Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Why Jack White Is Better Than Daytona Beach, Florida"

This argument will be based solely on personal experience. Why not?

In one corner, you have a pasty white man from Detroit who took his wife's name after they married. A former upholsterer turned blues rocker whose stripped-down, bare bones approach to twenty-first century rock made me feel like I was a pimply teenager again. Inspirational, vibrant, impressive and cool. And in the other corner you have the cyst on the hemorrhoid that is Florida.

Jack White plays 600 instruments, belts out his own lyrics and refuses to talk to the press like so many mascara rock stars. He lets his music do the talking.

Every year on the east coast of Florida, eight million (no exaggeration) tourists descend on the parking lot once known as Daytona Beach. Why wouldn't they? There is so much to choose from. Bike Week is always fun. Thousands of meth heads on motorcycles drag three metric tons of body odor and sun-bleached leather to line the streets of the small town for seven days of drinking, driving, and date rape. Of course, there's always the Great Race known as The Daytona 500. It’s the premier event of the NASCAR season. Auto racing is the only activity in America that dictates that anyone who can sustain 130 degree temperatures in a sitting position while driving in a circle is an athlete. Have fun is the sun sucking gas fumes and tire treads for five hours, than wait in traffic on I-95 for three days to get home.

The White Stripes shook up the music world along with a half dozen roots rock bands that did everything they could to get attention away from Britney and Christina. That's almost cultural heroism in my book.

You can't talk Daytona without discussing the World's Most Famous Beach. Now you have to pay for it, of course. Twenty miles of tire treads and fat hairy tourists in Speedos with more back hair than grains of sand on the Earth itself. It’s an appetizing treat when you're digging sand out of your swimsuit to eat an overpriced greasy hot dog flavored with nacho cheese, and of course, sand.

The water is beautiful. No question. Although the Gulf of Mexico is prettier. Don't tell Daytona that. This is the beach of the people. Blaring stereos from oversized trucks; belching a series of Chevy and Ford commercials that might be music but you're not sure. Kids running in and out of traffic, college jocks playing Frisbee over your head and, most importantly, the sun. Hot, remorseless UV rays singed my back every week of my formative years. I spent countless hours peeling dead, flaky skin from my back, because apparently sunscreen wasn't invented until I graduated in 1990. I turned my nose up to shady parks and pools because I got to go to Daytona and have all my friends slap my aching sunburned back every Monday at school Ha! I got a tan! Yay!

I've seen Jack White perform in concert three times. Each show was insanely good. I was taken out of the humdrum of my normal life and was a carefree boy again; enjoying music the way I used to, with no pretense or analysis. Just fun.

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