May 9, 2012

Brooklyn hipster demographics

The recent New York article by Benjamin Wallace on the boom in artisanal food products made in Brooklyn, The Twee Party, came with a sidebar of photos of 38 Brooklyn entrepreneurs holding their packaged food goods: Brewers, Bakers, and Beef-Jerky Makers.

As I mentioned before, I can't afford these luxury goods (this scene is made possible by all the money in the world pouring into next-door Manhattan), and I don't have a sophisticated enough palate to care all that much, but I wish these small businesspeople well. Eventually, some of their innovations will filter down to the mass market and help the kind of food I eat continue to get better in quality, as mass market food has gotten better over my entire lifetime. (In a couple of decades, a few of the people who in were on the Brooklyn artisanal food scene in, say, 2007, will be billionaires, and will, no doubt, by greatly resented as sell outs by all the people who were there with them and didn't make it big. But, such is the way of the world.)

By looking at the portraits of the 38 hipster foodies, we can crudely estimate the demographics of the Brooklyn scene. Overall, the borough of Brooklyn is 36% white, 32% black, 10% Asian, and 20% Latin. 

But the artisanal scene is different. I come up with 84% white, 1% black, 11% Asian, and 4% Latino. 

Keep in mind that there's a lot of guessing in this: For example, I'm assuming that the light-skinned lady who looks vaguely mulatto is half-black because her name is Evers, which is one of those names like Washington that seems to be blacker than other WASP names. I'm not counting as black the man named Stout who wears a bandanna, sunglasses, and beard, and could be English or Australian Aborigine for all I can tell. I'm of course counting as Latino the one guy who looks like George Zimmerman, but I may not have fully counted the various white people with potentially Spanish-surnames. 

I suspect these numbers are relevant to thinking objectively about the recent Girls Whiteness Crisis, but what's the fun in thinking objectively?


Anonymous said...

For Chrissakes, how about some artisanal fashion? They dress like shit.

Anonymous said...

The irony of the Girls thing is that this inane controversy over it is lending a gravitas to the show that it doesn't appear to deserve based on the show's content which includes anal sex, women masturbating on screen, wanton sex, etc. The show is almost pornographic and really depraved and degenerate.

Anonymous said...

Are these guys supposed to cool or something?

Anonymous said...

Evers doesn't look black to me, but if she is black, it's not because of her name but her pickles. Black folks shoooooo luvs them pickles.

Anonymous said...

In other words, the egalitarian rich of NY will not touch stuff the rest of us serfs eat. They go for the fancy stuff.

helene edwards said...

Is a half-beard mandatory for white men now? I assume it's a purely defensive thing, i.e. 'everyone will think I'm gay if I'm clean shaven.'

Anonymous said...

Wow, appetizing products sold by some of the most unappetizing people I've done seed. I guess the NY rich get to have the cake and eat it too.

They get fancy items but sold by people who look 'authentic'. Haute and authentic, or hautentic.

Anonymous said...

How come hipsters are so unhip looking? My grand-auntie looks more hipsterish than those grubberoons.

Peter said...

I'm assuming that the light-skinned lady who looks vaguely mulatto is half-black because her name is Evers, which is one of those names like Washington that seems to be blacker than other WASP names

She looks vaguely Asian to me. I don't think she's black at all.

Here's my breakdown of the pictures, for those who don't care to scroll through the whole gallery:

1. Three white males.
2. White male.
3. (Probably) white male. His surname of Nocito could be Spanish.
4. Hispanic male, Asian female.
5. White male.
6. White male, though vaguely Hispanic-looking.
7. White (and hot) female.
8. White male and white female, presumably husband and wife.
9. To be discussed later in more detail.
10. White female.
11. White female, white male. The male is your stereotypical textbook hipster.
12. White female. Perhaps a bit Sapphic in appearance.
13. Two white males, obviously brothers.
14. White female, Asian female.
15. White female, two white males.
16. Asian female, white male.
17. Asian female.
18. White female.
19. White male, and the aforementioned Ms. Evers.
20. White male. Another obvious hipster.
21. The aforementioned, hard to describe but presumably white, Mr. Stout.
22. Two white males.
23. White female, white male.
24. White female.

