‘Amy Winehouse Is Dead’ 7/23/11, 4:41 p.m.
Amy Winehouse is dead. Dead. Not coming back. No follow-up, no triumphant tour trumpeting her return, no big return on some BS award-show. Dead. Found that way in her crib. Gone. Muerte. Dead.
I just wanted to make sure you understood what happened. Now let’s talk a little bit about it.
This is a woman that had a cry for help marketed HEAVILY, pushed to radio HEAVILY, and the message that was thrust upon the kids that were listening was ‘Fuck rehab’. Not only was this cry for help marketed and promoted…it was CELEBRATED and REWARDED. Millions of records sold behind that single and five (5) Grammy’s, just like Lauryn Hill (yeah).
There IS no irony in this death. There IS no joke to make, though they write themselves and are obvious (and if you think they’re funny, fuck you). This is a tragedy that could’ve been avoided, but there’s no money in avoiding it. If a record-label has marketed you as a rebel soul, based on the fact that you say “Basically, I’mma take all the drugs I can find and you CAN’T send me to rehab.”, guess what? The label is gonna run with that image. Yes, they will…and they did.
And we all watched. It was so cute and kitschy to some… “Awww…listen to the junkie with the beehive sing about how she won’t go to rehab!”, then everybody sings along with the chorus, ‘No no no’. Then you realize you 11-year-old is singing along and THIS is on the RADIO and you go… “Hmm…?” or YOU SHOULD.
Of course, we all watched for this day. How many people didn’t have it in the back of their mind that this was how this would end? Let’s be serious; you’ve seen the pics and videos of her for the last three years. Shit, by the time she broke big, she was a junkie. HER BREAKOUT SINGLE WAS ABOUT BEING A JUNKIE. And we kept dancing…shit, some of our favorite rappers couldn’t WAIT to get on a remix. REALLY? REALLY? So, now you see that people really don’t give a damn what message they send to the kids as long as BDS spins are poppin. Sad AF.
We ALL did this. There was a cottage industry of paparazzi that watched her every move and couldn’t wait to see her all fucked up because they would be able to pay bills for two months with that picture. There’s an industry of tabloids, BS publications, and TV shows that couldn’t WAIT for Amy to fail rehab again the times she finally said “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”…and we kept watching, just as we would a car wreck or a house fire, from a distance and saying ‘Thank GOD that’s not me’.
Nah, it is us, though. It’s us, man. We are addicted to the tragedies of others. We are addicted to the glorification of ‘junkie cool’ and young death. The British music press is far worse about it; they LOOOOOOOOOVE to celebrate how fucked up someone is. (See the treatment of Shaun Ryder or Richey Edwards from Manic Street Preachers.) In America, we’ll watch you get all fucked up, but most people will ‘Tsk tsk tsk’ somewhere in there, even if under our breath. I stopped reading a lotta British music press because it seemed like the more fucked up you were, the more they covered you…in a glowing light. Here in America, we pretend that we wanna help so we can film you being all fucked up when you probably could use the time to yourself and some SERENITY instead of TV cameras and crews all in your face.
(Sidebar: FUCK Dr. Drew. He’s a fraud and a failure.)
Lemme tell you why this kinda stupid mentality bugs me so much.
I have had people very close to me and friends struggle and die from addiction. Some as close as one could be to me. When I realized that some of them were that far gone, it was so too late. There was just nothing I could do from this distance. Writing these types of blogs wouldn’t have helped because they were too fucked up to see them. Talking didn’t help because by the time I finally got to talk to them I was so happy that I actually was talking to them, I didn’t notice how fucked up they were, I was just happy they were there.
One of these people was my Father.
My Dad didn’t have the attention of the world and a catchy tune to help him. My Dad was not rewarded with trophies and accolades and he saved lives, EVERY WEEK.
