In early 2010, Christopher Weingarten noticed a trend on Tumblr — more and more sites were emerging dedicated to the lampooning of hipster culture. He decided to jump on the bandwagon but give it a four-legged spin. Weingarten grabbed some photos of dogs draped in hipster garb off Flickr, added facetious commentary, and launched his own Tumblr site, Hipster Puppies.
Within hours, people started submitting images of pups in Buddy Holly glasses, too-tight hooded sweatshirts, and tacky Cosby sweaters. “Within a month, my inbox was overflowing,” Weingarten says. “Then, once the Village Voice Music Editor, Maura Johnston, posted it to her Twitter feed, Gawker got a hold if it, then The Onion bit it, and it just blew up.” Within the first month, the site received more than 500,000 visits and over 1.2 million page views. Naturally the popularity led to a publishing deal. The book, Hipster Puppies, hit shelves last July.
Weingarten is quick to point out that it’s not an anti-hipster movement that he’s created, but rather a site and now book about the world he himself lives in. “It’s really about the anxieties and contradictions in this hipster universe that we have invented for ourselves. A coke-damaged, permanent sunglass-wearing hipster in the middle of Brooklyn and the kid in Omaha, Nebraska wearing skinny jeans have the same exact anxieties about what it means to be labeled and exist in that world.”
So what exactly do hipsters and dogs have to do with each other? Well, nothing, exactly, but Christopher is a dog lover from way back so what better way to lure yourself to a lengthy, self-imposed work schedule than to know that the bulk of that time will be spent looking at dogs being adorable?
Weingarten spends a few hours a day looking through submissions in order to find the few prized photos that make it onto the site. “I know it when I see it,” he says, quoting
Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famed opinion in the Jacobellis vs. Ohio pornography case. What doesn’t make the grade? Dogs on leashes. “As soon as I see a dog on a leash, I’m reminded that it’s a dog. I want there to be an illusion that it’s the cuddly inverse of an actual human being.”
Weingarten’s favorites from the book include a Chihuahua named Rufio (shown above) with a popped collar whose caption reads, “At some point, Rufio got ‘irony’ confused with ‘being a total fucking asshole.’” Weingarten says, “It is the most derisive, sardonic, cutting look I have ever seen on a Chihuahua.”