Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Percy Mayfield - Life Is Suicide

Percy Mayfield, the "Poet of the Blues."  Ray Charles was a fan . . . you should be too. 

Percy could go all the way dark in some of these songs.  Check out "The River's Invitation," yep, that's what it's about, "if you can't find your baby, come and make your home with me." 

So, "Life Is Suicide," is that an oxymoron?  in bad taste?  or just the truth?  I mean, you know where we all end up. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Robin Williams Is Not Depressed Anymore

This is not a Robin Williams tribute, I don’t have a license to provide that.  This is a commiseration, brother to brother. 

Another brother carried away by depression.  The ever thinning ranks!  Wish us luck, those of us who still struggle.  That is, if you haven’t run out of patience with our “doom and gloom,” and that is, if you had any patience in the first place!  Get over it!  What do you have to be depressed about?  I would go on, but it would get personal very quickly. 

They say that heart disease is the “hidden killer,” but at least when you die from heart disease the living will believe that you had an actual condition that led to your death.  They may even be compassionate, unless, of course, they’re too busy blaming that on you too.  After all, you ate butter or something.  People can be cold.  There are many ways to die from depression, but for many people there are even more ways to prove that depression had nothing to do with it, or, in the alternative, that it was your own damn fault.
The terrible truth:  while it is easy to imagine what it is like to suffer from some terrible cancer, as easy as it would be to imagine dying from a heart attack or a stroke, it is difficult, ten times as difficult, for the unexperienced to imagine what it is like to suffer from major depression. 

Yes, I’m going to split hairs here and dismiss mere situational depression.  If a beloved parent dies unexpectedly, a bereaved son or daughter may suffer from depression-like symptoms, for a time.  That is a horse of an entirely different color.  Life will reassert itself in these erstwhile sufferers, and they will regain their cheerful demeanor.  Sufferers of major, or clinical depression, are not so lucky.  For them it is a lifetime sentence. 

I feel bad about Robin Williams, but part of me is envious of him.  He had a good life.  There were ups and downs, and his personal life got a bit messy from time to time, but it was a good life after all.  He left behind a few children who seem to have loved him, and his third and final wife seems like a nice woman who loved him.  Good for him!  I’m very glad that he had those things.  He also leaves behind a body of work that anyone would be proud of, a lifetime of entertaining us that we should be eternally grateful for, and a sterling reputation as one of the funniest people ever to walk in the shoes of the show business.  Most of us would be very proud of, and satisfied with, that legacy.  If I took the same route as Robin, all that I would leave behind would be a few things that no one wants, with nary a ripple in the larger pool. 

And then, we are reminded, Robin Williams resorted to self-medication to deal with his “demons.”  (I do love this subtle semantic demonization of all depression sufferers.)  I resort to it myself!  And who could blame us for seeking islands of rest in the storm of our lives?  Alcohol is a woefully inadequate tool for any of its usual uses, but it does work at some level.  I have often referred to alcohol as a place, not so much an intoxicant as a separate reality that you can go to almost at will.  A couple of cocktails and you are somewhere else, all of the rules have changed, things may seem more tolerable, certain habitual behaviors may fade into the background.  Throw in a couple of Percocets and you’re on another planet altogether.  There are available drugs and combinations that will deliver you to other universes.  It’s all temporary of course, and it does no lasting good, but it works. 

Non-sufferers, you . . . oh!  I almost said a bad word!  Non-sufferers are very hard on us for self-medicating.  Sometimes they go so far as to suggest that the self-medicating behavior is the very CAUSE of our depression.  This putting of the cart before the horse serves two purposes:  for one thing, it proves that they are better than the sufferer; and for another thing, it proves that the sufferer is responsible for his or her own condition.  This works for the non-sufferer on several levels.  It restores order to their world, and it allows them to withdraw support and affection from the sufferer without drawing blame upon themselves.  I have experienced this phenomenon, and I condemn it.  If there were a God, It would visit the practitioners with boils. 

Oh! But don’t we have wonderful new medicines with which to combat depression?  SSRI’s, and endorphin enhancers?  My reading on the subject mirrors my own experience:  they do work, but only for a few years.  By then the brain has compensated and it’s back to the Merry-Go-Round. 

Depression and suicide go hand in glove.   Depressed people kill themselves when they reach the “I can’t do this anymore” moment.  The terrible instant when the entire horizon is taken up with a cry of “not another fucking minute!”  It’s a horrible thing, and it does probably have a bad effect on those loved ones left behind, but perhaps it’s not exclusively horrible.  It does, after all, end the suffering.  Maybe people who kill themselves get exactly what they want.  Should we be happy for them?  Or at least, should we not understand that in exercising the power that they had over their own lives they might have been achieving something that they really wanted?  Something that had been long denied them?  Isn’t Peace a wonderful gift? 

I see that Robin Williams once said in an interview that he would sometimes hear a little voice when he was standing at some high place, a little voice telling him to “jump.”  We hear that little voice frequently over the course of our lives, we sufferers.  It presents itself as a reasonable alternative to going on living.  So it is no surprise that many people finally give in to the suggestion. 

