Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Whole Lot Of Stuff White People Like In Melbourne

Not Liking Football
Sport is popular with the wrong type of white Melburnian, and the most popular sport amongst these people is Australian football. It is no accident that Melbourne is considered Australia’s sporting capital AND its art capital because art is the best way to hide your love of football. In the white Melburnian brain, art and football are mutually exclusive. If you profess an interest in one, everybody will assume you hate the other. Melburnian white people do this to hide their shame, because all of them carry around little shards of pain in their hearts caused by North Melbourne’s shock loss to Adelaide in the 1998 Grand Final, or the 1996 merger of the Fitzroy Lions with the Brisbane Bears, or Essendon’s agonising one point loss to Carlton at the ‘G in 1999.

White Melburnians love comparing football with homosexual sex. If this sounds weird, don’t worry. In Melbourne it is perfectly normal to discuss man-to-man anal sex if the conversation veers towards football. This is because white people in Melbourne are so uncomfortable talking about footy as it might reveal how devastated they were when Carlton got pumped on the weekend. This horrible sense of shame makes anal sex a comparatively easy concept to engage with. So when Richo does his hammy and that shard of pain wells up in their hearts just say something like, “Yeah footy, it’s so homoerotic, don’t you reckon?”

Fingerless Gloves
Melbourne White people love doing things differently, which is why they all wear fingerless gloves. White Melburnians will tell you fingerless gloves are worn for warmth, but that’s obviously not true because proper gloves are even warmer. The real reason is they make them look poor. They also help them mark the Sherrin in the wet.

Filled with oppressively friendly men who ‘just want to give you a massage,’ Confest is sort of what you imagined the seventies to be like, except with a lot more AIDS and variants of hepatitis. White Melburnians like Confest because they get to experiment with creating a perfect society, which for them means being able to fuck anyone they want. Don’t sit down in the sauna because it’s the equivalent of touching a thousand naked and sweaty assholes.

Dirty 3 gig at Meredith Music Festival in 2004
Because the average age of the typical white Melburnian is twenty-five, it’s not plausible for them to claim they attended the Nirvana gig at the Palace in 1992. In 1992, all of today’s white Melburnians were about seven years old and living in Mount Waverley. This is where the Dirty 3 show comes in. It’s a gig that strengthens white Melburnian culture by providing an event around which its members can experience a sense of shared belonging. If you are new to white Melburnian culture, ask someone, “what’s Meredith like?” White Melburnians have talked each other to death over this show (remember: all of them were there), so a newcomer could easily parachute their way into a new friendship group by getting them to rehash their experiences to a fresh audience.

The Dirty 3 played at dusk on the Saturday night as storm clouds gathered over the stage. Thunder could be heard in the distance. Both literal and metaphorical electricity was in the air. The violinist had big hair, and everybody swore it was standing on end because of the lightning in the atmosphere. I don’t remember what happened after that.

Lentil As Anything
Who would want to eat at a restaurant where it takes thirty minutes to get a table, ten minutes to get a menu, and forty-five minutes to get food? White Melburnians, of course! On the walls are adverts for drummers, rooms for rent, poetry nights and upcoming Dirty 3 shows. There are only two tables worth sitting at in Lentil As Anything. There’s the large bench out the back with pillows and cushions, and then there’s the table up the front with the world map stuck to it. This gives Melbourne white people a chance to discuss the countries they’ve been too and the countries they want to go too, all of which are either in Asia or South America.

The food is all vegetarian and you can pay what you want for your meal. The owners have succeeded in creating a reasonably successful business using an artful combination of trust and guilt. There is a large padlocked wooden dropbox on the front bench where you deposit your money. Just remember to bring lots of loose change and some five dollar notes.

One of my friends made a wallet out of an empty Bonsoy carton because she is so goddamn sustainable, but white Melburnians love this product mostly because it’s hard to find. It’s not in the soy milk section as you would expect. It’s in the health food section. There was recently a Facebook rumour that Bonsoy was set to become unavailable in Melbourne which meant everyone stocked up in bulk. It was even harder to find after that. Bonsoy is soy milk you have to strive for.

