I Knew Dozens of Amy Winehouses


Back in the 1960s and into the 1970s my "friends" were dropping off like flies. Overdoses, suicides, car accidents, murders . . . you name it, they succumbed to it. The circumstances of their deaths all had one thing in common: drugs and alcohol, but because they weren't famous anorexic pop stars all of them left this earth unheralded and mourned only by a few friends and family members. Many of them, because of their addictions and pedal to the metal lifestyles, had alienated those close to them and their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers were only too happy to see them go to an early dirt nap.

I still remember most of their names, and how they went. Donnie, who always packed a .357 magnum and waved it around recklessly when he'd had one too many. He crawled into a closet one night and put the cold steel of the barrel against his forehead and pulled the trigger. Dave, who passed out drunk, and was hot-shot by his buddies who thought it would be fun to spike him while he was comatose. He died without ever gaining consciousness. Barry, who was knifed by an irate husband and who crawled under a porch for safety and died there and was only found days later because a lady who complained about the smell thought a cat had crawled under her porch and died. Rita, anguishing over a romantic breakup, who turned the gas on in the oven and then while high as a kite lit a cigarette to wait for the gas to do its magic and blew herself and her apartment into smithereens.  Vic, Nick and . . . hell, I can't remember the third guy's name . . . hot rodding on country roads in a tiny British MG-3, drunk as skunks and sharing a hash pipe, piled the sporty little number into a tree while doing 70+ mph. There are others, so many others, who did themselves either intentionally or by accident; do we mourn them? Do we mourn them? Do we mourn the thousands, nay millions, who have tragically met their maker years before Amy Winehouse? Not hardly, but we gnash our teeth and beat our breasts over the tragic demise of a London waif with a talent for singing because why? Because a clique of high-powered media types whose experience with drugs is doing blow in their Central Park West digs with other illuminati and people who count have made it so. With the clickety-clack of their keyboard or hot air jawboning on radio and TV, Amy Winehouse had become the flavor of the week, if her story lasts that long. They will skin her, bone her and hang her rotting corpse out to dry and when the public has had their fill of it they will move on to another high-profile tragedy. That's the way it is. That's the nature of the beast.

Amy Winehouse's tragic passing is sad, and we should mourn the loss of her talent, but should we not as well mourn those who have crashed and burned but without the media circus and gnashing of the multitude's teeth? There will now follow the inevitable discussion on the legalization of drugs, the prohibition of alcohol, the increased need for publicly funded social services, the demise of the family, affixing of blame, and many cold-hearted comments tossed off by caring individuals who should know better. It will all change nothing, and it will all disappear into the fog of the collective social consciousness until the next celebrity overdose.

So, mourn Amy Winehouse. But not because of her talent, or her high-profile lifestyle, but rather because she left a grieving family and friends. That, dear reader, is where the rubber really meets the road. If we don't realize that we are all doomed, like my friend Donny, to die alone in a dark closet, the bang of the big gun echoing in the claustrophobic space, the stench of cordite hanging in the air.

Lenny Palmer



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