Friday, September 22, 2006

The Second-Most Offensive Story In Last Weekend's Globe
I got so caught up in my entertaining, though vaguely offensive, discussion of the Polaris Prize that I forgot to heap attention upon the other music-related highlight of my week - John Mayer's talk with The Globe and Mail's Sarah Hampson, in which Mayer proceeds to make an ass of himself with seemingly little prodding from his interviewer. The best part is that after Mayer's done hanging himself, Hampson comes in with a baseball bat to get in one last lick on his still-twitching corpse. Highly entertaining.

Let's go to the highlights.

The gossip tabloids have it right, I figure. John Mayer dumps Jessica Simpson? He accused her of using him for publicity? Sure, I believe it, especially after what he told me a few weeks ago ... At a mere 28 years of age, he possesses an unusual combination of qualities. He is thoughtful and earnest, but has the arrogance of the gifted. He is famous, and knows it, but is repulsed by celebrity culture.

"This is what I want to do my entire life," he says of his music career. "I've looked up heroes in the black-and-white photos. I go to the record store when I get depressed and just take in what's around there," he continues, leaning forward now with big, brown, soulful eyes. "And that's not conducive to hanging out in Hollywood nightspots. Not that I will never be found in front of one, because I defend the ability to go out to one if I want to.

"But my altar is in a whole different church. Know what I mean? It's not the church of Hollywood. It's not the church of attention. It's not the church of blind affection."

If that's not already in a lyric in one of his song's, I'm offering 3-to-1 odds it will be.

He asks himself for "strength not to be seduced" by celebrity culture, he tells me. Still, he relished the moment he was famous enough for people to recognize him. "I was hoping to feel that it was difficult for me to be at the mall, because I was being recognized. Fuck the mall. That was the best moment of my life," he explains.

Anybody see CSI last night? Mayer was on and it was during his "concert" that one of the detectives got drugged (on her way, presumably, to getting raped). This will soon be part of a series I'm developing for Fox entitled, "When TV Guest Spots Go Horribly Wrong."

It's a different kind of entitlement Mayer suffers from. It's not the entitlement people of wealth or privilege often have: that life should be easy and that success should be delivered on a silver platter. His form of entitlement is more rare. It's the feeling that he deserves fame, was destined for it, in fact, because of his immense talent. (As he says, when talking about his music on Continuum, "It's very important for me to listen to it and go, 'Wow, this is who you really are. If you got lucky, you got lucky way too much for it to be luck.' ") Such self-adulation may explain why Mayer feels above the trappings of fame. He doesn't need celebrity to remind him how great he is.

Seriously. Did the producers of CSI tell him that was going to happen? Because how on earth do you say yes to that? 'All right John, here's what we're going to do. You're going to be playing your new song, everyone's going to be having a great time and then one of the lead characters is going to get raped by, presumably, one of your fans. Sound good? Great. Let's do this.'

Mayer's big, famous life may feel fated to him, but he doesn't seem to be enjoying it much. "I'm at this point in my life, and have been for quite a while, that I'm doing so well that most anybody I meet at a party would only be, at best, somebody who doesn't bring me down. I don't meet people who can give to me. I've been given so much and have been blessed so much that for me, if I go to a party, I am the celebrity at the party. I'm not going to meet a celebrity at a party. And for me to have a good time is so rare. The chances of meeting someone you can learn from are far smaller than the chances of meeting someone who will take from you."

Tighten noose, insert head. Miss Hampson, if you'll do the honours of the final shot...

I have only thing to say to that: Jessica, honey, run as fast as your stilettos will let you.

I'd pay good money to see the e-mails Hampson received in response to this.

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