Northcote does not make sense. Positioned in the heartland of suburbia, a whopping nine stops away from the city (comparable to North Brighton, Ormond and Murrumbeena) it has somehow managed to defy geography and pass itself off as a gritty inner city urban wonderland. The brilliance of this suburb is only magnified when you go there and discover it’s mostly just a few kebab joints and a massive indoor shopping centre with Kmart, two Coles, Donut King and a fucking Bakers Delight. This is stuff the wrong white Melburnians like! I don’t know how, but Northcote has brainwashed Melbourne white people. Go there to experience genius.

Mulled Wine
This drink lets white Melburnians combine two of their favourite drinks – red wine and chai - into one slightly nauseating drinking experience. The spices are also good for masking the flavour of cheap red wine.

Moroccan Soup Bar
After eating at The Moroccan Soup Bar, you’ll probably feel distressed and wonder, “How does a restaurant with only one good dish have a line out the door night after night?” But think about it. Do you think there’d be a line out the door if the place was called The English Soup Bar or The Tasmanian Soup Bar? Not a chance. This restaurant is in Fitzroy North, the only suburb in Melbourne where people talk about Morocco. Either they’ve been there or want to be there. If you mention you’ve been to Morocco while dining at The Moroccan Soup Bar, prepare to answer questions about what you ate. This is a cruel question because anyone who’s been to Morocco will know that all you ate were burgers, fries, croissants and those weird red meat sausages.

Dropping the ‘North’ from your suburb
If you believed white Melburnians, you’d think the suburbs of Fitzroy North and Carlton North were barren wastelands filled with abandoned houses and stray cats. That’s because people who live in these suburbs never admit it. Instead, they say they live in “Carlton”, or “Fitzroy.” If you live in a northern suburb, your status as a white Melburnian is augmented if you live in the southern parts because they are closer to the city. Thus white Melburnians get more status if they live in Carlton or Fitzroy instead of Carlton North or Fitzroy North. But you can’t ask white Melburnians directly because they are notoriously deceptive. You have to read between the lines by asking questions like, “So how long does it take to get to the city?” If the response is, “Oh, only 15 minutes by bike,” they are lying. Carlton and Fitzroy are only five to ten minutes from the city by bike. These people really live Carlton North or Fitzroy North. But some Melbourne white people are smart and will know what you’re doing. In that case you have to get them talking about their neighbourhoods (most white Melburnians are dying to tell you where they live) and keep an ear out for key words such as: St Georges Road; Piedemontes; Edinburgh Gardens; cemetery; VicRoads. If these are mentioned, chances are they live in Carlton North or Fitzroy North.

At Ceres, white Melburnians get to do everything they normally do except they get to feel like they are Making A Difference while doing it. So at Ceres you’ll see white Melburnians riding bikes, white Melburnians gardening, and white Melburnians drinking espresso coffee (fair trade). Feeling like you’re Making A Difference is a central pillar of white Melburnian culture. Whether or not you actually Make A Difference is irrelevant. The important thing is to appear as if you are doing so.

Since exercise and sport are something the wrong type of white Melburnians do, Melbourne white people must find ways to get around this and the answer is fire-twirling. It requires hand-eye co-ordination, dexterity, good reflexes and it’s slightly dangerous– just like sport! Yet fire-twirling does not require cardio fitness, so you won’t be building any annoying muscles or lung capacity, and it takes place at night meaning you won’t get a healthy tan. These characteristics are celebrated by the wrong type of white Melburnian. In fact, being fit is so anathema to the Melbourne White Person it is customary to say “well that’s my exercise for the day” after running for a tram. Feel free to lay on the hyperbole. Tell everybody it was your exercise for the week, the month or even the year! It will not sound out of place. It is also important to breathe heavily as you say this.

