Greenwich Village: From Bohemian to Capitalist

How capitalist, consumerist ideas invaded Greenwich Village

| November-December 1997

Section Articles: 

Being True to Yourself in a World that's Losing its Cool

Hip Hot Spots
15 of the hippest neighborhoods in the U.S and Canada

Let Them Eat Lifestyle
From hip to hype -- the ultimate coporate takeover by The Baffler's Tom Frank

Beyond Hip
Looking for something better than the Next Big Thing

The Queen of Cool
Haysun Hahn gets paid to be hipper than the rest of us

Are Black People Cooler than White People?
Dumb Question.

How I Escaped My Addiction to Hip
by playwright and screenwriter Eve Ensler

It Took a Village 
There's nothing new about business co-opting hip life

There’s nothing new about business co-opting hip life. In his 1934 book, Exile’s Return, Malcolm Cowley recounts how the bohemian spirit of Greenwich Village fueled America’s consumer culture.

Greenwich Village was not only a place, a mood, a way of life: Like all bohemias, it was also a doctrine. By 1920, it had become a system of ideas that could roughly be summarized as follows:

1. The idea of salvation by the child.
Each of us at birth has special potentialities that are slowly crushed and destroyed by a standardized society. If a new educational system can be introduced, one by which children are encouraged to develop their own personalities, to blossom freely like flowers, then the world will be saved by this new, free generation.

2. The idea of self-expression.
[Our] purpose in life is to express [ourselves], to realize [our] full individuality through creative work and beautiful living in beautiful surroundings.

3. The idea of paganism.
The body is a temple in which there is nothing unclean, a shrine to be adorned for the ritual of love.

4. The idea of living for the moment.
It is stupid to pile up treasures that we can enjoy only in old age. Better to seize the moment as it comes, to dwell in it intensely, even at the cost of future suffering.

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