Photograph by Alexis/Flickr
WWESP: where would Elliott Smith play?
You want to know one thing you never hear about? Hipster mansions. If you picture the most hipster house you can imagine, you see a teeny tiny little cottage somewhere, or an itty bitty little studio apartment decorated with small, antique furniture. Why is the hipness of a dwelling inversely correlated with its size?
On a more superficial level, most hipsters are pretty shrewd when you get right down to it, and they know that living in some kind of crazy house isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When you’re a little kid, you watch cartoons, and you think it would be cool to live in a big mansion like Scrooge McDuck; one with secret rooms and treasures hidden all over the place, and maybe random suits of armor standing around. In reality, what do you think you get when you have 2.7 hectares of roof? 2.7 hectares of leaks, that’s what you get. It’s hard to justify voluntarily taking on such problems, plus you have to deal with random spooky noises making you think it’s The Purge basically every night of your life, and by the time you finish pushing the vacuum from one end of the house to the other, it somehow feels like you need to go start over because it’s already dirty back there somehow. You’re a lot more likely to see the enterprising hipster homeowner leaning in on a precious little Craftsman cottage (garbage wiring and all!), or some kind of funky, converted industrial space (that might nonetheless end up as an EPA superfund site). If you’re trying to decide whether a potential dwelling counts as the kind of place a hipster might want to live, ask yourself the following question: if Elliott Smith came back from the dead next week, and he wanted to perform an intimate house show, would he feel comfortable crooning in your living room?
Practical problems of sprawling mansion-ownership aside, no self-respecting hipster aspires to end up like some Dickensian miser, slowly fading away in a dusty old house. No, sir. Hipsters prefer coziness, light, and succulent gardens over shadows, cobwebs, and the mouldering remnants of uneaten wedding cakes. This tracks with the existential outlook of your average hipster, who places a heck of a lot less importance on material wealth than on maddeningly intangible values such as “feeling artistically fulfilled” or “being a generally good and socially relevant person.”
Do you think we will figure out a use for old CDs that nobody wants to listen to anymore?
— Dave G.
Look, anything’s possible in this world. If you had asked the 2019 Hipster, “Do you think it would be possible to make a third Bill & Ted movie after a 29-year gap, release it during a crazy global pandemic, and have it actually be not that bad when you get right down to it?” the 2019 Hipster would have asked you to lay off the drugs for a bit and come back to reality. And yet, not only did that exact situation come to pass, the movie totally ripped off the idea for a time-travelling caveman drummer that some friends and I never got around to making into a musical sometime in the late-2000s.