Hipsters: What are They and How Can I Avoid Them?

I live in Pilsen, a Southside neighborhood of Chicago.  It is a traditionally Mexican American neighborhood.  In the summertime you can hear the bells of the paleteros (popsicle vendors) down your block.  You can get fresh corn on the cob with mayonnaise, lime and chile powder in front of the grocery store.  The streets are littered with beautiful murals by the neighborhood’s rich artist community depicting Aztec warriors, Mexican families, and even statements about immigration.  It is a vibrant community both culturally and economically.This neighborhood has undergone a transformation within the past few years.  Some would call it gentrification which is a scary word for the die hard political activists that live here; others would call it the inevitable cycle of Chicago neighborhoods.  The popularity of one neighborhood shifts in an ever changing array of hotspots in the City.

One constant of the evolution of Chicago neighborhoods are the hipsters.  Looking for cheap rent and interesting neighborhoods they are the first sign that a neighborhood is changing.  It’s kind of like following the rats on a sinking ship to safety, if your real estate follows the hipsters then you’re in for a return on your investment eventually.


I don’t quite know what hipsters are, despite many of them being my generational peers, but I do know what they look like.  They generally wear skinny jeans and shop at thrift stores.  They prefer to look like they haven’t eaten in weeks or perhaps they enjoy the whole I may have been a creepy looking serial killer in the 1970s but it’s cool now because it’s 2011 look.  Living in Pilsen I have made the following observations about hipsters:

  1. They like art, music or photography but are not necessarily heavily involved in the arts as a career path.
  2. They choose to be poor; many from a wealthy or white collar background move out of the suburbs into the city to live off of thrift store clothing, PBR, and cheap food.
  3. They have no definable political issues.  They are the quintessential “rebels without a cause.”  They don’t want to be mainstream yet have nothing non-mainstream to rally against.
  4. They seem to be apathetic about life, often living very transient lifestyles with no real career paths working low paying jobs with minimal responsibilities.
  5. There is an odd obsession with “low culture” and truck drivers for some reason.
  6. They are incredibly self-involved.  They have low paying jobs yet somehow manage to have ipods, ipads, iphones, imacs, Steve Jobs phone number etc.
  7. They go out of their way to be weird and awkward in social situations because they somehow think that their awkwardness makes them cool.  Again, with the self involvement here, it’s a graduation of indie emo rock mentality (no one gets me, I want to cut myself) to hipster mentality (no one gets me, I’m going to embrace it and be really weird so I can try to be cool) – no I didn’t just make up that twisted logic.
  8. They will not admit to being a hipster if asked if they are a hipster (I’ve asked several hipsters if they are hipsters and none ever answer yes)…fascinating.
  9. They LOVE bicycles, especially fixed gear bicycles.
  10. Their taste music will ALWAYS be better than yours, according to them, of course.

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  1. eme - February 18, 2011

    Haha. Thanks for the humorous spin to this topic, otherwise, gentrification (which is a global issue yet can be less drastic if proper measures are done at a city-level) is anything but funny to me. It is quite enraging and I don't like it one bit, or these annoying hipsters. Hence why I very much dislike Simones…anywho. Thanks for the smile