Modern Day Bohemian Mecca

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#1
Hey Y'all,

I'm not entirely sure where this discussion should take place so Culture seemed like a catch all. In your experience and travels have you found, or know of anywhere that is a comparable to Greenwich Village or Tangier Morocco in their heyday?

Peace out y'all,

Stephen

Asheville NC
 
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#2
in the sense that you're asking, no. but i don't think the Tangier or East Village you're imagining ever existed. Things get heavily romanticized in retrospect, embellished by writers or simply expanded in wishful thinking by readers. Neither of us were there during the "heyday" so to speak, so there's no way to tell for sure, but this is something you will realize as you live thru some "heydays" of your own and live to read the accounts written about them or broadcast in media. This may sound cynical, but here's the bright side: these bohemian meccas may only truly exist in the minds of believers, but when enough of these dreamers come together, they tend to work and make these bohemian dreams come alive. the dream of arriving in a countercultural paradise often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

San Francisco, for example. possibly the closest thing to what you are describing, here in the US. and when you arrive, it is clearly not all you imagined it to be. beautiful, to be sure, and still one of my favorite cities in the world, but the adolescent hype i had built up over my childhood did not align at all with the reality.

BUT - the magic began when i saw that i had washed up here with droves of similar-minded individuals. hundreds and even thousands of young and energetic minds had all made their pilgrimage hoping to find the "bohemian mecca". it wasn't there waiting for us in the sense we imagined, but in a different, much more important sense, it was. because here we had gathered a high concentration of people all looking for an alternative, seeking that bohemian pipe dream. when you get that many people together with a similar mindset, it becomes the self-fulfilling prophecy i mentioned earlier. it's never quite our dream of the carnival of counterculture that sweeps us off our feet into a neverending circus of artistic utopia. but the longer i live and the more of these real world "meccas" i discover, the more i realize that what i have just described is truly the best that it gets, and my previous notions about the Tangiers, the West Villages, the San Franciscos of the world are nothing but delusions of grandeur. but fun ones, and ones put to good use, with some maturity and life experience.

my message is this: go out and wander freely. you will find your mecca and many after it. there's a whole world full of people seeking the same thing that you are, and when i find them, you will know. its different for everyone.

some of my personal highlights:
*Copenhagen, Denmark
*Seattle
*Bangkok, Thailand
*Helsinki, Finland
*New Orleans, LA
*Medellin, Colombia
*San Francisco Bay Area
*Big Sur, CA
*Bergen, Norway
*Victoria, BC and Vancouver island in general, also the gulf islands
*Portland, OR
*San Juan islands, WA

but don't take my word for it, find your own and have a blast.
 
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#3
It is usually in the form of pop up events that they're found. For example, the festivals you can sneak into or south by southwest in Austin (this year was a fuckin blast with the transients that rolled in). I've found it on small scales in commune form. Not much like writers made the past out to be. Think of if you were to write, it would be about the world you surround yourself with. So, yeah it could sound like the entire city of San Antonio is a poetry, music, and art mecca if I chose to write about that, but in reality there is the entirety of the city and the vast range of culture it has. Don't get me wrong, San Antonio has a HUGE scene going on underground but to any rando rolling through, it isn't going to look like Frisco summer of love, or whatever. But, yeah, San Antonio is a pretty secretly happening place if you can dig around there is more than manageable to be involved and surrounded by for city slickers.
 
A

AlwaysLost

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#4
Idk the East Village was pretty happening.. Madonna, Basquiat Steve buscemi, Rammelzee, Furious Five, Blondie etc etc the Downtown 500 made waves and the Downtown 81 pretty much ruled the fashion, art, cinema, music scene they pretty much defined the decade with the exception Lucas and Spielberg...I'm forgetting some of the other most famous ppl who got their start just bumming around Manhattan.

They were squatters just like us except they got famous.
 
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#5
??????????
Maybe five years ago. Seattle sucks IMO. Thanks Amazon.