Tibetan Prayer Flags
You might wonder why staunch atheists openly display prayer flags. This is because Eastern religions that aren’t Islam appeal to white Melburnians. Melbourne white people love Peace, so they like religions they consider peaceful, such as Buddhism. It doesn’t even matter that many Buddhist countries are some of the most war-torn on Earth.

ACCA (Australian Centre of Contemporary Art)
White Melburnians love art, and since Melbourne is widely considered to be Australia’s art capital, it is very important to have a decent knowledge of at least one area of art. White Melburnians love ACCA because it is hard to get too. It’s not centrally located like ACMI (Australian Centre of the Moving Image) or the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). But beware - if you overhear white Melburnians talking about ACCA, tread carefully. The worst mistake you could make at this point is confusing ACCA with Jason ‘Aka’ Akermanis, a star player for the Western Bulldogs football team. Remember, football is popular with the wrong type of Melbourne white people. If you make this mistake you will never be friends with a white Melburnian again.

Shanghai Dumpling House
White Melburnians love this place because it’s cheap, but mostly because it’s in an alley. The patronage is also about 15% Asian, which isn’t enough to freak out white Melburnians, but enough to make them feel as if they are escaping white culture. The owners like it too, because they know they can save money by reducing the amount of chili and other seasonings in their product, as the average white Melburnian discovered soy sauce in the mid nineties.

Hating on Sydney
White Melburnians are going to read this and say "What the hell is Sydney doing on this list? The only list I'd tolerate Sydney being on is a World's Shittest Cities List!" Et cetera et cetera. Then they'd bang on about how Sydneysiders traded culture and style for geography and climate two hundred years ago. They'd make the point that when Sydneysiders praise their city they only talk about factors outside of human control, such as weather and the beach and blah fucking blah. They would also argue that while Melbourne beaches aren't as pretty, at least they're not packed with British backpackers and race rioters. Then they'd go on about global warming and how in the future Melburnians will be able to grow avocadoes and bananas while Sydneysiders will get hurricanes and malaria. White Melburnians are so pathetic sometimes! I like Sydney. It's Australia's only global metropolis.

Earthchoice Dishwash Liquid
White Melburnians love anything that’s cheap and good for the environment. Even if it comes in plastic and contains the known skin irritant, sodium laureth sulphate. Earthchoice Dishwash Liquid is the Morning Fresh of our generation.

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
Tourism (‘travel’ in white Melburnian vernacular) is very important in white Melburnian culture because, like op shopping, it allows them to consume without feeling guilty. Because the Australian dollar is one of the strongest currencies in the region, a white Melburnian can feel like they are consuming less because they are only spending twenty to thirty dollars per day. Your status will be boosted by a visit to any of these countries, but doubled if you visit all of them and/or remain in the region for at least three months. Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam were recently war-torn, but have a robust tourist infrastructure in place, enabling you to pass yourself off as a swashbuckling adventurer in the jungles of South East Asia while enjoying the same level of customer service as Thailand and Bali (popular with the wrong type of white Melburnian). To put your travel credentials beyond doubt, make sure to purchase a Caution! Mines! Cambodia! tshirt.

Pronouncing Chile as 'Chil-AY'
Previously pronounced as 'chi-li', Melbourne white people now refer to the nation of Chile as 'chil-AY'. This sometimes also applies to Haiti, where it gets said as 'hi-AY-ti' or something like that. While the only Chilean I've met said 'chi-li', he also said he was going to put poison in my food, so I haven't met a reliable verifier. In any case, remember that white Melburnians are happy to mispronounce other places in the Americas, such as Maryland and Arkansas, so don't worry about those. Just make sure to emphasise the 'AY' parts of Latin American place names if you want to appear knowledgeable and worldly.

Pretending to Hate Cars
White Melburnians love road trips but hate cars. This is because road trips let them enjoy cars without feeling guilty. When a white Melburnian gets behind the wheel a type of alchemy occurs – for them the act of driving is magically different compared to when other white people do it. Their love of crude machinery from the early 1900s is sublimated in various ways – it’s a means to see Mexico or a way to save the forests of East Gippsland. This is similar to how it’s acceptable for white Melburnians to be in the Hungry Jacks drive-thru between the hours of 3am and 6am.

