Austin, Hipstercrite Life

The Death of Austin, Texas


A scary realization came to me the other night while I was driving around looking for parking east of Interstate 35 to catch a screening downtown. East of I-35 (East Austin) is typically where I park if I go anywhere downtown; it’s much easier than fighting for or paying for parking.

As I parked deeper than I normally would on the eastside due to the chaos that is SXSW, the realization that parking on the eastside could one day no longer be free hit me like a ton of bricks. Flashbacks of paying hundreds of dollars a year in parking meters, permits and parking tickets in Los Angeles came flooding back.

This may sound like a trivial concern, but it lead to the larger question that had been dancing in my brain while I battled thousands of people through the streets, sidewalks, events and stores as I wandered through SXSW- how much is Austin changing and is it for the better or worse?

I overheard a few rumblings from locals during the film and interactive portion of SXSW that beloved Austin eccentric celebrity/homeless man, Leslie Cochran’s, death at the beginning of this year’s festival might have been symbolic that all is changing with our fair city. They implied that his passing, in conjunction with the day that Austin balloons into a city that is unrecognizable to itself, may be a prediction of things to come.

I wrote an article on CultureMap recently called “Austin is ch-ch-ch-changing: Give up the hate and embrace the non-natives who make our city great” where I told local naysayers of change they should quit their whining. I explained that (in my mind) Austin is what it is because of the wonderful transplants who have moved here, that Austin staples like The Alamo Drafthouse, Birds Barbershop, I Luv Video, Whole Foods etc. were all founded by non-natives. The article received mixed comments- some who agreed and some who told me I was a friggin’ idiot for writing such a piece of crap, but in the end I felt good knowing that I made my point.

This past week I truly began wondering if the fear Austinites have about their city changing is in fact a grim reality.

Watching how large SXSW has gotten, strolling through our new W Hotel, fighting for parking and overhearing people who sound like they are caricatures of themselves terrified me into a state of social anxiety this weekend. Of course SXSW is an inaccurate and extreme example of what our city is on a daily basis, but could it represent what it will become? Impossible traffic, waiting in lines, paying for things that were once free, talking to people who don’t look you in the eye. Those traits are not uncommon in New York City or Los Angeles- could Austin one day be the same?

At the end of my CultureMap post I stated, “With change comes the good and the bad, but it’s inevitable. In my mind, it’s fair to saying that it is Austin’s welcoming attitude and progressive thinking that has made this town stand out. Do I think that the influx of people will change that? I don’t know. All I can is that I moved here to let Austin change me, not to change her, and I assume a lot of other transplants feel the same way.”

I want to believe that what I said is true. I want to believe that because Austin is not only in Texas, but in the South too, that its true heart will never die. I have a hard time believing that Austinites will let that occur. But what happens if the condos, the transplants with money and any non-Austin ideology continues coming to our city? Do we tell outsiders to leave? Can we even do that? This is a difficult topic for me to talk about because I’m not from Austin and I’ve only lived here for four years, but I feel like it’s my home. Do I not belong here?

Maybe I’m being an alarmist. Festival time in Austin has a tendency to make you feel like you’ve stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. But like a Twilight Zone episode, maybe the punchline is that the change has already happened.

What are your thoughts on Austin’s growth? Good? Bad? Do you think the city will lose its character?

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  • Reply valarie March 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    ha! while i was reading this, jay trachtenburg was playing “death to my hometown” – bruce springsteen on kut. personally, austin has changed in many ways that i don’t like. i agree with some of your points on how change can be good. but the cost of living has pushed my family out of austin proper, housing prices are out of control, and i hate going out feeling like i’m in some sort of farce where people are acting out their parts and generally trying to outdo each other in their “coolness”. there seems to be a downward slide in the numbers of genuine, sincere people in this town and it’s a bit unnerving. (another microcosm of this is marfa, tx…don’t even get me started. i don’t live there but i feel for the people that do)

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Valarie, that sounds exactly like LA!

  • Reply Chris March 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    People say Austin died in the eights…roughly sometime after the demise of the Armadillo.

    That may be true and all, but Austin is still a better place to live than 99% of the rest of the country.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Chris, I completely agree with you. It’s a fantastic city. I’m familiar with the Armadillo. Too bad it no longer exists.

