Apparently This Matters: A $98 stump of wood, for hipsters

Log: It's big. It's heavy. It's wood. It costs $98.

Story highlights

  • A store in downtown Toronto is selling a tree stump for $98
  • The log harkens back to the classic cartoon "Ren & Stimpy"
  • Williamsburg (Brooklyn) might be the real the hipster capital of the universe
I've been camping countless times in the forest -- as one does -- and without fail, there's always plenty of wood just lying around.
Plenty of concrete might indicate that, perhaps, you've somehow pitched a tent in Pittsburgh. But in the forest, there's definitely wood. Lots of it. Everywhere.
That's how forests work, and it's actually the first question in their job interview.
"Do you make wood?"
"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.
"Lots of wood?"
"Congratulations. You are a forest. Here is your bear."
Yet, despite all the trees, at no point in my many outdoor adventures have I ever consider whipping out a saw and hauling back a medium-sized log with the intention of selling it to sheltered city folk as an ironic, rustic home furnishing.
That would just be ridiculous.
Which is why -- of course -- a furniture store exists in Toronto where they've literally price-tagged a plain stump of wood for $98 Canadian. Which, these days, counts as real money!
Mind you, this stump -- which isn't intricately carved or decorated or manipulated in any way from its natural form -- will not charge your iPhone, it won't make you an omelet, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't come with Netflix.
It's just a stump. And it costs $98 (that's $94.84 in American dollars).
I first learned of this uber-log the other day when, prior to a work trip to Canada, I was searching Reddit for popular and unusual topics relating to Toronto. Almost immediately, I found a link to a photo of the log with the topic headline, "I submit proof that Toronto is the Hipster Capital of the Universe."
Though that original post was actually created more than a month ago, it remained popular within the Toronto sub-Reddit. Thus, when I got to town I simply had to see if this thing was for real.
So, when I had a few spare minutes, I made a special trip over to DesignRepublic, a trendy little store in the heart of the city, just to have a look.
And there it was. The exact STUMP from Reddit. Only now somebody had added a "Y" to the tag so it read "STUMPY."
Got wood? DesignRepublic on Queen Street in Toronto is the home of Stumpy.
Perhaps this was a shout out to the animated series "Ren & Stimpy," which, when I initially saw the log online, was the very first thing that came to my head.
Back in the early 1990s, the completely warped (and brilliant) somehow-for-children's cartoon gave us a musical segment called "Log Song." It was a parody commercial where a bratty kid pines not for a bike or a video game but for a giant piece of wood.
The song ends with a jubilant cry: "Come on and get your log! Everyone needs a log!"
It was meant to be silly, of course. No kid would ever want a log over other exciting toys. Maybe a Lincoln Log if they're desperate. Or if they just really, really enjoy choking.
Either way, log appears to be making a comeback.
I spoke with a sales clerk at DesignRepublic who (quite rightfully) seemed both uneasy and taken aback by my multitude of questions regarding the stump. But I'm a serious journalist, and I needed answers. And he was the unlucky bastard who had to deal with me.
"People live far from nature," the clerk politely explained before finally conceding, "but if you live in the country, you're like, what the hell is that?"
He also enthusiastically added, "Wait till you see the new stumps we have!"
I'm sure they're wonderful.
But what may be more interesting than this $98 chunk of wood is the Redditor declaring Toronto as the hipster capital of the universe.
Because, really, what IS the hipster capital of the universe?
From an international perspective, Berlin, Tokyo, London and Reykjavik all seemed to pop up on several online lists. Toronto never made an appearance.
Here in the States, Travel + Leisure ranked the best overall U.S. cities for hipsters, and Portland, Oregon, came out No. 1, followed by Seattle. But multiple other websites suggest the true hipster mecca is either Silver Lake in Los Angeles or Williamsburg, a funky neighborhood in Brooklyn.
As I kept seeing the word Williamsburg pop up, it took me a few minutes to figure out where this actually was. At first I thought everyone was talking about COLONIAL Williamsburg. And that sort of blew my mind.
I was dumbfounded that, perhaps, hordes of bearded dudes with cutoff shorts and bicycles had somehow sacked the city and turned Ye Olde Shoe Cobbler into Ye Olde Crappy Record Store.
"Hey, ladies, have you heard the new Neutral Milk Hotel album?"
But fear not. Colonial Williamsburg has not been taken over by hipsters, and it delightfully remains a family-friendly tourist destination in Virginia where you can relive the glory days of smallpox.
Regardless, if people want a quality, medium-sized chunk of hipster wood, apparently they'll have to visit DesignRepublic in Toronto.
Because it's either that or venture from your tent to find a stump somewhere in the deeps of the forest.
Just beware of the bear.
Note: After this column was published, I received an e-mail from the store's owner, David Wieler, who was kind enough to give me a little more of the stump's backstory. In his own words: "It's a small piece of a 160 year old barn with the original hand-squaring marks from the poor pioneer bastard who made it with a straight axe and a lot of sweat." Still looks like a chunk of wood to me, but I definitely dig the history!