On January 26, 2000, the group Rage Against the Machine stood on the steps of Federal Hall to film the Musical clip for “Sleep Now in the Fire”, a song from the band’s 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles. Michael Moore directed the clip; in it, he is shown arguing with the NYPD. Towards the end of filming, the film crew and band attempted to enter the New York Stock Exchange and the scene degenerated into chaos. In interviews, guitarist Tom Morello says Moore shouted at the band, “Take the New York Stock Exchange. “
Perhaps that feeling stuck with Travis Boersma, and not the way Moore had expected. Boersma, who co-founded Oregon-based coffee chain Dutch Bros., rang the New York Stock Exchange bell on September 15 in honor of the company’s public offering. Dutch Bros, which started out as a coffee cart from two dairy farmers at Grants Pass, now operates more than 400 locations across the country, selling caramel and pumpkin cold brew, almond and chocolate sodas. strawberry white and lemon poppy seed muffins (only the tops); now that the company has gone public, Boersma hopes to reach 4,000 sites nationwide. The mostly drive-through coffee kiosks are known for their cheerful staff whom the company calls “broistes, and society various charitable causes and fundraisers.
So when Boersma arrived at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the bell, he decided to dress in a way that reflected the company’s brand: an inside-out baseball cap, flip flops, sunglasses and, presumably for good, a Rage Against the Machine shirt. . Maybe Boersma just took the shirt from the pile of laundry, threw it in a suitcase, and headed for New York without really considering the context. Maybe he thought the shirt was a statement piece, an “I’m not like other fashion choice of presidents. But either way, the irony of a man in a Rage Against the Machine shirt making his company $ 484 million in its initial public offering and turning into a billionaire in a single day is palpable.
In a week when the progressives have spit Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s choice to wear her “tax the rich” dress at the Met Gala, Boersma’s shirt went under the radar. Isn’t a man making millions in a shirt representing a group that has criticized American greed something we should be questioning? At least Ocasio-Cortez didn’t actively do millions while wearing his sort of misguided political statement, and, like Samhita Mukhopadhyay argues in her piece for the Cup, at least the dress sparked some real conversation. Nobody writes thought-provoking articles about Travis Boersma’s t-shirt choices – except me, I guess.
Of course, this comparison only makes sense if Boersma intended to make a political statement; chances are he’s just a guy who loves rock from the late ’90s, early’ 90s and, I don’t know, nuns with guns.
The company’s behavior in the face of issues of injustice would support this possibility: there is a veneer of toxic positivity and quiet neutrality covering just about every Dutch brother in the country. In 2019, the Dutch brothers withdrew its support for Oregon’s carbon cap bill; a company spokesperson defended the position saying “Dutch Bros don’t take political positions”. In 2020, the management of the company asked the sites to knock down all Black Lives Matter signs in cafes; in a press release, a company spokesperson said, “We removed the signs not because we don’t support the Black Lives Matter movement… and inclusion. By choosing to focus internally, conversations related to race and white supremacy could remain behind closed doors, out of the sight of its clients.
But separating Rage Against the Machine from its political message sounds like the biggest insult to the group. The rage was inherently political – in every song, in every album, in every performance. Zack de la Rocha has regularly raged against the military-industrial complex, police brutality and capitalism. The group attended, performed and sparked protests. I mean, it’s even in the name. In the summer of 2020, a Twitter user complained that Morello expressed his political views in his music as if it were a recent development. “What music were you a fan of that did NOT contain ‘political BS’? ” Morello tweeted in response. “I need to know so that I can remove it from the catalog. “
In the first verse of “Sleep Now in the Fire” de la Rocha says, “So raise your fists and walk / Don’t dare take what you need / I will imprison and bury those who are committed / And suffocate the stay in greed. ”Hopefully Boersma can still breathe.
• Dutch brothers [Official]
• Dutch Bros Coffee IPO prepares Oregon’s new billionaire [Forbes]
• The big day of the Dutch Bros on Wall Street [PBJ]
• Rage Against the Machine – “Now sleep in the fire” [YouTube]