The owner of a decidedly non-hipster bar in Bay Ridge, Kettle Black, plans to open a beer garden for hipsters called The Lockyard, also in Bay Ridge, and the locals are pissed. First, know this: the Brooklyn Paper won’t publish a story unless it centers on a conflict, even if
they’ve manufactured it have to stir it up. So let’s not all get up in arms please about this one intentionally provocative article. It’s just meant to rile you up, to attract page views and customers. Let’s not allow it also to divide communities and create phony dichotomies like “authentic” and “transplant.”
I’m a hipster, by which I mean I fit many of the stereotypes: I’m under 30, I wear a beard, I eat vegan, I sympathize with bicyclists, I enjoy good beer, I work in media, I like art. But get this—I’m not from Ohio, but from Brooklyn! Bay Ridge in fact, third generation (more or less), born and raised and almost never left.
I also like sitting outside, especially while drinking beer, especially in warm-weather months, so I’m happy to hear that there’ll be a new beer garden in the neighborhood. We have a lack of outdoor drinking spots, save the backyard at Harp (any others?); I recently tried drinking a beer on the bike path and a cop gave me a ticket. It wasn’t a coincidence that the first time I visited Greenwood Park in South Slope, the (middle-aged) couple at the table next to mine was also from Bay Ridge, and that thereafter I noticed my Facebook feed was full of photos of Bay Ridge friends hanging out there.
Those would be my “hipster” friends: the guys with beards, the young people in bands, those with thick-rimmed glasses. “Hipsters” might identify them as townies, the townies vice versa. I suspect that’s because “hipsters” don’t actually exist—it’s a crude stereotype haters have mistaken for an accurate description of reality. Sure, there are people who dress funny and don’t work and look down on others. And they can be really obnoxious! But they’re not a group coming to destroy your neighborhoods. Some people are assholes: that goes for hipsters and townies alike.
“Hipsters,” really, are just boogeymen; they’re a catch-all that contain the cultural anxieties of the moment: about homosexuality (“they’re all wussy!”), about class (“they’re all rich and they don’t even work!”). What actually do exist in Brooklyn are young people who make art, who go to see art, who hang out together, work day jobs and night jobs, and/or try to live lives they want to lead as best they can. I know this because I meet these people and talk to them and socialize with them, professionally and personally. Some of them are from other places in America and the world, others from New York City itself.
Here’s the news: somebody’s opening a beer garden in Bay Ridge because people like to drink outside. It’ll probably attract young people. Strip away the Brooklyn Paper hysteria-generating hyperbole—the H word—and what’s actually the problem here?
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart