Sunday, July 27, 2008

I’m ashamed to say that this isn’t alarming anymore.


Posted by SPN on 07/27 at 12:20 PM
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is this 16 year old awesome or what?

American Story: From bad hair day to pay day
Bob Dotson introduces an ingenious teenage entrepreneur
By Bob Dotson contributor
updated 10:29 a.m. MT, Mon., May. 26, 2008

Today’s American Story with Bob Dotson comes from Williamstown, N.J., where a teenager thinks she’s found the key to success. It’s not a question of being dealt a good hand, she says. It’s playing a bad hand well, over and over again.

I found Jasmine Lawrence watching her mom struggle to learn how to load a high speed-labeling machine. Shampoo bottles were spinning and sticking, their labels crooked. April Lawrence hung her head in frustration

“There’s a label stuck here.”

“Oh, Lord,” mutters Jasmine. 

She is living every kid’s dream. She gets to boss her mom.

“Hold the bottle up to here.” April works for her 16-year-old daughter.

“How’s that working out?” I smile. Jasmine’s mom laughs.

“A couple of times I thought she wanted to fire me!”

It began with a bad hair day. The chemicals Jasmine used to relax her curls left her practically bald. She decided to create her own recipe, and tested it out on herself, her friends and family.

“Until I developed a hair oil that actually made my hair grow back!”

Using all natural ingredients.

“You get to lick the bowl,” she giggles.

Jasmine was just 11 years old when she began experimenting. At 13 she went off to summer camp to learn how to start a business. When it got bigger, she turned to her mom for some bucks.

“She actually had money saved up from her allowance, so it was easy to trust her,” April contends.

“I promised I’d pay her back,” says Jasmine, “and I’d do my chores. Whatever it takes.”

So, Eden Body Works was born with a $2,000 loan, using her allowance as collateral. Her little sister, Crystal, became her first employee. 

“How do you wrap this?” the 12-year-old asks, putting bottles in a box. 

“Like a gift,” says Jasmine.

At first big sister had trouble with Crystal.

“She was making too much money,” chuckles Jasmine, “and I just didn’t like it.”

Crystal quit. Started a line of organic candles. Now, Jasmine’s company markets them.

“I’m making a lot of good money,” Crystal grins, and then whispers conspiratorially. “Not as much as Jasmine, though.”

At an age when most kids are lucky getting summer jobs stacking shelves, Jasmine already has 30 products on the shelves. She’s signed a distribution agreement with Wal-Mart and plans to take her brand worldwide. She projects profits of $1 million.

Jasmine spends little. Plows most of her profits back into the business.  Eden Works World Headquarters is still in her basement.

“Why is Jasmine so successful?” I ask her mom. ‘We’ve all had lemonade stands that didn’t make a nickel.”

“She’s up at 5 in the morning. I’m literally still asleep!”

“I have about 9 or 10 alarms on my phone that go off periodically,” Jasmine points out. One to tell me to wake up. One to tell me to really wake up!”

For her 18-hour day. Of course she makes straight A’s. Shines in engineering and math.

“How do you do you explain all this to your boyfriends?”

Jasmine ducks her head. “No, no boyfriends. They really can’t handle that I don’t have a lot of time for them.”

Too busy tutoring kids in spare moments. She teaches science. 

“As a boss,” I ask mom, “how generous is she?”

“I left a six-figure job to work for her.”

April negotiates contracts, but in all things business, her daughter is in charge.

“I definitely know where the line is between mom and employee,” Jasmine says.

“Just because she’s my boss, I still have to be a parent,” April points out. “When we’re working, we’re working, and when we’re off, it’s do your chores!”

After all, Jasmine is part of a big family, with a single mom.

April says, “A lot of people say, ‘You’re a great mom and you did something really special to raise a child like that.’ But I’ve raised all my kids the same.”

Jasmine just seems born to make a buck. By fourth grade she was actually taking her Christmas toys and leasing them to other kids in school!

Batteries not included.

