And as everyone knows, it’s usually the children who turn out to be the recipients of collateral damage… Above, the celebrity couple in happier times.
By Perez Mills
It’s been a busy few days for Jack White and ex-wife Karen Elson – or, more accurately, for their lawyers and all the Internet trolls who have been breathlessly reporting every grunt, hiccup and leaked email. For the rest of you who actually have a life and not necessarily the spare time to track all this crap, we present the following recap, along with box scores:
*2011: Jack White and Karen Elson amicably divorce and even mark the occasion with a big party that, presumably, paints them along “still good friends” lines and bodes well for their subsequent shared custody of their two children. According to the party invites: “We remain dear and trusted friends and co-parents to our wonderful children Scarlett and Henry Lee. We feel so fortunate for the time we have shared and the time we will continue to spend both separately and together watching our children grow. In honor of that time shared, we are throwing a divorce party, an evening together in Nashville to re-affirm our friendship and celebrate the past and future with close friends and family.” (ADVANTAGE: tie.)
*July 22, 2013: White is served a restraining order signed by Circuit Court Judge Philip Robinson and barring “any contact with wife whatsoever except as it relates to parenting time with the parties’ minor children.” (ADVANTAGE: Elson)
*Aug. 1, 2013: Nashville’s The City Paper reports that “Elson has sought and received a restraining order against rock star White after a flurry of harassment allegations.” At this point Elson has already retained “divorce lawyer to the Nashville stars” Rose Palermo, who is insisting that the courts require a “custodial psychological evaluation” for White. Additional details disclosed include Elson’s claims that White is overly aggressive, is an unfit father and has a violent temper, plus the not-too-insignificant notation that White has been upset over Elson attending the wedding of a certain Nashville musician who White feels has “ripped off his music” and additionally has kids in the same school as White’s and Elson’s children. (ADVANTAGE: Elson.)
*Aug. 1, 2013: Internet trolls speculate, with a high degree of confidence, that the aforementioned musician is Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Here’s what one commenter to the City Paper online story said, of White: “doushebag.. this says he laid into her for being friendly with musicians who “ripped off his music”… Does that mean Neil Michael Hagerty and Jon Spencer can whip his sorry no talent ass? I always knew he was a scumbag and I think the nation owes the Von Bondies an apology… oh by the way I hear one of the musicians involved, well his band’s name starts with “black” and ends with “keys”… sounds like “back bees”.. shhhh….” —bebop210 (ADVANTAGE: trolls)
*Aug. 2, 2013: Leaked emails emerge, apparently sourced to official court documents, confirming that the musician is indeed Auerbach, who as Rolling Stone lucidly notes, “rose to fame fronting a blues-y Midwestern garage-rock duo with a monochromatic name. ‘My conce[r]n with Auerbach is because I don’t want the kids involved in any of that crap,’ White wrote in an email to Elson. ‘That’s a possible 12 fucking years I’m going to have to be sitting in kids chairs next to that asshole with other people trying to lump us in together. He gets yet another free reign to follow me around and copy me and push himself into my world.’” In another email White goes off on Elson, saying, “Absolutely no threat [h]as been made in any possible way. You are the one turning this into a standard destruction of a friendship so that it feeds your dirty lawyer checkbook. You have no right to try and villainize me to help your aims.” (ADVANTAGE: White)
*Aug. 2, 2013: White, via his lawyer Cathy Speers Johnson, files a motion with the courts in which he responds to Elson’s claims. Reports Rolling Stone, ”‘The reason for filing this response is that Mr. White does not want to be portrayed as something he is not, violent toward his wife and children,” the countermotion reads. The filing cites a series of emails from Elson to White in which she praises his parenting abilities. ‘You’re an amazing father, I’m so glad we had these kids together,’ Elson wrote in an email to White dated May 19th, 2013. White’s attorney calls Elson’s motion for a psychiatric exam ‘inflammatory . . . . disingenuous, fraudulent and retaliatory and simply designed to malign him in the public record or to gain an upper hand in this litigation’… The countermotion states that Elson left their children in his care the day after signing her restraining order affidavit, while she took a 10-day ‘work/pleasure trip’ to New York. The following day, she filed her motion requesting a psychiatric exam. ‘One who was truly fearful of another would not leave their children alone with that person for 10 days,’ White’s response says. ‘The truth of the matter is that Ms. Elson is not fearful for herself or the parties’ minor children.’” (ADVANTAGE: White)
Keeping track of all this? Hey, we’re only up to August 3! There’s more, of course, and certainly more to come, but it’s clear that at the time being, the match is a dead heat between Elson and White.
There is a winner, however, and that would be…. Drumroll please… THE LAWYERS