I love you, please vote

Dearest Pancake Brains,

Taking a short break from the internet has made me realize that I need a much longer one. As most of you know, almost four years ago, I published “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America” to Teen Vogue and found myself catapulted into the public eye quite literally overnight. Since that moment, I got divorced, came out, found God, and fell in love. It has occurred to me that it is time to sit with the totality of my transformation, and the infinite changes it contains. 

Someday, I will write to you again to share more of my story. My singular goal in life is to help others unlock the spiritual freedom I have fought so hard to earn for myself. I hereby dedicate the rest of my time in this body to saving souls, especially my own. First, I must get very quiet.

Before I sign off, I have to say thank you. There is endless shit asking to be put inside your brain, and I appreciate even a few minutes of your precious time. If you’ve read How to Start a Revolution, I hope you will remember that you don’t need my writing for political agency. Never forget to empower yourself with information, to insist on your right and duty to the political conversation, and to act virtuously in the name of the equitable and sustainable future we all deserve. The world is a scary place right now, but we will build a better one. I just know it. 

Goodbye for now, fellow humans.  

I love you, please vote, 

Lauren 

RIP Mitch McConnell (and a note about this newsletter)

I'm taking a break from the internet.

America is an oligarchy organized by the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy. Pancake Brain is a (free) Friday newsletter dedicated to replacing the status quo with equitable public power. If you’re into that kind of thing, I hope you’ll subscribe and share. This project is based on my book, How to Start a Revolution. I hope you’ll read (or listen to) it.

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Dearest Pancake Brains,

I thought I was going to send along a roast of Mitch McConnell this morning, as the Senate majority leader continues to hold up pandemic aid / openly wielding the power of obfuscation to block the American people from anything even remotely resembling democracy, but I think I’ve already written something more satisfying than the piece I started last night, and that is this (premature) obituary for Mitch McConnell. (I published it in November, but it still kills. 🤪)

To be honest with you, I’ve been depressed. I’m sure that I’m far from alone in feeling like my soul has been trapped in a jar at the bottom of the ocean for the past several months. I’ve been meaning to write you a full essay each Friday, and then felt myself asking the increasingly terrifying question, “What’s the point?”

In order to address the temptation to go numb, my previous writing would inform me that hope is hard work. The effort to choose to feel it all and do something about it requires much more effort than despair. And yet, here I am, shutting down. My inner voice has informed me that means I need a break from the internet, and I’ve decided to listen to my own advice. I’m currently working on a project that I am thoroughly convinced is the thing I was born to write. I’m going to focus on that for a month without shoving myself into the brain dungeon that is social media. And as for us? I don’t think I should be writing to you about un-fucking your brain while my brain is fucked.

I am planning to be back in your inboxes on Tuesday, September 8th. I have something special planned for that day. I want you all to know how much I appreciate you, and I really mean that. We are all drowning in an overload of content, and the fact that you have chosen to spend even a few minutes with my writing means a lot to me. I hope that I can continue to be worth your time.

If you think you’ll miss these emails, I humbly recommend checking out How to Start a Revolution, if you haven’t yet. There is also an audiobook, if you’re into that kind of thing — it’s free with a 30-day trial of Audible. (Pro-Tip: Set a calendar reminder to cancel that shit.)

Your friend,
Lauren

The Greatest Hits⚡⚡⚡

(Hello new pals!)

America is an oligarchy organized by the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy. Pancake Brain is a (free) newsletter dedicated to replacing the status quo with equitable public power. If you’re into that kind of thing, I hope you’ll subscribe and share. This project is based on my book, How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics. I hope you’ll read (or listen to) it, if you haven’t yet.

Dearest Pancake Brains,

I’m excited to report we have a lot of new subscribers joining us this week! Whether you’ve been with me from the start or just signed up this week, I want to thank you for engaging with my work. I also very much appreciate all of you who have invited friends to subscribe.

For all you fresh faces, I thought I would send along a few of my favorite editions of the newsletter, so you can get an idea of what we’re all about here. Thus far, my Pancake Brain greatest hits would include:

*PSA: Give A Shit About The Collective

*An Open Letter to Open Letters

*Boycott Facebook

*Fuck Tucker Carlson

*Know Her Name: Yuh-Line Niou

*A Roast of Jared Kushner

*Kayleigh McEnany is an enemy of truth

*Social distance could bring us closer than ever

*Anxiety in the Time of Coronavirus

*The rejection of Elizabeth Warren is personal

As always, I’d love to hear from you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback or requests whenever the spirit seizes you.

Leave a comment

I’ll be back in your inbox next Friday with a fresh essay dedicated to the on-going process of un-fucking your brain.

Until then,
Lauren

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PSA: Give A Shit About The Collective

The political statement behind covering your mouth and nose.

America is an oligarchy organized by the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy. Pancake Brain is a (free) newsletter dedicated to replacing the status quo with equitable public power. If you’re into that kind of thing, I hope you’ll subscribe and share. This project is based on my book, How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics. I hope you’ll read (or listen to) it, if you haven’t yet.

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Dearest Pancake Brains,

On Thursday, New York State released a nationwide PSA asking the country to please, for the love of God, wear a mask. Morgan Freeman’s voice plays over a montage of people making unflinching eye contact with the camera over face coverings placed firmly above their noses. “I may never have met you,” Freeman says in one of eight 30-second ads. “We don’t go way back. Maybe we wouldn’t even be friends, if we did. But when you wear a mask, you have my respect, because your mask doesn’t protect you, it protects me.”

How simple. How profound. How extraordinarily fucked that people still need to be told to wear a mask sixth months into the pandemic.

There was much confusion about public mask-wearing in the first weeks after the coronavirus was detected in the United States. Federal officials initially told people not to wear masks, partly out of concern for shortages in medical-grade masks needed for essential workers. But by April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended cloth masks, making it unmistakably clear that you — yes, you — could stop the spread of a deadly virus by covering your mouth and nose. Three months later, this cheap, simple and effective means of fighting the pandemic remains a controversial issue in the land of the free and the home of the malignantly ignorant.

Another sort of PSA came to mind after I listened to Morgan Freeman remind the country to wear masks, this one featuring an angry white man having a tantrum inside a Florida Costco. You may have seen this on your feed. The Angry Florida Man screams at the camera after being asked to wear a mask. “I feel threatened!” he shouts, clenching his hands into fists and lunging forward. “Back up! Threaten me again!” This clip would play like the unvarnished id of white masculinity even if the dude wasn’t literally wearing a t-shirt that says, “Running the World Since 1776.”

Of course, the toxic politicization of mask-wearing extends far beyond any given asshole relieving his pain-body at a Fort Myers Costco. In Georgia, the Republican Governor Brian Kemp is not only failing to embrace public face coverings, he is suing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for trying to get the city of Atlanta to wear masks. And in Oklahoma, the Republican Governor Kevin Sitt refused to enact a mask order, even after he tested positive for the virus, claiming “You can’t pick and choose what freedoms you are going to give people.” From belligerent grocery shoppers to the highest echelons of power in the Republican Party, the refusal to wear a mask has become an insistence on personal liberty with all the moral conviction of a seven-year-old resisting an early bedtime on the grounds that this is a free country.

Donald Trump often complains that he is not given enough credit, so perhaps he will be pleased to know that the toxic ignorance around wearing masks can be placed largely on his shoulders. Three months ago, White House officials advised the public to wear masks along with the CDC, and yet the president himself refused to do so. Asked in April whether he planned to wear a mask, Trump explicitly attributed his decision to vanity, saying, “Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I just don‘t see it.” He wore a mask for the first time on Saturday, after his failure to do contributed to widespread disease and confusion across the country — a too-litte-too-late reversal in stubbornness that has me wondering whether I should ask my high school boyfriend to pick up a box of condoms.

