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Offbeat – 01 November 2013

Grieving and misery? Have these uppers. Anger? Here’s a tranquilizer. Mixed emotions? Here’s a mood stabilizer. Childhood? We have shelves and shelves full of ADHD medication, and ADD medication just in case.

By the time you read this, Halloween will have passed. If you are someone who celebrates it, you will probably be a bit sick of pumpkin, buckets full of soggy apples and spit, and the same old images that are supposed to give you a chill but don’t because there are only so many evil pumpkins you can get through. If you aren’t, then you will probably be putting away your anger that people could go in for idolatrous behaviour with pumpkins.
It’s all one to me. I might scratch out a horror story and read that as a token observance, but I’ll get back to basics and remember the dead, because people who gave to me in life deserve to be remembered now that they have passed on. I’ll also remember the animals, because I believe that animals have souls as well.
This week an unexpected death sideswiped me and gave me someone else to remember, at least for this year. I had to say goodbye to Lou Reed. He died on Sunday. I imagined him to be in his fifties but it turned out he was in his seventies. It came as a shock. Like I said, sideswiped. You expect things to last forever, but then they don’t.
Life is like one of those products with a lifetime guarantee.
There were a lot of wearying comments using lines from his songs. I better get mine done now. It was anything but a ‘Magic Moment’. Admittedly that was a cover of a Ben E. King and the Drifters number, but that was the song that raised the most hairs on the back of my neck.
I never got it on with Velvet Underground, the one with the banana on the cover, or the other Velvets album. Both of them made me want to step outside and have a headache, even if everyone said they were cool. It’s not cool until I like it myself without someone telling me I need to like it, and ‘Venus in Furs’ gives me a runny nose.
And no, I don’t care if it has Andy Warhol’s name attached to it, and his banana on the cover. Give me Roy Liechtenstein, any day. I did enjoy Lou Reed’s solo albums a lot though, particularly ‘New York’.
What got me thinking was how very upset I was about the passing of someone who rarely entered my conscious thoughts. I had to dig deep to find that nugget, deeper than I wanted.
What I realised is that there are times when I am disaffected. That’s not depression, or anger, just dissatisfied, wanting something else, but not being able to find it or get it. At moments like that, my personal best bet is to go and sit in a dark room with a bottle of wine, a straw and something by Lou Reed on the speakers. It is the perfect soundtrack for a frustrated sulk.
That’s not much of a nugget. It’s more like a lump of coal. Even so, sometimes a piece of coal can warm things up.
There’s some thing interesting, to talk about for Halloween, dark moods.
A lot of people want the world to be a sunny place. Good mental health is seen as a bunch of bright-eyed people jabbering at one another with happy smiles, probably about sports, the weather and how it just makes your day to have a clean, sparkling kitchen with shiny bits in it that go ‘ting’ when a passing ray of sunlight falls on them.
For all else there is medication, or plans for medication. Grieving and misery? Have these uppers. Anger? Here’s a tranquilizer. Mixed emotions? Here’s a mood stabilizer. Childhood? We have shelves and shelves full of ADHD medication, and ADD medication just in case. Worried that the medication will leave you unhinged with a sudden need to shoot everyone in a fast food joint? Hey, we got anti-psychotics for that.
The reality is chemically induced. People don’t get the chance to manage themselves, or learn how to handle things. The choice of going off into a quiet space, and chilling out with music, a bottle of wine, a book or having a sleep, is becoming far more limited. “If we can’t find you, the medication will.”
So there’s something to defend against. The skill of handling emotions is also dying out. Truth is, emotion is seen as unprofitable, but the quick fix is.
There’s something to feel dark about this Halloween.

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