  • Reply PunkSoda March 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Change is inevitable and how we deal with it makes it bad/good. My band-mate is also an architect and has access to development rumors before they are confirmed. One eye-raising possibility is the lots where Emo’s, Beauty Bar, Barbarella, Plush, Red 7 ect. may be turned into another condo. Beginning of the death of Austin music? What makes Austin music/SXSW/ACL unique and possible is the central location of it all. To me, Emo’s East and Beauty Ballroom being located outside of downtown is a change that is in the wrong direction for Austin music and ultimately Austin.

    • Reply Tim March 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      The armadillo was outside downtown. The prevalence of downtown music is something that really only became a serious trend in the last 10 years.
      As long as every bar and restaurant in town has live music, we’ll be fine. I like Emos, but I won’t miss having to dodge frat-boys attempting to vomit on me after leaving the new venue.

      • Reply Bett March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

        The prevalence of downtown music did not only become a serious trend in the last ten years. Red River maaaaaybe. Red River only developed into a music hotspot when bands started moving away from the collegiate environment of 6th. Credit? I have been a musician in Austin since the early 90s.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Oh God! I didn’t even think about the fact that that hole area is closing. What a scary thought. Wow. I hope it’s not true!

  • Reply Mary Wachsmann March 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I grew up here, and for what my opinion is worth, I love the newcomers, the influx of new ideas/talent, and the bizarre experience of watching SXSW evolve over the years from something tiny to what it is today. I leave Austin sometimes, moving to places like NYC, and when I come back, which I always do and always will, Austin still has something new to teach me, maybe because of its ever-shifting population.

    From my point of view, Austin’s expanding pop. is nothing new. They say that she (the city) doubles in size every 20 years. So, I’ve already seen it happen, and it’s been amazing. I think the people who come here, for the most part, already “get” our little city, and I welcome their cultural input.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Mary, I agree with all that you said. My original article on CultureMap essentially said the same thing. I’m just getting a little nervous…

  • Reply Tim March 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Parking really shouldn’t be our definition of good/bad change. The reason there’s no parking is that there’s so much awesome stuff to do. So many great bands to see. So much fantastic live original performance work. So much good food to eat.

    Less parking means buildings closer together, and easier to walk to. It means more incentive to take public transit (and fight for better transit and more large apartment buildings, duplexes, etc). Which is all so much better for the environment, Barton Springs and the greenbelt.

    It strikes me as a very good problem for Austin to have. But I do miss Leslie. He arrived in Austin the same year I did.

    • Reply Mary Wachsmann March 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you for this excellent point. I’m an East Austinite, and I hear these complaints a lot. Now I have a more positive view in my arsenal.

      • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm

        I like in East Austin too! Thanks for reading!

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      Oh man, do we need a better light rail, huh? Gosh, it still breaks my heart when I think about that thing. I’d love if Austin developed better transit and more bike lanes. I hear of too many of my friends getting hit on their bikes.

  • Reply JimJ March 15, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    You must be new. Leslie was not from Austin. He is from Miami and got here in the late 80s.

    A bum from Miami did not make Austin what it is. He played no part in it regardless of what the media says.

    The only thing that will make Austin like LA is if more people from LA continue to move here. Californian refugees who move here after destroying their state would spell the end of Austin, just like they have trashed and pissed Oregonians.

    And by the way, Austin is not the South and never was. Texas isn’t either. Reading a little history of our state might be helpful.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Didn’t Texas secede with the Confederacy?

      • Reply Mary Wachsmann March 16, 2012 at 12:04 am

        I don’t agree with the snarky “you must be new” attitude of this comment, but in my experience most Texans (myself included) believe that we have more in common culturally as well as geographically with the Southwest, whether Wikipedia agrees or not. 😀 (This is such a great topic, by the way, love the post.)

        • Reply hipstercrite March 16, 2012 at 12:10 am

          Mary, if you Google “Is Texas Part of the South?” it seems that everyone has a different opinion. Some say, “West, “Southwest”, “South”, “Midwest” and just plain ol’ “Texas”. It is an interesting topic!

    • Reply carjack March 19, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Actually, Leslie was from Colorado and moved here in 1996. And while no one person made Austin what it is, he certainly played a part, and continued a proud tradition in the vein of Max Nofziger’s eccentricity. I’m glad to count him as an icon of Austin.

      Austin is indeed not the South; Sam Houston vigorously opposed secession, and Austin was one of the only areas of the state to vote against it.

