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Today In Failed Pretension


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.

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

  • djw

    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.

    • 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

        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.

  • wjts

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

      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

      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

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

  • DrDick

    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.

    • I don’t know, man, when I was in Missoula I definitely saw some little pockets and outgrowths of hipsterism. Couldn’t imagine it anywhere else in the state, though.

      • Bill Murray

        I don’t know, there could be some hipster Bozeites

        • KadeKo


          +10 if said Bozeites are they’re the kind of hippies whose morning ablutions are on absolutely no schedule whatsoever.

    • rea

      There was a time when hipsters moved to Montana to grow dental floss, but those days are in the distant past now, I guess . . .

      • Scott Lemieux

        Do they have zircon-encrusted tweezers in Westchester?

        • Lee Hartmann

          or pygmy ponies? that seems possible…

      • DrDick

        Bottom fell out of the dental floss market and they all went bust.

    • socraticsilence

      We have hipsters walk past the regulars at Charlie B’s one night and count the skinny jeans and pencil mustaches.

      • DrDick

        I think those are more aspirational hipsters.

    • Anonymous

      They got hipsters everywhere, man.

      They got hipsters in… Alabama. Ala-damn-bama….

  • 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

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

      • Lowell’s farmer’s market has a big banner reading “EBT Welcome Here.”

        • Scott Lemieux

          The one on Troy has one too. Which explains why douchey trustfarians are rather more likely to move to Westchester.

          • (the other) Davis

            Can’t say I ever make it to Troy during my semi-annual visits to the Capital District, but is it true that it’s developing a solid arts community?

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yup. And the farmer’s market is terrific.

              • (the other) Davis

                It’s clearly come a long way since my youth, when we alternately referred to it as “the Troylet” and “the armpit of New York State.”

        • ddt

          To be fair, the federal SNAP program (and each state-level implementation) was intentionally designed for EBT to be accepted at farmers’ markets. Not for hipster, artisanal reasons, but 1. to encourage local food production businesses and 2. in many regions, a farmers’ market may be the best chance for EBT users to get fresh foods. One thing I’m not clear on is how these markets enforce SNAP’s criterion against use for prepared foods.

          (Learned this while working on a news story/mobile app project designed to help users locate and rate food stores that accept EBT.)

      • Waingro

        There are cities north of Westchester County? Huh.

        • JKTHs

          Doesn’t it just become Canada north of Westchester County?

    • Sherm

      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

  • Aaron Baker

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

    • herr doktor bimler

      That was my favourite.

  • DocAmazing

    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.

    • Nothing will spur interest in Walnut Creek.

      • ddt

        … it’s on the way to Mt. Diablo? Yeah, I got nothing. Though I have it on authority that there used to be walnuts, and a creek.

      • charlie

        Walnut Creek, based on the boutiques, restaurants and stores (e.g. Tiffany & Co.)found there, has the feel of the upscale Westchester County cities. Maybe it is because the easy commute via rail to the financial district in the “big” city is common to both places.

  • rea

    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?

    • JoyfulA

      He’s a “futurism consultant.” What else do you need to know?

      • Scott Lemieux

        When I see someone who combines bourgie hipsterism with inane corporate buzzspeak, all I can say is that New York’s abolition of the death penalty may have been premature.

        • russiannavyblog
          • sibusisodan

            We are on the cusp of an entirely new macro/micro economic, technological and social paradigm. What we do now will set the trim tab for decades to come. We work with clients who understand we are in a transitional moment and want to seize it.

            Dante did not envisage sufficient circles of hell.

            I mean, that’s how a weasel would speak, if it learned to talk.

            Trim tab? Ugh.

            • Lemme run that through the internet translator – beep bop boop bop bleep:

              “We con people out of money by making them feel insecure about not understanding our terminology, and then promising to fix them.”

            • Uncle Kvetch

              We are on the cusp of an entirely new macro/micro economic, technological and social paradigm. What we do now will set the trim tab for decades to come.

              Now we know where Tom Friedman gets his ideas.

              • bexley

                So this guy has a side line as a cab driver?

          • Wow.

            I managed to choke down “purpose-driven culture,” but when I got to “C-suite level,” I needed the “comfort receptacle.”

            • russiannavyblog

              It’s ((The Onion + Thomas Friedman) X (Steven Covey + Alvin Toffler)) – Irony.

              Almost proof that the guy isn’t a Brooklyn hipster because the currency of hipsterdom is irony.

              • Or perhaps one spends so much time affecting certain traits for ironic reasons that they become natural long after the original reason for doing so has been forgotten. I mean, there’s not really a bright line between, say, always wearing a trucker hat because it’s ironic, and always wearing a trucker hat because you like trucker hats. Especially after a few years of everyone else doing the same.

                This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The slackers of the nineties had the same issue.

          • efgoldman

            A short primer in corporate buzz speak.

            Damn. i thought you were pointing to a parody site. Although, in a manner of speaking, you were. A parody of English, not va parody of buzz speak.

            • I kept looking for a button that would generate a new page of bot-written language.

        • spencer

          Sometimes, with people I’ve just met, if they ask me what I do for a living I will tell them I am a synergy consultant. If they ask what a synergy consultant does, I go on for as long as I can about leveraging paradigms and whatnot until I can tell that they wish they had never asked.

