Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything

oh hiI moved to New York City, and I needed to make money. I wasn’t having luck getting a job. It's a common tale.

My solution was to grab my typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for 10 dollars and bring it to a park. I’d write stories for people, on the spot—I wouldn’t set a price. People could pay me whatever they wanted. I knew that I had the gift of writing creatively, very quickly, and my anachronistic typewriter (and explanatory sign) would be enough to catch the eye of passersby. Someone might want something specific; they might just want a story straight from my imagination. I was prepared for either situation.

I started at Washington Square Park. My cousin joined, which was particularly nice, since it started raining and he held an umbrella over my head. Barely anyone stopped, but there was a grand piano player and dancers to contend with. So I tried the 5th and 59th street entrance to Central Park, and was lost among the Statues of Liberty, the bubble guys, the magicians, the stand-up comic, the free hugs guy, the jugglers. At the Hans Christian Andersen memorial statue, I was writing post-card size stories for grade schoolers, mostly in the vein of Pokémon and Disney. I didn’t make a lot of money—only enough money to grab a slice of pizza on the way home.

When I set up at the High Line, I had lines of people asking for stories. At seven to 10 minutes per a story, I had to tell people to leave and come back. It surprised me when they would do just that. I never had writer’s block, although sometimes I would stare off into space for the right word, and people watching would say, “Look! He’s thinking!” Writing is usually a lonely, solitary act. On the High Line with my typewriter, all the joy of creating narrative was infused with a performer’s high—people held their one-page flash fictions and read them and laughed and repeated lines and translated into their own languages, right in front of me. Perhaps other writers would have their nerves wracked by instant feedback on rough drafts, but all I could do was smile.

Each time I went, I’d walk home, my typewriter case full of singles, my fingers ink-stained. Lots of people were worried about copycats—what if I saw someone “stealing” my idea? I tried to soothe them. If every subway guitarist had fights about who came up with the idea to play an acoustic cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the underground would be a violent place. More violent than it already is. Others, perhaps drawn by the sounds of the typewriter, would stop and just talk to me, watch me compose a story for someone else. Then they'd shake their head and tell me that the idea and the execution were “genius.”

Of course, the Internet could be counted on to take me down a peg.

I woke up one day not long after I started "Roving Typist" to a flurry of emails, Facebook posts, text messages and missed calls. A picture of me typewriting had made it to the front page of Reddit. For those who don’t know, being on the front page of Reddit is hallowed ground—the notoriety of being on the front page can launch careers, start dance crazes, inspire Hollywood. In other words, ending up on the front page of Reddit meant a decent chunk of the million-plus people who log on daily saw my picture.

Posted under the headline “Spotted on the Highline” was me. RUH ROHIt’s a pretty good picture, I thought. Although my shoes are beat up and missing their laces, my hands are frozen in a bizarre position, and that day was too hot for clothes that photograph well, I look deep in thought. Unfortunately, the two cute girls I was writing a story for are cropped out.

And so was my sign.

My sign said: “One-of-a-kind, unique Stories While You Wait. Sliding Scale – Donate What You Can!”

Without the sign, without the context, I definitely look like someone who is a bit insane. That’s how I thought of it, before I clicked to look at the hundreds of replies; I figured people were probably wondering why I would bring my typewriter to a park. And when I started reading the comments, I saw most people had already decided that I would bring my typewriter to the park because I'm a “fucking hipster.” Someone with the user handle “S2011” summed up the thoughts of the hive mind in 7 words: “Get the fuck out of my city.”

Illmatic707 chimed in: I have never wanted to fist fight someone so badly in my entire life.

Leoatneca replied: Bet 90% of his high school did to. It's because of these guys that bullying is so hard to stop.
There were hundreds more. A few people were my staunch defenders, asking the more trenchant commenters why they cared so much. Others started to wax nostalgic about their own typewriters. But the overwhelming negativity towards me, and the “hipster scum” I represented, was enough to make me get up from my computer, my heart racing, my hands shaking with adrenaline.

As a member of the first generation to freely and gladly share my pictures, videos and thoughts online, I’d always—until now, anyway—adopted a “What’s the worst that could happen?” attitude, mixed with an “Everyone else is doing it!” mentality towards my online presence. Many of the best things in my life couldn’t have happened without sharing these pieces of myself online—meeting favorite authors at bars thanks to Twitter, getting another chance at a lost crush thanks to Facebook. And yet, I still felt thrown when I was presented with an image of myself that I couldn’t control. Yes, I know that I am pretty much always being watched (especially at a beautiful tourist attraction in New York City, doing something partly designed to attract attention) but that didn’t prepare for me for the reality of seeing myself taken out of context.

I did worry, when I started typewriting, that my stories would make it online somehow, and they would be ripped to shreds by literary, high-minded commenters. In this unrealistic dream world, I was going to defend their quick composition, their status as literary souvenirs of the city, the difficulty in writing a story while the person who is paying you looks over your shoulder, and another two or three people ask you questions while kids are asking if they can “just press one key.”

