Go to Somerville, young man. Or Portland or Eugene

If you are living in the burbs and have no reason to stick around, why not move to a cheap as you can find apartment somehwere in the Boston metro area, and hang out in Somerville.

But in general hipsters are known — and admired or mocked — for riding fixed-gear bikes, wearing suit vests and thick glasses frames, adopting hobbies like chicken raising, and affecting snobbery for microbrews and a general more-ironic-than-thou attitude.

Whatever they are, they’re amassing in Somerville, which claims to be the only city in the country that conducts a happiness survey. The 2010 Census found that the city has the second-highest proportion of residents between the ages of 25 and 34 in the United States. That places Somerville right after Hoboken “but ahead of Cambridge,” said Daniel Hadley, director of SomerStat, the mayor’s data analysis team.

Take that, Cambridge.

Somerville’s charms are luring high-end chefs, too.

Sortun, of Oleana and Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, is planning to open Sarma, a meze restaurant, sometime after Labor Day. Tony Maws, of Cambridge’s popular Craigie on Main, is planning to open The Kirkland Tap & Trotter in early September. Michael Krupp, of Kendall Square’s Area Four, and his team just opened A4 Pizza in Union Square. Tim Wiechmann, the fine-dining chef from Cambridge’s T.W. Food, and his wife recently opened Bronwyn, also in Union Square.

“Somerville presents a diverse community,” Wiechmann said. “I’m not a mainstream chef. I wanted a place that would accept us. We have a German sausage restaurant.”

At 4.2 square miles, Somerville is smaller than Cambridge’s 6.3. Its official population is 77,000, although it’s probably higher, Hadley said. In 2010, the estimated median household income was $61,241, up from $46,315 in 2000. Almost 26 percent of the residents have a bachelor’s degree, 20 percent have a master’s, and 6.3 percent have a doctorate, according to 2011 figures, all well above the statewide averages.

On a recent summer evening, Union Square felt like a hipster theme park. The craft beer and the men’s long hair were flowing. The words “local,” “house made,” and “organic” called from almost every menu. Men in suit vests and beards biked alongside women carrying rolled-up yoga mats. The spirit of Brooklyn was in the air.

This is a city so forward-thinking that its food trucks already feel so last year. “We want to have a roving art truck,” said Rachel Strutt of the Somerville Arts Council.

Sitting in a refurbished garage space off an alleyway, MaryCat Chaikin talked about her new center for urban agriculture, a place called Relish. It offers courses in learning to build your own worm bin, brew your own beer, and raise your own backyard chickens. It also sells small-batch candles. “They’re made by local bees,” Chaikin said.

Somerville has come so far that the derogatory nickname the mayor won’t speak has developed a cachet: the Somerville Brewing Company Inc. has named a line of craft beers Slumbrew. Although some old-timers have groused, cofounder Jeff Leiter says, “The best way to put the old term behind us as a community is to juxtapose its historical sense with the exciting new future of Somerville.”

Live in a boarding house. They are cheap. You basically share a house with other people. One important piece of advice — have a P.O. Box in case there’s a sleazy housemate who steals your mail to steal your identity. I had a housemate who intercepted my phone bills and changed my service to long distance and ran up a bill. I didn’t get a bill for 3 months, and then I got an automated call that they were going to turn off my phone and I found out I had a 600 dollar phone bill.

But otherwise living in a boarding house is pretty cool as long as your housemates are quality people. There ws that one scumbag, but the Chinese scientists were awesome. I learned a lot of good stuff from them and wish I had stayed longer.

And find some kind of weird job, like Tissue Recovery Specialist. You take the cornea and skin and organs from dead people. It pays a lot, if you can handle that kind of work. Or be a bicycle messenger or something.

I’d love to be a bike messenger. Imagine in what great shape you’d be in. And definitely apply for some kind of city job like driving a subway train. Even if you don’t get it, put your name in for every possible city government job. Maybe eventually your name will come up.

But get out and be with people. Don’t let yourself be stuck in the burbs in a stagnating culture of going out to restaurants and following sports teams. Fuck that shit. Go live in a city and master a foreign language, become a kung fu master, a yoga teacher. Somerville actually has the Iyengar Yoga Center, which in my opinion is the best yoga there is. Iyengar yoga focuses on correct form. I know that sounds like Captain Obvious, but other styles of yoga allow students to have bad form in poses.