      Texas is not the South, but the South is part of Texas. Texas is not the West, but the West is part of Texas. Texas is Texas, and is much too big and diverse to pigeonhole. May it ever be thus.

      • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

        Carjack- you win the award for best answer on what Texas is. 😉

  • Reply Cathy March 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve lived here my whole life and yes, there is a ton of change. Some of it is annoying but most of it is great. The thing I love is that people come here and bring new ideas and new traditions, but they all manage to adopt the Austin attitude of “Do what you want, it’s all good.” People come here for that feeling and I don’t think it’s something we’ll lose. At least I hope not. If we do, I’ll be kicking some shins for sure…..

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Cathy, I feel the same way. I just got super freaked out during SXSW. I thought, “Oh my God! Could it be like this all of the time in the future?!”

  • Reply Stefani March 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I went to college here, moved around the country for 12 years, then came back in ’05. People had warned me that Austin was not the same, but to me it did feel the same. That was in ’05. Now, I get that killer view of the Austin skyline from 369 and I feel a little pang of sadness. I do not recognize the skyline when I see it now because it’s changed so much. But I guess a city can be like a person. The face changes, but the soul never does.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      Stefani, that’s what I’d like to think too!

  • Reply Nikol March 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    What an awesome piece. Really well-written. I’m a transplant here in Austin and I can understand why so many people are flocking here. Austin has a friendly, old-fashioned feel in a big city that you can’t find anywhere else.

    I don’t know if I have an opinion yet (since I”m so new and can’t really tell whether Austin’s changing for the good or bad) but I love seeing everyone else’s comments.

    Great thought-provoking article, lady!

    • Reply hipstercrite March 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      Thanks, Nikol! I’m coming up on my four year mark. I’ve definitely seen so many changes just in my four years here! Let me know what you think in four years! 😉

  • Reply David L March 16, 2012 at 2:18 am

    I’m a little sick of all the negativity from butt-hurt hipsters about people moving here or being here for a week for a festival or whatever. I’m sorry that band you used to like got popular, too. [I’m addressing the attitude, not you specifically]

    If Austin wants to be like all the cities it claims it doesn’t want to be like, all we needs to do is keep being shitty to out-of-towners. I was working at a SXSW venue today and overheard someone say “you know, people in Austin seem a lot nicer here than in Seattle.” And guess what? That’s the best thing about Austin. Your first post was right. Really amazing people are drawn to Austin all the time and the reason is because they see the good things that are here and they want to be a part of them. If you’re trying to keep them out, or trying to hide the good things we have from everyone, then you’re are the one who’s killing Austin. Because guess what? Being born here doesn’t make you better than anyone else.

    So dear hipster: Grow up and stop pouting about having to share your toys. If they get broken, don’t worry. Honest, creative people all around you are busy making new ones that they want to share. Pay attention and you can still have the self-satisfaction of telling other people about them first.

    If you really care about Austin, support the good things you see around you, don’t get bitter, and for fuck’s sake, be nice to people, because guess what kind of people elitist pricks attract?

    • Reply carjack March 19, 2012 at 12:33 am

      Amen to that, brother! I’m a 5th-generation Austinite, so I smile ironically when I hear people (who almost without exception, moved here as adults) complain about the change in the last 5 years or so. I usually make an ironic comment in agreement, like “yeah, I really miss Les Amis, too; didn’t you love that place?” and most never get the reference. Point being, cool places have come and gone for years. New ones are opening all the time. Change happens. The spirit of friendliness that is uniquely Texan is the essential quality that is vital, and what must remain constant. Smile at strangers, say “howdy”, look people in the eye, and brag about our city every chance you get, and it’ll always remain a great place.

      • Reply kelc April 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm

        aww les amis! My momma was a waitress there for many years. i’m glad someone still remembers it 🙂

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      David L, I wonder if it’s the hipsters complaining though (unless you’re subtly referring to me 😉 In my original post, I mention a local who chased someone with a hammer. This person was middle-aged. I also got the impression from the negative comments on my original post that the commenters were older. I could be completely wrong. What experiences have you had with negative attitude towards outsiders in Austin? Has it been from hipsters?

  • Reply Jessica March 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Well said David L! Let’s share, and be nice. It’s contagious.