Of course I sat back down. Of course I read every single comment. I did not ready myself mentally for a barrage of hipster-hating Internet commenters critiquing me for everything: my pale skin, my outfit, my hair, my typing style, my glasses. An entire sub-thread was devoted to whether or not I had shaved legs. It was not the first time I had been labeled a “hipster.” I often wear tight jeans, big plastic-frame glasses, shirts bought at thrift stores. I listen to Vampire Weekend, understand and laugh at the references in "Portlandia." I own and listen to vintage vinyl. The label never bothered me on its own. But with each successive violent response to the picture of me, I realized that hipsters weren't considered a comically benign undercurrent of society. Instead, it seemed like Redditors saw hipsters and their ilk as a disease, and I was up on display as an example of depraved behavior.

The most positive comments were the ones where I was compared to famous people—”Doctor Who”’s David Tennant was one, the heart-of-gold porn star James Deen was another. I took the bait, eventually, and commented myself. I explained that it was me, that I was not just bringing my typewriter to the High Line for the hell of it—it’s pretty heavy, for one, and for two, I don’t really like writing outside. I explained that I was writing stories for people. In my explanation of my cause, it became just that—a “cause.” I knew, from the smiles on people's faces when they saw me out typing, that I was out in the world as a positive, day-brightening entity. Bashing me was like hating on an ice cream truck.

Luckily, people agreed with me. After I posted, the message board thread’s climate changed immediately. Not unlike real life, people were complimentary and kind. Many people deleted their mean comments—one person was so embarrassed for threatening to smash my typewriter that he apologized to me, and then went through and started trying to make other haters apologize.

My favorite exchange was between “I_thrive_on_apathy” and “dlins”:

i_thrive_on_apathy: What the fuck is he going to do with that typed page? Scan it?

Dlins: you do realize things have value even if they're not digitized, right?

i_thrive_on_apathy: Huh?

The reaction, then, had nothing to do with hipsters. It was a hatred of people that need to stand out for standing-out's sake. That realization was at once positive and negative—people didn't hate me because I was a hipster, they hated me because I looked like I was nakedly desperate for attention, and had gone about that attention-grabbing by glomming on to marginalized trends.

It only took about 12 hours from when I saw the thread and commented for people to stop commenting almost completely. The post quickly disappeared from the front page. To tell the truth, I was disappointed. I thought something might come of it—a real job, maybe. What better proof is there for me to show that I have that go-getter’s attitude? Instead, my moment of Internet notoriety disappeared.

I thought.

Reddit’s community has never seen an image they couldn’t write all over using white Impact font and re-post, and only a few days afterwards, someone had appropriated the picture of me and wrote, “You’re not a real hipster until you’ve taken a typewriter to the park” in giant white letters in the unused space above and below my body. Another torrent of meanness followed on that thread, although many Redditors with good memories came to my defense.

Now that the meme was created, with content ready-made, it was taken from Reddit and re-posted all over the Internet. It was “pinned” over 30,000 times on Pinterest, the folks at 9gag shared it on their various personal Facebook pages nearly 9,000 times. I was awarded the “Look at Me!” award for October 2012 from “diehipster dot com.” Well-meaning friends took screenshots of Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter anytime they saw the picture posted or mentioned. I had gone from Reddit curiosity to “Internet meme.” My ex-girlfriend texted to ask if I was okay. My parents finally saw it. My dad didn’t know why I had dressed “funny.” My mom was understandably worried for me, flashing back to the times I was bullied in high school. I knew it made her feel powerless, just like it used to feel when I came home early from school because someone threatened to pull a knife on me. Now, it was dozens of someones—faceless and impossible to control.

At lunch with a friend who was trying to get her web series off the ground, she asked me how I was dealing. “Okay,” I said, “I think it would bother me more if people weren’t so complimentary in real life.” Thinking about her own troubles in creating something viral, she remarked, “It’s too bad you can’t figure out a way to exploit this somehow.” Other than sometimes posting my Twitter handle on pages where I saw the picture, I couldn’t do much. Part of me wanted to ignore it all, dismiss it like a pop-up blocker dismisses fake contest possibilities. Still, for every hateful comment online, there was a real person who picked up a short story and promised to buy a novel, if/when I wrote one.

But the vain part of me wanted to make sure the entire world knew that I wasn’t asking for attention because of some base urge to be noticed and photographed. Instead, I wanted people to know that I was nice, approachable, and able to write pretty good short stories really quickly. And that my wardrobe was more a function of my budget than hipster assimilation.

Even after that deluge, nothing happened—the Internet has both a long memory and the attention of a goldfish. I had been cast aside for a far cuter hipster puppy. I knew that the Internet is also a content recycling machine, but that each time the picture showed up now was more like the last couple kernels of popcorn popping after the microwave is turned off.

I was surprised when my ex-girlfriend called me to talk about the meme. “Would you mind if I wrote an article about this for xoJane?” The website she referred to had a series of essays they dubbed “It Happened To Me” that they sprinkled in amongst feminist-leaning news and features. “I want to talk about how all of this makes me feel. You, all over the Internet, right after you dumped me.”

We had only been broken up for about a month and a half after having been together for two years. I knew that she was still hurting, and I still felt—still feel—guilty for hurting her. I thought that perhaps it was going to be good to excise some demons.

I asked how much they paid (very little) and if she would let me read a draft before she sent it to her editor. She said yes. I was surprised to realize that people in my life were being affected by this negligible level of Internet celebrity. In the meantime, I had started a real person job at a leasing office, and my MFA program in creative writing at the New School. I didn’t have time to go out and type. Some people in the program recognized me from the Internet. Once or twice, someone stopped and asked if I was “that typewriter guy.” I felt secure in the knowledge that whatever my ex wrote, I would be fine.