Want to contact the subjects in this morning’s American Story with Bob Dotson? Here’s their contact information:

Jasmine Lawrence, President and CEO
Eden Body Works
P.O. Box 876
Williamstown, NJ 08094
(856) 513-0726

For more information on starting a business:

The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)
120 Wall Street, 29th Floor
New York, NY 10005
(212) 232-3333 or 1-800-FOR-NFTE

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

Posted by Nuttshell on 07/23 at 05:06 PM
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Monday, July 07, 2008

If you’re a vegetarian, you won’t find this funny but the rest of us might

Bacon mania
Why are Americans so batty for bacon? It’s delicious, it’s decadent—and it’s also a fashion statement.
By Sarah Hepola

Jul. 07, 2008 | I stumbled across an Internet link several months ago that made me gasp. At a time when Amy Winehouse implodes via RSS feed and Mini Me has a sex tape, genuine surprise is as hard to come by as affordable gas. But this link was fascinating and repellent at once. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce: the bacon bra.
The bacon bra did its little cha-cha around the interweb for a good week last April, sparking debate about everything from the offensiveness of a naked woman covered in raw meat to the bra’s functionality—which, let’s face it, exists in that vast flyover between a Maidenform underwire and, umm, whipped cream. But what struck me most about the reactions, whether from online commenters or my own friends, was how they were shot through with a childlike giddiness that sounded something like this: “Ohmygod, baaaaacon.”

