Martin Shkreli Helped Me To Stop Worrying And Love Brunch


I’ve had beef with brunch for a long time—not a grass-fed, organic well done steak served with a single poached egg meant to represent a child-like hope for a nice day, but the salty, gamy beef you’d get in a corned beef hash you eat at a diner on the other side of town because you’re still not ready to eat alone in places where you might run into your ex.

I hate the way brunch feeds gentrification, how it encourages people with privilege to make a reverent ritual out of their lethargy. I hate how brunch brings out the worst in people, who come from having to kill time on a Berkeley sidewalk ready to put an underpaid wait staff through their paces. I hate how their voices sound when they’re drunk on spiked orange juice. I hate the look in restaurant staff’s eyes when they see someone queer, PoC, or otherwise not conducive to the image the cafe or bistro is trying to present to its cishet, white middle class clientele. I hate how people treat brunch as a sacrament, beyond reproach by the have-nots and their concerns of racial justice.

But I hate lazy misogyny as twitter discourse. Not more, but also.

So: I’m in a hotel bar in Las Vegas. It’s day 5 of my visit. I’ve had a really shitty time. I came to BBWCon to interview fat babes in trashy lingerie about their favorite foods. But everyone can get lucky in Vegas, depending on how you define luck; sometimes even hucksters like me walk into a tailor-made fantasy to uncover a bottomless pit of exploitation, negligence, and in-fighting. Have you ever been at a strip club, looking out the side of your gaze for cops while you tip a dancer because a sex worker said she was going to get the police to raid this club because not all the girls had their stripping licenses? And have you ever ridden in a car for 9 hours in triple degree heat to attend an award show where the awards went to people involved with the company who threw the awards show?

Such to say, our time at BBWCon was so bad that, when we learned there was a sandfire in LA County, between us and home, there was no question on whether or not we would drive through it just to get as far from the memory of this awful convention experience.

I was at a low. Drinking by myself at a hotel bar while my fiancee and a friend got one last dip in the pool. My face was dry and my heart was punch-drunk. I missed the Bay. I missed the coffee and the unilateral snobbery from service staff and how even when I was the youngest person where I worked by 20 years, I could trust people around me to know the basics of consent and LGBT inclusion.

I was in a precarious position, and very susceptible.

And then, like a blaring beacon of epiphanic chagrin, Martin Shkreli, Supervillain Milquetoast, graced my twitter feed.

Martin Shkreli has definitely ordered a “cappuccino out the foam”.

Martin Shkreli would sit in a chair the wrong way, tell you he’s “gotta get real” with you,  forcibly grab you by the wrists and loudly cry along to Bright Eyes.

Martin Shkreli looks like he’d throw all his money at a stripper five minutes walking into the club and then spend the rest of the night bragging that most girls would lapdance him for free because his cock’s so big and complain that he has to pay for his drinks.

If you told Martin Shkreli to “eat shit”, he’d launch into a 10 humble-brag about how he was one of the few, if not the only American to get his hands on Un Kono Kuro—Japanese elephant shit beer—before it sold out, and that he was saving it for a party, but if it would really prove to you the sincerity of his position, he’d be willing to drink it just to keep you quiet. He says “I bet it’d be better than soylent” and lean forward with a wink as an irritating but charming attempt to find common ground.

The final test of a monk, of any denomination, on whether or not he intends to maintain an oath of “harm no living thing” would be to show them a picture of Martin Shkreli and see if they can resist punching through it.

Martin Shkreli isn’t hard to hate. And that’s why I kind of appreciate him. Not like, but appreciate; the same people who have profited or supported the same asshole economics Martin wears on his sleeve now have to denounce it in a way that doesn’t incriminate themselves, and these rhetorical acrobatics are illuminating in their own way. Shkreli is not a Megatron; he is, at best, a Soundwave, a fall guy for a wholly corrupt industry that has long danced on the backs of the bruised.

CORRECTION: Commentors on my Facebook wall have informed me that the appropriate comparison would be to Shockwave or Starscream, not Soundwave. 

