Are you still a fan if you close your eyes?

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven

Hey now, Ludwig Van (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You wouldn’t like him so much if he were some everyday Joe shoe salesman with a tidy haircut,” my friend says as she tilts back a sip of sangria.

“Shoe salesman? Do they even exist anymore?” I counter, crunching on a baby carrot.

“It’s the rock star thing: guitar, cool clothes, crazy hair. It puts them up there, above the rest,” she explains. “Put him in a UPS uniform and he’s nowhere.”

I don’t tell her that I’ve witnessed some hotness in UPS-issue brown.

“Sure. I get it. If he were a shoe salesman or a delivery guy, I wouldn’t be swooning over his fitting skills, his hand truck prowess.  The point is he is who he is because of his talent —  looks or not,” I say, defending my undying devotion to Jack White, and the idea that we like musicians for their sound more than their looks. Most of the time.

Why must I do this?

If you say you like Justin Beiber, it’s assumed looks come before talent. If you say you like Marilyn Manson, I know it’s about the music. Or, maybe it’s both.

Even around this meeting table with food and wine, the women are split on the looks/talent vote for Mr. White among others. So, which is it?  If you say you like Beethoven, no one says it’s because of his tight breeches or his crazy hair. It’s because he was a master composer piano virtuoso kind of guy. Most of us know Mr. B by his music, not his looks. Although this portrait piques my curiosity:

Intense. Edgy. Looks like he might throw you out of the theater for sneezing. I do like Beethoven. His ninth and fifth symphonies are booming, robust and, dare I say, a bit sexy? Would I like Ludwig Van more if I were able to watch him perform with that crazy hair and flowing ascot?

I think so. But, it’s not necessary.

So maybe my friend has a point. Would you know Beethoven’s music back in the day if you were not privileged enough to attend a live show? It’s not as if the local cobbler’s daughter was fantasizing about Ludwig Van next to the crank-up Victrola.

My friend says she knew Mr. White way back when and has nothing good to report about his demeanor or his appearance. She says she wouldn’t  pay a penny to see him live.

“That may be true, but I don’t care,” I fire back. “I don’t want to date him or chat over coffee with him. I just want him to keep doing that thing that he does so I can listen and go to concerts. It’s about the musicianship.”

“Riiiight, the musicianship,” the other women purr, winking at me and laughing.

It’s hopeless.

They don’t get it and I cannot figure out how to convince anyone otherwise. I remember when I discovered Led Zeppelin. I liked the sound way before I ever watched concert footage of Robert Plant’s sexy hair and tight pants. As far as I was concerned it was a bonus. Same with Robert Smith of The Cure. This was the pre-Internet era. If you didn’t religiously watch MTV or subscribe to music magazines, how would you know what any artist looked like? Album covers and liner notes don’t tell the story.

When I queue up The Cure on my iPod at the gym,  I connect Smith’s searing whine with the face above, even though it’s more likely attached to this:

Yikes! How sad I am to see Mr. Smith is aging along with the rest of us, no longer able to rock the midnight hair and heavy makeup. Which, side note here and a lesson to both genders: heavy eye makeup paired with dark lipstick is no one’s friend after 40. Am I right?

——

If you ‘ve made it this far, forgive this random, pointless post. It’s five years of this blogging nonsense and where has it gotten me? No fame, fortune, or accolades yet. Just a well-worn cushion on the Internet. Carry on.

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Interruption

One of the biggest disappointments of late is realizing we won’t be moving out West, as was the goal set 12 years ago on our honeymoon. We’ve known (even if we’ve never said it out loud) for the last three years that it would not happen in 2012. If you ever visit our house, this goal will be obvious. Almost every room has a picture of mountains or alpine flowers or something painted by Georgia O’Keeffe or cowboys on the set of “Lonesome Dove.” We even have a sign that says “2012.”

We’ve suffered many financial setbacks, endured job loss, and now, we are slowly rebuilding. Things are getting better, but not good enough to walk away from a house underwater and scant savings. I want to live in the mountains, but not in a tent.

Let me make this clear. I will not let go of the goal. It will happen some day, some way. Right now my biggest goal is to find a happiness in each day right here in Detroit. Yes, Detroit.

Even before I found this site, I began playing a game with myself, one I invented during a particularly difficult time, when depression hovered like a dank mist around my shoulders. My challenge each day was to find one thing to appreciate, to make me smile and feel grateful.  Whether it was the perfect cup of coffee, a clean apartment, an achingly blue sky, a new shoot on a bedraggled house plant,  or a genuine smile from a stranger.

