Let me say straightaway that though the song in question, the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” which first introduced me to the voice of a sweet angel named Merry Clayton, is often considered among Stones fanatics a career pinnacle. . .; I don't even really consider it a part of the Stones' oeuvre. Merry Clayton pulls off the unfathomable: She steals a song—not just a song, but one so powerful that it is routinely, rightly or not, credited with pronouncing the death of the flower-power Sixties—from Mick bloody Jagger.
Whether you want it or not, there will more than likely be some sort of ceremony to mark your passing, and you hope it will be a celebration of your life, not your death. Either way, let’s say that before you kicked the bucket you’ve specified the manner in which you’d like to be disposed, and that’s been carried out. (I, for instance, plan to be buried in my ’73 VW Beetle in my backyard beside all my beloved cats and dogs.) Have you given directions for your wake—how you would like to be celebrated?
Imagine the Ark in all its glory: an ancient ship, built of pine, fir, and cedar, rising out of the hills of Northern Kentucky. It will be taller than the Giza pyramids, longer than an American football field by a good one hundred feet, and shaped like a cargo ship, with a cambered roof and a small stern projection like a rudder. On board, there will be animals: zebras and monkeys, alligators and ostriches. The robotic beasts will appear incredibly life-like, with roving eyes and real fur and iridescent scales of molded foam rubber.
In his essay "Jack My Heart," from our just-released Summer issue, William Giraldi confesses to a long obsession with Jack White. . . However, he also frames obsession in a more encompassing scope, questioning the demographics of permitted preoccupation ("If you're a prepubescent lass with Bieber eyes, infatuation is fine"), its strange glamorization, and obsession's omnipresence in literature. Building on these themes, I caught up with Giraldi via email this past month and asked him to riff a bit more on the fever of obsession.
The author reflects on his all-consuming obsession with the White Stripes: "But now—a husband and father of two young boys, a mortgage holder soon to be bushwhacked by forty? Is it not shameful, obsession in this strata of life? Shameful because irresponsible. Irresponsible because every real obsession is an expensive, fatiguing time-suck. How does a grown man come to obsess over a rock band unless something fundamental is lacking in his psyche and soul?"