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December 4, 2009

The with-it need the without-it

GoldenWestSnow.JPGWhile I hesitate to prolong the discussion because positions have hardened to the point that no one is listening to anyone else, the lure of John McIntyre's grandmother's sour cream cookie recipe compels me to publish this guest post. Anyway, John is so uncool he's cool. Here he is. EL

When I get up in the morning, I sneak a look out the window to see if the Hipster Anti-Defamation League is picketing my house. BOURGEOIS! PHILISTINE! BABBITT! Seeing none, I go gingerly about my business. ...

Elizabeth Large, the Baltimore Sun, and the Sandbox loyalists at Dining@Large have not been so lucky, coming under fire for this item in a published list of 100 things for foodies to do in Baltimore:

34. Make fun of the hipsters at Golden West and Rocket to Venus in Hampden.

An early comment by a member of the HADL set the tone for critical responses:

I don't think going somewhere to "make fun of the hipsters" has any place on that list. It has nothing to do with food, first of all. And I think the whole idea is tired and frankly, stupid. I'm really surprised it made the list and think it's beneath the tone of the article. It certainly should be beneath the tone of the author/editor. *

Comments, of which I wrote several, responding to this and other HADL complaints tended to urge people to lighten up, as well as to adopt a more civil tone. But I realize now that that approach was a mistake. People who don’t get a joke or who can’t take a joke are probably incurable. Just as “you can’t fix stupid,” you can’t jolly humorless. **

So I offer a different perspective. What the members of the HADL ought to take into account is how much they need me and people like me. To be hip, to be with it, inherently requires people who are without it. Without petty bourgeois types like me, hipsters would lack a background against which to contrast themselves. A world in which everyone is a hipster is no different from a world in which everyone is bourgeois — conformist.

The proper response, therefore, to a remark about hipsters at Dining@Large is not anger, but amusement. “Look at the drab little conformists trying to be funny at our expense.” Like that.

No need to picket me. And no need to thank me for helping to define hipsterdom. I’m happy to be of service.

Oh yes, this is a food blog. So here is one of my grandmother’s recipes for your holiday baking. Don’t eat all the batter.

Clara Rhodes Early’s Sour Cream Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
3 well-beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
5 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
1 ½ cups nuts (optional)

Drop from teaspoon onto cookie sheet.
Press down.
Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

* Oddly, the item about eating roasted vegetables at Donna’s while wearing black — another blatant hipster jab — provoked no comment. Selective outrage is puzzling.

** I wear bow ties, so I am inured to ridicule. 

(David Hobby/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:28 AM | | Comments (50)


Oddly, the item about eating roasted vegetables at Donna’s while wearing black — another blatant hipster jab — provoked no comment.

I suspect this is because you'd have to have lived in Baltimore longer than 3 years to get it.

~Sigh~ Several years ago when the "truckerhat/plaid shirt/haven't washed my hair in two weeks" look was in, we used to snark under our breath "hipster or dumpster?"denoting that there wasn't a whole lot separating fashion from the appearance of homelessness. BTW, i consider myself a hipster as well. Shame that all the irony hasn't imparted a sense of humor. After all, the easiest person to mock is that one that greets you in the mirror every morning.

Lissa, I resent that.

Any true hipster worth their flavored sea salt can stretch out their stay at MICA by at least 2 years longer than the regular 4 year degree.

Hipster bashing is about as played out as the captcha. On to something more about that cookie reciple?

I had planned on never visiting this blog again but was alerted that I was again quoted out of context by Mr. McIntyre. So, one more post.

I suppose he never read my original comment, (the one I refer to- he cut that part out) which has disappeared as has the original article which started this whole ridiculous series of events. It was in reference to the newspaper article featured in the Taste section. My points were:

1. #34 is the ONLY entry that has no direct connection to food. Even the silly "black clothes" comment mentions vegetables.
2. I don't think #34 is appropriate for a major news article about food in the Baltimore Sun. Whether or not it's appropriate for the blog is NOT the issue I raised.

