Andi Bartz and Brenna Ehrlich, who hail from Spanish Harlem and Greenpoint, respectively, are the authors of the popular Tumblr blog “Stuff Hipsters Hate” (http://stuffhipstershate.tumblr.com).
They have been posting their witticisms and cultural criticism regularly enough to get attention from the publishing world, garnering them a book deal from Ulysses Press in California.
Now they are throwing a party on February 13 at the painfully hipsteresque venue, Glasslands Gallery (289 Kent Avenue), to celebrate.
This paper took a few moments to catch up with the soon-to-be-published authors about the changing nature of hipsters and their role in Williamsburg’s identity.
What’s the definition of a hipster?
Andi: Most groups are defined by what they like, their common interests. But hipsters are defined by what they don’t like, their collective scorn.
Brenna: Hipsterdom is a continuum, really. You can look at a resident of Williamsburg and say, ‘Well, he’s wearing plaid and he really digs cocaine, he must be a hipster,’ but once you get to know anyone they tend to stray away from rigidly defined labels. As a general rule of thumb, I would say that if someone calls themselves a hipster, they’re probably not a hipster.
Where does their hate come from?
Brenna: Well, our theory is, we’re taught from a very young age that you gain power by putting other people down. That’s how kids became popular in high school and that’s how the real world functions, in a sense. In high school most hipsters spent a lot of time alone at lunch reading “The Chocolate War” in the library, but now that they’ve made it to Williamsburg — where skinny dudes are hot and androgynous chicks are sexy — they have that power themselves.
What if you have a kid? Are you a hipster then?
Brenna: No, and you probably live in Park Slope — that’s where hipsters go to grow old.
Andi: Yeah, hipsters are perpetual Peter Pans and Williamsburg is like Never-never land.
What do hipsters wear, eat and read?
Brenna: Well, that’s a really general question. It’s hard to boil it down to one uniform outfit, because it’s constantly changing. Skinny jeans and plaid are staples, but they’re also becoming so ubiquitous that suburban teens and middle-aged men are embracing them too.
Andi: In terms of food — yeah, they’re usually not following any regular, healthful diet. Either you’re a super vegan or you eat a ton one day and then forget to eat the next or you subsist on Froot Loops and whiskey. PBR is pretty much a constant, though.
Brenna: In terms of literature, pretty much every hipster male has a copy of Bukowski’s “The Women.” He’s like their paragon of masculinity for some reason. Basically, the lesson gleaned from Bukowski is that you can work a crappy job and go out drinking every night, and women will still want to sleep with you.
Did you see the New York Press article that “Helpsters” are the new hipsters? What about hipsters who volunteer?
Brenna: We thought the word ‘helpster’ was kind of silly. But hipsters aren’t this evil group that doesn’t care about anybody. Also, the word hipster has similar roots to ‘hippie,’ and hippies were driven by social activism. A lot of people sent us e-mails after that story came out saying the age of hipster hate is over, but we feel it’s not, really. I think it’s a fallacy to assume that just because someone is doing good, they can’t be negative in other aspects of their life.
Can hipsters become successful?
Andi: Maybe. There’s a certain amount of romance attached to being a starving, struggling artist. When you make a ton of money, you’re considered a sell-out. By definition, you’re no longer a hipster. But some artists straddle the line.
Brenna: It’s hard to name real people because they all live in this neighborhood. The death knell is having your song in a commercial. Which is sad, because a lot of bands make good money that way — much more than they make from touring or digital album sales.
Do flash mob events like the recent Idiotarod celebrate hipster culture, parody it, or do something else entirely?
Brenna: I think that’s too much effort for the average hipster. I would say that’s not necessarily tied to hipster culture, per se. I remember the mountain I used to ski at had cardboard box sledding races where people pimped out boxes and careened down the mountain. If I recall correctly, the participants were mostly children and drunken snowboarders.
Andi: Yeah, flash mob events aren’t particularly hipster. Hipsters aren’t that organized.