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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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.

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.