As far as the many lovely comments I received on previous entries and here, if I were to call myself a "hipster" I'm quite sure the real ones would disagree. I'd ask you not make any more assumptions about me or others you don't know. I'll try to do the same for you and believe that you are not condescending or supercilious in real life. It's it true that you "can't fix stupid," but it's best if comedy is based on truth. At least that's what Sid Caesar said.

Don't worry, I will make no further appearances on Dining@Large. Wonder why I never heard from Elizabeth herself, though?

What would you like me to say? I felt I had had my say by publishing the comment in the list, and that you deserved the opportunity to say whatever you wanted to in response without my responding. It doesn't seem fair that I always get the last word. EL

Having carried two pregnancies to full term, my pelvis widened accordingly. I am proud to call myself a hipster for the rest of my life.

Yep. You can't jolly humorless.

Great post John. Some people just will never get it....

Also, hows this for a captcha...

$4,000,000 Bigger

yup, doesnt get much more obnoxious than that.

As someone who was a smidge of a hipster about 5-12 years ago, I can tell you that if this blog exists in about 5-12 years, many former hipsters will be posting.

Maturity isn't just for loans and bonds.

Mr. McIntyre, this guest post makes me want to hug you.

What I find inappropriate about #34 is that the reader comes away with the feeling that Golden West and Rocket to Venus have been judged - by a food critic - with no mention of the food. It does a disservice to the restaurants. The hipsters can fend for themselves.

Ok, about these cookies. What's the preferred method of ingredient mixing? Put everything in a bowl and squeeze the goop through your fingers? Or (gasp) use a mixer?

Mike from Wisconsin, ask your grandmother.

Hipsters, there's no need to take offense at an item like #34. Remember instead that turnabout is fair play...and make fun of us fuddy duddies at Perring Place and the Sunset.

Don't forget the Peppermill!

We weren't defending hipsters--only protesting against the snickering yuppies who wrote the item and against the fact it was inaccurate. If that makes me humorless, so be it. I think your Twitter picture, standing next to Mencken's cutout, as if his aura will somehow transfer on to you, is amusing in a "I guess we all need a hug now and then" kind of way. So maybe we just have a different sense of humor.

Saying something mean and then explaining that you meant it to be "funny" doesn't make it any less mean.

(also, what yourneighborhoodlibrarian said! So true.)

Yep. You can't jolly humorless.

Hmmm, I'm thinkin' wooden spoon for mixing....

outrun 2,320

That's a great David Hobby picture, timely for the upcoming snow, reminds me when the Waaiiitstaff there at the Golden Wait made a friend feel out in the cold for wanting her food same day. She was going to call them by cell, ask if cellphone use was OK in the DR, if she should dress down or just become younger, then put them on hold. Instead, she left.

PCB Rob: Nickname overheard for The Peppermill: "Heaven's Waiting Room."

captcha: Rheingold Trenton (and my porno move character name)

My wife and I are anything but "hipsters" and we enjoy the food at both The Golden West and Rocket to Venus. Make fun of me and this old man will punch you in the nose!

Make fun of me and this old man will punch you in the nose!

Well there's a civilized response.

Hal, I suspect it was meant to be humorous but being humorless you weren't able to perceive the intent ;)

as my captcha suggests I mean only to
"cuf saintly"

Bless you, John, for trying to let light and air into the tired hipster subject. Some folks just don't (choose not to?) "get it." No amount of explaining will work, so it is therefore better just to let it go.

I don't bake cookies often, but I'm gonna try that cookie recipe--it looks delicious!

a-Ro-l glassful

I think I have waited on baltimoregal in every restaurant I have ever worked in the past 30 years. I wish she would get take out. (for those from dundalk, not the actual girl, just people like her)

I so agree with this article, thanks for making me smile at 2am! someone should do a study on the humorless though, there has to be a reason that light humor infuriates them, 3rd grade fat jokes maybe?

Hal, MrRational was correct, sorry if I offended you.

No offense taken.

"'s so popular nobody goes there anymore..." YOGI

Captcha 1968 thump

(for me it was 1969 thump Colts lost, O's lost and I went to RVN)

We need to set this up ala The Camp David accords.
The hipsters dine at Pappas, the fuddie-duddies treat.
The foodies dine at Holy Frijoles, the scene-bags treat.

