On Suicide

Suicide is a motherfucker. Suicidal thoughts are hell. When your own brain is telling you that the people you love are better off without you, long enough or convincingly enough, that you believe it, simply living is hell. I’ve been there, not recently, but I’ve been there. I started thinking about this when we lost Robin Williams and I mostly kept my thoughts to myself. Then Chris Cornell took his own life and yesterday Chester Bennington did the same. I was combing YouTube and watching some of the videos of them together and came across this:

I was in tears by the end. As a father, watching that, and knowing that somehow Chris Cornell had been convinced that his children, who he obviously loved, along with his wife were better off without him I knew I had to write something.

Let me make one thing clear, in that moment, in that place, suicide is not selfish. Your whole world is wrong, your whole existence a form of torture. There is something inside of you that has made you believe that everyone is better off without you. For the person with the gun in their hand their final act is one of love. That may be hard to swallow but it’s the harsh reality of the situation. When you truly believe that your continued existence is actively harming those you love then the answer can seem simple. I’ll allow that there are other reasons, like chronic pain or terminal illness, but those aren’t what we’ve all been seeing in the media so being pedantic about it is worthless as far as I’m concerned.

Suicide is not the easy way out, it’s not the cowards way out, it’s not selfish, and it’s not simple. If you don’t think the person tying the rope hasn’t thought about their children, and the pain it will cause them and decided, utterly wrongly, that their kids pain will less after the suicide then you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. If you don’t think they looked their kids in the eyes, at some point, and said “I love you” with the full knowledge that their love for their kids is the very reason they’re about walk out the car and drive over a bridge, then you’re ignorant. Yes, all of those thoughts are wrong, all of those thoughts are broken, but that’s the whole point but those are the thoughts that are happening.

It’s been decades since I had those thoughts and well before I had kids but yes, more than once I decided that my mother, father, sisters, brothers, and my friends would be better off if I was gone. My head was telling me that I was so much of a burden that the only loving thing to do was leave and leave in the most permanent way possible. I am grateful that I never managed to pull it off and have the life I have now but don’t think I don’t become terrified at the occasional, passing thought of “am I worth more dead or alive”. I am highly attuned to those thought processes and if they ever start again I will be in therapy faster than you can blink. Not everyone manages that, therapy doesn’t always work, and sometimes things are just so wrong that there’s no coming back before you make that final mistake.

Yes, I think suicide is a mistake but I do not think it’s weak, selfish, or easy. Things might be different if we had better mental health care in this country. I’ve been open about my ADD, my medications, and even my occasional bouts of depression. I am open about these things in an attempt to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. Every single person claiming that suicide is selfish, and I know I’ve probably said that defensively at some point, or weak, or the easy way is part of the problem. Every. Single. Person. All you do when you make those bullshit claims is show someone that you cannot and are not willing to understand them. Those statements push people closer to taking their own life rather than help pull them back from the brink.

It’s time we started looking at this issue differently. I don’t believe we should praise those who commit suicide, I do believe it’s a mistake, but at the same time I know where that person might be at when they pick up that razor. If you think you should say that it’s the coward’s way out, when someone famous or someone you know and love takes their own life then I personally invite you to shut the fuck up and spare us your drivel.

I know this is ostensibly a music site but it’s also my music site so I won’t apologize for the abrupt topic shift. However here are some beautiful things from folks who recently gave in to those thoughts I mentioned, they will never create anything, beautiful or otherwise, again.

Stories: Dexy – Tear It Down

What are stories? Well stories are where I make up what it’s like to see a band I may or may not have ever seen play one of their records, straight through, live. It all happens in my head. It’s one way I can write about music without writing reviews, which I honestly never want to do again. It’s different so I hope you like the style because it’s something I’m going to be trying with a few records. The first story I’ve got in the queue is Tear It Down from Dexy. When I was still writing for 9 Bullets I shared an exclusive track and talked about how I met Dexy so if you’re looking for that sort of stuff you can read it over there via those links. Well that’s enough about what I’m doing here, so lets get right to it…

