I think it's interesting that though the H-word has been punched about quite a bit the last few years, while "Scenester" has fallen out of style .......
Ah wait! Before I rant, first, self disclosure; I am a 40 year old Grunge-Punk-Nerd, who as lived all of his life either in, or somewhere in between, Seattle and Portland. I have lived the last twelve years in Portland, having moved from Seattle, along with many other friends who believed that Seattle had a gotten a little too smug, and big for its britches. I have fond memories of the Portland of the 80's, when you only went to Sand & Burnside for a punk show at the then Pine Street Theater, or for hookers and heroin. A Portland where there was only one brewery in town, Henry's, and feral Skinheads ran wild.
Over the past decades each counter culture group has had the 1% component that lead, created, and contributed to the "scene", while the other 99% simply followed, copied, and consumed. This was true of the Hippies, Punks, and its true now. Only this time the passive consumer portion of the counter culture has been singled out, in the form of the Hipster.
To me, you're a "Scenester" if you're an active participant of a Scene, by being a hands on leader, organizer, contributer, and/or creator. If you make art, you're an Artist, in the Art Scene. If you make music, you're a musician. And the same is true whether you're a Derby Girl, Art Bike Freak, Burner, and etc.
The Hipsters, are those people essentially who do nothing for any of these said Scenes, except show up and enjoy consuming the creative work of other people. They contribute nothing, except their physical presence and maybe a cover fee. Hipsters are merely Poser Philistines, with "hip" taste. With all that being said, it should be clear then that Hipsters are an essential part of an ecosystem like Portland. Alberta artists need hipsters, because that's who buys their wares, and etc.
So I don't think its ironic or hypocritical for someone who clearly looks like a hipster, claiming to be no such thing, because that person may have some other word that fits more appropriately based off what they "do", i.e. artist, musician, bar owner, and etc. If they "do" nothing, then they're are a slacker/hipster. The "Unique Portland Scene" has evolved into a somewhat cookie cutter kind of atmosphere that seems to cater more to the "me too" Hipsters. This I think illustrated very well, by Bishop's Barbershops and The Chesterfield(which have common ownership), which are complete, shameless, detail for detail, carbon copies of establishments in Seattle.(I am amazed there hasn't been more discussion of this fact, btw)
Having lived in Seattle from 87-94(I was THERE, Man!) and seeing Seattle's precarious rise in coolness, and final settlement into status of "cool, nice, big city", I was worried about what path Portland would take. Over the last ten years or so, Portland was becoming a mecca for many Pre-Hipsters, due to being a cool city where slackers could gingerly survive, if not thrive, unlike places like Seattle, San Fran, Austin, and NYC, due to the higher cost of living.
I think the crash of the economy has brought a bit of a reprieve to the Portland Slacker/Hipster, who was well on his/her way to being priced out, and being forced to seek(avoid) their fortunes in places like Tacoma, Spokane, or Boise. But be at ease, since so many folks are loosing their jobs, there will be that many more people in coffee shops sprucing up their resumes, and then heading to the bars in the mid afternoon. Thus increasing the need for more Bartenders and Baristas.
I do think the "Hipster" effect has finally taken Portland to the point where it has "Jumped The Shark", if you will. Because when you reach a critical mass of hipsters(double meaning pun!), it ceases to be a "Scene". I do think Portland has this Touristy Colonial Williamsburg quality about it now. It's as if there should be an entry in the Fodor's Guide To Portland that reads, ".... at any time feel free to approach anyone you see wearing a black hoodie, if you need directions to the nearest bathroom. Don't be put off by their passive aggressive aloof manner, because they are merely staying in character..."
"Keep Spokane Weird!"
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