Anthony Bourdain has called bacon the “gateway protein” for its astounding ability to lure vegetarians back to the carnivorous fold, and for me, the bacon bra proved something of a gateway as well. It was through links to the bacon bra that I stumbled into a zany online world of bacon-related wackiness. Bacon clothing, bacon accessories, bacon jewelry, bacon toilet paper. The vegans may get their own bestselling cookbook, the yuppies may get their raw organic walnut oil at Whole Foods, but carnivores have turned bacon into something more than mere food; it has become a fashion statement. Leapfrogging from link to link—bacon gift wrap, bacon tote bags—I felt like a weary traveler standing on the jagged edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time, staring into its vast, unfathomable abyss; I mean, I knew this existed, but I didn’t know it was soooo huge.
Part of this enthusiasm comes from the fact that, as one hit man told another in “Pulp Fiction,” “bacon tastes gooood.” Or, to put a finer point on it: “Bacon has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, smoky flavor, and the perfect balance of meaty and crispy texture,” says James Villa, the author of “The Bacon Cookbook.” “It’s the most perfect food ever created by the gods.”
But triple crème brie is pretty tasty too, and I don’t remember seeing that on any Chuck Taylors.
I spoke with several experts about this bacon fixation and cooked up a few explanations for our exuberance. After all, how do we come to exalt a food so much that it is not enough to merely eat it—but we also feel an urge to wrap ourselves in its likeness and scream our adoration from our Facebook profile? The following bacon theories should be taken with a grain of salt. (Better yet, a nice, crisp rasher.)
1. Bacon is rebellion
Americans have a guilty relationship with food, and perhaps no food is more guilt-inducing than bacon—forbidden by religions, disdained by dietitians and doctors. Loving bacon is like shoving a middle finger in the face of all that is healthy and holy while an unfiltered cigarette smolders between your lips.
We live in a time when even a casual trip to the market is fraught with anxiety. Is it OK to buy the salmon? What are the food miles on this red delicious apple? And there is something comfortingly unambiguous about a thick slab of bacon. It’s bad for you. It tastes fantastic. Any questions?
As Dan Philips says, “Death to all food and wine rules. Down with the health establishment. Bacon is the ultimate expression of freedom.” Philips—aka Captain Bacon—is the founder of Grateful Palate, a company whose popular Bacon of the Month Club and cheeky assorted gift items—from T-shirts to bacon air freshener to bacon candles—has probably done more for the bacon chic movement than anything else.
John T. Edge, author and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, says, “Bacon is a sort of 21st century tattoo, a marker that declares the wearer to be a badass, unbeholden to convention.”
(Oh, and bacon is, in some cases, also literally a tattoo.)
It’s telling that, among the many celebrity chefs who have embraced bacon (Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse), it is Anthony Bourdain who has become its most unabashed spokesperson. A cocktail-swilling, cock-slinging adventurer who disdains cliché, Bourdain is the poster boy for macho hedonism.
You can hear a kind of growling swagger in the introduction to Susan Bourette’s “Meat: A Love Story,” in which she writes about a spike in carnivore culture: “It’s like a bitch-slap to all those reedy, high-minded herbivores who demanded nothing short of a bloodless revolution, dictating the parameters of the discussion, decreeing the rules for years.”
“Bacon is the cocaine of the ‘00s,” says author Sarah Katherine Lewis, “a visible sign of decadent rebellion.”
2. Bacon is sexy
Sarah Katherine Lewis recently wrote a book called “Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me.” It’s a series of funny, outré personal essays, with a title meant to transmit a kind of wanton lustiness. Bacon is the perfect food with which to do so. “Sex and Lamb Patties,” after all, doesn’t quite have the frisson.
To love bacon is to sink your teeth into life, to refuse to nibble at the side salad or sip on the seltzer with a twist of lime. “Nobody wants to be wholesome, boring Betty when they could be sexy, hot-to-trot Veronica,” Sarah Katherine Lewis says. “Pour me a drink, light me a smoke, fry me up a pan of bacon, and let’s get it on.”
A recent Taco Bell commercial has played up this idea of bacon as an aphrodisiac. In order to lure male attention at a bar, a woman hides the new Bacon Club Chalupa in her purse. It’s absurd; no one with hair that glossy would suffer the indignity of diced chicken in her handbag. But the spot has prompted at least one male viewer to suggest bacon perfume. And why not? It’s probably a more seductive scent than lilacs and roses.
“Bacon is sex in a skillet,” says Dan Philips of the Grateful Palate. “It’s the ultimate aphrodisiac for all living things. Except pigs, of course.”
3. Bacon is kitsch
Of course, bacon may be rebellious and sexy, but no one is really slaying hearts in the bacon costume. Bacon is silly, too. And there is a smug irony to be had in embracing such a blue-collar breakfast meat. On the site for Archie McPhee, an online novelty store, the top-selling bacon items are bacon bandages, gummy bacon and the classic bacon wallet. (They sit proudly in the top 50 items beside the corn-dog air freshener and the yodeling pickle.) The bacon chic movement is as much about a tongue-in-cheek goofiness as it is about stiff-arming the food police. In fact, it is about doing both at once. (Maybe the perfect illustration of this is Wendy’s Baconator commercials, in which bacon is a rock star.)
