I was up in Boston for the past few days, with little or no access to my email. It was a joyous respite.
I never realized how having more than one email account actually becomes an unpaid, sometimes unpleasant job. If you don’t respond to emails, it’s like not returning a phone call (which makes me very angry when I am on the calling end and don’t receive a prompt response.) If you just sit and look at them accumulate, they’re like the elderly relative you haven’t visited at the nursing home. For anyone who grew up Catholic (a/k/a guilt-ridden,) not answering emails is a sign of an inferior character.
So, when I returned from my four day vacation and saw that my article on Amy Winehouse had attracted close to one hundred responses, I rushed to click on them (it was like picking up a bouquet of cheap carnations for Aunt Theresa and heading out to Happy Acres, pronto.)
Interesting collection of views, many con, a few pro. Here’s a sampling:
I'm of mixed feelings on musicians using drugs. It's a matter of degree. Certainly we wouldn't have had half the music produced in the 60's if it hadn't been for consciousness-expanding chemicals (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is still a masterpiece). However, musicians like the Beatles experimented for awhile, then got bored and left it behind.
But in a perverse way the old adage of live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse is true. Musicians like Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison or even Winehouse will always be frozen in time as young, vibrant and creative. They won't hang around into their 60's and 70's and become an embarrassment like The Rolling Stones, still trying to be little boys on stage with gray hair and brittle bones.
I tend to agree that it’s a bit of a cliché for rock stars to flame out, so much of a cliché that, as I noted in my piece, it doesn’t evoke much sympathy from someone like me who doesn’t remember hearing about Tchaikovsky doing a few lines or Enrico Caruso getting baked on a regular basis. Of course, I’m not one to consider anything the Rolling Stones did a ‘masterpiece.’
In a similar vein, someone wrote this:
Well you certainly weren't PC today. Nor should you be. Celebs/entertainers/sports stars have followers, many of whom are young people. They are role models regardless of what Barkley says. In to many instances their talent got them to a place where their character can't keep them. these perople are leading some of our kids down a path of destruction.
That’s a thought I can agree with. If you’re making money off of the public, you have an obligation to act appropriately. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. But give back the money you siphoned off from the ‘fans.’ Someone else says it even better than I can:
She was highly unprofessional,… showing-up at her own concert stoned out of her mind,.. a total disrespect towards her fans who paid money to see her perform… only to see her stagger off the stage after forgetting her own lyrics. Pretty pathetic and this is just the tip of the iceberg for sure. What a total waste of talent and a human life
Here’s someone who has an interesting perspective on why Winehouse might have acted the way she did:
I agree that she had God-given talent and I share your lack
of surprise that she died so young. What I do not share is your
frustration over those who mourn, or even feel sympathy for, people
like Winehouse who "seemingly had everything to live for" and ended
her life "either through arrogance, laziness, carelessness -- or maybe
even desperation." One very significant likely factor in her death --
and likely in the deaths of the other great artists you mentioned --
was mental illness.
That’s a good point, one I might have overlooked. It’s possible that before she even popped that first pill or stuck that first needle in her arm (not the one that made the tattoos, the other one) she might have already been sick. Horse and cart argument, the question being, was she ill because she did drugs or did she do drugs because she was ill?
But some people, myself included, don’t believe that all of those who do drugs are necessarily ‘sick.’ Sometimes, they just like to get high, relatives, friends and whoever else be damned:
I agree with every word. It bothers me when people who engage in self-serving deviant behavior, refuse warnings from people who care about them and subsequenlty succomd to their destructive and abusive behavior are made out to be martys or heroes. I empathize over the loss of such a great talent at a young age, but I too, like you, have lost loved ones at an early age to disease. Their demise was inevitable. Amy and all others who abused themselves, could have been prevented. I love your column. Thank you for being so brave to tell it like it ought to be in these times of hedonism and relativism.
That reader had a lot of courage for dropping the ‘addiction’ language and replacing it with the words ‘hedonism’ and ‘relativism.’ In this kindler, gentler society, you don’t get brownie points for that.
And I certainly didn’t get any brownie points from some other readers. Here’s one whose email I have to delete because philly.com won’t let me use the ‘sounds like hunt’ word:
Your column makes you seem like quite the callous &%$#. Maybe you just have no understanding of addiction. You're [sic] ignorant. Is that it? Or maybe bitter. How did your father die? And brother? Hey you put it out there so......
Here’s another version of the same song:
You should be ashamed of yourself for writing an article like this. No matter how you feel about a person. I could not believe what I was reading and that it was actually published. I'm sure that your box is full of negative letters, but I'm also sure that you don't care. I PITY you.
And then there were the medical professionals who told me that I needed some courses in both biology and compassion to understand what addiction was all about, and telling me I need to walk a mile in the shoes of an addict (I actually wouldn’t mind to walk a mile in Amy’s shoes since given the money she raked in she probably had Christian Louboutins)
You really dont have a clue. Addiction is devastating and contrary to you defines the word tragic. Do you really think the addicts goal is to hurt the ones they love? That sounds more fitting of your unsympathetic behavior. You must be quite the angel....no skeletons in your closet I hope. Your definition of clinging to precious life is being a judgemental sad excuse of a human being. Good luck in life....have a feeling you will need it.
Pretty impressive stuff, all of it.
And each one worthy of a response (except the guy who needs to get his mouth and keyboard washed out with soap.)
I’ll get on it shortly….