Sunday, May 8, 2011

OMG... It's Rick's Life...And Not Mine

"Oh my God,
It's my life...
What am I doing kicking at the foundation?
That's right..
My life
Better start looking at my destination."
~ 'My Depression' by Rick Springfield


Everyone's gods have feet of clay. Everyone's. Mine included. Make no mistake, celebrities are our modern day gods,and Hollywood is the new Olympus. Every so often someone flies too close to the sun and gets burned or drops out of the sky because the wax holding their wings together has melted.

We love celebrities-let's be honest. They live lives we dream of, do things we wish we could do, in a style and manner we all covet and secretly crave. Why? Because we think they are more of the things we want to be. They exemplify success with expensive homes, custom-built cars, and million dollar plus paychecks.They represent the best of everything to us.

I worked for a time as a production assistant, which, if you don't know, is another way of saying I was a glorified go-fer. Production assistants must be flexible because they are called upon to do everything...including the impossible. Need a Steinway piano at 3 a.m.? No sweat, just call the PA and he or she will magically pull one out of their ass  a hat for you. I love the creative process of putting together a play, movie or concert tour because the artist in me is nourished and satisfied. I don't have to be the star, I am satisfied to help others in a group effort. I adore being a part of the troupe.It's true that it's all smoke and mirrors. That's not a bad thing...sometimes you really have to stretch out your ability and talent to spin gold from hay. Challenges are beneficial; they make you find out what kind of stuff you're made of...that's why I enjoy writing. I get to stretch out in different directions.

Sometimes, though, you can get stretched too far...and you snap. You screw-up... The latest celebrity screw-ups are all over the news, courtesy of a rabid media and a cannibalistic public. Another fact of human nature-and a sad one at that- is that we love to see other people fail. We expend a great amount of time and effort building the image of celebrities because we have so much of ourselves invested in what they represent. Through transference and projection they become an extension of us: that includes our insecurities and desires. Which is why when one of them topples off the pedestal we have carefully crafted, the tendency is not to catch them and lower them to safety, but to let them crash and view the bloody remains...we are in some way relieved that it wasn't us. We whoop it up in relief that we're unscathed one more time and point with imputation at the 'guilty' party who has so foolishly lost their balance and done a back flip on to the waiting cement. There's an emotional payoff to watching this; that's why everyone loves a train wreck.

So last week, my personal Rock Star Muse found himself among the  host of  a high-profile celebrity fuck-ups being trotted around in the news. Rick Springfield was pedaling the paperback version of his New York Times bestselling autobiography at a book signing event and evidently went home and had a few drinks...probably more than a few...and then went out cruising in his custom Corvette stud rocket down Pacific Coast Highway. And-Hello!- he managed to attract the attention of one of Malibu's finest, who pulled him over for a traffic violation, smelled booze, and  made Rick walk the line and touch a fingertip to his nose with is eyes closed...which I guess he did not do well and to the officer's satisfaction, because he was then field tested with a breathalyzer and  blew a .10 (California's limit is .08)  

While it's admittedly not the end of the world, it is not just a harmless lapse in good judgment on his part, either. It is not okay to drink copious amounts of alcohol and then attempt to drive an automobile with the resulting impairment. It is stupid and to some extent selfish and he has no one to blame but himself for the resulting scrutiny. If that sounds like I'm taking a hard line, well...I am. As a paramedic, I've responded to more than my share of fatal accidents that were alcohol-related. There's no truth to the old wives tale that drunks always bounce: sometimes they just leave bloody grease spots and dismembered body parts on the roadway. 