“Bacon is delicious and irresistible, but also can be perceived as gross. Wearing the image of bacon on the body intensifies that duality,” says Sasha Wizansky, former Salon staffer and co-founder and art director of the San Francisco-based Meatpaper, an art magazine devoted to animal flesh, which is in itself a highbrow example of this ironic stance.
A less sophisticated example? Barney’s sells bacon-and-egg cuff links for $300. That’s like a trucker cap for button-down goofballs.
4. Bacon is an Internet joke
A friend of mine recently remarked, “If someone is wearing a bacon scarf, chances are that person has a blog.”
Blogger Sadie Fox, who also goes by the name Miss Cellania, wrote about the online bacon bonanza in a post for Mental Floss last summer. She dates the burgeoning phenomenon back to September 2006, when blogger John Scalzi momentarily captivated the blogosphere by taping bacon to his cat. If there is a better example of the sublime pointlessness of Internet memes, I cannot think of one. Oh, wait: Yes I can.
The Internet does for a trend what lighter fluid does for a tiny, flickering flame. So, if someone is taping bacon to his cat, then it only stands to reason there is a bacon flow chart and a bacon Stonehenge and bacon robots. Someone has posted a video to teach you to say “bacon” in sign language. There are dozens of bacon Facebook groups. There are, naturally, bacon blogs, including I Heart Bacon and Bacon Unwrapped, which recently celebrated its third anniversary.
Heather Lauer began Bacon Unwrapped as a joke, but she says, “I started to realize there is something about bacon that gets people incredibly excited, and that was fascinating to me.” She recently completed a cross-country bacon tour of America, and still updates her site with the latest in bacon oddities—chocolate-covered bacon, for example, or a bacon cocktail contest.
This is catnip for kook-seeking sites like Digg and Metafilter, or bloggers scrambling to fill a 10-post-a-day quota, and it’s not uncommon to find the same zany links showing up again and again. Take, for example, the jaw-dropping, truly awe-inspiring bacon tux (it’s scented!). Archie McPhee put it out as an April Fools’ joke in 2006; I discovered it on BuzzFeed a couple of months ago.
All of this creates a wink-wink atmosphere among the Web community, a group of people who have been known to enjoy an inside joke. “People now wear bacon like it’s a mark of status or tribal membership,” says Leitha Matz, a New York writer who blogs under the name Miss Ginsu and has garnered online attention for making her own bacon cake and bacon ice cream.
But when is that proverbial shark jumped? When does this become less a celebration of bacon and more like a degradation of it? Recently, a blogger wrote of her attempt to make bacon vodka. The result? It made her hurl.
5. Bacon is a crafting trend, and not just for carnivores
Of course, it’s not the Gap and Forever 21 who are selling bacon fashion products. It’s online manufacturers, many of whom sell their own handmade wares through collectives like the crafting superstore Etsy. Mandy Jouan at Sappy Moose Tree sells bacon Christmas ornaments and a bacon fridge magnet and places bacon among those nostalgia-quirk items you often see clogging a craft fair—“like owls and unicorns and skulls.”
She also adds that, “Vegetarians and vegans have told me they love my bacon magnets.” Which reminds me that the latest top-seller on Archie McPhee is the Mr. Bacon vs. Monsieur Tofu action figures. Which also reminds me that in my next life, I want to invent toys for Archie McPhee.
6. Bacon is funny
There was a “Simpsons” episode—there is always a “Simpsons” episode—in which Homer is ordering at a restaurant. “I’ll have the smiley face breakfast special. Uhh, but could you add a bacon nose? Plus bacon hair, bacon mustache, five o’clock shadow made of bacon bits and a bacon body.”
The waitress is all bored sarcasm. “How about I just shove a pig down your throat?”
Now THAT gets Homer really excited.
“I was kidding,” she replies.
“Fine, but the bacon man lives in a bacon house!”
The thing is, bacon makes people smile. Bacon taps into that unsophisticated part of our brains, our inner Homer Simpson—the childhood mind untutored by such oppressive adult realities as fat or cholesterol or moral/ethical dilemmas.
“We are living in serious times,” says Bacon Unwrapped’s Heather Lauer. “And when you walk down the sidewalk wearing a bacon scarf, you know that you are going to get a few laughs.”
“Who can’t love a bacon with a little smiley face on it?” asks Mandy at Sappy Moose. “I honestly don’t know!”
“It’s like ninjas or pirates,” says David Wahl, marketing director of Archie McPhee. Actually, it’s more like: Ohmygod, baaaacon.
7. Bacon is America
The turkey is the unofficial mascot of Americana, the 20-pound plumper we dutifully cook on our most sacred of national holidays. But really, it should be the pig. Bacon is our national meat. The pig is not an elegant animal, but it is smart and resourceful and fated to wallow in mud. A scavenger. A real scrapper.
“I see bacon as a celebration of an American birthright,” says John T. Edge. “Four slices of Hormel Black Label, hissing in a cast iron skillet on a Sunday morning. To wear the bacon colors, to sport a bacon tattoo, is to announce your belief in the possibilities of bacon, in the American goodness rendered by a low-on-the-hog meat, transmogrified by smoke and salt.”
-- By Sarah Hepola