Even though she didn't end up showing it to me before it was published, her article—“It Happened to Me: I Got Dumped By A Meme”—wasn’t mean-spirited. In fact, it was sweet—she barely talked about our time together, and when she did, it was fond. The article instead focused on the fact that even though she had unfriended and blocked me on every social media outlet she could find, I was still around, posted to her Facebook page, dragged through the mud on forums. She ended the piece:

“I hope this meme fades as quickly as it appeared. For my sake, and for The Ex, I hope that the Internet’s hive mind soon finds another hipster target to jab. Finally, I hope that my next boyfriend is Amish, because it seems way easier to avoid those guys online.”

Unfortunately, her article ended up casting me in the same light that the picture did—she never explained that I was busking with my typewriter, and the comments section blew up all over again. Because I had broken up with her, the army of xoJane commenters were especially nasty. JaneJaneJane wrote, “He looks like a dong and there are 1,000 more jagbags like him that you'd have to weed through in NYC before you find a cool, real-deal fella. Not to make light of your heartbreak, but consider yourself lucky. Seriously. What an assdweller.”

The top-rated comment, by someone who called themselves “Rutabaga,” went, “Sounds like you dodged a bullet to me. My first thought seeing that picture is that he looks absolutely insufferable.” My ex accidentally posted my personal Twitter, which has links to my website, writing and LinkedIn account. All were fodder for ridicule. She called to apologize, and I ranted back to her, mad that she hadn’t sent me the article so I could have at least been painted in a completely true light. Again, I went down into the comment rabbit hole, but the climate didn’t change like before. My intended typewriter mission didn’t matter to this crew—what mattered was I broke the author’s heart. I wasn’t going to change minds, so I closed the tab, and I tried not to think about it.

The day after the first, un-memeified picture was posted to Reddit, I went out with my typewriter, very nervous. I tweeted on my "@rovingtypist" Twitter account that Redditors should stop by, say hello, talk about the post if they wanted. Someone responded immediately, told me that I should watch out for bullies—the message itself was more creepy than he probably meant it to be. I was nervous for nothing; a few Redditors came out, took pictures with me, grabbed a story. I was mostly finished for the evening when Carla showed up—Carla was the Brazilian tourist who took the picture of me and put it up onto Reddit. She was sweet and apologetic for the outpouring of hate, as bewildered by it as I was. She took a story as well, although I can’t remember what it was about. I messaged her when I first saw the picture posted with the meme text, letting her know that her picture had been appropriated. “I’m not concerned about it,” she said.

Hers was the position to take, and one I should have adopted earlier.

For all the hateful words that were lobbed at me, it barely ever bubbled over from the world of online forums and websites. I received zero angry emails, only a few mean tweets. My Facebook was never broken into and vandalized—my typewriter remains unsmashed, no one has ever threatened violence towards me in real life. Instead, there are these pockets of the web that are small and ignorable, filled with hate for a picture of me, for this idea of a hipster—for the audacity of bringing a typewriter to a park.

A few months later, when Christy Wampole wrote an essay for the New York Times bemoaning hipsters and their devotion to irony, I couldn’t help but feel empathy for all those tossed onto the web as pitiful avatars of hipsterdom. Wampole had inadvertently joined the ranks of Internet commenters who make vast, sweeping judgments based on careless observation. It was a strange experience to watch the Internet's vitriol encapsulated as a call to action—a call for dismissal, really—from the New York Times. When I hear someone labeled as a “hipster,” I make sure to have the opposite response. I take a second look. What Wampole, and a whirlwind of Internet commenters don't understand is, usually, the hipster label is a compliment, a devotion to a self-evident truth.

Originally, it felt silly labeling my venture a “cause” while I defended myself to an anonymous horde—but now it feels anything but. The experience of being labeled and then cast aside made me realize that what many people call “hipsterism” or, what they perceive as a slavish devotion to irony, are often in fact just forms of extreme, radical sincerity. I think of Brooklyn-based “hipster” brand Mast Brothers Chocolate, which uses an old-fashioned schooner to retrieve their cacao beans, because the energy is cleaner, because they think that’s how it should be done. I think of the legions of Etsy-type handmade artist shops, of people who couldn’t make money in their profession, so found a way to make money with their art.

While I hung up my typewriter keys and stationery for the winter (typing inside is fairly loud—how did they focus on anything back in the 60s?), this summer I’ve started going back out once a week. People are as complimentary and delighted as ever. No one has mentioned the meme to me yet, although it still lives its own life; BuzzFeed used it a few months ago in a series of pictures that promised to make you “black out with rage.” I try not to click when I see that someone, somewhere, has found it again. I prefer to let these little cesspools of cyberspace fester and then stagnate, forgotten as they should be, secure in the knowledge that I am doing something that matters to me.

C.D. Hermelin is a 26-year-old writer living in Brooklyn. He is on Twitter.

104 Comments / Post A Comment

stuffisthings (#1,352)

Here's a fun thought exercise: try imagining someone who lives in New York but is definitely NOT a hipster. What do they look like? What do they wear? What kind of music do they listen to? What do they do with their day?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

OK, did you do it? Maybe you imagined an immigrant taxi driver or a black single mother in the Bronx or a Staten Island garbage man.

Now: imagine that person complaining about "hipsters" on an Internet forum.

