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Today In Failed Pretension

[ 114 ] February 17, 2013 |

Uh, what?

Indeed, the sturdy, retro, all-American character of the river towns fits well with the whole Filson/Woolrich heritage-brand aesthetic. People who set their cultural compass to the Brooklyn Flea appreciate the authenticity. [Christ. –ed.]

“Hastings-on-Hudson is a village, in a Wittgensteinian sort of way,” Mr. Wallach said. He added, “We are constantly hearing about the slow-food movement, the slow-learning movement and the slow-everything-else. So why not just go avant-garde into a slow-village movement?”

What could the bolded section possibly mean? Kieran Healy has answers! All are entertaining, but #1 is the killer:

1. It is filled with very rich people affecting to be quite poor people.

We have a winner! But do click through, it’s worth it.


Comments (114)

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  1. N__B says:

    Speaking as an engineer, if your pre-tension fails, you’re faced with cracking, excessive deflection, and often catastrophic collapse.

  2. djw says:

    The greatest trolls in the history of all the internets can’t compare to the NYT style section. They’re playing in a different league.

    • N__B says:

      Their article a couple of years ago about how people who own brownstones have to walk up and down a lot of stairs is my favorite. My wife and I giggled about that one for weeks.

      • KadeKo says:

        Climibing stairs?

        I’m too down-market to forget how many friends I had growing up who lived in split-level ranches. Guess I’m just not the reader the Times Style Section is looking for.

  3. wjts says:

    1. It is filled with very rich people affecting to be quite poor people.

    From the Times article: “These days, young creatives are fleeing a city that has become too affluent…. ‘Nicole brought me up here kicking and screaming,’ Mr. McNeil recalled. But he was won over once he saw a rambling three-story, five-bedroom Victorian with a wraparound porch for $860,000.”

    And I would assume that in this context a Wittgensteinian village is one that threatens Popperian villages with artisan fire pokers made by a trust-funder who dabbles in blacksmithing.

  4. Matt says:

    One funny thing is that though Wittgenstein was wildly rich at one point, he really did give away most of his personal fortune. That’s admirable, but it did lead to him mooching off of his friends (Keynes in particular) for much of the rest of his life. It’s hard not to think that the “mooching” part is more common here than the “giving away most of your huge fortune” part.

  5. Djur says:

    While she savors the space and mental calm of the suburbs, she finds herself looking hopefully for signs of creative ferment. “We’ve found it in pockets,” Ms. Ghiorse said. “Once in a while, you’ll think, ‘This place gets it,’ because they have a Fernet Branca cocktail on their menu.”


    Of course, it all eventually boils down to:

    The couple had enrolled their oldest son into the gifted and talented kindergarten program in the local public school, but they were disappointed by the school’s overcrowding, unruly students and bureaucracy.

    = “I don’t want my special little gifted snowflake to go to school with poors and urbans”

    • socraticsilence says:

      You read the first paragraph and you think despite all of the mass death maybe a bloody revolution in a first world nation or at least the return of the Goldman/Berkman types would be good once in a while if only to remind the idle rich of the precariousness of their positions, then you toss off that thought and throw back another authentically working class beverage.

    • Jon C says:

      This. Private school must have been too much of a copout.


      And it was only a 40-minute drive to his Brooklyn studio.

      Eff you, dude, and your artmobile. I look forward to quotes from Mr. McNeil opposing the next campaign for an NYC congestion tax.

    • Manta says:

      While alcohol is the product of fermentation, I don’t see how a Fernet Branca cocktail is a “sign of creative ferment”.

  6. DrDick says:

    More reasons why I do not read the NYT Style section and why I am glad that Montana is just too inherently uncool to have hipsters.

  7. So NYC is too expensive – they don’t have any down-at-the-heels industrial cities in the region?

    There are no old neighborhoods with fixer-uppers in White Plains? Albany? You know, real cities that existed before World War Two?

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Not only do we have a lot of old brownstones, craft beers and farmer’s markets with Hudson Valley produce are widely available!

    • Sherm says:

      White Plains is quite expensive these days. It’s been largely gentrified already. I hate to generalize, but westchester as a whole is full of rich snobs. Beautiful area, but I would never want to raise my children there.

      And, btw, Albany is an excellent little city, in a great location. Great place to live

  8. Aaron Baker says:

    This one’s good, too: “Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent after 10pm except on public holidays.”

  9. DocAmazing says:

    People in Oakland are hoping that this article will spur interest in Walnut Creek. People in San Francisco are too busy rushing around trying to afford to stay where they are.

  10. rea says:

    What the hell did he mean by a “Wittgensteinian” village?

    I know very little about Wittgenstein, so I turn to Wikipedia, and find that the philospher, during a period of self-loathing, sought refuge as a village school teacher. He became known for physically abusing children, and was eventually charged criminally, although the charges were somehow hushed up. Meanwhile, he didn’t seem to think highly of villagers: “These people are not human at all but loathsome worms”.

    So, what the hell did he mean by a “Wittgensteinian” village?

  11. Lefty68 says:

    I think all it means is that they’re all just as schloshed as Schlegel.

  12. Sly says:


    Kill that word! Kill it with fire!

  13. ploeg says:

    It is a little-known fact that Ludwig Wittgenstein had ambitions of becoming an architect. He even helped design a house for his sister:

    He focused on the windows, doors, door knobs, and radiators, demanding that every detail be exactly as he specified, to the point where everyone involved in the project was exhausted.

