Thursday, November 18, 2010

This book at the 'White' stuff

By Meredith Deliso

Watch out, all you Lucky Strike-smoking, messenger bag-toting Brooklynites — Christian Lander has you pegged.

The man behind the popular blog, Stuff White People Like, a satirical “study” of upper-middle-class Caucasians, has gone regional.

In his new book, “Whiter Shades of Pale,” which features descriptions of, well, more stuff white people like (moleskin notebooks, disinfectant, the World Cup, to name just a few), there are illustrations that break down white people by their slight differences, based on where they live.

“My understanding of white people, through vast, was pretty much confined to Toronto, Montreal, New York, and San Francisco,” said Lander, a Toronto native who  currently lives in Los Angeles (and, for the record, is white).

“All white people are the same, but I noticed tiny, superficial differences going around the county. And there’s nothing white people love more than tiny, superficial differences. 
Just ask someone the difference between post punk and punk and you’ll find out.”

The book’s targets range from college towns of the Midwest to a music festival in Tennessee (here’s looking at you, Bonnaroo). Brooklyn has become such a type that it gets its own regional breakdown separate from New York, and the result is a portrait familiar to what you’d find in, say, Williamsburg or Fort Greene.

“The Brooklyn variety of white person is perhaps the coolest type of white person in America,” Lander writes. “They can be identified by their amazingly expensive bicycle, their disdain for Manhattan, and their unwavering belief that living in Brooklyn makes them a part of an ethnic community. The female version of the species is almost certainly a photographer, aspiring restaurant owner, or artist, while the male version is mostly made up of writers named Jonathan.”

Tell-tale signs of a Brooklynite, according to the book, include Lucky Strike cigarettes, because “it is the biggest client of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce on ‘Mad Men,’ ” and a messenger bag, because “civic bylaw 225 of Brooklyn states that all sales of fixed-gear bicycles must include a messenger bag.” 

Of course, this is a caricature of a certain type of Brooklynite; travel to Canarsie or Sheepshead Bay, and this model is moot. But that’s part of the fun, as Lander gives a pseudo-anthropological look at white people and lampoons modern yuppie culture. And, after two years at it, he’s become accustomed to the frequent backlash from people who don’t get the joke.

“You just gotta let it roll,” said Lander, who continues to get angry e-mails calling his site racist and offensive.
“At first, I was legitimately hurt, but I realized, if people take the time to hate you, it means you’re doing something right. The worst thing for a writer is apathy.”

Just ask the Jonathans.

Christian Lander reads from “Whiter Shades of Pale,” at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 666-3049], Nov. 23 at 7 pm. Free. For info, visit


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