My Dad was a firefighter and a paramedic. My Dad used hard drugs. My Dad pulled this off for twennysumn years, saving lives, pulling children outta burning houses, pushing on people’s chest to get their heart to beat again, driving the fire-truck or ambulance at breakneck speeds through Gary, Indiana to save someone’s life, house and belongings, or salvage whatever memories could be pulled from the ashes….and my Dad couldn’t save himself.
And I couldn’t save him. None of us could. I know his sisters and brother talked to him. I know they loved him soooo goddamn much. They NEVER stop telling me that about my Dad. They LOVE him. I LOVE him. And he’s gone, man. Dead.
That shit HURTS.
I can’t call A&E and plead with them to send someone to tell my Dad to stop. My Dad’s death wasn’t celebrated with thoughts of ‘Imma smoke this one for you.” We shouldn’t be entertained by addicts. We have to kick ass to help them, if we care. Period. Anyone who has been around one knows they’re still people and people have pride. I never once thought my Dad was doing as much as he was doing. He didn’t do that shit around me (or I didn’t see it). I knew my Dad chiefed a bit of reefer and sipped Henny here and there, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Addicts are sneaky and don’t wanna be found out. By the time they’re letting the world see how fucked up they are, they REALLY need help.
(Your ass better get proactive NOW if you just visualized or thought of someone close to you that reminds you of, because they need your help. Believe that.)
That’s why the idea of sitting here and watching how this Amy Winehouse thing went down has led me to rethink how I view TV. The messages sent on some shows about recovery, especially ‘Celebrity Rehab’, have nothing to do with ‘recovery’. Look at the name of the show, people. ‘Celebrity’ comes first. That’s ass-backwards, but that is America. “You were rich and famous before, now you’re all fucked up. Let us watch.” Rehab is a PERSONAL process, so the idea of filming it and broadcasting it to the world is fucking ridiculous. The idea of cameras in your room with night-vision while you’re lying there going through withdrawal symptoms probably doesn’t make the process any easier. When you’re in group therapy talking about whatever is was that happened to you that got you to this point, I would think keeping it in the group would be the move, not having the boom mic guy hit you on the top of the head with the mic while he’s making sure not to miss a word of you spilling your soul and trying to fix yourself.
Folks, I killed Amy Winehouse. I listened to that record. I even spun it a couple times because people requested it and when I got the remix with Jay, I played that too. I celebrated her massive cry for help as a ‘catchy tune’.
You killed Amy Winehouse. You requested that record. You went to her shows and talked about how great it was and when she got to the ‘No no no’ part, you threw your fist up and sang along. You laughed in my face when she won five Grammys for it (like those aren’t bought anyway) and told me I was stupid for refusing to play her record anymore.
The paparazzi killed Amy Winehouse. They stalked her and egged her on. They encouraged her be more fucked up and antagonized her when she was so the tabloids would get a cover shot of ‘AMY WINEHOUSE IN CRACK-FUELED RAGE!!!!!!!’; (‘90+ dead in Norway, see page 8’) Yeah, the paparazzi and the scumbag press that pays them so they can write 1500 word stories about a 100 word happening killed Amy Winehouse.
The label killed Amy Winehouse. Surely, you would think that people who had so much to gain from her music would encourage her to get better. I’m sure they did. There’s so much money to make from a great comeback. Everybody loves a happy ending. Then again…dead rockstars make a TON of money and every time a YouTube clip pops up of a concert fail or a pic of her gets up with ‘suspicious powder on her nose and strange scabs’, people go back and remember what WAS there. It’s GREAT free promotion. A fucked up pop-star is the best free marketing machine a label could ask for.
“Why do we need her to get better when people are still buying the last record? Everyone knows what they’re getting with her…and they still go to shows. The press hasn’t left her alone since the album came out. This is a self-cleaning oven that keeps making its own pies…for smashing into the owner’s face. Perfect. Stay fucked up. We don’t hafta hire producers, musicians, or engineers either. We don’t hafta spend ANY time or money on promotion. We STAY winning.”
