It is with great shame that I admit to visiting Paris at the beginning of August. I know better. I know that the shops are closed, the Parisians aren’t there, the tourists are in full swing, and the weather is complete garbage. Yet, I went anyways, because my mother was visiting, wanted to see Paris, and was worried that she wouldn’t find her way around–a legitimate concern for a woman in her sixties who speaks nary a word of French, not that my narys of French are really that great either.
So, I went. It had after all been four years since my last visit and I figured it was time for an update on the northern reaches of France even if not under the most amazing of conditions. As the few people I know through E weren’t around and the last three trips had allowed me to see everything that most any guidebook recommends, that meant spending a great deal of time in the neighborhoods, chilling about. This wasn’t a bad thing, but as we were staying in a place right by Canal Saint Martin, we found ourselves in the heart of one of the newer hipster neighborhoods in the center as it borders the rather shabby Belleville area given that hipsters love living in a place that gives them street cred (Mission, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Portland?) and they can readily gentrify to their liking.
While the hipster scene has been strong in Paris for years now, they had somewhat been doing their own thing. The fashions and music that ebb and flow through hipsterdom in Anglophone cultures were historically ignored and while I would still toss most any one of these members of the cooler-than-thou cult through a window when trying to deal with them as a server, they had their own thing going on and I could respect that given the global uniformity that hipsters follow.
Somewhere along the way, whether due to Instagram or some other diarrhea of the internet known as a “social network”, Parisian hipsters stopped being unique. They joined the masses and for all purposes seem like carbon copies of the cultural zombies you find in London, NYC, San Francisco, or just about anywhere these days. They looked so much like baristas in the Mission District that at times I almost forgot I still need to speak French to them.
While I look upon the loss of anything within the sphere of hipsterism as a gain for society as a whole, I do somewhat miss the difference that the Parisians had. They had shown some originality even if everyone in Paris followed it. But now, they too have the same taste of stale, pale butter you find everywhere else.