I bought a house and then I wrote a discursive blog post about Buffalo hipsters

WSWCM When I closed on my new house

After four and a half months (a relatively short amount of time – at one point I was told by a city employee I was “sprinting” through the process and I have a friend for whom it took 14 months), I closed on a house that I bought through the city homestead program.

I’m not going to make this into a blog about rehabbing my house, but I am really excited about this project. A few years ago, I made a list of goals for the next two, five, and ten years. A major one, which felt simultaneously like a real stretch and reasonably obtainable, was owning my own home. I’m pumped to have achieved it. Other goals on the list included growing 50% of my own food and later eliminating the need for the supermarket entirely, and I’ve made some progress on that front too.

And this isn’t to crow about how great I am or anything. I first found my house through a local blog, and when I closed on it the guy who writes it (who became a friend as he navigated the homestead process at the same time as me) wanted to do a post on the purchase. So I swallowed my extreme distaste for having my picture taken and I posed in front of my house for a piece that (after I texted and emailed the writer at an unreasonable hour to ask him to play down stuff about me and to focus on the house) ended up on Buffalo Rising. It was a very nice article and my friends assured me that I didn’t come off like an asshole in it, though I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Inevitably one BRO commenter let me have it, calling me an “unemployed hipster” specifically, railing against “attention whores” generally, and mocking Buffalo Rising people for “go[ing] down on each other over the most stupid, simple garbage.”

I’m not going to make this into a blog about addressing every criticism levied against me on the internet either, but this one confirmed my anxiety over being in my buddy’s blog in the first place, and, even worse, I agree with the dude.

Well I’m not unemployed, but I do get crazy annoyed at people who do whatever they can to call attention to themselves in the media and I absolutely am pretty constantly annoyed at the content on Buffalo Rising. In fact, it’s that ethos that inspired my first post on this blog. As far as the hipster accusation goes, that’s up for debate. I don’t think I’m a hipster, but I do have fabulous taste in music. And my hobbies are frequently associated with hipsterdom. While I use “hipster’ derisively with some frequency and reflexively shudder when people embrace the term for themselves, it doesn’t particularly rankle when someone calls me a hipster.

(At this point I should say I’m aware about how nauseating blog posts anything about the meaning of the word “hipster” is, but the digression is almost over.)

Recently someone said: “Describe a hipster (and what you hate about them) without mentioning the things they like, where they live, or how they dress,” and I think it’s kind of a good exercise. For most people who gripe about hipsters, it’s after a kind of Potter Stewart test that usually involves the most visible things about hipsters: the things they like, where they live, and how they dress (e.g. small musical instruments; Brooklyn or Portland; skinny jeans, chunky sweaters, and big glasses). I think a good description of a hipster without mentioning those things is: “Someone who is obnoxiously self-congratulatory about the things they like, where they live, and how they dress.”

The point is, I get exactly what that BRO commenter was saying. When I read the comment to a friend, he laughed and asked me if I wrote it. (Don’t get me wrong, though. Fuck that commenter.) There are definitely people who seem to publicly pat themselves on the back every time they take a dump. And it’s super annoying.

There seems to be a compulsion to spin everything that happens into part of their personal narrative and then thrust that narrative in everybody’s face. That kind of behavior garners big approval from places like Buffalo Rising, a corner of the internet devoted to positivity in a city with historically poor self-esteem, and it becomes self-perpetuating. Someone rehabs a house or starts a garden or opens a business, the Buffalo media treats it like they’re Jonas Salk and everyone who wishes they could do that but thinks they can’t then daps them out, and they seek out more attention for their other doings. Of course, it’s nothing worth getting actually mad or even worked up about (he wrote, 800 words into a blog post), but it is super annoying and it engenders annoyance with and distaste for anything, even really positive projects, of the type that these people are involved with.

I mean, case in point right, I was just called a hipster attention whore (the horror) for buying an old house and for not refusing to participate in my friend’s blog that’s about preserving old buildings.

I think it’s great to do things like fixing up old houses and growing your own food and starting a business. It’s good for Buffalo and we need more of it. But it’s really tacky to then use that to build your personal brand. No one likes a braggart, and it cheapens the good you do if you jump up and down and demand attention for it. You’re not “saving” Buffalo and it doesn’t make you a “visionary” (two terms I’ve heard people actually use in reference to themselves and their preservation and urban agriculture projects). Not everything is a plot point in your biography.

Anyway, this is a picture of my(!) house with my apologies for the self-righteous tone of the above ramblings:

My new old house

As you can see, the house has a lot of really nice embellishments and decorative details. These have turned the roof into a real nightmare and replacing it is a high priority, right after replacing two beams that hold up the first floor that are on the verge of failing due to damage from water running off the aforementioned nightmare roof. I’ll probably post photos here as my rehab progresses – I hope to have myself and my friend who is helping with the work moved in this summer.


6 thoughts on “I bought a house and then I wrote a discursive blog post about Buffalo hipsters

  1. Let’s party in your house, bro. Or… on your lawn until we can safely party IN your house.. Hope to play soon!

  2. Whatever your misgivings about blogging, this will be a big project and I am happy there will be a place where I can follow the progress. You’ll be happy to have it to look back on when you are done, or farther along. A house never does seem finished. Best of luck Robbie Rob.

  3. Keep it up man, we met years ago and you told me about your plan to buy a busted house and renovate it. Nothing hipsterish about it, the world needs more people interested in reviving old neighborhoods than sprawling out into the suburbs.

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