The game continues with today’s offering:

What makes me happy is listening to “Love Interruption” by Jack White, and anticipating the April 24 release of his first solo album.

I’ve followed this guy’s career for 12 years. Even when critics called him a passing fancy, a novelty act, I just knew he’d become a major player in the music industry. I have a little shelf in my office of White Stripes unauthorized band bios, Rolling Stone issues, concert ticket stubs, and one of their original band buttons I scored at a resale shop. You know, basic rabid fan stuff.

Although Jack lives in Nashville, his roots are here in Detroit. He is who he is today (I believe) because he was born of the Detroit ethos. The day I discovered The White Stripes was the day I rekindled my love for Detroit. I couldn’t get enough of their music, of the scene around town. I tried, somewhat successfully, to get to every live show. There was a time when I could go to see a local act at a dive bar and turn around to see Jack towering above the crowd, sucking on a cigarette, a beer in hand, intently focused on the stage, appearing oblivious to anything else. Just another guy in the audience. It felt like a special time. It feels gone now. But the music goes on.

So does Detroit, in his absence, as the scene changes, the focus redirects.  And so do I. There is much to dislike here in Detroit,  but I credit White, among others, for opening my eyes to what is here: the creative energy, the poetry amid ruin, the idea that here lies the raw material to shape into anything the artist can envision.

The White Stripes disbanded last year as anticlimatically as my husband and I realized that we wouldn’t be house hunting in Boulder this summer. The signs had been there all along.

Did you watch Jack’s performance on Saturday Night Live last weekend? I was blown away by the duet with Ruby Amanfu. Maybe you like his music; maybe you don’t.

Sometimes all it takes is the right chord, pitch, and lyrics to turn a dark day around.

Today, I am grateful for good music in all its forms and the power it holds.

 

 

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Celebrity encounters

I’m struck down by “the sick” again. I guess this is just the way it is when you volunteer in preschool and elementary school environments weekly. Oh, and have I mentioned we’ve had nothing but rain and rain and more rain and damp and chill? In light of that, I’m taking San Diego Momma’s PrompTuesday about celebrity encounters and rehashing a post from December 2009
.

jackwhite

"It Might Get Loud" movie still via img.com

I hope my husband is happy.

He thinks that I’d dump him for Jack White, that I’d run away to live in the hills of Tennessee with the former furniture upholsterer turned guitar god with the penchant for dressing like a dandy, channeling Delta Blues musicians and crafting guitars out of wood, a nail, a glass bottle and wire.*

Good thing Jack White only has eyes for tall, leggy, doe-eyed redheads or maybe I’d have a chance.

*ahem*

Seriously. Several times, by happy accident, I’ve stood elbow-to-shoulder with the man and trust me, his attention was elsewhere. My husband has never let me forget those evenings. Not that I could. It was thrilling to be able to just share the same floor space with someone of such talent. Back then he was just a local guy drinking a beer and sucking on a cigarette at a popular dive bar. Honestly,  my favorite memory is second-row seats at a Raconteurs concert positioned directly in line with Jack White as he did that thing that he does. I don’t know Jack White, the person. He is a stranger to me. I do know Jack White, the musician and performer. I don’t want a date; I want concert tickets.

I don’t know what to do around “celebrities” of any sort. Even when I was a reporter, I’d skip those assignments in favor of interviewing an everyday Joe or Jane.  Years ago at a David Bowie concert, I stood in a concert T-shirt line next to familiar young man who turned out to be Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings. I didn’t realize it  until I’d left the concert venue. My friends were jealous, pumping me for details.  I didn’t have any to share since I just assumed it was a guy from high school.

Yzerman

Via About.com: Hockey

Before The White Stripes called it quits, it was kind of an inside joke that I was president of the local chapter of their fan club.

So it was with deep embarrassment that I learned at a children’s birthday party for god’s sake that he was named musician of the millennium or something like that. I went home and looked it up. Here’s what I found:

Their fourth album, Elephant, was named No. 7 on a list of most influential albums of the decade.

Jack White was declared the rock and roll musician of the decade.

I know. Lists, schmists. Everyone and their brother is going to compile these lists as we slip from the aughts to the teens. And what do I know of the caliber of the Guardian U.K.? Even the White Stripes’ and affiliated Web sites have failed to make note of these honors, so I’m not sure what to make of them myself.