No thank you, Odie. I've eaten at Holy Frijoles. Once. That was plenty.


Re: JM's Granny Early's Sour Cream Cookies (sounds great, BTW): There are only a few food substances like sour cream, but it's true: you can spread it on old wet cardboard and it'll taste great.

Soy sauce is another one.

Chocolate, of course is another.

Almond paste.



captcha: Presidential smarting (Obama after the health care debates?)

Shoe leather would probably taste good served in garlic butter.

anything cooked on a grill and Nutella are my nominations.

Does anyone want to start a pool and guess when the last day for the print version of The Sun is? I say within weeks.

why is that, c@t?

IMHO, if you have to make a point to say that something was supposed to be funny, then it obviously wasn't. Comments like "lighten up" often serve to anger more than to achieve their intended goal.

And I figured the "wearing black" comment about Donna's was in regard to mourning - mourning how inconsistent their food can be and how awful the service. :)

“It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.”

theminx: Are you really a minx, or are you just teasing us?

captcha: Albert bandier (my soap opera character name)

It's getting to be a little tiresome to go over the same ground repeatedly, but:

There is an important distinction between a joke that is so feeble that it has to be explained and an actual joke that has to be explained to someone who appears to have no sense of humor.

Advice to "lighten up" may not be well-received, but, unfortunately, not all good advice is taken.

Hipsters survive on condescension. It's like their oxygen. And one can't be properly condescending if one fails to take oneself completely seriously at all times.

If you take yourself so seriously, friend, find a more respectable mode of dress than the "dirty v-neck undershirt in public" look.

I made Grandma early's Sour Cream Cookies this week. Very good. Pretty easy.

"...I knew a man, his brain so small,
He couldn't think of nothin' at all.
He's not the same as you and me.
He doesn't dig poetry. He's so unhip that
When you say Dylan, he thinks you're talkin' about Dylan Thomas,
Whoever he was.
The man ain't got no culture,
But its alright, ma,
Everybody must get stoned..."

Paul Simon 1965

Great quote, Hue! I believe that piece was titled "A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)".

You must be an old guy to remember that!!!
FYI Robert MaNamara died earlier this year in his own bed, in his sleep..!!!

Hue, I'm certainly to old to be a hipster. :-)

I had all of the Simon and Garfunkel albums. I learned to play guitar from them and from Peter, Paul and Mary.

And look how Oscar finished up. I only came here for John's grandmother's cookie recipe, or, as Mrs Bridges in "Upstairs, Downstairs" called it, a receipt.I'm away, now. (By the way, as a Syracusan,what the Dickens is a "hipster" when it's at home - or in a Baltimore restaurant?)

I made the sour cream cookies tonight and here is what I learned: 1) You will need a mixer; the dough is wet and heavy and there is a lot of it. Use the mixer. 2) Mix the wet stuff - sour cream, shortening, eggs (beat them separately in their own bowl, then add them to the other bowl),etc and cream them with the mixer in a large bowl. 3)Sift the dry ingredients together - flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt - and then add a little at a time to the mixing bowl, scraping down the sides as you go. Make sure you get all the flour from the bottom of the mixing bowl.4) Add the vanilla last - I don't know why, but all recipes say that, so do it. 5) You now have an enormous mound of dough.Drop it on an ungreased cookie sheet, and space them. While the recipe says to press them down, I found that in cooking they will flatten out by themselves.6) Mine is a hot oven and 15 minutes works just fine. Yours may take longer: try 15 minutes and then check. 7)I now have enough cookies to feed the US Naval Academy Football team - if not half the Brigade. This is a good recipe for keeping many for yourself, you greedy things, and some for your neighbors. I might try using Almond extract rather than vanilla next time and adding sliced or chopped roasted almonds. They are very good as they are. See how helpful I can be, although still Terse?

atricia the Terse raises an interesting question. Why do so many cookie recipes say to add the vanilla or other flavoring last? Why not just add to the wet ingredients? Is vanilla that volatile?

Louis poems (my poetic gender-bending name)

Ooh--it rejected that and now I'm Army sugars!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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