From Hip to Zip

From Hip to Zip

On the last Saturday before Daylight Savings Time ended, a motley crew was sitting around the bar at the Lakeview Lounge, watching the sun rise over Sloan's Lake and lamenting how the sun has set on too many Denver watering holes. Only a handful of true dives remain in this town — the Lakeview, for example, where the legs of bar stools supporting decades of drinkers have worn deep holes in the linoleum. Over the past year, some of our favorite bars have been the focus of facelifts or renovation jobs so drastic that they're mere shadows of their former skanky selves, and certainly no longer qualify as dives. The Squire Lounge on East Colfax, once the diviest of them all, recently got such a facelift, and while it's hard not to appreciate the new bathrooms, the place now seems flush with success. The Old Curtis Street Tavern downtown has turned into the Curtis Club, with an appropriately clubby, upscale atmosphere. A great venue — but not the dive we loved.

Hipsters, we muttered into our beers. Dive bars have been ruined by hipsters.

What else have they ruined? According to an essay in the New York Times this weekend, titled "How Hipsters Ruined Paris," hipsters have also been a blight on the City of Light. "Too much of modern urban life revolves around never feeling less than fully at ease," writes Thomas Chatterton Williams. "The logical extension is to 'curate' our urban spaces like style blogs or Pinterest boards representing a single, self-satisfied and extremely sheltered expression of middle- and upper-middle-class sensibility."

Denver was once known as Paris on the Platte, back at the turn of the last century, when Mayor Robert Speer wanted to turn this cowtown into a more cosmopolitan, sophisticated city. And he succeeded: Denver grew into one of the "cool cities" that attracted young adults in record numbers during the most recent recession; between 2008 and 2010, U.S. Census Bureau statistics showed that Denver was the top gainer of young adults, a fact that city boosters never tire of touting. And what were we gaining? Hipsters. Although we haven't yet gotten to the critical mass (mess?) of Paris, where the charming area once called Place Pigalle is now known as South Pigalle, and even SoPi, a godawful idea was recently floated to hip up the image of Five Points, one of the last neighborhoods in the city to be gentrified, by calling it FiDo.

Oh, the irony. (Hipsters love irony.) The term "hipster" grew out of jazz — Five Points was the center of jazz not just in Denver, but the entire Rocky Mountain West — as musicians used "hep" to describe anyone at the forefront of the culture emerging from jazz, usually an anyone who was black. By the late 1930s, with the rise of swing, "hip" replaced "hep." Clarinetist Artie Shaw described Bing Crosby as "the first hip white person born in the United States."

Which should have been a clue that trouble lay ahead.

Denver was at ground zero for the next evolution of hipsters, as Jack Kerouac hit the road and landed in this city, where he met Neal Cassady and soon had a merry band of hipsters and Beats, including poet Allen Ginsberg. "The hipster world that Kerouac and Ginsberg drifted in and out of from the mid-1940s to the early-1950s was an amorphous movement without ideology, more a pose than an attitude; a way of 'being' without attempting to explain why," writes Marty Jezer in The Dark Ages: Life in the United States 1945-1960. "Hipsters themselves were not about to supply explanations. Their language, limited as it was, was sufficiently obscure to defy translation into everyday speech. Their rejection of the commonplace was so complete that they could barely acknowledge reality."

And today's hipster? According to the Urban Dictionary: "Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.... Although 'hipsterism' is really a state of mind, it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick-rimmed glasses. The 'effortless cool' urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities."

That definition is seven years old. Today hipsters are everywhere, ruining everything from Paris to panini. At the end of "How Hipsters Ruined Paris," Williams notes: "People say you had to be in Paris in the '20s or New York in the '80s. The sad truth of our contemporary moment seems to be only that you no longer need to be anywhere in particular anymore.

"The brunch is all the same."

As the sun rose higher, so did our ire. Here's our list of Fifteen Things That Hipsters Have Ruined, as it poured out over too many beers. None of them PBR.

15. Cheap beers, aka "douchejuice" Especially Pabst Blue Ribbon: Once hipsters discovered it, cheap beer was no longer cheap.

14. The term "douchebag"

And all of its overused variations, including "douchy," when the original meaning is lost to age-old hygiene manuals.

13. Knitting

Yes, it's a time-honored craft. But do we really need to knit cozies for our water bottles?

12. Brunch

When we line up for hours just to get a plate of fancy French toast, the yolk's on us.

11. Flannel shirts

They're great in the mountains, but they make a city look hootenanny-ready.

10. Men's hats

The porkpie look was bad enough, but those badly knit caps?

