Just Keep Swimming

A Weekend with a Musician's Tragedy and a Sports Star's Fame

There were two things that went down this past weekend that I wanted to remark upon, and they happen to be on the polar opposites of the happy news scale.

First, I'll start with the bad, because I've felt it's better to get the bad news out and hope the good is strong enough to balance it out.

Amy Winehouse passed away this weekend at the way too young age of 27. Now, I was never a fan of Amy Winehouse and I could only vaguely pick out one of her songs if it was playing on the radio. I also know she had a big following and she was considered pretty influential due to her fusion of R&B, soul and jazz. Based off the little I've read this weekend, there are quite a few musicians that attribute her for paving the way for them.

Sadly, I knew her better as the person that made the headlines regularly for public escapades. It was fairly well known she had a long battle with alcohol and drugs. It sucks that the drugs and alcohol won and claimed her at such a young age.

I heard something on the radio that was pretty disturbing but also interesting. Amy Winehouse is just one of many musicians who died at the age of 27. She joins the morbid company of rock superstars like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison (and actually a few more less remembered musicians). Thus officially making 27 the scariest age in the world if you're a young musician.

I am pretty sure it doesn't really say anything about the age of 27 specifically. All of them being 27 years old is just a coincidence, I am sure. But the incredibly young age does say something.

I think, it is a pretty good indicator of the fatal dangers of fame, especially at a young age. For decades now (or really since the beginning) rock and roll has had a certain culture (or at least, believed culture -- which is even worse). A culture which has expectations of copious drugs and alcohol use. If this is something that is sort of expected, then you can see where a young musician could influenced to put themselves in a rather tragic position. There is a bit of this prevailing belief that a rock star should be partying hard and living even harder. So, if a star takes up that perception's offer, then they've likely shortened their life journey significantly.

Now, I am actually not trying to moralize here. I am not saying rock and roll automatically leads to drugs and alcohol abuse. I am definitely not saying rock and roll is the highway to hell. Not even a little bit. I'm just saying there is that perception out there. I am saying that some may be more likely to fall for it.

I'd also say the stress and anxiety of fame plays a pretty big part too. A rock star is on the road a lot. Probably surrounded by people that are not entirely sincere but still touting to be a best friend. There is the pressure of performing on a nightly basis. There is also likely the constant fear of failure or being exposed or just having all the fame evaporate immediately.

Fame in itself is a huge stress. You've got reporters and fans and paparazzi hounding you every where. They have expectations of you. They have demands. It can be a very hard thing to live up to or follow through on.

Plus, musicians are creative types. If one looks at the history of authors and actors and musicians and visual artists, you're actually going to see a pretty long trail of things like drug or alcohol abuse. I think, the same things that makes one a creative genius or causes them to be so in touch with that part of themselves, also tends to makes them extremely emotional and maybe even volatile. Of course, I am not saying all are like this. But there seem to be a few connections of creative folks struggling with bipolar or addictive personalities or depression or manic depressive. I'd say these type of illnesses and struggles are going to lead to a greater risk of alcoholism or constant drug abuse.

Let me make it clear, I am not saying all creative types. Just like I am not saying rock and roll automatically leads to a drug and alcohol party.

Rather I am just trying to offer empathy and understanding. It is sad someone so young died of drugs and alcohol. It is sad that there is a history of many young and talented people dying. But I think there is more to it than just these people really wanted to take lots of drugs and alcohol. I think there was some deeper psychological issues or deeper stresses. In the end, I put it at as a tragedy and not as something I am judging.

If anything, I like to consider myself a creative type. I know I can be overly emotional. I know that if I wasn't surrounded by amazingly loving and supportive people that there is a chance things could have turned out a lot worse for me. I think my own personal situation causes me to look at these tragedies differently. Though, I am also not trying to declare myself a creative genius either, but I do think that major sparks of creativity can sometimes come form the same place that houses darker thoughts like addictions and depression.

Now, for the happier news.

Roberto Alomar was the first Toronto Blue Jay to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. This may not be cartwheel inducing news for all the readers on here, but it is a pretty big deal for any fellow Toronto Blue Jay fans. This is the first player to be inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay (there has been other Hall of Famers who played for the Jays, but he is the first to inducted as a Jay). Roberto Alomar was not only arguable the best player ever on the Toronto Blue Jays, but he was part of the only two World Series championship teams we ever had. He was a stand out player on what was a stand out Toronto Blue Jay team (back to back championships would make you a pretty damn good baseball team).

The Toronto Blue Jays were the first sports team that I'd ever considered to be a fan. I've since picked out a favourite team for all the big sports, but as a young child, I only really watched baseball and in that sport, Blue Jays were the undisputed heroes. I remember watching many seasons where the Jays either came really close to the play offs or got knocked out in the American League Championship.

The 1992 and 1993 seasons will always be extra special to me, because it was the time that my favourite sports team finally won the championships. Roberto Alomar played a huge role in bringing home those titles. He was a stand out player, and created some really amazing moments while being a Toronto Blue Jay.

He wasn't my all time favourite Jay. Actually, I'm not as big a fan of baseball now as I was in the early 90s. But those years will always be significant to me and I will never forget those two seasons.

It was still a nice moment to know that Roberto Alomar, a big part of the Jays best seasons, was given the highest honour in baseball. He became a Hall of Famer. Not only that, he became a Hall of Famer as a Toronto Blue Jay. Definitely a cherished moment for all long time Blue Jay fans.

So, it was an interesting weekend for news. A little good and a little bad.

And speaking of good, I got to spend lots of time celebrating and socializing and eating with various family members this weekend. So, if that doesn't officially push it over to good weekend status, then I just don't know what will.

How has your weekend been?