Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hard to Keep Dodging Bullets When You’re Playing Russian Roulette


The past few days, it’s been rumored (and certainly not verified) on Queens of the Stone Age and Mark Lanegan message boards that the singer went into a critical care unit a few days ago. The rumor is that he went in after a massive drug overdose. It’s true or it’s not, and I’ll probably never know. But either way, it’s believable; drugs are nothing new to Lanegan.

It’s amazing to watch the slow, sure self-destruction of someone who has been in and out of jail and rehab, who has seen close friends kill themselves, and who seems smart enough to know the risks. Maddening, really.

Most people that I’ve known who used only used for a while. They used through their college years (or, like me, through their bartending years), they used socially, they may have done some of the hard stuff, but they never needed the drugs. They stopped when they grew up--when a family, a job, and a car payment became more important than getting high. Drugs--like frat parties and beer bongs--were just something that they outgrew. Not a single one of them lost a girlfriend or a job or went to jail.

Some people can’t get to that step, though. It hardly matters whether the drug of choice is cocaine or alcohol--the point is that there is something broken inside addicts that keeps them going back in spite of the destruction that they bring into their lives. There could be a million reasons--loneliness, maybe, or a fear of facing life’s difficulties without chemical assistance.

For that matter, it could be the excuse to fail that some people need. Intentional failure is a great tool for a person who desperately wants to succeed but has an intense fear that no matter what they do they will lose. It gives them control of their situation--that the control is negative is beside the point.

I have no idea why someone like Lanegan would choose self-destruction over living his life (for that matter, I don’t even know if the rumor of his trip to critical care is true), especially after seeing friends like Layne Staley kill themselves the same way. I do know, though, that whatever happens will have been his choice.

He’s an adult and he knows the potential consequences, just as much as a man playing Russian roulette. Play long enough and, sooner or later, that chamber will be loaded.

It’s a dumb way to die.


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