I don’t endorse suicide as a solution to depression.  To depression sufferers I only offer that death comes soon enough anyway, on its own motion, and there’s no real need to hurry it along.  That is the blessing and the curse of this earthly life:  as terrible as it is, it doesn’t go on for very long. 

There is some talk in the media that the suicide of such a beloved figure as Robin Williams will lead society to a new understanding of depression, and it is tempting to think that it might.  That would be nice.  Destigmatization would be nice; new and better drugs might be an achievable goal; easier affordable access to appropriate counseling would certainly help.  Let’s face it though, society famously lacks compassion regarding depressives.  Get over it!  That’s the common cry from the non-sufferers.  As though we chose to be depressed, and could just as easily chose to not be depressed anymore.  Family and friends expend their stores of compassion before long, if they had any compassion to begin with.  America in particular is not generous with money towards problems that are nebulous if not invisible, nor is America generous in spirit to those who exhibit a condition that renders them “others.”  It is likely that nothing will change just because Robin Williams killed himself. 

I say to those who suffer from depression, please carry on.  Please live.  Please take any and all available measures to protect yourselves from the worst effects of your affliction.  Learn to spot your triggers and pull back from your usual negative reactions to them; learn to comfort yourselves; learn about your condition in the hopes that understanding will make the suffering easier to bear; recall that you do not suffer alone.  Please be as happy as you can be.  Love yourselves, as I love you, my brothers and sisters.  Please live.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Digging For The Bullshit

"Could the Egyptians have built this?" That, my friends, is the defining question for stupidity.  It was posed by this person, Josh Bernstein, on his History Channel show, "Digging for the Truth."  Who besides the Egyptians, you may correctly wonder, might have built it?  That's a short list right there.

Another stupid question:  Why did they live here?  On the cliff?  Why not down there?  (Re: the Mesa Verde Pueblo people in the old American Southwest.) 

This fellow had a decent education.  He majored in Anthropology and Psychology at Cornell university and received "a degree."  I did say "decent," he does not appear to have any post graduate degrees. 

He does have his Indiana Jones hat, although it's the wrong size, and he has his shirt with many pockets, and his Indiana Jones shoulder bag.  And he has his trim, youthful good looks too, that's very important on television. 

I'm not sure, but he may be mostly an eco-adventure tour seller when he's not asking stupid questions on the History Channel.  He's an energetic sort, he rides horses and runs up the stairs of pyramids in Mexico, but why is he on the History Channel at all?  I guess we know the answer to that one.  Once affectionately known as "The Hitler Channel," the History Channel now features mostly weird, non-academic, sensation-mongering fare that bares little relation to anything of importance to the real world, shows like "In Search of Ancient Aliens." 

I shouldn't complain.  The whole world has gone insane, not just the History Channel.  Maybe we should all just go insane and get with the program.

Robin Williams Has Crossed The River

I'll have an awful lot more to say about this very shortly. 

In the meantime, wasn't he a treasure?  Isn't this a great picture?  Didn't he make us laugh out loud?  Didn't he make us think in a lot of those movies, you know, when he wasn't being silly at all? 

I wonder if channeling all of that energy on a regular basis could even be done without blowing out some circuits eventually.  Plus, there was the complication, about which I will have more to say. 

This is just terrible. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Nice Party

We had a nice birthday party for my friend Jee yesterday, that's her on the left.  It was also Mothers' Day in Thailand, celebrated on the Queen's birthday.  The party was in a private room at a good "Chinese Seafood" restaurant in Bangkok, An An Lao it's called. 

The big surprise of the evening was Jee's daughter "dropping in" from London.  I knew about it, but it was a big surprise for Jee.  Her daughter has been living in England for two years now, and she's doing very well for herself.  She's a Thai lawyer, and after a couple of years scuffling around with unskilled jobs she has finally landed a job with a big international law firm.  She made the trip to celebrate getting her permanent resident card in the U.K., which is like a permanent VISA, sure, good to see you, welcome back!  She expects to have a U.K. passport in another few years.  They make it easy over there, evidently. 

These are nice women, and it was great to see them so happy.

A Nice New Years Party

I go to some nice parties.  Not many, but nice.

That's Eddie over on the left, he was our host and chef for this New Years Party last year.  I don't meet many Americans over here that I really get along with, but Eddie is right at the top of that list.

He made us gumbo with homemade anduille sausage and shrimp.  Eddie lives in a residence hotel when he's here so he has a nice kitchen.  Great music too, lots of Miles and 'Bird and the boys, Eddie's old school.  The gumbo was first rate.

Good company all around. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Who - The Last Time - 1967 45rpm

I've got this record somewhere, but I don't live there anymore. 

Turns out that the 'Stones got the song from a record by the Staple Singers.  Not quite a theft though, the song is "traditional."  I heard one of the Gospel versions tonight over the end credits of an episode of season seven of True Blood. 

Hadn't known that before.  Listening to all of them, I'd say that the Rolling Stones put enough form and substance into the song to claim a writing credit.  That's where the money is, after all.

I love the Who's version of the song.  It's all good, but Jesu Christus Corpus Dei, isn't Keith Moon a revelation here?  In ordinary reality, time it what it is, and only one thing can happen at a time.  Keith Moon lives in another universe altogether.