  • Reply Ari March 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    As a very recent transplant myself, I agree that in most cases people move here to experience what Austin in, not try to change it themselves.

    While a lot of the trends are signaling that Austin becoming more popular and well-known and therefore mainstream, knowledge about Austin’s one-of-a-kind culture is equally renowned across the nation. I think most people tend to have an idea about what they’re getting themselves into when they come here and for the most part will continue to embrace and enhance the already vibrant culture.

    I was most surprised by the welcoming nature and kindness of everyone here. This might be what you’re referring to as the “true heart” of Austin, and I think while this might not shape what Austin is, it definitely is an integral part of the community culture and what this community can become.

    I believe that as long as the native Austinites (?) continue to be kind, welcoming, and open to the new residents, these new transplants will return the favor. No matter how ‘mainstream’ the city becomes, we can still keep it weird!

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      Ari, well said! I hope so too! I definitely believed that before and I will try to continue believing that. It’s hard to imagine a city ever losing itself. I can’t think of a place where that has happened (unless it never found itself, like LA).

  • Reply Joanna March 18, 2012 at 6:56 am

    This SXSW was awful for me. I live North of downtown so it’s not easy for me to get downtown really ever, but when it’s not SXSW it’s at least possible. I had to drive to a bus stop and then hope a bus would stop for me (which it didn’t many times) to get downtown since parking was out of question. It was the worst experience ever. I hate standing in lines, I hate crowds (especially drunk ones), and the whole thing gave me multiple panic attacks. This might sound like maybe I’m just not cut out for living in a big city, but, guess what. When I visited my friend in NY I had absolutely no issues getting around by myself. Austin is not designed for this amount of traffic and people. The highways are a complete disaster. My sister lives in California and even she complains about the traffic here. I don’t want Austin to change, but it IS growing. So there actually does need to be some change for us to be able to live more comfortably. In the meantime, I’m going out of town on vacation during SXSW next year.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Joanna, I agree that the public transportation needs to get better. This might be the only time of year that the light rail seems worth it! Actually saw people on it! We had New Yorkers staying with us and they asked about the bus system. I told them that I wasn’t sure b/c I’ve never used it and they laughed at me. My only experiences with the bus system here are my friends on bikes who have been hit by them. They scare me. Sorry you had a cruddy SXSW this year.

  • Reply Martin March 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    I have a secret spot I always park free when going downtown. I’ll never tell…

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Martin, you know,I actually had a lot of luck with parking b/c I parked in the taxi loading places during the day that people were afraid to park in. As long as you read the signs carefully, you can find some good spots (and sometimes you can’t…)

  • Reply Mark Rubin March 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    It’s the death of emblematic culture and the supplantation of a strictly consumerist narrative that you are right to fear. As it happens here, so it will be so everywhere in fact.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      until we run out of water…

  • Reply Nathan March 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Honestly, I think a lot of this has commentary has points, both the negative and positive, but there are some alarming things going on in Austin.

    For me, the one thing Austin has always claimed is that it remains the live music capital of the world, but slowly that sentiment (and really not so slowly) is fading, and as is the local talent. I run, and we do a lot of coverage on great bands in Austin; however, when I go to a show to support the best acts in town, there’s 25 people there…and most are in the other bands…that’s not good for our scene.

    And it gets worse…I’ve been to tons of big shows lately (Malkmus, Kills, Radiohead, etc) but no one shows up until the headliner. WTF!? Isn’t part of going to a show being wowed by a band you never heard of, or at least showing up to give them some respect as they work their asses off to make music? Austinites aren’t doing that…and worse, if they do show up, they go to the front of the stage and text their friends or talk while other try to enjoy the music.

    Personally, I’m all for the dude-bro’s being into the same music as myself, as it means more fans for the band, thus more great music coming our way. But, we all need to learn some courtesy at shows…maybe your next article (or mine) should be on Rules for a Music Fan (or How to be Nice to Those Who Are.

    I could go on and on forever about this, but people should know that a lot of great artists are moving out, have moved out, or are thinking of it because our town isn’t supporting the local talent. I’ll stop before I get too long-winded (too late?).

    Side note—to Joanna above; I live two minutes from the Round Rock, and I had absolutely no problem getting into town, and out. I also parked on 8th and Waller every day, walked to where I needed to go, and had a blast. It just takes a little extra planning.

