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New 'Hipster Express' bus links two cultural hot spots: U Street and Brooklyn

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By Stephen Lowman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2010; 12:01 AM

NEW YORK - Friday morning, as the bus pressed ahead through Maryland on its way to New York City, one rider contemplated her hipster credentials.

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The woman, who asked that she not be identified because she had called in sick to work, laughed and said, "I think everything about me is a hipster."

Would she care to elaborate?


"That's a very hipster response," said Christa McDonald, who was sitting in the seat ahead.

The women were on the inaugural trip of the KnowitExpress. But another name has been coined for it: the Hipster Express.

Contemporary hipsters are a hard-to-define subculture whose members think of themselves as being very cool. They are known for sporting a carefully crafted sloppy aesthetic, loving indie music and thirsting for cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Lately, the term is almost always used pejoratively. No hipster wants to be called a hipster.

Most other bus lines departing the District for New York leave from downtown, and after about 225 miles, passengers disembark in midtown Manhattan. The KnowitExpress, however, collects its customers on U Street and deposits them in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. The nonstop service between the neighborhood at the heart of Washington's music scene and the borough seemingly at the center of the "indie" universe caused some on the Internet to come up with the "Hipster Express" nickname, and it took off.

Shalonda Hunter, 33, who created the bus line, is ambivalent about the label attached to her new service.

"I don't think of myself as a hipster," she said. "But we are connecting two creative environments, so I am trying to embrace it."

Only five passengers were on the maiden journey, in addition to a reporter, Hunter and driver William Miller. If Hunter was disappointed, she did not show it.

Two balloons with "Congrats!" and "Good luck!" written on them hovered near the bus door. There, Hunter stood smiling and welcoming customers. Once inside, they were presented with muffins and doughnuts.

CONTINUED     1        >

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