What In the World Happened to the Hipster Cop? Let’s Take a Vote.


Earlier this week, we went down to Occupy Wall Street’s second anniversary, where things were a little quiet. Sure, there were a couple of arrests, some shouting, some ludicrous attempts by the cops to make protesters stand on some “First Amendment steps,” identical to another set of steps three feet away, but it was nothing like last year, and certainly nothing like the chaos at the height of the occupation. And then there’s the Hipster Cop. What’s going on with that guy? We talked to him, and the man seems… different, somehow.

We’re referring, of course, to Detective Rick Lee, Community Affairs Detective with the 1st Precinct, music-hater, and total fashion plate, such that even GQ was moved to track him down during Occupy to score an interview. The memes alone were priceless:

So you couldn’t blame us for getting excited when we saw him at OWS’ second anniversary bash. He was standing outside the Federal Hall National Memorial, watching nonchalantly as his fellow officers moved protesters from the non-First Amendment stairs over to the free speech ones. It was getting a little raucous, but Lee looked unmoved, like he’d just heard about MGMT’s new record. Who listens to MGMT anymore? Who Occupies these days? It’s not even going to be on 180-gram vinyl.

When things calmed down a bit, we walked over to say hi. We asked how he’s feeling about the “Hipster Cop” nickname these days.

Detective Lee gave a one-shoulder shrug. “It is what it is,” he said, somewhat wearily. He seemed bored already, like we’d just asked if he had the new Pavement re-issue. So far so good.

“Do you get a lot of attention from the protesters?”

Lee nodded, sort of. “I know a lot of ’em.”

“Is it positive attention, though?”

He smiled dryly. “I like to think so.”

And that was it. There was nothing else to say. We followed the protesters down the sidewalk, and Lee resumed leaning against a metal barricade as though it were even remotely comfortable, which it certainly couldn’t have been.

But something was nagging at us. Something was not quite right with the Hipster Cop. He’s gotten a distinctly non-hipster haircut. His once-glorious whorls of tousled, almost Bieber-ish perfection have vanished under what looks a lot like a crew cut. He wasn’t wearing the horn-rimmed top, rimless bottom glasses so popular with 1950s secretaries and guys taking up all the sidewalk space in Greenpoint. He had on regular tortoiseshell frames, a little boxy, but not outrageously so. And instead of a cardigan, he was buttoned up against the wind in a regulation, not particularly flattering NYPD windbreaker.

This full-frontal photo the New York Times got shows a better angle of what he’s got going on these days. Something is not right here.

We weren’t even going to mention this, but it’s been bothering us all week. So in the glorious tradition of direct democracy, let’s just put it to a vote. Is he depressed? Did he get a hostile new hairdresser? Has hipsterdom become, finally, unhip?