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RIP Amy Winehouse, or “what kind of fuckery is this?”

July 26th, 2011

(“Tears Dry on Their Own” is my favorite song of hers, but I like them all.)

So… so, so, so. Better to write about something bad that happens right after it happens? When you’re all raw and miserable? And you maybe can’t find the words to express what you’re really saying.

Or wait until it’s dulled a little, and you don’t look like some kind of Johnny-Come-Lately? And you can be maybe a little more eloquent?

Who knows.

Russell Brand wrote a really moving piece about the (late) great Amy Winehouse. That one says it all. He’s a talented writer, in addition to being an extremely funny dude.

“Suchawaste” and “whatdidyouexpect?” and “hahashebombedonstageherlastshow” and all kinds of unkindness out there, especially now that we’re all connected with our stupid Facebook accounts, Internet, Iphones and Ipads and blah blah blah. People who would have never had access to you before can tear you apart now, from thousands of miles away. I’ve had a little taste of that myself, but nothing on the scale that Ms. Winehouse faced. I have been guilty, myself, of calling names and pointing fingers.

Being kind is easier, I have found.

The most recent concert and movie I went to, at both shows I couldn’t even see properly because everyone had their fucking phones and devices out and were recording away, sending text messages, thumbing through family photos because they were bored. At the concert, no one stood up to dance. They would have dropped their phones, I guess.

“Am recording myself dancing! Look!”

If you want to watch TV, talk on your phone or surf the web, stay home. I have also had the sad experience of sitting/waiting next to someone (at coffee, once, and waiting for the kids to get out of class, several times), “Oh, hello, how’s your day?” (I’m sociable. Yeah, that’s a bad thing) and they have looked at me like I was going to rob them. Serious looks of horror. Then they pull out the Device and click, click, click:

“Crazy lady just sat next to me. Apparently wants to make conversation WTF???”

We’re nasty with each other, in public and in private. With people we know; with people we don’t know. People don’t introduce themselves anymore, either, have you noticed? We’d rather look at gossip columns on the Internet than turn to someone before the show starts and say hey. “I’ve been looking forward to this show for a long time, I can’t believe we got tickets!” or “It isn’t really my thing, but my kids wanted to come” or “Nice shoes.”

Anything. Anything that doesn’t involve turning away.

I’ve got a lot of sadness in my heart right now because one of the most talented women in the world is dead. You know how I found out? I was surfing the web, and my homepage is a news page. Up pops Amy Winehouse’s photo, and right away I snapped, Why doesn’t the media leave her the hell alone? and I flipped to another site as fast as I could.

Steve says, She’s dead. She died today.

And that’s how I found out.

So. The world is not kind to the addicted, the mentally ill, to those of us who are wired differently. To those of us who say, “Hello, my name is…” Here’s what I learned from my late Daddy, who was schizophrenic: Compassion.

I’m a hell of a long way from being an angel. But every time I see the media going after people, running crappy, ugly photos, making fun of them (“Here she is! Back in court again, are we surprised?” “He lost custody! And it’s about time…” etc.) I just… flinch. Times when people have asked me (and I’ve been asked these kinds of questions, and had to listen to this bullshit many, many, many goddamn times, believe me) re: my Dad:

“Why didn’t he…?”
“Couldn’t he have just…?”
“I would never kill myself, would you? It’s just selfish…”

My favorite is when they use the words “coward” or “weak.” That thrills me all to pieces. Argh.

What I finally came up with (decades too late, but it will serve me for the rest of my life) is this: “Pretend he had brain cancer. Would you still say that?”

Mental illness and addiction and other so-called “weaknesses” need to be treated the same way as any other medical conditions.

Please, don’t ever feel that you have the right to accuse anyone else of not being “strong” enough.

“Well, I would never…”
“She should just…”

Don’t ever feel that it’s okay to make a laughingstock out of someone, because you just don’t know, do you, how it feels to be inside their skin?


— WM

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