As for the ninth photo, the two ladies are Sabrina Valle and Jessica Quon. Ms. Valle, despite her non-Asian (and possibly Hispanic) surname, is quite Asian in appearance. Ms. Quon looks only somewhat Asian despite her Chinese surname, my guess is that she's of mixed ancestry.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks, Peter. Good insights.

Some differences from my original count, but the totals come out pretty similar.

Anonymous said...

Is a half-beard mandatory for white men now?

Only for cutting-edge artistic urban hipsters.

Anonymous said...

Most striking is how many "hip" white guys have beards. Where have they learned this from, the Arab world?This portends a long period of hirsuteness on the overpass (anywhere between New York and California - the American cultural abyss) for at least twenty year after the hip white guys have gone back to a clean shaven look. Notice how the goatee (once known as the French beard) began as a gentry trend and is now associated with the working class (very unhip now). The moustache has suffered an even worse fate, as it's principally associated with homosexuals and pornography.

Steve Sailer said...

The first celebrity in Chicago with a goatee was White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell around 1991. In the off-season, McDowell had his own rock band and was friends with grunge titans like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

Anonymous said...

Kinda funny- i live in brooklyn, am white and have a very anglo-saxon name - like "walter evans' or 'stuart jackson' - I always get second looks when my name is called at community board meetings or jury duty (bleh) "Excuse me sir we called Darrel Evans" yeah, that's me the white guy named Darrel (Darrel's not my name but you get the picture)

Anonymous said...

None of these people are turning a profit and are heavily debt-financed.

Also, didn't know vlasic was an african-american last name.

Anonymous said...

They all look like liberal rednecks.
Or are they really slackers who figured out a niche in life?

I have a feeling they went to college and majored in 'meaningful' and 'fulfilling' stuff but after graduation found out that real money is made in law, finance, high-tech, and etc. But they have no knowledge of that.
So, they gotta do humdrum stuff like food service... but they found out a way to make it 'creative'. This way, they can make pickles but it aint just any pickles but special pickles.
They can make food but with the label of 'meaningful' and fulfilling, and etc. I guess Ben & Jerry got a leg up on this. So did Starbucks but it got too big to be 'special' anymore.

But McDonalds figured it out too. When they went for arch deluxe, it didn't sell because the regular customers saw it as over-priced and fancy people saw it as bogus.
So, McDonalds invested in Chipotle which is supposed to be more 'authentic' than Taco Hell, and it's a big hit.

Anonymous said...

Steve: "I can't afford these luxury goods"

The solution is always to buy and SELL in the same market. Just get that Hollywood Homebrew out there.

Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

I can afford those goods, and frankly, most of them suck and aren't of very good quality.

Josh said...

Money doesn't pour into manhattan. It is created there.

Anonymous said...

"didn't know vlasic was an african-american last name"

Oh yah, their pickle concern is one of our most venerable black businesses, like the SuperSoaker

Anonymous said...

None of these people are turning a profit and are heavily debt-financed.

It's mostly financed by their parents.

Anonymous said...

So, McDonalds invested in Chipotle which is supposed to be more 'authentic' than Taco Hell, and it's a big hit.

Chipotle gives you a lot more food. Their burritos are much bigger. The Taco Bell combos don't give you much food.

blog veteran said...

Caught a Sopranos rerun last night (the "johnny cakes" one), laughed out loud at the final 30 seconds of the episode, which could encapsulate probably 90% of the comment history @ iSteve:

[Burt Gervasi, Patsy Parisi in storefront to collect 10%]
CAPUTO: I can't any more, the juice bought it out--we're closing down.

PATSY: The Jews?

CAPUTO: No--*JUICE*. Jamba Juice. They're opening a store in here next month.

[mobsters exeunt to street]

PATSY: What the fuck is happening to this neighborhood?

Ray Sawhill said...

I think a lot of commenters are being excessively scornful and dismissive. Despite a lot of silliness, the locavore food is often really good, IMHO. As a trend , it's clearly resonating and spreading -- my wife and I have eaten terrific locavore meals in Louisville and Indianapolis. It's probably the liveliest part of the current food scene, and it could certainly be argued that the food scene is the liveliest part of our current culturescene generally. The locavore thang also, as Steve points out, connects to other interesting things happening in the larger culture.

Did y'all also laugh at rock n roll in the '50s? The American movie renaissance of the '70s? There was a lot that was mockable in them. The locavore food thang may not make as big a mark. But, hey, it might.