This car looks like trouble waiting to happen to me.
Surprise! I am not about to defend my hero because what he did was flat-out against the law. It was wrong for him to drink and drive. I am not amused, and I am disappointed. But, as I stated earlier last week  in my FB Note...I am NOT surprised. I think this is a wake-up call that has been a long time coming. Rick has admitted to drinking to the point where it has fueled arguments and caused other problems. He has, by his own admission and in print, admitted to an unwavering lack of sobriety. He has used the word alcoholic to describe himself. Alcoholism is not a character defect. It is a deceptive illness which spawns its own denial, and that's how it so easily becomes a silent killer. It is the proverbial pink elephant in the room everyone wants to walk around. There is still a lot of unwarranted stigma attached, as with many forms of mental illness. There is no reason to be ashamed of being ill and it is not a form of weakness to seek help and treatment. Anyone who has come to terms with excessive drinking does not need anyone else to foist blame or judgment upon them - they are capable of  enough self-loathing on their own. There is more than enough recrimination and  low self esteem in an alcoholic's psyche. It takes compassion and support-and sometimes a healthy dose of detachment and tough love from those around them- to aid in successful recovery. I am willing to call it what it is no matter how much I love the man or his music. I cannot be anything other than honest about Rick's situation, because honesty to me is more than a point of pride, it's a point of honor, and to back down or ignore it does nothing to honor Rick... or myself.

This blog is not about idol ranting because I believe my Rock Star Muse has been unjustifiably busted by the cops. On the contrary, I hope they put him in a fugly orange jumpsuit and make him pick up trash on the road. Maybe it will impress him that he's hit bottom and needs help. A tough disease requires strong medicine. 

It may seem like playing Six Degrees of Separation to some, but I really do have a personal stake in this.

There's a documentary being made about Rick and his relationship to his fans; the story is much deeper and gets much more rich as it develops.The film also explores how genuine friendships have developed between fans who have become friends because of Rick's music. It's a  story about how the music affects fans and how they apply the story and lessons in the songs to their lives. This is where I come in....I was selected to be one of the featured fans. I have been a life-long fan of Rick's because his songwriting touches vividly on things we universally share. There are many times that I can identify with his words to express how I'm feeling because they strip away pretension and lay the emotion raw with clarity for me...and besides, he's one hell of a guitar player. He provides a welcome constant in my life.

Sylvia, Rick and Melanie
(photo courtesy YRR)
Yellow Rick Road is an independent film company based out of Florida, partnered by Melanie Lentz-Janney and Sylvia Caminer. Melanie is a longtime RS fan who owns her own PR firm, Doverwood Communications; Sylvia is an Emmy award winning director (Who's newest release, Tanzania, A Friendship Journey, just won two awards at the Soho Independent Film Festival). The Yellow Rick Road name came from a book Melanie read titled the Zen of Oz: Ten Spiritual Lessons From Over The Rainbow by Joey Green. Melanie came up with the idea of doing a film called Affair of the Heart ( a title of one of his songs that has the lines, "Don't try to tell me you think it's just goes much deeper than that...have a little blind faith-believe..." Rick has said over and over how passionate, inspiring and awesome his followers are. They have stuck with him through tough times in his life. They travel all over the country to go to his shows, and he plays 80 to 100 concerts a year.Truth be known, it's a mutual admiration society, because Rick has proven that he is extremely grateful for his fans and devoted to them. Let's be honest, Rick is pushing 62 years old and isn't going to have too many more years of stage time. This is a perfect moment for this film to occur, as a tribute for him and his legion of  admirers. What amounted to a casting call went out to solicit stories for the film, and I'm certain they got hundreds of responses. They had to pick a handful of stories depicting people from all walks of life...and my story is one of them. (Check the entry for 3/12 for the story.)

Courtesy YRR Productions
YRR was here in October of last year to film me in all my dubious glory for Affair of the Heart, at home and  in the sanctuary with congregational musicians who graciously took time to discuss the link between music and spirituality on camera. There was a bit of misgiving on the part of a few well-meaning congregants about having a camera crew in their sanctuary during a service filming a segment for a movie about a rock star...because you know how those guys are, right? We've all heard horror stories in the supermarket tabloids about drug abuse and fast women. Now someone they knew and trusted-one of their ministers, for crying out loud- was apparently a groupie...and like I said, there was talk, and it wasn't all nice.I got flack...lots of it. Even though the film is basically a human interest story about people following a passion that makes them happy, there was still this dark edge to it for some people. ( For the record: I am not a Rick Springfield groupie. I do not follow him all over the country spending thousands of dollars and fantasizing that there is something special going on with my teenage heartthrob hero. I do not swoon and coo every time Jessie's Girl is played. I don't own all of his albums or have a photo of him in every room of the house. I have been a fan for over 35 years, I do enjoy his music because it is meaningful to me...and hell yeah, he is some kind of serious hello-sailor-handsome eye candy. I call him my Rock Star Muse with tongue firmly planted in cheek, because I have worked in the business, and I understand the dynamic of the celebrity/fan relationship.) Back to real life...