The above five paragraphs (one for each Grammy) illustrate facts that are partially true. The next one is total truth.
Amy Winehouse killed Amy Winehouse. Her refusal to acknowledge her problem, in fact, telling you she was gonna do nothing about it led to her demise. It had nothing to do with us. We just watched.
…but we shouldn’t have been watching.
If someone you love has a problem, you gotta take action. That’s what I gather from all of this. I lived through these things to talk to you about them in songs and these essays for a reason, man.
Now get better if it’s you I’m talking about and help someone else if it ain’t. There is no shame in getting help and you don’t hafta broadcast it to the world. The world will know when you’re better. Trust me. I used to drink a lot, man. I was in the club fucked up. I never felt like an alcoholic, but I may have looked like one to some people.
I handled it…quietly at first, and once I felt secure in my new footing, I talked the walk. My broadcasting that to the world is by CHOICE. Five years, no beers. That’s my CHOICE to say that to you. No one is stalking me and making sure I stay on the wagon, I do it for me. I LIKE being awake in the club, man! (sorry, I needed a bit of levity for myself)
Well, don’t just sit there looking at the screen. Go do something…life is for living and 20sumn year-old’s ain’t supposed to die…when you can do something.
(P.S. I didn’t know what I was writing about when I started this, but I definitely know I wrote this in memory of my Father and wish Amy Winehouse’s soul more peace in rest than it had in life. God bless us all.
#PRAYFOREVERYBODY (c) @3CarryOnItems)
#SHRUGLIFE #TBM #ATFU #LANON #NAPTOWN ADIYM.
‘My Dad’s Eyes (Revisited)’ 6/20/11 - The day after Father’s Day.
You can see em there…in the pic.
This is the only way you can see em, cuz he’s gone. (I have questions that I will never be able to get answers to…that inspires me A LOT.)
Let’s see what we worked out today. @MrKinetik sent me a crazy track with the working title, ‘LovePain’ that I was blessed to have as the foundation for this one. I’m gonna type out the lyrics and hook for you. I dunno what this may be on or when you will hear it, but in light of yesterday’s post, I felt it was relevant that I open up the chamber and let you see what I’m working on right now.
‘My Dad’s Eyes (Revisited)’ - Rusty Redenbacher 6.20.11
The 19th, alone in my room/thoughts consumed/”Damn, man..one more day.”/One chance to say what I needed to say/Screamin at a box that I should put away/Navigating my way thru minefields of memories/I stay lookin down/ten toes on the ground/I stay lookin down at the danger I found/I stay lookin down at the stranger I found/Took a couple years to get here/I don’t hate/Good times, I’m tryna to get that back today/Let that marinate/Think of a playa’s fate/Alone, cold, sick in that messed-up state/Cold game, homey/You already showed me/One thing you can never say is “You don’t know me.”/Oh yes, I do/In fact to keep it true/Every time I look in the mirror, I miss you…
I ain’t got my Dad’s eyes/They changed color before they even focused/Can’t see em, no more so I wrote this/I draw a picture in mind, but it’s hopeless/Now take notice/Dad’s eyes gorgeous/Take notice/Dad’s eyes gorgeous/Now they can see anything in the world that they want to see/And I still feel them lookin at me.