Posted by Nuttshell on 07/07 at 06:47 PM
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The unbearable whiteness of being

Hilarious article from Salon Magazine.  The author of “Stuff White People Like” skewers the sacred cows of lefty Caucasian culture, from the Prius to David Sedaris. (Never heard of him)

July 5, 2008 |

Stuff White People Like is a satirical blog about a particular segment of Caucasian culture. It’s like an extended “you might be a redneck if” joke recast for a more upscale set. It gently mocks the habits and pretensions of urbane, educated, left-leaning whites, skewering their passion for Barack Obama and public transportation (as long as it’s not a bus), their idle threats to move to Canada, and joy in playing children’s games as adults. Kickball, anyone? (A list of the white stuff is here.)

It’s likely I don’t have to tell you about the Stuff White People Like site, because the odds are someone—someone white—has already forwarded it to you. Christian Lander, 29, who grew up in Toronto and now lives in Culver City, Calif., created the site to amuse his friends when he was working as the associate manager of corporate communications for an Internet agency last January. He doesn’t do that job anymore, because 32 million hits and a book deal later—“Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions” was published July 1—Lander’s become a professional mocker of whitey and himself.

Lander is firmly in the demographic he’s ribbing. By his own definition, he screams white. A grad school dropout, he studied film and literature in a master’s program at the University of Arizona before bailing on a Ph.D. program at Indiana University. In his author’s photo, Lander illustrates a number of things he spoofs in the book: He wears a beard, chunky glasses, shorts, a performance athletic vest, New Balance shoes and an iPod, while riding a bike and carrying a reusable water bottle, a Macintosh laptop, organic vegetables and a copy of the New Yorker.

Not surprisingly, Lander’s site has been embraced by the white culture that he lampoons, complete with an appearance on public radio’s “Talk of the Nation.” The site’s success supports Lander’s theory that, as he writes in his book, self-deprecating humor is all a part of whiteness. Lander’s site has also inspired copycat sites, such as Stuff Asian People Like, as well as hate mail accusing him of racist stereotyping and critiques that he’s pretending to poke fun at white people while actually giving them new ways to feel superior.

Salon spoke with Lander by phone from his home office, where his fixed-gear bicycle hangs on the wall, near the shelves of books, proudly displayed.

What led you to launch your site Stuff White People Like?

My friend Myles Valentin and I were both at work, and we were just having an IM [instant messenger] conversation. We were talking about “The Wire.” We’re both huge fans of the TV show “The Wire.” And then my friend Myles, who is Filipino, said he didn’t trust any white people who don’t watch “The Wire.”

From there we ended up talking about what are white people doing instead of watching “The Wire”? And we threw back a few responses, like doing yoga, getting divorced, going to therapy. And I thought it was funny.

So I went to Word Press, and I just started writing, never expecting it to be popular, just expecting Myles to read it, and maybe a few more friends back home. And that was it. It wasn’t any more of a grand scheme than that.

Obviously you’re not talking about all white people. Which white people are you talking about?

I think it doesn’t take long reading the site to figure out which white people I’m talking about. It’s mostly left-wing, upper-middle-class.

In the book, you also occasionally mention “the wrong kind” of white people. Who are the wrong kind of white people?

There are a lot of the wrong kind of white people. You have, obviously, poor, right-wing white people, and rich, right-wing white people.

Yet a lot of the stuff you write that white people like, obviously many other people like, too.

When you create a site called Stuff White People Like, it’s easy for people to make an assumption that it’s actually about stuff only white people like. It’s not meant to be exclusionary but rather a focus on the things that, well, white people like.

Let’s talk about some of them. What is the significance of bottles of water?

It’s all about ranking. It’s essentially a contest. It used to be that bottled water was a status symbol. You drink Evian, or you drink Fiji, or what is the most expensive water.

But advanced-level white people, the higher-ranking white people, realized that they were creating a lot of waste, and so they switched over to the Nalgene bottle. That also reminded them of going camping. So then they could take a stance of superiority over the people who were drinking bottled water. And then, that whole story came out about Nalgenes leaching I don’t know what the exact toxin is [Bisphenol A]. So then super-advanced white people went even further and got those metal Sigg bottles, and now you have this really solid hierarchy and ranking of white people of commercial bottled water, Nalgene bottle and either the glass or metal, twist-top bottles.

What’s the significance of an eco product, like the Toyota Prius, the carbon offset or the reusable shopping bag?

