04 May 2008

"I Guess They Have A Problem With People Who Go Out And Free Ourselves With Our Music"

Quite a few of my younger friends live in Astoria, and one of the surest ways to get their collective goat is to suggest that their neighborhood is becoming "the new Williamsburg." It's not, really; Greenpoint has already definitively and irrefutably claimed that title, with Bushwick and Bed-Stuy are much likelier candidates to be the new new Williamsburg.

It's true that young people are flocking to Astoria, which isn't surprising, as it's one of the few neighborhoods that offers somewhat reasonable rents while still being both safe and relatively convenient to Manhattan. Wrong end of Manhattan, true, and the N train, which incidentally just derailed this afternoon, is a rather tenuous lifeline, but that's also one of the reasons why Astoria is unlikely to be the next Hipsterville. Not only do bona fide hipsters not like to travel to inconvenient places, they also prefer to move into neighborhoods that appear to be somewhat down at the heels and which can confer a little street cred, at least in the eyes of friends and family back in Westchester or wherever.

Astoria, on the other hand, is just so darn wholesome, replete with families, clean streets, "normal" businesses, and a relative dearth of vegan tofu coffee bars. I'm willing to bet that if you took measurements, you'd find that the sun shines substantially more often there as well.

That's why this Daily News article about saving Astoria from the hipsters seems so ludicrous, like something you'd be more likely to run across in the Onion than in New York's second largest daily. In fact, upon noting that the group who supposedly launched this campaign are all Fordham students or alumni, I immediately thought of one P Smith, Astorian, devout Onion reader, and graduate of that very university.

I'm also curious how Jonnie Whoa Oh, native Astorian, (relatively) young person, and huge booster of guitar-based pop punk music feels about this. Granted that "Whoa Oh" may not sound like the Greekest surname around, but trust me, the man knows his choriatiki salata from his kolokithikia vrasta. Well, don't trust me, because I can barely pronounce them, but in addition to being Greek through and through, Jonnie is a borderline hipster (even had a beard last year) and has been seen in various locales around town banging away at a guitar.

I once seriously considered moving to Astoria myself, but I think that moment has passed, especially if the neighborhood is going to be riven by cultural conflict and, for all we know, ethnic cleansing. I think I'll just stay over here in my corner of Williamsburg and see if I can organize a movement to protect the Italians from the influx of people like, um, me.

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