According to the New York Times, a scourge has been creeping across the country for at least a decade now. Its tattooed tentacles are enveloping Valencia Street in San Francisco (2008); traveling by ferry (with fixed gear bikes) to Staten Island (2007); ruining the relative peace of Montauk with its banjos (2012); even invading the Mormon church (2011) and Christian communities (2013) with its brewed by the cup artisanal coffee. And now, this national menace has hit the leafiest suburbs of New York City. It is, of course, the hipster.
In yesterday’s Sunday Styles section, Alex Williams declared the Hudson River Towns of Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry “hipsturbia.” His evidence? A handful of 30- and 40-something moms and dads have moved from the five boroughs (though mostly from Brooklyn, of course) to these nearby suburbs, citing the high cost of housing in New York City and the desire for better schools for their kids. My parents did the same thing in 1979, moving to Irvington from the Bronx, except they didn’t have black-rimmed glasses and gluten free bakeries did not exist back then. Today, signs of hipster infestation include: farm-to-table restaurants, dudes with muttonchops, a proliferation of yoga studios and moms with visible tattoos. Never mind the fact that almost 40 percent of Americans ages 30-39 have tattoos; when they are in a trend piece, they are “hipsters.”
It’s fairly obvious that the denizens of hipsturbia that Williams interviewed are just the latest model of bobo, and the River Towns are their newest paradise. It was almost 14 years ago when David Brooks wrote, “WASPy upscale suburbs were suddenly dotted with arty coffeehouses where people drank little European coffees and listened to alternative music.” Now everyone has an Etsy store, which is totally not the same thing.
Williams knows that he’s covering a mostly fake trend here. He had to be trolling us when he wrote of that gluten-free bakery in Hastings, “the windows are decorated with bird silhouettes — the universal symbol for “hipsters welcome,’” or chose interview subjects who named their kids Denim and Bowie. We can all roll our eyes at yet another ridiculous Styles piece, or roll our eyes that everyone else is rolling their eyes (what, you expect better?), but there is also the little issue of, well, accuracy.
I’m intimately aware of what living in Irvington is like. It’s many things: a great place to raise children, a physically beautiful little gem on the Hudson, the home to quality public schools—but hip, it is not. The yoga studio? It’s been there for at least a decade. And guess what? Every other town in America has one. Do you know what every town in America does not have? The headquarters of Eileen Fisher, purveyor of high-end schmattas for middle aged ladies, which resides smack in the middle of Irvington. If Eileen Fisher is now a hipster, then consider me Miles Davis.