The big news the nation has been waiting for finally arrived today: Williamsburg, the Brooklyn neighborhood that's been the white-hot galactic center of the past decade's so-called hipster subculture, is finally getting a Whole Foods. Yes, the skinny-jeaned bohemians are mostly grown up, so now they get a crunchy-ish gourmet supermarket of their very own. That's it, it's over. The star has been put on the Christmas tree, Williamsburg has reached full completion. Now let's move on.
How many rounds of trend story/backlash/trend story/backlash has Williamsburg, and by proxy the rest of the world, endured in the past decade? Too many to count, for sure. There has been moaning about gentrification, equivocatingly reluctant defenses of said gentrification, breathless reportage about single-item food booms, a million miles of internet paper filled with scribblings about various bands, head scratching at fashion movements, and paeans to facial hair. We've done it all, gone all the way to the end and then back again. Williamsburg, if not by name certainly by stylistic reputation, has been seared into our collective cultural consciousness indelibly and now Whole Foods has come along to apply the final stamp. It's been alternately fascinating and infuriating to read (or in some cases write) all about this pulsating jellyfish of a neighborhood, to thrill to its eccentricities and groan at its pretensions, but really now that the place has gone officially full yuppie, what more is there to say?
I suppose there's maybe one more final definitive story to be written about it, a history of the lightning quick speed with which the place, and the culture, went from Old New York ethnic enclave to beautifully bombed-out artist haven to condo-tumored stroller park, but that should be it. It's time to move on to somewhere else. But where? Austin (the ancestral homeland of Whole Foods) burned bright for a while but its fuel was quickly used up by South by Southwest — it's hardly any edgier than Park City at this point. There's always the dim drumbeat for Detroit, that unbeautifully bombed-out urban wasteland where a few hardcore unironic hipsters are rumored to lurk, but there's too much actual sad, horrifying, and only sometimes hopeful news coming out of that place to merit any fluffy lifestyle coverage. Perhaps Pittsburgh, a rusty old city that thrums with a gritty, fuzzy bass line. But, eh, that's all the way out there in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by empty hills and, like, more rust.
Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to leave New York altogether in search of a new totem of American coolness. ("Coolness" might not be the right word, maybe we mean trendiness.) Could we maybe force some artists colony on Staten Island into existence? Might there be some corner of Queens where something sure to shock the blue bloods of The New York Times is bubbling up to the surface? Wherever this new Williamsburg is, we just ask that it not be Williamsburg. We are finished! It is over. As soon as the last brick is laid on that Whole Foods, its narrative will be complete. For the time being anyway. I'm sure that in several decades all the youngs of the time will read some article on their implanted space computers about all the crazy changes going on in this once-comfy condo community. But for now, we like to think of this WF news as this story's "And they all lived happily ever after." It might not be true, there's sure to be some grumbling about this (look for it to be kind of halfhearted, though — who doesn't love a Whole Foods?), but for our purposes, we're closing the book on ol' Billsburg. It was fun, but now, after all that, it just looks like everything else.
Image by masck, via Flickr