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It's lonely in the modern world.
January 27, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

It's lonely in the modern world. Pictures from Dwell magazine, with Edward Gorey-like captions.

My personal favorite: His sartorial attempt to blend in with the concrete did little to assuage the tension.
posted by yeti (66 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bless its heart, it's trying so hard to be post-ironically edgy.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 8:11 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bless its heart, it's trying so hard to be post-ironically edgy.

hang on a second. I've gotta go get my origami unfolding fork for this one.

...

edgy, but ironically... wait, no it's post-ironically which might be earnestly?... trying hard, bless it's heart... carry the three... cross multiply the sarcasm...

GOT IT!

yes, I agree. it's pretty funny.
posted by shmegegge at 8:14 AM on January 27, 2010 [24 favorites]


I too found it funny.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:15 AM on January 27, 2010


Well, I'd be pretty disappointed to follow the Gorey tag and end up here.
posted by robself at 8:16 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


And one day, a ladder appeared. Julien climbed with guarded optimism; could this be the way out for which he’d been searching all these weeks?

BRILLIANT!

Although re: "hipsters"... I see no skinny pants, fixies, PBR, or Parliament Lights anywhere.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:17 AM on January 27, 2010


Weak.
posted by JBennett at 8:19 AM on January 27, 2010


The octopus was full of judgment.

man, tell me about it
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:19 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought the central conceit of a shelter magazine was to make the reader want to live in the houses pictured.
posted by shothotbot at 8:20 AM on January 27, 2010


Mostly unfunny (and unrelated to hipsters), but this made my chuckle: "Eames, Aalto — her most significant relationships were with dead designers."
posted by DU at 8:20 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I think is the first entry made me laugh. so it was an idea with lots of potential. But the concept and the execution are out of sync. Most of the captions have the elements of being funny without actually being funny.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:21 AM on January 27, 2010


although re: "hipsters"... I see no skinny pants, fixies, PBR, or Parliament Lights anywhere.

These come out at night, when they complain to one another about people who are just following the herd.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:21 AM on January 27, 2010


Yeah, I'm actually enjoying these, though "hipsters," in this usage, seems to mean nothing more specific than,"the targets of ridicule." But that's pretty much all anyone really means when they use that word anyways, so...back to laughing.
posted by eggplantplacebo at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


M is for MunchingZombie who died of ennui.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sure it's just me, but I sense a desperateness in this kind of humor. A loneliness.
posted by nickjadlowe at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hah. I love it.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2010


I think it's hilarious.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:38 AM on January 27, 2010


MetaFilter idly tried to remember a time when blue was only a color.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:39 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The woman from "He sipped his tepid coffee and pondered how to tell her that, in fact, the pants made the sack dress even less appealing." is a variety of modern hipster. I can't tell from the picture if she's in the age range, but the loose/large top + skinny jeans + pointy heels, standing with toes pointed inward.... she's got a lot of the signifiers.

Compare to some of the lovely folks on lookbook.
posted by Baron Kriminel at 8:39 AM on January 27, 2010


I should add "clearly wants you to look at her"
posted by Baron Kriminel at 8:41 AM on January 27, 2010


Kind of funny, actually, since these Dwell-type photos are usually disconcerting in this sort of way.

But the added captions generally include a few too many words to be very Gorey-esque, or as funny as they could be. For example, it should just be: "The toddler pedaled faster."
posted by washburn at 8:44 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The current top three (from "It was comforting to know that the neighbors had stopped speaking" to "It was unclear how her life had become so riddled with obvious metaphors.") are pretty great, but the it's quite uneven otherwise—I thought the ladder one that Pirate-Bartender-etc. likes is, to me, too long and labored. If you want Goreyesque (though it's not clear that that's their goal, really), you gotta be lapidary.
posted by kenko at 8:44 AM on January 27, 2010


I lol'ed at most, and wish there were more.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:47 AM on January 27, 2010


It was funny but then they made fun of a stuffed octopus - AND THAT'S WHERE I DRAW THE LINE!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:47 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure hipster is now the default term for anyone who prefers style over substance. I can't actually imagine living in any of those homes.
posted by sciurus at 8:52 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


ok ok, let's get something straight.