    Perhaps Hastings-on-Hudson is as Wittgenstein would have proceeded if he had moved into urban planning.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      The Stonborough House has been described as ‘the most water-piped edifice in the world’. Even in the living-rooms there were upwards of ten rough farmyard taps, some with zinc troughs and some (as those projecting from the ceiling and from converted gas brackets near the fireplace) directed at the unprotected floor. Even the gas pipes were connected up with this water system and would gush strongly at any attempt to provide the light.

      No wait, that was de Selby.
      I have a theory that de Selby and Wittgenstein were the same person, and it is mine.

  14. J. Otto Pohl says:

    I am still not sure of what a hipster is. Is it just somebody who lives in a village and is slow? Or is there more to it than that? Are there any hipsters in Africa? I don’t think I have seen any, but I don’t know what they look like.

    • ploeg says:

      There is no precise definition of hipster, but throwing together pretensions of living “simply” and “artistically” with a substantial trust fund gets you a lot of the way there.

      • JoyfulA says:

        Think Marie Antoinette and her ladies-in-waiting as milkmaids.

        • BigHank53 says:

          Anyone who thinks a $4800 handmade single-speed bicycle is just the thing for nipping down to the coffee shop…three blocks away.

        • LeeEsq says:

          This is the best description of hipsterism ever.

          • sibusisodan says:

            …made even better by the fact that Her Maj did actually have a faux-dairy at Versailles:

            The Queen sought refuge in peasant life, milking cows or sheep, which were carefully maintained and cleaned by the servants. Dressed as a peasant, in a muslin dress and straw hat with a light switch in her hand, accompanied by her ladies, she used buckets of Sèvres porcelain specially decorated with her arms by the Manufacture Royale. The place was completely enclosed by fences and walls, and only intimates of the Queen were allowed to access it.

    • Matt_L says:

      Usually, you can tell by the clothes and the eyeglasses. They are seen wearing clothes that could be thrift-store cast offs from the 1970s (white shoes & white belts) but are in fact very expensive designer creations. Although the white shoe & belt thing was some time ago (early 2000s) in LA. So I’m sure its different.

    • Hogan says:

      Is it just somebody who lives in a village and is slow?

      No, we call those idiots.

    • tt says:

      If you look at the article, there’s a graphic at the top and then a bunch of actual photos to the side, and the people in the photos aren’t dressed anything like the people in the graphics. This makes me somewhat doubt the descriptive content of the label, not for the first time.

  15. “Wittgensteinian” refers not to Ludwig Wittgenstein, but his brother Paul. Paul was a gifted pianist who lost his right hand in WWI. Undeterred, he commissioned new, one-armed works from composers such as Ravel, Prokofiev and Franz Schmidt.

    So calling Hastings-on-Hudson a village in a “Wittgensteinian sort of way” is really a left-handed compliment.

  16. Anonymous says:

    He wasn’t specific about which Wittgenstein he was referring to. Perhaps he means that in the village all music is composed for only the left hand.

  17. A place to go when thinking about colors causes you to repudiate your life’s work.

  18. Major Kong says:

    At my age it’s impossible for me to be hip and I would only look pathetic for trying.

  19. socraticsilence says:

    Its a stupid lowest common denominator usage of Wittgenstein- just simple enough that the idle rich LA grads that pay for the Style section can read it and feel smart- “its a village because it is named a village” ala the apple analogy in the very beginning of the blue book.

  20. I’m relieved. Whenever someone links to articles like this I always think the people in them are just incredibly insufferable, and I wonder if I’m missing something or if my feelings of revulsion are coming from a place of secret envy or something. But I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who is incredibly put off by this stuff.

    Am still unclear as to exactly what hipsters are, but that’s a discussion for another day, I guess.

    I’ve lived most of my life in small towns and suburbs, so my experiences with what I *think* of as hipsters have been few and far between.

    Last year I went to hip little pizza joint in North Charleston and I guess our server was a hipster. I got the feeling she didn’t like me for some reason. *shrug*

  21. Tybalt says:

    Hipster (n.) Person whom the speaker suspects of thinking themselves cooler than the speaker.

  22. spencer says:

    One of those people named his son Denim.

    I may doubt the existence of hipsters, but the existence of douchebags has never been in question.

  23. brad says:

    I’m sorry to have to remind everyone of this, but….

    complaining about hipsters means you are one.

    • ddt says:

      Not quite, brad.

      Complaining about hipsters (and denying you are one) is indeed a feature of hipsterism, but it is not limited to hipsters. That is, you have noted a necessary but not sufficient identifier of hipsterism.

      This goes deep, man.

  24. herr doktor bimler says:

    Real-ale snobs are hopsters.

  25. Alan in SF says:

    Is this really a new (or newsworthy) phenomenon in the New York area? San Francisco has been surrounded by towns with the same sort of hipness as SF for as long as I can remember — Woodside, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, to name a few. Some have sturdy authenticity, others (Albany or Fairfax) have very little, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. They all have the same brands and the same fads. They’re places where rich white people live!

  26. Bill Murray says:

    At least it’s not a village in a Nietzschean way. A village of Ubermensch-wanna-be hipsters trying to create new values within the moral vacuum of nihilism. Is life not too short to bore ourselves?

    I think the covers this well

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