Nonetheless, he inspires the spark of zeitgeist in alt-right bros, the sort who straddle “the edge” until it leaves gnarled canyons of scar tissue on their thighs, failed nice guys rebuilt by white supremacy into augmented beta males with mediocre politics and alpha male appetites for rape and racism.

And if these guys declare themselves the enemy of brunch, then mayhaps there is something to love about it. Perhaps brunch can be repurposed into a repellent for conservative men.

What if tubs of Hollandaise sauce became as common an occurrence at pro-choice rallies as gauche signs ryhming things with “uterus””?

A slice of cantaloupe in the hand of every protester blocking the freeway. Offer crepes and lingonberry compote to men at your rally who you suspect might be police. If they flinch, cast them out.

Let the aroma of spicy vegan chilaquiles greet Milo Yiannopoulos and Roosh V wherever they deign to speak out for the rights of white men.

Brunch is a vapid ritual of entitlement, and everyone who has ever made a brunch playlist has contributed in some small way to the death of their own neighborhoods—but goddam, you are not pinning this on women.

Not when the most eaten food at brunch contains eggs, milk, meat, and/or sometimes beans—all foods that are touted by MRAs as ways to build up your testosterone and resist society’s plots to feminize them with soy.

Not when the Bloody Mary was invented by a man, named after a female monarch posthumously used as proof women were not meant to be leaders.

Not when it’s white dudes leasing land to white dudes to charge me $15 for a meal my mom would make for three kids using $1.50 of ingredients. If we were feminists then, my mother and I, we would have been able to calculate the worth of her emotional and physical labor. But we’re feminists now, and I’m not very good at calculating inflation, so instead I implore you to insist that, in addition to sending women their money, men also learn how to poach eggs as proof of their commitment to partnering with women for a better world.

I am not suggesting we invade or disrupt brunch. Black Brunch does this better than any white radical can, no matter how well-meaning.

What I am suggesting is that, instead, we aid the BLM community by decentralizing brunch on the back end, saturating our political discourse with elements of brunch to render it completely un-magnificent to those that revere it and daunting for the men who hate and fear it.

When someone compares something to you in such a way as to demean it by association, you must destroy it or incorporate it into you.  Let no cishet alt-right douchebag use the fruit of the same capitalism to which he genuflects to shame or humiliate you.

Don’t have breakfast at night. Have brunch at night. Eat a fruit salad with an egg white omelette at 12am and work on anti-facist flyers with friends. Learn the route for your local protest and stake out a waiting point to give out silver dollar pancakes and orange juice to weary freedom fighters.

If the $2, 10-minute breakfast eaten while working to appease the theology of free market productivity is so sacred to conservative men, then let us shield them from all else. Let brunch creep into all other facets of life until the worst of men stay in the smallest of holes.

It’s so clear now, like artesian sparkling water: brunch must be dismantled and rebuilt, retrofitted onto the Voltron of Feminism. The things we hate can become a thing to wield, to even protect ourselves with.

Thank you, Martin. Thank you for this insight. I want you to know that I toasted you at the brunch buffet I ate in Vegas immediately after seeing your tweets.

I felt like a novice time traveler using their time machine for the first time—sick but empowered.

In August I will be introducing a regular feature of the blog where I have activists and academics join me for brunch and give me a lecture on a topic of their choice while I cook for them. 

As woman-hating feminist Madeline Albright says: there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.

And I am here to help women.

Come hell-andaise or high water.

But seriously: I have mixed feelings about the possibility of Martin Shkreli going to prison. I am hardline anti-incarceration, and wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but given the hundreds of thousands of poor women and PoC who’ve had their lives thrown down a festering pit of corruption for committing crimes a fraction of the severity of Shkreli’s, and often having to have done so to survive, I don’t think Shkreli should be suddenly spared from the indignities of incarceration just because we suddenly developed a social conscience.

The only thing that comforts me about this messy clash of desires and politics is that wherever they keep him for his likely very short sentence, they won’t serve brunch. Which I think makes both him and the people he’s harmed happy.

Well, so that’s one thing I like about brunch. If 4 more assholes come out of the woodwork, I might find enough things to like about brunch to pitch a Cracked Article.

Author: siteadmin

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