Barry Saunders

My apologies. Now please call off the hipster army – Saunders

The skyline of Durham, which Vogue magazine recently dubbed North Carolina’s “hippest” city, changes day to day. Here is a view from the 9th floor of the Durham County Courthouse shot on March 15.
The skyline of Durham, which Vogue magazine recently dubbed North Carolina’s “hippest” city, changes day to day. Here is a view from the 9th floor of the Durham County Courthouse shot on March 15. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Was it something I said?

What was meant purely as a positive defense of my adopted hometown, Durham, ended up inadvertently offending a sizable segment of the population.

As a result, some people who didn’t take my comments in the loving manner in which they were intended came down pretty hard on me, accusing me of suffering from Hipsteria, a morbid fear of anyone over 21 who wears skinny jeans and rides a skateboard but isn’t named Tony Hawk.

In a column last week, I innocently stated a widely held – at least by me – fear that Vogue magazine’s recognition of Durham as the hippest city in the state would lead to its being overrun by skateboarding, skinny-jean-and-fedora-wearing dudes who’ll run the price of housing up so high with their tech-firm salaries that police officers and teachers will have to live in and commute from Rockingham.

That’s already happened in Asheville, which was cited as a hipster haven a few years ago. Real estate agents there to whom I spoke called the designation “a godsend and a curse” and said service-industry employees are having a hard time finding affordable cribs.

It is myopic to tag with the label “hipster” every millennial who has a college degree and wears a graphic T-shirt to work, drinks PBR and uses product in his exceptionally well-groomed beard and handlebar mustache.

Mea culpa, homeslice.

One reader asked, “What is it about Durham getting a little love that you can’t stand? You almost pine for Durham’s good old days, of which there were none in the last 50 years or more.”

He also took exception to my taking exception to the current culinary trend of upgrading or “cosmopolitanizing” Southern staples, such as grits. Because I lamented recently going to a restaurant that put cilantro in grits – and have since gone to one that put barbecue sauce and chives in them – he wrote, “And, nobody eats their grits plain, dude! If somebody can make something out of what reminds me of kindergarten paste, more power too them.”

Forgive him, Lord, for he’s obviously eaten one spoonful too many of kindergarten paste and therefore can’t be held accountable for what he says.

Another reader took offense that I noted that the city would be “invaded by hipsters ... drinking ironically the beers many of us drink because we like ’em.”

How, he asked, does one drink beer ironically?

Anyone who drinks a PBR or any other cheap beer just to be different – for any reason other than that they like it – is quaffing it ironically. Hipsters are the ones responsible for the popularity of so many new craft beers, but some, put off by the popularity of $8-a-glass beer, rebel by drinking the cheapest, most plebeian beers on tap.

A reader who has obviously never been across The Pond also took exception to my offering to take Vogue editor Anna Wintour – “Dame Anna,” I respectfully called her – to Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, as though that’s a pejorative. Wintour, considered by many to be the world’s most influential fashionista, was named in 2016 Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire or DBE, for her services in the worlds of fashion and journalism.

Do they name Dudes?

If so, “Dude Barry” has a nice ring to it.

Stereotypes, whether they’re for something deemed negative or positive, are inherently unfair. I apologize if it appeared I painted people who dress, eat and groom a certain way with too broad a brush, as there are no doubt some somewhere who don’t ride skateboards to brunch, wear jeans that reveal their religion or drink a beer just because the beer they really like has become too accessible to the hoi polloi.

I was also archly informed that hipsters chucked their fedoras months ago.

I’m the original Mr. Live-and-Let-Live, so y’all wear what you want to wear, drink what you want to drink. I won’t even say anything about their fondness for man-buns or their refusal to accept anything but artisanal mayonnaise on their organic wagyu beef hamburgers.

Now, can y’all please call off the Million Hipster March that was planned to protest my intemperate remarks?

Of course, the question then becomes, “Is it a march if they’re on skateboards?”

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9

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