Chicago said...

Why do nearly all the people in the photos look so narrow eyed?

Anonymous said...

"Caught a Sopranos rerun last night (the "johnny cakes" one), laughed out loud at the final 30 seconds of the episode, which could encapsulate probably 90% of the comment history @ iSteve"

choose also works. And so does "you" in pronounced as 'chew'.
You could have had this epiphany earlier if you had watched a Monk episode more attentively. Though it
was a befuddled black guy on the receiving end.

downtown abbey said...

Monk? I suppose there are people out there who want to watch a germphobic nebbish with the generic blond sidekick/foil having his assorted pratfalls; different strokes.

Anonymous said...

#17 also looks part Asian.

jody said...

i concur with steve that food has improved in quality over time, pretty much across the board. not sure it can get much better from here, though i'm sure they'll keep trying.

not only is the mass produced supermarket food better, there are specialty supermarket chains like whole foods. these are OVERRUN with yuppies and hipsters. set phasers to stun.

also, 30 years ago there were no restaurants. then the 80s franchised restuarant explosion happened. now every town has a dozen good chain restaurants to pick from.

it doesn't help that the hipsters are all on telling each other where to eat. then again, now that all middle aged people are watching food network for 3 hours a day, eating with my parents has become a much more exhausting ordeal. south park did a spoof of this phenomenon:

and the high end restaurants keep getting higher end. i'm not sure where this concludes, but maybe it has gotten out of hand already. you can't get into gary danko or the french laundry or robuchon. and then when you do, it's 300 bucks to eat. for one person.

there's actually a blog for this,, where they document the steadily rising menu prices at the most exclusive, most expensive 100 restaurants or so in the US.

jody said...

you can always go in the opposite direction of these brooklyn hipster foodies, and that would be:

pure canadian gluttony. same beards, more food.

guest007 said...

I tried to eat at a locavoce restaurant in Washington, DC.

After having to remind the hostess to bring a menu, to remind the waiter to bring silverware, to remind the waiter to refill the water glasses, and having to yell at my dinner companions because the restaurant was so loud, I finally got the first course 25 minutes after ordering.

I guess the staff was so busy socializing with each other that they did not care what the customer thought.

After giving up before giving the next two courses, I finally told the manager that I was leaving and wanted to pay for by beverages. The funniest comments were the patrons at the table next to us who said "Take us with you."

My guess is that the hipster, artisanal food trends is already well into its 15 minutes and cannot possibly last. How many retail, consumer business can last when they have such contempt for their customers.

Anonymous said...

As some who dealt with the specialty food makers in New England, you must know that there's a definite pattern to the niche. Eventually, no matter how pure the motive, greed will always reign supreme if the product is at all successful.

Stonewall Kitchen, one of the first and most successful of these sorts of companies (two gay guys who started out making jams for friends) makes fuck all in York, Maine now. It's all contract manufactured. Frontier Soups in Chicago makes their soup mixes, Steve! Their stuff is still triple the price of supermarket brands, though.

Ten years from now, the successful ones here will be clean shaven and sitting in an office with a spreadsheet on the screen, coordinating the delivery of packaging to the contract manufacturer.

Anonymous said...

Dunno, Jody, Le Bernadine, commonly called the best restaurant in America, is only $125 prix fixe. No wine included, though...

Go to the local schlock chain place and get a fish & chips dinner for $15, featuring whichever white fish and fries that happened to be supplied by the Sysco-type corporate purveyor. They'll have a Bud or glass of plonk to go with dinner.

Go to the high-end place and get a piece of line-caught cod with frites fried in duck fat for $25. I'll have a Chimay Blue to go with that, thanks.

Ray Sawhill said...

I've recently been to two locavore places in Indianapolis. The service in both places was as nice and helpful as could be. And the food both times was terrific.

Anonymous said...

"pure canadian gluttony. same beards, more food."

moldies but foodies.

ATBOTL said...

Steve is right, some of these people(or others like them) will be billionaires in the future. The people laughing at them are the real fools.

RandomMedStudent said...

Here's an interesting NY Times article on how rapid gentrification of Greenpoint, Brooklyn is causing cultural clash between hipsters and working class Polish immigrants:

Apartmentship said...

Hipsters in Brooklyn are the worst. Check out this video on why Brooklyn Hipsters suck: