All our Heroes are Probably Assholes: Tom Morello edition


By the time Rage Against the Machine came on the scene, I’d already stopped listening to contemporary music, so it didn’t break my heart today when I learned that the band’s frontman, Tom Morello, may have outed himself as an entitled little prick in Seattle a few nights ago.

As is often the case these days, it all started with a Tweet.

Screen shot 2014-09-30 at 9.08.53 PM

According to published reports, things had gotten heated when Morello, who had been in Seattle to perform at a benefit concert for the grassroots organization 15 Now, was turned away from a place called The 5 Point Cafe. According to folks at the restaurant, there were several people waiting for tables when Morello, accompanied by his entourage, walked up and asked for a “special room.” When they were told to get in line, Morello then, unsuccessfully, played the “Do you know who I am?” card. When that too failed, Morello took to Twitter, not only calling out the restaurant by name, but labeling the bar’s owner “anti-worker.”

The owner of The 5 Point, David Meinert, then responded with the following letter, posted to Facebook.

For the record, Tom Morello — The 5 Point is totally pro-worker. We try to pay more than any other small restaurant, and on top of the higher pay, we offer health insurance, paid sick days, paid time off, retirement and profit share. Sorry if you had an issue with our staff, but typically our staff is awesome, and when they are not, it’s usually a reflection of the customer. Act like a prick = get treated like a prick.

I have to say, your attacking a small business without knowing anything about it, or addressing your problem with them directly before you go on a public rant, pretty much sucks. Just lost a ton of respect for you, and I’ve been a fan for years, both of your work in Rage and your work for workers rights since.

P.S. — rock stars don’t get special treatment at The 5 Point. We couldn’t give less of a shit. Sorry.

And P.S.S. — I’m the owner of the 5 Point and have worked to raise the minimum wage in Seattle and support the same nationally, worked to get paid sick days law in Seattle, and am supporting a City sponsored retirement plan for employees of small businesses. I hope you do the same for your employees on the road…

P.S.S.S. — turns out he and his crew didn’t get let in as the place was at capacity and there was a line. No one was being let in. According to our doorman who I totally trust, Tom and his crew were all totally rude. Quote from the door guys “I knew who he was, we had no room, his whole party was being rude. He wanted a special room in the back. Clearly had no ideas what it is like inside. I’ve told bigger rock stars than him no.

And now the whole thing is taking on a life of its own online, with a lot of people attacking Morello, who fancies himself a champion of the common man, for being just another entitled rock star. Just google “Pancake Gate” and you’ll see what I mean. (Apparently, Morello was in search of pancakes.)

I, obviously, have no idea what happened, but I think it’s reasonable enough to assume that Morello may have tried to get his group into the popular restaurant unsuccessfully, and, then stormed off in a huff to a nearby IHOP. And that, actually, isn’t my problem with this whole thing. As distasteful as it is, I don’t really have a problem with Morello trying to get a table for his friends, if that’s what happened. What I have a problem with is the fact that he took to Twitter and called the restaurant’s owner out for being anti-worker without knowing the facts. (If he really felt that the guy was “anti-worker,” why was he wanting to eat there in the first place?) Clearly he was pissed off, and he lashed out with a label that he thought would hurt the guy, and his business. He flexed his fame muscles in hopes of hurting the guy. And I don’t think that’s cool… Even if the staff of the restaurant was incredibly rude, someone in Morello’s position should know better.

update: Morello has now come out with his side of the story, saying that the door guy wouldn’t let them in, even though there was no line, and people kept leaving. He also implies that racism may have played a role… “I question what underlying motives the doorman may have had. Bad day? Anti-Kenyan? Preferred the Spin Doctors?” (Morello’s brother, who is Kenyan, was in entourage.)

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  1. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 30, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    If you really care about income equality calculate the average hourly wage of an American worker accept that as your yearly salary and donate the rest to someone making less than an average salary. If you really really care about income equality then calculate the world average hourly wage, accept that amount as your salary and donate the rest.

  2. Posted October 1, 2014 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    While I really like a lot of Morello’s output, his politics have always been questionable. They might resonate quite well with 16 year olds but upon inspection, one finds how porous they really are. The cynic might even accuse the artist of superficially coopting leftist politics to sell records.

  3. Posted October 1, 2014 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Why donate money? Why not take that money, start a viable business, hire people under fair conditions and provide training and educational opportunities to help them transition into better jobs later?

    Donation will do nothing.