Movies That Make You Think
All white Melburnians are sophisticated and intellectual so they like movies that make them think. If you want to see an action movie just go by yourself. Don’t even mention it. White Melburnians will do this thing where they scrunch up their nose when you talk about action movies. Below is a transcript of a conversation between me (Ben) and a white Melburnian friend (WMF) when I asked if he wanted to see The Kingdom, an action movie set in Saudi Arabia starring Jamie Foxx.

Ben: Hey you wanna see The Kingdom?
WMF: Errrrrr, do you think it'll be good?
Ben: OF COURSE it will be good. It's an ACTION MOVIE!
WMF: Errrrr, it's gonna be terrible. It'll be racist and it'll be shit because Hollywood doesn't understand terrorism and Islam and Saudi Arabia and blah fucking blah.

But who does? Of course the message is going to be confusing and jumbled and insensitive. It's HOLLYWOOD! Hollywood doesn't even know shit about Hollywood. I'm not expecting intelligent and thoughtful insights into globalisation and terrorism in a post - 9\11 world because when I want that I go to a fucking library. Movies are about entertainment! Can’t you come with me anyway and just interpret the movie through Foucault’s power/knowledge thing?

One of the most outrageous things a white Melburnian can do is wear their trackies outside. It's seriously a radical act for them. This is because trackies are comfortable, bland and still popular with the wrong type of white Melburnian, ergo - they are not obviously ironic. Irony takes time. It will take another five years before we can wear Limp Bizkit tshirts. Wear one now and everyone thinks you're a fan. So if you're hanging out with white Melburnians be prepared to hear them say things like: "I rolled out of bed at eleven so I just threw on my trackies!" Or, "I wore my trackies down Chapel street. I must have looked like I just rolled out of bed!" There is an implicit assumption that the wider community will care about their choice of pants. Stories about your trackies are conversation gold for white Melburnians. Just remember to act awestruck when they tell you theirs.

Pretending To Be A Nerd
Because it's uncool to acknowledge you're cool, and since making an effort to be cool is uncool, it's now cool for white Melburnians to pretend they are uncool.

The Monthly
Sort of like The New Yorker but four times less frequent and about half as interesting, White Melburnians read The Monthly because it makes them appear literary, which is kind of nerdy and therefore cool. Also, since it's published in Collingwood, most white Melburnians know someone who knows someone who works there. They will not hesitate to tell you this. But you're only allowed to act impressed if this someone is a member of the editorial staff.

Acknowledging the Wurundjeri
You might notice how very awkward white Melburnians sound while acknowledging the Wurundjeri. It's because they've been working up the courage to say that for two hundred years.

White Melburnians are too urbane for donuts but they eat churros because they love anything with a foreign sounding name. For example - yoga, latte, chai, chai latte, Al Qaeda and Franco Cozzo.

The World Section of The Age
Even though the World Section of The Age is mostly a snapshot of what the USA is doing, white Melburnians love it because it usually has colourful photographs of their favourite type of poor person (the ones who don't live in Australia).

The Windsor End of Chapel Street
Chapel Street is the continuum upon which Melbourne white people orient themselves. It is also a test. If you want to be friends with a white Melburnian you must openly dislike Chapel Street, but always throw in a caveat about the Windsor end being “alright.” The South Yarra end has the wrong type of white Melburnian, because they like cars instead of bikes, go to Bali instead of Cambodia, drink at clubs instead of pubs or bars, and they prefer designer labels from designers instead of designer labels from op shops. In white Melburnian culture, consumerism is bad except when it’s not. Since this doesn’t make sense, just say “the Windsor end is alright,” and you will be fine.

Notable Mentions
Triple R and PBS, Daniel Kitson, Copenhagen-Style Bike Lanes, David and Margeret, My Disco, Camberwell Market, Aesop, High Vibes, Degraves street, leggings, Getting Kicked Out Of Pony.

What'd I miss?