9. Message T-shirts

Wear-it-yourself billboards used to have meaning. On hipsters, they're simply demeaning.

8. Urban chicken farming

Animal shelters wish wannabe urban farmers who abandon chickens would get clucked.

7. Thrift stores

Leave the bargains to the shoppers who really need them.

6. The moustache

A living accessory so abused, it deserves its own category.

5. Facial hair in general

Fads are hair today, gone tomorrow.

4. Fixies, ten-speeds and cruisers

A bicycle is a means of transportation, not a reverse status symbol.

3. Tattoos

The medium is no longer the message.

2. Dive bars

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

1. Irony

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107 comments
jonarmst.denver
jonarmst.denver

Lame article. Bashing hipsters is so 10 years ago.  Take it from a middle-aged Denverite that remembers the Denver where "after hours" partying usually involved the White Spot on South Broadway: things are much, MUCH better now.  We've gone from a city that young people generally couldn't wait to leave to one that people are dying to come to.  Sure, I long for the days of an uncluttered I-70 in the 1980's just like everyone else, but whatever: I'm sure Haight-Asbury was great in 1967 when Jefferson Airplane were still an underground band and blah blah blah... personally, I *LOVE* the fact that I can walk down by 14th and Pearl now and not be offered crack or worry about being robbed.  If you're really that desperate for urban "flavor" (so that you tell the obligatory hipster-homestead stories) you can always move to Aurora.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Exactly....not a goddamn thang, mang! Once again....silly little DWEEB, you are, Lemieux.

mybigjunkbulge
mybigjunkbulge

Bad writing for bad people (proof from other comments). I think Ms. Calhoun is attempting humor here. It's hard to tell. At times I think she actually believes that some counter cultural movement is taking over the face of Denver. I'm 50 and every city I've lived in over the years you wait for a good breakfast/lunch. Unless you have the foresight  to get your ass out of bed to beat the crowd. Maybe  I missed the humor here. Maybe there was none to start with. Why do we care? Are these "hipsters" so powerful that they have this much influence? If so, maybe we need to invest. Sounds like they might know something more than your average white person. By the way, PBR is still shit beer and it's still cheap. Inflation is a bitch.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Clearly, someone with an IQ in her 50s posted this carbon-copy butthurt reply in a hopeless defense of hypocrite gentrifying "liberal" yuppie scum.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Try again, DICKHEAD. What is it you're actually CREATING?????

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Hipster "poetry" consists of horse shit narratives that do not even rhyme (or even follow any other standard poetic structure), much less convey a meaningful theme. Their idea of "fashion" originates from their iPhone photo reel consisting of snapshots of homeless bums and their grandparents' closets. As for urban culture, the recent influx of hipster scum has done more to SUBURBANIZE the inner city at the expense of the "gritty" feel of the old neighborhoods they ended up gentrifying. Silly DWEEB.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Wrong, Conasse Lemieux. What is "cool" nowadays that anything remotely critical of these wannabe "new age" trust-fund yuppie scumbag motherfuckers hell-bent on foisting their warped brand of "morality" upon the rest of society is considered "right wing." (Oh, the irony!)

Kelly Lemieux
Kelly Lemieux

BTW Westword's readers are...hipsters. Watch a tank in readership...

Kelly Lemieux
Kelly Lemieux

You just nailed it on the head man. It's right-wing stuff posing as cool.

Kelly Lemieux
Kelly Lemieux

poetry text commentary cool vibes fashion sense black glasses and an appreciation of urban culture

darylthered
darylthered

This was a much-needed article, although the younger generation at my workplace didn't get it at all. Another thing that hipsters ruined? Try revolution. Facebook and Twitter and the self-satisfied TED generation were quick to gallingly claim credit for the Arab Spring. Yes, these white, upper middle-class Westerners couldn't get enough of extolling their grossly inflated contribution to revolutionary social movements enacted by mostly poor, non-White citizens of entirely different societies. As though those filling Tahrir Square weren't the ones who had suffered for decades under the boot of authoritarianism and then, through collective and INDIGENOUS will and courage come out into the streets to challenge and then overcome their oppression. Oh, but how would they have known what to do and where to go without social media?? Well, oppressed populations have been producing revolutions for thousands of years without the need of social media. I'm pretty darn sure they would have found a way to organize themselves without the Internet if need be. In fact, I'm pretty darn sure they did it without Mark Zuckerberg or 140 character sound bites at all.

