Yet another yuppie species is discovered

Wednesday, May 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Grab a 3-by-5 card: There's another silly term to add to your linguistic catalog of generational nicknames, to be filed right next to boomers, yuppies, buppies and dinks: bobos.

No, it's not the clowns. It stands for "bourgeois bohemian," and it was coined by David Brooks, an editor at The Weekly Standard and Newsweek magazine, who's written a book called Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Simon & Schuster, $25).

Bobos, he says, are a yuppie subset that is grafting "bohemian" traits onto a traditional materialistic point of view.

"Yuppies were nakedly materialistic; they unabashedly worshipped money," he says from his Washington, D.C. office. "Upscalers today worship money in a discreet way. They pretend they're worshipping spirituality."

Bobos, who do not fall within any particular age group, are meaningful, he says, because they're involved in the media and in defining culture.

"They are the most affluent part of society, the new pecking order, helping define what issues get debated," he says.

He'd already been writing about this slice of humanity when his thesis emerged. To research the book, he went to towns across middle America and found signs of bohemia in places as far-reaching as Montana (gasp!). Whether it was bankers drinking espresso or suburbanites buying distressed furniture, he seemed to find bobos everywhere.

Well - almost everywhere.

"Mostly university towns and rich towns and upper middle class suburbs," he says. "I went all around the country where you could find organic food stores and bread and Starbucks."

Ah - there's that old Starbucks-equals-bohemia theory again.

"Those are markers," he says. "You know there are bobos around."

Send in the clowns.