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xmag.com : February 2003 : I Love Las Vegas

Life is hard. Life is short. Life's not fair.
I saw Marianne Faithfull in concert recently. And thanked my stars that I wasn't dead yet. That I got to see her. Life keeps trying to kill me, trying to kill all of us. But at least I got to see Marianne.
What if you're born rich and beautiful and smart? Generally you are vapid and out-of-touch and more than likely blind. Or you're MARIANNE FAITHFULL. Still, life will try to kill you.
"Hey, Carrie Anne, what's your game and can anybody play?" The Hollies wrote their 1968 hit about Marianne's legendary willingness to make the road a little more comfortable for virtually every sixties star. She was the most lacey whip-creamy angel-voiced tid-bit the 60's produced. She fucked Mick. She fucked 'em all. And by the seventies was adhering to a strict diet of liquor, drugs and cigarettes. Eventually she was literally living in the gutters, strung-out and wrung out. Then she put it all down on 1979's breakthrough Broken English. Considering her signature hit was 1964's syrupy "As Tears Go By", the pain, jealousy and despair on Broken English was like finding shrapnel in your crème brûleé.
I first saw Marianne at the Aladdin, singing her broken heart out for the most motley crew ever collected: decrepit old hippies, punk rock kids and loads of gay men. All come to revel in that instrument of hers, cracked and weathered by years of naughty muse talk and cigarettes and whiskey. Bob Dylan wrote songs for that voice. So did Tom Waits. So did Beck. So did Blur.
A few days later I saw her as a whispy youth, thirty years young at a Lower Manhattan cocktail party--draping herself gracefully, sluttily around anyone with a light, a hit, a come-on. Both nights she clutched a pack of Marlboro Lights like they were her mother, her lover, her lifeline. Without those cigarettes to hold on to, one got the feeling she'd evaporate into the night.
We all get through somehow.
I had an epiphany then, for better or worse. We all get through somehow. Whether you're getting by with ignorance, nicotine, heroin, sex, food or religion, you're an addict. Life is just too rough to tough out alone. Off the record, I spent the last year zonked out of my head on every anti-depressant ever invented. And those fuckers are expensive. Watching Marianne, I thought why not heroin? why not cigarettes? At least they're more organic, natural remedies. I know they RUIN LIVES, but life is ruination. Why not fuckin' ride it?
People on Prozac are boring. They meet boring people, they have boring lives, they write boring songs, screenplays, stories. People who medicate sub-legally have much more interesting things to say and do. And then they write Broken English, Naked Lunch and A Clockwork Orange.
Get addicted to Jesus. Get addicted to art. Get Addicted to Love. But stay off those western meds, man! Give me methadone before Prozac. Pretty soon half the population (the rich half) will be medicated on these anti-life drugs and telling us we can't smoke cigarettes or pot or opium--nature's life preservers. And we poor folk will have to get high off donuts and candy bars til our serotonin is through the roof and our bodies swell with fat and cancers but they won't care. We're taking up two seats on the Greyhound, not next to them on AirFrance.
And they'll keep wringing their hands, asking "Why is rock dead? What happened to the theater? Is Jennifer Lopez really the Best Actress?" Until they don't care about that either.
Ah, hell. We all get through somehow. Who am I to preach? Let them eat Prozac.
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