A decently sized gin and tonic is the starting point for my little journey and it’ll take me through the first three songs. Dexy opens with “The Lonesome Death of the One Man Caberet Act” which feels kind of like the music The Killers could make if they weren’t what they are. The title track, “Tear It Down”, is up next and even though it mentions whiskey I still sip my gin and tonic and enjoy the show. Dexy is building on the themes from the opening song and it’s perfect, as the music itself wanes slightly in intensity and the lyrics begin to really shine, building in to a crescendo of “I feel fine, fine, fine” that crashes right in to “A Hollow Place”, by which time I’m sucking the last of the gin off of the ice cubes in my glass. It’s the perfect song to contemplate the dregs of melting ice in my cup while I decide what to drink next.

This is not a circus, this is no caberet
They put out the grease paint long ago
And threw your heart, threw your heart away
– The Lonesome Death of the One Man Caberet Act

Next up I’m rewarded for riding the emotional roller coaster with “My Dearest Friends” and Dexy’s confidence is building as the crowd is really getting in the music. I decide the next few songs call for something that’s not quite as devastating to sobriety, I do have a whole show to make it through after all, and soon enough I’m holding a PBR in the air and saluting the band. I put my arms around my friends and sing along, in imperfect harmony, with “Don’t Operate” while we sway in time with the music. A couple songs is usually enough to polish off a beer but singing along makes beers last longer so I suck down that last quarter can of warm beer while “Summer Heist” kicks in and I wander to the bar for my next drink.

Can I ever get it right
Waited for the feature
Doesn’t come all night
So I plan a summer heist
Try to find some peace to occupy my mind
– Summer Heist

At the White Water Tavern during Holiday Hangout, where I met Dexy, when you order a Jameson on the rocks you get it in a crystal coffee mug. This is exactly what I have in my hands during “Barlights” as I’m taken down the road of figuring out that we may not be what we wanted to be and reliving a bit of my youth through Dexy’s and my mutual heroes. A crystal coffee mug of Irish whiskey, half gone, is what I’m to staring down in to as “Broken Fixtures” starts to break my heart. The empty glass is a little hard to hold on to as the image, in my mind, of it shattering on the floor seems to go perfectly with what’s happening on my musical journey but I hold on it anyway. Just as I thought that we’d hit bottom Dexy starts in with “Your Fucking Move” and it’s back to the bar and this time it’s not cocktails or rocks, I need a shot, a shot of anything. For me that’d more Jameson, straight this time, and that cements me taking an Uber to wherever I’m going after the show. I knock back my shot and head back up to the front of the stage, with another shot for me and one for Dexy as he closes out the set with “20 Years of Dischord” and leaves the crowd in awe.

And I got some friends, some pretty good friends, yeah it’s true
We all scream like bastards and spill our drinks in the moon
But each word that we scream, we truly believe is the truth
And we ain’t fucking moving so darling it’s your fucking move
– Your Fucking Move

And this where the little adventure in my head ends, I’m poured in to an Uber and sent off to wherever I’m crashing for the night with my head full of good music, great lyrics, and a fine time with friends. You can find Dexy on Facebook at the link in the first paragraph and you can get Tear It Down from Bandcamp. Maybe one day I’ll get to see him play some of these songs, until then I’ll just make up shit in my head because I may just be a little crazy.

Moving Slowly Through The Haze

Getting this up and running has been a slow process. I’m still working on what will be the actual theme as what you see is pretty much something I threw together in a couple of days, getting all the plugins sorted out, and working out a logo with Joe Maiocco. I thought things would move faster but that was just wishful thinking. I hope that by the end of June I’ll have all the bits and bobbles in place and can concentrate on the actual content.

In the meantime I’ve a got another playlist for your Thursday listening pleasure. This one was inspired by the rabbit hole I went down when I heard that Chris LaForge from 30footFall passed away. I thought about doing all Houston or all Texas bands but then I decided to just let the music take me where it would and I ended up with 25 or so songs that I culled down to 14. This is mostly a stream of consciousness compilation. I personally think it goes together alright and I hope it makes your day a little better.

