Wow, You Can’t Even Pound A Quart Of Whiskey At The Airport For Less Than $60 Anymore
12:01 PM EDT on September 21, 2023
Sometimes I forget that David Brooks exists. There is a form of irrelevance available only to a certain caste of sinecured New York Times opinion writers, those whose express job is reassuring aging moneyed whites that they're right to distrust and be disgusted by every person or movement or sensibility that reached their attention any later than their own first gray hair. This grim, world-killing work will be done, and will be done in the opinion pages of the Times, and will never so much as iterate in any meaningful way, which means that its individual practitioners can just kind of disappear into the field's great gray bulk. What does it matter that any one of them ever was called "Pamela Paul" or "Bret Stephens" or "Thomas Friedman" or "David Brooks"? You don't need to know each serac's name, or even whether any of them have names at all, to recognize a glacier.
Personally I have not thought even once about David Brooks since the deranged 2019 column in which he invented a wholly fictional character with no relationship to reality—"one of those fanatics on the alt-right and the alt-left, the ones who make online forums so vicious, the ones who cancel and call out, the minority of online posters who fill the air with hate"—so that he could paint, like, college progressives who think that billionaires ought to pay taxes, or that sex creeps should face social consequences, as equivalent to explicitly genocidal fanatics on the far right, and then told readers about how this imaginary character would have come to be, if he had, which he had not. (No points for guessing that it involved parental indulgence and lax morality.) This website didn't even exist back then! God only knows how many totally normal 22-year-olds Brooks has portrayed as harbingers of the apocalypse and/or abandoned his family for since then!
In any event, I am sorry to say that I have once again recalled David Brooks's existence this week, thanks to this tweet:
Here we have pretty much the hackiest expression possible. First of all there is the quintessential tenured Times columnist move: Here is a thing that happened exactly once, to me, which conveniently happens to explain an entire widespread social phenomenon. All it's missing—for now—is some made-up bullshit fake-sociological category to go with it. If Brooks has a stylistic signature beyond a generalized fussy dismay, it is his tendency toward the taxonomic identification and explication of imaginary mini-tranches of humanity like Airport Burger Boomers. The last of the true political independents in these polarized times. The Airport Burger Boomer vote will be crucial to the 2024 election. They are very concerned about tradition, it turns out.
Then there is the shallow, stupid diagnosis. "Americans think the economy is bad because airport food is overpriced." Not because of the hyper-concentration of wealth, or the worsening contingency of employment, or because the vast majority of us live within one single unexpected hospital visit of penury and ruin, or because all of that is the open undisguised desire of the small number of unaccountable sneering psychopaths who control every lever of power in our society, but because of expensive airport food. This is roughly like skimming the top 0.2 millimeters of foam off the top of a tide pool at the beach, examining it for three seconds, and being like I know what octopi think of the ocean.
And then there is the hilariously misplaced arrogance. The thing is, people fly in and out of Newark all the time. It is one of the busiest airports in the United States. There are only so many restaurants in it. Even if the half-full glass of brown liquor in the photograph weren't a dead giveaway, eventually somebody was going to figure out, with reasonable certainty, where David Brooks ate, and how he wound up spending $78 on his meal.
Burger and fries: $17
Quadruple airport whiskey: $61
Someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. My pubescent second wife and my liver are dying.
Don't give this stuff away on Twitter, Dave! Pad it out with a complaint about your waitress's nose piercing and 700 words on the decline of the classical western moral tradition and publish it in the Times. That's what they pay you six times the median American's annual salary for, buddy.