Twitter is easily (and somewhat tediously) mocked as simply providing a forum for the publication of endless narcissistic minutiae. This argument is most commonly summed up by citing the breakfast example. As Steven Johnson put it, writing for Time in 2009:
You hear about this new service that lets you send 140-character updates to your “followers,” and you think, Why does the world need this, exactly? It’s not as if we were all sitting around four years ago scratching our heads and saying, “If only there were a technology that would allow me to send a message to my 50 friends, alerting them in real time about my choice of breakfast cereal.”
Twitter’s defenders have developed a range of responses to the breakfast argument. Many protest that it’s all about who you follow, and that breaking news, political protest, and broader conversations mean that Twitter is so much more than the occasional cornflake mention. According to this line of thinking, breakfast tweets are like email chain letters: a minor inconvenience that is easily outweighed by the service’s benefits.
Others attempt to make a feature out of the bug, and note that, actually, some people care what you had for breakfast. Social media “gurus” frequently take this tack, advising politicians and CEOs to sprinkle breakfast tweets and cat video links to add warmth and “authenticity” to their steady stream of on-brand messaging. Indeed, even Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder and executive chairman, tweets his breakfast, on the grounds that “it’s extremely meaningful to my mother.”
IMAGE: Jace Clayton accompanied by Poland Spring mineral water at Postopolis! in New York (photo by Nicola Twilley).
But the king of the breakfast tweet — the person who has taken the tired cliché and turned it into an artform — is none other than Jace Clayton, a.k.a. the fantastic DJ /rupture. Every couple of months, in amongst news of his forthcoming gigs, book club updates, and observations from his travels around the globe, Clayton riffs on breakfast, with exotic menus that include everything from avocado flambé on amarath crackers to Marmite spread atop pumpkin injera.
IMAGE: Breakfast, May 5, 2010.
Due to Twitter’s annoying lack of a searchable archive, it’s now impossible to tell what his first tweeted breakfast was. Contenders from 2009 include the following:
For breakfast: pan-seared mercury tuna, 2 poached puffin eggs, freeze-dried walnut ice cream, smoked hickory cheerios with honey, cold soup.
For breakfast: fried catfish, brown sugar & grits, plumcakes, expectorant espresso, hash browns from the Burger King next to the crematorium
For breakfast: anarchist easter egg (pink w/ green trim), sunny side up
For breakfast: tamales, 1 fried egg, cake, ginger currant wine, cappuccino, acorn-fed squirrel bacon, champagne
Thus far, I can more or less keep up, although I might go easy on the hash browns. But I have to confess, I had no idea what “ichor” or “ptomaine” were (an ethereal golden fluid that flows in the veins Greek gods instead of blood and amines produced by the bacterial putrefaction of protein, respectively):
IMAGE: Breakfast, October 24, 2010.
IMAGE: Breakfast, December 24, 2011.
In the course of more than three years of public breakfasting, Clayton has name-checked most of my favourite food ideas: bush meat, imitation foods, alternative proteins such as insects and snails, atmospheric terroir (the “smog-flavored cashews”), and the consumption of invasive species (“kudzu & blood orange salad”).
For breakfast: non-psychic octopus ceviche, 16 oz of Clamato, medjool dates wrapped in jamon serrano substitute, snail & turnip paella, vino
For breakfast: gulf oyster ceviche, ketamine puffs, 1 ripe guayaba (mashed), blue corn tortilla with oaxacan cheese, smog-flavored cashews.
For breakfast: shrimp & grits, chlorinated sun-brewed iced tea, ferret sausages, kudzu & blood orange salad, extra garlic, hot sauce.
For breakfast: sweet potato pie (extra helpings), hibiscus rosewater lemonade, simple sugar, Katnip Krunch cereal, imitation dogmeat seitan.
Ketamine is, I think, the only ingredient Clayton has breakfasted on twice (most recently in December, in his Starbucks cappuccino):
IMAGE: Breakfast, December 17, 2011.
Alongside these generous helpings of culinary curiosities, Clayton also introduces a note of cultural consumption, with references to Henry Louis Gates (via the soft drink Tropical Fantasy) and cumbia (Chacalon y la Nueva Crema):
IMAGE: Breakfast, July 25 2009.
IMAGE: Breakfast, September 6, 2010.
The other breakfasts I have been able to mine from Twitter’s amnesiac records and an earlier list put together by a Portland, Oregon, newspaper are listed below, as an aid to indigestion. They include perhaps the most essential item in Clayton’s breakfast repertoire: the breath mint, which thankfully follows a cilantro-kimchi smoothie.
For breakfast: caldo de camarones, Tang horchata, peanut butter huarache, 1 rice krispie treat, chili-dipped grapefruit slices, meat.
For breakfast: roast chestnuts, white chocolate, cilantro-kimchi smoothie, 1 slice of deepdish pizza w extra salt, prune juice, breath mint.
For breakfast: choco-muesli, 1 pear, squid-ink & saffron cheeseburger (no fries), goat cheese on sesame crackers, leche de tigre, lychee jam (February 2, 2010)
For breakfast: sauerkraut avocado shake, saltwater jellyfish on toast, very small pieces of halibut, milky coffee, maple cured leech strips. (September 22, 2010)
For breakfast: treefrog pierogies (baked), Cap’n Wayne’s Politwee OatCrunch w hot goat’s milk, butterfat fried figs basted w crème fraiche (September 25, 2010)
For breakfast: beetroot-locust protein shake. neocolonial white bread with cactus jam + goat butter, pickled yucca, cup of chlorinated water (March 25, 2011)
For breakfast: Marmite on pumpkin injera, quince muffin, assam tea with extra salt, one chocolate easter bunny, red white and blue diet tabs (May 30, 2011)
And, just a few weeks ago, these tantalising hints of an aborted breakfast:
IMAGE: Nearly breakfast, February 2, 2012.
So what does Clayton actually have for breakfast? Thanks to the indiscretion of his wife, artist Rocio Rodriguez Salceda, I am able to tell you what Twitter cannot: soy milk and muesli. Everyday, without fail.