Not one of his best photos
And so my Rock Star Muse lands on that paean of all righteous paparazzi, TMZ. His mugshot accompanied a two inch account of his breast-beating mea culpa, showing him teary-eyed, miserable and embarrassed looking ( The other day I Googled  him and 408 stories-all saying exactly the same thing-popped up. Did I mention this quaint event happened on the same night he guest-starred on a episode of the remake of Hawaii Five-O that had been advertised for weeks?)  And no, damn it, I don't think he looks hot in his mugshot, as another fan suggested. Some people are just vacuous and goofy beyond description.

Emails began to flood my in box...I kid you not. From the volume of mail I received, you'd think I was a celebrity. Some of it was from  people who'd read the news and were being kind because they figured I was upset. Some of it was from other RS fans who use me as a sounding board because I'm a minister. Some of it came from mutual friends who also happen to know Rick personally or professionally...and some of it was hate mail because I pointed out that our hero-wonderful guy he is- has feet of clay just like the rest of the idols built by the masses. And while it seems Rick embraces similar ideas about truthfulness as I do, this did nothing to endear me to several of his more fantasy prone, reality-challenged, ardently obsessed, aggressive fans.  Once again, I am not surprised, because these are the same individuals who I've seen practically standing at his elbow and encouraging him to " have another bottle of wine."  In psychological terminology, they're called enablers. Personally, I have a few other names for them. Groupie and parasite are probably the kindest on the list.

A few pieces of correspondence were from members of my congregation, basically demanding to know what the hell was going on,what I'd gotten us into, and what kind of person I was since I hang with rock stars. They wanted to know if I was going to continue being a minister. It's amazing to me what people think they know about you and/or your motives. Taking a step back from this, it seems others are attempting to hold me personally to an intangible standard because of someone else's actions. Now, I know that I am not responsible for another individual's mistakes, fau pax and screw-ups. I cannot control anyone's behavior other than my own. What another person does, or how things appear, or the image they project or is projected upon them has nothing to do with me. It's Rick's life, and he'll handle it however he sees fit. That should in no way affect my reputation. He's a sweet guy, but I'm not carrying his baggage for him. Not this time.

We are all touched by the humanity of one another. None of us go through life without accumulating collateral damage...and we are all damaged and imperfect in some way. I like to think it's part of our uniqueness and character. Individually, we go about dealing with our respective baggage in our own ways. Sometimes one of those ways is self-medicating with alcohol. I suspect that Rick has spent the last week beating himself up and  kicking his own ass harder than anyone else possibly could. He's still a good, decent man with a kind heart and a generous spirit in my book, no matter what anyone else thinks...and no matter what he may think about himself right now. I have enough belief in him for the both of us.
I sincerely hope that this somehow becomes an opportunity where he can turn any negativity associated with it into something positive that will not only be a benefit and a healing to him, but perhaps help others as well.

Visit the Yellow Rick Road website to see a 9 minute promotional trailer of Affair of the Heart, currently in post production and due to be released later in 2011 at: Independent film companies like YRR depend on the generosity of individual donations, unlike major motion picture studios which fund their own productions.

'My Depression',words and music by Rick Springfield and Jeff Silverman:


  1. I'm not 100%, but I think the DUI was on Sunday night, the night before the H50 episode, and timing of it was about 8pm pacific.. which is not long (30-45 minutes) after the announcement that OBL was killed. Rick's bond with his fans goes a long way, and a lot of us were "touched" by the death of Marni (I can't spell her last name right, but Pont ODougherty I think is it) - a "super fan" of his. Is it possible that he jetted home, heard the news, had a celebratory shot or two (which wouldn't impair anyone, but in a one hour period, 5 minutes after taking, would make your breath pretty rich with alchohol) and then took off to soak in the news?

    Just a thought.... not a justification... but I hope he had a blood test taken, which would show possibly there was no alcohol actually in his system that would impair him. Smelling like a brewery, and actually having booze coursing through the blood are different. :)

  2. omg...I just picked up this book today but decided to buy Shania Twain's book instead and vowed to come back and get his and here I am reading your blog.

