Stuff White People Like, the enormously popular website created by Christian Lander and Myles Valentin, rose to internet superfame faster than you can say "gentrification." Within six months of the site's launch, Random House came calling, waving a shiny, shiny book deal in Lander's face. He took it. Who wouldn't? (Random House—CALL ME.)
The Definitive Guide to Stuff White People Like: The Unique Taste of Millions is 150 blog posts—uh, make that chapters—with titles like "Michel Gondry," "Modern Furniture," and "Knowing What's Best for Poor People." Although the book does recycle some of the website's original content, it's still snarkily funny and well, true.
So true, in fact, that I gave Lander a call to chat with him about his newfound fame and how he knows so much about white people.
MERCURY: So how does it feel to do in six months what it took Heather Armstrong, AKA "Dooce.com," eight years to accomplish?
LANDER: It's kind of overwhelming. I mean, if someone had come up to me and asked me to create a website that would generate 2,000,000 hits a month I don't think I could have done it. But I did somehow.
You sure did. According to The Internet, your book deal netted you around eleventy million dollars.
Random House doesn't really want me to comment on the money aspect...
Sure, sure. I understand. I just wanted to know two things: First, do you wear golden pants?
Ha. No, not yet. Just regular pants material. We'll see what happens after the book comes out.
I can't wait. And second, are there diamonds where your eyes should be?
I don't support the diamond trade.
Really? Even if they're non-conflict diamonds?
No, diamond mining is still terrible for the environment. So, no. However, if the book sells well I might put rolled-up hundred dollar bills in my eyes. How's that?
Okay. Soooo, can I have $3,000?
Well, I had to ask.
Sure, well, you'll never know if you don't ask. You know, it's funny. You're the very first person to ask me for money since this all happened.
Not even your friends and family?
Nope. You're the first.
What sort of research goes into each "chapter"?
I still refer to them as posts or blog posts.
Because you're old-school internet. Six-months-old school.
Right. Well, to answer your question, 29 years of being a white person who likes stuff went into it.
"Portland" is Chapter #111 in your book. You say we are headed for a Lord of the Flies-type situation—tell me more about that. It sounds exciting.
Well, basically Portland is in a situation where a group of people is left alone in an area with no one to keep them in check. Eventually the euphoria and self-congratulation will turn into mass murder.
I feel like vegans on fixies will be the breaking point for that.
When people give you new White People topics, do you want to punch them in the face or is it nice?
Oh, well, I don't get recognized on the street or anything, but when I'm introduced to someone and I tell them what I do, sometimes they give me ideas. I don't mind at all. I'm still new to all of this, so I wouldn't ever be like, "I'm too important to listen to you" or whatever. So yeah, it's great. And people email the website all the time with tips and ideas.
Incidentally, I think you're wrong about white people getting all their news from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I get all my news from Gawker. Apparently, they don't think your blog is all that funny. How does that make you feel?
Oh, I don't have a very thick skin yet for bad press or negative comments so I try not to pay attention to any of that.
So that's a definite no on the $3,000 then.
Yes. I mean, NO.