Sympathy for Amy Winehouse

At first I shouted out “Who Killed Amy Winehouse?”, when after all, it was you and me. I posted my gut reaction to Amy Winehouse’s unsurprising demise on Facebook, the homeport of all my gut, visceral, and knee-jerk reactions. “I have no sympathy,” was my short but not-sweet offering to the end of her reign of error. It was received with much gusto and support from the peanut gallery but also a smattering of “no, no, no” from some respected friends.

Opinions are not a numbers game…if you’re playing things right. A million people can say you’re the man but a few intelligent nays, and a couple of well thought out arguments can sway you, if you’re man enough to accept and admit to a mistake. I have been schooled and of course have sympathy for Amy Winehouse. The world was a better place because of her brief visit and I’m a grown man and should know better than to let my guts or my dick rule my brain. My beef with her was because I felt her lyrics might persuade those on the edge from seeking the help found in rehab.

She was a poster child for fame and success and a life of partying all the time and getting away with it. That was years ago and the years weren’t kind to her. Her substance abuse binges–which seemed to be the norm rather than the exception–made Lindsey Lohan seem like Sarah Palin. Her vile mouth made Courtney Love seem like Mr. Rogers. (And, on a side note: By all reports in gossip rags and trash talking blogs and periodicals Ms. Love is painted as a foul-mouthed harpie. Yet, on the occasion when I have met her, I have found her to be an intelligent and wonderful person. Sometimes print…exaggerates.) Maybe Amy was better than portrayed. After years of public displays of bawdiness and just bad behavior, Amy became a role model to fewer folks. Just another talented celebrity wastoid and now gone too soon. In death, she has taught the impressionable that you can’t get away with it.

My world is filled with addiction. Many of my friends are drunks or drug addicts at different phases of recovery or abuse. Too many of my friends have woken up dead after a night of access and excess. Too many of my friends have had everything taken away from them and live as shadows basking only in the light of distant, past accomplishments. I hate drugs and not because I don’t like them. For the record I have been there and tried everything once or thrice. Binged a few times. There wasn’t a drug that I didn’t try and enjoy. I was lucky enough to know that there was no future in the stuff and lucky enough to have the will or support to not go there. I stared at the abyss and lived and worked with temptations readily available but chose to keep straight. I have about a dozen drinks a year and haven’t done drugs since the early ‘90s, and even then it was a few times a year and small stuff. Still, it surrounds me and every time I see someone doing a line at a party I think “I’d like some” and I wonder where I could get a bunch of it. I just say no to drugs, while Amy wasn’t built that way.

News of her death came to me just before I dashed off to see the new Terrence Malick flick Tree of Life. Amanda had possibly seen Badlands eons ago. I told her a Malick flick is always “life changing” and so it was. It’s actually hard not to sympathize with Amy’s plight, and indeed all of ours, after seeing this masterpiece. We are all blessed beyond description and sentenced to the same fate. We are all just moments or flickerings, living a life without explanation, helpless and fleeting. We are all spinning in a world of immense beauty and will leave without answers to the most important questions. Malick does his best to show us what it is we are, what we have, and how important every second is. The top billed actors, Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, are not the stars of the film. The universe, the oceans, the stars, the sun, the volcanos, and the sounds play more important roles as they do in our little lives.

The dinosaur showing silent compassion to a fallen fellow being is a profound statement. We are not unique to compassion, to emotions, to love. It has always been here. It comes with the heart. The swirling primordial microbes swarm to the sun with a passion and as much relevancy of purpose as any endeavor of ours. The wounded, beached amphibian dinosaur looks at its’ wounds and then the setting sun, knowing it would never see it again. Its understanding of its place in the universe and our understanding of it are not much different. Malick leaves me full of love for being lucky enough to spend some time basking in the warm sun and sharing my time with others in the same boat. I appreciate the whole shebang a lot more having seen his work. To explain the meaning of life in 2 hours and change is an ambitious game, yet he pulls it off. If microbes, and Brad Pitt, and dinosaurs sound a bit corny be assured that he overcomes it. He succeeds as Kubrick did with 2001.

Amy Winehouse is as dead as Julius Caesar, so the question now is: are we actually living? In a flash, we will be staring at the sun for the last time. Whether it’s after 27 or 97 years, the world according to Malick must be lived in awe and with compassion and love and extreme humility. I have profound sympathy for Amy’s passing and feel fortunate that her life touched mine. May she be remembered well for her time with us and may she rest in peace, throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.

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