The internet is, by design, stuffed with sticky images meant to haunt our daily affairs. This week alone, I have been besieged by involuntary recollections of that tweet about Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend's swollen testicles, this video of Shawn Mendes telling Camila Cabello she is "giving Cher," and Frank Ocean holding a little green robot baby at the Met Gala.
Legitimate questions about the havoc this is wreaking on my brain chemistry aside, I wanted to hold public space for something truly special—the kind of internet image so brazen in its absurdity that it transcends a mere scoff, instead festering in the mind like a wound that would make David Cronenberg reach for the Dramamine.
I am speaking, of course, about the photo of the Dutch Bros. guy ringing the bell of the New York Stock Exchange in a Rage Against the Machine T-shirt. By "the Dutch Bros. guy," I mean cofounder Travis Boersma, and by "a Rage Against the Machine T-shirt," I unfortunately mean exactly that.
When the mega-popular Oregon drive-through coffee chain, which is based in Grants Pass, went public on Wednesday, Boersma made the trek to Manhattan to join business history, and he could have worn anything at all. A suit, perhaps. A Pendleton shirt, to nod to his Beaver State roots. If he had worn Ed Hardy, or a crewneck that read "I HATE COFFEE," I would have been like, "Oh, weird!" and then moved on with my day.
But no. Boersma (whose company, it must be noted, will be listed on the NYSE merely as "Bros") wore a goddamn Rage Against the Machine T-shirt to the New York Stock Exchange and then carried out an act that would soon make his sugar-poisoned coffee empire worth more than $3 billion.
Now, look. I do not know that much about Rage Against the Machine. I could vaguely sketch out Tom Morello's leftist political ideals for you, and at some point in my time knocking around Planet Earth I have absorbed a Rage song or two into my tiny little brain. But even I, a professed RATM-agnostic, understand that wearing this T-shirt to the literal New York Stock Exchange while claiming to rage against the machine of, like, Starbucks, is a Marie Antoinette-ass situation. Lucille Bluth would look at this photograph and say, "Boy, Michael, this guy is out of touch."
For some reason, I cannot let go of this. Maybe it's his backwards hat? Maybe it's the unresolved trauma I suffered as a rural Oregon high schooler in the early 2010s, forced to navigate a social culture under the thumb of Boersma and Co.'s syrupy nonsense. Maybe it's the fact that an Oregon coffee billionaire donned a Rage Against the Machine T-shirt and then walked into the fucking New York Stock Exchange to do normal New York Stock Exchange stuff.
Honestly, you have to respect it. This man is supernaturally unencumbered; there is clearly no way he has ever seen a tweet before, (despite this) and for that, I offer a toxic mix of envy and esteem. I am sure that, within the hour, our ever-churning culture will present me with a new fixation that puts Travis and his hammer out of mind completely. But for now? This man and his backwards hat are the landlords of my brain.
Hope he drank a Rebel when he was done.