WILL THE REAL JACK WHITE PLEASE STAND UP?

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I'd certainly take this with a large grain of salt — but when I got into a very busy office yesterday morning, after a much needed day off, the first message on my voicemail was this:

"Hey, Bill, it's Jack White calling. Just want to know what you want me to do and when. Let me know. Just would like you to put in writing exactly how you'd like me to change and figure out a way to support the local arts in a way that's different from what I'm doing. Let me know and I'll get right on it! Thanks for the support and thanks for supporting the local arts. And that comes from everybody from the heart, too, by the way. Cheers!"

I'm going to assume I was being put on — Jack White is not going to take the time to call the music editor of the Metro Times at this point in his career, for godssakes, although I do remember Billy Joel calling me and bitching me out on the phone years ago when he was still scoring No. 1 albums, singles and tours ... so whatever. Brian Smith — who's received less kind messages from JW in the past — says that only the first sentence sounds like it could be the rock star's voice, although it also could be him if he's suffering stage voice hoarseness ... and the dude is currently touring ... so, again, whatever.

However, I suppose I could use this as an opportunity to answer the comments made in the original JW post from two days ago that led to all this in the first place. What more can/should Jack White do for the "local arts" in Detroit? Absolutely nothing. In fact, it probably would be better if he did exactly that — namely, absolutely nothing. He's done enough for Detroit, and his name — like so many musical icons before him — will forever be linked with this city. That's a fine thing. And now it's certainly time for everyone and for Detroit itself to move on.

I guess my comment about everybody "adopting that same sentiment" (as in: "Who the f--- is Jack White?") was rightfully misunderstood. Jack White's specter hangs over Detroit's music scene sort of the same way Kwame's ghost will haunt the city for a long time to come. I mean, there must be a reason why British journalists and A&R reps are no longer hanging out in droves in the local clubs

and I partially blame it on Detroit's obsession with Mr. White. Since I've been back in Michigan these last 14 months, I've heard all the stories about the personal vendettas and about how some long-held relationships were even destroyed based on a desire for Jack's approval. But little of this matters at all in the grand scheme of things.

When the White Stripes initially became stars, I was still living in Los Angeles. I thought it was very cool in an early interview with JW by my pal Bob Cantu when JW claimed he didn't want his band to be just for the "hipster cool kids" who put down the nerds and had major attitude. I later saw them in a small club, a small theater, at a large outdoor amphitheater and then at the massive Coachella music festival ... and kinda thought there needed to be more — especially at those three latter gigs — but also understood why they were so big, even if I decided I was more of a Raveonettes kinda guy (while respecting the Stripes for, unlike the Red Hot Chili Peppers, being smart enough to proceed rather than follow the debut performance of the reunited Stooges long before the latter recorded that kinda lame comeback LP). I later thought JW was a bit of an ass when, for the first time, he said those negative things about Detroit in Britain's MOJO magazine (for which, along with Rolling Stone and NME, I've written over the years — that's in response to commenter/detractor shinealight's comments regarding my failed journalistic aspirations, lol) — but that was also long before I returned to this city, too.

So other than perhaps giving a local writer an in-depth, honest interview about Detroit and his problems with us — that recent not-so-great poem was hardly enough — JW owes Detroit absolutely nothing at this stage of the game. As I told his publicist when offering JW the cover of MT right before the Raconteurs came to town, though, he might be surprised how much some of us agree with him on certain issues.

At any rate, I don't think I'm “jealous of” or “obsessed with” or even "full of hate for" JW (lol again), or even take constant potshots at the dude. I figure my job here is to comment on the local (and sometimes not-so-local) music scene — and that's what I try to do. I heard from several major Jack White fans after I reviewed the Raconteurs' second album earlier this year who thought the review was one of the best and most fair they'd read; it was certainly one of the more favorable he received in Detroit ... and the disc is probably still a contender for this year's Top 10, certainly Top 15 (it's turning into a pretty good year for albums, believe it or not), list. (I should probably also mention that I went out and bought the album with my own money, by the way; no "freebies" there.) The live show here in Detroit was another story, of course ... but I calls 'em as I sees 'em. So, no, shinealight, I didn't date movie stars (though I've hung with a few), marry a supermodel or make a million dollars (bummer on that last one!) ... but, hell, when you were born and raised in Bad Axe, simply moving to Detroit is a big deal (!) ... and I did leave Michigan for 20 years and didn't do too badly in my (perhaps now regretfully) chosen profession.

All this over a Coke ad! But I will say to shinealight, in conclusion, that Google is indeed your friend, one of the better tools to be found on the Internets, if you know how to use it. (We even have a special Google search tool right here on this Website!) Not only can it prove to, say, um, the pseudonymous Upton Sinclair that while MT writers certainly may be "behind the times," we still managed to report that story eight or so hours before the L.A. Times did. Google can also lead you to the following tidbit ... which makes me believe that you're damn tootin' JW got paid by Coke for work he did for the company in the past. I mean, didn't JW market red & white White Stripes cameras a year ago this time? So what's the big deal? And, finally, as I had hoped to illustrate in that previous post, "No Matter What Shape Your Stomach's In" was a great song back in the day, regardless of whether it was in an Alka-Seltzer commercial or coming from an AM car radio.

On Tuesday (April 18, 2006), a spokesperson for Coca-Cola confirmed to MTV that the [Jack White Coke] commercial is authentic and that it does, in fact, feature a song White wrote exclusively for the company, though he would not elaborate on just how the partnership came to be.

"We've worked with him over the last few months," Coke spokesperson Andras Kallos told MTV News. "I can't speak about the collaboration, but I can tell you that the commercial made its worldwide debut earlier this month on Australian TV during the [MTV Australia Video Music Awards]."

Kallos said he has no idea if the commercial will air in the U.S., or if it will only make the rounds in international markets [though an additional Google search will reveal that the ad also aired at least once in the U.K.]

BTW: You can now hear the entire new James Bond theme by clicking here. On first listen, it ain't Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" (or Howard Devoto and Magazine's excellent cover of it, for that matter) — but, then, what is?

Have a safe and peaceful weekend, friends...

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