To become an Iyengar teacher, you would have to practice for 2 years, and then do a 2 Year Teacher Training. They make you take a course in anatomy, because it’s all about correct form. With that credential, you are very likely to be able to make a living as a yoga instructor. That’s one of the best in the world. Most suburban yoga studios are just kind of hacks who did a 1 week certification course. They do good in their community of course — it’s better than nothign, but it’s nothing like what the BKS Iyengar center produces — experts in biomechanics. You could be the yoga trainer for sports teams, have a studio for suburban soccer moms — all kinds of stuff.

I greatly regret that I fled Boston over a 600 dollar phone bill. That was so stupid. Go live in a city and stay there, at least until you really become something awesome and have amazing experiences.


About Rob

Come with me if you want to live
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6 Responses to Go to Somerville, young man. Or Portland or Eugene

  1. Sam Barber says:

    Good advice. Life isn’t lived at home so go forth and conquer. Get a job as a bridge tender, study during work, take the money and run. Buy a laundromat and some rental units,make tons of money, pay your taxes, get rich. Ditch the bridge tender job and work as an engineer/actuary/whatever when you graduate. Own your city in 10 to 15 years. Have tons of kids with a hot smart blonde somewhere along the way. Make them do the same thing.

    This is solid.

  2. A.Ralston says:

    I studied, and briefly taught, yoga in the style of T.K.V.Desikachar, who was a degreed and practicing structural engineer as a young adult – well versed in mathematics, mechanics, and physics – and later returned to his family home where he resumed his childhood training in yoga and Ayurvedic healing under his father Krishnamacharya, who lived until age 102.

    BKS Inyengar was Krishnamacharya’s nephew, or Desikachar’s cousin. Both the nephew and the son, along with a selected others, were disciples of Krishnamacharya. I have practiced both Inyengar and Desikachar styles. Both are excellent, and both require extensive teacher training.

    The former is, as you say, demands a strict adherence to form and is, in my view, ideally suited to folks who desire a robust, challenging program that requires considerable exertion and stamina and is not always pleasurable.

    The methods used by my teacher’s teacher, Desikachar, could be described as somewhat gentler and intentionally adaptable to individuals who are older, ill, injured, or disabled, and in need of rehabilitative therapy. Since I was finishing my chiropractic schooling at the time, I gravitated to this style and am still partial to it.

    I also practiced Kundalini yoga, an athletic, sweat-inducing, warrior-form of yoga as taught by the Sikh Yogi Bajan, which complemented the Tai Kwan Do (an Okinawan martial art, IIRC) that was also taught at his ashram. This yoga was quite physical and incorporated Breath of Fire, various rapid movents, and tedious postures held for long durations. This was popular among young White guys, partly because Yogi Bajan required them to be armed at all times (at least symbolically with knives of medium size) and would match them up with his female devotees in group weddings, since he believed that male strength needed to be focused and enhanced by female sexual energy.

    Needless to say, yoga in the 1960s and 1970s America was a mostlly SWPL phenomenon, though folks never thought about it that way.

    Thank you for the time and effort you devote to your website. Though we all have our varying, and, at times, conflicting perspectives, your thoughts, inspirations, and insights are a significant contribution to the direly needed elevation of Aryan consciousness.

    • mindweapon says:

      Wow you’re a yogi! And a chiropractor! Awesome!

      My small experience with Iyengar was that it was not overly vigorous or unpleasant. Not like Ashtanga yoga or the extreme Vinyasa styles where they constantly go in and out of poses without really getting into a pose and holding it.

      Right now I’m doing this one a couple times a week:

      I do a weightlifting routine where I go 3x a week. Day 1 chest, day 2 back, day 3 shoulders and legs. Each session takes only 15 to 20 minutes. I barely rest. I do one side at a time, for example, assisted pull ups with 160 pounds of assist (working on bringing it down to 150) with left arm first about 5 or 6, then right, then left 3 or 4, then right, and so on, till I’m doing just one on each side. Same with everything else. I don’t use dumbells, but rather the “set weight” barbells where the plates are secured to the bar. the barbells force me to balance more.

      So I do this weightlifting opposite the Missingham yoga routine. Lifting tightens me up, yoga loosens that tightness. It’s a good yin yang process.

  3. Massachussetts has a handgun law that is just as bad as New York. That makes it NOT a good place to settle.

  4. I’m terrible at yoga, but I never miss a class. Cause, you know.

    Speaking of hipster restaurants …

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