Though the narrative is by the book, the story is familiar to anyone who has seen the trajectory of many young actors and singers. After being in the limelight and dealing with everything that comes with that while growing up, they become an afterthought or a piece of nostalgia when the newer model comes along.
I have mixed feelings about this reality show. This is obviously an issue that is deeply personal and requires a lot of emotional excavation to get to the bottom of. While it takes away some of the stigma from addiction, it also comes off as slightly voyeuristic. Someone else’s pain should not be entertainment for another.
Addiction is not a thing we can turn on and off like a light switch. It is an all consuming habit that devours and destroys everything in its path.
Hunter Biden, the younger son of President Joe Biden released his memoir back in April. Entitled Beautiful Things: A Memoir, is an emotionally raw and difficult read about Biden’s decades of drug addiction, his adoration of his late older brother Beau Biden, and his many attempts to get clean. He tells the story of his life as only he tells it. From the death of his mother and baby sister when he was a young child, to his father’s time in politics and his attempt to live a normal life while dealing with his inner demons, nothing is off the table.
If this book is not among the top five, if not the best book of the year, something is wrong. I have a feeling that putting pen to paper was a cathartic experience for him. It is real, it is uninhibited, and it is emotional. I wanted to reach out through the pages and give him a long hug. Leaving no stone unturned, he is honest about his long years of drug abuse.
He also talks about the accusation that came from the other side during the 2020 Presidential election in regards to the laptop that linked him to the Ukraine scandal. Unlike a certain person and their family, Hunter Biden comes off as a genuine person who is not always looking out solely for number one.
Every decade has its own unique style. In the 1970’s, there was one name that represented the height of women’s fashion: Halston.
The new five part Netflix miniseries, Halston, stars Ewan McGregor as the the iconic fashion designer. The viewer is initially introduced to Halston in the early 1960’s. His salon in New York City is besieged by customers after he designs the hat that Jackie Kennedy wears at her husband’s inauguration in 1961. We then flash forward to 1968 when the business has dried up. Despite being a talented designer, it appears that his once thriving career is in the past.
Then the 1970’s dawns and his wildest professional dreams come true. But as his star grows, Halston’s past and his demons begin to catch up with him. Addicted to drugs and pushing away even the closest of his friends, it appears that his genius and talent will be eclipsed by the shadows he can never get away from.
*Warning: the trailer above contains strong language and images of drug use.
The narrative is nothing short of a Shakespearean tragedy. This man is brilliant, driven, funny, eccentric, and devoted to his friends. Among them is Liza Minnelli (a fantastic Krysta Rodriguez) and the recently department jewelry designer Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan). He is also selfish, full of it, arrogant, and thinks that he has all of the answers. McGregor is superb as the title character, painting a complete picture of a man who myth and mystique is still with us three decades after his passing. It is one of the best roles I have seen him play in a long time.
Do you remember when you were a kid and an adult told you that you couldn’t do something? It made that thing all the more tempting. If the adult had said yes, this thing you wanted lost some of its luster.
The same could be said about marijuana. As of yesterday morning, it is now legal for adults 21 and over in New York State to purchase the drug in small amounts and/or grow their own plants within their private residences.
Though it will take time for the market and regulations to be set up, I agree that this bill is an important one.
I understand the reasons that some might object, but if we are to learn anything from history, it is that an outright ban only compounds the problem. Addiction is real, as are the problems that are offshoots from addiction. In the United States, alcohol was banned from 1920 to 1933. While the lawmakers at the time had their hearts in the right places, they didn’t quite think things through. During the Prohibition era, crime increased via the gangs who took advantage of the illegal booze trade and tax revenues dipped to new lows.
From my perspective, I see only good things with this new law. From an economic standpoint not only will it bring in millions, if not billions of necessary income to the state, it will create new opportunities for business and employment. It will also cut down on the funds spent in the legal system to arrest and incarcerate accused dealers and users, taking the sting off communities of color who are frequently the target of law enforcement.
Only time will tell what the consequences of the law will be. My hope is that though there may be some minor drawbacks, it will overall be the solution to a problem that was needed long ago.
There is something about the power of music. A beloved song has a way of making it’s way into the listeners brain, conscious, and perhaps helping to change things for the better.
Billie Holiday is one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century. Though it has been six decades since her physical form left this Earth, her performances and songs continue to leave a mark on fans. The new biopic about her life, The United States vs. Billie Holiday dropped yesterday on Hulu.
The film stars singer/actress Andra Day as Holiday, Garrett Hedlund as Harry J. Anslinger, and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher. The audience follows Holiday as she battles drug addiction, racism, and gets involved with FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher. Woven into the narrative is the iconic and dark song Strange Fruit, which sadly is as potent today as it was during Holiday’s life time.
I really wanted to like this film. Day’s performance is worthy of the accolades she is receiving. Unfortunately, that is where I have to draw the line. Frankly, I was bored. I wanted to be hooked, but I was not. Whatever tension and drama I anticipated was sadly lacking. Especially with Anslinger’s obsession and persecution of Billie Holiday. That should have been more exciting that it was actually was.
Drug addiction is like any other disease. It requires a proper diagnosis and treatment for the person who is living with the addiction to be able to free themselves from their addiction.
The problem is that it is not treated as one would treat a another disease i.e. heart disease or cancer. Depending on the person who is suffering from drug addiction, they are at best enrolled in a detox program and at worst, put in jail.
Last week, singer and television star Demi Lovato had an overdose after being sober for a number of years. In addition to issues with drug abuse, she also suffers from mental illness.
Her overdose sheds a spotlight on the fact that drug addiction, despite being an illness, is not treated as an illness. For many (especially people of color), the common treatment is jail time. Ms. Lovato has the cushion of not only being white, but also being a famous performer. I’m not an expert in the law or addiction, but common sense tells me that instead of putting these people in jail, we should be treating them for their disease. Keeping them in jail only exacerbates the problem and makes it harder for them to return to every day life once they have completed their jail sentence.
I’m not a fan of Ms. Lovato, but I wish her well in seeking treatment for her disease.
It’s no secret that drug abuse and drug addiction is a plague on our society. Countless lives have been lost and/or destroyed to drug use or addiction.
Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would soon be opening a handful of safe injection sites in various neighborhoods. The purpose of these establishments is not to encourage drug addiction and abuse, but to save lives. Those who choose to enter will be given clean needles and access to trained medical professionals who will provide the overdose reversing medication naloxone to those who overdose. Information about treatment options will also be available.
I can understand why some would argue that these sites only encourage illegal drug use. But I disagree. I disagree because there are too many people overdosing and dying for no reason. If someone overdoses while inside of one these establishments, not only will the staff able to revive them, but they will be encouraged to seek help. The easy way out of combating drug abuse and addiction is prison. But that has proved to be a fruitless solution that mingles with other issues to create a larger problem. What is needed, from my perspective is not only medical treatment, but an understanding of why people seek out illegal drugs.