Gorey did not write all of his sentences the same way. He was capable of writing run ons and lengthy expository prose.
posted by shmegegge at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Houses pictured in Dwell : homes people actually live in :: runway fashion : clothes people actually wear
posted by echo target at 8:59 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Still recovering from broken trust, neither wanted to be the first to try the eggs." I liked them all, but this may be my favorite. The expressions on their faces slay me.
posted by apis mellifera at 9:02 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some of these are tiresome, as mocking people who are having more fun than you is often tiresome, but some of these really nail the Gorey malaise.

Plus, the octopus is full of judgement. Who can resist that?
posted by lekvar at 9:05 AM on January 27, 2010


Wish they'd chosen a more appropriate term than "hipster", but other than most of page 1 is pretty funny. Most of page 2 isn't so good. There is no page 3.

(On the plus side, I guess that means that it didn't take them long to catch their stride.)
posted by ook at 9:05 AM on January 27, 2010


They made me smile, if not actually laugh. I'm a sucker for shelter magazines, but get tired of their excessive self-seriousness.
posted by Forktine at 9:09 AM on January 27, 2010


Those aren't hipsters. They're yuppies.
posted by chillmost at 9:11 AM on January 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Awesome!

Someone at work leaves past issues of Dwell in the office kitchen. I have also wondered why these people look so lonely.
posted by special-k at 9:13 AM on January 27, 2010


I think most of these are wonderfully dark, and I'm so glad someone's poking fun at the cult of Dwell.

"Ever the realist, he built his table for one." Fab.
posted by tula at 9:14 AM on January 27, 2010


The Unhappy Hipster discovered that schadenfreude disguised as humor gave him a heretofore elusive feeling that passed for self-esteem.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Team Octopus.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:25 AM on January 27, 2010


A great beginning to a funny blog. Unfortunately, using the h-word in his/her blog's title really distracts from the funny, as evidenced by the fact that it's what the majority of the comments on here are about...

He is sad because his house looks like an elementary school. And all the children have died. would be my favorite.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:28 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


regarding all the schadenfreude and "making fun of other people" stuff... this blog is devoted to writing funny captions for pictures from one housing design magazine, right? am I wrong about this? I don't quite get the "oh he's making fun of people" thing. he's poking fun at a magazine's photos, not making fun of people leading their lives, as near as I can tell. it's not that judgmental to my mind. The point about these doesn't seem to be "ha ha, look at these sad looking hipsters" as it is "ha ha, look at how this magazine makes all these people look like sad hipsters, for some reason." in particular it seems to enjoy poking fun at the idea that these pictures are presumably supposed to make these living spaces seem desirable when everyone in them looks tense and/or depressed.
posted by shmegegge at 9:33 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


shmegegge: totally agree, and i hope this thread might inspire the author to change the utterly retarded and trite title to this otherwise clever blog.

also: "clearly wants you to look at her"

This is what some people really hate about hipsters isn't it, that they think h's are attractive and would love to be looked at, whilst the hater has a 90s haircut and oatmeal stains on their sweatpants and would prefer it if everyone just looked away. Sorry, elephant man, we are not at fault for your lack of self-esteem.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:47 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Quality Control on a bunch of the captions is somewhat lacking but despite liking elements of the Dwell design aesthetic I do think that someone taking the piss out of Dwell's continual tendency to pose people awkwardly in somewhat cold and sterile spaces is a worthwhile endeavor.

I'd be loathe to call Dwell's target demographic is hipsters though. Hipsters once they turn into environmentally conscious yet status conscious yuppies possibly, but the cans of PBR would interrupt the clean lines of the kitchen unit.
posted by vuron at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2010


This is what some people really hate about hipsters isn't it, that they think h's are attractive and would love to be looked at, whilst the hater has a 90s haircut and oatmeal stains on their sweatpants and would prefer it if everyone just looked away.

