Guacamole Gate 3.0: In Letter, Jack White Says He’s ‘Disappointed in Young Journalists’ at OU
My fingers are dancing with glee over my laptop keyboard this morning largely because I am able to confirm: Folks, Guacamole Gate has officially entered its third week.
Why? Because Jack White is publicly whining. The rock star released a silly, sanctimonious, poorly capitalized open letter yesterday confirming he remains “disappointed in young journalists” at The Oklahoma Daily.
For those not yet in the loop (get there): Earlier this month, the Daily reported on some quirky details included in a contract White signed to perform at the University of Oklahoma — “including demands that no bananas be present anywhere, no photos be allowed and guacamole be made for him according to his own recipe.” White wigged out a bit on stage about the related Daily article. And soon after the show, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment — which represents White — announced it was blacklisting OU. The agency said it will not allow any of its clients to perform at the school, asserting that it does want to risk them being embarrassed like White by student journalists who are simply out for the truth.
Considering the contract’s quirkiness, White’s on-stage response to the Daily report about it and the subsequent entertainment blacklisting of a major American university, media coverage worldwide has remained steady in recent days.
Well, White apparently has had enough. And he is telling the world that in a letter. How quaint. To borrow a phrase from the Brian Williams scandal, this is a bungled attempt by a musician to ask the public and press to let him do what he wants, for whatever reason he wants and not report on it unless he gives the OK.
Below is the full text of White’s letter in all its caps-challenged glory — with my responses to various parts in parentheses.
dear journalists and other people looking for drama or a diva, [Dan Note: Perfect greeting. Attempt to defuse a controversial situation by starting off with an FU to the press.]
even in the age of the short attention span internet article, it’s still hard to believe you are STILL writing about this:
seems like there’s a new rule number one for up and coming journalists: don’t let the facts get in the way of click bait. at the risk of incurring even more of this hoo haa (and i’ve definitely turned my cheek more than once lately) and even though our management sent out a letter to clarify this, and since this seems to be all anyone can ask me about lately, here’s the real deal, and hopefully it’ll explain this nonsensical scenario and we can move on with our lives. (or what have you).
first off, this is none of your business, but i have no specific demands in my dressing room. [Dan Note: Then tell your management team. Because in your contract you do. So you’re either lying or badly misinformed.] i know i could ask for lots of things but i actually don’t ask for ANYTHING. i take with me what i need, and that ain’t much. anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. this “guacamole recipe” is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. it’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. though i wouldn’t know because i’ve never had it. i can’t even make kool aid let alone cook any real food enough to have a “recipe.” sorry, i don’t have that talent. [Dan Note: Wow, hilarious. Waste kind-hearted people’s time to procure odd items and create a preposterous concoction simply to “break up the boredom” for you and your staff. Dude, I’d be more on your side if you actually were really into guacamole. After reading this graf though, I officially think you and your “hilarious tour manager” are actual divas.]
bananas: did it occur to anyone someone on the tour might have an allergy to them? no? hmmm. [Dan Note: Then simply say that in the contract. Explanation is eloquence.] one day some fantasy journalist out there will call someone in the biz and actually have a rider explained to them, maybe none of them have ever been on tour. oh well, let’s move on, first amendment issues: i fully believe in the freedom of the press (though the supposed search for truth from the press requires microscopes and a some morton salt), and i also defend anyone’s right to free speech (just look at my lack of respect for grammar in this letter and tell me i’m not for communicating freely) and i defend the right to free information in regards to public funds, but never in my 20 years of playing shows has my contract and tour rider been published in the paper that i recall. [Dan Note: That makes the Daily’s reporting all the more terrific from my perspective. Just because other press outlets were too lazy, preoccupied or unaware of their Freedom of Information Act rights doesn’t make the Daily’s action wrong. Lack of precedent is not a defense here. Good journalism is good journalism, sometimes BECAUSE it is covering something no one has covered before.]
do you know why we don’t do that or want that? a hundred articles about bananas, free speech, and guacamole is why; it’s because people don’t understand what a rider is or what the terms of a contract are. they’re out of their element, and you can’t blame them for it. and people who write about that know this. people WANT a rider to be a list of demands that a diva insists occur lest he or she refuse to play a note of music.
but in reality, it’s just some food and drinks backstage for the hundred workers and guests who have to live in a concrete bunker for 15 hours. some people bring their own living rooms on tour, some people ask for a huge spread. who cares? what you’re looking for is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s, sorry to disappoint. [Dan Note: Then don’t have your manager ask for a ridiculously complex meal that no one intends to eat.]
someone printed that i’m never going to oklahoma again? not true. i love oklahoma, that’s why i booked this show instead of playing chicago or atlanta for four times as much money. ask around in tulsa. i’ve been there at least three times on these last two albums. i love it there. our booking agent warned the college that other artists might not book shows there? of course they did, it’s bad business what that school paper did and really rude. of course they are going to tell them to wise up. [Dan Note: Your agency didn’t simply state its dissatisfaction. It BLACKLISTED the entire university. Think about the implications of that type of indirect censorship — we don’t like what you’re writing so we’re withholding our performers until we do.]
am i pissed at the students at oklahoma university? absolutely not. am i disappointed in young journalists at their school paper? absolutely. [Dan Note: Don’t call them young journalists. They’re journalists. Or can we call you an aging rock star?] but i forgive them, they’re young and have learned their lesson about truth and ethics hopefully. [Dan Note: Yes, but the lesson they’re taking away is the opposite of what you think. Their reporting has been picked up and built on by hundreds of news outlets worldwide, ensuring your team has to think twice before treating a rider like a fiefdom and forcing you to explain yourself. Lesson: There is power in digging, exploring and sharing newsworthy and interesting info.] all they have to do is google this to know that it’s not worth it. look for real problems instead next time. [Dan Note: This may not be Watergate, but you pocketed $80,000 from the university to perform. Daily staffers were simply examining what was involved in that big-money contract.] look for the truth, not fake drama. [Dan Note: Umm, you created the drama by calling out the Daily on stage.] i got pissed during my show and berated the crowd? no. sorry, didn’t happen. i made jokes about the paper publishing that info, so which of us is thin skinned? they have freedom of speech but i don’t? at my show? ok. [Dan Note: Do what you want. But you were in front of 5,000 people — so jokes or actual rants will be reported.] i guess the rules change for different people. the crowd were amazing and we played for 2 and a half hours that night. [Dan Note: Yes, that’s called earning $80,000.] people were told to delete photos on their camera? i dont know much about that but it must be a miscommunication about what was public property at the college and the contract we had with the university to let us do our work in peace; but i’ll give you an example, if someone working at a theater we played at started taking pictures of all of our workers and our gear they’d probably get fired by their theater or promoter. sorry to the student paper budding press papparazzi [sic] on that one, but is this a tmz assignment or can you give us some peace while we try to put on a show for the students? give us a break man. [Dan Note: I’ve seen no evidence that the Daily team aimed to engage in actual paparazzi behavior — and you wanting a break is not a strong enough rationale to create a contract that usurps the First Amendment.]
i know it’s a fun thing for people to try to turn me into a jerk and a diva, but in this case it’s pretty ridiculous and has almost nothing to do with me. [Dan Note: It apparently has so little to do with you that you’ve penned a lengthy letter yourself and shared it publicly.] my relationship with the fans at that show and how we got to a new place together through music remains intact and i’d love to do it again with them.
i think that’s everything, can i go back to making music now? no? ok. crochet it is. [Dan Note: May I suggest a white stripes pattern?]