comes: The Lumbersexual (Guardian)
Safe Space for Capital
Heil Hipster, or Nipsters: The German Neo-Nazis Trying to Put A Stylish Face on Hate
Moscow embraces “Hipster Stalinism”
Vancouver people dress poorly, by IHateVan
Why do people hate hipsters?
Piss Off You Hipster Git
Will Self: The awful cult of the talentless hipster has taken over
Will Self, keep your cardigan on. Blanket disdain for hipsters is so tired
Is it OK to Hate HipstersBeware of cupcake fascism
The pernicious realities of artwashing
The Heritage Hipster Matrix 2010
The racially fraught history of the American beard
Vancouver Lexicon: The Lumberjoke
Hipster Business Name Generator
Charting the rise of Generation Yawn
Borealis: A history lesson in Canadiana that tastes unforgettably good
I Spent a Night at the Urban Cowboy, Williamsburg’s Hip, New Western-Themed Bed and Breakfast
The end of the hipster: how flat caps and beards stopped being so cool
Nu-lads on the block: post-hipster style [yet another style of working class (white?) masculinity]
The poor fetish: commodifying working class culture: “Bullshit jobs and a pointless existence are increasingly driving London’s spiritually dead middle class towards a fetishization of working class culture.”
Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native
Stephen Harper and the Myth of the Crooked Indian
The Colonial Aesthetic and Ralph Lauren
The problem isn’t aboriginals as Stephen Harper suggests. It’s us: Siddiqui
Canada’s Indian Policy is a Process of Deception
Does this haircut make me look like a nazi?
“In other words, he looked entirely typical of the kind of 21st-century hipster conformist who has adopted a wild-man-of-the-woods look even though he works in marketing and only leaves the city to attend music festivals.” (Guardian)
I strongly recommend watching this video of a panel of short talks for the launch of Glen Coulthard’s book Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Excellent introduction to First Nations issues, strategies for undoing persistent colonial structures, and a political approach to the land (which also addresses such problems as urban gentrification and land use).
And check out the sketchy new Mountain Dew ad. My take on it is here: Mountain Don’t.
Mountain Dew ad, April 2015
Condo ad: “25,000 Hipster Neighbours”…
“25,000 Hipster Neighbours” boasts the ad for a new, much-hated new condo tower. “The Independent” by Rize Development is just up the hill from Chinatown, and it’s just blocks from “The Wohlsein” which is pictured earlier in the article.
[Drat. When I migrated this blog from one of my domains to another, I lost my former social media sharing count, which was over 2K shares (and the post itself was at 20K hits). I mention this only to observe that the hipster topic certainly guarantees a lot of interest. Anyway, starting the count over. Please also see the abridged version of this essay in Briarpatch Magazine.]