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On the same day that New York State released it’s Mask Up America ad campaign this week, the head of the CDC said in an interview with the American Medical Association that if the whole country wore masks, we would likely get the virus under control in less than two months. For three months now, we have been clearly advised to cover our faces in public, yet there remains a cohort of selfish idiots who are more concerned with their personal comfort than our shared goal of survival, and the most prominent among them is the walking ego who calls himself our leader.

The United States is currently leading the world in coronavirus deaths, with over 138,000 reported fatalities out of under 591,000 across the globe. There is widespread blame to be shared when it comes to accounting for our national exceptionalism in the realm of sickness and death, but one item of crisis attribution is unmistakeable: Far less Americans would have died from the coronavirus, if we had a president offering the same amount of pandemic guidance you might expect to receive from Robert De Niro and John Leguizamo.

New York invested in their star-studded coronavirus PSA amid concerns that out-of-state visitors would lead to a resurgence of cases in the former epicenter of the pandemic. In this preliminary effort of self-protection, the true ethical calculations of mask-wearing are revealed: Wearing a mask is not only to protect others, as Morgan Freeman says, it is an immediate sacrifice for the good of the nation that is also in your own best interest. By wearing a mask, you limit the impact of the coronavirus not only in your community, but throughout the nation, and, ultimately, the world. Mask-wearing, like the effort toward global liberation and a sustainable Earth, is an action taken out of love for ourselves expressed through a duty to the collective.

It is not brave or honorable to wear a mask, it is basic human decency, and Republicans are right that the mask has become a political statement. To cover your mouth and nose is to openly express an allegiance to the good of the interconnected whole, and the world will never forget the three months Trump spent expressing exactly the opposite.

With earnest irreverence,
Lauren

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An Open Letter to Open Letters

Note: No thesauruses were harmed in the writing of this ambiguous drivel.

On Tuesday, 151 intellectuals, artists, journalists, and a solid number of people I have never heard of before published “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” in Harper’s magazine. This open letter from Pancake Brain may or may not be related to that one. The timing sure is suspicious, though.

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Dear Open Letters,

This open letter is written as a direct response to all open letters, but especially one open letter in particular, though this open letter, like that one, feels no burden to name concrete particularities of the ills it aims to address or any specific examples whatsoever. Such details might allow for a clear and concise discussion of the problem, and would therefore totally negate the premise that this letter is itself serving the purpose of an open letter, and that is, of course, to generate ambiguous confusion, and, ideally, slight nausea.

That the language the authors use here is cumbersome and obtuse should not be blamed on any signatories so much as the form in which they have chose to adhere their signatures (an open letter). As the composition of another recent open letter suggests, open letters are not meant to generate positive discussion for future solutions, but, instead, are created for the sole purpose of grumbling about ambiguous grievances. We reject the false choice between writing open letters and having something to say.

We hope that readers will sympathize with our plight in addressing this grave problem with nothing even resembling the suggestion that we have pondered effective solutions. Despite our shared legacy as iconic intellectuals, artists, and journalists, there appears to be nary a meaningful phrase among us. Our collective communication is inescapably defined by the fact that our shared bad opinions about the initial letter in regard to bad opinions in general are too divergent beyond that feeling you get when someone you don’t like says something really funny.

While acknowledging that ambiguous griping is the lifeblood of the illiberal society of which we are ruefully a part, we do have three specific criticisms for all open letters. Although the individuals who sought to compose this letter have a range of fundamental disagreements among them totally eliminating the possibility of insight or consensus of any kind, we have still managed to generate a list of three points that are our best attempt at precise elucidation for the aim of your enhanced consumption of ideas.

These are as follows:

  1. “We don’t like the internet” would have been shorter.

  2. Seriously, what the fuck, Gloria Steinem?

  3. Can anyone help Noam Chomsky figure out two-factor authentication for his new G-Mail account?

In conclusion: Have you ever realized that we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway? Not suggesting any major changes, but it doesn’t really make sense when you think about it.

With undue conviction,

Kurt Vonnegut’s ghost, Lauren Duca, and a lady who made meaningful eye contact with her at the grocery store the other day

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