While I’m thrilled that Jack is getting the attention, acclaim and respect I’ve felt he’s deserved all along, I’m rather embarrassed that I had to hear about this from a fair-weather fan over cake and ice cream. I hope my husband is happy; it’s obvious I have more pressing matters on my mind than the latest Jack White news.

Perhaps, if my spouse would stop this foolishness for a moment, he’d realize I’m thinking about him.

(Little does he know he’s getting a guitar for Christmas. That, and a pair of red and white pants.)

*I dated my share of out-there artsy types who did things like drive Hearses, dress like people from different eras, wear make-up, and get in character for their art. They always ended up embarrassing and frustrating me.

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Apple Blossom

It’s an ash-colored morning, typical of  late February in Michigan.  I’m steering my car down the Interstate, dodging potholes and icy patches, heading into downtown Detroit. I’m on my way to a training session to be a literacy tutor. I should feel excited, inspired and enthusiastic. Instead, my soul is as dirt-flecked as the roadside snow.  I need a sea change. I tap the CD player button on my dashboard and release the sweet notes of this ditty:

Hey little apple blossom
what seems to be the problem
all the ones you tell your troubles to
they don’t really care for you

Come and tell me what you’re thinking
cause just when the boat is sinking
a little light is blinking
and I will come and rescue you

Lots of girls walk around in tears
but that’s not for you
you’ve been looking all around for years
for someone to tell your troubles to

Come and sit with me and talk awhile
let me see your pretty little smile
put your troubles in a little pile
and I will sort them out for you
I’ll  fall in love with you
I think I’ll marry you

–The White Stripes, “Apple Blossom,” De Stijl. 2000

This song parts clouds. It turns gray to blue. It radiates sunshine. It coaxes buds into bloom. It’s simple, sweet, perfect.

I twist the volume knob to loud. I hit replay two, three, four times. I belt out the lyrics.

If ever I had the guts to sing karaoke, this would be my song.

If the universe is sending a message, I’m listening.

Because it all comes down to having someone to tell your troubles to, someone to respond when your light is blinking. Even if that someone is yourself.

I want to be honest.

I want to keep it real.

I want balance.

I’ve always needed someone or something to tell my problems to: a diary, an imaginary friend, a best friend, a loving grandmother, a school counselor, a therapist, a lover, a neighbor, my husband, the cat, the Internet.

Creating my own blog was supposed to lift the heavy burden I’d dropped on friends and family and lovers and spouses. I can drop a heavy load. I’ve been told.

Secrets don’t always stay that way. Violators force open my diary’s delicate pages and ravage her secrets. Gossips spit out my stories in venomous bursts.  Lovers bolt, taking their comforting arms and patience with them.  Husbands grow bored with broken records. Loving grandmothers die and their ears go deaf, their mouths mute.  Neighbors move. Therapists increase their rates.  The Internet figures out who you are.

Why the need to spill?

If I knew the answer, you wouldn’t be here reading any of this,  would you?

Thank god for the healing power of music. I leave you with this:

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Denial Twist

jackwhite

"It Might Get Loud" movie still via img.com

I hope my husband is happy.

He thinks that I’d dump him for Jack White, that I’d run away to live in the hills of Tennessee with the former furniture upholsterer turned guitar god with the penchant for dressing like a dandy, channeling Delta Blues musicians and crafting guitars out of wood, a nail, a glass bottle and wire.*

Good thing Jack White only has eyes for tall, leggy, doe-eyed redheads or maybe I’d have a chance. *ahem*

Seriously. Several times, by happy accident, I’ve stood elbow-to-shoulder with the man and trust me, his attention was elsewhere. My husband has never let me forget those evenings. Not that I could. It was thrilling to be able to just share the same floor space with someone of such talent. Back then he was just a local guy drinking a beer and sucking on a cigarette at a popular dive bar. Honestly,  my favorite memory is second-row seats at a Raconteurs concert positioned directly in line with Jack White as he did that thing that he does. I don’t know Jack White, the person. He is a stranger to me. I do know Jack White, the musician and performer. I don’t want a date; I want concert tickets.

I don’t know what to do around “celebrities” of any sort. Even when I was a reporter, I’d skip those assignments in favor of interviewing an everyday Joe or Jane.  Years ago at a David Bowie concert, I stood in a concert T-shirt line next to familiar young man who turned out to be Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings. I didn’t realize it  until I’d left the concert venue. My friends were jealous, pumping me for details.  I didn’t have any to share since I just assumed it was a guy from high school.

