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Friday, July 8, 2011

Chron's C.W. Nevius Can't Define the Word 'Hipster'

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Longtime writer stumped by word
  • Longtime writer stumped by word

You might recall the short piece we did recently pointing out that majority of the San Francisco Chronicle's readers are old(er) white men.

And because readers tend to be a reflection of the newspapers they read, it could also start to explain why C.W. Nevius, longtime Chron columnist, cannot for the life of him figure out what a hipster is.

Poor dude.


You see, Nevius apparently referred to the twentysomething crowd as "hipsters" in a recent column about the trendy shops opening in the Tenderloin. While he was well intentioned, Nevius quickly learned he got it all wrong. The veteran writer received a barrage of e-mails from "hipsters" who say they aren't hipster and sure as hell don't appreciate being identified that way.

"There was the inevitable what-does-an-old-crank-like-you-know-about-hipsters backlash. The answer is: Admittedly not much," Nevius writes today.

But he tried. In fact, Nevius admits he struggled with how to appropriately refer to the class of younger adults with liberal arts degrees without it being a misnomer. 

This isn't surprising, I suppose. The terms "beatnik,'' and "hippie'' have been in common usage, although I am of the generation that remembers that "real'' hippies looked down in scorn at wannabe's and faux-hippies, as well as at the news organizations who tried to work the term into their copy.

But what they didn't do for Nevius is properly explain what a hipster is, because even after the tongue-lashing he got, Nevius is still unsure.

Is a hipster any urbanite sporting skinny jeans, a messenger bag, and riding a fixie down Valencia Street? Or does none of that make you a hipster unless you also have side-swept bangs and only 2 percent body fat? Or do you need to do key bumps in Bender's?

Does voting for Supervisor John Avalos for San Francisco mayor make you a hipster?

"So here's my question. What is a hipster? And if you can answer that, is there any way that it can be used in a newspaper column that wouldn't upset everyone? Seriously, I'd like to hear your thoughts," Nevius writes.

Come on, help an old sportswriter out.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Bio:
Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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