Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hep Cat Migration

Pittsburgh is cool, Creative Class chic. Does it matter? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff cultural anthropologist Bill Toland maps the magical migration:

Writer and actress Elena Passarello came to Pittsburgh from Georgia in the mid-1990s, then left for Iowa in 2005, to pursue a master's degree in non-fiction writing. (She's in town to act in barebones productions' "Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train," at the New Hazlett.)

It's while she was at the University of Iowa, she said, that she first heard "a lot of Brooklynites throwing Pittsburgh's name around [as] a place where you could be your artistic self and finish your novel."

Pittsburgh has been on the hipster radar longer than I have been blogging about the region's brain drain. The city may be too cool to be cool, which makes it really cool. Those in the know have been buzzing about the Burgh for at least decade before the Washington Post put Portland in a corner.

Now that everyone knows all about anti-cool Pittsburgh, the scene is over. Get ready for Park Slope on the Allegheny. The urban pioneers have done their thing and the rest of the world moves to Pittsburgh to see what the fuss is about. The newcomers will wreck Pittsburgh.

Before all the hep cat Pittsburghers leave, someone should ask one of them about the next boomtown. I'm guessing Buffalo. I could see Pittsburgh and Buffalo mimicking the uneasy relationship between Seattle and Portland. Pittsburgh isn't the new Portland. Pittsburgh is the next Seattle. Buffalo is the new Portland. Let one depressing winter after another be your muse.

Buzz informs boutique migration, which won't show up in the numbers. These folks quietly pave the way for the coming deluge. Slacker slum begets techie Austin. The rub concerns whether or not techie Austin happens. If hipsters discover Asheville, will it bloom economically? Can your suddenly cool city handle the talent migration? Seattle answered the bell, so will Pittsburgh. I'm waiting to see if Portland can.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Like you said before, by the time you hear about the scene, it's over. It's just as well. No one likes hipsters.