Greengreyhazelsumn…/I dunno/He kept a tint on the lens to mask his soul/So much pain, sometimes a loss of control/They saw things I will never know/Held secrets, trauma, and shame below/Those eyes still retained that glow/Beauty in the ones of the beholder, I suppose/I felt a pain in my veins when they would sink low/Pop back up/”HEY, MR. STUPENDOUS!”/But I don’t understand the stupid tinted lenses/I can’t see your natural gift and what I’ve found/Is with those on, the whole world looks brown/Black is beautiful, no doubt, knowhutimean?/Dad’s eyes were bold, full of gold and green/Wish I had seen em much more/I had to stop keepin score/And that’s not what today is for…/
(chorus) I ain’t got my Dad’s eyes/They changed color before they even focused/Can’t see em, no more so I wrote this/I draw a picture in mind, but it’s hopeless/Now take notice/Dad’s eyes gorgeous/Take notice/Dad’s eyes gorgeous/Now they can see anything in the world that they want to see/And I still feel them lookin at me. (3rd verse) I got ONE pic/that’s where you see em real good/I keep it tucked away/that’s for when WE talk/He’s out there in that cursed box/Scatter the ashes, maybe that’ll make it stop/Me and you/One last ride, one last trip/Where you taught me rules that I used to exist/I thought you taught me how to view all of this/Where we talked and you said that you would watch me grow/DAD! OVER HERE! Never stopped, watch me roll/You didn’t see so many things, now we can’t even chill/I close mine when it’s you over my shoulder I feel/I hold mine out in the open so you see how I feel/Now how I’m supposed to feel, cmon, you know the deal/Can’t look into my Dad’s eyes and speak of the joy/They’ll never see whatever became of that boy/But I feel them/I will them/Keep on staring/Long as Dad’s eyes can see that I never stopped caring. (chorus) I ain’t got my Dad’s eyes/They changed color before they even focused/Can’t see em, no more so I wrote this/I draw a picture in mind, but it’s hopeless/Now take notice/Dad’s eyes gorgeous/Take notice/Dad’s eyes gorgeous/Now they can see anything in the world that they want to see/And I still feel them lookin at me. fin.
I got ONE pic/that’s where you see em real good/I keep it tucked away/that’s for when WE talk/He’s out there in that cursed box/Scatter the ashes, maybe that’ll make it stop/Me and you/One last ride, one last trip/Where you taught me rules that I used to exist/I thought you taught me how to view all of this/Where we talked and you said that you would watch me grow/DAD! OVER HERE! Never stopped, watch me roll/You didn’t see so many things, now we can’t even chill/I close mine when it’s you over my shoulder I feel/I hold mine out in the open so you see how I feel/Now how I’m supposed to feel, cmon, you know the deal/Can’t look into my Dad’s eyes and speak of the joy/They’ll never see whatever became of that boy/But I feel them/I will them/Keep on staring/Long as Dad’s eyes can see that I never stopped caring.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope to have it recorded soon. Gonna try to master the flow before I record, for real.
OK, be great… #Shruglife #ATFU #Naptown. Rocking the planet…for Dads everywhere. You ain’t perfect, but you’re worth it.
Let’s rap a bit.
It’s Father’s Day again. This is a day that is full of confusion and emotions for me. My relationship with my Dad is one of the most confounding of all the relationships I’ve had in my life. Not the most, but it’s definitely up there.
My Dad. My. I only had one, just like everybody else, and he did what he could for me. There were times when he was Superman and times when he was Lex Luthor, but he was MY Dad. He’s the one that made me. He’s the one I got…and I am so very thankful. It took me time, counseling, and a lotta love from a lotta people to get over some issues I had. I don’t even wanna delve into all that today, which leads to the point of this note.
I’ve seen a lotta people very bitter about their Dads. I’ve seen people only so happy to throw Dad under the bus on Father’s Day, everything from ‘Dude wasn’t shit. My Mama did EVERYTHANG’ to ‘This ain’t even a real holiday’. Those very well may be the case, but there are 364 other days in the year to talk about that. The idea of pooing on Pops today is kinda uncool. (and I won’t front, there were some Father’s Days in the past when I didn’t call on purpose. I’m not perfect, just aware.)
Dads are not perfect. Lotsa times anymore, they’re not even there. I understand the want to paint a picture of the Mother as a saint, especially if you grew up with her as the main parent, as I did.
Now, here’s a curveball; My Mother took ill when I was very young. The Mama that came back to 401 wasn’t the same person that I remembered. When this happened, I recall all the men in my life stepping up, Dad included.