That again is another way to claim superiority over regular-level, or subpar, white people. You’re saving the environment, you’re making a difference. It helps remind you and others that your lifestyle is making things better.

Why is it important to hate evil corporations, except for Apple, Ikea and Target?

That’s one of the great contradictions of white people. For the most part, all the world’s ills are based on large, evil corporations—government corruption, American expansion through the use of corporate contracts, pollution, globalization, every bad thing that’s happened. But if it happens with nice design, it’s acceptable.

What happens if you point out these exceptions?

You’re going to really annoy white people. They do not need to be reminded. It’s like with the Prius. It’s not a good idea to remind Prius owners that the car still burns gasoline. That really pisses them off.

You are a graduate school dropout. What is the significance of graduate school?

Graduate school—it’s very important, because you sort of get this impression in the rest of the world that getting advanced degrees helps you get a higher-paying job. But interestingly, within white culture it actually gets you lower-paying jobs.

Why is that?

A Ph.D. in English isn’t going to get you a higher-paying job than, say, a Ph.D. in chemistry or law, but it does give you one important thing, which is academic credibility at cocktail parties.

But obviously, there are a lot of white lawyers.

Oh, yeah. Some of the white people, who are not quite advanced enough white people, have sold out.

What does going to law school represent?

It’s what you do when you finish with your liberal arts degree, and you start to panic about realizing that the careers available for someone who knows a lot about Proust are very limited, and you realize that you still want money. So you end up going to law school. There are people who enjoy law school, because then you can work for a nonprofit organization, and you can be very helpful.

Why is working for a nonprofit important?

White people have the constant and unabiding need to feel as though they’re helping, and because this gives them the ability to hold it over other people.

Who are the whitest celebrities?

Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rosie O’Donnell.

Is the whitest TV show “The Wire?”

It’s not the whitest TV show. It’s just a TV show beloved by white people, because it was really well done, and it got low ratings. These are two very important characteristics for white people to like a TV show. In order to be known as an ultimate white TV show, you have to make sure that you don’t last more than five seasons.

But isn’t it kind of a contradiction, because isn’t bragging about not having a TV also a sign of status?

Yes, because do you know how white people consume “The Wire”? Netflix subscription watched on their MacBook.

What do you think is the whitest TV show ever?

“Twin Peaks” is a contender. “Mr. Show” is definitely on that list. “The Simpsons” is on there, although in recent years it’s also declined a little bit.

A very important concept when you’re dealing with white people is this idea of “jumping the shark.” And “The Simpsons” is one of the best examples of that. You have to make sure that when you talk about “The Simpsons” you know exactly the appropriate moment to say when you stopped liking it.

If you say you stopped liking it too early, you look too snobby. If you say you stopped liking it too late, you kind of look like an idiot. So, the best answer is you say the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” episodes.

What’s the whitest movie ever?

This one is a challenge. “The Royal Tenenbaums” is up there. “Garden State.” “Donnie Darko” is on there. “Fight Club.”

The problem is that whatever is liked by white people, advanced-level white people have to hate it, because it was popular. The advanced levels have to have some sort of French film in there from Godard. Some people need a Japanese film that hasn’t been translated yet. You’ll get some white people who are like, “I only watch silent film.” It’s difficult.

What about the whitest band?

Right now? I have to say Vampire Weekend all the way. They’re pushing it to levels unseen.

Let’s talk about food.

Food is another important area of competition, and being able to show up other white people. Some white people get their status based on how much they know about food, like expensive ingredients or foreign cuisine. Whereas other white people gain their status based on how many things they’ve cut out of what they eat, like gluten and sugar and refined things and dairy and meat, trying to reduce as much as possible.

But universally, throughout, shopping at Whole Foods is considered the best way to go.

But what about farmers’ markets?

Unless you’re in California, where you have year-round farmers’ markets, you need consistency throughout the year, and Whole Foods provides that.

Definitely organic, when you’re talking about fruits and vegetables?

This isn’t even a question.

What meals are important?

