Clean breaks and empty voids

First off, I change my tune: Spambots, leave me the hell alone. I’ve now received 71 fake comments on my three existing posts. Illegitimate online retailers, I hate you.

Wanted to point you toward our latest CNN column: Make a clean online break with pests. The title doesn’t quite get at what I had in mind when drafting this one (which is not a dig at our wonderful editor); it sprang instead from the observation that silence as a response can be so tempting and  so cowardly and so cruel.When I’m dishing out the silent treatment, it’s almost always out of laziness, distraction, passivity — I’m not immediately sure what to say (or text or tweet) back, so I let the days slip by until the decision feels made for me. But from the receiving end, silence feels personal, pointed.

Sometimes I fail to respond to pitch emails, and I’ve ghosted on the occasional fine-but-fruitless suitor. I also hate using the telephone. Sometimes I write advice columns to convince myself to be more civil, I think.

Enough armchair philosophizing for now. Multiple Very Exciting Announcements are coming soon. Spambots, gird your loins.

‘Cause I’m usin’ technology

I’m kinda tempted to let the spambots do their thing, because their comments are oddly flattering. “Superb piece of writing!” “Gracias for this article.” “hooray, your writings on theater and writing much missed!” Already I have eight fake fans! Shucks, machines.

Fun netiquette column from Brenna and me on CNN this week: 10 social media pet peeves from sxsw musicians. Be sure to check out the accompanying playlist. And the jazzy snap of our friend David from French Horn Rebellion!


A few reflections on hipster hoods

Every once in a while, I’ll be on the phone at work, interviewing a Ph.D. psychologist or whatnot, and the source will take on a slightly sheepish tone and ask if I’m also the Andrea Bartz who cowrote Stuff Hipsters Hate. It happened today, and before I could steer the subject back to mother-son relationships (a not entirely unrelated subject, if you think about it), the person on the other end of the line blurted out, “So what is a hipster?”

Later in the day, a good friend (who, despite her disparagement, lives in an up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood and wears skinny jeans) complained that Yelp had added a hipster quotient to its rating system. Now,, a start-up that’s basically TripAdvisor for neighborhoods, already has a hipster rating, and I think the whole thing’s a grand idea. People like my hipster-loathing friend (she loves me, don’t worry) know what areas to avoid. People like me don’t get stuck at slightly scary biker bars in the Mission District because no one pointed us toward Tenderloin (which, let’s face it, we should have hit up based on the area name alone.)

I’m circling in on a grand point, though, which is that hipster’s only a derogatory term if you mean for it to be. As I explained to both the source and the bud today, there are really two ways to define a hipster: There’s the hipster aesthetic, which I and plenty of my friends fit — living in the gentrifying hood, wearing silly hats, camping out in dive bars and DIY music venues, pursuing creative endeavors, etc. Then there’s the hipster attitude, this absurd smug superiority wrapped around apathy, self-created romantic drama and an inability to actually accomplish anything. That’s what we’re harpooning and that’s what people mean when they’re using it disparagingly, I think. Sometimes it is a compliment — the New York Times cheerfully lauding the “hipster” exhibits at PS1, or whatever.

Now, I understand that it’s becoming passe to toss around the h-word (in New York, at least — I’d argue that the middle states’ curiosity is still piqued). But no one’s stating the obvious: Even if we stop using the term, so-called hipsters aren’t suddenly going to fling the fedoras from their shaggy heads and slip into button-up shirts and bootcut khakis. Call them what you will, but ten minutes on Montrose Avenue tells you that hipsters* aren’t on the decline, even in uber-hip over-it-before-you-heard-of-it Bushwick.

In short: Decrying the use of, or declaring the death of the hipster is the ultimate form of hipster snobbery: “God, you still care about hipsters? So 2008.”
*word meant however you take it

Welcome, welcome.

Hello there! This seems like as good a time as any to begin my blog-masquerading-as-news (you know, when I have zero visitors and have yet to figure out what to do with my landing page). I’ll try to use this spot to keep you up to date on noteworthy happenings of the professional sort, although I can’t promise I won’t verge into blogging territory every now and then.

Stuff Hipsters Hate got a bit of love this week: Coauthor Brenna Ehrlich and I were profiled in a Time Out New York cover package about turning your random idea into cash. (Brenna still doesn’t have a bedroom door, lest you think we’re living the life, but indeed, we’re insanely lucky that our joke actually built up some momentum, made a bunch of people laugh and, perhaps most importantly, opened all sorts of other doors to us.) Online there are five profiles, but in the magazine there are only three! Five Accidental Business-Success Stories. Hilariously, SHH was also mentioned in Metro‘s cover story about local artist Jeff Greenspan’s hipster trap: To Catch a Hipster.