Chicago is on red alert, watching for the invasive, threatening species hipsanicus freshicus commonly referred to as Hipsters. Only months ago the international science community released a dismissive report that denied the official existence of these creatures. We independent researchers will not be so easily swayed, as it cannot be denied that Hipsters emerge like cicadas, where they are least expected — wash locust-like over the land, alter it irrevocably, all the while maintaining a constant retreat that makes them so hard to document.
Previously believed to be an urban legend that gave birth to the most passive-aggressive putdown ever, the word “Hipster” has become a taboo, a label that causes immediate self-identification of opposition — making the Hipster a boogeyman of sorts. Parents have threatened their children by saying, “Be good, or I’ll give you to the Hipsters!”
But what, biologically speaking, turns a healthy human being into an ironic, fashion-hungry, bohemian zombie? Is it a disease brought on by infection or some metaphysical transformation, and, if so, what is its genesis? By what vectors is the affliction transmitted? Are these phantom sages of thrift even real? Perhaps they’re fragments of our own minds, created to embody our worst fears and employ them against us.
Thus far, it has been impossible to predict with accuracy where and when Hipster outbreaks will occur or where they will rear their manicured heads next. But it is easy to see — if you’re looking hard enough — signs that Hipsters have been near, coughing up their awkward aesthetic and leaving small and sickly ironic reminders of themselves. By examining their droppings, we hope to learn more about their diet, where they go to eat, the secret to their fashion and linguistic trends.
Having just lost the trail of a particularly promising Hipster, the CCP expedition team finds itself stranded in the heart of Logan Square, and it is immediately clear to see that Hipsters are all around. After some quick research we discover that Logan Square is a neighborhood with a long history, dating back to the ancient Native American game trail that Milwaukee Avenue lays upon. It has seen hundreds of years of changes, starting as a Norwegian ghetto and following an ever-fluctuating path to the present. Presently caught between the growing Latino demographic and the rising tide of Westward gentrification, downtown Logan Square has been a funnel cloud of activity in the past years and even months; a rotational pattern that has become our only lead as to where a Hipster outbreak might develop. We momentarily marvel at how Logan Square’s main block is mid-boom — even in a time of economic tomfoolery — following the renovation of the classy Logan Theater earlier this year. The iconic sign must draw them like moths to a flame.
It is easy to see why we were led there by the shadow of a Hipster, as it is evinced by the outbreak of scarfing on Milwaukee Avenue. Baffled as we were, our crew managed to safely document the tie-dyed, multi-colored knitting covering trees, lamp posts and bike racks — like lichen covering a forest floor and presumably providing oxygen for the denizens of the undergrowth. They are not wrapped or tied like scarves, but apparently growing or knitted around the architectural trim. I imagine a sweatering super-villain covering the city slowly. Sarah thinks it’s cute. Kevin holds his breath most of the time, safely avoiding any symptoms of sweatering.
Logan Square is a quarantine zone for Hipsters, but we have yet to spot one. On our search we find a gem: Uncharted Books, a used book shop — guarded by a wily, white husky and proprietor Tanner. The store provides a moment of distraction, vinyl playing near the entrance and a growing presence of navigational artifacts and model ships, with a wood-plank décor that evokes the feeling of being on a ship. We are seduced into believing we had lost the trail but found printed proof that Hipsters do congregate and share ideas somewhere near, as Tanner offered several “locally produced” publications. Inside, just to the left of the entrance, a bookcase stands — devoted to his neighborhood. (By the looks of one enthusiastic indie newspaper, “The Land Line,” the Hipster epidemic is an international multi-lingual problem!) Perhaps Tanner is an informant to the underground Hipsters, and would not give up any of their exact locations or descriptions. But with a wistful smile, he nodded a silent confirmation that he had seen them. So where are they disappearing to, and why can’t we find any?
We visit New Wave Coffee for some black gold and find ourselves in a hall adorned with signs of Hipsters, their very artwork, and are astounded to find entertainment technology over twenty years old (which — according to that law about computers — equals roughly an eon). Yet when we inquire at the register, we hear “I’M NOT A HIPSTER!” from the barista preparing a drink (he wears cut-off jean shorts, loafers and a blue handkerchief wrapped dojo-style — a seemingly cool guy). Each of the employees denied seeing any wild Hipsters recently. Looking around the busy cafe, there are people at work — and we had no way to tell whether or not there were Hipsters sprinkled among them, contaminating the hard-at-work coffeehouse regulars. (We’ve heard rumors of government technology allowing identification on sight, but that’s way over our heads.) We leave with that pervasive feeling — of being watched — tickling our backs.
Hipsters — like rats treading along trodden paths — hide close at hand so as to be ready to scavenge at any moment. With only circumstantial evidence and no concrete sightings of the beast, we pack it up and try to find a way out of hostile territory. The search will continue another day, as scientific observation of the Hipster must be brought to light — for the greater good of the independent arts and science communities, and for the sake of humanity.
We take you deep into the mysteries that really matter to you. We troll the streets so you don’t have to, searching for dangerous and unwanted entities. We uncover the dirty secrets that lie close to home, and document the ensuing madness. Sometimes the job gets messy, but we are highly trained to handle any urban contingency. Criminal Class Press Special Investigations Unit scratches those oozing sores, so you can sigh in relief.