In the City of New York, the term “hipster” gets tossed around frequently, often with great fury and disdain. In today’s NYSP , I propose the question, what is a hipster? And furthermore, are they actually the epidemic that we believe them to be?
Hipster, for many, denotes a phenomenon that originated in Williamsburg , a plague of pretentious, obscure, ironic individuals who wear five dollar plaid-shirts with three hundred dollar frames (despite their twenty-twenty vision). In short, hipsters are douchebags. They are the greatest perpetrators of the dreaded “gentrification” ; turning Brooklyn’s once vibrant, cultural neighborhoods into a collection of overpriced loft apartments and vegan pizza joints . Their identity is intrinsically tied to their ability to have tastes that no one has ever heard of before, like Ukrainian Electro-rock bands and throwback NES style-games based off a David Lynch television series . You can’t say the word “hipster” in New York (or anywhere, I would wager) without hearing a low groan rise up from the masses. Because, honestly, screw these guys. Right?
See, I don’t know if I see it that way anymore.
One of my acquaintances is afflicted with “hipsteritis.” He often adorns himself in plaid clothing and tirelessly mentions campy Japanese horror films . Are his references obscure and annoying sometimes? Absolutely. But the Bible says“harden not your hearts,” so I tried to open my mind and comprehend that which is the essence of hipster, try to dig into what provokes people to behave in such a way. After this little thought experiment, I began to see the harsh, underlying reality that had formally obviated my mind.
Given our definition, we loathe hipsters because of what and how they consume: they listen to obscure music, hang out in droves at annoyingly trendy bars without signs, accessorize expensively, and shave with single-bladed razors (when they do shave, which is honestly not that much). We hate on hipsters because of their tastes and their relentless pride in said tastes. But what I realized in this thought experiment is: we all do the exact same thing.
Let me ask you, would you judge a “die-hard” Sox fan, lurking in some dingy sports bar, slugging Bud Lights all night and spouting Mo Vaughn stats? How about a woman who has a collection of pashmina shawls , three hundred dollar necklaces she’s never worn, and can quote every line from The Princess Diaries? I mean, my favorite T-shirt features the Ninja Turtles, my relationship with The Simpsons is borderline unhealthy, and the only thing I actively spend money on is sandwiches. My point is, if these are the very things we hate on hipsters for, being overly proud in their consumption and having weird, sometimes unnecessarily expensive tastes, then we’re all hipsters.
Let that one sink in for a minute.
The only real difference is that society has deemed their tastes more obscure and as such, we find it off-putting. I’m not saying this somehow makes hipsters more tolerable for the non-hipster crowd (because honestly, some of them really do suck). I’m just doing a little exploration into the realm of hipsterdom, as I did for this week’s sandwich.
Week 7: Commodore
I chose Commodore for this week’s entry, not because the sandwiches are delicious (which they are), but because the venue reeked of hipster and hipster culture. For starters, it’s located in Williamsburg, a.k.a. the epicenter of all things hipster. Here, amidst a collection of moustache grooming shops and art gallery bars that were formally mayonnaise factories , you will come across Commodore. Except you probably won’t, because there’s no sign in front of the establishment (advertising in so mainstream, brah).
Commodore (which must be a reference to the Commodore 64) is deceptively large, divided into two sections, one bar, one restaurant, both seat yourselves, order at the bar. Perhaps the most stand-out awesome feature is their assortment of relic arcade games, including a Gilligan’s Island pinball machine . The menu is printed on cheap paper, as are the placemats, which feature their elaborate and impressive spirits selection along with a respectable draught assortment.
But this is a sandwich blog, damn it, and we need to get to where the focus is: the sandwiches. The magician behind this week’s entry hails from Georgia, Stephen Tanner, who also co-founded Pies-N-Thighs (another restaurant worth your time). He’s a fried chicken buff, and as such, the “Hot Breast” sandwich (a spicy chicken breast) is a must-munch. Slathered in pickles and slaw and a very flavorful, spicy sauce, it’s a fat, satisfying sandwich which was only outdone for me by the “Hot Fish.” It’s pretty much the same idea, but with a chunk of fried fish so wide, it sticks out on both sides. Hell, you probably could have made two sandwiches out of it.
These sandwiches are damn good (and affordable), but I mean, you’ve had a damn good fish/chicken sandwich before. Commodore is worth it for more of an ineffable reason, something about the vibe: a mixture of solid grub and good drinks set to slightly obscure tunes amidst a crowd saturated in piercings and neck tattoos. It feels just a little different and, you know, sometimes I dig different.
AND, for any of you with an Instagram account, you can follow me at #nycsandwichproject. Only a couple pics for now, but that will grow. There are many more sandwiches to be eaten.