Breakfast on the weekend, I guess you’d call it brunch, too, is one of the most important white meals, because it allows white couples to get together. Some people even bring their dogs, if they have outdoor patios. During the week for working white people, the expensive sandwich lunch is essential.

What do you mean by the expensive sandwich?

Anywhere you will find a predominance of white businesses, such as advertising agencies, nonprofit organizations, hedge funds, there will undoubtedly be a store nearby that sells sandwiches that cost between $8 and $12.

You’ve already mentioned eating outside. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of the outdoors?

It’s just where white people want to be. From the time white people are raised, they’re taught that being indoors is a bad thing, and that it’s always better to be outside. So they’re always on this constant quest to be camping or bicycling or eating outside, whatever it takes to get outside. The more time you spend outside the more credibility you have to dump on other people for not going outside.

And even if you’re not outside, you might be wearing what you call outdoor performance clothes. Why is that?

White people need to know that if someone calls them up, and says: “You want to go camping?” they’re ready at the drop of a hat. Bam, out they go. You could be in the Ikea, just leave the cart in one of the aisles, head up to some campsite.

Can you talk about the deep love of David Sedaris?

It’s hard to talk about it. It’s like talking about a love of oxygen. It’s just there.

Why David Sedaris?

They love him, because he’s funny, and he lives in France, and he’s gay. He’s like everything you could possibly want in the ideal friend. Oh, he also writes for the New Yorker. He hits so many things on the list it’s unbelievable.

On the site, I’ve been getting all these e-mails from people who have gone to his signings, and they said that it’s just like this sea of white people and huge lineups usually reserved for rock stars.

You have this quiz in your book to calculate how white you are. So, how white are you?

It’s tough for me to say this, because there is the answer based on my quiz, and then the fact that I wrote the book gives me like a bonus score. So, I’m going to say 91 percent.

So, are you like the ultimate, advanced, elite white person, because you are categorizing all the rest of them?

I think, but I know that people are gunning for me, and I don’t think that it’s going to last much longer.

Do you see yourself as critiquing this white culture, or are you kind of celebrating it?

I think I’m critiquing it, as well. I make fun of myself a lot on the site. That’s why I put my photo on there to let people know that I’m making fun of myself. It’s been a great chance for me to call out so many of my pretentious leanings.

There is such a strong belief among this type of people that you’re right, of being unwilling to listen to anything else, and I think that’s one of the things I’m trying to point out. There is a critique in there, but the top priority is to be funny.

But don’t you say that even self-deprecating humor is a marker of the white culture?

Yeah. I was trying so hard to sound smart there, and you totally called me out on it.

White people figured out an awesome way to use self-deprecating humor to compliment themselves. Like, when you talk about being “broke,” what you’re really saying is that the people with money are sellouts.

Haven’t you gotten a lot of hate mail about the site?

Yeah. I used to read all the comments on the site, when it was getting like 30,000 hits a day, and I was getting comments every couple of minutes. I was reading them all, because it was fascinating to me, and there are so many funny people out there. But as it got bigger, people left a lot of mean comments about me, about the site, so I stopped reading them entirely, because I was trying to write the book, and I just wanted to stay positive. Reading the comments broke my spirit. I’d just feel so down. But I still read every e-mail that comes in.

Are the angry commenters mad about the idea of the site, or do they feel like you’re making fun of them?

A lot of them just hate me for the fact that the site got popular. A lot of people just hate it because they think I’m being racist, but they don’t really think it through. The people who write in think that I’m perpetuating hate, and that all stereotypes are evil, and I think that they’re kind of missing the point.

The white people who like your site—are you just giving them another way to feel self-congratulatory?

Possibly. That might be part of it. It’s a funny concept that is open-ended. A lot of people can add their things that I’m missing.

To some extent I’m sure there is some self-congratulation in there, and that’s fine. I’m not a performance artist here. I’m really trying to make people laugh more than anything. If it leads to questioning, that’s great, but I think a lot of people are quite proud with how white they are, which is certainly an unintended consequence.

-- By Katharine Mieszkowski

Posted by Nuttshell on 07/07 at 06:04 PM
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