You will either be saddened, confused or hugely indifferent to the fact that Travel + Leisure magazine has ranked Dallas last in a list of 35 hipster-friendly cities. I'll give you a moment to collect yourselves.
Now then: What in the hell are we doing wrong that we rated so poorly? We want hipsters to like us, right? Wait, what's a hipster, again? What is it that they do?
T+L enlightens us: "A smirking attitude toward mainstream institutions means they tend to frequent cool, often idiosyncratic restaurants, shops, and bars." Wait, we love smirking! In fact I was smirking just a minute ago while reading some bullshit list in Travel + Leisure! Doesn't that count for anything?
Apparently not. Cities were ranked on their live music, coffee bars, "independent boutiques," microbrews and "the most offbeat and tech-savvy locals." Seattle is number one, Portland number two. Before you waste precious seconds clicking through, yes, Austin put in an appearance, at number eight. But there are some real head-scratchers on here: Las Vegas? Honolulu? Boston? Are we sure this isn't just a list of cities with letters in their names?
What we're really talking about when we talk about hipsterdom, of course, is youth. Dallas, like every other city, wants people in their 20s and 30s badly, because they allegedly have a lot of disposable income, which, when they're not pouring ironic microbrews down their gullets, they'll clearly spend on all those condos that mystifyingly keep popping up all over town, like drafty, over-priced mushrooms after a rainstorm.
And make no mistake: Dallas leaders are feverishly trying to figure out how to attract that cool, young crowd, doing what Dallas city government does best: hiring experts to talk about cool young people and write earnest reports about them.
Earlier this fall, just before arch-conservative PR guy Frank Luntz delivered his $30,000 Powerpoint on "messaging" to city council, another PR consultant, Molly Foley, talked about how to Venus-flytrap those youngsters. Her groundbreaking research concluded that the 24-to-40 crowd likes coffee bars, dog parks, Tweeting, free wi-fi, being able to walk places and working as little as possible.
Of course in her market data-driven world, and in lists like this one, there's no recession and no staggeringly terrible job market. And there are definitely no people in their 20s whose choice of city has largely been dictated by where we can get a damn job and finally move out of this refrigerator box behind the K-Mart that we've been staying in.
Even if we had more espresso, Travel + Leisure seems to be telling us that Dallas probably wouldn't make the cut. The city's real flaw is "seeming tragically mainstream." It's all that enthusiasm for sports, apparently. We also lost in their "offbeat" category, for more or less the same reason.
So what is it that we have to do, guys? Mandatory fedoras for everybody? Free parking for scooters? A proclamation from City Hall on the merits of 180-gram vinyl? Making the city more walkable and creating more green space, two things that youngsters like and that actually increase the quality of life for everybody, still don't seem to be high on Dallas' priority list, no matter how many blocks Jason Roberts better-izes.
There is, of course, the vanishingly small possibility that Travel + Leisure readers, whose median age is 49.8 years old, don't exactly know what it takes to attract the cool, young crowd either. Making lists about hipsters might be a start, though. Guess Dallas can try that one next. That, or just paint a mustache on that fancy new bridge of ours.
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