Alex Balk (#4)

@stuffisthings Did you just blow my mind?

Elon Green@twitter (#75,693)

@stuffisthings It wasn't that much fun. :-(

stuffisthings (#1,352)

Anyway can we just go back to calling young, vaguely artsy white people we don't like "emo"? (Remember "emo"?)

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@stuffisthings That "hipster relativity" image gets it right. The guy who eats at McDonald's doesn't even know that people can be hipsters. It's the guy who just figured out that he is too good to eat at McDonald's who all of a sudden becomes aware that if he thinks he is better than those who still eat at McD's, then there must be others who think they are better than him still – those fucking hipsters! In other words, to hate on hipsters you have to be somewhere on the hipster spectrum yourself, and then hate further up the hipster chain.

hiddeninlooks (#248,595)

@stuffisthings what if you immediately pictured a finance bro?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@hiddeninlooks Well at least they come to New York with jobs, right?

I don't see how someone could complain about both hipsters and finance bros, but I suspect that many people do just that.

b3k (#12,241)

@stuffisthings I tried to explain hipsters to my frat-boy friend from U Miss and he seemed confused for a bit, then said "Oh yeah! We just call them T-Shirt People!"

dat logic (#248,603)

Just Manhattan alone?
-Wall Street Suits
-Older couple that lives in the Upper East Side near the park
-NYU College kids (okay, maybe not true NYers, but right now they live here)
-SoHo artists, designers, models and stylists
-East Harlem hispanics
-The colored that lives in Harlem
-The yuppies that live in Upper West Side
-Producers, media people, and others that live in Tribeca or East Village
This thought exercise was so easy to do. It required no incredible thinking power.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@dat logic Depending on how they're dressed at least half of those people would be described as "hipsters" if you posted their photo on Reddit (glasses or anything plaid are usually enough).

They would look like anyone else in those pictures.
Dude is just an attention whore. He keeps bringing this up again and again so people will remember he exists and he can have some validation in his worthless life.

mikki halpin (#5,603)


Multiphasic (#411)

@mikki halpin Ahh, I read that at first as "CAN I WATCH," and was like, hey, someone has truly and completely Become the Internet.

@mikki halpin Of course he realizes it. And he loves it.

81630381@twitter (#248,527)

Oy gevalt. I think our dear accidental meme has missed a big part of what fuels the "hipster hatred."

It's NOT caused by people who shop at thrift stores, or busk in the subways and parks because they have to. It's NOT caused by people who try to make a living doing something artistic or artisinal because they're talented and passionate about it.

No, it's caused by the spoiled, trust fund-funded, obnoxious, holier-than-thou interlopers who *appropriate* those modes of dress and behavior to project some sort of borrowed sincerity they could never make on their own. It's caused by people who stop by "hipster" on their way from "puking college freshman in Union Square" to "Obnoxious yuppie broker on Stone Street after the bell."

That, good sir, is why your suggestion of "looking twice" is not necessarily one that will always result in positive judgements. Because some "hipsters" out there genuinely do deserve the opprobrium. But if it makes you feel any better, they tend to deserve the opprobrium no matter WHAT style/fashion they're aping at the time.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@81630381@twitter Speak for yourself. There are plenty of people out there who hispter-hate any man who looks like he gave some thought to his looks.

C.D. Hermelin (#248,537)

@81630381@twitter But don't you see that you have to look twice to make sure? That's the point I'm making. You're right, it won't always be positive. But you can never tell, just by the way someone dresses or talks in a small interaction, who they really are/what they are trying to accomplish.

scrooge (#2,697)

Fun piece – thanks!

PS Where do I go to order a story? Can I custom order, as in, for example, I'd like a story about a dead cat featuring Royal Doulton china and a Certified Public Accountant?

C.D. Hermelin (#248,537)

@scrooge I'm working on it!

@C.D. Hermelin I want a story too, and I am not in NYC, so maybe snail mail?

hman (#53)

Just don't ever 'tweet' (ugh) about a crappy day at your job at a grilled cheese truck.

C.D. Hermelin (#248,537)

@hman I dunno, man. Those trucks are hot, and the people who patronize those trucks aren't always the easiest customers. Twitter (ephemeral, easy to ignore) seems like the perfect place to complain about that sort of thing…

needsmoresalt (#242,163)

This is pretty excellent. However, in my opinion, the correct definition of a "hipster" is Teju Cole's: "one who has an irrational hatred of hipsters."

Mike_B (#239,283)

Another casualty in the one-sided war between hipsters and internet dorks.

20 or so years ago, when I was your age (I hate saying that, sorry), I decided to take my caged parakeet to the park, just because it was a nice day and I wanted the bird to experience some fresh air. People came by to say hello to the bird, and I got a few stares … I wonder what the internet would have done with that. Without the term "hipster," what would they have labeled me, I wonder.

@Penelope LaRocque@facebook They'd probably called you something like "The Crazy Parakeet Lady."People can be very unkind. Your comment reminds me of a true story. When I was about 7 years old we had a parakeet. One sunny summer afternoon, I decided to bring him into the back yard. My younger brother came by, looked in the cage, and decided it was time to clean it. It was Bye-bye Birdie!

invinoveritas (#248,570)

Hey! This is cool! I visit the high line all the time and I never saw you there, now I'm disappointed. Also, thanks for pointing out the bias and hatred towards hipsters. I feel like I think hateful things towards hipsters all the time and never really think twice about it. This piece will make me look a little deeper next time. thanks.

