FROM THE DESK OF LADY GAGA
Date: March 2012
Re: More Pearls Please
To: STEPHEN GAN Copy to: MS. VREELAND, YANKEES, METS, THE BRAIN OF THE INDUSTRY, MIKIMOTO, MOLLUSKS, CLEOPATRA, ALL PLAYERS, COACHES, ALL-STARS, AND CONFUSED VETERANS
“Nobody likes the game that they’ve won over and over again to change.”
So for the Sports Issue of V, I suppose some of you wondered if I would vacation for the month. Perhaps I would come up with some benign excuse, or feign some sort of city-girl confusion: write about sportswear? Or sports where? When, in fact, I grew up a huge baseball fan. Google now “Lady Gaga at the Mets game,” and you will find a photograph of a not-so-sober version of myself flipping the Bronx cheer with my friends. Which deemed problematic, as we weren’t actually in the Bronx.* [See Footnote.] It was the first time in nearly two years that I was actually being scolded by my father—partly for misbehaving in public and partly for attending a Mets game. But that’s the beauty of baseball, isn’t it? I was able to drown myself in so much whiskey, beer, and Italian sausage that after two years of touring the world I: (A) completely forgot that I am famous, (B) was completely wasted indeed, wearing my costume from the “Telephone” video, and (C) am still confused as to how the paparazzi spotted me. What a lady.
Well regardless, this story came to mind when my editor e-mailed me for article copy for this issue and I thought, What a revelation! What a challenge I could rise to and truly show my appreciation for this thing we call “the game.” So, ladies and gentlemen, V readers, this is a theory on competition. The integrity of ambition. A Winner’s Verité. Look out fashionistas, in this issue when talking about sports, even you may catch a few home runs. Yes, I said that, home runs. Let me just put on my sports…where?
2011 was one of the most exciting and difficult years of my life. I made this internal pact with myself when I put out “Born This Way.” This time, when I “win,” I want it to mean something. How can every “win” be a force? Not a tiara, a pat on the back, or the cashing of a check, but how can I look out into the sea of fans and know that our “win” changed the industry and changed each other?
I wonder how many thousands of years ago the first pearl was discovered. In fact, I wonder who discovered it. Was it a fisherman? Or did Cleopatra, on her yacht, summon a mollusk? Did her fabulous male makeup artist hang it on a tiny spear and say, “Oh dahhhling, on your ears!” I thought of the pearl during my exploration of “the game” because as an accessory, pearls are the most game-changing and timeless of them all. There’s no crime or conflict surrounding them, they are natural and perfect, and they are gifted as a gesture of elegance and womanhood. For thousands of years they’ve never gone out of style, and to this day no one knows when or how they were discovered. They have no sense of time or beginning. They are cyclical in nature and in existence.
Christmas this year was the first time I really bought myself anything nice. I don’t equate money with style, nor do I equate it with happiness. I’m often content hiding in the back of places like Claire’s, schlooping costume jewelry into a basket.
However, it just so happened I was in Japan, and I decided to buy myself a strand of Mikimoto pearls. Why wait for a lover to buy you jewelry, lover yourself! After the year Japan had, and the experiences I’d shared with the people there, I thought it would make for a beautiful memory. The staff from Mikimoto arrived, we cracked open some champagne, and my buddy Brandon and I tried pearls on and swooned. I quickly decided that I couldn’t only buy one for myself. I would feel terrible. So I made it about the girls: one for my mother, my gorgeous and talented sister, and Bo, my best friend. It was to be a sign of our womanhood, a thank you for fostering mine, for my sister a sign of things to come, and for my mother a strand of pearls to represent each of the blessings she had cultured for our family over the years.
I lay down on the airplane back from Japan, tossing around some dashi, fondling my pearls. I watched the movie Moneyball for the first time. I began to laugh and smile as [Brad] Pitt talked romantically about the game. I suddenly imagined that my pearls were teeny-tiny baseballs. When a player hits a home run, the baseball is flung into an abyss of enigma and screams so great. It travels so far that only rarely is one caught in the bleachers. Where do these balls go? Where do all these wins get encased? Are they in a heavenly baseball land floating around for players who pass to acknowledge? Or do they disappear?
By the end of the film, we discover the truth about winning from our hero. It only matters if you’ve changed the game. Being kicked in the teeth is par for the course for this kind of win, a win that not only pisses off the team you’ve beat, but every other team, their coaches, owners, and even some of the greatest baseball players of all time. You’ve made your own set of rules and gone so far on your own talent, no one can possibly crack the truth behind your wins. You were either lucky or were cheating. Nobody likes the game that they’ve won over and over again to change.
Pitt expresses this as the central objective to his life, as we see a flashback to an old Oaks game. Batter hits and runs, doing what he does normally, running past first to take second, but trips, falls, and scurries back to first. He’s so focused on the game, so focused on the team winning, head so down into the dirt of the stadium, he doesn’t even realize he’s got a home run. The crowd roars, and he’s not sure why.
In this moment I looked down at my pearls, and I saw all the teeny-tiny home runs I’d hit over the past year. I knew some of them were more perfect than others, but I knew only an eye trained in pearls would notice. The thing about music is you’re not in competition with anyone else. You’re in competition with the psychology of the industry as a whole. You’re in competition with you. You must delve deeper and deeper into your creativity, history, and modernity to change not just this moment, but every moment that came before it. How can I hit a home run that will make every player question every run that was ever scored? How can I round third to home plate and bewilder some of the greatest players of all time? How can I change the game, until 30 years goes by and someone changes it again?
Sometimes my face is buried so deep in the work I forget to look up. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’ve won, because the stadium is either cheering or screaming so loud it doesn’t even matter. So this season, in the spirit of the Super Bowl and all things sporty, wear your pearls. Wild, cultured, real, or fake, wear them proud. And look up, or rather down, at all of your home runs. (Unless you’ve made them into a crown with a glue gun.) Then look up! In fashion and in life we all deserve more pearls, please. A moment of revelation to remember that we are timeless, we all matter, and every win like this is as important as the next. When you are changing the way people think, your life achievements are working toward the greatest accessory of all time: nerve. So collect your tiny baseballs, string your pearls, and remember that you are as timeless as the pearls on your neck. And if you forgot to be a lady and wear them, then shame on you.
*The Bronx cheer is a double bird (or when one flips off anyone using both hands) and is a wonderfully typical sign of a devout Yankees fan.