Another One Bites The Dust

Philip-Seymour-HoffmanAnother favourite talent booked his passage with Charon to cross the River Styx. Bit the dust. Joined the choir invisible. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Pardon a dark pun but this opens a rather large can of worms for thinking members of our society. I would imagine, upon hearing of yet another celebrity overdose, most first reactions begin with “WTF?!” Second reaction, probably, will include one of the following descriptive nouns, not an exclusive list, of course:

  1. Moron
  2. Idiot
  3. Stupid
  4. Dumbass
  5. Loser

We, the majority, the great unwashed, those of us without celebrity sparkle stand aghast and feel secretly superior to those who have been raised to perch atop unsecured pedestals for nothing more than the ability to play dress-up, look good in a dress/underdrawers, can throw a ball or wield wood at a ball/puck or are naturally possessed of perfectly aligned vocal cords. These people do not save lives, they do not dedicate their lives to teaching the young; they don’t care for the sick, the old, and the infirm. These people simply entertain us. They do not provide an essential service by any stretch of the imagination.

Perhaps we entertain a wash of smugness when the pedestal begins to teeter and some of the idols fall, unceremoniously but highly photographed, on their arses. Or worse, end up in a trailer park – fat, boozy and wholly unattractive. Like Erin Moran of Happy Days (a bit of black irony, that show title).

erin moran

 The list of celebrities who have chosen to bypass the trailer park for the cemetery is massive – it is so huge that I will simply provide a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artists_who_died_of_drug-related_causes

What is it, about the cult of celebrity that allows these individuals to believe themselves above the laws of nature? Who are the people that foster this belief that celebrity means “Do what you will!” They need to be hauled into an autopsy room when another “star” falls to the ground and shatters, in a shower of vomit, excrement and urine – foam drying at the mouth and nose. A drug overdose is not as seen in the movies; you aren’t found with hair arranged, make-up artfully applied, lying in a bed with silk sheets. A drug overdose includes seizures, vomiting – often pouring into the lungs and choking you to death, foam oozes from your breathing orifices while the other openings release what they naturally release, all at once. You aren’t “Pretty in Pink” or a vision in “Blue Velvet”. You are simply a stiff, grotesque and horribly smelly example of willful excess. You are a lump of gross. Doesn’t matter if you were wearing Gucci the night before or smooching with the latest A List member, you are nothing but a pile of shit, piss and vomit now. This is reality. Vogue has no control, nor does the Academy. This is a simple equation with a definitive answer: drugs + excess = a disgusting death

Instead of “before” pics, perhaps “after” pics would prevent a few of these unceremonious demises. Imagine seeing a picture of Elvis where he was found and how… Or Janis. Or Jimi. Or Jim? That’s what happens to celebrities who believe their own P.R.

On a larger scale, one that includes the rest of us dull normals? The time for change in our attitudes towards drugs is long, long overdue. The War on Drugs was lost decades ago and is another form of government cash grab. People will do drugs, legal or illegal, this is simply fact. A few highly publicized drug raids to justify the absurd waste of our cash simply illustrates, very plainly, how useless this war is for anyone without their hand out for cash – the drug dealers and the authorities all benefit, while you and I foot the bill.

LEGALIZE THE SHIT! CONTROL IT. QUALITY AND QUANTITY. They (we) are not going to stop drug abuse but we can put an end to organized crime victimizing us all and killing millions in the process.

Having grown up when heroin became mainstream; it didn’t take long for the death toll to start mounting. Thankfully, my brain was functioning normally and while I did partake in a number of mind altering/consciousness skewering chemical joys, I never touched heroin or cocaine. I realized, quite quickly, that this would come to a dead end, one day – literally. Shortly after I bid my contribution to the coffers of organized crime adieu – someone I knew ended up with a life sentence, following a shooting which involved…heroin. He was a nice guy when I knew him. This event, along with the deaths of Keith Moon, John Bonham, Janis, Jimi and Jim, helped to understand that there was no way that anyone can succeed in life (manage to avoid the worm farm prematurely) and take drugs. Didn’t matter who it was, what they were – take drugs and die, a nasty death.

I did, admittedly, have help in my decision to leave chemicals in my past – my uncle Wally. He was a rather important biochemist with the government, worked as a researcher on the LeDane Drug Commission. While I was operating in that lifestyle, my parents at their wits’ end, he pulled me aside and in one simple sentence, clarified what I was doing and causing me to realize I was being an idiot. He said, “If these substances were safe? Don’t you think that I would be doing them?” I imagine, I gave him that signature obnoxious smile of the “I-KNOW-IT-ALL” teenager and then wandered off to figure out how I could get high but his words kept flashing in my brain, like a billboard. He was right, of course. Ultimately, I accepted that an adult was right and me, the pubescent guru of “ALL” was wrong. I changed schools and stopped doing illicit drugs completely. Oh, I had a social toke since then but I don’t like weed or hash – makes me cough and feel like I am not in control. I have, pretty much, given up all forms of alcohol as well. Same reason, I don’t like the feeling before and after, of not being in control of my behaviour. I have been witness to too many friends and family who have imbibed a bit too much and behaved badly. I don’t want to be the story from the night before.

Surely those of fame feel some shame when pictures of them, stoned into oblivion or shamelessly drunk, feel some sort of embarrassment. As they should but those who surround them, the hangers-on, the P.R. people encourage them to believe, “Hey, it’s all good! You’re allowed because you’re so special!” (Insert thought cloud here: “And you pad my bank account so nicely!”)

If the drugs are too much of a temptation? Legally controlled packets of quantity and quality may not, completely end premature expelling of bodily fluids but it may well prevent a few and preventing death should be the prime directive of any intelligent society.


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