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For those of you familiar with the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, you have probably taken the L train from the East Village. On your way to Williamsburg on the subway, you are surrounded with hipsters in skinny black jeans, deliberately greasy hair, black framed glasses, plaid shirts, and tote bags with eco-friendly propaganda.
This weekend I found myself staying with friends in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, sometimes referred to as the Williamsburg of the west. As I looked around, I thought that there had perhaps been a warp in the hipster-time-continuum, some sort of secret thrift-store-sponsored worm hole that transported the deliberately disheveled-looking masses in an instant from Bedford Avenue to Sunset Boulevard. Had I uncovered something of scientific significance?
The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming. Not only did I see many Brooklyn t-shirts and Yankees hats, I actually recognized some people. Not knowing very many film and TV stars, they could not have been actors in some third-rate production on the WB network that I may have seen while channel surfing looking for re-runs of the Golden Girls. These hipsters were comfortable in what they thought was their native habitat, with coffee shops serving lattes the size of a prom punch bowl, guitar shops readily available to assist in their rock and roll dreams, and many a reference to some obscure “fad of the moment” – whether in music or in print – that ultimately serves as the secret password to their skinny-panted kingdom.
The differences between New York and Los Angeles are immense – the former being a compact cosmopolitan urban center, the latter being a series of highway-linked suburbs. Transportation in New York is accessible, and runs 24 hours – one does not need a car. In Los Angeles, despite the opening of a subway, non-driving commuters rely on a vast system of busses, or they carpool. In New York, people from all walks of life take the subway, including the mayor. In Los Angeles, someone who considers themself in the upper levels of the socio-economic classes would never be caught dead on a bus. They would sooner sell a kidney for a socially acceptable car than face the immigrant classes in the seat next to them.
Los Angeles, however, has weather that one would be happy to live in every day, if possible, and it rarely rains. New York has recently given up the four distinct seasons; it goes from Arctic blizzards to a monsoon season directly to tropically humid high temperatures. At least there are no earthquakes in New York, and the many rains keep the reservoirs full and ensure that the urine smell on eighth avenue near Penn Station is washed away, if only for a time.
These differences must thoroughly confuse the hipsters after they have made their way through the hipster wormhole. What do they do when they smell hibiscus instead of urine? When they step to the shoulder of the 405 and put out their hand to hail a taxi, how do they feel when no taxi comes? When they search for an open bar at 3:30 am and find none in sight, do they click their no-lace converse-looking sneakers together and wish to be back on Bedford Avenue?
If you are a resident of Silver Lake California and you see a hipster wandering around the streets, thirsty and malnourished, confused by their surroundings, call the authorities – but do not feed them. The Men in Black [skinny jeans] will assist you in their secret transport back through the worm hole, to the land they know and love in the east.