Wilgrims (#233,338)

PLAYED OUT. There is a great, sort of sad documentary short about a really charming girl who does the public typing thing in New Orleans. It's called Baffle Their Minds With Bullshit; you can watch a trailer here:

The business seems a bit brutal, but she says she lacks the self-esteem to aim higher. Tellingly, whether she is a hipster or not was not something anyone seemed concerned about.

@Wilgrims "played out" really? or is it that you knew about this particular thing before it was cool? ;-)

theliz4eva (#9,450)

I just tweeted at ya. And hopefully you don't read these comments either, but I've been there, sort of. Every time I write a blog, or post a video interviewing someone famous, semi-famous, or wannabe famous (butt hole tattoo girl), people call me the most hideous things in the comments. Especially ugly. And fat. (I guess cause I'm a woman.) And they call me a hipster. But I think ugly and fat are meaner. And I'm neither ugly nor fat, and if I were, would that be better or worse? Fuck those people. I never want to understand the troll mindset. It's like when some dickhead hates me, and I'm OK with that. This is the same thing.

Dewey Decimateher (#248,574)

I'm inclined to suggest you come sit in the French Quarter and type, but if you're used to cooler weather you might just die of heat stroke. But if you ever get sick of Northern winters, try migrating south for a few months ;)

thepoemguy (#248,720)

@Dewey Decimateher
Yeah come to New Orleans, theres a women down there who will get your ass.
ever see the documentary,Baffle them with Bullshit? Yeah, I'm sure she would love to meet you. That's a meeting I would love to witness.
Oh yeah, there are at least five typewriter buskers down there. I guess they all stole your idea

BadUncle (#153)

Busking with words, rather than a guitar? Very cool. I wish I had the talent to come up with a story in 10 hours. 10 Minutes is insane!

BTW, I have no idea what "hipster" means anymore, except as a license to treat the creative underclass to a piñata party.

Myrtle (#9,838)

@BadUncle I have love for your BTW statement.

BahBahBlackJeep (#248,578)

"secure in the knowledge that I am doing something that matters to me."

For knowing this, you win. Well played, sir.

The typewriter in the park thing is a cool idea. Wish I'd thought of that.

21375076@twitter (#248,582)

Hipsters are scary to Reddit because hipsters represent "artsy", and "artsy" is bad (and in complete opposition to their STEM fetish). Even the ones who like to read or who like artsy things get in on it. They glamorize writers like Hemingway (when writers were MEN and they drank and threw punches) and crack jokes about English majors. Anyone who goes against the 'mainstream' (a.k.a. anyone who doesn't follow their prescribed notions about what people should and shouldn't do) are weirdos, losers, etc.

LondonLee (#922)

In my day we called hipsters "Trendies" which seems to be a better way of sorting the genuinely creative and hip from the poseurs (another word that should come back into use).

djfreshie (#875)

@LondonLee It may be unclear how obvious the vitriol directed towards 'hipsters' is meant for 'poseurs' but I agree that it's definitely the crux of the issue and that people need to start using it correctly for one important reason: the word Hipster (as used now) is both complimentary and derogatory. Which makes it as useless as the now dictionary approved "literally".

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@LondonLee I usually use "indie" because it is a little more precise, but it doesn't address the poseur question. Trendies is good!

petey (#8,666)

I wonder what the woman who was photographed spinning thread in a BMW waiting room has to say. What's her story?

Jonas Cord (#2,698)

It's a shame that this article – which makes such a much-needed corrective to indiscriminate vitriol towards hipsterdom – uses a ridiculous PR stunt of a chocolate maker as an example of "hipsterism" done right.

It's sadly exactly what can rile people up about hipsters. All image, no substance. With modern shipping being the most fuel efficient mode of transport in existence, to pick that portion of their commercial operation as the one to "optimize" just shows they have no idea what they are doing or why. It's merely using old technology without any increase in product quality, making things more expensive through pointlessly abstaining from labor saving devices, all the while acting as if it somehow matters.

shostakobitch (#1,692)

I guess this is better than anti-Semitic Elmo. But then again, Elmo gave you a story you could tell to others as your own.

Milo's Dog (#10,418)

My only concern is that his typewriter case appears to be taking up valuable bench space.

wouldntyouknowit (#248,590)

Great story! I love how your ex-girlfriend managed to turn it around into a story about _her_ and how hard _her_ life has become. boo, hoo.

Good for you for giving zero fucks and keeping up with your life's mission. I hope after all of this that the quality of your writing is up to snuff, b/c that's what matters, but it's clear from your writing in this article that you can communicate well so, godspeed.

fetish (#248,594)

So… you write a 2000 word piece AND your ex-girlfriend wrote a 1,000 word piece of her own in an effort to say that you aren't the attention-whore you appear to be? This is of course after moving (by choice) to the most expensive city in America without any marketable skills but then complain about not being able to find a job?

I'm confused as to why you feel the need to deflect the criticism you received. It appears very well earned.

ollyolly (#248,598)

@fetish You realize he is a writer and for most people the entire point is to be noticed for their writing? If he were bringing the type writer to the park just to be 'the guy who brings a type writer to a park,' yes attention grabbing, but bringing it to write? That is bringing it to practice what he wants to do as a career. As is submitting an article to the Awl about his experience.