    • Reply Martin March 19, 2012 at 2:29 am

      Oh, Austin’s live music scene has always been more talk than walk. Just like our alleged “film scene.” Lots of raw talent, damn little in the way of support or investment. Still, I wouldn’t live in any other Texas city.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      Nathan, that is sad to hear. I didn’t realize that (I’m not into live music as much as others- I try to support local film talent- so maybe I’m part of the music problem). I have heard rumblings of musicians getting fed up and moving out of Austin. The only place I can compare it to is LA (where I once lived). I know my struggling musician friends had trouble finding gigs or getting paid. Sometimes they even had to pay to play (like at Viper Room). I got the impression that struggling musicians can at least book shows and get a little bit of dough here. Am I wrong?

  • Reply Marc Savlov March 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Val, you’ve got some dead-on points and concerns. I’ve been writing about SXSW in one form or another since 1991. Last year was the first year I told my friends “Y’know, I didn’t really have all that much fun.” This year was even more of a psychotic clusterfuck. Sure, I saw a handful of truly great films, some amazing bands, and met a few supercool folks, but the overall vibe on the street was dark, anxious, and in general very creepy.

    I should note here that I was one of the first people to move downtown back in the nineties when it was relatively cheap. In fact, I was the second resident in the very first loft constructed, the Brazos Lofts at 5th and Brazos. Being a writer, I could never afford the insane costs of purchasing a home in the heart of downtown Austin today, but back then it was a steal, and I’ve been a downtowner ever since.

    That said, when SXSW rolls around, there’s no escape for me. Even through triple-paned windows I can hear the chaos clear through ’til dawn. Much of that chaos, and something that I noted particularly this year, came from a huge influx of people who came to party, and not to see bands, movies, or participate in SXSW Interactive. It’s as if we’ve become Ft. Lauderdale all of the sudden, and all negative stereotypes that that implies.

    C’est la vie? I dunno. All I do know is that this year I a) got broadsided while riding my bike to the Fader Fort by a drunk, cellphone-chattering asshat in some goddam boat of a car; b) had my own iPhone ganked after I foolishly and in the true spirit of Austin “loaned” it to a girl who promptly disappeared; and c) had my wallet was similarly vanished in the post-Jesus and Mary Chain crowdsurge. *sigh* C’est le guerre, more like.

    • Reply Valarie March 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      That has to be the worst SxSW I have ever heard of. Sounds like SxSW was full of street criminals and corporate ones this year. Sorry to hear you had such a rough time, Marc…

      • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        Marc! That’s terrible! That would really put a bad taste in my mouth. This year I stayed away from music completely and I think my blood pressure stayed relatively low because of it. The music definitely brings out folks who don’t understand the true spirit of Austin. Sorry you had your wallet and phone stolen.

  • Reply Oivey March 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Sad truth, I moved here in93 and was born here. Places like Alamo have taken over and become like Walmart. Austin has become Dallas and that just plain sux on multiple levels. Next big catastrophe… The Waller creek tunnel project, say goodbye to all the cool bars that are on red river and make room for a TGIF or some corporate run shithole you find on the river walk.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      Punksoda said a similiar thing. 🙁

  • Reply carjack March 19, 2012 at 12:47 am

    I don’t believe Austin is dying, but if I did, I’d probably pinpoint the timeline to 1999, when the airport moved from midtown to Bergstrom AFB, leaving a 750-acre hole ripe for development in a prime real estate area. That’s also the year Liberty Lunch was forced out of its home, to make way for the headquarters of Computer Sciences Corporation, and the new City Hall was begun. Ironically, that’s the same year the Internet start-up bubble burst, which did a big number on our local economy. We’ve had a very pro-growth city council since then, including a real estate investor mayor (Will Wynn). The Austin of 1998 would look very recognizable to an Austinite from 1984 (14 years earlier), but I’m not so sure today’s Austin would be as recognizable to that 1998 Austinite.

    That said, I’m still enjoying living here in this post-apocalyptic Austin. Change is inevitable; try to be part of making it change for the better!

    • Reply hipstercrite March 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Austin is a great city. I love being here too!