Yes, probably some people do hate attractive people for their attractiveness and lament their own ugliness. That really has nothing to do with hipsters, though.
posted by kenko at 10:10 AM on January 27, 2010


I sent my Dwell reading girlfriend the link, despite my apprehensions about the title. Picture this: you get a link to a tumblr blog called 'Unhappy Hipsters' in your inbox. 'Oh gawd', you think. 'Here we go again...'
posted by seagull.apollo at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2010


Gorey did not write all of his sentences the same way. He was capable of writing run ons and lengthy expository prose.

Who's complaining about run-ons?

Anyway, the conclusion is: not everything Gorey wrote was Goreyesque. This is a pretty common phenomenon.
posted by kenko at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2010


I find Dwell pretty infuriating actually.
posted by edgeways at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2010


This is much more like Chris van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick than anything Gorey. (It's not as good as that truly excellent book.)
posted by jeather at 10:25 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


He is sad because his house looks like an elementary school. And all the children have died.

I thought this was pretty funny actually.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:31 AM on January 27, 2010


Maybe by "hipster" the author means all the things that she is that she doesn't want to be.

People who make sites like this just seem terribly unhappy and I don't want to spend time with them, that is all.
posted by mike_bling at 10:33 AM on January 27, 2010


shmegegge:

My reading of this was exactly how you stated, and apparently opposite of your reading. To me, each of the captions seems to be mocking the presumed internal emotional hollowness of the inhabitants and looking at the architecture as a reflection of these sad inner states. We may just differ in our take, but it seems to me that the author is really commenting on the people, not the magazine or the architecture itself. Every caption speaks of a kind of internal alienation. And in my mind, watching someone shoot fish in a barrel is not that interesting. Those aren't the people I ever view as clever. Somehow this author seems to being trying really hard at something that could be pretty easy and then, often as not, missing the target. Posturing with a measured critique and criticism on culture in the limited way s/he sees it, and mocking it from from afar, in hopes of being thought witty. Much, um, the way "hipsters" are thought to do.

I should also add that I have been through this kind of publication process with clients and houses. Architects, photographers, editors...many of us have painfully ridiculous egos. These magazine spreads are tributes to, and products of those egos. On the other hand, my experience is that the homeowners, who get the awkward and condescending misnomer of "hipster" in this piece, are often very engaged, creative people. In many cases, for better or worse, making houses like these is an exercise in doing something that they are passionate about. That they sit there prop-like is neither their idea, nor very reflective of their personality...in my experience.

So I guess I am here, to some extent, to suggest that the author's mocking tone struck me as a bit lame and self-serving. And in that way, s/he seems to stand more shoulder to shoulder with the editors of magazines like this, than cleverly opposed to them.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:50 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Then again, as with all jokes...once you laugh, you can no longer complain. And, despite my boring critique, I found a couple of these really funny.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:57 AM on January 27, 2010


We may just differ in our take,

probably. such is life, I suppose.

it seems to me that the author is really commenting on the people

which brings up a point I'm wondering about: never having read dwell, is it a magazine about the people that live in these homes, or are the people in the photos models? because i assume they're models, since nobody photographed is ugly.

In many cases, for better or worse, making houses like these is an exercise in doing something that they are passionate about. That they sit there prop-like is neither their idea, nor very reflective of their personality...in my experience.

which is absolutely the impression I got, too, which actually contributes to my reasoning that this is poking fun at the magazine, and not the people. it seems to me that, if these are the actual homeowners in the magazine, then it's taking passionate people and making them look like empty props in a way that is kind of mock-worthy, which I think is what the blog is pointing out. maybe I'm wrong, though.
posted by shmegegge at 11:00 AM on January 27, 2010


is it a magazine about the people that live in these homes, or are the people in the photos models? because i assume they're models, since nobody photographed is ugly.

Dwell is, for the most part, about residential architecture and it's related masturbatory fantasies. The people are almost always the actual people involved in the projects. Which makes sense, because as we all know, the moderately wealthy are, without exception, absolutely stunning.

then it's taking passionate people and making them look like empty props in a way that is kind of mock-worthy

People as mock-able props? Ha! As architects, we are able to create entire neighborhoods as empty props in service of our egos.
posted by nickjadlowe at 11:17 AM on January 27, 2010


I thought this was cute, with very uneven writing, as has been noted.

