From Publishers Weekly
The increasingly intimate but still uneasy relationship between "alternative" cultures and the forces of globalization underlies Vanderbilt professor Lloyd's sparkling ethnographic study of Chicago's hipster enclave Wicker Park. Once the down-at-heel home of Frankie Machine, the junkie protagonist of Nelson Algren's [The Man with the Golden Arm
], it's now the sort of neighborhood where one can look at art, linger over a cafe americano, listen to poetry or indie rock, or be cordially abused by record store clerks straight out of High Fidelity
, which was filmed there. Good on the big picture, Lloyd's 10 chapters situate the evolving neighborhood within a complex nexus of commercial and social forces that he calls the "aesthetic economy." But as thorough (and commendably dogma- and jargon-free) as Lloyd is on background, it is in the "field" that he shines, bringing abstract concepts to life with a real feel for the "new economy" bars, galleries and high-tech startups, as well as the often happily exploited people who work in them. Trading high wages for the romance of bohemia, the bartenders, baristas and code punchers of Wicker Park are evolving new codes and values often strikingly at odds with suburban ones, and Lloyd's study gives their evolution a wealth of nuanced human detail. This combination of solid research and a good ear gives Lloyd's book an unusual depth; none of his readers is likely to undertip an eyebrow-studded waitserver anytime soon. 15 b&w photos. (Oct.)
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"Lloyd has done an excellent job of fleshing out a postmodern bohemia…This is an insightful look at the hip neighborhoods that loom so large on the cultural radar and the role they play in the new global division of labor."—Sharon Zukin, Sociology, Brooklyn College
"[Lloyd] turns over an entertainment-district economy descended from Montmartre. … He understands… that in rock and roll and design just as in gallery art there are a few geniuses, hustlers, and genius hustlers who win the lottery and a great many exploited young workers."—Robert Christgau, from barnesandnoblereview.com
"This is fascinating, original and deeply humane sociology at its finest; [Lloyd] demonstrates that in the name of freedom, young people working in allegedly relaxed service-sector jobs waste years of their lives in a whirl of drugs, alcohol and deceptively low wages."—Andrew O’Hehir, Salon