  • Reply Scott M April 2, 2012 at 1:00 am

    I was born in Michigan and moved here in the early 80’s. I lived within walking distance to Emo’s, well back then it was called the “Backroom” and had a lot of good times there and around “Townlake” Since then I moved back to Michigan and started a family of my own and my three boys are all adults now. and we all moved here on march 5th to escape the cold and hopelessness of MI. We could have moved anywhere in the U.S. that we wanted to. Over 6 months I carefully researched the best places to move to according to Weather, Jobs, Crime, Laws etc. I purposely tried not to choose Austin because of my past here, but on an average of all the criteria, Austin was high on the list. and here we are! our first day here, my wife and I were impressed by all the friendly people that welcomed us. my sons and my wife already have jobs and our entire outlook on life has changed. Yes Austin has changed, Some bad but mostly good!

  • Reply Alex March 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    So…the author was totally cool with the hipster transplants when they were dividing black and Latino communities. It was just summed up to be the inevitable “Bad” that comes with the good. But now the author can’t find a parking space and now it’s a DEATH, the DEATH of Austin, TX? Whatever dude.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you for your comment. As I stated, I no longer agree with my initial opinion. Also, I don’t think it’s fair to say that hipsters divide black and latino communities. The people causing the rise in prices in an area like East Austin are developers and money people. Hipsters typically don’t have money. Yes, hipsters are moving to the Eastside, but I’m fairly certain they’re not asking for the expensive places that are now sprouting up and pushing many people of all skin colors out. Also, for the record, I dislike the displacement of communities. Gentrification is inevitable, but it needs to happen smartly and fairly; I’m not sure it’s happening smartly or fairly in Austin.

  • Reply Alex March 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for your feedback. I disagree that hipsters typically don’t have money. Most of the people I know who transplanted to Austin have big money, they just also have tattoos and rockabilly-styled hair so they don’t aesthetically align with a typical yuppie. And in my current town of Atlanta, this is also true. Countless younger (20-27) hipsters who have moved into the poorer or predominantly black neighborhoods in Atlanta are able to live there because their parents bought them an apartment, condo, or house. All of these things were once very inexpensive in East Atlanta (from the descriptions, much like Atlanta’s East Austin), so for a family with money these purchases, many of them foreclosures during the housing bust, were no biggie. Many of the older (28 – 35) hipsters I know have at least one household member earning a doctor’s or engineer’s-level salary. Almost every broke hipster I’ve encountered in Atlanta, if they’re just working in a coffee shop, bar, whatever, gets substantial aid from someone in their family to survive, whether it’s random checks in the mail, or the flat-out purchase of a condo or apartment.

    Those are BIG advantages. Don’t like sounding so literally black and white, but most black households in poorer parts of town/inner cities simply don’t have this additional aid. Same with the poorer white demographic — rarely live in the gentrified neighborhoods, but instead the rural areas an hour or more from even the edges of what is considered a city.

    I’m assuming by “money people” (???) you mean yuppies and upper-middle class folks. Most people have now realized the average hipster is just a regular middle and upper-middle class WASP with funky clothes you can now obtain at Wal-Mart, add a beard or red hair with blonde tips, and a bunch of tattoos. Real estate developers are catering to the hipster mentality. Whereas outside of the inner city, new apartments and town homes have a more traditional makeup, the new and renovated buildings downtown have the loft feel, edgy, “weird” (as in Keep Austin Weird). How would all of these coffee shops and Whole Foods Markets spring up and THRIVE if hipsters were poor? If most hipsters were poor they would be in poverty trying to afford the increased rent and food on a low-paying job, and like their poorer majority-turned-minority black neighbors, they would have to move out.

    As previously referenced, if cities like Austin and Atlanta were home to particularly poorer white communities, then the story would be told differently in this respect. But the demographics of these cities are black and black/Latino.

    So it’s not to say that hipsters are racist or some notion like that. I do still stand by this desire to live like a badass in an ironically dumpy part of town has not only lessened the dumpiness of it, but also driven out those originally there due to affordability, public transportation, and often job location. What angers me about gentrification is not just the displacing of people, but the way people barge into someone’s city, pull out all of their comforts, and refuse to help build up and strengthen the ENTIRE community. If people were more conscious of what has to suffer to make them happy in their environment, there could be less displacing and more harmony.

    • Reply hipstercrite March 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Excellent comments. I’m starting to think that the word “hipster” should be broken up into many different words. Yes, hipsters are poor (I know a lot of them- no trust funds) and yes, they’re upper class yuppies. Or maybe we should throw the word out all together. Hey, have you lived in Austin before? I’ve never been to Atlanta, but I’m interested in going.