Yzerman

Via About.com: Hockey

Before the White Stripes went on hiatus, it was kind of an inside joke that I was president of the local chapter of their fan club.

So it was with deep embarrassment that I learned last weekend, at a children’s birthday party for god’s sake, that he was named musician of the millennium or something like that. I went home and looked it up. Here’s what I found:

Their fourth album, Elephant, was named No. 7 on a list of most influential albums of the decade.

Jack White was declared the rock and roll musician of the decade.

I know. Lists, schmists. Everyone and their brother is going to compile these lists as we slip from the aughts to the teens. And what do I know of the caliber of the Guardian U.K.? Even the White Stripes’ and affiliated Web sites have failed to make note of these honors, so I’m not sure what to make of them myself.

While I’m thrilled that Jack is getting the attention, acclaim and respect I’ve felt he’s deserved all along, I’m rather embarrassed that I had to hear about this from a fair-weather fan over cake and ice cream. I hope my husband is happy; it’s obvious I have more pressing matters on my mind than the latest Jack White news.

Perhaps, if my spouse would stop this foolishness for a moment, he’d realize I’m thinking about him.

(Little does he know he’s getting a guitar for Christmas. That, and a pair of red and white pants.)

*I dated my share of out-there artsy types who did things like drive Hearses, dress like people from different eras, wear make-up, and get in character for their art. They always ended up embarrassing and frustrating me.

Monday meme on Tuesday (barely)

Just when I was feeling like it would be hopeless to squeeze a post out of my sleep-deprived head and steady my frazzled nerves enough to type something readable (3 hours of supervising a novice driver AND two massive pre-schooler separation anxiety meltdowns AND four hours of sleep) along came this little award and an easy meme. Praise you, blogging gods, for this unexpected treat.

Thank you, Mountain Momma Musings, for the props. I love that this momma lives in the mountains (Lake Tahoe!) and seems to live the life I dream of having someday. She is a fellow writer and doesn’t seem to take life’s bullets and arrows too seriously.

fabowidget

This meme asks me to name five obsessions. That’s easy. I’m an obsessive sort of gal:

1. The White Stripes or any band/project/production/commercial involving Jack White. It started with my love for local music and Detroit pride and a bunch of other six-degrees-of-separation stuff. Nearly a decade later, I just can’t shake this fixation. I don’t want to. Let’s just say a few shoulder-to-elbow encounters in smoky night clubs were the icing on the red, white and black cake of my adoration.

2. All things books, including libraries, nifty little independent bookstores and random piles of books at garage sales. I like the smell of old books. I like the smell of new books. I like cracking open a new (or new to me) book and getting lost in its words. I almost always carry a book with me.

3. I’m not a random TV watcher. Here’s what I do: I pick one show and then go crazy over it. I won’t watch anything else. Just that one show. A while back it was LOST. I was bordering on obnoxious over that show, chatting on forums, forming LOST discussion groups at work, reading every Web site on the Net for meaning and clues and spoilers. My latest obsession: “Six Feet Under,”  which I never watched when it aired on HBO, but now devour on DVD.( I’m looking a little embalmed lately from lack of sleep.)

4. All things Southwest and particularly New Mexico. I don’t know if I’d ever move there, but I sure do love the food and art and culture and jewelry and landscape and the almost indescribable  feeling it gives me every time I visit. Whenever I’m out  there, I  get the urge to sell my house, quit my job, buy an easel and set of paints and just go all Georgia O’Keeffe on everyone.

5. This is a new one: Resale. I’m fortunate to live in an area that has a wide array of vintage, contemporary and upscale resale shops with buyers of discriminating taste or at least creative vision. This is not the Salvation Army selection. This is not flea market or yard sale leftovers. Perhaps I’m getting smart about my money. Perhaps it’s the economy, but I’d rather pay $3 for a beautiful set of art deco candle sticks than $12 for something ‘cool’ but ultimately cookie cutter and sold in mass quantity at one of the big-box stores.

That was the easy part. Now for the difficult task of narrowing my list to five other bloggers. Make sure you stop by Mountain Momma Musings, where last I checked, she issued a memo to clueless tourists.

If you see your name below, please accept this delightful award, and tell us about your obsessions and tag five other bloggers. If you’ve already received this award, because there are a lot of these badges flying around in the blogosphere, now you have a matched set.

1. MamaMaryShow — Mary is a self-appointed “that girl, you know the one I’m talking about …” mother of two girls, in training for a marathon, and working on an inspirational book about women who’ve lost their fathers.

