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Unformatted text preview: LexisNexis™ Academic Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company The New York Times July 30, 2006 Sunday Late Edition - Final SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine; Pg. 29 LENGTH: 7381 words HEADLINE: The Brand Underground BYLINE: By Rob Walker. Rob Walker writes the Consumed column for the magazine and is working on a book about consumer behavior. BODY: Aaron Bondaroff is 29, part Puerto Rican, part Jewish, Brooklyn-born and a high-school dropout. His life weaves through the most elusive subcultures of lower Manhattan. A- Ron, as he is also known, is one of those individuals who embodies a scene. ''I'm so downtown,'' Bondaroff is fond of saying, ''I don't go above Delancey.'' Even so, he longs for something bigger, like the cultural noise made by the Beats in the 1950's or Andy Warhol's Factory in the 1960's or the bands and fans who clustered around CBGB's in the 1970's. He wants to ''make history'' and join ''the time line'' of New York. He is not an artist, an author, a designer, musician, filmmaker or even a famous skateboarder or graffiti writer. So in another era, Bondaroff might have had to settle for his cameos in some of the acclaimed images of youthful outsider debauchery captured by his photographer friend Ryan McGinley. He could be, in other words, a counterculture muse, like Neal Cassady or Edie Sedgwick. In our present era, however, he may not have to settle. There's a new alternative, one that's neatly summed up in a question that A-Ron has been asking himself lately: ''How do I turn my lifestyle into a business?'' The answer he came up with is worth paying attention to because it speaks to a significant but little-noted development in contemporary culture. Young people have always found fresh ways to rebel, express individuality or form subculture communities through cultural expression: new art, new music, new literature, new films, new forms of leisure or even whole new media forms. A-Ron's preferred form of expression, however, is none of those things. When he talks about his chosen medium, which he calls aNYthing, it sounds as if he's talking about an artists' collective, indie film production company, a zine or a punk band. But in fact, aNYthing is a brand. A-Ron puts his brand on T-shirts and hats and other items, which he sells in his own store, among other places. He sees it as fundamentally of a piece with the projects and creations of his anti- mainstream heroes. This might seem strange, since most of us think of branding as a thoroughly mainstream practice: huge companies buying advertising time during the Super Bowl to shout their...
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course MEDIA 180 taught by Professor Parisi during the Spring '08 term at CUNY Hunter.
- Spring '08