Monday, October 25, 2010

My Lovely Man by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

The rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers was initially formed in 1983 with four members, Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Michael Balzary (aka Flea, bass), Jack Irons (drums), and Hillel Slovak (guitar). In 1988, Hillel Slovak died of a heroine overdose at the age of 26. (Picture to the left is Slovak.)

In the bands recent biography, An Oralivisual History by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kiedis (who was also addicted to heroine) talks about the loss. "I denied it and didn't allow myself to feel the true nature of grief and loss until I go out of rehab. I went to visit his grave site, and started speaking to his ghost, and then I realized, 'Oh shit, my partner is gone.'" The loss led Kiedis into rehab. Irons couldn't take staying in the group after his friend died and eventually left.

Slovak was replaced by guitarist John Frusciante and the group has gone on to great success in his absence. In 1991, the group released the album Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik (which is really their breakout album). One of the songs on this album, "My Lovely Man" was written as a tribute to Slovak.

Even if the Red Hot Chili Peppers aren't your musical style, the lyrics to this song are a very sweet, emotional tribute to a lost friend. The lyrics are fairly self explanatory and are at the end of the post. (FYI, Slim was a nickname for Slovak.)

On a previous album, Mother's Milk, the band released another song "Knock Me Down". Which is was also a tribute to Slovak. One of the lines of the song, "I'm part of you, you're part of me. Why did you go away?"

I used to shout
Across the room to you
And you'd come dancin'
Like a fool
shuffle step
You funky mother
Come to me
All warm as covers

Rest with me
My lovely brother
For you see
There is no other
Memory so sad and sweet
I'll see you soon
Save me a seat

Well I'm cryin'
Now my lovely man
Yes I'm cryin'
Now and no one can
we never fill the
The hole you left my man
I'll see you later
My lovely man if I can

In my room
I'm all alone
Waiting for you
To get home
Listen to Roberta Flack
But I know you won't come back

Well I'm cryin'
Now my lovely man
I'll see you later
My lovely man if I can

Just in case
You never knew
I miss you slim
I love you too
See my heart
It's black and blue
When I die
I will find you

Well I'm cryin'
Now my lovely man
Yes I'm cryin'
Now and no one can
we never fill the
The hole you left my man
I'll see you later
My lovely man if I can

Well I'm cryin'
My lovely man
Well I'm cryin'
My lovely man
I'll see you later
My lovely man
We have some good time
My lovely man

Monday, October 25, 2010 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 0

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Before I die, I want to...."

I stumbled across a gem of a website this week. "Before I die, I want to...." is the brain child of
photographers/artists KS Rives and Nicole Kenney. Both started the project partly with the
news that Polaroid would be discontinuing products, allowing a symbolic death of this
iconic product.

However it goes deeper than this. In contemplating a tool used by the medical community called "safety contracts" for suicidal individuals, they were struck by the power of verbal commitment. The simple notion of someone being asked to promise not to harm themselves until help comes, etc, with the verbal agreement from the individual has been shown to actually work.If there is power in this verbal connection, what if someone made a verbal commitment as they contemplated death, about something they hoped to achieve? Would the act of

documentation make any difference they mused?

Thus a project was born, using the immediate art of a Polaroid camera with no "re-do's" and a person's own words/handwriting outlining what it is they want to do before they die.

As you can imagine there is much to be examined in terms of values as related to age, culture and life experiences.

The two have traveled internationally posing this question and have even visited a hospice in NY to ask those closer to death about their wishes/hopes.

All in all they've captured over 1,200 photos. They have plans in the future to attempt contact with each individual to see if they've achieved their goal and also to ask for a narrative once they have.

The website has the photos divided by location; US, India and Hospice. There are also interesting insights the photographers have from their experience as the "documentarians". I enjoyed reading their observations as they contemplate cultural differences, including Americans often unease of the question, as it brings up dying.

The project is ongoing and they even accept Polaroid's taken from others - with instructions on the website how you can submit your own "Before I die, I want to..." Polaroid.

I hope you can take some time to browse the photos, making your
own insights on what you see. They mention they've yet to find someone who has said "nothing", it seems we can all think of something we want to do before we die.

What would your caption say?

All images are copyrighted 2008-2010 to Nicole Kenney + KS Rives

The translation from the final photo taken in India reads "I want to make a pilgrimage to Mecca"

Monday, October 18, 2010 by Amy Clarkson · 3

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Big C

I recently saw the pilot for a new Showtime series, The Big C, which premiered in August. Cathy Jamison is a middle aged school teacher with a new diagnosis of advanced melanoma. She could do chemo but she feels it would only be buying her little time and everyone would be taking care of her. She sets out to make the most of her last year, in her own way.

She kicks out her imature husband and sets out to be the more spontaneous, liberated one herself. She essentially begins to build herself her a to do list in this first episode. She begins to have a pool installed so she can swim with her son as she did when she was young and she begins to reign in her unruly teenage son. She starts to help an overweight teenager quit smoking and lose weight. She pours wine on her couch, something she sees as a symbol of how uptight she was in the past, and plans to burn it in the yard.

Several times during the pilot she tries to tell her family about her diagnosis. Each time she changes her mind at the last minute. At the very end of the episode she tells her neighbor's dog.

One of my favorite scenes in the show is when Cathy goes out to eat lunch with her young doctor. She wants to know how it feels for him to deliver bad news and he divulges that she is the first person he has ever had to tell such news. He nervously asks how he did.

"Very professional and matter of fact but detailed. You dumbed it down enough to be clear but not insulting. And underneath it all you seemed sad and I appreciated that. But after you left the room I heard you joking with the nurse about putting the doughnuts too close to the urine samples and is that what your supposed to wash it down with... it made me doubt your sincerity."

End of life issues aside, I found the pilot to be entertaining. I have always liked Laura Linney (who plays Cathy) and I think she does an excellent job of balancing funny and serious, more on the funny side. I'm looking forward to watching more of this series.

There is an excellent article on the series in Obit Magazine written from the point of view of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Trailer below.

Monday, October 11, 2010 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 2

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gallery: "Itch"

This is a continuation of the Gallery series of different artworks that roughly have a theme of something we encounter in Palliative Medicine. This Gallery addition is on "Itch"; unfortunately I couldn't find any pieces entitled "Pruritis". The pieces are all copyrighted to the artist and listed in sequential order at the end of the post.

For links to other issues of the Gallery series see below, they are included for your convenience.

The definition of itch (n):
1. An irritating skin sensation causing the desire to scratch.
2. Any various skin disorders, such as scabies, marked by intense irritation and itching.
3. A restless desire or craving for something

"Unscratchable Itch" by Shel Siverstein

There is a spot that you can't scratch
Right between your shoulder blades,
Like an egg that just won't hatch
Here you set and there it stays.
Turn and squirm and try to reach it,
Twist you neck and bend you back,
Hear your elbows creak and crack,
Stretch you fingers, now you bet it's
Going to reach- no that won't get it-
Hold your breath and stretch and pray,
Only just an inch away,
Worse than a sunbeam you can't catch
Is the one spot that
You can't scratch.

There's a place
that I cannot reach
it moves like an itch
down my back
and I know
if I could only stretch
far enough
to touch it
I would have
the most exquisite feeling
like a cold glass
of lemonade
the ice cubes
dancing like little fairies
in the glass
like the smell of the ocean
the salt hanging heavy
in the morning rain
like all explorers
it's never far enough.

Artwork displayed:

Past gallery posts: "Dysphoria","Last Breath", "Pain", "Afterlife", "Restless","Stillness" and"Grief"

Monday, October 4, 2010 by Amy Clarkson · 0