Nick Bishop
Nick Bishop

That's actually true. I lived there in 2007 and there were none, went back to visit in 2009...everywhere more than I've ever seen. Austin is a great music town, gotta give it that.

someguy
someguy

PBR is still cheap. Not really sure why people think that changed...

Philo99
Philo99

Gentrification is great. a hipster invasion is not. 

A hipster invasion includes all the white people that gentrification offers, except without all the prosperity and money. 


With hipsterization you end up with with places like Rino, where you are forced to dine in graffiti covered warehouses and the new apartment projects look like something out of 1980 East Germany.

Dustin Bova
Dustin Bova

Agreed!! All these hipsters coming in here have no idea what Denver is all about! They weren't here in the 80's when Sloan's lake was considered the ghetto......long before all the yuppies moved in! (Most of which are from California)

Daniel J. King IV
Daniel J. King IV

Hey Cwaigy boy, why don't you SUCK your boyfriend's balls, instead !!!

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

I have a ball, Danny Boy....perhaps you'd like to bounce it.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Owen is obviously so clueless....just like the rest of the ignorant gentrifying DWEEBS he is so keen upon defending.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Sorry, DWEEB, but I do not indulge in so-called "indie" music for the sake of being "different." Quite the contrary, my tastes in entertainment tend to be considered rather -- dare I say it -- "conventional" in nature. Also, your latest retort just demonstrates your own obliviousness to the real-world consequences of the PRIVILEGED class who utilize means that could be easily described as "slash & burn" in order to "modernize" the inner city, much as has been the case in much of Western Europe for the last 60 years.

Jason Villalobos
Jason Villalobos

OMG. WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK?!! Westword is a shit rag that's got more advertisements in it than anything of any value. I mean who are they catering to anymore. Print media can suck my ass. Neeeext.

Owen Madden
Owen Madden

Dickhead and proud, better then bitter and mad someone else likes this city just like when you heard your favorite arcade fire album on the radio.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

....only if you can afford it. Of course, if you couldn't, you be UPSTATE (or in Joisey), not anywhere in NYC, to begin with. Lulz.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

I take it you must reside south of Hampden. Lucky you.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

How much you wanna bet a majority of these "liberals" are actually from Texas, WisCAHNsin, and elsewhere in "reel 'Murkah," buddy?

Daniel J. King IV
Daniel J. King IV

Move along Craig, TOO MUCH 'REALITY' for your 'Fragile Egg-Shell LIBERAL MIND'...

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Instead, those very weirdos, trannies, dope fiends, and other "undesirables" are now trotting along in Aurora, Lakewood, and other nearby burbs relatively unabated as smaller suburban police depts are less trained and equipped to deal with these types than the big cities. Score another "victory" for yuppie scum.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Next on their list: Barnum, Villa Park, and yes...even Edgewater.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

A true artist would actually create something that would be considered highly innovative and groundbreaking. Hipster subculture, on the other hand, has become very much an orthodoxy in its own right. Rather than truly "going against the grain" like the early punk movement of the late 70s, today's hipster invasion is more concerned with actually trying to FIT IN with the other "cool kids." They become very predictable in their behavior and the lack of true innovation just demonstrates how CONFORMIST these DWEEBS are.

Gustavo Montaño
Gustavo Montaño

Hard to tell them apart from girls, if it wasn't for the mustache no one could, not even other hipsters….

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Perhaps you should have tried venturing out of those few blocks within the vicinity of 6th Street and the UT campus and you'd realize how grossly exaggerated Austin's "rep" is.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

What exactly is a "real" city, little miss D Angelo? Is it one where hypergentrification is the norm and privileged white youth never have to be bothered with the inconvenience of encountering the poor and/or minorities on even a semi-regular basis? Where a chai tea or sugar-free latte costs more than triple its REAL value? Where an elevated freeway was converted into an ornate street-level boulevard that increases traffic wait times more than 5-fold on any given weekday? Yeah....that's exactly what we need more of.

Gustavo Montaño
Gustavo Montaño

You can see their belly bottoms picking out their ultra oversized V-neck's collar.... LOL

timebandit
timebandit

@Craig Maybell You have absolutely no clue what you are really saying, do you. That's not a question. Just an angry young man that lost his girlfriend to a "cool kid" three years ago and still can't get over the fact that his own pants just weren't tight enough. You'll show them! You're wound up way tighter than those jeans, aren't ya, sir? haha Dude is jacked up on hipsters. Probably can't even look at himself in the mirror

timebandit
timebandit

@darylthered @TimeBandit Your assumptions are worse than that of the writer. You say hipster when you really mean rich people, aka yuppies. Yes, try again.

 
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