Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chronicle of My Whitest Day Ever

If you're unfamiliar with Stuff White People Like, take the opportunity right now to familiarize yourself. It's worth it.

Though my straight-up no-frills Eastern European heritage may beg to differ, by the SWPL standard, I am not the very whitest guy out there. Don't get me wrong; while I'm as big a fan of farmers' markets, Netflix, and wine as much as the next white dude, I can't so much get behind snowboarding, unpaid internships, or frisbee sports. This past Saturday, August 7 2010, however, may have been the whitest day of my life.

From the very beginning of any day, August 7 or any other, I have a couple of white points already in the bank. I go to grad school in Berkeley.  That means I live in the San Francisco area pretty much out of necessity, though like any self-respecting white person, I think the city is pretty great too.  August 7, though, began with me walking through downtown Berkeley wearing a t-shirt illustrating the Shins, one of my favorite indie bands.

I should have recognized it for the portent it was.

Instead, I happily and obliviously engaged my Apple iPod with three of my favorite podcasts: Grammar Girl, NPR's Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me, and The Onion Radio News.  My errands in Berkeley concluded, I headed home and surfed Facebook for a while, killing time before the evening.

I spend that evening with my friend Stephanie, who is an Asian girl.  (Full disclosure: she's Indian, but we had a lengthy and informative discussion on the matter, and we decided it counted.)  We went to Yoshi's in downtown Oakland.  While it may not appear so at first, Yoshi's is actually a doubly white establishment.  It is owned and operated by Japanese people, and it features jazz concerts.

At this point, I was finally beginning to catch on to how white the day was becoming.  When we ordered an edamame appetizer, though the garlic-flavored beans were probably delicious, it seemed only natural to pick the sea salt beans.  And it was a given that I'd order sushi at a Japanese restaurant.  (Cool rice, fishy eel;/ Piquant sauce like summer sun/ Spicy dragon roll.)

After we finished eating, it was time for the jazz concert portion of the evening.  This Gerald Albright fellow played some notes I didn't know could even come out of an alto sax and made them sound good.  Nevertheless, I was almost as taken aback by the sheer whiteness of the experience as I was by the musicianship.  Despite SWPL's assertion that jazz is a form of "Black Music that Black People Don’t Listen to Anymore," after having seen the the clientele for the concert, I'm forced to disagree.  However, this just provided an opportunity to experience diversity, and (at least in my immediate vicinity) I was the only white person around.

Two of the whitest drinks are tea and coffee.  During the concert, while I wasn't busy standing still, I enjoyed a cup of green tea.  Then, after the concert ended, we decided it was a fine evening for coffee... but downtown Oakland wasn't giving us that chance, no matter how hard we looked.  (10 pm on a Saturday night, and you're closing your coffee shop?  Thanks, guys.)  We did pass a Goodwill, though, prompting Stephanie to remark on her love of vintage.

And finally, I took the BART home, only to encounter a bunch of drunken UFC fans, apparently returning home from an event at the Oakland Coliseum.  They were so obnoxious that I found myself really hating people who wear Ed Hardy.

Currently listening: "Paint's Peeling", Rilo Kiley (sung by Jenny Lewis, a girl with bangs)

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