My Uncles in Indianpolis, Jack, Tim, and Marc, kept constant watch over me and didn’t allow me to fall off in my studies, sports, or anything that I showed an interest in. They encouraged me and taught me new things, fostered the things I was interested in at a young age and didn’t let me get away with bullshit. My Dad’s brother, Uncle Duane (affectionately known as ‘Bebe’), would send me cards and call, making sure I was alright. Shit, my Uncle Marion put up with me and showed me DC after my very first plane ride! My Grandfather, John (God, I love that man) was over-the-TOP with attention and love, taking me to my ‘first’ baseball game, taking me along to his cherished ‘Victory Garden’ (Shoutout to Mayor Hudnut for picking my Grandpa. Good choice.) to harvest vegetables and pick weeds, letting me pick the station on the radio when we went to pick strawberries for Grandma. These things shaped my life as much as anything my Dad did or didn’t do. These men all became ‘Father Figures’ to me when I reeeeeeally needed it most…
…and my Dad did great things too. I stayed an extra month in Gary one summer and had the time of my life. That time is something I always go back to when I start having resentful feelings about the time we missed. It was there. He does love me. He loved the shit outta me. Jeez, man…he was like 19 or 20 when I got here. I think about myself at 19 and know what I was doing, can’t say that I woulda been ready for ‘Russell III’. Considering the circumstances, he didn’t do that bad and I can’t say that I coulda done better at 19. One good thing about getting older, (hopefully) you get wiser.
Everything is not ‘black and white’. When your parents split, one is not ‘good’ and one is not ‘bad’. People just aren’t built like that. I’ve come to accept the faults of my Dad, but when I do that I make sure that I acknowledge what was great about him. Trust me, man; if you can avoid it, don’t paint an image of either parent that you’ll regret later. There’s good and bad in EVERYBODY…
And then, there’s that ‘Uncle/Grandpa’ thing…how can I watch people bash their fathers all day without acknowledging the people who filled in the gaps. We all have father-figures that we have assigned importance to, be it teachers, other family members, bosses (yep, bosses), or if you’re as lucky as I was, Uncles and Grandpas. Celebrate all these people. Talking about your Daddy issues today is like going to a birthday party for someone else and bitching the whole time because YOU ain’t getting presents.
I ain’t havin it.
Big Russ, you the man. I miss you all the time and I regret not getting to hang out with you more. I think about you all the time and have all these little idiosyncrasies and mannerisms that SCREAM ‘Russell’s Boy’ to anyone who knew you. It’s amazing. I smile every time anyone with a connection to Gary recognizes me, which happens a lot. Regardless of any beefs I had back in the day, I never questioned how much you loved me. You trusted me enough from the minute I got here to give me your very name, dude. That’s love. That’s major. You taught me stuff, you took me places and then was no question that you did it with a chest full of pride. I love you, Dad.
I’d give up years of my life to tell you that in person, one more time. I’m telling you now in front of everybody because I’ve seen so much bitterness towards Dads today that it took me aback. I gotta counter it, maybe my example will help someone today, and maybe that person is me. I apologize for those years I didn’t call on purpose. I’m sorry that I held some things against you for an extended time. I wish so much I could tell you all of this and hug you.
I guess my hopes are that someone who doesn’t feel good about today can read this and see that it ain’t all bad and it can get better. There IS a man in your life worth celebrating, maybe even the one you been talking down. It’s a lot easier than carrying the weight of resentment of years past. Shit, if it’s like that, be the bigger person, make the first step and start fixing things.
I won’t ever have the chance to call my Dad again on Father’s Day, but I damn sure ain’t gonna call him anything bad today either. I hope you can get to that point with yours or never had to worry about it.
For my Uncles, Brother, Cousins, for the Father-Figures in people’s lives and everyone else… Happy Father’s Day.
Respect and Grace,
(PS - Shoutout to my Aunties too, man. We’ll cover that on Mother’s Day or sumn… I love you all!)