If you spent any time on Twitter on Sunday (1/3), you are likely already familiar with the saga of "Bean Dad," aka Seattle singer-songwriter John Roderick of The Long Winters, The Western State Hurricanes, etc. He's since deleted his account, taking the viral thread with him, but if you missed it, it began with this tweet:
So, yesterday my daughter (9) was hungry and I was doing a jigsaw puzzle so I said over my shoulder “make some baked beans." She said, "How?" like all kids do when they want YOU to do it, so I said, "Open a can and put it in pot." She brought me the can and said Open it how?”
In the tweets that followed, which Stereogum archived and you can read below, Roderick describes how he taught his daughter, over the course of six hours, how to use a can opener. While he had his defenders, the whole thread became a lightning rod for intense criticism of his parenting choices, and it didn't take long for people to read through his Twitter history and share screencaps of old tweets of Roderick using offensive slurs.
Jeopardy champion and soon-to-be host Ken Jennings, who hosts a podcast with Roderick, Omnibus, discussed the controversy on his on twitter, writing, "Extremely jealous and annoyed that my podcast co-host is going to be a dictionary entry and I never will."
"If this reassures anyone," Jennings continued, "I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. This site is so dumb."
Hollywood Reporter quotes another since-deleted tweet from Jennings, who, when asked about Roderick's "weird anti Semitic shit," replied that Roderick is "always the pro-Israel one" on Omnibus, continuing, "There’s no axis where any anti-Semitic screenshot represents any actual opinion I’ve ever heard from him."
AC Newman of The New Pornographers also weighed in, writing, "Here is a question: Is my opinion of John Roderick tainted by the fact that I know him? Does that context give me a better idea of who he is or should I defer to strangers’ opinions? It is not as easy for me to judge him only by that thread, not as easy to demonize him."
"I read what people are saying about him + it is like he is a monster," AC Newman said in a followup tweet. "If I didn’t know him I might be piling on as well, it’s so easy to do. But I have to give him some benefit of the doubt, because I know him. Don’t have to agree with him on everything but I give him that."
The Long Winters' song "It's a Departure," meanwhile, had been the theme song of long-running comedy podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me for many years, but its creators won't be using it in future episodes. In a statement, they wrote, "For reasons we’re sure you’re all aware of, we’re getting started finding new music for MBMBaM. You’ll probably hear a filler theme song on this week’s episode. We’re not sure what’ll come after that, honestly, but we hope you’ll stick around to find out."
"We appreciate John letting us use one of his songs as the theme for MBMBaM for nearly a decade," they continue, "but his response to today’s situation is emblematic of a pattern of behavior that is antithetical to the energy we try to bring to the things we do, and so it’s time for us to move on."
John Roderick's "Bean Dad" Tweets:
So, yesterday my daughter (9) was hungry and I was doing a jigsaw puzzle so I said over my shoulder “make some baked beans." She said, "How?" like all kids do when they want YOU to do it, so I said, "Open a can and put it in pot." She brought me the can and said Open it how?"
“With a can opener!” I said, incredulous. She brought me the can opener and we both stared at it. I realized I’d never taught her to use it. Most cans now have pull-tops. I felt like a dope. What kind of apocalypse father doesn’t teach his kid how to use a manual can opener?!?
I said, “The little device is designed to do one thing: open cans. Study the parts, study the can, figure out what the can-opener inventor was thinking when they tried to solve this problem.” (The can opener is also a bottle opener, but I explained that part wasn’t relevant.)
Eventually she collapsed in a frustrated heap. I said, “Explain the parts.” She said, “This little wheel is meant to cut, these gears turn the wheel when you spin the handle. This other wheel looks like a gear but isn’t.” She couldn’t figure out the clamping step, a key element!
I said, “The tool is made to be pleasing but it doesn’t have any superfluous qualities. Everything that moves does so for a reason.” She said, “I hate you.” I’m sure she believes that she does. I said, “You understand everything except how the tool addresses the can.” She sighed.
At this point she said, “I don’t want baked beans” and marched off. Apocalypse Dad went into full ‘The Road’ Mode! “Sweetheart, neither of us will eat another bite today until we get into this can of beans.” She screamed “AUGH!” like Lucy Van Pelt. She read a book for awhile.
Soon she was back at the can. The top was all dented now, the lip of the can practically serrated from failed attempts. We studied the tool some more. She really wanted it to be oriented up and down or across the top of the can. The sideways orientation is very counterintuitive.
Eventually she had it all figured out. She had the placement of the tool, she could turn the handle and the can would spin (we were down on the floor by this point), but the “kachunk” of puncturing the lid still eluded us. We’d been at it for SIX HOURS on and off. We were hungry.
Finally she squeezed down on it and, although it was a misfire, a light went off in her head. Many times throughout the day she’d yelled at me, “My brain is fuzzy! I can’t think of anything else to try!!!” and I’d say, “When your brain doesn’t work, trust your hands.”
She felt the tool click over the lip of the can. I saw it in her hands. By this point she’d developed a little ritual of addressing the tool to the can: starting with it on a vertical axis and rotating it to the horizontal while clamping down in a single motion. A choreography.
She looked at me expectantly, excitedly. After six hours of trying you don’t want to express too much hope. Was this another blind alley? The can had been through hell, label ripped off, dented, sharpened and burred, a veteran of a thousand psychic wars. She knew, though.
She knew this was a commonplace task and a common tool but also that this was serious business. She knows her dad, and the stock I put in these things. A more mechanically inclined kid might have figured it out in minutes. She factored the scale, but was rightfully proud.
I’m proud of her too. I know I’m infuriating. I know this is parenting theater in some ways. I suffer from a lack of perseverance myself, and like all parents throughout history I’m trying to correct my own mistakes in the way I educate my child. She sees through this.
The only problem is now she wants to open every fucking can in the house!