The Boston Globe Discovered Hipsters Live in Somerville
The Boston Globe has a big front page story reporting that Somerville is a city overrun by hipsters, which prompted most of us to ask our delivery man whether there wasn’t some mistake by which he accidentally delivered us a paper from 2003.
Stepping out from the shadow cast by its now-former owners at the New York Times—who have made trolling readers with overly earnest years-late articles on “hipsters” something like an art form—The Boston Globe has rewritten every annoying article on Brooklyn you’ve ever read by “Find+Replacing” the word “Williamsburg” with “Somerville.” Here, reporter Beth Teitell sets the scene:
On a recent summer evening, Union Square felt like a hipster theme park. The craft beer and the men’s long hair were flowing. The words “local,” “house made,” and “organic” called from almost every menu. Men in suit vests and beards biked alongside women carrying rolled-up yoga mats. The spirit of Brooklyn was in the air.
To prove to you that this is an article that could have been written 10 years ago, nay that WAS written 10 years ago, and then several times in the intervening decade, we will compare and contrast Teitell’s 2013 story “Somerville Worries It’s Growing Too Hip,” with a Boston Phoenix story written by Camille Dodero in … 2003.
Teitell on old Somerville dudes side-eying young Somerville dudes in 2013:
He gazed out his window at … the 20- and 30-somethings biking by …
“I am the oldest man in Somerville,” the 60-year-old said.
Dodero in 2003:
“You always have the new guys and the old guys looking askance at each other,” says US Representative Michael Capuano.
Teitell on rising rents in Somerville in 2013:
… her department is hearing a growing number of complaints about people having difficulty finding affordable apartments.
Dodero on rising rents in Somerville in 2003:
It’s an irony of contemporary urban life and an old story: artists move into a cheap neighborhood, rejuvenate the area, and then get priced out, along with the natives in lower-income brackets.
Teitell on Somerville’s historic identity in 2013:
How did Somerville become “Slummerville” in the first place? Mayor Curtatone, 47, who grew up in a Somerville filled with meat packing factories and brick manufacturing plants, said “bad decisions” … “I-93 came through Somerville and uprooted and displaced hundreds of families.”
Dodero on Somerville’s historic identity in 2003:
At least, that’s what anyone with historical memory will tell you — hence the well-known epithet “Slummerville.” This was once a hardscrabble place of sojourners and immigrants — a city subdivided by a highway.
And on and on and on. Given the Globe’s rather untimely dive into the subject of hipsters and their presence in Somerville, the story is the subject of some light-hearted mocking on Twitter this morning:
BREAKING: Somerville overrun by hipsters http://t.co/DnnZowtqLY
— Garrett Quinn (@GarrettQuinn) August 23, 2013
— Joe Keohane (@JoeKeohane) August 23, 2013
— Andrew Ba Tran (@abtran) August 23, 2013
There’s also a more substantive critique, which is that “Somerville worries it’s becoming too hip,” as the Globe tweeted this morning, is an assertion that’s almost entirely unsupported by the story itself.
Some Somerville residents are worried the city is becoming too hip for its own good: http://t.co/GwL7btsz5a
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) August 23, 2013
Reading the story, Teitell gives a vague impression that Somerville residents en masse are stressed about the rising standard of living, the influx of exciting new restaurants and businesses, and a thriving arts scene. Really? Almost everyone in the story except the occasional grumpy old guy sounds pretty excited that they can live in a place where the word “Slummerville” is employed ironically. Pricing the long-timers out of their longtime homes isn’t a laughing matter, but this isn’t an article that focuses on the dark side of gentrification. It’s a Style section piece about people cultivating their own urban chicken coops and growing mustaches.
Probably there are Globe subscribers of a certain age out in the suburbs to whom this trend is brand new information. Clearly, or the Globe wouldn’t keep running trend pieces better suited to 1997. (Who could forget their epic front pager, written this February, about men who want to buy big TVs but, oh no, their ball-and-chain wives won’t let them! I mean, is this a newspaper or an episode of “King of Queens”?) But the paper should have learned something from the rounds and rounds of derision that greet the New York Times every time the paper tries anew to announce to the world that hipsters live in Brooklyn: namely, we already know where hipsters live. We really do. Let’s retire this story subject once and for all.