Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amy Winehouse

Poor, sad Amy Winehouse. Amazingly talented, gone too soon. And as tempting as it is to chalk up her death as another victim of the 27 Club – artists who burnt out rather than fading away – the truth is much less romantic.

Yes, there is an appalling list of performers who died young while battling their demons. But for every Lenny Bruce there is a George Burns. For every Heath Ledger there is a Tom Hanks. For every Toulouse Lautrec there is a Henri Matisse. For every Amy Winehouse there is a Dolly Parton. For that matter, for every Amy Winehouse there is a Jerry Garcia. Let’s face it, Jerry could probably have rolled up Amy and smoked her with an LSD chaser. And he lived to a semi-ripe old age. Johnny Cash fought years of addiction and lived to have a brilliantly productive end to his career. And for every Amy Winehouse there is an Adele. Who mines pain from her life and sings with aching soul. And yet appears to be, if not always happy, then at least healthy, and hopefully will be producing great music for many years to come.

So, please, can we see this death without the romantic haze of the tortured artist? The muse does not kill. Drug addiction does. You can have one without the other. And to survive both, you have to be very, very lucky. Poor Amy was not a lucky girl. Because of the undeniable power of her voice, we knew who she was. It is a measure of the strength of the monster she fought that even that voice could not save her.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tragedy and rememberance

Before we knew what monster was at work in Norway, I was looking at the first pictures to come out of the blast zone. And I saw the same thing as I saw in the first pictures that came from the blast zone at the Murrah Building. 15 years apart. Half a world away. Dust, blood, debris, panic, pain, fear, anguish. And that same look of trying to assemble the terror of a moment into something that can be comprehended in aftermath. How can you understand?

And again, it seems to have all been instigated by a man who is so sure of his, I don’t know, do we call it a world view? So sure that he knows what is right and what is true, so sure of his will that he is able to detonate a bomb with no apparent concern of who he may harm, just that he will do harm. So sure that he will aim a gun at children, fire, and keep firing. How do you do that once? How do you do that for an hour and a half?

You and I will probably never understand. Not really. We may find out all the reasons, all the whys. But we’ll never understand the how. Are we looking at the face of evil in Norway? Quite possibly. Insanity? Is there any clearer way to define it than an action like this? For the family and countrymen of the victims, I’m sure there is not even cold comfort in that idea.

Maybe, in the end, it really is just pure selfishness. The idea that one man is the measure of all things and his rights take precedence over all others. Even another’s life. My truth and there is no room for any other. Maybe that is the true root of evil.

TIME: Quotes of the Day