Can Cleveland Ever Be the New Brooklyn?

Hipsters in Northeast Ohio have the beards, the skinny jeans and the local food affectations to compete with urbanites anywhere in the world. But up until now, they've come up short when it comes to character.

Sadly, they love and respect their friends and families, they mean what they say, and worst of all, when they upcycle trashed items like machinery, furniture or clothing, it's actually because they live frugally -- not to slyly comment on their wealthy parents' extravagance. In short, they lack basic irony.

Rand Fairbunk believes that this crippling sincerity has kept Northeast Ohio from becoming the international city of posers and fakers that it so wants to be.

"You go into a coffee shop and they've got the scales and beakers and the barista can discuss the molecular level of bean oxidation and the intricacies of wage negotiations in Sumatra," Fairbunk said. "But then they're just nice. It's weird."

Fairbunk and his organization, CLEVELAND MINUS, have organized and funded a campaign to bring the region in line with more established hipster destinations.

"We've got to reduce this fundamental goodness that is a blight on our media appeal," Fairbunk said. "When national media come here for events or in election years, they are treated with nothing but kindness. Frankly, it's sickening."

Fairbunk and his team have created a mentor exchange program, where masters of irony from New York, L.A. and Seattle are flown in to Ohio to share their best subtle eyebrow moves and noncommittal utterances with irony-challenged leaders, such as gubernatorial hopeful, Ed Fitzgerald, whose face appears in the Wikipedia entry for "earnest."

One of the organization's major initiatives is a high-school-focused program to guide students away from hard work and clear communications to the irony and opaqueness that today's urbanites demand.

Slogans "Don't say what you mean" and "when in doubt, lean" will be featured at pep rallies and on school banners and soft drink cups. Further, the organization is recommending that school mascots be changed to insects, mollusks or inanimate objects. "Smooth is the new furry," explained Fairbunk, with a raised eyebrow.

Several hipsters on Ohio City's West 25th Street -- the epicenter of Cleveland's alleged cutting edge -- were interviewed about this initiative, but not one of their comments offered the cheap journalistic irony needed to properly end this article.