Read an Excerpt
(Excerpt from the Introduction White Guys: A Closer Look)
Anyone who ever watched a National Geographic special on Africa knows that each tribe is different. Some tribes feature guys who are tall; some feature guys who are short (but lethal with a blow dart). Some tribes speak entirely in clicks. Others spend their days wandering the desert in search of food, shade and Coca-Cola bottles falling from the sky. (footnote: This from The Gods Must Be Crazy, which was an Australian movie, not a National Geographic special; but why quibble when we’re talking about a place with no oil whatsoever?)
White guys are a loose collection of tribes featuring their own unique rituals, cuisine, habitat, political systems and modes of dress. (footnote: The Professional Golfers’ Association (pga), grunge musicians and goths are but three examples. And Santa Monica mailmen, who deliver in khaki shorts.) Some white guys are tall (highly electable); some are tiny (but good listeners). Some wander the desert in search of a miracle (also known as Middle Eastern emocracy) and speak in incomplete sentences (see the collected speeches of the president of the United States). Others set up shop on the outskirts of villages (the suburbs), erecting temples to the family and filling them with plasma televisions, sports equipment and automobiles, then installing elaborate home protection devices that go off at inappropriate moments and annoy the hell out of the neighbours.
White guys have always been meticulous about record keeping, and you know what they say about who gets to write history: what oral tradition? We’ve got it in writing, pal.
Since white guys have written quite a bit of human history, we tended to come off pretty well, at least until the mid-’60s or so. Thanks to all those Vietnam draft dodgers who ended up getting faculty positions in Canada, the last forty years have been filled with dissenting voices, or, barring that, some highly dubious clothing combinations, a lot of sensible shoes and skyrocketing sales for acoustic-guitar-playing singer-songwriters. What seems to be missing from the discourse, however, is a comprehensive, objective, academic, thoroughly researched study of the various tribes of white guys and our rituals, beliefs and (property) values.
There won’t be one when you reach the end of this book, either, but it will have to do. Come on, I mean, do you really want statistics that prove shit? Know who invented statistics? A white guy with a sailing ship, in about the sixteenth century, trying to talk someone with money into financing his next road trip across the ocean. You can get statistics to prove anything.
Living, as we do, in a high-strung, conflict-strewn planet filled with “evil villains” who seek to harm truth tellers and believers in justice and democracy, it just seems to be a good moment to do a quick fact check on this perspective on the world. After all, when you live at a time of religious war, nuclear proliferation and climate change, getting it wrong could be the final mistake you get to make.
Question: Who dropped not one but two nukes, killing several hundred thousand non-white guys? Who launched one of the most enduring religious crusades of all time? Who has done way, way more than their share of eroding the ozone layer?
Answer: Are you warming to my theme yet?
(Excerpt from White Guys around the World)
Bay Area White Guy
Bay Area White Guy is against L.A., which goes without saying, and still gets a tingle every time the Giants beat the Dodgers, even though he is against baseball, because sport is the opiate of the masses. Bay Area White Guy is against celebrity, and wishes there were rules against those horrible people even existing. He is against tech in general and believes the world would be better of if we all just got to know our community better, although he does love the email and the blog. He is dead set against the pharmaceutical industry, who he considers just this side of war criminals, although he did get quite a life from going on Paxil for six months after the second wife left with the contractor who fixed up the Haight-Ashbury place.
Okay, he’s even against people like him, but that’s the one thing that makes him different from everyone else in this chapter: irony.
Bay Area White Guy got rich being against shit.
Is it a great country or what?
Of course, now that he has hit his prime years and become a member of the economic, social and political mainstream, Bay Area White Guy is more against shit than ever. Being against shit made him rich; why can’t kids today see that being against shit is the best way to get anywhere in this stinking, corrupt, materialistic, celebrity-driven culture? You want someone to notice the brand you’re pushing, even if that brand is you?
Be against it!
These are a return to the glory days of a sort for Bay Area White Guy. What with the kids off to their media industry internships, the wife on her national yoga tour that grosses more than most bands could ever dream about, and the bank account full, Bay Area White Guy has taken to blogging his thoughts about all the things he’s against.
And what do you know?
Millions of people across the country are just as against shit as he is.
(Excerpt from Optional Ending: For People Who Don't Have Time To Read the Whole Book)
We realize that books require a commitment of time and mental energy that many people choose not to make these days, what with Facebook, iPhones, saving the environment, House, The Office, Guitar Hero and whatnot.
Rather than explaining all the reasons why you really ought to read books, we have gone the next best: here, in a few pithy bullet points, is everything I’ve said in the previous couple hundred pages, boiled down to a few bright and breezy concluding thoughts.
You Know You’re a White Guy If . . .
Customs actually believes you thought it was cloves, and tells you to have a nice stay in their country.
Crossing things off your list is your most satisfying act of the day, next to checking your Blackberry and fantasizing about cashing in frequent-flier miles.
You’ve ever dreamed of being a pro bull rider.
You know all the words to more than three Bruce Springsteen songs. How can you not? “Had a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack / I went out for a ride ”
You used to be into death metal, but prefer alt country these days.
Arcade Fire totally rules.
Your deep, dark secret is that you don’t really have one.
You don’t see race everywhere you look. Can’t we move on?
What’s really wrong with the country is all this political correctness.
You secretly really enjoyed Mamma Mia! The ’70s were actually kind of fun.
You think Halle Berry is hot. Okay, this makes you a guy.