  4. anonymous
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I take it for granted that all rich, famous people are assholes. It makes it all the better when, on occasion, you find that one of them is a genuinely good person, like Robin Williams.

  5. Dan Blakeney
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    This is Splendid:
    “I have to say, your attacking a small business without knowing anything about it, or addressing your problem with them directly before you go on a public rant, pretty much sucks.”

  6. Eel
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The doorman, Eric Roach, now shares his side of the story:

    “When he showed up, I had just cleared out a bunch of people and turned away a couple of parties,” Roach said in a phone interview. “It was Decibel Festival last weekend, and the 5 Point was really, really busy. I came inside to check on the bartender a couple of times and found him in the closet leaning against the wall saying, ‘Nobody should have to deal with this.’ There was only one bartender and one waitress on that night. Just before Morello shows up, both the bartender and the waitress adamantly did not want to have anybody else in the bar. I’d already gotten rid of everybody that was on the porch. We were already over-served. When Morello shows up with his group, maybe a little before 1 a.m., I had to say, ‘I’m sorry. We’re full right now. I’m not letting anybody in.’ It was at the height of our busyness.

    “In fact, he didn’t come off as being a jerk, other than that he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Roach said. “One of the first things out of his mouth is, ‘Does the owner like Rage Against the Machine?’ I said, ‘Probably, but we’re full right now.’ Normally I try to be witty with my answers, but the whole party kept trying to get in. ‘Isn’t there someplace in the back you can put us, away from everybody?’ I said, ‘No, man, it’s not that kind of place. We’re really small; I don’t have any room for you.’ They just kept asking me. I’m sure I looked irritated. The fact that he thought I was rude may be his interpretation of my irritation.

    “At the point where he said, ‘We’re gonna go to IHOP,’ I said, ‘Great. IHOP’s up the street. They’re a lot bigger than we are. Have a good time.’ He said, ‘I’m gonna tweet you.’ I told him, ‘My name’s Roach—R-O-A-C-H, if you’re gonna tweet about me.’ Then he actually did tweet about me. Whatever… The rudest thing he did was the tweet. Really, dude? You took time out of your day to insult me, the door guy who won’t let you into a place? I would’ve loved to have helped the guy. We’ve helped all kinds of stars. Hell, Sinbad was there a couple of weeks ago—had a great time.”

  7. Lynne
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I suspect that this is just the ugly side of privilege. Rock stars and other famous people do not get treated like everyone else. They get let into full restaurants. They get served first. People bend over backwards for them. They have powerful voices. While I feel this guy was totally being a jerk for making that tweet, especially the part about the place being anti-worker when that doesn’t seem to be true in the slightest, I wonder how much is due to his environment.

    I see this very same behavior to a smaller scale amongst people who may have less privilege than a rock star but still are relatively privileged themselves. I hate to admit it too but I occasionally see this kind of attitude in myself when someone in a service position isn’t giving me the service level I feel entitled to receive simply because my status pretty much guarantees me pretty good service all of the time. i.e. There is a norm with the way people treat me and deviations from that norm sometimes upset me. Why would a rock star be any different? With that said, I think the criticism of his tweet and the wide condemnation of it are probably helpful in that hopefully they are giving him a little bit of a reality check about what is appropriate to expect from a busy restaurant.

  8. anonymous
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Here is one of the (many) dirty secrets of fame: 9 times out of 10, those who have it have scraped and clawed to achieve it.

    In other words, almost all celebrities have stepped on the backs of people to stand out. Something to consider next time you have the impression that one “star” is better than another; if you lack this illusion, then one prick’s behavior won’t surprise you enough to need to blog about it in shock.

    No, if the world really needs another blog post – which is debatable – it’s probably a blog post about good people working quietly in the margins.

  9. Bob
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Are you just being cool by pretending that Morello was the frontman of Rage Against the Machine? Very sly. Also, Peter Larson hates everything except he likes a lot of Morello’s output. Classic PL.

  10. Lynne
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    On a side note, whenever I hear someone talk about someone else’s “output”, I always think of poo.

  11. Brainless
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Why in the hell would you stop listening to contemporary music? There is good new music produced every year since the dawn of time.

  12. koosh
    Posted October 1, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Boots Riley is going to punch you in the mouth and break all of your fucking teeth.

  13. Meta
    Posted October 17, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    In related news:

    “Seattle Socialist Group Pushing $15/Hour Minimum Wage Posts Job With $13/Hour Wage”

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