Tulsa is apparently a hipster hub…
12:23 PM EDT on March 25, 2015
I think we've finally figured out why Tulsa smells so bad.
Yesterday, an Associated Press travel article dubbed Tulsa – Oklahoma's second city – as America's newest emerging "hipster hub." Yes, a hipster hub. I blame Travis Meyer's hipster mustache:
Seriously, Tulsa is a hipster hub? I'm not so sure about that. It definitely has hipster pockets like any other town, but a hub? Do all the students who attend Oral Roberts now going there ironically or something? Have all the city leaders grown elaborate beards and lounge around in deep Vs? Does This Land Press release new issues on parchment?
The AP Story was picked up by media outlets all over the country. To class up this joint, let's quote the one from the New York Times:
Punching far above their weight, starry-eyed Tulsans have tried for years to demonstrate to fellow Oklahomans and outsiders alike that the state's second-largest city was more funky and less in a funk.
With a re-energized downtown and a welcome mat for a much younger generation of business owners and urban dwellers, this meat-and-potatoes Midwestern city of about 400,000 is hitting a stride.
"Seems like there's a huge portion of people happy to have an Urban Outfitters and Fuddruckers, then there's a small population section that's starving for authenticity," says Brian Franklin, owner of DoubleShot Coffee Co. and an unofficial poster boy for Tulsa's hipster revolution. Franklin's straight-up, perhaps fussy, shop rules became the model for a sketch on the comedy show "Portlandia" after actress Carrie Brownstein visited.
Brownstein wasn't available for an interview, but explained in a 2013 interview with Splitsider that she's found hidden Portlandias in places she visits, like Tulsa.
"All over Tulsa are little pockets of collectives and boutiques and artisan bakeries ... I feel like that is popping up in so many cities, especially in places like Birmingham or Tulsa, where there was a time where those downtown areas were somewhat abandoned and people moved to the suburbs," she said.
First question: When did the mayor of Tulsa start writing for the Associated Press? Is this some new form of native advertising? They make Tulsa actually sound like a fun little place to live if you ride a bike and still like The Shins.
Second Question: They know Portlandia is satire, right? Like, the point of the show is that it makes fun of hipster eccentricities. Ripping off your bizarre barista rules for a sketch isn't necessarily a compliment.
Here's some more from the article that was, surprise surprise, written by an Associated Press reporter who just happens to live in Tulsa. Eat it up like a grilled cheese in the Plaza District.
Tulsa's pop culture cred is a long way from where things in this city were a few years ago — a period that saw lots of soaring, big-concept ideas go horribly, and embarrassingly, awry.
Leaders campaigned to land one of four retiring NASA space shuttles a few years ago, but lost out to mostly larger cities. Two years ago, straight-faced boosters wanted to assemble a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, $3.5 billion price tag and all.
And, perhaps most memorably, thousands of spectators watched in 2007 as crews hoisted a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere out of its concrete tomb below the courthouse lawn, only to find that the time capsule on wheels was a rusted, muck-caked mess. The gimmick didn't take into account that 50 years of Oklahoma weather could wreak havoc on anything, even Miss Belvedere.
As a person who has lived in the Oklahoma City Metro his entire life, let me just say that when the worst things to happen to your city are a failed Olympic bid and rusted out Plymouth Belvedere, things aren't going so bad. They could be a whole lot worse.
Plus, you all still have that big aquarium, right? That thing is cool. Well, not cool enough for hipsters, but still cool.
In the time since the rust-bucket incident, Tulsa's slowly fashioned a downtown with a new arena, ballpark and epicenter of thriving nightlife called the Brady Arts District, a once-rundown swath of concrete and abandoned warehouses carpeted with weeds and syringes that was aching for a second act.
Brady's success is a Valentine to Tulsa's creative class: hole-in-the-wall bistros, art galleries and studio space, the national Woody Guthrie Center, legendary music venues like Cain's Ballroom and Soundpony and a trendy gay nightclub, among many others. The revival that's taking place in Brady is part of the reason The New York Times dubbed Tulsa one of the 52 places to go in 2015.
Wow. So Tulsa turned a rundown urban warehouse center into a thriving entertainment district through taxpayer funded improvement projects. What an amazing concept! I wonder where they got that idea....
In all seriousness, The New York Times thing is cool. Even though Tulsa was on a listicle with 51 other places, it feels good to be recognized, doesn't it? We've been featured a few times, too. In fact, we have this New York Times reporter named Sam Anderson who's so enamored with Oklahoma City that he's writing a book about it. I've heard he's even asked Mayor Cornett if the city can adopt him.
Also, not to brag, but our gay bars are so cool that have their own district. It's called Kernville. Just kidding. I don't think it has a name, but if it ever does, that should be it.
Here are the last few paragraphs:
"My downtown's an exciting place," says Natasha Ball, whose family's lived in the Tulsa area since before statehood. "There are teenage kids going into Cain's and doing a poetry slam about the Tulsa Race Riot." The riot was a 1921 attack by whites on a wealthy black community in which some 300 African-Americans were believed killed.
Way before blogs were considered a thing, Ball started one in 2005, showcasing adventures that could be had in her beloved city if folks would just walk that extra half-block or get over misplaced fears and park in a supposedly sketchy part of town. "TashaDoesTulsa" soon became required reading for plugged-in locals during its seven-year run.
For Franklin — sipping an Americano out of a piece of Navajo pottery at his shop, which calls itself "the white buffalo of coffee" — hip isn't found by bolting to seemingly greener pastures in other places around the country, it's "stay in town and be cool and make something."
And Tulsa has put that rusted Belvedere in the rear-view mirror.
Okay, so Tulsa has an urban entertainment district, a gay nightclub, good music venues, an eccentric barista, a former blogger, and in some junkyard the rusted remains of a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere... and that makes it a hipster hub? Sure. Whatever. Good for them. The AP can call Tulsa whatever it wants. I'd rather visit a big league city anyway.
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