the last chairbender – our hero for 2020 III.

artwork by zach raw, @zachrawartwork

It would come through my feed the day after Christmas, a blip through the transom that arrived at my eyes via retweet by an internet stranger friend. What was it about it that made me click when so many other videos of the same ilk before had not, I cannot now recall. But it would become one of those moments that for a brief moment united so many on Twitter and one that those of us that were there will not soon forget.

I’d been sitting back watching things unfold since that late October day when new ownership took over, biding my time, at first with a sense of utter bemusement, watching the richest man in the world piss boatloads of money away while also seeming to lose his mind and then with a sense of utter horror as he banned journos and linktrees and changed the rules every day as he invited all of the trolls and nazis and insurrectionists back with open arms while trying to charge us all eight dollars in a futile attempt at recouping all of the pennies he can. All I kept thinking over and over, I mean, besides “if Kara Swisher isn’t gonna pay, then I won’t pay either.” Even though Kara Swisher is a well respected, established journalist with, like, however many tens of thousands of followers and I am decidedly not and have prolly a tenth of hers, if I’m lucky. All I kept thinking, though, besides that was “thanks a fucking lot, Jack,” while restraining myself from tweeting at him a strongly worded and likely profane thread of my thoughts on how all of these fucking billionaires out here just love admiring each other’s wieners, figuratively speaking, of course, while they ruin everything we love and exploit the flip out of everyone while they do it.

It wasn’t, for me, the actual content, the brawl, but the commentary. Other than boxing at the Wild Card in L.A., I do not condone violence and really just most of the time am not into the whole viral fight clip scene. It’s actually quite novel that it had even come through my feed because they just really don’t, usually. Clearly, someone else was as enthralled by the witty online repartee as I was. I mean, look how @EastsideBodega puts it in their analysis – graceful, succinct. And then @BanUnsweetTea opens another line of discourse on the matter. Before this night I had not realized the extent to which an outbreak of violence is not an odd occurrence at Waffle Houses across America, nor that it is widely known by many that Waffle House employees across America are Seal Team six level fighters. The extent of my familiarity with the chain prior to this was just that my girlfriend in the nineties never took me there all the times I visited her back in Ohio.

It was sad, seeing first the parade of salute emojis sail by, the then ubiquitous sign off of the massed lay offed Tweeps, the first casualties of Apartheid Lonnie’s axe, followed by journos and queers and trans people leaving en masse, posting their new handles on Mastodon and Project Mushroom before apartheid Lonnie would ban links to those, too. Of course Jack is working on something new. It’s called Blue Sky and I can’t help but wonder whether Jack is tech’s Lucy, his new platform the football, and guess who’s Charlie Brown in this scenario?

Waffle House Wendy, The Last Chairbender, The Waffle House Avenger, just a few of the very clever sobriquets thought up by the glorious internet — well, of course she would soon emerge to tell us her tale. A Cajun from southern Louisiana, she had worked for Waffle House off and on for the past few years, lamenting the “white boy” manager that called the police. She was written up after the brawl, but only for throwing the sugar shaker, still, she said, she ended up blacklisted when she applied there again after moving to Austin, TEE. Someone remarked that it maybe looked like her life hasn’t been all sunshine and moonbeams and she said it brought a tear to her eye. And she would clap back at the M@Gas online, she would not be a hero for them.

She was the hero that no one saw coming, a blip in the transom from over a year ago now – perfect for 2023. Or as someone on Twitter put it, 2020 III. Cause let’s face it, we all have seen some stuff over these past three years. Hell, past seven years if we’re counting Dump Truck’s Donnie’s Runaway Circus, just one long American Acid Trip of Terror — a nation of warriors, knocking the chair, or whatever gets thrown out of the way.

Got canned? You got this, knock the chair outta the way. That place was toxic, anyway. Cyclone bomb going off in your neighborhood? Well, you survived the fires that year so knock the chair outta the way. Proud Boys showing up at your town’s drag queen story hour? Like I said.

Sometimes now the sounds cuts out on videos. And when you search a hashtag Chinese language bots show up. Folx are turning their comments off and saying it’s only a matter of time and it’s sad, the impending loss of these moments that make it so unique and silly and odd. But also important and meaningful — Wendy Davis’ filibuster, Ferguson, artists and sex workers, creatives making a living, even the shit show at Congress last night, watching worlds unfold in real time. I guess we’ll just enjoy it while we still have it.

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