    I am utterly facinated by everything you have written. Being raised in an alcoholic family and having married 2 addicts plus a myrid of other addicted relationships, I can surely understand everything you have written. I am now learning how to be a parent to an adult addicted child without it being co-dependent or enabling which is what I had been doing all along thinking that it was all in love. It's so very hard when it's your own child and I have to literally take every minute of everyday to get by sometimes. I am now off to read your 3/12 story :) Thank you for sharing.

  3. @ Marko- By all accounts, Rick was picked up 8 p.m. Sunday night and released at 2 a.m. Monday morning, and H5-0 aired Monday evening in most markets...and some CBS news affiliates took the opportunity to run a mention of the DUI after the episode because there was context.

    I doubt that Rick was celebrating about bin Laden, but I suspect he was self- medicating after an all-day book event, and he was more than likely exhausted. He has been posting on his fan site about how depressed and miserable he is and that he's drinking a lot.( Not the first time,more than likely won't be the last until he decides to stop.) I realize he's still in pain from his recent surgery, but if that's the case, then he needs some serious medical intervention. Personally, I suspect they'll down grade the DUI to DWI because it's his first offense, give him a slap on the wrist, or drop the charges altogether.If they do that, however, it will just set the media off on another Lindsey Lohan-type feeding frenzy where they will be chortling about celebrity privilege. I sincerely care about the guy, but his admirable stick-to it-ness also has a negative stubborn side.

  4. @ Jennifer- The book is truly a great read and well written. I didn't find it self-indulgent like a lot of celebrity autobiographies. It's not an image polisher, and being candid about sharing the character flaws and defects we all have was shocking to some RS fans...I wasn't one of them, because I figured after 40 years in the business-where everyone is essentially living la Vida Loca whether they want to or not- there were some skeletons in his closet even if you didn't hear bones rattling.

  5. Kate - your blog is spot on. I too was disappointed and upset with Rick that this happened. There are no excuses. And I fear that it's going to overshadow all the good that has come from his book and other recent successes. Like you, I worry that if he is just given a slap on the wrist, that he will be lumped in with other celebs who are perceived as "buying justice." I hope and feel like Rick will take accountability and make sure this never happens again...for his family, his fans, and most importantly, for himself.

  6. Thank you for this I just found your blog and I must say you are right on point. As for myself I too am along time fan of Rick's and he is an INCREDIBLY talented musician, Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree-Rick also has some very deep issues that he still needs help for, I just hope he gets it. Thank you too for posting a blog remembering Marni, I too was a friend of Marni's through the years having the common bond of being a Rick Springfield fan Thank you for your thoughtfulness and insightful viewpoints.

  7. @ Liz- Since Rick is a pretty accountable and conscientiousness individual, I think this event is going to affect his way of thinking about a number of issues. In fact,I think he'll more than likely be releasing a statement after the July 5 court date. I suspect his attorney has advised him not to any comment before then, and rightfully so.

  8. @ Alicia- I posted the blog with the utmost respect for Rick.

    I didn't know Marni other than on the MB, but every so often I'd hear from her and we'd exchange emails and PMs.We both attended NYU, so we talked a lot about that,too, and of course about Rick. She was a pretty special person.

  9. I agree 100%, Kate. I am counting on him taking this seriously. And I don't expect to hear from him on this issue until after legal issues are resolved - no legit lawyer would advise him to do otherwise. It will be interesting, though, to hear how his upcoming shows go and what if anything he says there regarding the support he has received since this happened.

  10. This just occurred to me reading this Blog..years ago, I used to go therapy and complain of my troubles. The therapist pointed out that my drinking might be the root cause. I never believed that till I stopped drinking...Just maybe no drinking would kick MR D IN HIS ASS.

  11. I think it would be GREAT if Rick did a PSA about drinking and driving (and depression). It might just turn the tables on any backlash about the DUI. On the strength of the popularity of his book alone, I think people would listen to him.

  12.'s my wish fulfilled...A PSA for the Department of Mental Health. All I have to say is that magick happens.

  13. In case that wasn't enough for's the ten minute version. (Proof that the Universe is listening when you make a wish!) Lots of insight here.


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