2. Diapers & Dragons — Teacher Mommy is brave enough to teach high school English. Her written words are a thing of beauty. Really.

3. MummyTime: She lives down under, near a train track and an airport. Oh, and four kids. No wonder she’s sleep deprived!

4. Mommyhood and Life — Coco is an amazing writer who bares her soul and inner-most secrets. Then, she pulls the rug out from under and does a weekly Time Warp feature that makes you laugh so hard you pee your pants. Just make sure you’re not sitting on your hard drive when you let loose.

5. My Babcia’s Babushka — Isn’t that a great name for a blog? She’s another fellow Detroit-area blogger who I’m just getting to know.

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Sometimes being a grown-up means acting like a baby

soldout

It went like this:

Yesterday I read online that a new band I like announced its tour dates.

Tickets went on sale at noon today.

My husband/keeper of the coin is out of town. 

I took an oath never to make online purchases behind his back with community money for crazy things like concert tickets. (I have a history.)

I was nowhere near Wi-Fi this morning.

I did not make it home at noon.

My husband was busy doing grown-up things like working to pay the bills and did not make it home by noon either. We both know that concert tickets for the latest garage band is not a priority right now. (I tend to act like a toddler on too much sugar at concerts.)

I made two phone calls too many on the topic. (Again, that history thing.)

At 2 p.m., tickets are sold out.

At 2:01 p.m. I stand up and do the Herman Munster foot stomp around the house.
Some of this has to do with my Jack White fixation. My husband isn’t in a big hurry to shell out cash to place me within touching distance of Jack White. I tell him it’s about the music, but he doesn’t believe me. (There is some history to this.)

Then I sat down and remembered the NPR broadcast I heard earlier today, as I was racing home to log on to the fan site and simultaneously trying to reach my husband via cell phone. It was about delayed gratification and not giving in to every urge and whim.

Sometimes, taking the grown-up route makes me act like a baby.

thanks, jack

A while back I wrote about Detroit, my love/hate relationship with the city on the strait and the White Stripes. I lamented the departure of Detroit native Jack White of the White Stripes and Raconteurs and wondered who next would put the D on the map in a positive light.

This morning, I opened up the Detroit Free Press to find this unexpected gift:

‘Courageous Dream’s Concern,’ by Jack White

I have driven slow,
three miles an hour or so,
through Highland Park, Heidelberg, and the
Cass Corridor.
I’ve hopped on the Michigan,
and transferred to the Woodward,
and heard the good word blaring from an
a.m. radio.
I love the worn-through tracks of trolley
trains breaking through their
concrete vaults,
As I ride the Fort Street or the Baker,
just making my way home.

I sneak through an iron gate, and fish
rock bass out of the strait,
watching the mail boat with
its tugboat gait,
hauling words I’ll never know.
The water letter carrier,
bringing prose to lonely sailors,
treading the big lakes with their trailers,
floats in blue green chopping waters,
above long-lost sunken failures,
awaiting exhumation iron whalers,
holding gold we’ll never know.

I’ve slid on Belle Isle,
and rowed inside of it for miles.
Seeing white deer running alongside
While I glide, in a canoe.
I’ve walked down Caniff holding a glass
Atlas root beer bottle in my hands
And I’ve entered closets of coney islands
early in the morning too.
I’ve taken malt from Stroh’s and Sanders,
felt the black powder of abandoned
embers,
And smelled the sawdust from wood cut
to rehabilitate the fallen edifice.
I’ve walked to the rhythm of mariachis,
down junctions and back alleys,
Breathing fresh-baked fumes of culture
nurtured of the Latin and the
Middle East.
I’ve fallen down on public ice,
and skated in my own delight,
and slid again on metal crutches
into trafficked avenues.

Three motors moved us forward,
Leaving smaller engines to wither,
the aluminum, and torpedo,
Monuments to unclaimed dreaming.
Foundry’s piston tempest captured,
Forward pushing workers raptured,
Frescoed families strife fractured,
Encased by factory’s glass ceiling.
Detroit, you hold what one’s been seeking,
Holding off the coward-armies weakling,
Always rising from the ashes
not returning to the earth.
I so love your heart that burns
That in your people’s body yearns
To perpetuate,
and permeate,
the lonely dream that does encapsulate,
Your spirit, that God insulates,
With courageous dream’s concern.

 

Already the Internet has unleashed the vipers to attack his writing, which I find sweet and true. I’ll not know the true motivations behind the words, but for this Detroiter, all I can say is Thank You.