  • Reply Bishop October 29, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Don’t worry, transplants.
    Your days in Austin are numbered.
    We didn’t ask you to come here,
    But we are telling you to leave.
    We are sick of paying for your luxury,
    While we struggle to keep our homes,
    OUR schools,
    OUR jobs,
    OUR history,
    And OUR comfort.
    You have built condos and coffee shops where
    Our fathers and grandfathers built their homes, and raised their families.
    All in the name of your “comfort”
    Businesses, long established, run by generations of Austinites, gone…..for your “comfort”.
    It’s time to take Austin back.
    Leave….before it happens

  • Reply Bill November 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Ooh, can I play, too? You name the time and place; I’ll bring cocktails and matches. 🙂

    Just kidding about cocktails, but there’s nothing funny about what has happened to this city. The Austin I have known and loved since 1974 is dying, trampled nigh unto death by hordes of cell-phone-yakking, latte-swilling, fast-lane-hogging trendoids ceaselessly demanding that we start doing things the way they were done “back home” – you know, that miserable “home” they fled to move HERE.

    Of course, once here in the putative “Live Music Capital of the World” these Philistines rush to buy condos in the oh-so-hip nightclub district, only to push for a noise ordinance aimed at silencing those nightclubs. They ignore landmark institutions like The Broken Spoke, Las Manitas and Waterloo Records, and all the not-so-famous locally owned eateries and shops that once graced every neighborhood. Instead they flock en masse to the chain stores and restaurants that have turned IH 35 into one bleak, soulless Texas-sized strip mall, all the while boasting to the Twitterverse about how “unique” Austin is. They clog our already overburdened roadways, overpopulate our local schools, and drive up the cost of living. Their “downtown density” skyscrapers block our view of the Texas Capitol from almost every direction – a mortal and unforgivable sin against our history and culture. In this and many other ways they disrespect our traditions, mores and heroes, and make our beloved hometown damned near unlivable.

    Yes, their sins are manifold, and the damage they wreak on our land and lives is irreparable. They must be stopped!

  • Reply KJ January 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Almost three years later and the same issues are at hand. The comments to your post sadden me. I’m one of those new transplants from the East Coast and it breaks my heart to think of Austin changing as it clearly is. My husband and I chose Austin, quite frankly, because Seattle was too far away from my family back in Miami (talk about a hellhole there). So Austin was a good compromise, a liberal sensibility, beautiful scenery, kind people and a strong economy. And much to my joy, a plethora of quirky and unique schools for my little ones (Austin STEM, Austin Tinkering School, Clearview.. so great!).

    But unlike the apparent hordes of moneyed Californians, my family is straight-up middle class. We make enough to send our kids to good schools and have enough left over for a night out. But we don’t make enough to afford a decent house anywhere near close to downtown. $600k for a townhouse?! Are these people high? Compounded by high property taxes, no wonder everyone’s pissed. But not all of us are douchey interlopers trying to unravel the very fabric of the city that wrapped itself around my heart and asked me to come on over, and bring the little ones too.

    Why would I want to change the very things that drew me here – people who actually say hello to me on the street, who kneel down to strike up a conversation with my oldest, people who let me merge!, people we randomly meet while waiting in line for shawarma and the countless awesome parents we encounter at playgrounds and parks. I nearly fainted when I came across Book People for the first time and my husband the same, across the street at Waterloo’s. And yes, I’ve waited for the bats to emerge at sunset. Anyway, I could go on about all the things I adore about Austin, but it wouldn’t be news to you. But what will break this city is the affordability issue. And as a transplant, I’m with the natives all the way.

  • Reply Justin Smith June 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    In my opinion, cliquey, elitist locals ruin this town not just with xenophobia, even of like-minded transplants who they probably share common goals an interests with, but also by regarding the revolving-door student population as a flock to be fleeced. So, there’s the self-entitled, cooler than thou, con artist locals, and then there are the over-privileged college liberals, over-idealistic and detached from reality. And caught between, the young professional transplants, just trying to settle down and grow careers. Anyway, if corporations take advantage of these rifts buy gentrifying and co-opting, it’s because like-minded locals didn’t recognize their own kind among the transplants, and form coalitions with them, to keep Austin weird! The same kind of weird the locals grew up with, the same kind of weird that drew the transplants to Austin.

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