Boy, I can't quite put my finger down on anywhere I'd think of as feeling like a "mecca".
A couple theories:
Maybe Semichrist is right and things are over-romanticized. Then again, I don't exactly see the sorts of gathering going on that would be akin to real things that happened; May 1968 in Milan and Paris, the Young Hegelians meeting and debating every week at wine bar, the sorts of pub atmospheres in which the American Revolution and the Whiskey Rebellion were born from, the anarchist bars in Tompkins Square or the IWW union halls in Montana and Salt Lake. All that shit did actually exist and probably was pretty enriching to those who saw it and were a part of it.
Gentrification is part of the picture, I think. If it's "cool", it's profitable, and developers will make the area attractive to rich whites, who are basically cultural vampires. They create nothing at all, they do not participate in whatever is "cool", they observe and embed themselves in it from the perspective of the passenger seat. Such is the case with Seattle and Amazon, with Brooklyn, with gay culture in general, and pretty much every cool thing you've ever heard of in the US and Europe.
BUT
Though this be the case, it's caused people to feel cheated, and to engage with what Nietzsche and others have referred to as ressentiment. (wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressentiment), which is: "Ressentiment is a reassignment of the pain that accompanies a sense of one's own inferiority/failure onto an external scapegoat. The ego creates the illusion of an enemy, a cause that can be "blamed" for one's own inferiority/failure. Thus, one was thwarted not by a failure in oneself, but rather by an external "evil.""
So punks and would-be "bohemians" bitch and gripe about gentrification, which is quite real, but then fail to acknowledge the ways in which they themselves are failing to match gentrification as a challenge. And so, in every "hot spot" there appears to me to be a culture of whining and depressive emptiness, where there is a universal sense of loss and boredom and nostalgia for an ultra-romanticized time that may have happened, but it happened from the overcoming and strength of others before them. I've gone to so many punk venues where everyone looked fucking miserable, and so many hot neighborhoods where everyone just complained and drank a lot and didn't do anything cool or fun or enriching.

Now, I think this is just a tendency of leftists and liberals. They're complainers who don't build anything anymore, probably because of academia. Look for "meccas" outside the Kerouac types and the "counterculture kids" and you find more interesting shit. Northern NH is a libertarian mecca with the free state project - everywhere you turn there are people who moved there for the taxes and to infiltrate local government to make things more "free" as they define it. Random rednecks are reading Hayek and discussing market volatility with confidence in bars and taverns, or so I've heard it reported from good sources. Go to Buenos Aires and find a radical Catholic revival, complete with giving to the poor and celebrating Pope Francis and his critiques of capitalism and wealth inequality. Go to the border and see Gadsen-flag-waving off-grid Christian traditionalists having a weird alt-right revival. So some people are having revivals and creating meccas, so it seems - but they're the ones who say "fuck complaining, we're going to do something here".

Travelers could do this, and I think via STP are doing this. We just don't have a mecca of our own quite yet. We just gotta take a few more days off the whiskey and drop the self-victimizing, self-defeating attitudes that sometimes we feel cornered into.

Anyway, that's my rant. Maybe I'm wrong!
 

highwayman

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#6
I hate to say it as I had historically hated much about my city. I live in New Bedford, Mass. It is like 7th in the nation for artists per capita and is also a haven for drugs. The mix of historic, a vibrant working waterfront and some new trendy yuppie/hipster bars/restaurants is ok since there are still lots of cheap local and ethnic stuff here. Having a city full of diverse people from low income ghetto types to hipster college kids, transplants and art school dropouts, families, liberals, intellectuals and entrepreneurs and having affordable rents to live, create and or practice makes it all work. The city was just on TV where they called this era the New Bedford Renaissance. Touristy we are not but yuppie/hipster culture can destroy cities if not kept in check. This is an open invite to those looking for a historic east coast city to relocate to. Welcome travelers, punks, writers, artists, musicians, poets, thinkers, dreamers, artisans, anarchists and activists. I have made this place my home yet still not fully participating in too much community. We have a diverse melting pot population of migrants, immigrants, hipsters, punx, hookers, drunks, fisherman and young business owners . We are geographically close enough to Boston (1hour) where those souless developers could ruin this city too once they see profit. Any Bohemian Mecca needs to have grit, eccentric characters, architecture, history, proximity to nature and creative culture and arts but most importantly it must be cheap and affordable.

It is.
 

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