Rosendale is the New Williamsburg

2011 August 21
by Ando Arike

Williamsburg is, like, so over, dude!

According to a recent article in the Times, a little town in the Hudson Valley’s Ulster County, two hours north of New York City— i.e., Rosendale — has assumed the distinction of being the fledgling epicenter of hipsterdom in the area. Bedford Avenue beware — apparently this surge in trendiness is part of larger trend. “The Brooklynization of the Hudson Valley,” writes reporter Peter Applebome, is bringing a “steady hipness creep” and “Williamsburgian bars” to sleepy upstate towns like Beacon, Hudson, Kingston, High Falls, and even tiny Accord. But does the region, or the state, or the planet really need more “hipness”? Again, I must quote the classic Oakland R&B band Tower of Power and ask: “What is Hip?”

Every few years, the Times is compelled, it seems, to dispatch a writer northward to the Hudson Valley to report breathlessly on all the hip cosmopolitan folks that are moving upstate. Inevitably, they’re opening artsy new businesses and shops, restoring rustic farmhouses and barns, and hanging out with their cool friends at subtly chic, yet down-home restaurants and coffeehouses—and, needless to say, bringing sophistication to the clumsy rubes in the provinces.

Of course, as with so much of the Times’ local reportage, the subtext here is real estate: scouting out new territory for gentrification, which these days often amounts to “hipsterization”— hipsters being the avant-garde of 21st century yuppies.  Like the artists who made Soho safe for bankers and lawyers, it’s now hipsters who provide the cultural cachet needed to bring unexploited real estate under the plow.  Barely hidden behind all this is a sort of home-grown colonialism that views everything through the lens of its profit-value for the local rentier class and its wannabes.

For instance, Applebome quotes “Sari Botton, a freelance writer in Rosendale” on the relative merits of various towns in the region:

“THERE is a parlor game people sometimes play, comparing Hudson Valley towns with New York neighborhoods, “ she says. “For instance, Rhinebeck might be the Upper East Side, Woodstock the West Village, New Paltz the Upper West Side, Beacon the East Village, Rosendale and High Falls different parts of Williamsburg. Tivoli could be compared to Greenpoint, Hudson to Chelsea, Catskill to Bushwick, Kingston to a mix of Fort Greene and Carroll Gardens.”

Do the math. Next time a New York Times reporter comes around your neighborhood asking questions about “what is hip,” think of what happened to the Indians when Christopher Columbus (or, for that matter, Henry Hudson) started snooping around the New World. It wasn’t good.

One Response leave one →
  1. 2011 September 7
    Carl Watson permalink

    Thank god the NoBro chic has not spread its patina to every village and hamlet on 28. To the chagrin of our town council, hipsters driving between America’s coolest small town of Phoenecia and the newly arrived Margaretville or Andes, hold their noses and turn away as they pass Fleischmanns. As one enlightened NYer said, “That town has the stink of the Jew on it.” Another liberal NYer of my acquaintance said, “There’s Mexicans living there.” Indeed there are some things that can’t be pastuerized for consumption by Brooklyn’s expanding appetites. For the time being I feel safe, but I’m getting a shotgun anyway. And stay out of my backyard you tolerant, diversity loving motherfuckers.

    ps. these towns I speak of no longer exist, they were washed away by the cleansing flood of God’s justice.

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