June 14, 2021

The fall of the Wenner house | Babelia

The fall of the Wenner house | Babelia


This is a custom book. Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone, he met Joe Hagan, journalist freelancer, and there was a crush: he considered himself the perfect man to write his biography. He hoped, one could imagine, a new celebration of his great achievement: convert a newspaper underground of San Francisco in a half mainstream, able to influence the political future of the United States (in 2010, an interview with the general Stanley McChrystal made him lose his position as commander in chief in Afghanistan).

And personal triumph. Wenner, a bad student at the University of Berkeley, had the doors open to the White House (when it is occupied by Democrats) and all the exterior signs of the billionaires: house in the Hamptons, skiing in Aspen, private plane, yacht holidays .

Joe Hagan reflects all that, while ruthlessly portraying the groupism of Jann, unable to deny anything to Bond, Springsteen and other luminaries (they can even supervise their covers and their interviews). Although he is not very musiquero, he works as a keeper of the canon of rock: maneuvering with the dissembler Ahmet Ertegün, appropriated the Rock & Roll of Fame -an alien idea- and uses that position to reward his favorites and mortify his enemies.

He does not bother to hide his phobias. In illo tempore, Paul Simon He became infatuated with a girlfriend and, later, with his wife. Wenner punished him with the ninguneo, while giving court at least talented Art Garfunkel, one of those editorial peculiarities that disconcerted readers. Special case is Mick jagger. Since always, Wenner has wanted to neutralize the threat of litigation that meant baptize his biweekly with a name so close to the British set. Instead of agreeing, Jagger has preferred to extract concessions. An example: at the beginning of the century, Wenner wanted to open a Rolling Stone Hotel in Las Vegas and it occurred to him to offer to play there once a year, as if the Stones needed bowling; Shrewdly, Jagger negotiated a nice percentage of the future profits of the establishment. That, in any case, it was never built, victim of crash of 2008, which caused so much trouble citizen Wenner.

The fall of the Wenner house

By the way! Thanks to the total access facilitated by Jann, Hagan uncovers an episode of 1975, when Jagger is about to die by overdose, breaking the careful image of the singer as a moderate hedonist, in contrast to the excesses of Keith Richards. Hagan is a rigorous journalist, but at some point he decided that the biography would respond to the parameters of the famouse era: that is, abundant flogging about drugs, sex and money. Wenner limped on all three legs.

For decades, he exercised shameful homosexuality. It left the closet in 1995, after pairing with the model Matt Mye. The heroine of the book is Jane Schindelheim, Wenner's wife: her family provided funding when Rolling Stone I gasped she herself imposed some sanity on a husband who gave in to too many temptations.

See that we talk about lifestyles. Hagan is not overly interested in the aesthetic evolution of Rolling Stone or the abandonment of those critics and journalists who gave cultural consistency to the project. For those who want to know that section, look for Rolling Stone: an Uncensored History, of Robert Draper, a book that Wenner hates.

Hagan can argue that it is not necessary to emphasize Wenner's merits as the commitment to new journalism, with special support for Tom Wolfe Y Hunter S. Thompson. The novelty: the biographer portrays the decline of Wenner as an entrepreneur. In 2006, the Hearst group was willing to buy Rolling Stone and your profitable weekly gossip, US Weekly, for about 1,100 million dollars. Unable to renounce the privileges inherent in his position, Wenner rejected the deal.

It would be a wonderful quixotic gesture if, then, he had succeeded in straightening the plummeting of his creature. And not. Already lost your soul, Rolling Stone He also renounced his packaging: it was reduced to a multicolored bulletin, with a scarce template. Entrapped, the banks demanded that Jann dispense with his Gulfstream and other whims of the new rich. Finally, US Weekly was swallowed by an unconditional Trump; the jewel in the crown was sold for a fraction of what Hearst offered him.

The new Rolling Stone It has recovered the bearing of the old times. It is a monthly magazine of 9.99 dollars (8.72 euros) that tries to combine the hagiography of showy current stars with the old menu of bellicose political information and hard reporting. Wenner's name is still listed as a "founder and editorial director", but, I fear, they will no longer require their burning letters indicating who to vote for in the presidential elections.

Sticky Fingers Joe Hagan. Translation of Ainhoa ​​Segura Mayor. Neo Person, 2018 700 pages. 24.90 euros.

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