Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jack of Hearts - falling in love with rock stars

There's a very interesting article that went around the Jack White community recently, dug up for us by Kali Durga.

It's William Giraldi's Jack My Heart, published by the Oxford American on June 24. It's the story of a man's obsession with a rock star.

It's interesting because it goes into some detail about infatuation from a male-on-male perspective. I've never met a man who's confessed to any similar feelings. In my own experience, when completely caught up in a pop act, men, at least online, say things like this:

Larry: "We need a mix of a 1971-era Preening Rhinoceros where the Mellotron doesn't dominate Parry's lute as it did on Dread Pirate Roberts, the 1983 BootOleggo Nihon Co. vinyl bootleg of the second set of June 12th 1971. I already have Audience Source 2 in FLAC (thanks, Gary and Harry!). I'm looking for Audience Source 3 but can't afford Brobdingnagian Dreams, the silver from El Empresa Contrabando Japon├ęs on eBay, and I missed the vine that went around last year. Can anyone upload a copy for me and I'll mix the two using BuffaloDroppings 3.1.2.x  on my Ascaris to bring out the miked instruments?" 
Barry: "Yah, bro, I have Brobdingnagian Dreams, but it's the pressing with the violet-tinted farm midden on the cover, not the one with Parry wearing a tweed overcoat on a Vespa." 
Larry: "No good, that release was sourced from the SBD with overdubs from Audience Source 4."

"Parry did NOT use the HogHonker Geetar Octavio pedal with the modified rectifier during Rupert's Stiffle on the 14th August. He only used it for the first two shows that month, and then it was back to the WhammyFart Guitar Gizmo pedal until the tour break in August. "
Larry: "Remember the lime green vinyl pressing of Tabes Dorsalis Live at the Kunstwerks? The one with the run off groove inscribed by Mother Theresa in Latin and the cover hand-painted by Lady Gaga and only five were pressed and three of those were buried in solid gold boxes under the rocket launch pad concrete at Cape Canaveral and the..." 
Barry: "Yes, obviously, I know all about it. I wrote the 40 page history of the variant pressings for Tabes Rulez! Magazine last year." 
Larry: "Well, yesterday I was in Pittsburgh for a meeting of the International Society of Bores, and someone tipped me off to this tiny record shop in the barrio and on the wall was a copy of lime green TDLATKW! And the guy sold it to me for $500!" 
Gary: "Bah, that's nothing. Nothing! Last week I went one yard outside my house to a flea market that had just been set up by total coincidence and there was a wizened Italian organ grinder there. I gave him 5¢ and his monkey handed me a lime green TDLATKW. In a gold box. And the organ grinder gave me 3¢ change! And he played Preening Rhinoceros on his organ for me!"

It appears likely that this sort of obsession is one and the same with trainspotting and stamp collecting. But not William Giraldi. He was in love, L.U.V.  This is a man who is so verklempt that he does not dare actually set foot in Third Man Records, even though he knows Jack is not selling t shirts behind the counter. 

He uses the "a" word: Authenticity.

So this was beginning to get at the core of my obsession with the White Stripes: authenticity, yes, and artistic integrity, and making the imposters accountable. Jack and Meg recorded on eight-track analog tape. No computers, no digital malarkey, no synthetic tomfoolery or over-dubbing. Jack’s guitars were ages old and one had a hole in it, the one he swapped for at a pawn shop when he was a teen. They didn’t use a set list; every song of every show was spontaneous—an antidote to formula and fatigue—and frequently Jack stopped a song halfway in, raged into a different song, and then picked up where the first song left off.

Giraldi is a novelist and some sort of English teacher, and is prone to unusual adjectives. Women at concerts are "olden", "antique" and "senescent". Jack White is "epicine", twice.  

Here is a taste, from later on, when he has gotten far enough along the path to gain some hindsight:

I’d discovered my own artistic sensibility, my own method of artistic selfhood. Artists obsess over other artists, over the masters, because we want to be them, want their aptitude and cunning and force in the world. We want to touch our targets of veneration because we’d like to filch pocketfuls of their godliness with the wish of becoming gods ourselves. We obsess over what is doled to us in pieces but denied to us in total, but only until we gain the daring to achieve our own brand of mastery.

I guess that's the take-away message. It leaves me completely blank, and I'm hoping that this is a male/female thing and not that one of us is nuts.

Like pretty much anybody else, I'm prone to obsessions, or as Giraldi so generously allows, "If you’re a prepubescent lass with Bieber eyes, infatuation is fine." From 13 or so, I've had my things for pop stars and for movie characters. (Not movie stars so much: I get storytelling and so it's the characters that do it for me.) The 'prepubescence' has lasted quite a long time - until my senescence, in fact. But I've never waded deep enough to feel this riptide get a hold and drag me.


KaliDurga said...

Thanks for the link to the definition of "epicine". Since I initially read Giraldi's essay in print, I didn't have Google nearby and I forgot about it by the time I got to the computer.

Lyle Hopwood said...

Do you think "epicine" is a good descriptor? After watching the Glasto show and the fluff he's growing under his chin again, I wouldn't say that was the right word. I'll stick with "pretty".

KaliDurga said...

From a distance, the stuff under his chin just looks like he hasn't washed properly so, yeah, he still sort of looks like a woman but cuts like a buffalo. Especially with all the high pitched squeals and such lately


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