Bard College, the liberal arts school located 120 miles north in Annandale-on-Hudson, "puts the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts,'" according to the 'Princeton Review.' It has a 600-acre campus and nearly 1500 undergrads. This is their story—as told by a student who would like to be known as Stephan K. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
The other day on Facebook, I discovered that my friend Baby Jane— she lives down the hall—had made some dramatic changes to her Facebook.
She had changed her address to "123 hipsters, Can't Love, Scotland They Can't." She changed her residence to "they can't LOVE," and her website to "http://hipsterscantlove.com." Her high school had changed to "Hipsters can't love '06" and, her Work Info was as follows:
Employer: Hipsters can't love
Location: Love, Bulgaria
My guess was: She was trying to get a message across.
I talked to her outside, while she smoked and stamped her new pair of black suede boots on the concrete path. Having spent the year before college in New York City, I expected her to be more used to the quirks of the hipster breed. But as we talked, I realized that there was nothing average about our surrounding campus of super-hipsters, with their negative waist sizes, vintage Wayfarers, specialized denim straight from Tokyo, or Sweden, or Ethiopia, or wherever it is these days; their Keffiyeh scarves; their facial expressions that evoke the way that cows look when they are milked.
While Baby Jane was taking out her angst over one particular hipster on the entire breed, the stories circulating around campus seemed like evidence that the stereotype was not far off. I wondered if Bard ought not to hold round-table discussions about the inability of the majority of its student body to feel advanced forms of human emotion.
The rise in the number of threesomes around campus, often taking place in rooms not belonging to any of the participants, was a piece of evidence. Also: The related tendency of the male half of the hipster planet to attempt to date two girls at the same time, often two roommates, by text messaging them "I love you" and the like at the same time, presumably not realizing or not caring that both girls might be in the very same room.
As for the females, hipsters or not, some have converted, and some have found alternatives. There is an entire army of girls that leave campus each Friday as the last classes end to go visit their various boyfriends scattered around the country. (Many of those boyfriends are exemplary of the slowly dying Hot Nerd race).
My friend Adrian, however, refused to do either. She sticks to her pseudo-trendy style, having not banned skinny jeans or loose flannel shirts entirely, but absolutely refusing to begin smoking, and is definitely not even considering Ziggy Stardust as a Halloween costume possibility. She is determined to find that diamond in the rough, the one that Baby Jane so vehemently denies the existence of: The hipster that can love.
So far Adrian has found Paul.
The first day I met Paul, I mentioned to him the dominating presence of over-sized sweaters on campus as the weather got colder. Some of them are reminiscent of "The Cosby Show." To this he replied, while balancing his bowl in one hand and his lighter in the other and all the while staring into the sky with listless eyes, "When I got here, I was like, 'This is my home.'"
He repeated it for me a second time: "This is my home."
I couldn't disagree. Paul is from Los Angeles, which, along with New York, dominates the student body as far as place of origin goes. And while I hadn't really thought of Los Angeles as being particularly lacking in hipsters before, he seemed to feel that Bard, along with other small liberal arts colleges, mainly in the East Coast, were havens where the next generation of cool could and should perfect itself.
Perhaps Baby Jane and myself are cynical from having spent our years before Bard in New York. Maybe we don't realize the privilege of being able to wear trash, literally, and get away with it. (That being said, trash costs a lot of money these days.) And as far as Baby Jane is concerned, it isn't really the fashion that is the problem. The way she sees it, the hipster has some serious psychological problems in addition to the tendency towards obnoxious garments.
"They're either nymphomaniacs," she said. "Deeply insecure, or drug addicts, alcoholics, or all the above.... The second they step outside their defenses are automatically up, and they're like 'Cigarettes!'"
Meanwhile, Adrian and Paul pursued each other vehemently, in the classic college style: Flirting at parties, hooking up while roommates are out, and text messaging, and Facebook messaging, all with the skill, precision and frequency of professionals. Faced with the question of whether or not Paul was capable of reaching beyond the average level of human interaction, Adrian began divulging to me the details of their various interactions.
She told me that he had serenaded her with a Gnarls Barkley song on his guitar one night.
"He doesn't seem like a hipster, at least not personality wise," she said.
One of the key mantras of hipsterdom is to vehemently deny that you are a hipster. Therefore, it seemed to me, Paul's assertion that he had found his home at Bard was contrary to the general hipster attitude.
And then she found some proof that contradicted Baby Jane's recent bad love experience.
The other night, she and Paul hooked up a second time. After, Adrian came running into my room, a big smile on her face.
"Hipsters. Can love," she said.
I asked for a further explanation. She led me into her room. There, on her pillow, was a tiny plastic bag. It was half-filled with the most prized possession in the hipster world: Marijuana.
"He left his pot," she said.