Bohemia and Banana Shirts: The Image of Squalor in Bohemia.

So, before I really get into this post, I wanted you all to check out a song. Music and Bohemia kind of go hand in hand and Chicago, in general, has always had a great music scene (if you have time check all the songs mentioned in the reading), but I’m actually posting the song, “I’m Waiting for the Man” by a New York band, the Velvet Underground, for two reasons. The first reason is because Lloyd, in his book, Neo-Bohemia makes reference to the song. Secondly, I can’t think of a band that sums up Bohemian culture more than the Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground started in 1964. Andy Warhol was the band’s manager. The band themselves didn’t really fit with the culture of the 1960s–they didn’t even really fit with the counter-culture. In fact, the first Velvet Underground album, the one with the banana on it that your local hipster is likely wearing right now, only sold 30,000 copies initially. I promise this will come back in the post a little later, but first things first, listen to the song and then get back to this blog post.

Alright, so now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s talk a little about neo-bohemia in Lloyd’s book. One of the things that struck me was how Lloyd discusses the Taxi Driver poster hanging in an artist’s Window in Chicago’s Wicker Park. Lloyd claims that the poster in many ways, “is a distinctive marker of meanings attached to the neighborhood, an advertisement for Wicker Park as neo-bohemia. The redevelopment of Wicker Park intercepts the trends of postindustrial disinvestment and decay that motivated dystopic representations of the city such as those of Taxi Driver, even as many new residents remain enamored with the aesthetics of the gritty urban street” (Lloyd 77). People liked the image that Wicker Park presented. The gritty history of the place made it fashionable. Almost as if history made Wicker Park more “real” than other places. To go back to the Velvet underground for a second, people like the aesthetic that the band presents. I can assure you that plenty of people own a Velvet Underground shirt and don’t like the band’s music, but love the aesthetic that the shirt and the band represent. Wicker Park in the 90s became, what Lloyd refers to as a “hipster haven” because it offered the aesthetic of squalor without actually having it (Lloyd 76). That’s not to say that that Wicker Park didn’t have poverty or crime, but the image as Lloyd notes far exceeded the reality that its bohemian residents liked to present.

I was going to write something witty about hipsters here, but use your imagination instead and come up with a pithy caption yourself.

I was going to write something witty about hipsters here, but use your imagination instead and come up with a pithy caption yourself.

Personally, I don’t think we look at where we live as much as image thing as we should. I think most people get that your clothes, your music taste, even your car (or lack thereof) present a certain kind of image, but I think we don’t really consider where you live to be something that’s image based. I mean, you think it’s a much more empirical decision based on needs. However, at some level, where you live is a representation of yourself, or rather the image you would like to present. Before you exit out of this post, think about where you want to live, or where you do live and think about the connotations associated with that place for a second.

For kicks, I’m going to close the post with another song–this one from the Dandy Warhols.


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