Everyone that practices in their chosen field is attention grabbing? Guess I should start submitting all my budget reports anonymously.

Nope nope nope (#248,674)


fetish (#248,594)

@Nope nope nope APPARENTLY IT ISNT

Amey P (#248,596)

You really seem to have this thing for storytelling & writing.
I just read this entire article in one go which is so unlike me, and enjoyed every bit of it.
I liked it very much, thanks for sharing your experience, I wish you find Solace in your cause

someguy (#248,600)

Look, you're clearly not a bad person, what you're doing is kind of neat and may alleviate a few people's boredom. But dont kid yourself that you're doing much more for humanity than that.

What drives me crazy about people like you is that there are people in the 3rd/developing world working 12 hours a day making your clothes, growing your food, building you an ipod, what have you and their only reward for all the hard labor is to basically get shit on.

You're basically riding on the coattails of the previous generation who fought, labored, and in some cases killed, so that you could have so much privilege. Why not do something amazing with it instead circle jerking with hipsters all day?

djfreshie (#875)

@someguy I don't remember the part of the article where the unemployed author explains that he's so privileged that he could be making the exact amazing thing you'd like him to make with the aforementioned privilege. But anyway, instead of writing an article on the internet, what exactly is it he should he be doing? And for that matter, what should I be doing with my life? Please advise.

15933735@twitter (#248,627)

Mr @someguy is exactly the fool that Mr. Hermelin is talking about. The half-thinking idiot that wants to paint Mr. Hermelin with a "circle jerking" brush.

Mr. Hermelin was not out to change humanity. How did that enter @someguy's post? Clearly, @someguy has some kind of mental issue he wants to blame on Mr. Hermelin.

Classic bully behavior.

Thank you, Mr. Hermelin, for writing about this. I truly mean this. Thank you for showing me what bullying looks like in the 21st century.

Mike_B (#239,283)

@someguy You seem insecure.

335462811@twitter (#248,601)

Great article, hipster!
*Just kidding* but I do find this article fascinating: people hide behind keyboards while verbally abusing you, but yet, here you are NOT hiding behind the keyboard, rather exposing yourself WITH your keyboard (typewriter). What a fascinating slice of culture.

Aatom (#74)

Internet mean, read all about it.

Great read. =)

I'm sure your "Stories while you wait" are amazing!

Also, top item on Hacker News.

C.D: I've grown tired of the HIPSTER debate. I've had enough and I don't care. However, I will say, XOJANE has some crazy ass commenters that will pounce on anything they deem "asshole/asswad/asshat". I occasionally visit their site and they have some decent columns now and then. Just don't ever bother reading the comments. Hell, don't even read this comment!

wololo (#248,628)

dude you write with way too many dashes. it's jarring, sloppy, melodramatic punctuation — jumpcut editing for text.

DeedeeDeedee (#248,632)

Another rich kid having a typical rich kid adventure in New York. Let him have his 15 minutes. What I love, though, is that here's a guy in New York without a job, and is he scrambling to make ends meet? Is he selling his ass so that he can afford rent and food? Has he taken some shit menial job, doing whatever it takes to make sure he survives? No. He's taken his typewriter and gone to the park. Sounds real urgent. You're not a hipster. You're just some guy who has it pretty good. People on the Internet don't like you? Deal with it. There's worse things in life, asshole.

462228654@twitter (#248,635)

This is a really great article. However, please keep in mind Reddit of late is overrun with 15 year olds from rural areas of the country. A large growing segment is pre-adult, from Nowhere, USA and they have little exposure to "different" things. You take all that teenage agnst, combined being unfamiliar with any city over 200K or different cultures and the anonymity of the Internet == you'll have a lot of shitty, immature comments. It's like Facebook comments or the comments on a Youtube video on a much wider, global scale.

I have been on Reddit for 6 years now, I have seen it transform into a small community of geeks and developers to this mega-monster of collective teenage emotion. Some of the most awful, intolerant, immature and bigoted things I've ever read in my life have come from Reddit. It just feeds on itself. Imagine every stupid thing you believed when you were 14 was now supported by a huge community. In the past, you may have only had 3 or 4 friends that agreed with you. Now a days with Reddit, you'll have 10s of millions and all feeding their egos how smart and great they are. And no matter how shitty or immature it is, they all got your back.

I guess my point is, please do not take it personally or seriously. You put a 50 million teenagers in one room, awful, angry, and unreasonable things are going to be said.

You are a good person. Your idea was incredibly creative and cool. Please don't stop or lose confidence in who you are because a bunch of stupid teenagers from Nowhere, USA made fun you. These are the same guys who were losers in High School, and they will probably continue to be losers in life.

They also have short attention spans.

Sean Clancy (#248,637)

Everybody who was mean to this guy on the internet is an asshole.

Amazing article. Please keep doing what you are doing. You are a true inspiration.

Have you tried
It's basically the internet version of what you're doing.

marsupial (#248,650)

Hipster-shaming is the internet's new favourite way of enforcing social norms, and for many it's a way of bolstering their own self-esteem via ridicule of others. It's more or less bullying in a socially-acceptable disguise, and sadly redditors are some of the biggest offenders.

9502372@twitter (#248,652)

Move to the U.K we would swoop you up in a blanket of warm eccentric acceptance. Brighton would probably give you the key to the city. I think we have hipsters here, but mostly they are just posh boys wearing tight jeans.

