these last few days i’ve been listening to quite a few people talk about their experience with alcohol misuse, either through their own struggles or because of alcoholism among their loved ones.
what is it about alcohol abuse that frightens us so? when i was younger, it was the strange and dangerous-seeming world that drunks would enter, a dark and dizzying universe that held both almost unbearable intensity and stupefying numbness.
some alcoholics are peaceful and quiet when they get drunk. others are so tense that it’s hard to be around them when they’re not drinking. then there are people who break into terrifying violence or other, barely disguised forms of aggression, such as dangerous driving.
and then there are some that make it through this horrible tunnel of booze and come out the other end.
here are some artists who did it.
john callahan is a great inspiration to me. this raving-lunatic cartoonist’s story is portrayed in his autobiography don’t worry, he won’t get far on foot. his drinking got him into an accident that left him paralyzed. now a recovering alcoholic, he draws very, very strange cartoons and has written a beautiful and touching children’s book, the king of strings and the cranberry clown, where he shows the absolute futility of trying to control one’s life.
hailing from a very different corner is composer and writer ned rorem:
I’m five things: I’m homosexual and alcoholic (a recovered alcoholic – I haven’t had a drink of any sort in 34 years). I’m also an atheist, and a pacifist, totally atheist and totally pacifist. And I’m a composer. That’s the only one that’s problematic; people don’t know what you’re talking about when you say you’re a composer. But you are a composer or you aren’t, and you know that pretty early.
(go here for the rest of the interview with him)
going some time back, there is dexter gordon, who, my jazz musician husband tells me, spent 15 years in europe partly because that would make it easier for him to quit the sauce. after returning to the states, he won critical acclaim for portraying another alcoholic saxophonist in the movie round midnight.
finally, if you want to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s “johnnyboy’s” blog, about the life journey of a recovering alcoholic and musician.
may we all learn from these guys.
and if alcohol has been a difficult experience in your life, maybe i can help you. drop me a line if you’d like to talk about that.
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