I've subscribed off and on to Dwell over the years, currently off, and probably won't renew. As a throughly middle-class dude, it's a bit tiresome to read magazines where the assumption is that $1,000 is cheap, $10,000 is pocket change, $100,000 isn't hard to come by and $1,000,000 is a nice affordable figure.

And while I love modern homes and design and would live in any of the spaces pictured (except the hideous plywood cavern) in a heartbeat, everyone I know, by their nature, cannot keep an immaculate and minimalist space like that. There is always clutter, it's what makes a space look comfortable, even if it's only a few magazines and the contents of a pocket dumped on a counter.
posted by maxwelton at 11:47 AM on January 27, 2010


People as mock-able props?

I think I might have been unclear. I think the people were transformed into soulless-seeming props, which practice seems mock-able, not the people as mockable.
posted by shmegegge at 11:56 AM on January 27, 2010


The lonely blogger, having finally finished buying, scanning, and ridiculing the stack of dwell magazines towering precariously over his workstation...?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:02 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear Dwell:

Love the magazine. As a favor, I have rewritten the Table of Contents of your July/August issue:

Cover House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 43 House with Vertical Wood Slats
Page 52 House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 58 Ice Cream Makers
Page 66 Pavilion with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 70 Philadelphia
Page 80 House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 88 House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 96 House with Vertical Wood Slats

I hope you find this useful.

Fondly,

Jeff Speck, AICP
Washington, DC *
posted by xod at 12:04 PM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


To Jeff Speck, AICP:
While we appreciate your input, we regret to inform you that horizontal and vertical wood slats are, like, totally passé; in our upcoming summer 2010 issue, we will be advising our readers to replace such installations with wood slats affixed on a 64-degree leftward slant, with ever steeper angles expected in the future.
Nice try though,
Eric Woodslat, Editor, doors and windows extensively lined with lumber magazine; CEO, Stark & Bleak Slat Co., Ltd.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:30 PM on January 27, 2010


Mr Woodslat,

Diagonals are the currency of charlatans.

Sincerely, &tc,
posted by xod at 1:02 PM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tired, the man clicked the next link, as he had always done, and would always do.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:55 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just realized that the reason I dig the kid in the white room caption is it feels part Gorey, part Roald Dahl.

Sort of a Julien and the Giant Swedish Modern Suicide Metaphor.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:35 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


In search of a less bleak playground, the toddler pedaled faster.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2010


I howled aloud with laughter. That's one, count it, one layer of liking it just fine!
posted by Countess Elena at 5:21 PM on January 27, 2010


Yeah, I thought this was really funny and sent it to my architecture-student sister. I agree that the use of the word "hipsters" weakens it considerably.
posted by crinklebat at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2010


Some of these are indeed very funny. Others not so much. A pretty good batting average. However, the whole concept is intellectually dishonest. All of these "hipster ennui" photos have been cherry-picked from hundreds on the Dwell website. If you really want to do a snarky site about Dwell, pick on all the photos of happy, attractive, multicultural nuclear families who live in cooler houses than you do. (That accounts for more than half of the cover photos since the magazine's inception.)
posted by turducken at 11:10 PM on January 27, 2010


I love the idea of an origami unfolding fork, but I don't know why.
posted by ErWenn at 5:23 AM on January 28, 2010


in particular it seems to enjoy poking fun at the idea that these pictures are presumably supposed to make these living spaces seem desirable when everyone in them looks tense and/or depressed.

Yes, this is exactly why I loved it. It's totally brilliant in hitting the forced earnestness of Dwell right on the head. "Real people? Really? You always look this morose in your own home?" I think it's pointing out that the "hip" ideal of not-posing and not smiling for the camera doesn't actually lead to authenticity - it just makes you look like you're really depressed.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The dog’s ability to fully surrender aroused in him a feeling of discontent and resentment.

I often think my cat, as with most pets, feels this way. Perhaps it is encouraging that even at 13, she refuses to surrender to her human captor (i.e. me).
posted by reenum at 1:07 PM on February 1, 2010


P.S. You all speak ad nauseum about the judging octopus, but what of the smug hookah?
posted by reenum at 1:10 PM on February 1, 2010


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