Cover art: Punk CD’s webbed flickr photo by FourthFloor shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

When We Were Grunge

The news of Chris Cornell’s sudden and unexpected death got me thinking back to the first time I ever heard Soundgarden. At the time my musical tastes were all over the place, I had a led a sheltered existence and had only recently started venturing out beyond my comfort zone, both musically and geographically. I can still see the cassette cover for Louder Than Love in the zippered container on the floor of the Mustang along with MDC, Fugazi, and Green Day’s 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. Angie slid the tape in to the dash and by “Full On Kevin’s Mom” I was totally hooked. This honestly isn’t that unique, while I had some punk in my catalog along with some industrial, a little goth, my collection had breadth but no depth. I knew I liked grunge, in fact I met Angie on a double date to an Excess Lettuce/Bleachbath show at the Pik N Pak has shaped me over the years and it’s due to her influence that I even know a lot of the bands that I put on this little mix I whipped for you all. Some of the quality isn’t great because, to be honest, some of these are rips from when I originally bought the CDs. Grunge being what it was I am not certain a higher bit rate or better quality rip would improve the sound that much but I still love the music.

I hope I represented the scene pretty well in 13 tracks but feel free to offer your opinions. Chris Cornell’s passing sucks but I’ve chosen to celebrate the scene he helped create and revel in the amazing memories that certain music can bring to mind. I would prefer to find beauty in tragedy and today I think I’ve done that, at least for myself. So rest it peace Mr. Cornell, you were an amazing artist and you’ve left behind a body of work that will inspire new artists for generations to come. I only hope you’d find my tribute a fitting one!

Compilation art attribution
I don’t remember… IV flickr photo by Miss Cartier shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

The What, Why, and Where…

I’ve been at the blogging game for a long time. I wrote my first blog site, monochromeforest.net in 2001 and by that I mean I coded the site as well as writing all the shitty stuff you can still see at archive.org. I was part of an E/N collective that we called brainrape.net, blogged on various personal domains over the years, and for over half of the last decade I’ve written for the venerable 9 Bullets as Romeo Sid Vicious, I even ran the joint for a couple of years. I’m still taking care of 9B on the technical side and I love the music we’ve covered, I love the people behind the music, and I am more than proud to call many of them friends. Not a single bit of that has changed since 2009 when Autopsy IV (someone I met on the Lucero message board) asked if I wanted to write for the site. However I have changed, I have a much larger family than I did then, a job that’s more demanding of my time, I’ve grown older and require more sleep, and a lot of other various things that place demands on my time. Last year I handed the reigns of 9 Bullets over to Patrick Hayes for the simple fact that I couldn’t handle the time or emotional effort to run the joint anymore.

Some folks may not understand what goes in to running a site, even “just” a music blog, especially on the emotional side. For me it all boils down to this: every record I wanted to write about and couldn’t, every day I didn’t schedule a post, every artist I didn’t make out to see live, every show I didn’t promote on Facebook, and every other exiguous bit weighed on me. I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. In reality I know that everyone, including the artists, knows that life happens and sometimes that means we fall down but that didn’t stop my head from beating me up missing a great show or not being able to find the words to write about a great record. Even now, having pulled back to just handling the technical side of things, there’s a gravity to logging in to 9 Bullets. It wasn’t an easy decision to strike out on my own but if I wanted to continue to write then it was a necessary one.

Through The Whiskey Glass will be a lot of things but most importantly, for this first post, is what it won’t be. I don’t want to recreate 9 Bullets. TTWG is a place for me to write about whatever the hell I want to, to publish the podcast that I’ve been too embarrassed to publish (Drinkin’ About My Daddy), and post playlists. I expect to be a little eccentric in what gets posted for the first while. It will take some time for me to settle in to this new skin and see where it takes me. I’d love it if you’d stick around and see what happens, I may be just as surprised as you are! I do have a podcast to post just as soon as I sort whether I’m self hosting or putting it on a service so you should see that soon. I hope some of you will follow me down this new rabbit hole.