27713811@twitter (#248,653)

@Jonas Cord
I have not tryed the hippster choiclad but I´m not tht sure that transporting the raw materials in a different way does not affect the product. The beans are exposed to the salty see air for quite some time.
I bet not 1 in 100 cutomers can taste the difference, but that is true for any "premium" product.

Tom Fox (#248,661)

As somebody who was labelled a hipster online and hated on for making a Moustache shaped guitar (Solely to be auctioned off for Movember, a moustache based charity) I know the feels!

Your idea is brilliant though, why should musicians and artists be the only creatives who get to do on the spot public outputs?

You are are completely brilliant and I'm so delighted that you didn't give up or stop writing. I only wish I lived in New York so I could visit your roving typewriter and get a story written by you!

I liked your article. I'm fine with hipsters. All I care about is that artists work hard and fully commit themselves to their work, as most my most cherished writers do. That said, I didn't find much in what you said about how deeply you explore your writing. I really hope you are committed; it's what makes all the difference.

chou-fleur (#248,704)

You've clearly been through heaps since your original idea. Going out and busking with your typewriter is both original and clever

I'd love one of your stories…especially now you've been through (what I call) the shitmill. What you go through, if it doesn't break you it will likely be the making of you.

Keep on keeping on.


I want a story, how can I procure one?

thepoemguy (#248,720)

But really, this is your idea?

Hardly. There are dozens of people all over the country busking with typewriters. I've been doing it for five years, and its not original to me.

Are you the rude guy who stop by me and my typewriter in Boulder?

I couldn't get through the article, sorry, but I hope your ok with everything now.

And golly, after all you've been through, hope nobody steals your idea.


C.D. Hermelin (#248,537)

@thepoemguy I know it's not my idea! Typewriter busking is actually pretty common. I make mention of it in the article! Sorry to cause confusion.

thepoemguy (#248,720)

Oh, you might like my website, Sounds a lot like your stories while you wait, huh? Only its been up for three years.

Editor79 (#248,726)

Really @thepoemguy? Your punctuation is atrocious. Now we know why you have to write poems.

thepoemguy (#248,720)

only people with tihgt assholes concern themsefs wiff punctuhaitian. I write potery beacuse it gits me serously laid.

12711832@twitter (#248,727)

I saw someone doing roughly this same thing in Chicago in the early 1980's. Only his sign said "5-minute novel" or something like that, and his schtick was that he would write about you. He sat with a typewriter on Michigan Avenue. He would ask you a couple questions – your name, your job or hobbies, or place of birth, just something he could build on. And then he would type you a story starring you. It was cool. I wonder if he's seen this. He would be in his late 50's or early 60's now.

Hey love it. Don´t like your Hippster-Look, but the action it s cool. In the time i was young, i knew guys, writing with such a machine.

Idiots? No – they were able to write a whole page und didn t need any corrections afterward.
Who can do this today? I don´t

Abe Sauer (#148)

Interesting story. And more power to you. You're about the right age so I wonder if you–and how many of the "hipsters" you identify with and others who are positive about this whole essay–were laughing at the Star Wars Kid as he became a meme?

Lemonnier (#14,611)

I feel like 20 years ago, the roving typist would have read as more weirdo/squatter than hipster?

Either way, good on you for coming up with a creative way to make money when you couldn't find a job, and sorry a bunch of internet gangsters made fun of you. I hope you learned a valuable lesson — never, ever read internet comments. Not even this one. Seriously, stop.

Hey Christopher, can I get my Boogie Nights DVD back?

Wow, this is a great story. You are a very strong man for dealing with all of this. I would love to come see you and get a short story. Hopefully you continue sitting in the park writing stories.

Erik Vos@facebook (#249,109)

All those signals of mental poverty coming from those people who tried to damage C.D. Hermelin. His idea is great, makes people happy and it requires talent, creativity and originality …characteristics that most of these critics probably do not have.Continue with this wonderful idea and good luck.

RheelDaze (#249,156)

I met you in Union Square last spring and you wrote a story for my Flat Stanley who I was taking on a tour of the city for my cousin's fifth grade class. I thought what you were doing was so fun and cute and I was really excited to include it in the Stanley adventure. The kids loved it just so you know. I've written for xojane myself and I am floored by the comments sometimes. I've gotten that same jittery feeling when reading them but they are often written by people who lack any kind of creativity or ambition themselves and piggy back off of people who actually do something. People are unbelievably careless with their hostility on the internet. It's just plain cowardly too to attack someone from the safety of your computer's anonymity. I thought what you were doing was adorable and also took a lot of guts. I hope you keep it up. You made me and a bunch of fifth graders very happy.

@RheelDaze cool story–thanks for sharing how this made you and your charges happy. jeesh–people are so uptight, eh?

Don't know if you'll see the comment but I definitely applaud your ingenuity and originality and am sorry you had to suffer because of it.

I live on the other side of the country but, if I saw you in a park with the sign, I would definitely stop to make inquiries about your motivation, how you were doing, etc.. and probably request a story.

Maya (#249,298)

I found your article today and read your story for the first time. Interestingly enough I am on the opposite side of this. I told my 30 year old son that I loved how the city had brought out the hipster in him. He was offended. He was shocked actually that I would call him such a thing. He told me I was mean.

