Waterbury, A Hipster Haven

Are You A Hipster? | Idea Channel | PBS


Simon Greiner, New Yorker Magazine

Steve Rand, Editor & Instructor

I’ve noticed, maybe others have too, an increasing amount of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings — vintage-clad, worn shoes, skinny jeans, donning throwback fedoras or newsboy caps — traveling in packs along the streets of Waterbury. They seem happy. And why not? Saving a few bucks at a thrift store only to invest their savings in a fine meal at Prohibition Pig or Reservoir or Blue Stone. Such prudence — investing in food and friends instead of chain store shlock — is noble and great for local business, yet I can’t help but be fascinated by this cultural phenomenon, these youthful, smiling hipsters.

Hipsters are fascinating, blending the old with the new. Vintage is hip. Tattoos are hip. Bow-ties are hip. Bicycles are hip. Acoustic guitars are hip. Beatnik poetry and metal lunch boxes are hip. Big bushy beards are hip. Who, among my generation, thought a Ford Pinto would be hip? Manhattan is no longer hip. Brooklyn is. How did this happen? iPhones may forever be hip.

I think it is safe to say hipsters are a trendy lot, clearly advancing new ideas about our culture, and creating somewhat of a social movement — a rejection of mainstream and mass consumption for something more authentic yet nostalgic, a longing for those things in history that represent the best of art and ideals.

Hipsterism is not just about fashion. To whittle it down to how a group dresses is simply superficially. No, we gotta give props to those that desperately seek meaning beyond the material. My guess is a number of former students might suggest they have hipster qualities, such as shopping local, recycling everything, enjoying good coffee, valuing art and education. Heck, that describes me, describes many of us. Maybe we all have a little hipster in us. Maybe we should embrace our inner hipster by being thrifty, being a little more conscious about where our mighty, hard-earned dollar goes. For never fret. No matter how hard corporations work to co-opt a cultural movement and try to sell it to us, the good shall persist.