Sunday, January 13, 2008

"White Punks on Dope"

"Teenage, had a race for the night time;
Spent my cash on every high I could find;
Wasted time in every school in L.A.:
Getting loose, I didn’t care what the kids say."

A long time ago, I blogged Warren Zevon's "Detox Mansion," in which he sang:

"Left my home in Music City in the back of a limousine
Now I'm doing my own laundry, and I'm getting those clothes clean.
Growing fond of Detox Mansion, and this quiet life I lead,
But I'm just dying to tell my story, for all my friends to read."

The whole point about that blog was that, back when rock still had hair and all its own teeth, rock stars didn't want you to know about their drug problems. When Famous Singer A had to have his stomach pumped, or Guitar Hero B needed a shot of adrenaline when his heart stopped in the shower, the record company executives closed ranks to make sure the story didn't find its way to the papers.

These days, when Lily or Amy teeter blindly out of a nightclub and into the arms of the Priory, the record company execs, the publicists, the stylists, voice coaches and hairdressers all parrot exactly the same line. They all talk about "exhaustion."

Now, to you or me, that means we've been sitting up all night with a kid who's been throwing up, or we've just pulled a 48-hour stint at work to get the presentation done in time.

When *they* use that word, *their* concept of exhaustion is about as alien to real life as possible. What *they* mean is that poor Amy has been digging around in her arm looking for a vein for the last 48 hours. How fatiguing. What *they* mean is that Lily has been pouring so much alcohol down her neck that her she could fit an optic to her bladder. How desperately tiring.

What's even more distasteful is the conspiracy that the media and these hangers-on engage in. The papers want to sell more stories, while the hangers-on have careers to think about. So the hangers-on can put their hands on their hearts and parrot the officially-sanctioned "exhaustion" line, while the papers just wink and look for new ways to say "dope-addled twat."

I don't want to pick out any particular performers -- though I have taken two names in vain -- because frankly they're all just as bad as each other.

"I go crazy ’cause my folks are so fucking rich;
Have to score when I get that rich white punk itch.
Sounds real classy, living in a chateau:
So lonely, all the other kids will never know."

Fee Waybill (I think) once explained that White Punks on Dope was about all those teenage kids living in California, waiting around in a drugged stupor until they were 18 to get their hands on their trust fund.

It kind of fits today's rant. We've hot-housed a generation of under-cooked little pop tartlets who've been handed the keys to the world after one appearance on MySpace, and most of them have taken the inch they've been given, and run a mile.

Ask twenty kids what they want to be when they grow up, and they'll say "famous." Ask them "famous for what?" and they'll probably shrug and say "whatever."

Let's look back at some other famous drug users

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lewis Carroll
Thomas Edison
Charles Dickens
Salvador Dali
Marcus Aurelius
Benjamin Franklin
Sigmund Freud
Cardinal Richelieu
William Wilberforce
Thomas Jefferson

Not exactly a bunch of "whatever," are they?

But until our current crop of drug-users starts producing the goods on a par with the folks above, they're really just a bunch of white punks on dope.

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