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Opinion Where the hip begins

Where the hip begins

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Where are the least hipster cities in the country? You’re probably in one, if you’re reading this. Fort Worth rates No. 3 in the list of Ten Least Hipster Cities, according to the website Movoto.

Texas in general sports plenty of unhip places, including El Paso, Houston, San Antonio and, I’m sorry you cooler-than-cool denizens of the city to the east, Dallas. Quick, Dallasites, down your drink made with the most expensive absinthe available and you’ll feel better. Or hipper anyway.

Despite our lameness, that hasn’t stopped people from abandoning their double lattes with a shot of espresso and heading to the land of Denny’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. The population of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region soared faster over a one-year period than any other in the country, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Apparently when Gov. Perry romances companies to relocate or put a plant here he doesn’t mention the fact that we don’t know our Basquiat from our Thomas Kinkade.

According to bean-counter central, nearly 132,000 people were added to the unhip Metroplex from July 2011 to July 2012. Since April 2010 the region’s population has grown by nearly 275,000 people. Yeah, I certainly hadn’t noticed had you?

To judge the unhip, Movoto used such scientific factors as:

• Young people (we have those, though they may be in strollers)

• Walkability (we always lose on that one, it’s called August)

• Bikeability (hey, we’ve got bike trails)

• Vintage stores (Goodwill, Thrift Town, raise your banner high)

• Dive bars (all right, we lost one when Tim Love bought the Oui, but we’ve still got plenty)

• Vegetarian restaurants (we’ve got one of the best)

• Artsy jobs (I’m not sure what an “artsy job” is. Working at Starbucks or directing videos for angst-ridden folk singers?)

• Vinyl stores (Half-Price Books, Doc’s Records and Vintage, you too raise your banner high)


Being hip is probably overrated anyway and trying to be hip? That’s the un-hippest thing of all. 

When I was in college, a band I was in decided to tackle some David Bowie songs. We were all Texas boys, but from the city, not like our hayseed brethren from Stephenville or Abilene. We worked up a couple of Bowie numbers, Rebel Rebel and Modern Love, I think. Urban. Sophisticated. Hip.

Our singer was giving it his all with that breathy, echo-laden sound Bowie used in those days. We thought we were cool, hip, modern and as with-it as the latest MTV video. A country two-step? Or Freebird? Don’t dare ask us to play such backwoods cornpone.

We recorded some rehearsals, anxious to plan our new contemporary sound. We listened to the recordings and we sounded great. We were ready for MTV’s Martha Quinn to introduce us to the world as the hottest, hippest new act from Fort Worth, Texas.

Unfortunately we also recorded our chatter after the rehearsal.

“Well, that sounded purty gud.”

“Shore nuff, sounded purty gud.”

In other words, we sounded fine when we were singing, but once we opened our traps we were instantly exposed as the West Texas-bred hicks we were. We sounded like David Bowie all right. If he had grown up in San Angelo.

We continued to keep Bowie in our set list, but abandoned our hip façade. We were from Fort Worth damn it.

It may have been around that time I heard the term “hickster,” a kind of variation on the cosmic cowboy that inhabited Austin. Maybe that’s the term the new Fort Worth needs to embrace. I doubt we’ll ever be hip enough for people that care enough about being hip to give hip a rating.

So I’ll propose a new slogan that embraces our past, our Funky Town roots, our kicker heritage and our new, dare I say it, hip, spirit:

“Fort Worth: Where hickster dreams come true.”

 Got something better? Send me your suggestions. I’m hip to it.


In Market is a column written from the perspective of a plugged-in business journalist about business happenings in and around Tarrant County. Got an idea for In Market? Robert Francis can be reached at rfrancis@bizpress.net.              

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