GuacGate: White lies and tour bus blunders
Thom Behrens | Monday, February 9, 2015
Whether one strategizes their public relations with trashing hotel rooms, smashing guitars onstage or canceling multi-digit numbers of tour dates with no warnings or apologies, the reputation associated with any punk-charged musical act often has more to do with imagery and perceived ideology than it does with musical talent.
Nirvana, Misfits and The Ramones have all made undeniable and undeniably creative contributions to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, but what sets these groups apart goes deeper than the aesthetics of their respective sounds: it’s the attitude that grounds and fuels that aesthetic.
In the 21st century, it’s hard to have a conversation about the devil-may-care punk aesthetic without mentioning Jack White. Call his music simple, causeless or whatever qualms you may have — you can’t deny the dude is a demagogue. Twenty years ago, he disseminated his records by sewing them into the furniture he re-upholstered with bandmate Brian Muldoon as garage rock outfit The Upholsterers. White has made major waves worldwide in multiple outfits. Fourteen years of infective, dirty riffs with ex-wife Meg White (who was, for years, by official statement of the band, his sister), the conception of critically and popularly acclaimed acts The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather and now two solo albums have swept White to the top of playlists for high school rebels and young adult rockers.
What better place to bring such appeal than to a college campus? On Feb. 2, White played a show at Oklahoma University. In a publicity disaster now being referred to (by The Observer) as GuacGate, The OU Daily utilized the Freedom of Information Act and released the artist’s terms of contract with the OU Campus Activities Council. Their stated intention was to inform readers where their money was going, but the outcome was much more interesting (and way funnier). The very first line of the “meals” stipulations in the terms of agreement reads: “This is a no banana tour. We don’t want to see bananas anywhere near the building.” It goes on to detail elaborate, specific and expensive requests for accommodating Jack and his entire road crew — almost 30 people in total. One of the most notable and smirk-jerking items on the list was not only the request for, but an entire recipe to homemade guacamole. “Keep the avocado pits. The tomatoes are to be vine-ripened. The lime juice should cover most of the surface of the dip.” This is Jack White.
The article was released three days before the show.
White’s agency has since blacklisted Oklahoma for future performances. During the show, White dropped a line arguing the legitimacy of The OU Daily’s ability to publish his contract. It’s been picked up by The Washington Post and The Huffington Post and is generally being made into a really big deal. My only question is why?
The contract isn’t at all inconsistent with the image White puts forth: crazy, eccentric and always writing and playing with the attitude of a man who has long held life by the horns he grabbed 13 studio albums ago. Being an artist is about making something you love, but why bother with the heat and exhaustion of being famous enough to share it if you can’t ask for a medium steak without any sauce after the show? Especially if people are willing to make it for you. I’m glad he’s having fun and am surprised that people are upset about The OU Daily exposing how much fun being Jack White actually is.