I was dumbstruck. I had to google to find out for the first time ever that calling someone a hipster is offensive. For me it was entirely meant as a compliment. I am 51 and the word has been around a much longer time than my son has. I thought it was a useful term to tell him how much I loved his independent thinking, his quirky charm, his musical interests, his intelligence and creativity, his ability to put recycled clothing together in a way that makes me want to shop in thrift stores more often. Apparently I offended him and I'm only just now realizing to what degree based on all I have read online today about the matter.

He knows I love him and I think he gets that I am just out of the loop as most "older generations" are about these things. I don't think he is still upset with me, thank goodness because that would crush me. However, I must admit that I am hopeful that this experience may inspire him to shave off that grizzly looking beard of his. Never much liked that. :)

@Maya you are ultra-duper cute, and a bit of a hipster your own self. i think it's adorable that you had that exchange, and i'm positive he heard your message, even if he took umbrage to your choice of words.

Just let me quote:
"I knew, from the smiles on people's faces when they saw me out typing, that I was out in the world as a positive, day-brightening entity. Bashing me was like hating on an ice cream truck."

1969405363@twitter (#250,409)

My Uncle Wyatt recently got a nearly new GMC Savana by working part time from a macbook. important link b­ℴ­w­6­.­ℂ­o­m

clem (#250,416)

You brought joy to people's lives. You went out on a limb and did something creative and worthy and showed people something they hadn't seen before. And people saw that it was good. Please read "A Confederacy of Dunces" ( I'm sure you have) but all you need to read is the first quote before the novel begins. Take heart in that, it's true.

KristHart (#255,601)

I love this story! I created an account for the sole purpose of commenting on it. I wish you the best of luck and happiness in your life!

foxtrotuniform (#256,460)

I enjoyed the read. I sympathize and understand where you're coming from. But in the interest of honest self-reflection I take issue with this comment:

>And that my wardrobe was more a function of my budget than hipster assimilation.

In multiple comments and interviews you've gone to great lengths to describe the types of clothing you wear (as well as other sterotypically "hipster" elements of your persona), and it's clear that fashion plays a large role in your personal identity.

Pretending that you just accidentally happened into the hipster uniform without conscious effort is insultingly dishonest. It's also one of the most embarrasingly stereotypical hipsterisms of all (right behind "I listened to ______ before they were cool").

okay, so my first thought is you do you, particularly if doing you means harming no one, enjoying yourself, and maybe even brightening a couple of days.

i truly am sorry that you've been the target of internet bullying.

but, on a much larger issue, i think a lot of the vitriol directed at "hipsters" is that many of them do have a bit of a "more-first-pressing-fixie-home-roasted-coffee-beans-friends with-indie-bands-from-iceland" than you attitude.

i say this only to suggest that you not take it all so personally. people are responding to what you represent to them, and it's likely that you represent someone(s) that make them, for whatever reason, feel inferior.

bottom line, keep on keeping' on. hope it lands you somewhere:)

Kichwas (#268,979)

So you're slightly on meme territory again I guess. Your article just popped up on my goggle+ feed. :)

This should stand out a good reason not to spread random pictures of normal people around without their consent.

Save the memes for animals and celebrities – where it either won't matter or the person has an agent and others out there to help with image misrepresentation.

And if you do catch one of somebody, keep context in mind – and that you might not know the context when you see it, out of context.

Here we just have a guy out making an honest living while the economy kept him from being an office wage-slave. Personally I wish I had the skills to be creative at the pace he sets. If I'm ever in NYC (unlikely as a west coaster) – finding him and experiencing just being around him working would be on my list. Living 'monuments' to a city are a lot more interesting than seeing some statue or building.

As someone who's never been to your city, you kind of are NYC to me – I know that's memeing you and I shouldn't do that. But you express what I've always heard of its 'make do and make a living while being creative' spirit.

That's not "Hipster", its just honest. You've a look I'd pass by without a thought in most contexts – but in a random photo people decided you were a statement. When you really just look like 'young white dude in his probably 20s'.

I don't know the first thing about 'hipsters' as opposed to anyone else I wander upon – I don't need to. I just deal with people individually, and self-scold myself when I catch myself applying a label to them.

"Hipster" always seemed just another label by which people not in the 'scene', whatever that is, denigrate those they think are in it. In my day, we called them 'preppies' or 'yuppies', and my parents called them 'hippies' and their older peers called him 'beatniks'. Most people though, are just people.)

highprbl (#272,360)

In Singapore's Civic and Cultural District, three conserved buildings, Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building and Stamford House, are being integrated as part of the Capitol Singapore project; there will also be a new tower that will include Eden Residences Capitol, featuring 39 exclusive residences. manila 100 west makati

crapo (#277,574)

Thanks for sharing this information. Very informative and also helpful
Caribbean Jobs.

42175663@twitter (#281,715)

1) Seriously, this reads like a segment of Portlandia. Just the self-important manufactured victimhood.
2) Even more seriously, I think what you're doing is awesome. I'm no fan of hipster culture. But in spite of the general sense of selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-consciousness in the greater hipster community (and, judging just by what I've read here and heard on TL;DR, I'd say you fit that mold to a degree as well), you're creating. That makes you a deity. Cheers.

Rabela (#285,744)

Excellent article. Very interesting to read. grafično oblikovanje

Post a Comment