Spinning out from the epicenter of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hipster enclaves have emerged and are thriving in locales as diverse as Buenos Aires, Berlin, Montreal, and (my favorite) Providence, Rhode Island.
And Paris is no different. Here, many hipsters make their happy home in Belleville (in the 20th arrondissement), and it was there, stranded on a curb, that I ended up two Saturdays ago at 4am.
You might ask why, and what does this have to do with a Smart Car? Well, as you know, Smart Cars are tiny, cute, and environmentally-friendly. But they’re also opinionated and elitist. And when forced to drive to the wrong side of the Parisian “tracks,” so to speak, they act out. To contextualize, the Smart Car in question hails from the 16th arrondissement, (Paris’ Upper East Side, if you will).
To give you an idea of the class tensions at work, I will refer back to my favorite show (and moral barometer) Gossip Girl. If Gossip Girl were set in Paris, Serena van der Woodsen would live in the 16th, and Dan Humphrey would live in Belleville. In TV time, that’s a 30-second commute, but in real-time, these neighborhoods are on opposite sides of Paris—both geographically and metaphorically speaking.
My friends and I were in Belleville to attend a party that, for all intents and purposes, made me feel like I actually was in Williamsburg (except with more rosé and a view of the Eiffel Tower). Who knew that American Apparel and black skinny jeans would ultimately become the unofficial uniform for (slightly) alternative youth throughout the world?
Anyway, when it came time to leave, we discovered that my friend’s Smart Car would not start. At first, we thought the problem was mechanical, but in retrospect, it was clearly socio-economic. She was pissed off about being parked on the fringe of society among the racailles (my new favorite French word), and she was going to make us pay. After an hour of coaxing, she still would not move. When we realized she was smarter and more determined than we were, we taxied home.
The next day, when my friends went to retrieve her, she started instantly. Her point proven, she high-tailed it back to the 16th for some foie gras and Sauternes.