Alibi V.13 No.19 • May 6-12, 2004 


Manic Mechanic

Jesse James: The Last Great American Outlaw

Let's get the obvious out of the way right up front: Yeah, it's his real name. And yes, his lineage can be traced back to the legendary outlaw of that same name (his great-, great-grandfather was first cousin to the outlaw gunslinger). And oh, yeah ... he can definitely kick your ass. Then there's what everyone with a television and half a brain already knows thanks to the Discovery Channel's smash hit, "Monster Garage." Jesse James is his own extremely talented, unpredictable and self-governing animal. As Grand Pubah of the gearhead television sensation he co-created (he's also the creative force behind MTV's "Pimp My Ride"), James is the kind of guy you can literally love and hate all at once. He can be an asshole to a degree so extreme that it suddenly becomes cooler than cool to be a prick (although anyone who meets or talks one-on-one with the guy is compelled to believe that he's not). He can make you uncomfortable with barely a hint of facial expression. He's able to go from deadly serious to immensely intimidating to childishly mischievous and fun loving in the space of a couple of heartbeats. All of which makes it rather difficult—if not ridiculously impossible—to believe that the Jesse James really shops someplace as soulless as Auto Zone, as his recent spate of commercials for the corporate auto parts version of Wal-Mart would have us believe. But it's all just part of the enigma that is Jesse James.

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