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Archive for November, 2008

de_la_soul_1All music genres go through a very similar life cycle: birth, growth, mainstream acceptance, decline, and finally obscurity.  With black music, however, the final stage is never reached because white people are work tirelessly to keep it alive.  Apparently, once a music has lost its relevance with its intended audience, it becomes MORE relevant to white people.

Historically speaking, the music that white people have kept on life support for the longest period of time is Jazz.  Thanks largely to public radio, bookstores, and coffee shops, Jazz has carved out a niche in white culture that is not yet ready to be replaced by Indie Rock.  But the biggest role that Jazz plays in white culture is in the white fantasy of leisure. All white people believe that they prefer listening to jazz over watching television.  This is not true.

Every few a months, a white person will put on some Jazz and pour themselves a glass of wine or scotch and tell themselves how nice it is.  Then they will get bored and watch television or write emails to other white people about how nice it was to listen to Jazz at home.  “Last night, I poured myself a glass of Shiraz and put Charlie Parker on the Bose.  It was so relaxing, I wish I had a fireplace.”  Listing this activity as one of your favorites is a sure fire way to make progress towards a romantic relationship with a white person.

Along with Jazz, white people have also taken quite a shine to The Blues, an art form that captured the pain of the black experience in America.  Then, in the 1960s, a bunch of British bands started to play their own version of the music and white people have been loving it ever since.  It makes sense considering that the British were the ones who created The Blues in the 17th Century.

Today, white people keep The Blues going strong by taking vacations to Memphis, forming awkward bands, making documentaries, and organizing folk festivals.  Blue and Jazz music appeal mostly to older white people and select few young ones who probably wear fedoras.  But that doesn’t mean that young white people aren’t working hard to preserve music that has lost relevance.  No, there are literally thousands of white people who are giving their all to keep old school Hip Hop alive.

Even as you read this, white people are telling other white people about the golden age of Hip Hop that they experienced in a suburban high school or through a viewing of The Wackness.

If you are good at concealing laughter and contempt, you should ask a white person about “Real Hip Hop.”  They will quickly tell you about how they don’t listen to “Commercial Hip Hop” (aka music that black people actually enjoy), and that they much prefer “Classic Hip Hop.”

“I don’t listen to that commercial stuff. I’m more into the Real Hip Hop, you know?  KRS One, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Wu Tang, you know, The Old School.”

Calling this style of music ‘old school’ is considered an especially apt name since the majority of people who listen to it did so while attending old schools such as Dartmouth, Bard, and Williams College.

What it all comes down to is that white people are convinced that if they were alive when this music was relevant that they would have been into it.  They would have been Alan Lomax or Rick Rubin.  Now the best they can hope for is to impress an older black person with their knowledge.

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language_labThroughout history, white people have a pretty poor record when it comes to promises (see Americans, Native for examples).  Thankfully, modern white people are trying to erase the shame of the past by making promises to themselves that they will never keep.

Writing a novel, going vegan, or sending their future kid to public school are just a few of these great breakable promises.  But by far the most common self improvement promise is to learn a new language.

This plan is first formulated when white people realize that two years of college Italian does not confer fluency.  For the most part, these classes will only teach a white person how to order food in a restaurant, ask for a train schedule, and over pronounce words when they are mixed into English. Amazingly this small amount of proficiency is more than enough to warrant inclusion on a resume under “spoken languages.”

For many white people the lack of a second language is their greatest secret shame.  It fills them with so much shame that they will literally spend the rest of their lives promising to learn a new language, but not so much shame that they will actually do it.
When it comes to learning a new language, white people can follow a few paths, the most common of which is to try to learn a language that is popular in their current city.
For example, white people in places like Los Angeles or Austin, TX will often promise to learn Spanish in hopes of being able to ask local taco stands about whether or not their carne asada is grass fed (”¿Ha leído usted Michael Pollan?”).

In order to reach this level of fluency and obnoxiousness, white people believe they must put themselves into a local immersion.  This means a promise to watch only Spanish language TV, listen only to Spanish language radio, read Marquez in his native tongue, and watch foreign films with the subtitles turned off.  There are some instances of white people doing this for almost a week!

When this technique is unavailable or fails, white people will immediately turn to books and computer software as a last ditch effort to make good on their promise. After about a week, most white people will give up and blame someone for their failure (”this software is terrible,” “there aren’t enough people in Portland who speak Farsi!”). But rather than discarding the books and software packaging, white people will simply put them in the most visible part of their book shelf.  This allows white people to believe that they have not failed since they can resume their studies at any time until their death.tacotruck

Since learning a new language is something that most white people fail at, it should be approached with extreme caution. When you hear a white person say that they speak your native language, you will probably think it’s a good idea to start talking to them in said language.  WRONG! Instead you should say something like “you speak (insert language)?” to which they will reply “a little” in your native tongue.  If you just leave it here, the white person will feel fantastic for the rest of the day.  If you push it any further and speak quickly, the white person will just look at you with a blank stare.  Within a minute you will notice that blank stare has shifted from confusion to contempt.  You have shamed them and your chance for friendship is ruined forever.

Finally, though they won’t admit it, white people do not believe that learning English is difficult. This is because if it were true, then that would mean that their housekeeper, gardener, mother-in-law (if   they are an elite white person) are smarter than them.  Needless to say, this realization would destroy their entire universe.

The best technique is to just tell white people what they really want to hear: “You should move to (insert country) so you can really learn the language.” They will agree instantly and lament their employer’s lack of an office there.  Share this lament and you can enjoy a gigantic increase in trust and friendship from that white person.

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#114 America

obama

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