February 10, 2017 (Brooklyn, NY) - From Williamsburg in Brooklyn to the Mission district of San Francisco, an abundance of wheelchair users have begun to crowd the city sidewalks all thanks to a hot new trend. Much like pork pie hats, or non-prescription glasses, the new accessory of choice for the trendiest of young adults are vintage wheelchairs. The latest fad, however, has left many city dwellers with a more crowded walk to the job they hate and a more cumbersome trip to their high-end yoga classes they infrequently attend while paying full membership price.
David Brown, the owner of beard-trimming shop Shave it for Later, is credited with the discovery of hipster wheelchairs and had some fascinating insight into the creation of the cultural explosion.
“Yeah, well, my grandpa died and his funeral was tough on the family, but I figured we should keep the mood lighthearted because that’s what he would’ve wanted, so I jumped into his old wheelchair and started acting like I couldn’t walk," he said. "That’s when my girlfriend, Ellarose, was like ‘Hey Brownie, you look really imperturbable in that wheelchair’. So, we decided to take it back to our apartment that we share with 10 other couples, and dress it up a bit. Before you know it, I was rolling out to our co-op, midweek trivia night, and living room concerts in it. Everyone was like, ‘Brownie, where can we get one of those!’”
Soon after Brown realized what a hit his hipster wheelchair was, he started acquiring more, fixing them up, and selling the chairs out of his shop. The demand for wheelchairs for able-bodied users skyrocketed and he could hardly keep up. Fortunately, Brown’s colleague, Asher, moonlighted at a local nursing home and according to Asher, “every few days, some extra [wheelchairs] would become available.”
Although the trend was quick to catch on, all the extra wheelchairs on the sidewalks have made it difficult for walking commuters in recent months. That’s why opposing groups like Don’t Roll on Me (DROM) have sprung up, to reclaim the sidewalks that once were theirs and the homeless folks they scurried past pretending to read a text message.
DROM’s president, Alec Robinson, said that the group's focus was to make popular Brooklyn sidewalks, bars, and shuffleboard courts less cluttered.
“It definitely was a little difficult at first, trying to pick out those who actually needed wheelchair access from those who didn’t," Robinson said. "We had a lot of lawsuits. Then we came up with the Urban Trap, which features anything from cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon to carafes of drip coffee. After we started installing those around the city, we haven’t misidentified one hipster wheelchair.”
Time will tell if the hipster wheelchair is a trend here to stay. As of last weekend, the Urban Trap had appeared to be influencing the wheelchair craze somewhat. Despite Robison and DROM’s efforts, though, the influence has not been reducing the number of wheelchairs but instead increasing the number of people requiring assistance to get around due to the long list of injuries sustained by the aggressive metal trap.
Anthony Salerno was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is a current DCH student and has performed with German Harmony and Titanium. When he’s not working at his day job, he’s rocking out to Led Zeppelin and rooting on his hapless Buffalo Bills.