A placard outside the downtown Los Angeles Court House today displayed the very same words I just used as the title to this piece…yet I’m fairly certain the young man carrying the sign had no idea how painfully poignant his words really were.
This post is not about Michael Jackson…
Nor about Elvis Presley…
Nor is it about any other celebrity caught in the deadly web of prescription drug addiction…and there have been many.
No, this post is about America’s urgent need for a cultural paradigm shift - to finally getting “clean” from their addiction to money over all else and becoming “sober” to the realization that the protection of their citizenry is what really makes a country globally powerful.
Yet today, it seems that Michael, heralded by all and sundry in and out of that court house, achieved “Justice” in the Guilty verdict found against his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, for Involuntary Manslaughter in his death.
But was justice really served, this time, I wonder? Was Michael’s death, at least, not in vain with this verdict?
Because the way I see it, Michael is just as stone cold dead as Elvis has been for the last 34 years and now two 20th century musical legends have been stolen from us without an ounce of justice if the American public continue to refuse to give up their addiction to Profit over Protection.
From where I’m sitting, we all should have learned a lesson with Elvis’ untimely demise and therefore Michael, most of all, should be the living, breathing embodiment of what will not happen to an addict, rich, powerful, celebrity or not, when federal regulations are in place to prevent the pharmaceutical over-distribution and/or physician/patient abuse of narcotics.
And while I’m sipping my wine in my easy chair here and blatantly pointing out the 900 lb. gorilla in the narcotic legislation/regulation room, why, when all the world has been focused on the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray for the criminal negligence of MJ, have I been quietly fuming, wondering why the flying feather no charges were ever brought against ANY of the principle players in Elvis’ death?!
NOT to any of his Memphis Mafia for knowingly allowing such narcotic abuse to happen under their watch.
NOT to any of the plethora of doctors prescribing Elvis’ narcotic medications over the years.
NOT to the pharmaceutical companies who were free to sell such quantities of narcotics to Elvis’ physicians who had no legal obligation to report where or how they were used .
NOT to the Tennessee state nor Washington, D.C. federal legislatures and their sitting Representatives, all of whom seem to have conveniently turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the issue of pharmaceutical company/physician legislation and regulation when it landed on the floor for debate well before Elvis was in deathly trouble.
It happened once. It was horrible. And I thought it would never happen again.
We lost a cultural icon, whether you liked Elvis and his music or not, all because he had the money to buy anyone who would say Yes rather than say No to him and his addiction, and the profitability wheels of corporate capitalism kept churning in the U.S. of A. which gave him free reign to do just that.
Not one criminal nor civil class-action lawsuit was brought to bear on the principles involved in the untimely death of Mr. Presley. Not-a-one.
We sighed, bowed our heads in shame, grieved over his death, accepted our loss and moved on…assuming such a tragedy would NEVER happen again…
I mean, how could it? How could such a huge social figure ever be again sacrificed for a prescription drug addiction? How could money take precedence over the protection of another human life after what we knew of Elvis’ last days?
Yet the math doesn’t lie;
Add 8 years to Elvis’ age + 32 years of living what we thought was a lesson learned and you get 1 Mr. Michael Joseph Jackson, D.O.A. to the L.A. County Coroner’s Office…
That’s what you get.
We all must face the fact that Elvis’ death was in vain if Michael’s went the way of E. And facing that fact is a very hard pill to swallow for this baby-boomer chick.
So while people all over the world today celebrated the judicial “victory” for Michael and his family finally felt a sense of closure, I have been sitting here Mad-like-a-Dog-on-Speed-at-a-National-Rabies-Convention…
We lost Elvis and it was horrendous. Losing Michael the same way is utterly horrific.
And after the loss of E, surely thinking our children would never suffer such a pop-culture shock, we watched in ‘09 another generation sitting in front of the TV screen, like we did in ‘77, in utter sadness and disbelief.
Quite frankly, even deciding to write this post was a huge decision on my part as I knew the chances of me writing coherently on this issue were almost nil; merely because of the intense mixture of venomous rage I have at the utter disregard for a human life over the need for the almighty American buck and my profound and complete despondency over what it turns out we have witnessed…again.