          I started doing that back when I was totally unemployed, and it was so much fun I’ve just kept doing it when the mood strikes me.

      • He’s a “futurism consultant.” What else do you need to know?

        The meaning of “futurism consultant” would be nice.

        Is that, like, a job?

        • wjts
        • JoyfulA

          Sure, it’s a job, just like making vegan soap by hand and selling it in your vegan soap store.

          I wonder if high school guidance counselors know about these career fields.

    • russiannavyblog

      He is truly one of those Democrats that brings out my inner Tea Bagger.

      One of his skillz is “foresight”. For reals. Jeebus.

      • Bill Murray

        I wish I had thought of that

        • Jameson Quinn


      • wjts

        My reaction sends me to the opposite end of the political spectrum: maybe the Khmer Rouge were right all along.

        • You get the camera, I’ll get the hoe.

      • efgoldman

        I see that he’s hiring. Any unemployed corporate obfuscation major out there?

      • cpinva

        if this clown showed up in my office, i’d have building security roughly toss him out on his ass. if he showed up again, i’d just have them shoot him.

    • herr doktor bimler

      Wittgenstein: “The men of Trattenbach are wicked.”
      Russell: “All men are wicked.”
      W.: “True, but the men of Trattenach are more wicked than the men of any other place.”

      Russell “retorted that my logical sense rebelled against such a statement; and there the matter rested until residence elsewhere enlarged his view as to the prevalence of sin.”

  • Lefty68

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

  • Sly


    Kill that word! Kill it with fire!

    • DrDick

      No messing around here, folks. Nuke that mother.

      • Matt_L

        Nuke it from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

      • Sev

        Well, ok, though the weird phrase ‘atomic fact” reminded me that the Meeropols once lived in this village.

  • 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

      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.

  • 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.

    • 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

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

        • BigHank53

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

        • LeeEsq

          This is the best description of hipsterism ever.

          • sibusisodan

            …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.

            • The Ghost of Alan Jay Lerner

              Marie really wanted to find out what “the milkmaid who is glum” does “to help her escape when she’s blue”.

    • Matt_L

      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

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

      No, we call those idiots.

      • Hogan

        Or Washington Post columnists. One or the other.

        • JKTHs

          I fail to see how the two differ.

        • cpinva

          how can you tell the difference?

          “Or Washington Post columnists. One or the other.”

          wow, that is affecation on a grand scale. how the hell does one “age” a cocktail? i always kind of thought you made them as ordered. clearly, i am not “authentic”.

          i actually met some of their parents, when we were all younger. they were douchebags too. fortunately, they moved away.

          • cpinva

            dammit! affectation! an edit button, my kingdom for an edit button!

    • tt

      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.

  • “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.

  • Anonymous

    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.

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

    • herr doktor bimler

      Note that Wittgenstein’s reflections on colour were untainted by real-world observation.

    • cpinva

      if you must go to a “special” place, to think about colors, your life’s work is repudiated, by definition.

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

    • DrDick

      Yep. It does, however, lend enough perspective that we can laugh at those who embrace this ethos.

      • JKTHs

        Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, dude, at least it’s not hipsterish.

    • I guess if I have any problem with hipsterism (or what I perceive as hipsterism) or any other clique whereby people sort of mark themselves with the music they listen to the clothes they wear is the *trying.* A lot of ismism* looks very, um, studied to me. And that is uncool. To me at least.

      You know what’s cool? Making up nonsense words. Flooptooby!

    • cpinva

      you, me, everyone with at least two synapses still functioning.

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

  • socraticsilence

    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.

  • 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*

    • cpinva

      my parents live in north charleston. having been down there many times, i probably have visited that same pizza joint. she was still recovering. it wasn’t you, it was me.

      “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*”

  • Tybalt

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

    • Yeah, that must be it.

      • spencer

        I don’t think there is such a thing as hipsters. Everyone seems to have a different definition of them, but the general common threads of a) young people who b) embrace a fashion aesthetic that seems silly and self-contradictory is just too broad.

        • Russiannavyblog

          A hipster is like pornography – you know it when you see it.

          • steverino

            Hear about the hipster that burned his mouth? He ate pizza before it was cool.

        • I do think sometimes “hipsters” become all things (they hate) to all people. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if someone’s hip so long as the person’s still a decent human being and not entirely unpleasant to be around.

  • spencer

    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.

    • Warren Terra

      There are only three valid reasons to name your lad “Denim” (discounting simple dislike of the boy):
      1) To honor a deceased and esteemed predecessor named “Denim”. I’m not aware of any such any place, but it’s a big and linguistically complex planet, with lots of names I don’t recognize, or are misheard. Think of the origins of “Lyndon”, for example.
      2) The lad is heir to the Levi Strauss fortune.
      3) The remaining valid reason.

    • I’m calling CPS.

  • brad

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

    complaining about hipsters means you are one.

    • ddt

      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.

  • herr doktor bimler

    Real-ale snobs are hopsters.

  • Alan in SF

    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!

  • Bill Murray

    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 http://www.nietzschefamilycircus.com/ covers this well

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