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The 12 Weirdest Tidbits of Jack White’s NY Times Magazine Profile

Jack White
Ian Gavan, Getty Images

The New York Times Magazine just ran an awesome long-form profile of Jack White by the phenomenal Josh Eells (who also recently scored a Rolling Stone cover story on the ‘Hunger Games”s Jennifer Lawrence). For those of you out there who want to be writers, take heed: this is what we call “detail” in the business — in the case of Jack White, they’re called “really weird details.” Here’s our favorite dirty dozen snippets from the full piece:

  1. On his desk sat a cowbell, a pocketknife, a George Orwell reader and an antique ice-cream scoop. There was also a stack of business cards that read: “John A. White III, D.D.S. — Accidentist and Occidental Archaeologist.”
  2. White famously doesn’t own a cellphone, but he isn’t the Luddite he’s often made out to be. He has an iPod; he knows how to Skype. His friend Conan O’Brien says he’ll occasionally e-mail to say he laughed at a tweet.
  3. White’s mansion is on seven hilly acres in southwestern Davidson County, just down the road from Hank Williams’ old house. There was a barn-red guesthouse out back, but the main house was almost all white — stately columns, a white porch swing and a white veranda straight out of “Gone With the Wind.” Only the front door and the two chimneys were red.
  4. Thanks to some quirk of [bedroom] acoustics, he said, “I can’t hear the rain.” He wanted to pipe in the noise to speakers in his bedroom and listen to the rain while he fell asleep.”
  5. White said he hates the limitations society imposed when it came to relationships. “I’ve always felt it’s ridiculous to say, of any of the females in my life: You’re my friend, you’re my wife, you’re my girlfriend, you’re my co-worker,” he said. “This is your box, and you’re not allowed to stray outside of it.” I told him it sounded as if monogamy might not be for him, and he laughed. “You think?” he said. “I gave that up a long time ago. Those rules don’t apply anymore.”
  6. There were also some tools for welding, which White said he was getting into through his friend Bob Dylan. “I’d never done it before, and he’d been doing it for a while, so he kind of gave me the lowdown,” he said. One day the two of them were sitting on White’s front porch, just enjoying the view, when Dylan turned to him and said, “You know, Jack — I could do something about that gate.” “That would be pretty cool,” White said, laughing. “I don’t know what kind of discount I’m going to get.”
  7. White thinks of computer programs for recording music like Pro Tools as “cheating.” He records only in analog, never digital, and edits his tape the old-fashioned way: with a razor blade.
  8. His favorite guitar while in the White Stripes was made of plastic and came from Montgomery Ward.
  9. White once said he has three dads: his biological father, God and Bob Dylan. Dylan was the first concert he ever saw — he says he had seat No. 666 — and he shares with his hero a love for manipulating and obscuring his own persona.
  10. Near the end of high school, he met a girl from Grosse Pointe, Mich., named Megan White. They started dating, and by the fall of 1996, when he was 21, they were married. White took his wife’s name and taught her to play the drums. He has said that she didn’t really want to, that he had to push her. But he had an idea for a two-piece blues band, and he thought her untutored style would be perfect.
  11. In the summer of 2007, when they were at the peak of their fame, the White Stripes staged a Canadian tour featuring a string of unusual side gigs. They played a bowling alley in Saskatoon, a flour mill in Ontario, a senior citizens’ center in Nunavut. In New Brunswick, they played a show that lasted for a single note. (It was an E. The crowd chanted, “One more note!”)
  12. White, meanwhile, said he hadn’t thought about his own death much, but as always, he was mindful of his myth. “I told my wife: If we’re on a road trip, and we pull into a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I die in the car — can you please drive across the street to the hardware store?”
As the Times headline says, White really is the “Coolest, Weirdest, Savviest Rock Star Of Our Time.” We knew that much from his latest video — and we’re grateful for his wide-ranging strange.

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