Assistants, confidants closest to Michael had warned their musical friend that if he didn’t try and get off prescription meds, he WOULD end up like Elvis. And of course, as all addicts do, he got upset, angry, vehemently denied he was anything like E, had anything like E’s addiction and refused to hear any talk that he himself was out of control.
In Elvis’ case, there was hope for recovery before it was too late, in the form of fired Memphis Mafia pals of sixteen years, his buddies, Sonny (left) & Red West, when they tried, albeit in a publicly embarrassing way, to get E to admit to his weakness and seek help for his addiction.
Celebrities are almost assured to die of this often swept-under-the-carpet addiction because almost no one who is willing to take their money and/or bask in the glow of their stardom, will risk their own materialistic gain by going against their celeb boss to blow the whistle on a good thing.
If I could have seen the reaction of anyone after this verdict today it would have been of Sonny & Red West.
When they tried, unsuccessfully, to get Elvis to see the light on their employment with himand other personal issues, they decided to write a Tell-All book on Elvis’ world, entitled, “Elvis What Happened?”, which included coming clean on his chronic insomnia, the catalyst, like Michael, for his prescription med addiction (Demerol being one). They forwarded an advance copy of the book to E in the hopes that he would reconsider and seek help but instead Elvis went emotionally ballistic, banned them completely from his life and tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the book from going to print.
Listen to the video below…insert Michael’s name for Elvis and you tell me what has changed?
Yes, Red and Sonny had agendas beyond the drug issue but at least someone in Elvis’ inner circle had the cajones to come forward and reveal the truth before it was too late, messy delivery or not.
In Michael’s case, no one, not any of his brothers or sisters, none of Michael’s body-guards nor his close friends, no doctors, no entertainment big wigs associated with Michael, no one who knew he was addicted, ever decided to go public with that fact before it was too late for MJ.
And the plain fact that NO lawsuits were ever brought forward nor legislation enacted to alter the availability of narcotics from E’s time to Michael’s made for a nice repeat performance of an horrific timeline that if you just plain substituted the year, the age, the locale and the names, you can’t tell one senseless death from the other.
If anyone anywhere is spinning tonight, I think it’s Elvis Presley in his grave, and knowing his fiery temper, seeing the devastation wrought to another set of Fatherless kids, the sudden end to a career which was only really starting to mature, the utter waste and futility of it all, well, let’s put it this way: I think E accepted society’s naiveté about prescription drug addiction back in his day, but now, now he’s fumin’ Mad-like-a-Puppy-on-Percocet wondering why we’re all reliving his nightmare in Michael.
How many more souls, famous or not, have to die from doctors being allowed to order mass quantities of heavy narcotics for anything other than a hospital setting? How many more times do pharmaceutical companies get to profit from shipping gallons of “milk” (4.09 gallons, or 255 vials of Propofol were ordered by Dr. Murray for Michael Jackson between April and June of ‘09, sent to his girlfriend’s home address) to a mailing address other than to a hospital? How many more people, socially powerful or not, have to die too soon, their young lives and potential snuffed out, because there are no legislative checks and balances in place to regulate what a doctor can order and prescribe and what a patient can buy and ingest?
It’s one thing to be rich and powerful like Elvis and Michael but if regulations are in place so morally bankrupt physicians are legally restricted as to what they can and cannot do for their money-is-no-object patients, then those patients - no matter how much they cry, bemoan, cajole or threaten - albeit hissy and miffed - would still be alive, still be able to seek a permanent, healthy solution to their addiction over a nightly, potentially deadly “fix”.
It’s just not good enough anymore to say justice was served in the Michael Jackson case.
I get little satisfaction from seeing the perpetrator of this crime incarcerated, that Michael’s family members now have closure and that the public loss has been legally paid for by having Murray in jailhouse stripes.
Because people too close to the flame like Sonny & Red West still wonder why and still live with the guilt. And we live with the torment of what could have been for both E and MJ.
No, today, I feel more sadness and suffer more rage.
Now, all I can seem to do is sigh, set my watch to 30+ years and steel my spine for next gifted person to be stolen from us all, the ones before not a lesson learned, the ones to come heartache yet to be felt, all of them “Gone too soon…”.