Have you read the already infamous Sunday New York Times op-ed piece "How Hipsters Ruined Paris"? It's been tearing up the internet all week. Written by Thomas Chatterton Williams, the biracial author of the memoir "Losing my Cool: Love, Literature and a Black Man's Escape from the Crowd", it tells of his disappointment with the changes around his neighborhood in the north of the 9th arrondissement, south of Place Pigalle. He bemoans the loss of 'grit' and character amidst the rise of gentrification. The area even has a new Manhatten-style monicker, SoPi (for south of Pigalle) and the "hostess bars" have almost disappeared, replaced by trendy restaurants, clubs and coffee bars spawned by hipsters. He laments the "banal globalization of hipster good taste" and the loss of "authentic Paris".
The author has been thoroughly lambasted by those who accuse him of being a newby (he moved to Paris in 2011) hipster author himself who wants to freeze Paris in his own favorite era. Not to mention glorifying prostitution as somehow more picturesque than good ole sex trafficking.
His wife and daughter are Parisian and he's apparently spent a lot of time in Paris before moving there. I can understand his sadness as the sense of place disappears in favor of the new global urban lifestyle. And this is more of an urban phenomenon. As an author, he could move to Paris without leaving much of a footprint on it. Other young people move there, have to make a living, and start restaurants and coffee bars. It's important to note, that Parisians themselves are part of this trend, as they have fallen in love with all things Brooklyn and have opened and are patronizing Brooklyn-style establishments all over Paris.
The bigger problem however, is what comes next: the rise in rents, the big chains like Starbucks, and then big developers. Some areas in Paris have successfully fought this trend. In the famously BoBo (French hispster) area of the 10th arrondissement, Jardin Villemin, the only large park, would have been substantially smaller and less attractive had local residents not fought back against the city which had already sold a big chunk to developers. And now it's a heavily used verdant area close to busy Gare de l'Est. The residents of charming Place Sainte-Marthe are solidaire as the French say and have an active community group resisting developers and profiteers who would move out longterm renters. Yes, hip restaurants have moved in, but the old-timers have not been ejected.
In my area of Northern California, some small communities have restrictions against big chains. Others have surrendered and now have the homogenized look of the rest of America. It's too bad that Americans have not retained the soixante-huitard (sixties hipster and politico) habit of taking it to the streets and resisting like the French are prone to do. Or organizing, like the Place Sainte-Marthe quartier.